Teen Expeditions

Teen Leadership Expedition — Alaska, Backpacking

Ages 15–17  |  12 days  |  Starting at $3895
Discover Alaska’s remote, technical terrain as you backpack through the wilderness on a 12-day adventure for teens!
A teenager backpacking in Alaska.

Adventure First

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!

With NCOAE’s Alaska 12-day Teen Leadership Expedition, you may explore America’s largest National Park – Wrangell-St. Elias or spend your expedition traversing sections of the 280 miles of maintained trails in Chugach State Park. Travel along cold-mountain streams and mountain passes, as you explore the wilderness!

This 12-day Alaska hiking trip is designed specifically for teens in search of developing into better leaders and mastering practical outdoor survival skills. The journey will feature an adventurous backpacking trek through the Wrangell or Chugach Mountains. This teen leadership expedition is perfect for those with a nose for adventure and a passion for the Alaska wilderness.

During your expedition, you will have the opportunity to sharpen your backpacking, camping, and other skills including map & compass, river navigation, stove use, backcountry cooking and more. You may even get the chance to apply your new skills in the last few days of the course with a “graduation climb” up a mountain peak.

Explore the heart of Alaska while learning, sharpening, and practicing your leadership and outdoor technical skills.


  • Leave No Trace (LNT) training
  • Expedition planning and logistics
  • Advanced backpacking skills
  • Remote wilderness camp craft, including backcountry cooking and food planning

Course Details

12 days
Credit Hours
Anchorage International Airport (ANC)
Alternative drop off/pick up locations
Not available for this expedition.
Register for Course
Skills Acquired
  • Gain backpacking, camping, navigation, and backcountry cooking skills
  • Challenge yourself in new & rewarding ways
  • Gain the skills necessary to explore the wilderness
Academic Credits

Not currently offered for this expedition.

A person backpacking in Alaska.


  • Gain new leadership and outdoor skills
  • Make new friends and lasting memories
  • Explore the most wild and remote region in the United States
  • Travel in the largest most remote National Forest and State Parks in the country
  • Challenge yourself like never before

On the Map

  • Chugach National Forest
  • Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve
  • Anchorage, AK

Talk to Us

Have any further questions about the course location, what you'll learn, or what else to expect? Contact us, we're here to help!

Alaska NCOAE Program Video





Frequently Asked Questions

What is the 12-day Alaska – Teen Leadership Expedition?

The Alaska – Backpacking teen leadership expedition is a 12-day wilderness adventure during which you’ll participate in backpacking and camping activities – while learning how to travel in the outdoors on a multi-day backcountry course.

You’ll visit a variety of areas while you explore the Chucagh National Forest and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve. Along the way, you’ll explore the rugged ridges of these mountain areas as you practice the basics of camp setup, 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.

Is the 12-day course offered in other locations or on different dates?

We offer this course in a variety of locations and during different periods throughout the summer to accommodate the destination and schedule that works best for you. You can also explore the Pacific Northwest or North Carolina on a 12-day summer expedition!

Who should take this course?

This course is best suited to those who want to challenge on a memorable summer adventure!

What do I need to do to physically prepare for this course?

You do not need to be an “Ironman” to participate in this course. That said, you will be required to carry your own pack, with your own gear and some group gear. While backpacking, your pack will weigh between 30 and 40 pounds at any given time, while hiking over rugged terrain.

What is the average group size and instructor/student ratio?

Each group has two or 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 are the ages of participants?

The age for this course is 15-17 year olds.

What gear and equipment do I need?

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.

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. Each student should bring a small amount of spending money for personal items; such as souvenirs, extra snacks, and gifts.

What kind of food will I be eating?

Since we will be carrying all of our food, 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.

What do I need to know about travel to and from the course location?

If you are flying, please plan to arrive at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) on the day of your course, no later than 10:00am Pacific Time. A staff member from NCOAE will greet your child at the airport’s baggage claim area, sign them in for their course, collect any medications they may have, and do a bag check to ensure they have everything they need for their course.

To assist your child, you can view the map of ANC — including the location of the baggage claim areas — online at https://dot.alaska.gov/anc.

If dropping your child off or picking your child up at the conclusion of their course, please contact us for alternative drop-off and pick-up locations.

Please note: If you may need to fly into ANC the day before the course starts or if dropping off the day before the course’s start date, please contact us for alternative drop-off date, time, location, and cost.

How do I get in contact with an NCOAE participant/student during a course if there is an emergency at home?

If during regular business hours (8am-5pm EST), please call (910) 399-8090 and you will be connected to an NCOAE staff member in the office that will assist in connecting you with the NCOAE participant/student or help you navigate the reason for your emergency contact.

In case of an after-hours emergency and you need to contact an NCOAE student, please call (910) 399-8090 and press 9.

You will be routed to a live NCOAE member or an answering service that will immediately notify an NCOAE staff member who will assist in connecting with the NCOAE participant/student or help you navigate the reason for your emergency contact.

At NCOAE, emergencies are defined as:

  • Medical emergencies involving members of the participant’s family.
  • Urgent family matters requiring the participant’s immediate attention.
  • Unexpected travel disruptions affecting the participant’s return home.
  • Any situation posing an immediate threat to the safety or well-being of the participant’s family.

Request More Info


An instructor showing a student a map.

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

Aaron Marshall, NC Teen Adventure Graduate