[Photo from Wilderness Ventures website]
Two trips in Ecuador, high schoolers, volunteering at an animal rescue center, zip-lining in the Pastaza Valley, rafting down the Rio Jatunyaco river and hiking, snorkeling, and surfing on the Galapagos Islands. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world! All of this is and more is going to be my summer and I still cannot believe it.
I decided to write this post to share the information about what I’ll be doing this summer because maybe it’s something you’d be interested in doing too!
“How are you even going to be doing all of this?”
With a wonderful organization called Wilderness Ventures! Founded in 1973, Wilderness Ventures combines “[their] love for teaching young adults with [their] passion for the American wilderness and adventure.” Since then, it “has grown slowly and steadily and by 2013 over 22,000 people had participated in programs conducted in over 20 national parks and 17 federally designated wilderness areas as well as in over 20 countries around the globe.”
“But wait a second, how’d you even hear about this?”
I heard about Wilderness Ventures by accident. I remember last summer scrolling through my news feed when I came across a picture of a high school friend, a year older than me, mentioning he was going to meet up with friends in Europe. Curiosity drew me in further so I went to his profile to see what he was up to. Then, the next thing I saw was a tagged picture of him with a group of teenagers.
“Huh, I wonder what that was for. Wait a second, it says they were in Spain? Why would Cole be in Spain with a group of teenagers?”
By chance, his sister was hanging out with my brother at my house and I asked her about it. She said some organization paid him to take people camping in Spain and Peru. “WOW! Paid? To Travel? Where do I sign up?” was my initial reaction.
Soon after, I messaged him, found out the name of the organization and then found myself here, reading about the application. I went back to the application in December, filled out and turned it in by the January deadline.
“Do you have to speak Spanish to go…? What are the requirements? What was the application like?”
The only requirement is that you’re 20 years of age. The application was long and consisted of a resume, personal statement, 3 reference letters, driving record information, and a few photos. After turning it in, I later had an interview in February by phone which lasted about 20-30 minutes where I was asked questions about my application(typical interview questions).
Then, about a week later, they hired me! I didn’t find out about where I would be going until this week and I couldn’t be more excited with my trip assignments!
“When do you leave and will you be gone all summer?”
I leave June 7th to go to Salt Lake City, Utah to get certified in Wilderness First Aid and CPR at the University of Utah. The class is free thanks to Wilderness Ventures. Then, on June 10th, I have to head back to the airport and then I’ll be heading to Jackson, Wyoming, the headquarters of Wilderness Ventures. Afterwards, we begin training with all the leaders, new and returning, which last 10 days. Then, we’re sent to our trip destinations! I’ll be leading the same two-week Ecuador Galapagos Service trip twice. Afterwards, I’ll return to Jackson to do reflection workshops and then head back to Salt Lake City on August 1st.
“What do you have to pay for?”
The only things I have to pay for are transportation to and from Utah, and housing and food for the first three nights I’m in Utah because I’m taking the Wilderness First Aid class. Everything else including food, lodging, activities and transportation are paid by the organization. On top of that, they pay first-year leaders between $1,400-1,900.
“Where can I find out more information?”