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Outdoor Leadership

Bachelor of Arts in Outdoor Leadership

The program balances the theory of leadership and experiential learning with skills development and hands-on opportunities to lead. In doing so, this major prepares students for careers in outdoor education and to lead field trips and adventure trips within the leisure industry. The blending of experiences in science, business, sport and recreation management, and education is designed to enable students to find careers in a broad variety of fields. Some students may benefit from more science electives (i.e., Marine Biology) while others may benefit from more business electives (i.e., Principles of Marketing or Management Accounting). In consultation with their advisor, students might want to pursue a minor in Biology, Business, or Environmental Science.

Requirements to Major in Outdoor Leadership

Outdoor Leadership Core Courses

  • OL 1110 – Introduction to Outdoor Leadership
  • OL/PE 1750 – Team Building and Initiative Games (1cr)
  • OL 2430 – Wilderness First Responder
  • OL/KI/SM 3610 – Theory of Outdoor Leadership
  • OL 3710 – Experiential Learning from Dewey to Outward Bound
  • OL 3870 – Outdoor and Adventure Operations and Management
  • OL 4610 – Capstone Experience: Leading Trips & Career Exploration
  • OL 4910 – Internship (Variable credit)
  • or OL 4920 – Practicum (Variable credit)

Select four courses from the following list:

  • OL 1200 – Skills Development Topics (May be repeated for credit in different topic areas, 1cr)
  • OL 1210 – Kayaking (1cr)
  • OL 1215 – Trip Planning (1cr)
  • OL 1220 – Backpacking/Hiking (1cr)
  • OL 1230 – Low Ropes Course Activities (1cr)
  • OL 1231 – High Ropes Course Activities (1cr)
  • OL 1240 – Rock Climbing (1cr)
  • OL 1250 – Biking Trips (1cr)
  • OL 1260 – Orienteering (1cr)
  • OL 1310 – Winter Camping (1cr)
  • OL 1320 – X-C Skiing/Snow Shoeing (1cr) 

Related Courses Required for the Major

  • BI/ES 2070 – New England Natural History
  • BU 3610 – Leadership
  • ES 1110 – Environmental Science: A Global Concern
  • SM/KI 4710 – Legal Issues in Sport and Recreation

Select one course from the following list:

  • ES 2410 – Environmental Ethics
  • ES 3250 – Principles of Environmental Policy and Sustainability
  • ES 4380 – Methods of Environmental Education 

Electives and Institutional Requirements 

Requirements to Minor in Outdoor Leadership

Students interested in earning a minor in outdoor leadership will complete:

  • OL 1100 – Introduction to Outdoor Leadership
  • ES1110 – Environmental Science: A Global Concern

Select two classes from following:

  • OL/SM 3610 – Theory of Outdoor Leadership
  • BU3610 – Leadership
  • OL 3710 – Experiential Learning from Dewey to Outward Bound

Select one class from the following:

  • OL 2430 – Wilderness First Responder
  • ES4380 – Methods in Environmental Education
  • SM/KI 4710 – Legal Issues in Sport and Recreation
  • Select 3 activity Courses (1cr each):
  • OL 1200 – Skills Development Topics
  • OL 1210 – Kayaking
  • OL 1220 – Backpacking and Hiking
  • OL 1230 – Low Ropes Course Activities
  • OL 1231 – High Ropes Course Activities
  • OL 1240 – Rock Climbing
  • OL 1250 – Biking Trips
  • OL 1260 – Orienteering
  • OL 1310 – Winter Camping
  • OL 1320 – X-C Skiing/Snow Shoeing 

Course Descriptions

**All undergraduate courses are 4 credits unless otherwise noted. 

OL 1110 Introduction to Outdoor Leadership

This course introduces students to the field of outdoor leadership through the focus on philosophical and theoretical foundation of leadership and team building and through hands-on experiences. This course will discuss a variety of issues related to outdoor leadership, including group dynamics, instructional procedures, and programming through the use of natural environment.

OL 1200 Skills Development Topics

These one credit topics courses will focus on various skill development activities not normally offered. May be repeated for credit in different topic areas. (1cr) 

OL 1210 Kayaking               

This course will introduce the student to the techniques involved in flat water and white water kayaking. (1cr) 

OL 1215 Trip Planning

This course focuses on essential trip management skills including: route planning, budgeting, purchasing, transportation, logistics, safety and equipment repair. As part of this course, students will plan and lead an overnight wilderness trip utilizing their particular physical and technical strengths.

