At many universities, outdoor adventure programming has become a staple of the campus recreation department. Offering equipment rental, classes and fun trips, outdoor programming is a great way to expose students to new learning and networking opportunities. At the University of Wyoming, students have a wide variety of ways to engage in outdoor adventure programs that not only provide a fun outlet, but develop leadership skills and outdoor knowledge.
The O.L.D.S. Program — The Outdoor Leadership Development Series — is open to all undergraduate and graduate students at the university who have an interest in becoming an outdoor leader or advancing their leadership abilities. With classroom and backcountry sessions, throughout the year-long program students improve technical skills, apply leadership methods, hear from guest speakers, participate in various outdoor activities, assist on Outdoor Program trips and have the opportunity to obtain a number a certifications including: Leave No Trace, Wilderness First Aid and Wilderness First Responder.
“It provides students with an opportunity to shadow and assist on one of our trips throughout the year,” said Dan McCoy, the assistant director of recreation programs at the University of Wyoming. “We have monthly meetings in the fall, a Leave No Trace backpacking trip and then we ask students to get a medical certification, if they don’t already have one.”
McCoy explained in the Spring semester the O.L.D.S. Program is also paired with a three-credit Introduction to Outdoor Leadership class that all students are required to take. “What is unique about this is 1/3 of their grade is based on a self-designed small group expedition,” he said. “Most of the groups go backpacking in southern Utah. Our program provides a budget, a vehicle and some equipment for them and they design and implement the backpacking trip.”
The O.L.D.S. program is free to students, except for paying for the class credits. Each year, only a few students are selected to participate. “We consider it a significant investment in the students,” said McCoy. “It is a competitive program. We interview pretty much every student that applies and have about 14 students who are enrolled in that each year.”
Another unique engagement opportunity for students is the Wilderness Orientation program, which is open to incoming freshman. “We do those in the summer and also immediately before school starts. We have the capacity to take about close to 200 students out on those,” said McCoy. “One of those programs is for our freshman interest group, it is living learning community where they actually take a class on outdoor leadership from us and live together in the residence halls and go on the trip with with us.”
Getting students involved in Outdoor Adventure Programs is a great way to not only teach students life-long skills, but also keep them engaged within the university. If you have unique Outdoor Recreation program at your university, please share them by emailing: Emily@peakemedia.com
Photo Credit: UW Photo Service