First Descents founded by kayaker Brad Ludden offers young adult cancer fighters and survivors (ages 18 to 39) a free outdoor adventure experience designed to enable them to climb, paddle and surf beyond their diagnosis, defy their cancer, reclaim their lives and connect with others doing the same.
During the week-long First Descents experience, young adult survivors are empowered through conquering legitimate outdoor challenges to push their limits and face their fears, and by doing so, they are able to regain the confidence and self-efficacy lost to cancer. First Descents places an emphasis on each individual’s experience and provides the right support for every participant to achieve their goals for the week. The experience is designed to allow healing to happen naturally and organically – no forced conversations and no structured group sessions or therapy. Each program is limited to 15 campers, ensuring individualized care, medical attention and an intimate experience with fellow survivors. First Descents programs are available to young adults with cancer regardless of their financial means. All meals, accommodations and program activities are provided free of charge, including travel scholarships, when needed. In 2011 First Descents hosted 27 week-long programs in 7 states and Canada. In 2012 we will host over 40 camps in 10 states.