LEADS SERVES 2017-03-10T17:48:58+00:00



The Primary Purpose for which San Juan LEADS Serves is formed it to provide opportunities, supports and resources for Youth, U.S. Military Veterans and their Families,and Athletes with Adaptive Needs to access and benefit from Outdoor Adventures, Healing Opportunities and Expanding Educational Experiences.


Teaching and encouraging LEADERSHIP in all contexts at all ages.


Encouraging effective EDUCATION in every teaching and learning moment.


Accessing and embodying an attitude of ADVENTURE.


DEVELOPING the best in individuals, groups, communities and society.


SERVING our future leadership, honoring the men and women who have served and breaking through the barriers.

LEADS is founded on principles of supporting our future leadership (young people), honoring the men and women who have served and protected our country (veterans and their families) and breaking through the barriers that keep people from living their best and biggest lives possible (athletes with adaptive needs).   It is also founded on core beliefs that we are better together (breaking isolation) and best when we spend time in nature (wilderness therapy).

LEADS humbly hopes to garner resources and distribute to these people who we believe are most deserving to participate in experiences that will lift them up, comfort them and inspire them to be bigger and better than they ever thought they might be. In this way, LEADS Is a program of support as much as it is one of transformation. It is an invitation as well as a gesture of gratitude to focus on that which we as an organization deem most valuable: Leadership, Education Adventure, Development and Service. It is in this way we hope that LEADS Serves all that come to play, heal, learn and expand!


  • LEADERSHIP: All trips will contain a leadership development component for trip facilitators. LEADS will provide professional development, training, and support for articulating trip objectives and activities. It is our intent to build future leaders that will facilitate trips like these for years to come.
  • EDUCATION: Each trip will feature an educational element. This could range from teaching athletes or guides new and necessary expedition skills to learning more about how trauma affects the brain. In some cases, it may be as simple as learning what to pack for a hiking trip and learning to read maps and weather! Either way, all LEADS programs seek to teach and leave folks better than we found them!
  • ADVENTURE: Let’s go for a walk, ski, bike or hike! Each LEADS Adventure maximizes the natural experience, the intensity of right fit risk and adventure, and group dynamics and learning, as well as individual transformation. LEADS pilot programs for 2017 range from “Walking Off the War” 10 day hiking traverse for veterans, to a “Replacing Addiction with Adventure” program for school age youth, to a Hand Cycle Expedition for Athletes with Spinal Cord Injuries (see Pilot Program Descriptions for more details.
  • DEVELOPMENT: Leaders and participates will spend time post trip to reflect upon their experiences and develop a plan for further implementation, integration and sustainability. For one, it may be a plan for improved health, for another it may mean a new job, a move, or a plan for the next adventure. It will be different for each person; we want to ensure that the insights and gifts of the LEADS trip is wrapped in support and resources to make sure the healing sticks!
  • SERVICE: Participants will get a lot, and given to them in these programs.  I think it is very important for there to be a service component to each LEADS Program.  It could be building trails for adaptive equipment, speaking to school aged kids, or a community presentation.  I think it is important for the esteem of our participants to realize they have a lot to give.



San Juan LEADS effectively works with our community and schools to support adventurers large and small. They have my highest endorsement.
Meghan Crosby, Teacher of the Visually Impaired
There was a strong sense of teamwork within the group. The ride wasn’t just about riding a bike…it was about connecting with nature and people. From what I experienced on that ride and what I saw the other veterans experience, I truly believe that future San Juan LEADS programs for veterans and those with disabilities could strengthen an individual’s resilience so they can forge a better path when they return home after the program.
Victor Henderson
There are more and more studies being done to highlight the value of giving someone an experience in the natural world to help them grow and learn while being supported by peers and caring adults…We are infinitely excited about our possibilities to get out struggling youth outside together to have an experience, learn new skills, gain new understandings and be able to utilize these skills in their daily lives in a new way.”
Psychotherapist, Vista Charter School
At the end of the ride, he had a smile on his face that I hadn’t seen in the six month that I’ve know him.
About a Fellow Veteran
It’s full of personal details, triumphs, technology, and personality. His presentation goes far beyond science thought, and into the ways in which he has not let his loss of sight limit any of his goals. It’s a great story of personal growth, and very inspiring.
Sarah Holbrooke, Speaking of a presentation by LEADS Serves Athlete and Speaker to Schools, Steve Baskis


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