Creating Space for Everyone at Our Campfire
At Wilderness Adventures, we believe in fostering an inclusive environment for all participants regardless of race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, faith or religion, national or ethnic origin, body type, disability (assuming the disability permits safe participation in the program) or any other category people use to define themselves. We celebrate diversity and will not tolerate harassment based on any of these characteristics.
What makes WA so special is the community. Our students come from all over the country as well as international cities. In 2023, our students traveled from 45 different states and 11 countries to join Wilderness Adventures programs. While this is just one very small portion of creating an inclusive environment where everyone feels a sense of belonging, we understand that fostering an inclusive environment requires great thought and effort from the leadership at WA.
Each day at Wilderness Adventures, we strive to challenge our way of thinking and expand the ways in which we create space for everyone around our campfire. Behind the scenes, we are actively working towards closing the gap of accessibility to the outdoors and ensuring people from all backgrounds feel a sense of belonging on our programs. We invite you to read more about our efforts and on-going actions below:
Financial Aid: Our non-profit, the Wilderness Adventures Foundation, WAF, launched in 2022. The WAF helps lower the socioeconomic barriers for people to join our programs. See our 2023 Impact Statement here. Through the WAF, we work with 5 partner organizations who send students on our trips who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity or means to. We are so proud to have these partner organizations as part of our community, and we are always looking to expand that community.
Programming: In our international programs, we prioritize cultural competence among our staff and collaborate closely with local partners, ensuring a positive contribution to the communities we visit. Our program curriculum emphasizes education on indigenous peoples, public lands, and colonization history. We’re currently focused on formalizing the educational aspects of our itineraries. Additionally, we’re in the process of updating the curriculum for our gap semester programs to incorporate a wider range of voices and perspectives, fostering a more diverse and inclusive learning experience.
Staffing: We are proud to offer a subsidized Wilderness First Responder course to all employees of Wilderness Adventures, aiming to alleviate the financial burden many Trip Leaders face to work for us. Additionally, we offer a Professional Development Reimbursement Program so staff feel empowered and supported in advancing their careers through education. Once staff are hired, we train on how to foster inclusive environments. This is done through racial diversity, LGBTQ+ inclusivity training, and mental health training to ensure that our trip leaders have the tools to support students’ unique needs. One tool being a gender support plan to ensure our gender diverse students’ needs are being met.
There is always more work to be done and bigger steps to take, and we recognize that this is an ongoing process that takes time and effort. We continue to make changes to our programming and expand conversations in an endeavor to take steps in the right direction.