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International Wilderness Guide

The essential topics of the program are, among other things, wilderness skills, nature and tourism, entrepreneurship and marketing skills, customer service and knowledge of human nature, knowledge of culture and a specialization topic.

NOTE: The National Board of Education is forming new requirements for competence based qualification.

New requirements can cause changes into the Curriculum.

Hakuaika: - 11.4.2021

International Wilderness Guide - click for more information

Real expeditions - real survival

The aim of the program is to train the students to take the Nature and Wilderness Guide's Proficiency test and to create an international co-operation network as early as possible during their studies. This will help the students to create their own businesses after they achieve their Diploma. In addition, the development of language skills in English is an essential aim of their studies. The work language on the program is English.


From now on the new applications are considered for the 2021–2022 program.
Application period by the 11 of April 2021.
Program during the 16 of August 2021 – the 10 of June 2022.

Ulkoinen linkkiApplication Form


16 students will be admitted. The final selection is made after an interview.


Course fee is 1000 €. Accommodation in the College's dormitory cost 140 €/month, deposit of the dormitory key 50 €.
You do not need to order a place from the dorm in advance as there is space for everyone.


What kind of studies or work experience do you need before you can apply?

None. But we expect that you already do Nature based hobbies like canoeing, hiking, Nature photography, fishing etc. Anything which can tell that you like it out there.

How much is the Course fee?

Course fee is 1000 €. Accommodation in the College's dormitory cost 140 €/month, deposit of the dormitory key 50 €.
You do not need to order a place from the dorm in advance as there is space for everyone.

Is there a payment for expeditions?

The expeditions we do are part of the study plan. You do not need to pay for the traveling, only for your food.

How does the application process work?

We collect applications continuously until the dead-line date, the 13 of April 2020. During the last part of April we contact applicants by e-mail to agree upon the interview. Those living in Finland are invited to Tampere for a face to face interview. People from abroad we contact by Skype.

What kind of is schedule for the year?

The form and contents of the program has changed steadily along the years. We collect feed-back from each group and mould the program accordingly. We did an experiment and extended the program to last 15 month. Now we have noticed that applicants have considerable problems to finance so long stretch of time. Because of this fact we have decided to return back to a 10 month program.

The tests of the Professional exam are mingled with the preparing studies to ease the pressure. We try to avoid long classroom periods at the College. Schedule for Wilderness Guide Course 2019–2020 coming on this page later.

What kind of gear do I need?

You need weather proof clothing and a basic wilderness kit: sleeping bag, matress, camp stove, compass, head torch. For winter trips we provide the skis and a sled. During the very first weeks of the program we will visit some outdoor shops. You have then enough time to decide what kind gear you still need.

What are the goals of IWG course?

Wilderness Guide is a weather proof judge of human nature, cook and all-round expert, who knows how to accompany customers to Nature and bring them safely back, so that all the participants feel satisfied and refreshed.

During the studies the student learns:

- The meaning of safety factors in various outdoor activities. Key words: risk assessment, safety plan, evacuation plan, safety document.
- Trustworthy wilderness skills: orienteering, fire making, fishing, cooking etc.
- How to plan and execute long expeditions despite the season and weather.
- The use of hand tools.
- How to work in customer service.
- Dimensions of group dynamics.
- Natural processes, ecology and biology of different life forms.
- To identify a large number of species: plants, mammals, fish, insect etc.
- How to run a business in Nature tourism.

After the IWG-course

Our former students are working in Nature tourism all around the world. The support of our former students has proven to be strong for the College and new students. Many of the IWG members have a business of their own. There are also international business networks inside the IWG, where former students work together.

The sectors of business vary a lot. There are sledge-dog companies, ski /hiking-, handicraft-, paddling- and adventure companies. Many of IWG people are working either as individual guides or sub-contractors for major tourism magnets in Lapland. Due to the fact that Nature tourism is highly season dependent many work as free-lancers.

What kind of expeditions do you make?

