Education & Curriculum


The IWLS educational model nurtures leadership development and creates an awareness of the guiding mentality that is essential for leading safe, fun adventures in wilderness environments. The combination of technical skills training, experiential education and practical leadership experience make the IWLS curriculum world class.

Instructor Micah Lewkowitz teaches a glaciology lesson below the Davidson Glacier, Haines, AK. -Meredith Riley


Learn by doing! First and foremost, IWLS programs are experiential. Whether climbing glaciated peaks, paddling tidal flows or hiking desert canyons, IWLS students are out there doing it. Fully accredited by the Association for Experiential Education, IWLS leads the outdoor community in training professional outdoor leaders. We are experts at teaching the technical skills. Utilizing the experiential, hands-on teaching approach of “see one, do one, teach one”, students apply what they learn on an ongoing basis throughout the expedition.

IWLS and AMGCSI have been training outdoor leaders and instructors for over 20 years. Our leadership education model is effective for training safe, positive and engaged outdoor leaders. IWLS students step into leadership roles throughout their wilderness course and learn group management, organization and decision making skills. As students gain skill and responsibility, they are able to discover their personal strengths as a leader. The IWLS curriculum gives students the tools to succeed as leaders in all aspects of life, from the backcountry to the boardroom.

Speaking in front of a group, preparing lesson plans, presenting clear information, and engaging your students are essential components of effective teaching and leading in the outdoors. In the process of instructing your peers, you’ll learn a host of teaching, leadership, and technical skills. As leaders of the day, students have opportunities to develop and teach lesson plans, and actively lead and manage the group.

Course Size
Group size is one of the most important factors affecting the type of experience you will have in leadership school. Smaller group sizes give IWLS the flexibility to individually meet the goals and expectations of each student. For this reason, we strive to keep our groups to fewer than ten students, with a 1:3 instructor-to-student ratio. While most other organization’s average group size consists of 15 or more people, IWLS courses generally have between six and eight students. When it comes to leading the group over an alpine pass, teaching about local ecology, or reviewing skills one-on-one with your instructor, IWLS course sizes are perfect for achieving your leadership and educational goals.

We strive to make our leadership programs available to everyone that has a passion for learning and adventure by keeping course costs as low as possible. Our diverse, flexible programming and efficient administrative staff contribute to making this possible.

A healthy, fun atmosphere facilitates learning in all aspects of our leadership courses, and helps students develop into leaders in life.