OL 1220 Backpacking/Hiking

This course will introduce the techniques related to hiking and backpacking, including safety, equipment selection, and no trace camping. During this course students will take a weekend trip. (1cr) 

OL 1230 Low Ropes Course Activities

This course will demonstrate a variety of safe team building exercises using a low ropes course. This course is designed to help students identify goals associated with team building and matching those goals with appropriate activities. Students will be asked to lead others through several team building exercises. (1cr)

OL 1231 High Ropes Course Activities

This course will demonstrate a variety of safe activities associated with high ropes courses. Students will be asked to lead others through save high rope activities. Much of the course will focus on the safe implementation of these activities. This course will also review the policies and procedures associated with maintaining a high ropes course in proper working condition. (1cr) 

OL 1240 Rock Climbing

This course will introduce the student to the techniques associated with rock climbing, including equipment selection, safety, and fundamentals of rock climbing. (1cr)

OL 1250 Biking Trips

Students will learn about planning bike trips. Topics that will be explored include: safety, logistics of bike trips, destination planning, and bike repair. Students are expected to go on a weekend bike trip during this course. (1cr)

OL 1260 Orienteering

This course will teach the fundamentals of orienteering so that students will be able to use a compass and map to navigate from point to point. The course requires students to participate in an orienteering exercise and set up an orienteering challenge for others. (1cr)

OL 1310 Winter Camping

This course will introduce the concepts and techniques necessary to safely enjoy winter camping. Students will be expected to participate in a weekend winter camping experience. (1cr)

OL 1320 X-C Skiing/Snow Shoeing

This course will introduce the concepts and techniques of X-C skiing and Snow Shoeing. (1cr) 

OL 1750 (PE 1750) Teambuilding and Initiative Games              

This course introduces students to the ideas of experiential education and “the challenge by choice” philosophy. It gives students practice in choosing, leading and playing non-competitive physical activities, as well as facilitation of both the activities themselves and reflection upon the activities. Students in this class will learn about creating metaphors to link kinesthetic learning to clients’ intellectual and emotional development. (1cr) 

OL 2430 Wilderness First Responder

This course is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to handle medical emergency situations found in remote locations. The course will place emphasis on preventative steps and decision making. The format for this course will include practical simulations. 

OL 3610 (KI/SM 3610) Theory of Outdoor Leadership

This class examines the theoretical basis of experiential education and its educational, psychological, and historical underpinnings. Emphasis is given to the development of each student’s philosophy of leadership and education; the philosophies of major outdoor programs and influential leaders in the field are discussed. Successful completion of this class prepares a student to design and lead experiential educational activities. No prerequisites, but not recommended for first-year students. Prerequisite: Sophomore status.

OL 3710 Experiential Learning from Dewey to Outward Bound

This course introduces students to the foundations of project-based, experiential learning in and out of classroom environments. Origins of experiential education including the work of theorists such as John Dewey and Paolo Frerre, the progressive movement in education, and experiential programs such as Outward Bound will be explored. Students will engage in active, outdoor learning with an emphasis on environmental education. Relationships between human beings, learning and the natural world are explored through organized learning activities and an expedition where students construct an integrated experiential project from start to finish. 

OL 3870 Outdoor and Adventure Operations and Management

This course explores risk management and policies and procedures of running or working within the outdoor education and adventure fields. Students will learn how to access risk, manage risk, interpret and develop policies, and write operating procedures for ropes courses, equipment use and adventure trips. This course prepares students for working in the field of outdoor leadership from the policies, procedures, and operations management perspective. Prerequisite: OL 1110.

OL 4610 Capstone Experience: Leading Trips & Career Exploration

This course is designed with two broad objectives: Providing students with the opportunity to plan, organize, and lead trips and prepare for initial career steps. During the semester, students will have to lead at least one weekend trip and provide several other outdoor activities consistent with the student’s interest. Emphasis will be placed on safety, logistics, group dynamics, and leadership activities associated with the trip/exercise. Prerequisites: OL 3870 and junior/senior Status. 

OL 4910 Internship in Outdoor Leadership

Students should develop an internship with the Outdoor Leadership advisor in outdoor leadership to gain hand-on experiences. Contract required. Variable credit (1-16).

OL 4920 Practicum in Outdoor Leadership Skills

The Practicum is designed to offer insight and experiential learning in an area of the student’s interest. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. Variable credit (1-16). 

OL1990, 2990, or 3990 Topics in Outdoor Leadership

Different topics in Outdoor Leadership at the introductory level.

OL1200 Outdoor Meals and Menu Planning