A student group hiking through a meadow in the Gila National Forest.
Camera Nick Hall

Southwest Trip Leader

Gain skills to teach in the outdoors

On this course designed for current and aspiring outdoor educators who don’t have a lot of time or a huge budget, you’ll work on the skills to lead, manage risk, and teach in the wilderness. Start your mornings cooking meals on a camp stove and honing your in-camp outdoor living skills like Leave No Trace. On the trail, focus on leadership development through scenarios, real-time problem solving, and experiential learning as you navigate on and off trail in the Gila National Forest. Learn about the area’s ecology as you explore ponderosa pine forests and the changing desert landscape. End your days with a debrief of challenges you met, a discussion of teaching techniques, or classes on essential skills like first aid.

Leadership and education are the main focus of this course. Teaching your peers a class about local ecology is an opportunity to practice giving and receiving feedback. Seeing the behind-the-scenes prep for your course provides insight into program management. Navigating off-trail becomes a lesson in decision making, while resolving group conflicts becomes practice in communication and group dynamics. By the end of this course, you’ll have a strong foundation in teaching skills, outdoor experience, and leadership, and be ready to move forward in your career as a trip leader.  

Additional Details

Prerequisite: Practicing backcountry trip leader.

Recommended: Basic first aid certification.

Essential Eligibility Criteria

Course Dates

0 courses

We searched our packs and couldn’t find that exact result.
Try Again or Go to Course Finder

See Photos and Videos from Students and Instructors

What Our Grads Say

“I have taken more than 100 students and adults backpacking, and you would almost think I had this sport figured out! But I have to tell you, my experience at NOLS will revolutionize the way I run backpacking trips in the future! I used to hand out basic trail maps to my leaders, but the NOLS focus on topographical maps and compass navigation was so fun and beneficial that it will become a part of my future trips. I also used to just let my trips happen and the participants learn what they will, but the NOLS method for daily debriefing will now be added to bring more meaning to each experience. I’m excited to share my new insights about the sport of backpacking with my co-leaders and my student participants!” 

Start Your Experience Today

More Courses