Before longer trips, we practise the basic skills in the woods around Kuru. The second week of studies is performed in forest camp conditions. A few vital issues are covered, such as orienteering, First Aid and cooking. We also dig into plans that are necessary to do before wilderness journeys, such as safety-, route-, gear and food plans.

The first trip heads to Isojärvi National Park. Main things practised on the first expedition are:
- orienteering in a dense forest
- camping
- different fire types
- guiding
- packing one´s gear
- water crossing with various methods
- First Aid.

In March we do a skiing trip somewhere in Northern or Eastern Finland. On the agenda, there are:
- orienteering
- skiing on virgin snow
- pulling a sleigh
- guiding
- camping in winter conditions
- how to build a snow-cave.

The paddling expedition is done in late May. The route is a mixture of flat water and river. At that time of the year Nature is becoming green again after a long winter. Besides paddling we visit several Nature sanctuaries to learn about different kinds of ecosystems. Issues that are practised are:

- paddling techniques
- how to pack a canoe/kayak
- flat and white water rescues
- guiding
- Nature knowledge.

The last trip is done to the Archipelago of Baltic Sea. This trip lasts only five days in early June. The purpose is to study plants and birds. Our base, the Jungfruskär-island is referred to be the crown jewel of Archipelago National Park.

What is the basic philosophy for IWG?

The Wilderness guide vocational proficiency tests are independent of the means by which occupational skills have been acquired. Skills obtained via training, working life or hobbies are treated as one entity. Such skills, regardless of how they are acquired, can be utilized in vocational proficiency tests.

The National Board of Education supervises the system. The wilderness guide courses organized by other Colleges follow the same guideline. In practice, however each College has a personal approach how the goal is reached. During the first weeks of the studies, each student drafts a personal study plan with the teacher. This study plan states the optional modules, which the student has chosen on top of the obligatory modules.

The first distinctive factor of the IWG is of course the fact that the students are international. So far, we have had people from 30 different nationalities. From the very beginning of the studies the students need to learn how to adjust with people coming from another culture.

Each one of the expeditions that are executed during the program is planned by a group of students. As the groups are formed we like to see a mixture of nationalities in each planning group. This gives the planning an extra spice. The planning group´s responsibility is to plan the whole adventure from departure to arrival. The teachers supervise and give guidelines but the actual work is done by the planning group. Learning by doing is an important part of the IWG philosophy.

We spend a lot of time outdoors. Besides the several day expeditions, we do day trips to the surrounding Nature conservation areas all year around.

Traditional wilderness skills are the third factor, which needs to be emphasized. The IWG people learn how to build a camp with an open shelter and open fire for warmth and cooking. Orienteering is done by a map and compass. We move around in the wilderness on foot and on cross-country skis during the winter. On waters we move by canoes. Of course engines are used for transportation but in the forest we rely on our feet. Safety issues are high-lighted in all circumstances.

Around the year many kinds of handcrafts are done. Every student forges a knife blade and then makes a handle and sheath. Tool handles and other objects are carved out of wood. Handcrafts form a significant part of traditional wilderness skills. Gear maintenance could be also seen as part of handcrafts. Holes in tents and dents in canoes are treated by students.

Many of the skills that are practiced in the program are new experiences for the students. As the hand starts to obey the eye in wood carving it clearly promotes the self-esteem of the student. In the international environment self-knowledge expands as matters at hand are evolving in a new manner. Social abilities increase on the same breath. Learning to understand Nature leads to the same direction.

Last, but not least factor is the study environment. Our expeditions head to beautiful Nature conservation areas. This fact brings also an extra tension to the planning process. Old-growth forests have their own magical influence which people start to notice after a few days of wandering. Phrase “Energy flows, matter circulate" is revealed in practice. All the stress people might have dissolves in the perfect harmony and silence of the forest.

Hakuaika: - 11.4.2021
Toteutus: 16.8.2021 - 10.6.2022


Metsätien toimipiste, Ylöjärvi


Further information
Mikko Oinonen
puhelin +358407161887
sähköposti if.erepmat@nenoniO.okkiM

Further information
Timo Järvenpää
puhelin +358405394750
sähköposti if.erepmat@aapnevraj.omit