Adult Leadership Expedition — Pacific Northwest, Backpacking & Whitewater Paddling
At the National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE), we know adventure. Immerse yourself in outdoor adventure, while learning the technical skills to travel & explore remote destinations around the world!
Starting in Bend, Oregon, this training takes you into the Deschutes National Forest, 1.8 million acres of wilderness area along the East side of the Cascade Range. Explore Three Sisters Wilderness Area, a breathtaking 286,000-acre area managed by the U.S. Forest Service. From the east slope of the Cascade Mountains, you’ll paddle the Deschutes River, a tributary of the powerful Columbia River. As you paddle and hike, you’ll be learning, sharpening, and practicing the skills needed to plan and lead outdoor adventure trips.
Explore the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest on this 14-day expedition and experience an adventure-based learning program unlike any other. This adult expedition trip is designed to help you master numerous outdoor wilderness skills such as backpacking, hiking, camping and features an amazing trek filled with whitewater rafting and multi-day river trips.
The beautiful state of Oregon is famous for its unique hiking excursions and outdoor activities. If you enjoy being on the water then you’ll love this adult expedition, as the whitewater rafting, and multi-day river trips have been an NCOAE favorite for years.
- Leave No Trace (LNT) training
- Expedition planning
- Wilderness Risk Management
- Remote wilderness camp craft
- Backcountry navigation
- Expedition cooking and food planning
- Develop essential wilderness knowledge and skills — while living and learning in Oregon’s wild, beautiful places.
- Immerse yourself in a wonderland of densely forested hills, cool mountain streams, cascading waterfalls, and stunning rock formations.
- Acquire the outdoor skills needed to travel in pristine destinations around the world!
Your work during the 14-day Pacific Northwest course may eligible for up to three college-level credits through The University of North Carolina – Wilmington.
- Gain new leadership and outdoor skills
- Make new friends and lasting memories
- Explore Oregon’s wild and remote high desert from the river to the trails
- Challenge yourself like never before
- Eat amazing backcountry meals
- Earn college credit
On the Map
- Willamette National Forest
- Three Sisters Wilderness
- Deschutes River
- Central Oregon
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the 14-day Pacific Northwest — Adult Leadership Expedition?
This 14-day Backpacking & Whitewater Paddling course is a multi-day trip where you’ll learn the skills you need to plan and prepare for backcountry outdoor adventures. You will develop a wide-range of wilderness and leadership skills, including kayaking, rafting, backpacking, backcountry cooking, wilderness camping, travel planning, environmental and civic responsibility, leadership and communication styles, decision-making, and teamwork.
You’ll visit a variety of remote areas in the Cascade Mountains, Deschutes National Forest, Deschutes River, and the Three Sisters Wilderness Area. Along the way, you’ll explore these mountain areas as you practice the basics of camp setup, whitewater paddling, backpacking, and other outdoor skills.
Where will we be staying?
We’ll be living in tents and enjoying our evenings in different areas most nights, identifying the stars and sharing highlights of our learning.
How different is the 14-day course compared to the 25-Day and Gap Semester courses?
If you’re looking for a longer course with more time for additional exploration and adventure, we suggest you consider joining us for a 25-day or Gap Semester course. You’ll go even more in-depth, combining the highlights of local topography, geography, and culture with our exceptional Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course.
Beyond my tuition, what will I need to pay for during the course?
Your tuition with NCOAE covers all major costs related to your room, board, and lodging, except when specified in the itinerary. You may request an optional meal out when we are in an urban area, which you would need to pay for separately. Additionally, you’ll need to budget a small stipend for your personal items, including souvenirs, extra snacks, and gifts
What kind of food will I be eating?
Since we will be carrying all of our food with us, we’ll be eating many of the items that begin in their dehydrated forms; water weight is not something we want to carry. Expect meat, vegetables, fruits, grains, and even fresh baked bread and pizza! Of course, you’ll be making them all from scratch — learning to cook backcountry gourmet on the trail.
Do I need to buy any special equipment or clothes for the course?
Yes. NCOAE provides all necessary group gear and food, but you will want, or be required, to bring certain items for yourself. We encourage you to contact NCOAE with all of your gear questions as early as possible. Start planning now by viewing the NCOAE pack list for this course.
How do I prepare physically for the course?
Physical preparation depends on your fitness level. You don’t need to be a triathlete to participate, but you will be responsible for carrying your own equipment and some of the group gear while maintaining a positive attitude. The backpacking section will require you to carry 40 pounds or more over rough and rugged terrain, through various environments. The paddling sections will require sitting and paddling for long periods of time and walking on rugged, slippery shorelines or through the water while carrying or pulling your boat.
How many people will be in my group?
Each group has one to three instructors and eight to 12 students. We maintain an instructor-to-student ratio of no less than one instructor for every six students.
What is the minimum and average ages of participants?
The minimum age for this course is 18. The average age range is 19-27 years old.
Will we have any free time to ourselves?
Part of every NCOAE course is the solo experience. You will have the opportunity to spend a set number of days alone in the backcountry to meet your personal needs and desired outcomes. You’ll also have re-supply days between legs of your course, which provide time for resting, relaxing, and exploring local attractions.
Are adult leadership expeditions offered in other locations or on different dates?
We offer Adult Leadership Expeditions in a variety of locations and during different periods throughout the year to accommodate the destination and schedule that works best for you. You can also explore Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, North Carolina , Patagonia, and Ecuador at various times of the year.
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14 Day ADULT LEADERSHIP EXPEDITION
Participating in an NCOAE course has been one of the greatest experiences of my life!
It helped me to grow emotionally and taught me skills that I am able to transfer into my everyday life. I am truly grateful and lucky to have been a part of this program