“MWS empowers young adults and young women like me to get involved and get active in wilderness exploration and conservation.”
—Eva, MWS Mountaineering Student

Expedition Overview

Dates:  July 17 - August 10, 2021
Age: 16–18 years old
Group size: max 10 students/2 instructors
Length: 25 days
Tuition: $5,375
This expedition includes a Wilderness First Aid course. During this 16-hour course students will have an opportunity to receive a national recognized certification from Aerie Backcountry Medicine.

Through a partnership with the University of Montana Western and the Montana University System’s One-Two-Free program, students have the opportunity to earn 2 college credits from this MWS course at reduced or zero cost. Contact MWS for more details about this opportunity!
Packing List 
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Expedition Highlights

  • Backpacking both on and off trail in a remote wilderness area
  • Horsepacking in remote wilderness areas
  • Canoeing the wild and scenic Missouri River
  • Navigation, orienteering, and wilderness travel skills
  • Wilderness decision-making and communication skills
  • Experience abundant wildlife and pristine ecosystems

Expedition Description

The Montana Expedition is designed for 16-18 year old students who are looking to immerse themselves in the backcountry & travel challenging terrain by foot, horseback, & on the water. Students will spend the first week of the expedition backpacking through a remote mountain range and learning fundamental backpacking and camping skills. During the second section of the expedition, students will travel to the Centennial Mountains where they will be introduced to the art of horsepacking and the long history of the relationship between humans and animals while traveling across some of Montana’s wildest places. For the last section of the course, students will embark on a 12-day canoe expedition traveling through the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. From beginning to end, students will be engaged in lessons about place-based ecology, leadership, and communication, gaining formal tools they can then practice with their expeditionary team. As part of this expedition students will take a Wilderness First Aid course with an opportunity to receive a certification. For more information about MWS core curriculum and expedition progression see Expedition Life.

Expedition Objectives and Learning Outcomes

Teamwork and communication skills

  • Learn positive communication skills with diverse group members to create a healthy community, build trust, and make sound decisions in the backcountry together
  • Develop an expedition philosophy, apply it to the course, and understand how it can transfer back to the student’s home environment

Safety and wilderness based decision making

  • Backcountry hazard evaluation and risk reduction guidelines and tools
  • First aid awareness for backcountry settings: identification and treatment of common backcountry illness and injuries
  • Learn to collaboratively make decisions in remote environments that prioritizes individual and group safety

Conservation Ethic

  • Use basic observational and interpretive skills to demonstrate an understanding and respect for the natural environment
  • Discuss the history, facts and potential solutions to pertinent environmental and social issues affecting the wilderness in the expedition area
  • Reflect upon and discuss the conveyance of wilderness conservation ethics into personal life and build a capacity for commitment and stewardship to wild places
  • Develop comprehensive understanding of Leave No Trace© ethics and apply them during the expedition

Backcountry camping and navigation skills

  • Use safe backcountry kitchen practices to cook nutritious meals on a camp stove or fire
  • Demonstrate an ability to select an appropriate campsite and set up a shelter while minimizing the impact on the ecosystem
  • Understand and demonstrate how to stay healthy, warm, and comfortable in the backcountry
  • Understand and demonstrate techniques for camping and traveling in bear habitat
  • Use various navigation and route-finding tools and methods for on and off trail travel
  • Travel efficiently in the alpine environment using map and compass skills

Technical Skills

  • Learn to properly pack and adjust a backpack
  • Become competent in backpacking in alpine environments
  • Travel off trail and discover unpopulated areas of the Montana wilderness
  • Learn how to care for animals appropriately
  • Learn to properly pack and adjust a saddlebag for horsepacking
  • Become competent in horse travel in alpine environments
  • Travel off trail and discover unpopulated areas of the Montana wilderness
  • Develop essential skills for extended travel in the backcountry
  • Packing and securing equipment in a canoe
  • Canoe control and padding stokes
  • Reading water and understanding large river hydrology
  • Endurance techniques for long distance paddling
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Montana Wilderness School
P.O. Box 1183
Bozeman, MT 59771
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