The Outdoor Leadership Certification program, which is independent of the University’s academic programs, is made up of eight courses and is intended to prepare students for a career in the outdoor industry. Classes can be completed in as little as one year but must be completed within three years.
The OLC includes five core courses: Introduction to Outdoor Leadership, Wilderness Medicine, Introduction to Backcountry Living, Introduction to the Outdoor Industry and Risk Management, and a weeklong capstone course, where students put what they’ve learned into practical use.
Students also choose three classes from a number of electives: Introduction to Challenging Course Operations and Adventure Training, Introduction to Rock Climbing, Introduction to Paddle Sport Activities, Mountain Biking, Fly Fishing, and Outdoor Leadership Internship.
Each course includes its own certificate — swift water rescue, wilderness first responder, etc. — and earning the OLC from Lynchburg also prepares students to sit for the nationally recognized Wilderness Education Association Certified Outdoor Leader exam.
Courses are taught by Tim Slusser ’22, Lynchburg’s assistant director of recreation, and other outdoors professionals from throughout the region.
Core courses (Required)
Introduction Outdoor Leadership
In-Person, evenings with three-days weekend intensive
This course also includes teaching principles and planning, implementing, leading, supervising, and evaluating outdoor recreational programs. Emphasis is given to wilderness leadership techniques and programming. Practical application is gained through planning and implementing a group trip.
Wilderness Medicine (Wilderness First Responder)
Hybrid with five-day intensive
Upon completion, you will be able to conduct a thorough physical exam, obtain a patient history, assess vital signs, and provide emergency care in the wilderness, You will learn how to make crucial evacuation decisions as well as preventive medicine in the backcountry. Instruction takes place in both the classroom and outdoors, regardless of weather,
- Required text: WMA Wilderness Medicine 8th edition (provided in the course cost)
Introduction to Backcountry Living
In this course you’ll learn the basic skills and concepts necessary for backcountry living. Topics include camping, cooking, fire and stove use, equipment, safety, nutrition, map reading skills and navigation, first aid, and leave no trace skills and etiquette. You will have the opportunity to gain a Leave No Trace Certification.
Introduction to the Outdoor Industry and Risk Management
Hybrid with two-day intensive
In this course you’ll learn how to complete a systematic analysis and the development of a plan for minimizing the risk of harm to clients and staff, and minimizing the risk of legal liability for harm that does occur. You will be able to explain common risk management terms and concepts and their application in outdoor leadership, recognize hazards common to field experiences in the backcountry, and apply commonly accepted risk management strategies in program design, implementation, and evaluation.
The Capstone of Outdoor Leadership
In this course you’ll learn the philosophical background of outdoor leadership and the Wilderness Education Association. The COL is a practical, frontline credential: The Certified Outdoor Leader has received training in and demonstrated competency with the WEA 6+1, and is ready to integrate that training with activity-specific skill development (rock climbing, paddle sports, mountaineering, skiing, etc.).
Certified Outdoor Leaders are equipped to:
- Plan and deliver a high-quality wilderness experience
- Model responsible minimum impact practices
- Exercise good judgment and effective decision-making across a range of program settings
The COL credential is a certification. Participation in a COL assessment process does not guarantee certification; minimum requirements must be met to be eligible for certification.
Choose three of the following field elective courses:
Introduction to Challenging Course Operations, and Adventure Training
Two evening sessions and four-day, two-weekend intensive
In this course you’ll receive an overview of challenge course programming and adventure training classes that will be taught in the classroom as well as utilizing the low- and high-ropes elements at the University of Lynchburg. Topics include group facilitation, debriefing, problem-solving, initiatives, and trust-building activities, as well as how to implement experiential education theories in the field. This course will allow you the opportunity to be tested for the Association for Challenge Course Technology Level 2 Practitioner Certification.
Introduction to Rock Climbing
In person, four-day intensive
In this course you’ll receive the skills and experience necessary to enjoy the sport of rock climbing and other vertical pursuits. The focus of this course is on rope work, anchor building, repelling, and top-rope climbing techniques.
Introduction to Paddle Sports Activities
In person, evenings OR five-day intensive
In this course you’ll learn the basics of paddle sports skills and concepts. You’ll be provided with an overall knowledge of various strokes, safety, entering and exiting, various paddle crafts, map reading, interpreting water and weather conditions, and trip planning. You will be required to participate in off-campus trips to a variety of locations. You will also have the opportunity to sit for a Level 4 Swiftwater Certification from the American Canoe Association.
This experiential activity course is an introduction to the lifetime sport of fly fishing. Through classroom instruction and hands-on field-based opportunities, you will learn the many aspects of fly fishing. Topics include casting; tactics; knots; equipment selection, care, and use; basic fly tying; aquatic entomology, conservation and regulations.
Outdoor Leadership Internship
Must meet with program director for approval.
This internship will focus on giving you real-world experience, and opportunities to apply the knowledge and skills learned throughout your OLP courses. We will help the internship placements through our local and regional partners.
Please check back for more information.
The admission requirements are to ensure the proper commitment and motivations for entering the program. Students must be 18 years old by the first course attended. The admission process will be open to all, with priority admission and pricing given to current University of Lynchburg students. Potential students will need to complete an application and will be invited to meet with the director of the program for an interview.
Please check back for more information.
|Per Course||Full Program|
|University of Lynchburg students||$350||$2,800|