Wilderness Adventures

Program Reviews

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Rose
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Life-changing experience

My gap semester with Wilderness Adventures was nothing short of transformative, and I can't recommend the program enough to any student considering taking a gap year before or during their time in college. The WALI program takes a small group of college-aged students out into the backcountry to foster their outdoor skills while backpacking, canoeing, and rafting. Yet the true lessons learned are in students' leadership and relationship skills as the small student group reads and discusses texts on leadership while forming a tight group bond. The WALI program is the perfect choice for students who want to expand their outdoor skills and take time to explore themselves and their interests before beginning their college experience. WALI will change your life; it changed mine.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Rafting through the Big Drop rapids in Cataract Canyon through Canyonlands NP. They are class IV rapids and can get pretty gnarly! We followed the instructions of our river guide and made it through in one piece, thankfully. We celebrated by listening to our river guide play the trumpet he had packed with him for the week as we floated down the Colorado River.
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R
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Loved this program!!

I took a gap semester this past spring with Wilderness Adventures and it was the best decision I could have made for myself this past school year. This past spring I traveled through the southwest for 67 days. My 3 leaders were amazing. They were all so energetic, kind, passionate about their job and the outdoors, supportive, inclusive, and really helped us all of us on this trip. It was truly inspiring and being someone who never really did outdoorsy things prior, I learned a lot about myself and have a newfound passion for nature. Overall, this program is really family oriented making the atmosphere a really cool place to do activities, travel, try new things, and go on adventures.

What was your funniest moment?
There were many but one moment was when one of my friends wrote a poem about Lizard doing Lizard stuff.
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Maggie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible Learning Experience!!!

I spent my first semester of college overwhelmingly disappointed with virtual learning that resulted from COVID. I felt as though I has wasted time and money on an experience where I retained little knowledge in the classroom and made few meaningful social interactions on campus. My Spring semester spent with WA contrasted my Fall semester in numerous way, but mostly in the knowledge and perspective I gained throughout the 70 days. The various backgrounds and personalities of the individuals on the trip enabled me to learn more about their views and understandings while also developing my own. Unreal scenery combined with the cultural and historical significance of most of the locations we visited stimulated conversation among us that cannot be replicated in a classroom setting. There truly is no substitute for in person interaction and hands on learning.

While normalcy begins to be reestablished and I return to in person classes this Fall, I continue to think how grateful I am for my semester with WALI. Though the pandemic did instigate my search for an alternative to conventional school, the value of this gap semester still holds true even in COVID were negligible. I learned essential lessons about wilderness safety, the environment, and myself, and did so in the absurdly beautiful American Southwest. Could not recommend enough.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Probably any food combination you can imagine, but in a tortilla. Nothing quite like peanut butter, turkey, trail mix, and string cheese burritos on the trail.
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August
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Semester with WALI

This trip was phenomenal. The WALI crew as well as the other students quickly became my family. There’s nothing I would trade for this experience. I learned, grew, and had an amazing time while doing it. One of the biggest highlights for me was earning my Wilderness First Responder Certification! We gained hard knowledge about medical first response in wilderness areas but also just common sense medical care in every kind of situation. I strongly recommend this for anyone and everyone looking for an adventure!!!

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
We had a student on our trip who was from Israeli and she made us shakshuka, and Israeli dish somewhat like an egg/tomato soup. It absolutely blew my mind and I loved it. :)
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Natalie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I wish I could relive this trip !

This program was 70 days long and man, was I nervous! But as soon as I met my trip leaders and peers, all my nerves were assuaged — the positivity and delightful energy of the leaders and the curiosity and kindness of my peers seamlessly smoothed my transition. From canoeing to backpacking to getting my wilderness first responder certificate, the adventure was nonstop! I’ll cherish the moments of laughter, tranquility and even discomfort (I know that’s where I grew the most), and especially the amazing, beautiful views. As time passed, the group turned into family. We shared triumphs and supported each other through tribulations (long days on the trail, bad weather, someone having a bad day etc.), I knew that these people had my back. The trip leaders were incredible, helping both the novices and experts of the group push themselves physically and mentally. I know I have changed from this program — not only do I have a deeper appreciation and excitement for outdoor adventure, but I have found a sense of community and a family in the group I met. I cannot imagine my year without WALI gap, I feel so so fortunate to have found this program !!

p.s. do yourself a favor and sign up immediately :)

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I think the most surprising thing I saw was more to do with our groups ability to push ourselves — specifically during a day on a canoe section. It was a really windy day, and we were pushing ourselves so hard against the white-capped river. We couldn’t stop paddling for a moment — our boat would either capsize, or we would lose a lot of distance. It was really tiring and difficult, but we were all in it together and fed off each other’s intensity. Through determination, and a LOT of rigorous paddling, we got through that windy segment and all felt so much relief!! It was an amazing moment of hard work and reward (I’m pretty sure we all slept great that night!).
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Grace
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Most amazing experience!

