Outdoor Leadership

Connect others to the outdoors

AMC Depends on Volunteer Leadership

AMC depends on trained volunteer leaders to offer over 8000 events every year. Volunteers lead outings in their backyards, at AMC facilities, on trails and waterways throughout AMC's region, and around the world.AMC Volunteers help people get outdoors!

Find Local Leadership Training

AMC's volunteer-led chapters offer local leadership training for people who want to share their love for the outdoors with others by organizing and leading events.


Start your Journey to Leadership

AMC volunteer leaders follow a common path to leadership shown below. Volunteer leaders can expect to move through training and mentoring. Once they become leaders, additional training may be desired, recommended or required.

Path to Volunteer Leadership

Most of AMC’s outdoor activities are led by trained volunteer leaders. We take pride in offering an array of outdoor leadership learning opportunities so that our leaders have skills appropriate for the events they lead. We encourage our members to become trained leaders in the outdoors activities they love so they can share their favorite places and experiences with others. Most trainings and instruction programs are led by volunteer trainers and leaders generally follow the same path to leadership.

Path to Leadership

The path to leadership will teach what you need to know to feel comfortable as a leader so that you can get out there with groups on fun outdoor activities. There are two essential steps:

Successful Completion of an AMC Leadership Training Course

  • Chapters offer leadership training courses usually in the spring and/or fall. Search the ActDB for ‘leadership’ to find trainings.

  • Any AMC Chapter leadership training course provides the fundamentals including screening participants, risk management, leadership styles, trip planning, managing a group, organizational rules, dealing with an emergency, conservation practice, etc.

  • If you plan to take leadership training with a chapter or AMC program other than the one you intend to lead with, you will need to complete your requirements with the committee where you do intend to lead. For example, if you take leadership training in the Berkshire Chapter, and intend to lead in the Worcester Chapter, you will need to connect with the Worcester Chapter to take the next step.


The next step to leadership immerses you in the experience of leading a group with an experienced Leader so you can both assess your skills and comfort level with the activity.

  • At least 2 co-leads with certified AMC leaders for the activity area you intend to lead. For one of these co-leads you would act as the leader

  • The ultimate assignment of Leader status for any AMC volunteer activity rests with the volunteer unit (chapter, committee, etc.) with whom you intend to lead.

Additional Training

  • For activities where specific hard skills are needed such as paddling, skiing, winter backpacking, or climbing, leaders will need to demonstrate their proficiency with those skills.

  • If you need additional training AMC volunteers can help.

Are you an Active Leader moving from one Chapter to another?

  • If you are an active leader in one chapter and you want to lead for another, contact the chapter chair of your destination chapter and ask them who to contact about making this transition.

  • Provide the name and contact info of an appropriate volunteer in your home chapter (committee chair for example) who can describe your skill and experience.

  • The destination chapter may require Active Leaders to take additional periodic training in soft or hard skills, as new programs or as refreshers, to support volunteers in their efforts to uphold the AMC standard of leadership. We acknowledge that AMC’s leaders must often adapt to new audiences and new expectations, and our trainings will work to help leaders keep up to date and up to speed.

Need help? Visit the Chapter Page or Contact Volunteer Relations.

Leadership Training

Local Leadership Training

Local leadership training prepares you to connect people to the places you love through the activities you enjoy through your local chapter. Many Chapters recognize one another's leadership training. Check with your education or leadership training chair to learn more. 

Mountain Leadership School 

AMC's Mountain Leadership School (MLS) is a five-day wilderness leadership training program designed to help you lead groups with minimal impact in the backcountry. Now in its 6th decade, this program is staffed by experienced AMC volunteers who have a wide variety of backcountry knowledge and experience. Interested students can pick from one of three MLS program formats: Backpacking, Day Hiking, and Advanced Skills. Participants are encouraged to pick the program that best fits their past experience and their future leadership goals. For more information on each of the program formats, consult the program tabs above. 

Adventure Travel 

Visit some of the most exciting places in the world as an AMC Adventure Travel leader! Open to experienced AMC chapter leaders who want to transition from leading weekend chapter activities to more complex and longer trips, domestically and overseas.

Youth Opportunities Program 

Do you want to bring a group of youth you work with on camping, hiking, or backpacking trips? Are you looking for fun ways to promote leadership and confidence? The Youth Opportunities Program can help you do it! 

AMC Trains your Leaders 

We offer fun, active training for your staff, leaders, or volunteers. Whether you are a non-profit looking to train a group of volunteer leaders or a company looking for a unique experience to challenge management-level staff, our instructors make leadership development easy.

Volunteer to be an Evening Speaker

Walk into an AMC Lodge or Hut on a summer night and you could witness a one-woman cultural history reenactment, view a slideshow of stunning photos from Tibet, catch life-size footage of beavers dragging logs through the water, or learn about animal adaptations from a White Mountain National Forest Ranger. Every evening in the summer months and Saturdays year-round, a one-hour program is offered from 8-9 p.m. at Joe Dodge Lodge/Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and the Highland Center at Crawford Notch. During the summer months Cardigan Lodge offers programs each Wednesday night from 7:30-8:30. All of these programs are free of charge and open to the public. Think you have a program that would fit in? The AMC is looking for volunteers to present evening programs.

Who Should Apply

The individuals who will be most successful as Evening Speakers are those who have a very solid or even professional background in a topic relevant to AMC's mission, to promote the protection, enjoyment, and wise use of the mountains, rivers, and trails of the Appalachian region. Volunteers should feel comfortable speaking in front of both large and small audiences and answering questions; have previous experience offering presentations; can provide a visual component, such as a slideshow or performance. (Slide projectors, LCD projectors, and a laptop with Windows are available for use.)

What You Will Do

As an evening speaker you will offer a program that is approximately one-hour in length to the public (Attendance varies widely by day and time of year). Volunteers will engage an audience with visuals pertinent to your topic and share your passion for conservation, environmental education, and outdoor recreation with others. Volunteers should be able to field questions from the crowd.

How the AMC Supports You

Volunteer Evening Speakers receive free lodging and meals as available and as necessary.

Improve your Outdoor Skills

Instruction Skills

AMC Skills workshops offered by volunteers and staff to increase and improve your outdoor skills from paddling to climbing to skiing.

Leave No Trace Skills

All of us can help take care of our public land by following the principles of Leave No Trace. Meant to be viewed as guidelines for those who care about the land, Leave No Trace principles were developed in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Volunteers can become Trainers who are equipped learn to lead small groups to teach the principles, or they can become Master Educators and train those educators. 

Wilderness First Aid (ActDB) 

Many volunteer and other leadership positions require current Wilderness First Aid certification. Local chapters and AMC staff sponsor these trainings throughout the region.