Wilderness Adventures

What’s in a name? Wilderness Ventures is Wilderness Adventures!

By Tom Holland December 12, 2023
1982 Backpacking

Yes, you called the right place!

The phone rings frequently in our office, and upon answering, our staff is met with a question that we get every so often: “When I was 15, I went on a trip in the Northwest with a company like yours. The company was called Wilderness Ventures. Is this the same company?” 

Group of students backpacking holding up a flag that says Wilderness Ventures.We are used to this line of questioning at the Wilderness Adventures offices. Throughout 50+ years of operating and adventuring, our name has indeed evolved a bit. In fact, we have actually had three separate company names since our original inception! 

When the company was founded by Mike and Helen Cottingham in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1973, the original name of the company was ‘Wilderness Experience’. After a few years of programming and a move to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, that name changed to ‘Wilderness Ventures’ – a name that the company held for over 30 years! Over time, alumni shortened that name to ‘WV’. Thousands of young adults spent summers adventuring with WV.

With ‘Ventures’ evoking a strong connotation to entrepreneurial business in the 2000s, the Cottinghams felt it did not speak to the adventures that so many students were having on their trips. Consequently, they evolved the name one more time. ‘Wilderness Adventures’ became the new company name with the same brand, founders, historic trips, and wonderful Trip Leaders. 

Says our Director, Tom Holland, “you know, when I went on my trip as a teenager, it was WV. When Catherine and I came back to direct the program in 2016, it was WA. Some alumni stumble on the new name, but the participants on our trips do not – it’s all the same. I get asked all the time what changed, and it is this simple: they added ‘Ad’. Nothing else!”

Group of students mountaineering holding a green flag that says Wilderness Adventures.

If you are an alumni of Wilderness Adventures, Wilderness Ventures or Wilderness Experience, it is wonderful to connect with you again and we encourage you to reach out! To all WE, WV and WA alumni, we have always been proud to serve you and are grateful that you are a part of this tight-knit community!

Check out our Virtual Yearbook with photos dating back to 1973 and join our alumni mailing list to stay in touch!