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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 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

The International Conference on Outdoor Leadership provides opportunities to learn from qualified presenters in relevant fields of study, whether you are a practicing professional, and educator, student, or outdoor enthusiast.


ICOL is a great opportunity to meet other professionals as well as up-and-coming professionals. 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.

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.

2023 ICOL 

This year’s conference will challenge, inspire and equip outdoor leaders and professionals to Cultivate Innovation in their own organizations and communities, through curated keynotes and breakout sessions, networking opportunities, and time on the trails of Bentonville with other outdoor leaders.

Registration for 2023 ICOL Open Now!

2022 ICOL Highlights
  • In person conference, after being virtual in 2021
  • Keynote sessions with Rachel Olzer, Mirna Valerio, Amy Allison,                                                                                    Claire Smallwood, and Jennifer Pharr Davis
  • Speakers and presenters challenged and inspired attendees as we work together for diversity, equity and accessibility in the outdoors.
  • Trail run with Mirna Valerio
  • Largest WEA gathering in the last decade

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 Blue Ridge Assembly, Black Mountain, 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

2022 - YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly, Black Mountain, NC

Wilderness Education Association, Inc.
151 NC Highway 9, Ste B, Box 136
Black Mountain, NC 28711

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