Leadership Summit

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Leadership Summit


Oregon, Washington

Current Grades

11th, 12th, 12+


31 Days

view dates and prices
Meeting Place

Arrive Seattle, WA (SEA)
Depart Portland, OR (PDX)

After developing a love of outdoor adventure through previous expeditions, many students decide to strengthen their outdoor, interpersonal, and leadership skills through our capstone Leadership Summit course. Students will gain mastery in outdoor skills like backpacking and mountaineering and take a wilderness medicine certification course. Participants will begin the evolution from student to leader, laying the foundation for planning and executing future outdoor trips or working in the outdoor industry. We limit enrollment so students can dive deeper to improve outdoor leadership, group facilitation, wilderness ethics, environmental education, and team-building initiatives. Leadership Summit graduates also have the opportunity to apply to Adventure Treks’ internship program.

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Backpacking & advanced camp craft

Year after year, backpacking is the most highly rated activity at Adventure Treks for many reasons, including shared challenge, lack of electronic distractions, and what we call “shared humanity.” There’s magic in overcoming obstacles, and it’s even more powerful when challenges are shared with friends. Without electronics, people able to focus on what’s in front of them, and what’s important: themselves, their friends, and creating long-lasting memories. Students are able to step into different leadership roles, and backpacking highlights commonalities and interests that form strong, unbreakable friendship bonds. Backpacking offers opportunities for both type I fun (seeing beautiful views, having deep trail conversations, jumping into swimming holes) and type II fun (steep inclines, inclement weather, forgetting something and having to problem-solve)—both of which create rewarding, meaningful experiences.

Students will hike through North Cascades National Park and Olympic National Park on extended backpacking trips, honing such skills as:

  • Expedition management and safety
  • Orienteering, map-reading, and navigation skills
  • Leave No Trace principles
  • Camp set-up and take-down
  • Building temporary shelters
  • Fire-building
  • Backcountry cooking
Wilderness first responder course

Not only is it important for outdoor enthusiasts to have a basic understanding of wilderness medicine, but the wilderness first responder course is also the standard minimum medical certification for outdoor leaders like guides, search and rescue professionals, and educators. (Adventure Treks alumni often go on to become instructor interns after having gained this certification.) It’s also an extremely beneficial course for anyone who takes extended backcountry trips and wants to pursue emergency medical training. Students will cover topics like:

  • Patient assessment systems
  • Risk management
  • Vital signs
  • Anaphylaxis, allergies, and airway management
  • Heat- and cold-related injuries
  • Spinal and traumatic brain injuries
  • Wounds and soft tissue injuries
  • Trauma and shock
  • Burns and blisters
  • Bites, stings, and wildlife safety
  • Splinting and patient packaging
  • Dislocations
  • And much more
Academic credit

On Leadership Summit, students will have the opportunity to earn up to 8 academic credit hours through Western Carolina University.

Parks and Recreation Management (PRM) course 254, “Introduction to Outdoor Pursuits” (4 credit hours):

This is an expedition-style course in a wilderness environment. Expedition skills are taught experientially to enable students to lead others safely using minimum impact techniques that preserve the environment. Modes of travel include backpacking, mountaineering, and rafting. Students will receive the wilderness first responder medical certification. This course is designed to give students the confidence and proficiency in understanding how to lead their peers in any environment, as well as giving them the skills necessary to work in an entry-level job in the outdoor industry. Students will be encouraged to develop their teaching and leadership style and personal philosophy about backcountry ethics.

PRM course 357, “Wilderness First Responder” (4 credit hours)

This course trains participants to respond to emergencies in remote settings. The 80-hour curriculum led by SOLO Schools includes standards for urban and extended care situations. Special topics include but are not limited to wound management and infection, realigning fractures and reducing dislocations, improvising splinting techniques, monitoring patients, and long-term management problems. Adult/child cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) with automated external defibrillation (AED) is included in this course.


The Pacific Northwest is known for its ancient volcanic peaks that lend themselves to beautiful mountaineering opportunities in the summer. On Mt. Adams, we’ll learn how to use ice axes and crampons on snow school before attempting to summit the 12,281-foot peak. Then we’ll take that knowledge and apply it toward Mt. Olympus, where you’ll begin your backpack in a lush, vibrant rainforest before making the dramatic transition to crossing the Blue Glacier on a rope team.

Skills covered in the syllabus include:

  • Proper use of crampons and ice axes
  • Glissading and self-arrest techniques
  • Traveling on a rope team
  • Weather considerations and planning for summit attempts
  • Leave No Trace ethics for alpine terrain, snowfields, and glaciers
Whitewater rafting

The New York Times has rated the White Salmon River as #13 among 46 places to visit worldwide. This Wild and Scenic River is federally protected, leaving the water and forestry in pristine condition. Teamwork is required as you bounce down fun, sustained rapids; laughter is recommended.

Dates and Prices

Departure 1
  • Departure Day
  • Return Day
  • Price
Departure Day Return Day Price

Because of this trip’s backcountry challenges and student-led philosophy, it is highly recommended that new students / those who haven’t previously completed an Adventure Treks trip have previous backcountry experience (e.g., multi-day backpacking trips); please give us a call at 828-698-0399 to inquire about a director conversation and mutually good fit.

