conference overview

Each year the International Conference on Outdoor Leadership brings together practicing professionals, educators, and students to promote professionalism within the outdoor leadership industry. The conference features two major symposiums, educational tracks, and several keynote presentations. Our conference concludes with the exciting traditional auction and gear raffle.

Who attends the conference?

  • Outdoor professionals in the guide industry
  • Education professionals in the academic and/or training arena
  • Representatives from over 40 colleges and universities
  • Students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs
  • Representatives from private adventure and leadership companies
  • Representatives from camps and non-profit organizations

Why should I attend the conference?

Professional Development

Whether you are practicing professional, an educator, or an outdoor enthusiast looking for “out-of-box” training and education, you will experience unparalleled professional development! The WEA is determined to provide conference attendees with opportunities to learn from qualified presenters in relevant fields of study. We are always students of our profession. Consider serving throughout the year.


WEA conferences are best known as a platform for networking not only with similar practitioners but up-and-coming professionals who are eager to join the workforce. You will be able to promote your product(s), services, and/or promote your program throughout the conference. Share your wisdom and chase those leads for employment.

Continuing Education Units or Credits

Are you someone who is in a profession or maintains a certification that requires CEU’s? The WEA Conference is loaded with opportunities to gain CEU’s while attending presentations and workshops. What better way to “knock-out” those pesky requirements while attending excellent presentations.

Energize and Innovate

There is nothing else like being around like-minded individuals! The atmosphere sparks new creative business ideas, research agendas, and new ways to perform skillsets within the outdoor leadership profession. The WEA conference promises to energize students, educators, and professionals!

Gain Credibility or Share Wisdom

The WEA conference has opportunities for students and professionals in the industry to present on new best practices or research that pertains to the WEA’s six educational components. The conference hosts both the Outdoor Leadership Research Symposium as well as the Outdoor Leadership Program Symposium.

2022 ICOL 

The 2022 ICOL is designed to deliver an inspired, practical, and motivating learning experience for attendees. The theme for the 2022 conference is: Advancing the Professionalism of Outdoor Leaders. 

2021 ICOL highlights
  • 479 attendees (WEA conference record!)
  • 130+ orgs. represented across 6+ countries
  • keynote presentation from Dr. Christine Norton
  • No Man's Land film festival
  • community building from around the world (through a screen)
  • all presentations were recorded and are available for viewing (contact the National Office for access)

Previous Conference Locations

2007 - YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park, CO

2008 - Bahia Resort, San Diego, CA

2009 - Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

2010 - YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park, CO

2011 - YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park, CO

2012 - YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park, CO

2013 - YMCA Blueridge, Ashville, NC

2014 - University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

2015 - NCED, Norman, OK

2016 - California University, California, PA

2017 - Snow King Hotel, Jackson Hole, WY (40th Anniversary Conference)

2018 - Snowbird Resort, Snowbird, UT (Joint Conference with AORE)

2019 - no conference but WEA attended and presented at multiple conferences

2020 - HoneyRock of Wheaton College, Three Lakes, WI

2021 - Virtual Event with 2nd Nature TREC

Wilderness Education Association, Inc.
151 NC Highway 9, Ste B
Black Mountain, NC 28711

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