Summer Gap Semester

Wilderness Adventures Leadership Institute
2021 Summer Gap Semester: Utah

At Wilderness Adventures, we believe that summer should never end. We love the learning, growing and adventuring that comes with a summer season in the outdoors. In the spring, summer, and fall of each year, we are proud to offer more exciting adventures with the Wilderness Adventures Leadership Institute (WALI). Designed for college aged students yearning for an impactful learning opportunity, our (WALI) Gap Semester Programs will challenge you in new and exciting ways. Spend your semester learning and improving your outdoor skills, expanding your leadership capabilities, exploring some of the most beautiful wilderness areas in our country, and gaining certifications that you will use for the rest of your life. Join like-minded students on an adventure that takes you away from the virtual, and into the real world.

Click here to watch a webinar presentation on our WALI Spring Gap Semester!

Session 1: June 7 – July 18 (42 days)

Start Location: Salt Lake City, UT
End Location: Salt Lake City, UT

Price: $6,695

Ages: 17-22 years old (must have completed high school)
States Visited: Utah, Wyoming
Activities: Backpacking, Whitewater Rafting, Community Service, Leadership Training, Whitewater Kayaking
Certifications Earned on the Program
: Wilderness First Responder Certification and CPR
Lodging: Camping, students will have the opportunity to shower and do laundry after every course section

Included in your tuition are the following:
1. All activities, lodging and travel upon arrival
2. All food throughout duration of trip
3. A Wilderness Adventures shirt, face covering and water bottle
4. Reading materials and supplies for course study
5. Instructions on including Gap Semester on your resume


Raft Desolation Canyon

Life on a raft is pretty simple. Keep paddling down the river, stay in the boat, camp wherever you like. During this four day trip, the group will paddle down a remote section of desolation canyon. Along the way they will encounter towering red sandstone walls, ruins from forsaken outposts, and exciting rapids. Each night they will camp by the riverbank and explore the surrounding desert. During this portion of the trip the group will learn about leadership, group management, and risk mitigation.

Explore Arches National Park

On their first day in Arches, the group will meander into the Fiery Furnace, a backcountry zone of winding canyons and high redstone plateaus. During their walkabout everyone will participate in a leadership excercise and learn about navigation. On the second day in Arches, the group will travel between some of the most iconic views in the park, such as delicate arch and balanced rock.

Wilderness First Responder (WFR) Course

Wilderness First Responder is the industry standard certification for backcountry guiding. In this course, the group will learn about risk mitigation in the outdoors, stabilizing a patient in an outdoor setting and evaluation and diagnostic techniques in the outdoors. For six straight days the group will dive into the WFR curriculum in the classroom and during staged scenarios.

Backpacking Canyonlands National Park

During their backpacking section, the group will explore the needles district of Canyonlands National Park. They will rise with the sun and hike through narrow canyons, sandstone mesas, and sandy washes during the morning. In the afternoon they will escape the sun, stay hydrated and play games at Camp. During this portion of the trip the students will each be assigned unique jobs in managing the groups travel, impact, safety, and communication. They will be asked to shoulder more responsibility and take the lead when appropriate.

Whitewater Kayaking Progression

During this four day skill progression, the group will learn the basics of whitewater kayaking. This day will be focused on learning paddle strokes and playing games on flat water. On the second day the group will learn how to “eddy out” and “ferry” on a mellow section of the Snake River. The third and fourth days of the progression will be devoted to a Swift Water Rescue course that is run by Rendezvous River Sports expert guides. Here, the students will learn best practices for safely rescuing a victim from a river.

Base Camp

Base Camp is Wilderness Adventure’s day camp, which we run locally in Jackson Hole! Now that the group has solid risk-mitigation skills under their belts they will develop their “soft skills.” During this week WALI students will be asked to run activities, take camp groups on nature walks, and teach the kids about the outdoors.

Field Assignments

Now that the group has up do date certifications and has worked with children for the past week, it is time for them to go into the field! Each WALI student will be assigned to a trip group and will act as an assistant trip leader to the WA guides.

Gros Ventre Service Project

After their stint in the field, the group will regather and head into the Gros Ventre Wilderness with the National Forest Service. Here, they will work for two days on a trail maintenance project in the wilderness. Through this service, they will get a glimpse into the hard work that goes into making these beautiful areas accessible to guides and recreationalists.

Hike Jackson Peak

The group has been through a ton together, and by now their ready and empowered to begin a career as an outdoor professional. On the penultimate day of the course, they will say goodbye to their trip leaders early in the morning and ascend Jackson Peak as a group. The craggy alpine peak will put all of their leadership skills to the test and they will emerge an even stronger group than before.

Criteria for Acceptance

Wilderness Adventures is based on the community experience of the trip group. Consequently, we will work diligently to assemble an exceptional group of young adults for this expedition. To be considered for the program, an applicant must have the following:

  • The want and desire to be on the trip
  • A track record of being a great teammate
  • An interest in connecting with others and learning more about oneself
  • A commitment to being a positive and productive member of the community

Application Process

  1. Submit an online application via by clicking on “Enroll Now” on the top right corner of our website
    • Note that a $1,000 deposit is due with the online application. This deposit is non-refundable after December 15, 2020. Final payment is due April 1, 2021.
  2. Send the following to
    • Email Subject Line: “Full Name: Summer Gap Semester”
    • Two letters of recommendation. These will be waived for WA alumni.
    • Statement of Interest: Why are you interested in joining this group? What do you bring to the group? What do you hope to gain out of the experience?