3-Weeks • Ages 15-17


The Wilderness Leadership Course (WLC) is the ultimate W.A.E.L. trip designed for experienced adventurers seeking to develop their leadership and risk-management skills in the outdoors.  Experience in camping and backpacking are a requisite for this course along with a genuine desire to grow as a leader.

On this epic trip, you will find yourself exercising leadership techniques and achieving group goals in every activity we have to offer.  Your leaders are selected months in advance to plan and prepare for your trip.  As well as being the best of our staff, your leaders and activity instructors are some of the most well-trained, experienced, and personable guides in the industry. For this prestigious trip, each leader and instructor you encounter strives to foster your individual growth through engaging instruction, thorough discussions, and one-on-one feedback.  

  • The WLC begins on Base Camp with a thorough introduction to group dynamics, leadership styles, and Wilderness Adventure style back country camping, as well as a comprehensive kayak class, roll clinic and belay training. The group, comprised of up to 12 students, 1 female leader and 1 male leader, then venture off-site to immersion in the wilderness of the Blue Ridge region of the Appalachian mountains, The New River Valley, and New River Gorge where you will backpack, bike, paddle, and climb.

  • The next phase of the WLC encompasses multiple days and many miles of classic Blue Ridge hiking and single track mountain biking. You'll master efficiently packing your back pack, setting camp, and cooking back-country recipes (yes, REAL food) as you also learn map and compass orienteering skills, Leave No Trace Ethics, basic wilderness first aid, bicycle maintenance, trail etiquette, and begin to practice group management and leadership techniques.

  • The third phase begins as your group creates the meal plans for the rest of the trip and begin to take over leading the group. Each day there will be two "Leaders of the Day(LODs)." When you are an LOD, together with your co-LOD, you will be responsible for organizing, encouraging and guiding the group through the days scheduled activities. This phase begins as early as the group is ready and usually coincides with the river portion of the trip.

  • The final phase of the WLC will test everything you have learned and practiced throughout your trip to culminate in the  New River Gorge in West Virginia, an area steeped in history and full to the brim with adventure at every level.  At the Gorge you will have access to hundreds of climbs, miles and miles of single track, and relish the pure joy of an adventurer's lifestyle in one of the most revered landscapes in America.





Participants will learn all the backpacking and camping skills needed for three weeks in the outdoors:

  • Proper packing techniques, necessary vs unnecessary gear selection, and keeping dry!

  • Campsite selection, setup, and breakdown

  • Backcountry meal prep and stove operation

  • Topographic map reading and orienteering

  • Backcountry hygiene and self-care

  • Backpacking techniques and group assessment

  • Leave No Trace Principles

ADVENTURE Activities

  • Backpacking and orienteering

  • Mountain biking: Single track bike riding / Bike and trail maintenance

  • Rock Climbing: Belaying, Climbing techniques, Equipment

  • Caving

  • Canoeing: navigation, whitewater canoeing, water traveling

  • Kayaking: 101 Rolling class, paddling techniques, whitewater/ sea kayaking safety equipment.

  • Whitewater Rafting

LEADERSHIP & Risk management skills

  • Rotating leadership roles within the group

  • Basic first aid and group assessment techniques

  • Conflict resolution

  • Swift Water Rescue

  • Daily concentration on our 4 core leadership principles: work ethic, attitude, communication, & respect

  • Daily debriefing with leaders - both personal and within the group: creating goals, assessing performance, identifying strengths and weaknesses