New Foothills Mentored Backpack Leaders Course

The Mentored Backpack Leaders course is an exciting, new offering for the Foothills community. Learn more about the course from leader, Rob Erickson.
Rob Erickson Rob Erickson
Mentored Backpack Leader’s Course Leader and Instructor
June 08, 2024
New Foothills Mentored Backpack Leaders Course
Mentored Backpack Leader’s course students. Photo by Rob Erickson.

The Mentored Backpack Leaders course is an exciting, new offering for the Foothills community. The main objective of the course is to provide an additional pathway for branch members pursuing the Backpack Leader badge.

The impetus for creating this course was the always present need to both replenish and add to our branch's roster of trip leaders. To serve our members, we need trip leaders, course instructors, and volunteers for administration. Having overseen the mentored trips of many backpack leaders and talked with numerous folks on the trail about becoming a new backpacking leader, it became apparent that our current practice of recruitment and vetting was too daunting for many potential leaders. The Mentor Backpack Leaders course is a gentler route to getting your leader badge, providing a deeper level of support than the traditional pathway to leadership. In this course, we take you stepwise through the process, train you in the field, and provide relational support along the way. 

This course constitutes three components:  an initial Zoom meeting with students and instructors to lay the groundwork and initiate relationships; an instructional field trip with an experienced backpack leader to demonstrate, discuss, and practice various backpack leadership skills; and finally, the required mentored trip to gain the leader badge.

This year’s course has three instructors and eight students. We have completed our instructional field trips to Yakima Skyline Ridge, The Deschutes River, and Packwood Lake. We are now in the midst of setting up and overseeing the specific mentored trip with each of the students. Our hope is to christen up to eight new Backpack Leaders for the Foothills Branch this year.

The feedback to date has been excellent, and my hope is to continue this course next year. Thank you instructors Michele Ritala and Melody George for your service.