Leadership Adventure Gap Semester Student & Parent Testimonials

Adventure Treks will not be running a gap semester for fall 2024. Please reach out to us at 828-698-0399 for questions about 2025 and beyond. 

LAS was a great opportunity for our son to broaden his leadership skills and build strong relationships with his peers. We saw his confidence and maturity grow dramatically as a result of his time with Adventure Treks. The fact that he was able to do all this while participating in activities that he loves made it the ideal experience for his gap year. – Meredith Pinto, parent from Bethesda, MD

Freshly back from the leadership gap semester, we have already seen maturity and development in our son on every one of Adventure Treks’ Great 8 Outcomes: communication, collaboration & social achievement, creativity, critical thinking, leadership, self-management, resilience, and optimism. Personally knowing instructors at NOLS and Outward Bound, we considered those programs but found AT to be a better fit with a more individualized approach and holistic development of adulting skills and executive function—they deliver on who they say they are and what they say they do using the outdoor environment to help, as our son now says, “realize my full potential.” We have been fully impressed and delighted from the first click of interest on their website, to the photos and blogs bringing us along their journey, to the call from the emergency room (relatively minor injury), to the spring in our son’s step and spark in his eye upon returning. As our son says “I could not have imagined a better option after high school. – Jon Heller, parent from Mystic, CT

As a parent of a 19-year-old teenager who was unhappy and unsure of himself and his future, sending him to Adventure Treks’ Leadership Adventure Semester was a great decision. It opened his heart and changed his perspective of the world. He learned some great skills and now loves the outdoors. He continues to tell us stories of friendship, joy and challenges. He enjoyed it so much, he is thinking about a career in wilderness therapy or conservation. – Susan Witkus, parent from Holt, MI

LAS is an amazing, transformative experience for any young adult looking to become a better version of themselves while exploring the outdoors. This program offers students a beautiful landscape and facility to learn countless useful backcountry skills and leadership skills, all while having so much fun! LAS is a great fit for anyone looking to broaden their interests and work on themselves—whether or not they already have experience in the outdoors. – Tori G, student from Colts Neck, NJ

Our son’s gap semester with AT was a transformative experience that exceeded our expectations and his. He gained lifelong friends, new skills, and values to take with him into his young adulthood. I’m thankful the program included a cross cultural component. He had an amazing adventure with wonderful hosts in Costa Rica, which broadened his view of the world and taught him what is really important—family, community, hard work, nature, and gratitude, among other things. It WAS hard work and challenged him in many ways, but he had such a blast! For us, this program was an essential step to prepare him for college next semester. – Katie Driver, parent from Augusta, GA

Imagine the happiest moment of your life. Now imagine if you felt that way every single day… that was my life for 74 days while at Adventure Treks. It wasn’t always easy—it was quite challenging at times—but I had never been happier with a group of once strangers who are now the best friends I’ll ever have. LAS gave me the best experiences of my life; I have the tools, knowledge, and connections to last me a few lifetimes, and that is a feeling you can only learn through a program that demands vulnerability, builds character, and adds depth. I woke up every day with a purpose and the motivation to challenge myself, and I am extremely proud of myself. I am forever grateful for this experience. – Adelaide L, student from Louisville, KY

LAS is unlike any other program out there. It’s so unique in its wide range of activities and experiences offered, from all things outdoors to general life skills. Additionally, it’s so aptly situated in North Carolina, with premier locations for each activity no more than an hour’s drive. With incredibly experienced instructors and staff, expect to learn and excel at everything offered. Accumulating knowledge and skill at multiple different activities I had never experienced before is something I’ll be able to carry with me the rest of my life, and will provide a platform for me to jump into any of those activities again as a future hobby. Not only does the semester offer great strides in self-growth and knowledge, but it’ll leave you walking away from it with a tightknit community of close friends. And the instructors are truly amazing and incredible. They really made the semester what it was; without their mentorship and compassion it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as significant of an experience. – Trevor B, student from Durham, NC

