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 Programs with Youth & Families


Chicago Adventure Therapy provides programs for children, youth, young adults, and families. Often, this is though a partnership with other local nonprofit organizations in Chicago. To see a list of organizations that CAT has provided programming for see our Resources page. While many families may choose to do a one-day program, some organizations choose a progression of once a week activities for a period of six weeks or an entire season. Other organizations desire a more intensive one-week schedule.
Program options include cycling, climbing, paddling, camping, group initiatives & team building, navigation, hiking, and even First Aid/CPR certification. We mostly use locations around the Chicagoland area, but we can also come to you! Each activity session includes plenty of time for personal reflection and guided group discussion.
We aim for our programs to be affordable for everyone, so we offer scholarships and discounts. You may be eligible for free programs! If you are interested in having CAT provide programming for your family or nonprofit organization please Contact Us.
In addition to CAT’s regular programs we also have several special programs that we run every year:

CAT Paddling Community & CAT Climbing Community (for alumni & individuals)

Every year a few CAT participants catch the paddling and climbing bug and fall in love with adventure sports. Every year local outdoor enthusiasts, clinicians, paddling coaches and youth workers ask how they can be involved as volunteers. The CAT Paddling Community and CAT Climbing Community provides an opportunity for those young people and volunteers to build relationships and skills together while staying involved with CAT year-round.

The CAT Communities also prepare a select group of young people to be leaders in their homes, schools, workplaces, and communities. They receive instruction, assessment and even certification in adventure sports from world-renowned coaches. This technical instruction facilitates strategic and tangible development of leadership skills such as effective communication, problem solving and decision-making, and encourages accountability, reliability, environmental stewardship, and a sense of altruism.
Although we prefer for youth members to be alumni of another CAT program, we do accept individual referrals. If you are interested in joining a CAT Community, please Contact Us.


CAT Public Programs

CAT also offers a few courses, trainings, and trips that are open to the public. The proceeds from these events are used to fund CAT programs such as the CAT Paddling Community. In addition, a few youth from CAT programs are selected to be students and receive this world class training and certification, paving the way for them to stay engaged in the outdoor community for a lifetime. In 2018 CAT offered:

2018 Paddlesport Trainings & Certifications

British Canoeing PaddleSport Leader Assessment
British Canoeing Coach Core Training
British Canoeing PaddleSport Leader Assessment
British Canoeing Coach Core Training
British Canoeing Coach Discipline Specific Training
Foundation Safety & Rescue Training (FSRT)

Baja, Mexico Public Trip

In April 2017 and 2018 CAT took a group of paddlers to Baja, Mexico to try out their hand in surf conditions. COVID forced us to cancel most trips in 2020. Stay tuned for 2021’s adventure!

Apostle Island Rendezvous (formerly The Gichi Gumee Project)

Though it’s name is hard to pronounce, its impact is not hard to observe. The Gichi Gumee Project began as a collaboration between CAT and Down Wind Sports to bring urban youth to the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium on Lake Superior. After several years, our group became too large for that symposium and CAT started its own trip to the Apostle Islands. Gichi Gumee continues to be a powerful week not just for the young people but also for the coaches and volunteers. For more information about this incredible program please see Gichi Gumee in the Apostle Islands page.



Have you seen this CAT video

(We have many more on our YouTube Channel)




The Scotland Squad


At Chicago Adventure Therapy, we believe that the outdoors and outdoor sports have the power to transform people’s lives.  The core of our programing is introductory – young people who participate may never have seen a kayak or been on a climbing wall. Every year, there’s someone who sees Lake Michigan for the first time, cycling along the lakefront with us. A few of these young people fall in love with a sport, and want to learn everything they can about it. In August of 2016, a small group of young adults who discovered kayaking through CAT went to Scotland where they assessed their British Canoeing 3 Star Sea Kayak award with Gordon Brown of Skyak Adventures. It’s an award recognized around the globe, and the venue is a world-class paddling venue. You can read all about this adventure on Our Blog.