2021 Multiple Sclerosis Programs are live! Learn more about our upcoming adventures for young adults living with MS.
Connect with your First Descents Family as you learn new rock climbing skills with the trusted Devils Lake Climbing Guides! On this three-day, two-night adventure, you'll explore the beautiful Devils Lake State Park with your First Descents Community. Downtime will be spent at the awesome and funky Willowood Inn! This…
Join your First Descents community for a trip filled with fun, connection, and challenge as we head to Santa Barbara for stunning coastal kayaking and epic surfing. Never, tried surfing or kayaking before? This is the perfect introduction with our trusted guides at Santa Barbara Adventure Company! You'll get to…
Spend three days Out Living It with your First Descents Family at Minnewaska State Park for some rock climbing with the trusted guides at Alpine Endeavors! You'll get to enjoy two days of iconic climbs, beautiful scenery, and lots of adventure. Downtime will be spent at the beautiful Minnewaska Lodge!…
Gather for a three-day program with fellow caregivers to connect, reflect, and adventure at Minnewaska State Park for some rock climbing with the trusted guides at Alpine Endeavors! You'll get to enjoy two days of iconic climbs and beautiful scenery with the First Descents community. Downtime will be spent at…
Join us on this epic whitewater kayaking program in the beautiful Berkshires! Take a break, enjoy some water time, and soak up the scenic surroundings from your kayak cruising down Massachusetts' Deerfield River. Zoar Outdoor will be hosting us for this rad adventure in the summer sun, and we will…
What precautionary measures is FD taking during the COVID-19 pandemic?
FD works closely with medical professionals on its Medical Advisory Board to ensure safe programming. Programs have been carefully designed and to ensure that everyone arrives healthy. In advance of each program, participants must complete a Health Agreement, medical forms, and a COVID-19 screening. Program control measures are implemented (e.g. masking, distancing, etc.) at programs in accordance with public health guidelines.
Are COVID-19 vaccines required to attend a program?
FD does not require individuals to be vaccinated to attend a program.
How can I attend a MS program?
Thank you for your interest in First Descents’ programs for young adults coping with MS. Currently, we offer Multi-Day programs for the MS community. You can learn about our MS programs through our Programs Finder on our website. If you have any questions please email [email protected] and we will get right back to you.
What can I expect from lodging? And what precautions will be taken at the lodge with COVID-19?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, FD is taking great care in the selection of lodges to host programs. Our team takes into account criteria such as hygiene, social distancing, ventilation, more individual rooms, activities/outfitters on site or close to the program site, and the use of personal protective equipment. Additionally, increased cleaning and disinfecting procedures will be followed on programs.
Are lodges American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant?
Finding ADA compliant lodges to accommodate a group of our size can be challenging. We do our best to find suitable lodging, including comfortable bathroom and sleeping arrangements. It is possible that lodges will include stairs and shared bathrooms. Therefore, Participants may need to walk up and down stairs and be comfortable in shared spaces.
What if I slow down the group or I am not as physically fit/able as everyone else?
Everyone on your program will be at a different place. No one expects you to be a superstar athlete. While on a FD program you can go at your own pace, take breaks when you need to, and have extra support when you need to. We are an open and supportive community and we will meet you where you are at.
What if I’m in active treatment and experiencing symptoms, such as fatigue?
Our goal is to get you out on a program when the time is right for you. Ultimately, you know your body best. At FD programs are “challenge by choice,” meaning you get to decide on your own without any pressure. This means if you need to rest and take a break, cool! If you want to try another climbing route or another wave, awesome! You can push yourself as much or as little as you want and do what feels right to you and our staff and volunteer team will be there to help guide you.
What if I have a disability and/or strength/mobility restrictions?
We recognize that everybody and every BODY is different! We work with each person individually to understand their needs and to make adjustments as needed. Connect with the Programs Team so we can better understand your needs and we can work to find the right program option for you!
What if I am sensitive to the sun and/or concerned about temperature regulation?
We know that sun and hot and/or cold temperatures affect people differently, especially for individuals with Multiple Sclerosis. It’s important to know that exposure to outdoor elements is part of outdoor adventure programming. It’s important that you share your symptoms with us in your application and we will work with you to help manage and mitigate these symptoms during the program. For example, at many programs, we can provide options for shade and cooling devices (e.g. cooling vests).
Can I attend a FD program with my Caregiver?
You must be able to travel and attend a program without the assistance of a personal caregiver.
First Descents knows cancer. How will FD be able to care for participants with MS?
FD relies on experienced and caring healthcare professionals to advise its program design and implementation. For MS programs in particular, FD has enrolled the support of program and medical leaders from the National MS Society, CanDo MS, along with other leaders in the MS community to advise on MS program design, medical screenings, and participant recruitment. FD recognizes there are special adaptive considerations for people coping with MS, including temperature fluctuations, fatigue, and mobility restrictions, and takes a similar approach in ensuring its staff has the necessary tools available to deliver a meaningful and safe First Descents experience for everyone.
How many facilitated FD programs am I eligible for?
Everyone regardless of their diagnosis is eligible for one free First Descents program. If you happen to have a dual diagnosis of cancer and MS, you have the option to attend one program and can choose from either MS or Oncology programs located on our Programs Finder. If you have any questions, please email [email protected]
What does this mean for cancer programs?
FD will continue to expand programs for young adults impacted by cancer. We aim to reach more adults year over year by expanding programs, building community and prescribing adventure. By strengthening medical center partnerships, implementing a robust recruitment strategy, and investing in local adventure communities, FD’s oncology programs will continue to thrive.
What other serious health conditions does FD focus on?
First Descents provides programs for young adults with cancer, MS, and for frontline healthcare workers.
I have more questions.
Please leave a message on our contact page at www.firstdescents.org/contact-us/ and the appropriate FD staffer will respond back in a timely manner. Or please reach out to [email protected] and a member of our programs team will get back to you.