Overview

The Montana Wilderness School is a 501(c)3 nonprofit outdoor education organization based in Bozeman, Montana, providing multi-week transformative and empowering wilderness expeditions for youth ages 14-18.

The MWS Youth Wilderness Program provides multi-week empowering wilderness courses to students 14-18 years old that foster personal growth, teamwork, and leadership skills, while cultivating a conservation ethic connecting youth with public lands and wilderness areas through outdoor education.

MWS is an experiential education school and we have our own "Wild Ecology" curricula that is place-based and focused on the specific conservation challenges in the Western United States. The impact our Youth Wilderness Program makes in the community both locally and nationally is instilling a sense of pride, understanding and involvement with conservation, access to public lands, and preservation of wild spaces while at the same time fostering teamwork, compassion, individuality, communication, and preparing youth to be successful in our diverse interconnected society.

MWS Specific Learning Goals:

    • A goal-oriented multi-week backcountry expedition in beautiful MONTANA!
    • Building and supporting a rich and diverse community
    • Personal Growth and Character Development
    • Team Building and Leadership Experience
    • Technical skill competency in backpacking, mountaineering, rock climbing, packrafting, fly fishing and canoeing (specific to each course)
    • Wilderness First Aid Certification (for specific courses)
    • Public land stewardship
    • Greater Montana-specific conservation issues identification and analysis
    • FUN!

The MWS team is very comforable accomodating students that fly in from other locales. In the past few years we have had students from Nepal, Mexico, Spain, England, California, Washington, Minnesota, New York, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, and many other states in the lower 48. Please contact our enrollment team for any questions. We are here to help!

As with most programs Covid is always on our radar. The health and safety of our students, staff, and community are of the utmost inmportance to us. In 2020 we were forunate enough to run 5 of 7 full programs. Students were, and in 2021 will be, required to do a health screening 14 days prior to course. As we continue to monitor the knowledge, spread, and medical advancements there will likely be additional steps in our procedure as we see best. 

6 Participant Reviews

Write a Review
Parent of a MWS alum

Parent of a MWS alum

5
Reviewed on 1/19/2021 by

My daughter attended her 1st MWS expedition last year and for her it was a life changing experience. I dropped off a quiet shy 14 year old and 12 days later I picked up that same child more confident in herself and her words. I can't wait to see the change after her next expedition.

Awesome Experiance

Awesome Experiance

5
Reviewed on 1/18/2021 by

I have been on several expedition programs, SEA, Outward bound, etc, and I can full-heartedly say MWS was the best experience out of all of them. As a student, I really appreciated the level of autonomy we had on the course. Together with the group (as in, not the instructors), we chose which mountains to climb, when to get up in the morning, what to eat for breakfast, where to set our tent, etc. Being able to learn from your own mistakes instead of being told what to do is a much better experience in my opinion. Shoutout to Hannah and Ross for being awesome instructors! We also learned a myriad of interesting stuff: local ecology, politics with native Americans and land management, technical rope skills and climbing skills, and many more things during those two weeks. We also had a drone photographer, Nathan, shoot our last climb of Mnt. Alverson which was really cool!

Three Blissful Summers

Three Blissful Summers

5
Reviewed on 11/30/2020 by

Being a three-year alumnus, I am confident to say that my competency and infatuation in the outdoors stemmed from Montana Wilderness School. I attended my first expedition, a backpacking trip through the Bitterroot Mountains, with little to no skill regarding living comfortably in the outdoors. Four years later, I am embarking on month-long backpacking trips with the same knowledge regarding the simple yet important tasks like purifying water and efficiently packing backpacks to the more strenuous tasks like reading topographic maps, packrafting, and cooking (edible) backcountry Gado Gado. Montana Wilderness School provided me the tools to become a better leader and communicator and the foundation for my future in the outdoors. I am incredibly thankful to have attended the expeditions ranging from backpacking in Yellowstone National Park to canoeing on the Missouri River because I found the thing that truly makes me happy.

Three Blissful Summers

Three Blissful Summers

5
Reviewed on 11/24/2020 by

Being a three-year alumnus of Montana Wilderness School, I am guaranteed to say that the expeditions provided unmeasurable amounts of my confidence in the outdoors. I arrived at my first backpacking expedition with little to no proficiency in living and exploring the outdoors. Now I am embarking on my own adventures with the skills MWS provided. These skills include simple yet important tasks like purifying water and assembling tents, to the fundamental knowledge surrounding risk management, topographic map reading, backcountry first aid, and cooking edible Gado Gado. My love for the outdoors stemmed from Montana Wilderness School. Exploring the Bitterroot mountains, paddling the Missouri River, and backpacking through Yellowstone National Park with groups of outgoing people created my continuous longing for more adventure. I wouldn't have the same opportunities I do know if I did not sign up for my first MWS expedition.

