Course Descriptions


Outdoor Leadership

(for students ages 14 to 16)

This 8-day course seeks to jumpstart students’ lifelong engagement with nature, stewardship and the outdoors during a canoe camping, backpacking and service expedition in the North Cascades. Students gain strong foundations in outdoor skills, leadership and natural history, coupled with hands-on stewardship activities including trail and campground maintenance and citizen science.

  • Offered June 19-26, July 2-9, July 16-23, August 5-12, 2014 (eight courses offered; 9 students per trip)
  • Backpacking and/or canoe camping
  • Leadership and public speaking skills
  • Hands-on service projects
  • Explore and learn about the North Cascades wilderness
  • Community building and communication skills


    Science and Sustainability

    (for students ages 16 to 18)

    This 16-day long backpacking and canoe camping and car camping field expedition connects students to the natural world while giving them the knowledge and skills to understand and explore ecosystem processes and how they relate to our changing climate. Outdoor leadership, public speaking skills, hands-on citizen science monitoring and stewardship work provide students the confidence and knowledge to share their stories during a culminating presentation at the end of their course.

    Upon returning home, students design and implement a service-learning project in their home community. Many service projects will involve teaching lessons in sustainability to local elementary or middle school students or planning a field trip for a service project outside. Students will receive guidance and mentorship from Youth Leadership Adventures staff; projects should be completed within one year of the summer. Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.

    • Offered July 30-August 14, 2014 (three courses offered; 10 students per trip)
    • Backpacking, canoe camping and hiking
    • Ecology, geology and climate science
    • Hands-on citizen science monitoring and stewardship
    • Leadership and public speaking skills
    • Sustainability practices that translate to home communities
    • Culminating presentations to youth and adults
    • Student-led service projects in their home communities after the course


Questions? Please see our FAQ page or contact North Cascades Institute at (360) 854-2599 or

Student Voices


This program allowed me to gain further knowledge about the world around me, and to clarify my ideas on humanity’s responsibility as stewards of the environment. A unique experience in the North Cascades National Park helped focus my values and goals, forever entwining environmental conservation and science into my life. I now know that it is these kinds of sacred natural places, here and around the world that I want to preserve through education of myself and others, advocation of my ideals, and a career path in a life science.

— Amelia Fitch, 2010 ParticipantAmeliaFitch

Field Guide to North Cascades Institute