Multiple Locations +2
  • United States of America
  • Costa Rica
    • San José
12 - 26 weeks

Program Details

Camping Rock Climbing Swimming
Cabin Tent
Primary Language
Age Min.
Age Max


Starting Price
Price Details
Students will live at a base for the duration of their semester (when they’re not camping during backcountry trips). The open-air cabins are screened-in and rustic but have electricity and are comfortable.

Adventure Treks gap semester tuition will include the following:

All meals and lodging
Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, backpack, and group gear
Technical gear for mountain biking, rock climbing, canoeing, and kayaking
Guided activities
Wilderness First Responder course
Swift Water Rescue course

Not included in tuition:

Medical insurance
Personal clothing and gear
What's Included
Accommodation Activities Equipment Meals Park Fees Transportation Wifi
What's Included (Extra)

Wilderness First Responder certification and Swiftwater Rescue courses
Travel insurance

What's Not Included
Feb 06, 2024
May 16, 2022
5 travelers are looking at this program

About Program

From the mountains ranges and rivers of Costa Rica to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina and the beaches of the Pacific Northwest, Adventure Treks' gap semester traverses multiple ecosystems and cultures over the 74-day program. Throughout the semester students will gain skills in backpacking, rock climbing, mountain biking, whitewater kayaking and canoeing while also learning how to communicate effectively, step into leadership roles and gain independence. Another component of the program is learning life skills like plumbing, auto-maintenance, carpentry, resume building and more. During the semester, we’ll spend time in areas like:

Pacuare and Pejibaye Rivers
Pisgah National Forest
Goat Rocks Wilderness
Olympic Peninsula
Smith Rock
North Cascades National Park
Great Smoky Mountains

The gap semester will offer the ability to earn 14 hours of college credit (which equals four classes) through Western Carolina University (WCU).

Video and Photos

Program Highlights

  • 14 college credits, internship opportunities and 529 funds available
  • Get your Wilderness First Responder and Swift Water Rescue certs
  • Be a part of a supportive, fun community
  • Learn how to rock climb, mountain bike, canoe, whitewater kayak and backpack
  • Learn life skills in auto maintenance, plumbing, carpentry, electrical and more!

Popular Programs

Whitewater kayaking on the Pejibaye River

Students will begin their semester in North Carolina learning how to mountain bike, rock climb, canoe, plan a backcountry trip and will hone in on their leadership and life skills. They will take their Wilderness First Responder and Swiftwater Rescue courses and build up to leading their own five-day backpack. They will then travel as a group to Costa Rica where they will spend their last three weeks whitewater kayaking, rafting, canoeing and exploring the mountains of Costa Rica.

Backpack in the Goat Rocks wilderness

This is an expedition program starting in Portland where students will learn how to mountain bike, rock climb, canoe and will hone in on their leadership and life skills. They will take their Wilderness First Responder and Swiftwater Rescue courses in and build up to leading their own backpack on the Olympic Peninsula. They will then travel as a group to Costa Rica where they will spend their last three weeks whitewater kayaking, rafting, canoeing and exploring the mountains of Costa Rica.

Program Reviews

5.00 Rating
based on 18 reviews
  • 5 rating 100%
  • 4 rating 0%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Housing 4.9
  • Support 5
  • Fun 5
  • Value 4.9
  • Safety 4.95
Showing 1 - 8 of 18 reviews
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Yes, I recommend this program

A Wonderful Way to Start a Gap Year

The Leadership Adventure Semester with Adventure Treks was a truly wonderful experience. For a such new program, it was thoughtfully planned and every aspect was excellent. The location was wonderful, as western North Carolina is incredibly beautiful and has plentiful opportunities for many different kinds of recreation. The staff are all amazing, skilled, charismatic, and kind people who are eager to help you learn and grow as a person. So beyond thankful for this community. If you're uncertain about signing up, just do it! You won't regret it. It gave me so much more confidence for leading wilderness expeditions, and for life in general.

69 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Adventure and Friendships to Last a Lifetime

Man, where do I even begin? Mere words will never adequately express my gratitude for the sunsets, laughs, mountain goat families, exhilarating rapids, sense of accomplishment, sore calves, breathtaking views, and universal growth shared among a group of 12 strangers that turned into family.

This trip is a highlights reel of the most stunning wild places in the American West (especially the PNW). I still have to pinch myself when I think back to paddling down 14-ft waterfalls on a river that flows through a collapsed lava tube. When I close my eyes, I can still imagine the endless expanse of stars in City of Rocks and the sheer power I felt while shouting an inside-joke battle cry into a canyon in the Goat Rocks. From daily practice in risk management, knots, Leave No Trace--to my River Rescue and Wilderness First Responder Certifications, I feel capable and confident to lead backpacking trips with friends and beyond. I also fell in love with rock climbing, and I am very involved in the outdoor scene on my college campus.

In an age of isolation and sleepwalking behind screens, this trip was such a necessary and timely reminder of what really matters in life. I learned that when you show up each day with your whole authentic self and actively invest in the growth of yourself and others, you are capable of anything. I learned to chase relationships and experiences (like AT) that make you feel so wholeheartedly loved, alive, and true. I highly, highly recommend this program to anyone my age. The transition to college is such an inflection point full of uncertainty and chaos, and this trip gave me time and space to reflect upon the person I am and the person I want to be, and I found the sense of direction and meaning I craved within the most supportive and encouraging environment.

