WBC Overview

The Wilderness Basics Course (WBC) is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and learn basic backpacking skills in a welcoming environment. The WBC is an 11-week course that features lectures on a variety of topics to provide you the base knowledge needed to help you on simple day hikes, or to prepare you for a lifetime of future backpacking adventures.

Please be advised that while the classroom portion of the WBC requires little physical exertion, the four outings require that participants be in good physical condition and have the ability to hike carrying approximately 40 pounds of weight. It is up to the discretion of the trip leader as to whether a participant’s physical condition is sufficient for the trip.

The 2024 class has reached capacity.

What You'll Learn

Class Topics Include

  • Equipment
  • Map & Compass
  • Food
  • Weather
  • Wilderness Safety
  • Wilderness Ethics
  • And Many More!

Real Wilderness Experience

In addition to 11 weekly classes, there are four scheduled weekend outings:

  1. Desert Car Camp
  2. Desert Backpack Outing
  3. Mountain Backpack Outing
  4. Snow Camp or Flower Camp

You will test your equipment, practice newly-learned techniques, and have fun in the great outdoors with experienced leaders and fellow students. Along the way, you’ll meet some nice people, see some beautiful places right here in San Diego County, and may surprise yourself with what you can do.

Who Should Attend

Course content is targeted at beginner backpackers, but all levels are welcome to join. Trip leaders offer a variety of outing levels to accommodate students of various fitness levels.

The North County Group accepts students who are at least 14 years old and in the 9th grade. However, minors (14-17) must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian to every WBC event (class, day hikes, weekend outings, etc).

What You Get

The course will provide all students with the following:

  • Course Handbook
  • Course Book (“Wilderness Basics” by Kristi Anderson)
  • Compass
  • Topographic Maps (for trips that the student has signed up for)
  • Special discounts at participating stores
  • Graduates receive a WBC certificate and a patch

Students are required to provide their own equipment (either borrowed, rented, or purchased). Information about equipment will be covered in course lectures.

Course Requirements

Completion requirements to graduate from the course are as follows:

  • Attend all 11 classes
  • Successfully complete all 4 class outings (sign the liability release)
  • Complete Evaluation Hike to attend Snow Camp
  • Correctly answer at least 70% of the questions on the written final exam

Any exceptions to these requirements must be approved by the Chairman and Program Chair.

Learn about Second Year Completion


All staff, lecturers, leaders, and assistants are unpaid volunteers. The course fee covers the cost of the classroom and supplemental course materials (compass, maps, books). Here are the fees for the 2023 year:

  • $290 – Course Fee ($15 discount for Sierra Club members)
  • $30 – Tram Fee (for Snow Camp)

Each student is responsible for providing their own equipment, food, and travel. Equipment costs vary from student to student depending on how much equipment the student already has and how much they still need to acquire. The course teaches many ways to mitigate costs, such as borrowing or renting equipment. A rough approximation of additional costs might be:

  • $25-$100 per outing for various equipment rental, food, etc (depending on needs)
  • $75+ boots or appropriate footwear

Class Meeting Time

Start Date: Tuesday, January 9, 2024 (see full schedule)

Class Times: Tuesdays, 7:00 PM - 9:30 PM

NOTE: Trip sign-ups and some optional lectures will start early, at 6:30 pm.

Class Location

San Pasqual High School – Library 3300 Bear Valley Parkway Escondido, CA 92025