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Outdoor Leadership Program

Generic Program Outline for the

WKU Outdoor Leadership Program


Steve Spencer 2023 DA, WKU
Phone:  270-745-6073 (w)
E-Mail:  steve.spencer@wku.edu

Tammie Stenger-Ramsey, 2034 DA, WKU
Phone:  270-745-6063 (w)    745-3592 (fax)
E-mail:  tammie.stenger@wku.edu

Program Description:  This program emphasizes experiential teaching/learning using the Wilderness Education Association curriculum under field conditions, which builds upon the student's prior outdoor study and experience.  The result is a practical group experience in the outdoors spent enjoyably and safely with minimum harm to the environment.  The WKU Outdoor Leadership Program stresses judgment, decision making, low impact camping, sound expedition behavior, and environmental ethics. Throughout this program learning follows the experiential education concept of: "See one, do one, teach one".

Program Course numbers in the Professional Semester:
REC 330, 335, 337, 435, 437

Program Objectives:  Students completing the WKU Outdoor Leadership Program will:

  1. Use and enjoy the wilderness with minimum impact.
  2. Apply safe practices for groups in outdoor recreation activities.
  3. Recognize his or her leadership abilities and limitations.
  4. Demonstrate a standard of outdoor user knowledge and leadership skills based on the WEA curriculum.
  5. Receive the WEA Outdoor Leader certificate for satisfactory completion.
  6. Receive the Leave No Trace Trainer certificate for satisfactory completion.

Program Design:  This semester-long Outdoor Leadership Program includes multiple camping trips, Leave No Trace training and backcountry expeditions for 10 and 15 days backpacking and paddling. Participants will keep a journal while in the field and participate in daily debriefings. The course includes peer review.  The field segments (REC 437) are capstone experiences of the Outdoor Leadership Professional semester and integrate all learning into field application.

Regarding This Program:

  1. This is leadership training held in semi-wilderness settings.  It is not a pure wilderness adventure.  You will spend considerable time evaluating your decision-making ability in group sessions and through journal entries.
  2. This program involves multiple interrelated courses (REC 330, 335, 337, 435, 437) which fit together to meet the objectives of the Outdoor Leadership Program.
  3. Parts of this program may be perceived as a physical, mental, and emotional challenge.  A significant aspect of learning comes through challenge.  However, no activities are designed for failure.  The emphasis is on experiential learning in a challenging environment.  It is essential that all students be in good physical and mental condition.  A current physical examination is advised and immunizations should be current.
  4. Participants must realize that any form of wilderness travel involves risk.  The group will be paddling whitewater rivers and traveling on a variety of terrain both on and off of trails.  In realizing these dangers, there will be a continual emphasis on safety procedures. During most of the program we will be isolated with no mechanical transportation and no outside communication except in the case of extreme emergency.   Students should have insurance. No electronic aids will be taken in the field unless serving as prosthesis, navigation or for photography (no cell phones).  (Note:  cell phones will be taken by instructors for logistics and emergency use only).
  5. Participants will teach lessons during the program.  The Backcountry Classroom provides lesson plans for many of these assignments.
  6. Bulk rations will be supplied.  Meal/ration planning will be completed by students (Nutrition will be emphasized).  Our philosophy is to travel lightly, safely, and economically.
  7. Student behavior will be in accordance with normal WKU course expectations.  Alcohol and drugs are prohibited.  Tobacco is discouraged.

Field Trip Locations include:
Feb.    Mammoth Cave National Park
           Pickett State Park, TN (Camping/LNT Training)
Mar.    Buffalo National River, AR
April    Big South Fork National Recreation Area

Required Texts for Outdoor Leadership Semester:

  • The Audubon Society Field guide to Southeastern States -- NSP (REC 332, 435, 437)
  • WEA WKU Field Manual – Spencer/Stenger/Ramsey (REC 435, 437) (Included in fees)
  • The Backcountry Classroom--Drury and Bonney (REC 435, 437)
  • NOLS Outdoor Cookery --Richard (REC 235,335,435, 437)
  • The Campers Guide to Outdoor Pursuits -- Drury and Holmlund (REC 235,335)
  • Canoeing – ACA. Editors: Dillon & Oyen (REC 337)
  • ACA Instructor Manual (REC 337) (Included in fees)
  • Natural Resources and the Informed Citizen (REC 330 text)

Enrollment: 12 students
Clearance by instructor required

Program (Lab) Fees for all field courses in Professional Semester, REC, 335, 337, 435, 437, over normal course tuition:

$750 Lab Fee (paid with tuition). Includes: WEA membership/course fees, Field Manual, Leave-No-Trace certification materials and texts, American Canoe Association Membership, ACA text, ACA membership and Instructor Training fees, and food, equipment, transportation and supplies while in the field.


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 Last Modified 12/5/18