Backcountry Ski Adventure-MWS March 2020

Backcountry Ski Adventure-MWS March 2020

5
Reviewed on 11/13/2020 by

For my last MWS trip we went to Cooke City Montana for the first ever MWS Backcountry Ski Course. It was such an incredible experience getting to stay in the woody creek cabin, going out everyday into the beautiful mountains of that area. I loved getting to learn all the skills that I did in a place that I had never spent time before. One of my favorite meals was our quinoa pancakes, I was skeptical at first but they were very delicious and very filling for a long day of touring. Cooke City has to be one of the most amazing beautiful places I have ever spent time, the big mountains, amazing amounts of snow, beautiful sunsets, and amazing skiing are just spectacular and I got to go skiing there for 5 days because of The Montana Wilderness School. Getting to go to amazing special places with amazing people is my favorite!

Student

Student

5
Reviewed on 10/28/2020 by

Remembering my experiences at MWS still takes my breath away to this day. Being able to summit multiple peaks, climbing heights that you never thought you could climb in a lifetime. Sharing those couple weeks with a group of individuals that might not know you in the beginning but will be family at the end. The community that MWS has built here is nothing shy of beautiful. Saying with confidence that guides and the people here at Montana wilderness school will be here for you long after you trip has come to pass in all of your future adventures is a definite.

Testimonials

Coming out here and having 21 days in the backcountry is an experience that a lot of people will never have. I have so many stories…it was a life changing experience, as cliché as that is, it’s cliché for a reason…when you put yourself for 3 weeks in a totally foreign environment, even if you’re comfortable with it, it’s still a shock. You are going to change and you are going to learn a lot.

- Molly -- MWS Student - Aug. 15, 2017

So, to sum it up, I gave you the boy, and you gave me back the man. Twice. They really are different, and not just on a mountain or on a river. What you do with those kids is truly amazing. I think by giving them such an immersive experience, and by trusting that they can handle big things, they deepen and mature in amazing ways. You change lives.”

- A.S. -- MWS Parent - Oct. 1, 2017

This trip has been a life changing experience for me. I have learned some basic life skills like cooking, taking good care of your health, and making the right decisions. It has also taught me to be the best possible person I can be, and be really appreciative of all the people and things in my life.

- Tashi --- MWS Student - Sept. 10, 2017

This trip was, without a doubt, one of the most transformative experiences for my son! For him to participate and receive positive acknowledgment for activities he is passionate about is the difference between a confident, proud young man, and one that feels like a failure. I will be forever grateful that my son had the opportunity to engage with the team at MWS and receive much needed validations of his interest and skills. He needed this positivity and acceptance!

- S.W. -- MWS Parent - Nov. 29, 2018

She spoke about leadership opportunities she was offered and spoke of herself as a strong leader…for the first time in her life! (I’m getting choked up here). She is finally starting to glimpse the “stuff” inside her we have seen and tried to help her see for years. She began the school year with more hope and optimism and definitely confidence than I expected. Thank you just does not seem enough. I hope we can stay in touch and support what you do in the years to come!

- S.T. -- MWS Parent - Sept. 25, 2017

"The mix of students from different backgrounds really drives empathy and understanding. The outdoors is a great equalizer and my son really appreciate the differences the other kids brough to the conversations and the program. " --MWS Missouri River Parent

- CC -- Missouri River Parent - Aug. 20, 2020

What you are doing is very rare and wonderful. I am deeply grateful for all you do. It's lovely to know there are other folks out there who care about our youth and our great outdoors enough to put your time, energy, effort and money into them. Thank you, sincerely, and from the bottom of my heart. I love MWS.

- JR --- MWS Parent - Sept. 2, 2019

She becomes a different soul out there- gains confidence, endurance, self-motivation, and a desire to learn and explore.

- MD -- MWS Parent - Oct. 6, 2020

6 Participant Reviews

Write a Review
Parent of a MWS alum

Parent of a MWS alum

5
Reviewed on 1/19/2021 by

My daughter attended her 1st MWS expedition last year and for her it was a life changing experience. I dropped off a quiet shy 14 year old and 12 days later I picked up that same child more confident in herself and her words. I can't wait to see the change after her next expedition.

Awesome Experiance

Awesome Experiance

5
Reviewed on 1/18/2021 by

I have been on several expedition programs, SEA, Outward bound, etc, and I can full-heartedly say MWS was the best experience out of all of them. As a student, I really appreciated the level of autonomy we had on the course. Together with the group (as in, not the instructors), we chose which mountains to climb, when to get up in the morning, what to eat for breakfast, where to set our tent, etc. Being able to learn from your own mistakes instead of being told what to do is a much better experience in my opinion. Shoutout to Hannah and Ross for being awesome instructors! We also learned a myriad of interesting stuff: local ecology, politics with native Americans and land management, technical rope skills and climbing skills, and many more things during those two weeks. We also had a drone photographer, Nathan, shoot our last climb of Mnt. Alverson which was really cool!

Three Blissful Summers

Three Blissful Summers

5
Reviewed on 11/30/2020 by

Being a three-year alumnus, I am confident to say that my competency and infatuation in the outdoors stemmed from Montana Wilderness School. I attended my first expedition, a backpacking trip through the Bitterroot Mountains, with little to no skill regarding living comfortably in the outdoors. Four years later, I am embarking on month-long backpacking trips with the same knowledge regarding the simple yet important tasks like purifying water and efficiently packing backpacks to the more strenuous tasks like reading topographic maps, packrafting, and cooking (edible) backcountry Gado Gado. Montana Wilderness School provided me the tools to become a better leader and communicator and the foundation for my future in the outdoors. I am incredibly thankful to have attended the expeditions ranging from backpacking in Yellowstone National Park to canoeing on the Missouri River because I found the thing that truly makes me happy.

