Young Adult Leadership


"It was impactful because it actually made me realize the amount of strength I have and that I can persevere through physical challenges."
—Asheley, 2021 Alumni

Expedition Overview

Dates: June 9 - June 22,  2022
Age: 18-22 years old
Group size: max 8-10 students/2 instructors
Length: 14 days
Tuition: $3,360
14-day adventure through remote area of the Montana wilderness, developing leadership, outdoor skills in navigation, camping, backcountry cooking and teamwork.

If curious about financial aid regarding this expedition, please email for details.
Packing List 
apply Now

Expedition Highlights

  • Conflict management and resolution strategies 
  • Heuristics, leadership styles, and active followership
  • Group & individual wellness and performance analysis
  • Community Building
  • Communication skills for finding common ground
  • Hazard assessment & management planning
  • Backcountry cooking
  • Montana Constitution and environmental rights
  • Stakeholder centered land and wildlife management
  • Professional development

Expedition Description

The Young Adult Leadership Expedition focuses on developing outdoor leadership skills and exploring current conservation issues in Montana, all while backpacking and paddling canoes through some of the wildest places in the state.

This 14-day backpacking and paddling course for 18-22 year olds is designed to expand upon the same foundational backcountry skills delivered on every MWS expedition: campcraft, cooking, Leave No Trace® land stewardship principles, and group communication and decision-making. In addition to delivering these essential outdoor skills, experienced MWS instructors will hone each student’s leadership abilities, helping them to develop high-level group facilitation skills applicable in wilderness settings and beyond. Students will have real opportunities to practice leading a group and managing risk in a complex wilderness context while backpacking and while canoeing on a remote river stretch; we’ll instruct in evaluating hazards, choosing travel routes, and anticipating group needs in wild settings. Along the way, we’ll provide useful toolkits for engaging with people and perspectives different from your own, and for direct communication based in empathy, compassion & respect. While on the river, students will learn & practice fundamental and advanced canoe strokes, handling, & moving water rescue techniques, and the team will practice rigging for both travel and rescue.

In partnership with our wilderness risk management and communication curriculum, students will engage one another in complex conversations about current land and conservation issues in Montana. MWS staff will facilitate and moderate discussions about various perspectives on some of the most imminent challenges facing wild spaces in our state and the Rocky Mountain West, giving students a deeper understanding of the work needed to protect them and the nuances of wildlife and ecosystem management. We’ll provide plenty of space for students to simply be on the land and strengthen their own personal connection to wild places through immersion in wilderness.

Are you interested in working in the outdoor industry? This expedition is particularly appropriate for anyone interested in becoming a professional outdoor educator. We’ll provide mentorship and personal development plans to help you reach your goals and build a foundation for managing groups in wilderness settings.

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

Backpacking 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
Canoe Paddler Skills
  • 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
  • Understand the roles and responsibilities of the ‘stern paddler’ and ‘bow paddler'
Apply Now
Montana Wilderness School
P.O. Box 1183
Bozeman, MT 59771
Sign up to get updates
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
job openings