WA Leadership Institute

Welcome to the WA Leadership Institute (WALI) Programs!

Earn professional certifications. Expand your outdoor skillset. Perform meaningful service work. Build self-confidence. Become a leader.

The Wilderness Adventures Institute (WALI) Gap Semester programs provide you with opportunities to test your foundational outdoor skills and further your capabilities as a leader. At WALI, you and your cohort will earn your Wilderness First Responder certification, the industry standard for professional guides, trip leaders, search and rescue team members, outdoor recreationalists, and international travelers. Other certifications may include CPR/First Aid, Swift Water Rescue, and more. You will perform meaningful service work alongside National Forest rangers and non-profit advocates. You will utilize your time outside of the traditional classroom setting to hone in your hard and soft skills, receive impactful leadership instruction, and build towards your capstone experience at the end of your term. With an outdoor classroom unlike any other, this is the adventure of a lifetime.

Our Programs

From 30 days to 70 days, from backcountry sea kayaking in Yellowstone National Park to backpacking through the breathtaking desert landscape of Grand Staircase Escalante, WALI Gap Semester courses offer opportunities for you to see the most beautiful wild spaces of the continental United States. Along the way, you will develop your critical thinking and problem solving skills, fine tune your leadership style, and become an integral member of your cohort – all of whom will challenge and inspire you into becoming your best self.

’21 Spring Gap Semester: Southwest – 70 days

  • Session 1: February 15 – April 25, 2021
  • Session 2: February 22 – May 2, 2021

Click here to join our director, Tom Holland, for a virtual info session on our Spring Gap Semester: Southwest program on Wednesday, January 6 at 4:00pm MST.

’21 May Term: Utah – 30 days

  • Session 1: May 9 – June 7, 2021

’21 Summer Gap Semester: Utah Cohort – 42 days

  • Session 1: June 7 – July 18, 2021

’21 Fall Gap Semester: Semester in the Rockies – coming soon!

Our Students

Our Gap Semester programs are ideal for 12th+ students seeking a challenging and formative experience outside of the traditional classroom setting. Each semester cohort will max out at 12 students with 2-3 Trip Leaders. You will travel as a group through remote backcountry areas and work through course curriculum that is designed to broaden your worldview and build your teamwork capabilities and leadership skills.


This program is not designed for students in need of therapeutic support.