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Do you aspire to lead teams into rugged and remote wilderness settings?  Are you unsure what skills and qualities are essential for becoming an effective team leader?  This course will provide you with the tools that you need to empower, motivate and inspire others to contribute towards the effectiveness and success of a team’s common objectives.  You will gain an understanding of the complexities of group dynamics, the value and importance of careful planning and team communication and the power of team decision making. 

Specific course topics include expedition leadership analysis, communication, team dynamics, problem solving and decision making, team building, trip planning, wilderness navigation, risk assessment, and crisis management.  You will learn the fundamental skills you need to plan, organize and lead safe and successful wilderness outings.

What you learn here are leadership fundamentals that you will carry with you for the rest of your life.  Whether you are climbing Rainier or Denali, participating in groups at school, in sports, or at work—or planning an entrepreneurial venture—these are skills that will take you to the top.


This class is designed for those that have previous wilderness experience in trip planning, backpacking and navigation with map & compass.


  • Ability to carry a pack weighing 40-50 lbs.
  • Competent on varied wilderness terrain.
  • Excellent physical condition.

Note:  Proficiency in Snow Travel including In-Balance Climbing, Ice-Axe Technique and Self Arrest Technique may be required for courses taken in the Pacific Northwest or Alaska.

Recommended foods include easy to digest complex carbohydrates (bagels, muffins, croissants, graham crackers) and simple carbohydrates (fresh fruit such as apples, apricots, cookies, or Fig Newtons).  You can supplement these items with veggies, nuts or whatever else looks good at the store.  Avoid highly acidic foods, extremely spicy foods or food with a high fat content which may be hard to digest. When packing and weighing your backpack, we suggest that you budget 2 to 3 pounds of food per day.  If you are bringing a food item that you haven’t tried before make sure to test it before your trip.  Below are some suggestions for the types of food that work well.  You can also review our Sample Menu Plan that provides some additional suggestions that we have found work well.


Single-serving packets of instant oatmeal are a good choice for breakfast.  As an alternative, you can also bring your favorite cold cereal or granola pre-packaged with evaporated milk.  Other good options include granola bars, donuts, muffins, pastries and fruit.  For hot drinks we suggest your favorite coffee, tea, hot-chocolate, or cider.

Lunch / Snacks:

Sit-down breaks where you can eat snacks or lunches are generally taken every 60-90 minutes during a field outing.  Good lunch items include bagels or tortillas with cheese, peanut butter, hummus, salami, salmon, or tuna.  Good snack options include pizza, jerky, crackers, cheese, candy bars, energy bars, chips, cookies, trail mix, dried fruits, Gu and hard candies.  Drink mixes such as Gatorade, Powerade, Nuun and Accelerade are recommended for flavoring your water and providing necessary replacement of electrolytes and protein.


Freeze-dried entrees are the preferred choice for our trips.  They are quick and easy to make and don’t require extensive preparation, cooking, or simmering.  We recommend that you try your favorite entrees in advance of your trip; it is best to be familiar with their taste and the effects they may have on your stomach.  In choosing your meals it is important to focus on entrees with high calories and low sodium.  Many freeze dried meals are very high in sodium content and keeping this to a minimum is preferred.  Most important, however, is to choose a variety of meals that you like to eat.  Link to Sample Menu Plan PDF.

"When packing the rucksack, weight is the enemy.     -Gaston Rebuffat"

We will send you a complete equipment list for your trip following receipt of your application and deposit.  Our lists are updated on an annual basis to make sure you receive the most complete and up to date recommendations possible.  Equipment technology can change rapidly and we incorporate these changes when appropriate into each of our lists.  We also utilize feedback from our clients and guides to ensure you receive the very best gear recommendations available.

Once you receive our gear list, we suggest that your review it carefully and check off any items that you currently own, or can borrow from family or friends.  If you are uncertain if a particular gear item is suitable, please contact us to get our recommendation.  We will work with you carefully to make sure you have every item that you need—and nothing that you don’t.

