WALI Gap Semester
Welcome to the WA Leadership Institute Programs!
The Wilderness Adventures Leadership Institute (WALI) Gap Semester programs for students 18 and older 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 Leave No Trace Trainer. 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 Gap Semester 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.
Our gap semester programs are ideal for 12th+ students seeking a challenging and formative experience outside of the traditional classroom setting. Each semester cohort has room for 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.
Taking Time For Your Future
Joining a WALI gap semester will give you the necessary skills to lead and take ownership of your future. Building confidence and interpersonal skills throughout, this semester will serve as a pivotal launching pad to your life. Wherever you end up with WALI, the confidence, competence, self awareness, and passion will shine through.
Our Gap semester partners with the University of Wyoming to offer offer academic credit to our students. Click the link below to learn more.
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
- COVID-19 vaccination is highly recommended but not required for Gap Semester Programs. PCR or antigen testing may be required for students prior to a program regardless of vaccination status.
How to Apply
Send the following to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Email Subject Line: “Full Name: Program Name”
- 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?
- Admissions Interview: Schedule a 45 minute video interview here with our Gap Program Coordinator
Gap Semester Info Sessions
If you’d like to connect directly with our Gap Program Coordinator, Will Previte would love to hear from you! Please click here to schedule a virtual one-on-one meeting to discuss Gap Semesters at WA!
At WA, we know that hiring great leaders is the key to our success! With this in mind, our team is dedicated to interviewing and throughly vetting potential WA leaders. This hiring process including a written application, a 2-phase interview process with multiple members of the leadership team, reference and background checks. Many of our staff are also personal references of previous WA leaders or WA families and students. If you know someone great who would like to lead for WA, please send them our way!
WA is proud to have a financial aid program that helps many students join our program each summer. Contact the office directly to learn more about the financial aid application process. Or click HERE to access the financial aid application.
We will provide you with travel dates, timing, and location for your program. We suggest that you book your plans through Aspen Travel – a travel agency located next door to the WA office that has helped us manage travel plans for over 30 years! These folks are pros and can help you find the perfect flights, manage the rules of unaccompanied minor services, and assist you if flights are cancelled or changed along the way. You may also book your travel independently.
We cannot accept the use of 529 for WA tuition costs. At this time you are eligible to use 529 college savings to pay for UW college credits only.
Fall Gap Semester: Pacific Northwest
I got a lot of experience working, talking, and living with people who have very different perspectives and experiences, helping with my overall leadership abilities.
Spring Gap Semester: Southwest
My gap semester with Wilderness Adventures was nothing short of transformative, and I can't recommend the program enough to any student considering taking a gap year before or during their time in college.
Summer Gap Semester: Rockies
I feel much more capable of exploring the outdoors independently in the future. This trip has prepared me mentally, emotionally, and physically to responsibly recreate in the wilderness.