Eight problem kids (four boys, four girls, high school age) have been sent to a camp called Discovery Unlimited where they are to meet problems, make responsible decisions, and develop as adults. "Hoods in the Woods" the kids call themselves. Action occurs in the outback of southwestern Colorado and northern Arizona as Al, their adult leader, programs the group first to climb Storm King Peak (which nearly results in fatalities) and then to raft the white water of the San Juan River. The Hoods decide rafting the Colorado River will be wilder; so they steal Al's van and equipment, drive to the put-in at Lee's Ferry, sneak past the park rangers, inflate their rafts, and seven embark--one deserts. Rafting the wild Colorado is heady but difficult and dangerous. Misadventures develop the kids, but also breed disasters. So when the rangers capture the group near Havasu Creek, not all resent the rescue. The book is exquisitely plotted, with nail-biting suspense and excitement.
Also recommend "River Thunder", the gripping sequel, by Will Hobbs as well.