Attending the Leadership Adventure Semester is the best decision I have ever made. I grew as an outdoorsman, leader, friend, community member, and person. Those were the most fun and rewarding three months of my life. I made amazing, lifelong friends, and the community was incredible and unique. Everyone was so supportive and willing to lend a hand, a shoulder to cry on, and just a great friend. – Matt S, student from Mamaroneck, NY

LAS is an incredibly educational and transformative experience. I learned so much about new outdoor skills, leadership, and myself. I made some of the closest friendships of my life. The instructors were amazing, and the community was loving, constructive, vulnerable, and supportive. – Zach R, student from Durham, NC

The 11 weeks I spent at LAS was the most personal growth I’ve ever experienced. I accomplished so many feats I never considered possible, from physical challenges to emotional breakthroughs. I feel like I now have the confidence to push myself in tough situations and the independence to do my own thing in life. I have LAS to thank for that. And I don’t think we could have had a better group of instructors. I always felt heard and valued; when I asked questions and showed more interest in certain activities, they jumped at the opportunity to teach me more. They all were funny and caring and made me want to spend time with them. Everyone was approachable. I also made so many close bonds—the community is more than a group of people with shared interests… it’s a family. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world. – Laura K, student from West Grove, PA

My decision to attend LAS is simply the best decision I’ve ever made. It was three months filled with adventure, challenge, and fun surrounded by an incredible close-knit community. I did not expect to make as many amazing friends I did. Spending a week in the backcountry was magical in terms of how I got to know people so quickly. Everyone in the community had different skills and knowledge to offer, and people loved to teach others about their passions as much as people wanted to learn. The community exceeded my expectations, and being part of a group of such encouraging and motivated people was really valuable. The activities we took part in such as mountain biking and canoeing were so fun and rewarding. I learned so much, including tangible skills like how to set up a sky tarp. I also grew a lot as a person in terms of my confidence in my skills and leadership. It is impossible to describe how positive my experience was in just a few short words, but I stand by the fact that my decision to attend LAS was the best one I’ve ever made. – Maggie B, student from Larchmont, NY

I can easily say that my gap semester experience was the best 74 days of my life. I returned home with a huge toolkit of knowledge, skills (both soft and hard ones), and experiences that will shape my life for years to come. I am confident that the bonds and friendships that I made while at LAS will last a lifetime. The community, and how close it was, was a huge and integral part of the experience for me. I really enjoyed the creation of a community from essentially nothing, and seeing how it matured and changed over the course of the semester. I also really loved the balance of learning and enjoyment. I’m very proud of the close relationships I formed with my peers, and all the cool new skills I learned, which gives me the confidence to lead backcountry expeditions with my friends now. – Ethan R, student from New York, NY

Doing the LAS gap semester was one of the best decisions of my life. The community created in this program had so much healthy energy and supportive relationships; the 20 other students in the semester now know me inside and out, and I couldn’t be happier about it. My peers are people I will be friends with for a lifetime. We grew together. We laughed, cried, walked, hiked, rowed, and loved each other. I could not have asked for a better group of people to have done this semester with and appreciate the application team for handpicking the best students and lifelong friends. You learn so much about yourself in this program and find yourself in situations and activities you never knew you could overcome, but you do. I came out of LAS an even more positive version of myself. – Gio B, student from Miami, FL

LAS was exactly the semester I was looking for. This semester was a perfect mix of learning, growing, and leading and has outdoor options for everyone! For an especially scary and confusing time, LAS was where I needed to be to still have fun and work hard. Plus, I am consistently my favorite and best self when I am at Adventure Treks. LAS set me on a totally different, and what I consider to be a much better, course for my future. It showed me what I really want to be doing. – Jessie S, student from Pepperell, MA