Three Blissful Summers

Three Blissful Summers

5
Reviewed on 11/24/2020 by

Being a three-year alumnus of Montana Wilderness School, I am guaranteed to say that the expeditions provided unmeasurable amounts of my confidence in the outdoors. I arrived at my first backpacking expedition with little to no proficiency in living and exploring the outdoors. Now I am embarking on my own adventures with the skills MWS provided. These skills include simple yet important tasks like purifying water and assembling tents, to the fundamental knowledge surrounding risk management, topographic map reading, backcountry first aid, and cooking edible Gado Gado. My love for the outdoors stemmed from Montana Wilderness School. Exploring the Bitterroot mountains, paddling the Missouri River, and backpacking through Yellowstone National Park with groups of outgoing people created my continuous longing for more adventure. I wouldn't have the same opportunities I do know if I did not sign up for my first MWS expedition.

Backcountry Ski Adventure-MWS March 2020

Backcountry Ski Adventure-MWS March 2020

5
Reviewed on 11/13/2020 by

For my last MWS trip we went to Cooke City Montana for the first ever MWS Backcountry Ski Course. It was such an incredible experience getting to stay in the woody creek cabin, going out everyday into the beautiful mountains of that area. I loved getting to learn all the skills that I did in a place that I had never spent time before. One of my favorite meals was our quinoa pancakes, I was skeptical at first but they were very delicious and very filling for a long day of touring. Cooke City has to be one of the most amazing beautiful places I have ever spent time, the big mountains, amazing amounts of snow, beautiful sunsets, and amazing skiing are just spectacular and I got to go skiing there for 5 days because of The Montana Wilderness School. Getting to go to amazing special places with amazing people is my favorite!

Student

Student

5
Reviewed on 10/28/2020 by

Remembering my experiences at MWS still takes my breath away to this day. Being able to summit multiple peaks, climbing heights that you never thought you could climb in a lifetime. Sharing those couple weeks with a group of individuals that might not know you in the beginning but will be family at the end. The community that MWS has built here is nothing shy of beautiful. Saying with confidence that guides and the people here at Montana wilderness school will be here for you long after you trip has come to pass in all of your future adventures is a definite.

Testimonials

Coming out here and having 21 days in the backcountry is an experience that a lot of people will never have. I have so many stories…it was a life changing experience, as cliché as that is, it’s cliché for a reason…when you put yourself for 3 weeks in a totally foreign environment, even if you’re comfortable with it, it’s still a shock. You are going to change and you are going to learn a lot.

- Molly -- MWS Student - Aug. 15, 2017

So, to sum it up, I gave you the boy, and you gave me back the man. Twice. They really are different, and not just on a mountain or on a river. What you do with those kids is truly amazing. I think by giving them such an immersive experience, and by trusting that they can handle big things, they deepen and mature in amazing ways. You change lives.”

- A.S. -- MWS Parent - Oct. 1, 2017

This trip has been a life changing experience for me. I have learned some basic life skills like cooking, taking good care of your health, and making the right decisions. It has also taught me to be the best possible person I can be, and be really appreciative of all the people and things in my life.

- Tashi --- MWS Student - Sept. 10, 2017

This trip was, without a doubt, one of the most transformative experiences for my son! For him to participate and receive positive acknowledgment for activities he is passionate about is the difference between a confident, proud young man, and one that feels like a failure. I will be forever grateful that my son had the opportunity to engage with the team at MWS and receive much needed validations of his interest and skills. He needed this positivity and acceptance!

- S.W. -- MWS Parent - Nov. 29, 2018

She spoke about leadership opportunities she was offered and spoke of herself as a strong leader…for the first time in her life! (I’m getting choked up here). She is finally starting to glimpse the “stuff” inside her we have seen and tried to help her see for years. She began the school year with more hope and optimism and definitely confidence than I expected. Thank you just does not seem enough. I hope we can stay in touch and support what you do in the years to come!

- S.T. -- MWS Parent - Sept. 25, 2017

"The mix of students from different backgrounds really drives empathy and understanding. The outdoors is a great equalizer and my son really appreciate the differences the other kids brough to the conversations and the program. " --MWS Missouri River Parent

- CC -- Missouri River Parent - Aug. 20, 2020

What you are doing is very rare and wonderful. I am deeply grateful for all you do. It's lovely to know there are other folks out there who care about our youth and our great outdoors enough to put your time, energy, effort and money into them. Thank you, sincerely, and from the bottom of my heart. I love MWS.

- JR --- MWS Parent - Sept. 2, 2019

She becomes a different soul out there- gains confidence, endurance, self-motivation, and a desire to learn and explore.

- MD -- MWS Parent - Oct. 6, 2020

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