First Descents

FIRST DESCENTS provides life-changing outdoor adventures for young adults (18-39) impacted by cancer.

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First Descents Programs


Health Care 


Outdoor Recreationists
Physically Disabled
Young Adults (20-25 years)
People/Families of People with Cancer


First Descents provides life-changing outdoor adventures for young adults impacted by cancer.

First Descents is a recognized leader in outdoor experiential programming for disease-based trauma. Through outdoor adventures, skills development, and local adventure communities FD improves the long-term survivorship of young adults impacted by cancer.

Our participants experience free outdoor adventure programs that empower them to climb, paddle, and surf beyond their diagnosis, reclaim their lives, and connect with others doing the same.


Evidence of Program's Success

In 2015, First Descents worked with the University of Michigan to evaluate the psychosocial benefits of our programming. Participants reported an increase in self esteem, body image and their ability to cope with cancer and its ongoing effects. Research also found that First Descents participants experiends a 10% decrease in depression.

This 2015 study continued First Descents' effort to better understand the psychosocial effects of going on a First Descents program following up on a study conducted in 2012 with the Keck Graduate Institute. The full studies from 2015 and 2012 are linked below.

In addition to the published studies, FD has countless stories of individuals whose lives were positively impacted by our programming. Nate "Scooter" Post was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer at the age of 22. Two years, multiple hospital stays, 99 units of blood, and a new abdominal aorta later, he was finally healthy enough to participate in a First Descents weeklong program. Although it was a miracle to be alive and cancer free, Scooter's survivorship was stunted by the depression and psychosocial effects that often accompany a cancer diagnosis and treatment. Scooter attended an FD1 in 2011 and has continued to stay involved with First Descents by becoming a champion and leader of our Orlando Local Adventure Community. In his own words:

"You come here and they don't treat you like someone who has cancer - they treat you like a person who is out here excited about living. And that is exactly the kind of people I needed to be around... The doctors and medicine kept me alive, but First Descents showed me how to live again."

Full Research Studies:



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