First Descents, a Colorado-based young adult cancer non-profit, kicked off its 2011 season with news that it has developed a multi-level program model, consisting of FD1, FD2 and FDX, in order to enhance the program experience for first timers and returning participants alike.
FD1 is the original First Descents experience. It’s a free, week-long whitewater kayaking or rock climbing adventure. It’s open to young adult cancer fighters and survivors (ages 18 – 39) who have never attended a First Descents program before.
FD2 is a week-long whitewater kayaking, rock climbing or surfing program for 2nd and 3rd time returning First Descents participants. FD2 is designed to allow returning campers to build on their past camp experience and set new goals. FD2 program participants are encouraged to give back to the cancer community by registering for a Team FD challenge, with the goal of sponsoring a new first-time participant.
FDX—FDX is centered on pursuing life-long adventure, connecting with fellow cancer survivors, and continuing to live the spirit of FD. First Descents works with partnering outfitters to reserve spaces on outdoor expeditions. FD alum, donors, and supporters are then given the opportunity to fundraise to secure their spots on these adventure trips. FDX is also open to the caregivers, partners and spouses of FD alum – an incredible opportunity for FD participants to share the powerful experiences they’ve had at First Descents with their own support teams.
According to Founder and CEO, Brad Ludden, “What was missing previously was a means by which participants could grow through their FD experience year after year. We used to give the same experience to returning participants as we did to new ones. We realized that we needed to offer a more challenging level of programming for those who are ready to take the next step in their survivorship with FD2 and beyond that, FDX is designed to grow with them for the rest of their lives.”
First Descents has tripled its programs in the past three years. In 2009, First Descents held nine programs. Last year it held 15. This year there are 27 First Descents programs scheduled in six states and Canada.
2011 marks a number of firsts for First Descents, including its first-ever surf camp, first program in Canada, and first invitation for donors, volunteers, family, friends and supporters to experience an adventure camp.
“This is an exciting time, because we’re able to reach even more young adults with cancer than ever before,” says First Descents Program Director Whitney Lange. “And while our reach has expanded, each program still offers the attentive, unforgettable adventure experience FD has always provided.”
First Descents is a non-profit organization offering young adults with cancer a free week-long 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. www.FirstDescents.org