Registration & Resources

Adventure Quest FAQs

What are Adventure Quests?

Adventure Quests are Camp Tawonga’s on-the-go adventure programs that we have been leading for over 25 years! Quests take the best parts of Camp (nature, swimming, Shabbat and group bonding) and take them on the road with SUVs, a trailer and our most experienced and highly trained staff.

Our years of experience have made us experts on all our locations, working with the best guides, training the best staff and creating unforgettable programs for teens.

A Quest is an excellent opportunity to experience new adventures, become more independent and make lifelong friends.

If I have friends who want to go, can we be on the same Quest together?

Yes! As long as spaces are available, friends who sign up for the same trip will be together.

Do Questers go on Quests not knowing anyone?

Yes! About half of Questers join the trips not knowing anyone, ready to make new friends. Many Questers are new to Tawonga and have never been to Camp or Quest before. Our leaders are skilled at creating an inclusive group experience, and the fun and challenges of outdoor living naturally bring the group together very quickly. Traveling with a Quest is a great opportunity to meet and make friends with other Jewish kids and teens from the Bay Area and all over the country!

What if we don't live in the San Francisco Area? Can you help us get to or from a Quest?

Every year, many Questers come from outside of the Bay Area. If possible, it is ideal if you have a friend or family member in the area who can pick your child up the day before the Quest begins and return them to the airport after the Quest ends.

If you do not have any contacts in the Bay Area, we can help find a Tawonga host family (someone who is going on the same Quest or to Camp the same session) who will pick your child up from the airport the day before the Quest begins. Then, on the way back to the Bay Area, we will arrange for your Quest to stop at the airport, and a Quest leader will walk with your child up to the security checkpoint. If this is your preference, please make a note of it in your registration forms, and we will call you to arrange all the details. We want to make this easy for you!

How do I pick the Quest that is right for my child?

First check which Quests are designed for your child’s grade level (6th-7th, 7th-8th or 9th-10th) and which dates work with your family’s schedule. Next, look at the specific itineraries posted on our website to see which locations and activities are most exciting to your child. You can also call our office for guidance at 415.543.2267.

What outside professional outfitters do you use?

Camp Tawonga has been leading Quests for over 25 years. Tawonga staff lead activities such as backpacking, swimming and day hikes. We select professional companies to work with based on their expertise, their proven safety record, their ability to work with teens, references from other clients and our own positive experiences over the years. We use these professional companies to provide excellent equipment, instruction and guiding for whitewater rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, surfing and other specialized activities.

Each company requires its own waiver forms which we will send you ahead of time. Please read and sign these forms and return them to us with the rest of your paperwork. Altered forms are not valid, so if you have any questions, please give us a call.

Do I need special equipment to go on Quest?

The packing list for a Quest is similar to the packing list for Camp. The list includes things like comfortable clothes, hiking shoes, a sleeping bag and water bottles. For 2-week and 3-week Quests, a large backpack is also required and may be borrowed from Tawonga – just let us know in advance of the Quest! The packing list for Quests is available here. If you have any questions, feel free to call our office. Watch a short video about packing for Quest.

Can I bring an iPod or cell phone?

Quests are a chance to literally and figuratively “unplug” from technology in order to connect with nature and fellow Questers. We allow iPods only for listening to music as a group in the SUVs, and Questers take turns DJing. Personal cell phone use is not permitted. We will stop at a pay phone or allow the Questers to use a leader’s phone about once a week to call home and keep in touch with family.

What are the responsibilities on Quest?

Quests depend on everyone pitching in to make the trip run smoothly. Questerds rotate through different responsibilities – cooking meals, cleaning dishes, setting up campsites and packing the trailer. In the beginning, Quest leaders are very hands-on, guiding and assisting Questers to get these tasks done. As the group grows more comfortable with their new skills, the leaders start to step back and let the Questers take on more responsibility. It’s amazing to see how skilled and self-sufficient Questers can become in two or three weeks!

What if my child has never been backpacking or rafting before?