Attending Adventure Treks last summer was undoubtedly the best decision of my life. (Thank you, THANK YOU, Mom and Dad). I grew immensely as an outdoorswoman, leader, friend, and human being, and I have epic stories and friendships to last a lifetime. I can't say enough good things about this program.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
At the end of our time rock climbing in City of Rocks, Idaho, we completed a 3-hour multi-pitch climb on Castle Rock that was easily the most exhilarating and terrifying moment of my life thus far.

Our guide would climb up a pitch first and set up the anchor while I climbed up, hooking up quick draw carabiners to set the path for a fellow student behind me. We would repeat this cycle, clipped into an anchor as we waited for the person ahead to complete each incremental ascent, as we slowly climbed higher and higher.

My forearms began to ache, and when I made the critical error of looking down, my legs started to tremble, which is less than ideal when you have maybe 6" of a rock ledge to stand on (at best).

But through jokes with a fellow student clipped into the anchor, cheers of support from above and below, reassurance and tips from the climbing guide, and the stunning surrounding views of The City, as they call it, I made it all the way to the top. It was such a great day.
69 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Best Summer Ever!!!

The summer I had with Adventure Treks was definitely my best summer yet! I made so many friends that I still talk to and see to this day. I really appreciate all the support and learning opportunities AT gave me. Not only did this program take you to the most beautiful parts of the United States, it takes you through a Wilderness First Responder course and a Swift Water Rescue course, which I thought was very informative. I recommend that everyone who loves the outdoors and is looking for something to do during the summer to go on this trip. It is definitely the opportunity of a lifetime. Don’t miss out!!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Definitely live in the moment! You won’t regret it. I wish I could go back to this trip, so living in the moment and appreciating where you are at all times is the one piece of advice I would give.
73 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

Adventure Treks Summer 2021 Gap Semester

Adventure Treks has been and always will be my second family. The people that I have met on these trips are some of the coolest people I have ever met and I am honored to call them lifelong friends. Everything about my AT experience has been positive as AT teaches you to truly become your best self. When I am on AT I am in my happiest state. The GAP semester taught so many outdoor and leadership skills, as well as life skills. This experience I had on this trip is one that I will remember and love for the rest of my life. I wish that everyone could take an Adventure Treks trip as it teaches you to become a better person as you make lifelong friends and memories.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
In Colorado I saw two male moose majestically come out of the haze around a pond near our campsite. It was like brother bear.
72 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

A Once in a Lifetime Experience

LAGS is unlike any other program out there. It’s so unique in its wide range of activities and experiences offered, from all things outdoors to general life skills. While I'm quite jealous about the new addition of two weeks in Costa Rica, North Carolina is the perfect location for the broad range of activities available, with some of the best backpacking, biking, climbing, and river sport locations in the whole U.S. Accumulating knowledge and skill with these different activities that I had never experienced before is something I’ll be able to carry with me the rest of my life, and will provide a platform for me to jump into any of those activities again as a future hobby. The supportive and knowledgeable instructors are what made this possible, without their mentorship and compassion it would have been impossible to make the personal strides I made.

79 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

My experience

I had a wonderful time during the LAS gap semester. I made so many lasting friendships and grew in ways that I could have never imagined. I would 100% recommend doing this semester as I learned so many life and people skills that will help me in the next chapters of my life. I had my doubts coming in but they were all for nothing as I had a phenomenal experience! The instructors were all so amazing, friendly and supportive in everything we did. Everyone had some inexperience in different activities but with the support and encouragement from the staff as well as other peers it was easy to take on different challenges.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Kayaking through rapids for the first time or rock climbing on a slab for the first time.
81 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

LAS was incredible!

Attending the Adventure Treks Leadership Adventure gap semester was one of the best decisions of my life. The activities and community are both diverse and enriching. My group ranged from seasoned outdoorsmen to students who had never been on a hike and the instructors excelled at accommodating everyone. The activities (including backpacking, whitewater kayaking and canoeing, rock climbing, and so much more) consistently felt safe and fun and there was always a challenge for every skill level! I could not recommend this gap semester more for anybody looking for a change in pace and a need to reignite your love for the outdoors. You will be introduced to a community that values fun, safety, and teamwork while still getting the chance to develop your own skills and take reasonable risks. As long as you are up for the challenge, the Leadership Adventure Semester is the perfect fit for you!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
When I first started at LAS I was so concerned about maintaining a specific reputation and terrified of anybody seeing my dwindling skill level. If I could go back and do it all again, the only change I would make would be to my own confidence going in. If you’re looking for encouragement and room for growth there is no better group to be around than your instructors and peers at LAS. Everyone you meet has a different set of skills and strengths and there are so many activities everybody gets a chance to shine! This truly is the place to be your best self and I wish I had known that from the start!
87 people found this review helpful.
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Yes, I recommend this program

LAS 2020

My life changed for the better when I decided to take this chance! I met friends I never would have met otherwise. I fell in love with who I became during this program, and I walked on my college campus and knew I would be just fine because of what I overcame during LAS. I am so thankful and I loved my experience. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

I always recommend it to anyone who is thinking about it. I learned so much and today I walked past a car with a dead battery and thought, “I know how to jump that car.” Thoughts like that, having that confidence, it’s priceless. I invested in my future and myself by signing up.

What was your funniest moment?
There are far to many! But when matt was slipping in his crocs walking up a steep, actively flooding, gravel road.
86 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers