Teen Expeditions

Teen Leadership Expedition — Pacific Northwest, Backpacking

Ages 13–14  |  7 days  |  Starting at $1995
Discover Oregon’s Cascade mountains as you explore the wilderness on a summer backpacking expedition!
Two students following an NCOAE instructor on a hike.

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 in the Pacific Northwest!

With NCOAE’s 7-day Teen Leadership Expedition, you’ll explore the Cascade mountains. Travel along cold-mountain streams, cascading waterfalls, and mountain passes, as you explore the Willamette National Forest!

Time to lace up those hiking boots, as this 7-day overnight camping teen adventure course explores the wonders of the Pacific Northwest and journeys through beautiful Oregon. The underlying theme of this backpacking trip is to help teens develop lifelong traits that will help transform them into the leaders of tomorrow. This exciting mountain adventure is ideal for those who love the great outdoors and trekking through the wilderness while learning outdoor survival skills that they can rely on for the rest of their life.

During your expedition, you will have the opportunity to sharpen your backpacking skills, as you travel through the Cascade mountain range, exploring rocky ridges and breathtaking mountain vistas. 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.


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

Course Details

7 days
Portland International Airport (PDX)
Alternative drop off/pick up locations
Alternative drop off days and locations are available, as are pick up locations. Please contact us for options, costs, and additional information.
Register for Course
Skills Acquired
  • Develop Backpacking skills
  • Explore the Cascade mountain range
  • Challenge yourself in new and rewarding ways
  • Gain the skills necessary to explore the wilderness
  • Advance your knowledge of outdoor skills, leadership skills, environmental science, and more
Academic Credits

Not currently offered for this expedition.

A teenager backpacking.


  • 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 

On the Map

  • Willamette National Forest
  • Cascade Mountains
  • Central Oregon

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!



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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the 7-day Pacific Northwest – Teen Backpacking Adventure?

The course is multi-day wilderness adventure during which you’ll participate in backpacking and camping activities – while learning how to travel in the backcountry.

You’ll visit a variety of remote areas in the Cascade Mountains, such as the Willamette National Forest and the Three Sisters Wilderness Area. 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.

You can also explore the Pacific Northwest and North Carolina on other multi-day teen expeditions!

How far will I be hiking?

You and your group will travel more than 20 miles across mountains, cool mountain streams, and cascading waterfalls, practicing backpacking skills needed to explore rugged, remote areas around the world!

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 7-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 other multi-day teen expeditions!

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. Your pack will weigh between 30 and 40 pounds at any given time. You will be hiking over rugged terrain, crossing rivers, and climbing rugged ridges.

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 minimum and average ages of participants?

Students enrolled in this course are 13-14 years old.

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 in Oregon?

Your tuition with NCOAE covers all major costs related to your room, board, and lodging, except when specified in the itinerary. Students 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 on our backs, 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?

Arrival: Check-in will be between 10:00am – 10:30am PT at Portland International Airport (PDX). NCOAE staff will sign your student in, collect any medication, and do a bag check to ensure your student has all needed items for the trip.

If flying, please plan to arrive at Portland International Airport (PDX) on the day of your course, no later than 10 a.m. 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 PDX — including the location of the baggage claim areas — online at https://www.flypdx.com.

Departure: We provide a shuttle for the group that morning back to Portland International Airport (PDX) where your journey home will begin. Student pick-up will be from 12:00pm – 2:00pm PT at PDX baggage claim on the day your course ends.

If flying, plan to have your child’s flight depart PDX no earlier than 2:00pm PT on the day their course ends.

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.

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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