Included in tuition:
  • All meals
  • Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, backpack, and all group gear
  • Guided activities
  • Wilderness first responder course
Not included in tuition:
  • Airfare to Seattle (SEA) and from Portland (PDX)
  • Program, travel, and medical insurance
  • Personal clothing and items
  • Tuition and application cost of Western Carolina University academic credit

A little over half of our nights are spent at “frontcountry” campsites, where we’ll generally have a more developed campsite with running water, toilets, and sometimes cell phone service. This may be a public or private campground. We often stay at the same frontcountry site a few days in a row.

The other half will be spent “backcountry” camping, referring to wilderness locations where we are most likely out of cell phone service and away from our vehicles, electricity, and other amenities. Multi-day activities like backpacking and sea kayaking take place in the backcountry.

Challenge/fitness level

Fitness and physical challenge are subjective, so Adventure Treks does not “rate” its trips based on challenge. However, as noted above, Leadership Summit is one of our most challenging trips. Because we’ll be highly engaged in backcountry activities throughout trip, our students have the responsibility to be physically fit. We know physical fitness looks different for everyone, but it’s important to come prepared so that you and your fellow students can succeed. One student not coming prepared with physical fitness will negatively impact the entire group. In the months leading up to their trip, students should develop a routine that emphasizes stamina and sustaining a moderate level of exertion for many hours, several days in a row. Running, swimming, bicycling, aerobics classes, and team sports are all beneficial and will help improve cardiovascular fitness in preparation for a student’s trip.




Whitewater rafting

Wilderness first responder certification


Sheri Matthews, Charleston, SC

Hope has thrived off the experiences that she has enjoyed with Adventure Treks. Each year after her trip, I have seen an even more confident, assured, determined young woman. She is strong and true to herself. If your child embraces the experience and participates, contributes, listens, and applies, your child will thrive in so many more ways than just having a blast in the backcountry. You will see your child develop into a confident, strong individual back home. Hope has always been a stellar and exceptionally motivated child, always wanting to excel and to do better than better. But every time she returns from Adventure Treks, I see a more grown-up individual.

Each year the communication process has excelled. This year particularly has been a year of great improvement in all facets of the trip process (the enrollment process with the application info downloading and the online waivers). Stacey and Amanda are irreplaceable in my opinion. They are efficient, effective, responsive, knowledgeable, courteous, patient, kind, caring, exceptional employees who are the ties to our children.

Michele Bowe, Chevy Chase, MD

Adventure Treks gave Cece a place to grow and excel in a variety of life skills. It wasn’t just a one-off camp experience, but a carefully designed program to nurture resilience, self-esteem, independence and creativity. Cece enjoyed having more responsibility and being more a part of the decision-making process. She said they were a great team that was not afraid to play the games they learned as 9th graders. The team was respectful of each member and valued each other for who they really are. Tolerance and finding the good in each person were the rule of thumb. They encouraged each other. We so appreciate all of what AT stands for. Plus, I have always found the office to be very helpful and professional. AT is worth every penny. The instructors are well-vetted and trained. The AT philosophy and pedagogy appear to attract high-quality instructors who enjoy what they do and are good role models with their private lives.

Cheryl Juneau, McLean, VA

We thought that sending our son to Adventure Treks was an investment in his outdoorsman education. We had no idea how formative these programs would be! He came home more confident, more helpful, more appreciative, and above all, HAPPY! I have never heard him as happy as when I got the first phone call home from his first AT trip. He has a deeper appreciation for how his health is affected by exercise and by being outside. He has great respect for the AT instructors, and he gained a greater respect for the outdoors. He feels he has friendships to last a lifetime. He has already visited one friend in South Carolina. They all keep up with each other online.

I feel like the AT staff is like a family and that they know who my son is what he is doing. The level of knowledge they showed gave me a great deal of confidence in sending my son off with the AT program. He would not get lost in the system.

Tali Levy, San Mateo, CA

My son loved the smallness of the group, felt very connected to the group leaders, and spoke at great length about the Wilderness EMT class. He loved summiting Mt. Adams. It was very difficult for him, yet he succeeded and was exceptionally proud of himself and the encouragement he received. He loved learning how to lead an AT trip. I’m fairly certain his time with you isn’t done—expect a job application!

Amanda Schwartz, Amsterdam, Netherlands

She has loved every summer that she participated in AT; she always comes back so happy that it’s almost a letdown to return to the Netherlands! It’s been an excellent experience and a wonderful chance to discover her strengths and find her tribe. I see that Jillian is increasingly ready for adulthood, and AT helps that a lot.

Liz Kelly, Germany

Jack was so positively influenced from his Leadership Summit experience that it was woven into his college application essay on how it affected him. Adventure Treks is a fantastic experience that provides an open and safe community for all students to be themselves and thrive. And the office has always been most courteous and helpful in any correspondence I’ve had over the years!

Ann Stout, Houston, TX

Emma returns from her trips poised, centered, and ready for the school year. After a brief few days of missing her friends, she realizes she can still stay in touch via social media and appreciates having contacts around the country and overseas.