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Grand Canyon Youth prepares to restart expeditions after pandemic pause

Grand Canyon Youth prepares to restart expeditions after pandemic pause

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GCY file photo

After their 2020 season was scrubbed as a result of the pandemic, Grand Canyon Youth announced last week that it will be launching expeditions this spring.

GCY opened the application process for Individual Expeditions on March 12.

It has been more than a year since the last trip was on the water — the first time in over twenty years of operation that GCY has been forced to cancel an entire season of youth expeditions.

“We are looking forward to being back in action, connecting young people with the magical landscapes of the Southwest,” said Executive Director Emma Wharton in a statement. “After the past year, it’s so important that we provide opportunities for youth to explore new places, connect with each other, and take time for self-reflection. The river gives us all these gifts, and more.”

The announcement comes as GCY staff and leadership say they took the last year as opportunity to look inward, crafting a new mission, vision and values for the organization, as well as a land acknowledgement statement and implementation efforts.

“I think we have emerged from our pandemic pause as a stronger organization overall,” said Wharton. “The river teaches us to adapt in the face of challenges, and we’ve done that - both in terms of making the best use of the time we had away from the river, and in terms of adapting our programs and practices so that we can get youth back on the water this year.”

To mitigate any continued impacts of COVID-19 on a trip this year, Wharton said they have developed protocols to reduce the risk of the spread of the disease on an expedition. This includes risk assessment during the planning phase of trips, as Wharton said “one of our key strategies is to do our best to prevent the virus from being present at the start of a trip.”

To learn more about Grand Canyon Youth’s 2021 expeditions, including how to apply for an expedition as an individual or set up one for your school or group, visit GCY’s website at

GCY invites youth from all backgrounds to participate; financial aid to cover fees associated with expeditions are available. Expeditions are currently open to youth from Coconino County.

Adrian Skabelund can be reached by phone at (928) 556-2261, by email at or on Twitter at @AdrianSkabelund. 


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