groundschoolThe Wilderness Education Association (WEA) was founded by outdoor pioneer Paul Petzoldt in the 1970s in order to promote the safe and competent use of our wilderness areas. Through its affiliates across the country, WEA offers field-based courses in outdoor leadership. All of these courses are based on Petzoldt’s concept of outdoor competencies.

Through a WEA affiliate, the Denali Education Center, I am occasionally able to offer a WEA course. This is an 11 to 14 day program, held in Denali State Park, Alaska. This is an intense course, with particular emphasis on fundamental outdoor skills and leadership development. In addition, we are able to provide content in wilderness medicine, leading to American Red Cross Wilderness and Remote First Aid certification and SUNY Upstate Medical University credit as PEDS 4656 for medical students. Check here regularly for the date of upcoming courses.

Challenge Courses

Ropes courseChallenge courses (sometimes called ropes courses) are programs which utilize some of the equipment and techniques of rock climbing to reach a series of predefined goals with a group.  Such courses are not designed to teach climbing, but rather to use climbing skills as a “means to an end.”

Challenge courses have been used in a variety of outdoor, therapeutic, recreational, and educational settings.  For over a decade, I directed the acclaimed challenge course program for the Dan Beard Council of the Boy Scouts of America in Cincinnati.  I am now a consultant for the national office of the Boy Scouts of America, reviewing and developing materials and standards used by Scout groups throughout the country.

The national organization which develops standards for challenge courses is the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT). I am active in ACCT, and regularly put on workshops for other challenge course professionals at the organization’s annual meetings.  My particular areas of expertise are in the issues of medical screening and emergency procedures on courses, as well as facilitation techniques useful with adolescents and young adults. I am also a medical consultant for Project Adventure, the premier challenge course builder and trainer in the country.

I have limited time availability for consulting work with challenge course operator.  I have helped programs develop and evaluate their medical screening and response policies.  I have also provided expert review of challenge course incidents.  Please contact me for further information about these services.


I have held a New York State professional guide license for over twenty years, and am a member of the New York State Outdoor Guides Association.

tom-denaliI offer guided backcountry treks in the New York State Adirondack Mountains, as well as in various areas of Montana and Alaska.  For guided treks, I supply meals and group equipment such as tents and cooking supplies.  Personal camping gear is the responsibility of the participants; guidelines for the locale and time of year are provided at registration.

Treks in the Adirondacks can be designated with a particular focus on New York history.  All treks stress the use of up-to-date, environmentally friendly backcountry travel techniques: “Leave no trace“. I have particular expertise I working with youth groups, such as Scout troops.

Because of my other job responsibilities, I am only able to offer guiding on a very limited basis.  Treks need to be scheduled a year or more in advance, so you should contact me very early in your trek planning process.