WALI Gap Semester

Welcome to the WA Leadership Institute Programs! Earn professional certifications. Expand your outdoor skillset. Perform meaningful service work. Build self-confidence. Become a leader.
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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.

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
  • A commitment to our Student Policies
  • 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

The 2024 Fall Semester is currently closed and no longer accepting new applications.


If you have any questions, schedule a call with our Gap Program Coordinator or send an email to rgarrett@wildernessadventures.com.

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Gap Semester Info Sessions

Join us to learn more about Gap Semesters at the Wilderness Adventures Leadership Institute (WALI). With fall, spring, and summer offerings, WALI Gap Semesters are an incredible opportunity to 18+ yr old students to build their leadership skills, grow through the challenge of outdoor adventure, and gain the skills necessary to travel comfortably in the wilderness all while making friendships to last a lifetime. Check back soon for times and dates!

If you’d like to connect directly with our Gap Program Director, Rachel Garrett would love to hear from you! Please send an email to rgarrett@wildernessadventures.com 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.

No, Wilderness Adventures does not pay commissions for any US referrals to our gap year program.

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.

At this time, you are able to use 529 college savings to pay for University of Wyoming college credits. If you have concerns regarding financial aid, please give our office a call at 307-733-2122.

Instructors are in charge of reviewing all health notes, medical records and dietary notes on each participant. We ask that all WA participants taking any prescription medication or over-­the-­counter medication on a regular basis pack their medications in a carry on with them.

We ask that all medications be in the original package with the student’s name, the name of medication and the dosage. For the safety of all WA participants, we ask that once the student has arrived at their trip destination, they hand their medications to their trip leader for safekeeping. There are some exceptions* to this rule, and those will be handled on a case-­by-­case basis. The Instructor will then administer medications on a regular basis at the appropriate times of day. The Instructor will hand medication to the participant and then the participant will take the medication in eyesight and return the bag back to the leader for safe keeping. All unused medications sent with each participant will be returned upon departure.

The same applies for administration of medications from the med kit. Only WA Instructors are permitted to carry the med kits and utilize them for the needs of both themselves and the students.

During this process, Instructors should document the distribution of the medication on the medication intake log.

*For students who are 18+ years of age, Wilderness Adventures permits those students to hold onto their personal medications throughout the trip and administer them themselves. The exception to this rule is that all controlled substances must be in possession of the WA Instructors at all times and administered by the WA Instructors.

Essential Eligibility Criteria (EEC) are the requirements that ALL participants need to be able to meet in order to participate on any Wilderness Adventures program. EEC are integrally tied to the safety and well-being of our groups and help ensure that our students can meet the basic requirements for participation. In order to attend a Wilderness Adventures program, all participants must be able to meet each of the EEC requirements listed below. The inability of a student to meet one or more of the EEC requirements could adversely affect not only the participant’s own experience and well-being, but that of the entire group. Although these EEC requirements are not intended to exclude potential participants, Wilderness Adventures takes them seriously and seeks to apply them objectively.

Each Wilderness Adventures participant must:

1. be in good mental and physical health and refrain from causing harm to themselves or others
2. be willing and able to follow Wilderness Adventures’ rules and instructions
3. be able to dress themselves and perform basic daily hygiene and self-care in a camping and group living environment
4. be free of any medical or psychological condition that requires consistent availability of medical facilities or trained medical personnel
5. be able to share group living space in tents, hostels, or other accommodations
6. be willing and able to eat provided group diet in three standard meals, plus snacks, unless special dietary accommodations have been discussed and agreed upon with Wilderness Adventures in advance
7. be able to communicate effectively with Wilderness Adventures’ staff about their physical, medical, behavioral, or emotional well-being that may include, but are not limited to, personal distress, injury, illness, allergies, asthma, anxiety, ADHD, homesickness, depression, and/or phobias
8. be able to understand, communicate, and act appropriately when encountering natural hazards and risks associated with traveling by aircraft, motor vehicle, train, bicycle, motorized watercraft, horse, on foot, or by any other means
9. be willing and able to follow simple directions without needing to be reminded
10. be willing and able to perform trip specific activities and adjust to the challenges of the activities that the trip presents; when entering the wilderness, these challenges include, but are not limited to: varying temperatures (from below freezing to above 90-degrees), rain, snow, lightening, and/or hail
11. be able to responsibly handle and wear equipment (including safety equipment) for various activities after receiving appropriate instruction
12. be willing and able to stay with the group at all times and to refrain from wandering out of sight from leaders and other group members
13. be willing and able to work as a member of a team, maintain a positive attitude in adverse conditions, and to put their personal needs behind those of the group.

Please Note: These EEC requirements do not encompass all criteria for participation in Wilderness Adventures programs. As detailed in your enrollment agreement and other materials, participation is also condition on receipt of full payment and receipt and review of all completed and signed forms, including medical forms. In addition, these EEC requirements are intended to give you a snapshot of some basic eligibility criteria for participation in WA programs, and do not encompass every criteria or function of the program activities a camper may participate in while at Wilderness Adventures. WA believes 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. WA celebrates diversity and recognizes the incredible contribution of diversity is an essential component for uplifting our shared humanity.

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Explore WALI

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.

Hassaan, WALI Student

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.

Rose, WALI Student

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.

Valentina, WALI student
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