Note:  Each team member will be required to carry a portion of the team gear in addition to their personal gear.  Please take this into consideration when packing for your trip.


North American Wilderness Leadership School (NAWLS) is committed to providing you with an extraordinary wilderness adventure.  Our number one priority on all trips and courses is safety.  We never compromise safety and do everything possible to ensure you have the safest and most enjoyable trip possible.  Our experienced guides manage a variety of significant weather and route related hazards, but they cannot eliminate them.  They draw from their wealth of experience and training to make sure you have the safest trip possible.

Trip Plans & Itinerary:

NAWLS’s trip plans and itineraries are subject to change based on weather, terrain, route conditions and a variety of additional factors.  While we strive to maintain all listed plans and itineraries, we reserve the right to change plans as necessary to ensure that all guests receive the safest and highest quality trip possible.

Should any trip be cancelled due to weather, route conditions, or insufficient signups, a full trip refund will be provided.

Age Requirements:

To ensure the safest and highest quality trip for all participants, NAWLS adheres to the following age-specific requirements:

  • Ages 4 & Under:  No participants age 4 & under.
  • Ages 5 to 14:  May participate in all Family Adventure trips.  Must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
  • Ages 15-17:  May participate in all trips and courses.  Must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
  • Ages 18 & above:  No restrictions.

Note:  Under-aged participants on private trips and courses are assessed on an individual basis.

Guest Responsibilities:

Wilderness adventures require both individual commitment and team unification.  To ensure the strength and success of the team we ask that each participant:

  • be physically and mentally fit and properly attired and equipped.
  • be honest and accurate in describing their fitness, health, skills and equipment to their guides to ensure that everyone on their team has the opportunity for a safe, fun and successful wilderness adventure.


A 50% deposit is required to secure your reservation. Payments may be made via personal U.S. check (preferred), or by Paypal.  Please note that Paypal payments require a 3% additional fee for U.S. residents and a 4% additional fee for international residents.  Send payments by check to North American Wilderness Leadership School, 13110 NE 177th Place, Woodinville, Washington 98072, or by Paypal to:  .  Full payment is due 30 days prior to the start of your trip.


If you need to cancel your reservation please let us know as soon as possible.  Cancellation policies are as follows:

  • 90 days or more prior to trip start date: full refund of deposit.
  • 60-90 days prior to trip start date:  guest will be charged 50% of the deposit.
  • 30-60 days prior to trip start date:  guest will be charged 100% of the deposit.
  • 30 days or less prior to trip start date:  guest will be charged 100% of trip cost.

Note:  We highly encourage you to consider the purchase of travel insurance.  Typical policies provide coverage for trip cancellation, delay and medical expenses.  Travel insurance provides the best possible protection for travel related illness, injury, or delay.

Leadership Course:  3 Days, 2 Nights

2020 Dates:  April 1 - October 31

Cost:  $445 per person


Note:  Custom courses are available.  Please contact us at for more information.

Please follow these steps to make a reservation:

  1. Give us a call, or fill out our Contact Form to discuss dates and set up a trip.  Please have the following information available when you contact us: (1) trip or course type, (2) preferred and alternate dates, (3) size of group and (4) name, age, height and weight for all group members.

  2. Submit a trip/course application with a 50% deposit, or payment in full.  Note:  A deposit is required to process the application and reserve the date.  Full payment is due 30 days prior to the start of the trip.

Payment Methods:

  1. Personal U.S. Check (preferred).  Send to:  North American Wilderness Leadership School, 13110 NE 177th Place, #342, Woodinville, Washington 98072.

  2. Paypal.  Requires a 3% additional fee for U.S. residents and a 4% additional fee for international residents.  Send to:  .

As you prepare for your upcoming wilderness adventure, please feel free to contact us to with any questions including trip details, itinerary, qualifications, conditioning, equipment, etc.  Our experienced guides are happy to assist you with all of your pre-trip planning needs.  We are available Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. PST at (818) 381-WILD (9453), or .

Get more information on Wilderness Adventure Trips & Courses



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