Going into this trip, I was very nervous about meeting everyone and what the next 67 days were going to be like. But right away the leaders made everyone feel heard and supported. As the weeks went by our group got incredibly close (definitely making it hard to leave at the end!), which made it easier for me to push myself outside my comfort zone, knowing I was supported whether I succeeding or not. I was able to gain both outdoor living skills, while also learning about Wilderness First Aid and Swift Water Rescue! Aside from those skills and certifications I obtained from this trip, I was also able to gain personal growth experiences and really become a stronger, more confident version of myself.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
I attempted to lead climb for the first time and was very nervous. I had spent time practicing, but by the time I was tying in to do it for real, I started to get pretty shaky. One of my leaders, Will, was belaying me and he helped make sure that I felt comfortable and talked me through how everything would go, until I felt completely ready!
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frazer
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

If I could choose any moment in my life to go back to it would be this trip!

Having decided to do this trip on sort of a whim, with no previous backpacking or hiking experience, I was pretty nervous on the flight out to Barcelona, but they turned out to be some of the most amazing weeks of my life! The next four weeks were filled with amazing friends, lots of fun, and lots of challenges (for me at least, haha). I had 2 incredible leaders who genuinely supported me and awesome, sweet, and hilarious friends who laughed with me and helped me up each time I fell because of my bad hiking boots! I grew very close to the people on this trip, and at the end of 4 weeks I couldn't believe I had only met them 28 days ago! I would HIGHLY recommend this trip to anyone considering it.
Each night we would have a group family time, we'd play a game, and do other fun things. One of those thing was that we got to ask one person questions to get to know them. My favorite question was, "if you could pick any moment in your life to to relive what would it be?" One night, when it was my turn to answer, someone asked me the same question, and I don't think I had a definitive answer. But now after this trip, I can say--without a doubt-- that I would choose those 4 weeks in the Alps and Pyrenees! They were filled with adventure, hilarious memories, and times that I laughed so hard that I cried. They were flat out amazing, thanks to the super fun activities that we did, my amazing leaders, and my awesome friends. Also, if nothing else, to all you parents out there, just remember your kid can also squeeze a college essay out of this-- I know I did!

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Reilly
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Wilderness Adventures Peru Review

The moment I got to Peru I was shocked by how at home I felt with the leaders and other campers. Throughout the three weeks I grew as a person pushing myself physically and mentally. My group leaders were so supportive if I ever didn’t feel well, and always could sense if something was up. The friends I made on this trip I will stay in touch with forever and am already planning to meet up with them. Overall it was by far the best 3 weeks of my summer and the activities I participated in we’re unforgettable. It was just an amazing experience from start to finish.

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Andrew
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An experience unlike any other

I have done many trips similar to this, however, Peru stands out as the most unique adventure I have ever experienced. I was certainly encouraged to step outside of my comfort zone. I was not even awarded the comfort of being in the same hemisphere! With enthusiastic trip leaders, a great group of friends, a superb guide, satisfying and productive community service, and an immersive trip itinerary, you are guaranteed to come back from Peru with a deeper understanding about not only the culture, but of yourself as well.

What would you improve about this program?
I think the pack list could be improved. Peru in the winter (which is summer in the United States) would be a reasonable temperature if not for the altitude, which makes it feel much colder than it is. Make sure to pack warm clothes!
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Ella
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best trip ever!!

The Thailand service trip was amazing! I had some of the best experiences of my life with an amazing group of people. The leaders were awesome. Every day we had new adventures, from scuba diving to hanging out with elephants. The service projects were fun to do. We went to marketplaces, where we ordered in Thai, to the island in Nangyuan where we all scuba dove. I will never forget my amazing summer in Thailand and I am so glad I went.