This is normal, and they should still come on a Quest! All sports and activities are set at an introductory level. For activities such as whitewater rafting, kayaking and rock climbing, we hire professional outfitters who provide safety equipment and training for the group. Tawonga staff will always adapt activities to the group’s abilities, so this is the perfect way to try new things in a supportive, small group environment.

What's Jewish about Quest?

Every day, meals begin with the Hamotzi as a group to give thanks for the food and cooks — for those new to this prayer, it’s easy to learn.

Every week the group celebrates Shabbat and Havdallah through creative, participatory programs. Quest leaders provide a theme, candles, blessings and song books, while Questers make these events their own by contributing poems, songs, stories, skits and special meals.

Furthermore, once a week Quest leaders will lead an activity that illuminates the connections between Judaism and nature or encourages the group to examine their own Jewish values.

Food on Quest is served kosher-style; we do not mix milk and meat and we do not serve pork or shellfish.

We are non-denominational and our community is open to all families, Jewish (in all its diversity) and non-Jewish. Traveling with a Quest is a great opportunity to meet and make friends with other Jewish kids and teens from the Bay Area and all over the country!

How can I stay in touch with my child on Quest?

All Quests (except A Taste of Quest) have 1-2 mail stops to receive letters from home. We’ll provide the mailing address for each mail stop with the Quest itinerary before the trip. Teens are also encouraged to pick up a pen and paper and write home! Quests are a great opportunity to unplug, and therefore cell phones are not allowed. Each Questerd will have the chance to call home about once a week using a Quest leader’s cell phone.

What is the food like on Quest?

Questers help to plan the menu, grocery shop and prepare meals on Quest. Typical meals include pancakes, French toast, deli sandwiches, mac ‘n’ cheese, soup and pasta, burritos, grilled salmon, hot dogs and hamburgers, quesadillas and pizza. The cooking team rotates so that everyone has a chance to put their favorites on the menu.

We shop for fresh, nutritious food about every three days on Quest. All meals are kosher-style (just like at Camp), so we never eat pork or shellfish, and we serve either meat or dairy products, but never both during the same meal. If a meat meal is served, a vegetarian option will be provided as well. Let us know about any special dietary needs or food allergies while registering so we can plan accordingly.

Snacks are always available, and occasionally teens may use personal money to buy treats like candy and soda.

Who are the Quest leaders?

Two to three adult Tawonga staff join each Quest (at least one male and one female leader). Quest leaders are among our oldest and most highly trained staff, and they receive additional pre-summer training (beyond what all Tawonga staff receive) in wilderness safety and leadership, group building, driving, teaching and Jewish programming. Between them, they hold certifications in wilderness first aid, CPR and lifeguard training, and their driving qualifications are screened by a third party.

These talented staff, often past counselors and wilderness leaders at Tawonga, share the responsibilities of bonding the group, staying in touch with Camp while on the road, leading Jewish and nature programs and conducting safe travels. Campers can expect their leaders to keep their confidences, prioritize physical and emotional safety, set appropriate limits and have fun with the group.

What do all Quests have in common?


  • Are open to boys, girls and non-binary kids and teens.
  • Have 8 – 12 Questers, keeping the groups small enough to align with our philosophy of community, communication and teamwork.
  • Are led by two to three adult Tawonga staff with at least one male and one female leader (click or scroll to Quest Staff for more details).
  • Travel in two vehicles towing one trailer for luggage.
  • Primarily involve car camping in beautiful locations around the United States, sleeping outdoors in state and national parks as well as private campgrounds with bathrooms and showers.
  • Offer all adventure activities at introductory levels, no previous experience needed!
  • Include a water sport (such as sea kayaking, surfing, or whitewater rafting).
  • Include a backpacking trip in a national park or forest, exploring the area’s natural beauty
  • Celebrate Shabbat and Havdallah, eat kosher-style and engage in creative Jewish programming
  • Are created for specific age groups, so Questers are as like-aged as possible.
Check out our Quest Guidebook and Quest Packing List for more information about how to prepare for a Quest program.

If you have additional questions about Quest or would like to speak with our director who oversees the Quest program, please call our office at 415.543.2267. We are happy to help!

Teens on the Rock and River quest

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