My LAS experience was truly transformative. I began the semester anxious and concerned that I wouldn’t be able to handle the demands of the curriculum. Within days I found that the instructors were incredibly kind and genuinely concerned with my personal experiences, needs, and hopes for the semester. I hadn’t done many of the activities before the start of the semester and found most of them daunting, but the community at LAS instructors and students alike was a constant source of support and encouragement. In just 74 days, 26 former strangers became some of my closest friends and people to whom I hope to stay connected for life. With challenging, my experience with LAS was anything but easy. But I ended my hardest days feeling stronger, and I’m grateful to have faced those challenges in a safe and supportive environment. As much as I grew from those tough days, they were far outnumbered by days feeling confident in new skills whether with a whitewater kayak, canoe, or bike. I will always treasure my semester with AT and reflect on it as a time of growth, laughter, and love. – Celie K, student from Durham, NC

It is unfortunate, really, that I will never be a gifted enough writer to express how incredible my Adventure Treks gap semester truly was. I don’t know what any of us were expecting going into a gap program during a pandemic, but what we found was nothing short of a miracle. I’ve never been in a community of people who love and support each other as much or as genuinely as the community I found here. We were challenged by our instructors to become better in both our lessons and lives, while living in the most beautiful outdoors environment. It was truly the epitome of a worthwhile experience. – Jordyn L, student from East Hampton, NY

I am beyond grateful for this much-needed breath of fresh air. I have never felt more grounded and connected to the natural world, this community, and myself. On top of that, I have stories and adventures to last a lifetime, and I can’t wait to take what I’ve learned at AT and apply it to all aspects of my life. Words cannot adequately express how thankful I am for this summer and these friendships. – Katie, student from Asheville, NC

Adventure Treks is the happiest place on earth! The people I’ve met at AT are some of the coolest people I know. AT is the place where I truly belong and become my best self. It’s shaped me in a way that has made me a better human and better outdoorsman. My five years at AT have been the best five years ever. I just want to say thank you for making my experiences unbelievable. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without AT! – Sam, student from Highland Park, IL

Everyone was here because they genuinely wanted to be, and because they were excited to be active community members and leaders. My instructors had lighthearted, spirited mindsets about making the most of everything and keeping jokes and laughter a core element. They had incredible knowledge of the world, experiences, and stories to share, which I loved observing and learning from. At AT, I’ve learned to trust myself. Through experiences of becoming more vocal and leading others, one of the more profound lessons I’m taking away is the knowledge and embodiment of trusting my mind and body. AT has an atmosphere of love, adventure, and challenge unlike any other place. It’s truly a community that holds space for the truest, most authentic version of yourself, as long as you show up for it. I am grateful to you all for everything you’ve given to us! – Kate, student from Erdenheim, PA

LAS was a transformative experience for our daughter—the most important of her life so far, I think. She came home stronger in body and mind, courageous, confident, resilient, and looking for her next adventure. I really can’t say enough about AT, their staff, and this program. – Daniel Kaplan, parent from Durham, NC

I do not have the words to describe what these 74 days meant to our daughter and family. I do know that this magical experience will forever be in the top five of all things she chooses to do in life. She tries to explain it to us, but I think the bonds, growth, skills, trust, confidence, friendships, and love can really only be understood by those in that LAS community. She is not the same person—LAS recognized and found all her greatness and magnified it to new levels. This was the BEST DECISION we helped make for her. You all were the greatest gift. I can only say thank you for filling her heart to maximum capacity and then some. Thank you so much! – Elizabeth Lenihan, parent from Louisville, KY

Adventure Treks’ gap semester is perhaps the most extraordinary experience Jacob has had. I am grateful! He came home having been part of a special and loving community that was honest, challenging, and supportive. He returned home a fuller, happier, more mature, and evolved young man. The emotional growth, along with other wilderness skills, cannot be overstated. – Amy Ross, parent from Larchmont, NY

This semester was such a great way for our son to continue to grow outside of a formal college setting with peers. He received great leadership feedback that was meaningful and allowed him to reflect on his experience. Honestly, I can’t think of anything to improve. You all were amazing, especially given the added pressure of a pandemic! I’m so glad our son had the opportunity to do something meaningful during his time off from college. Thanks to all! – Wanta Luettgen, parent from Winchester, MA