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Outdoor Leadership Training: Backpacking

Posted by Rachel Wendling at Sep 15, 2016 02:00 PM |

Getting teachers and youth program coordinators out into the wilderness was a milestone in rounding out the suite of WTA learning experiences (including hiking, snowshoeing and camping workshops) available to schools and community organizations that want to increase access to the outdoors for the youth they serve.

One … two … three … four. The sound of thunder filled the tent. The strong winds, heavy rain and bright lightning meant that it wasn’t really necessary to use the “flash to bang” method to know that the thunderstorm was passing nearby, but the technique was discussed during one of that day’s mini-workshops—so it seemed an apt time to test it out.

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Luckily, all of the participants on WTA’s first Outdoor Leadership Training backpacking workshop, held this past July, were tucked into their sleeping bags, safely on the floor of North Cascades National Park’s Thunder Creek Valley. And by the time coffee and oatmeal were being prepared ahead of another day of learning about planning and leading backcountry outings for youth groups, blue sky was poking out behind the mountain ridges.

Getting teachers and youth program coordinators out into the wilderness was a milestone in rounding out the suite of WTA learning experiences (including hiking, snowshoeing and camping workshops) available to schools and community organizations that want to increase access to the outdoors for the youth they serve. The three-day backpacking workshop covered modern tools and best practices for leading safe, fun and low-impact backpacking trips for groups.

Some of the community trip leaders have gone on to plan their own backcountry outings. Others are building up to it with their groups, and some were looking to increase their confidence as outdoor leaders in order to facilitate other activities. When asked what was most useful about the experience, one participant reflected that “talking through all the complexities and describing how to take them on in a manageable way was amazing.” Interested in expanding your own outdoor leadership skills? Learn more and sign up at wta.org/olt. 

This article originally appeared in the Sept+Oct 2016 issue of Washington Trails Magazine. Support trails as a member of WTA to get your one-year subscription to the magazine.

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