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A future in Outdoor Leadership
By Jennifer Bailey
Do you love the outdoors and the thought of sitting behind a desk makes you nauseous?! Do you want to promote the wonders of God's creation and challenge others to grow through adventure? If learning within a community fits your style and you want an intense academic major that prepares you for leading in the outdoors, then a degree in outdoor leadership could be just perfect for you!
As an outdoor leadership major, you will spend much of your time developing outdoor skills, working with small groups developing good interpersonal skills, developing your leadership abilities, researching and participating in class discussions.
Along with your regular courses in English, speech and math, you will likely take several science related classes and will learn about experiential education theory and philosophy, leadership principles and practices, group processing and facilitation skills, wilderness medicine and environmental stewardship - Leave No Trace ethics. You will also gain knowledge on how to prepare for work teaching and guiding activities in parks, camps and other outdoor settings. You’ll investigate how groups work, learn counseling techniques, and take courses in environmental studies. Throughout your studies you will build skills in leadership, wilderness survival, first aid and activities like rock climbing, ropes courses and kayaking. You may also receive a Wilderness First Responder certification and may participate in extended wilderness trips such as backpacking through the Rockies or water trips through the Grand Canyon depending on the school you attend. Also, depending on your long-term career interests and needs, you may have classes in social work, education, psychology, forestry, art and environmental studies.
Post-graduation opportunities in this field are good. You could find careers in adventure and wilderness education, outdoor education, camp and conference centers, challenge course management, church-related youth ministries, College/University outdoor education programs, commercial outdoor recreation businesses, environmental education, environmental interpretation, Mission organizations, national and state parks and even wilderness/adventure therapy. Not to mention other avenues like adventure travel planners, forestry technicians or outdoor recreation retail business owners or managers.
To help you stand out from the crowd, you should consider participating in an internship program. For example, many camps and conference centers offer 1-3 year paid and non-paid internship programs that help you not only develop a resume while learning practical, hands on experience with customers and clients but you will also learn great real-world team building skills. Many of these intern programs are designed to invest greatly in you as a person and as a future leader with lots of intentional one on one feedback and guidance. Ultimately, the outdoor leadership degree will provide a strong education that would be based on a Biblical world view and will prepare you for a variety of outdoor leadership opportunities. If this is your ultimate passion and you are all about the outdoors and God's intricate design in nature as well as helping and teaching others to be active, inquisitive, and brave and to experience new things, then look no further than a degree in outdoor leadership.