Outdoor Skills Courses and Certifications

Spring 2019 Courses 

Certified instructors will provide you with the skills and knowledge necessary for managing wilderness emergencies. Click the linked titles for full course descriptions and registration information. Questions? Email outdoors@vcu.edu

CourseDateRegister by

Wilderness First Responder

3/2-3/9 2/26

Swiftwater Rescue Course

4/13-14 4/9

Please review our Trip Policies and Procedures.


Spring 2019 Environmental Studies
The OAP is partnering with the Center for Environmental Studies to offer the following courses starting Spring 2019. To register for these courses, visit VCU eServices.
Iceland Trip Leaders

ENVS 491, Section 001 - Outdoor Programming
Instructor: Karl Schmidt, kmschmidt@vcu.edu
Monday/Wednesday 2:00-3:15 p.m.
Prerequisites: None
Credits: 3
Capacity: 24

This course is designed to provide students with information and practical experience required to successfully design, promote, implement, and evaluate outdoor experiential programming across a range of contexts.

ENVS 491, Section 002 - Outdoor Group Facilitation
Instructor: Samuel Albert, scalbert@vcu.edu
Tuesday/Thursday 12:30-1:45 p.m. 
Prerequisites: None
Credits: 3
Capacity: 20

Adventure experiences can comprise a wide variety of functions for any particular individual or group. Some of those functions are purely recreational, in which the focus of the experience is primarily on the activity itself. In other instances, the focus of the adventure experience may resonate more strongly with certain educational or interpretive goals. That is, the aim of the process concerns not only the immediate activity (experience), but also on how that experience can stand for something else in a person’s life. The purpose of this course is to provide students with an understanding of both the theory and techniques used to facilitate an adventure experience directed at maximizing the potential for benefits.

ENVS 491, Section 003 - Outdoor Leadership
Instructor: Joey Parent, parentaj@vcu.edu 
Tuesday/Thursday 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Prerequisites: None
Credits: 3
Capacity: 24

Whether researching in remote third world countries, or overseeing volunteer crews on afternoon work projects, effective leadership in the outdoors can mean the difference between success and failure of a project. This course is designed to introduce the fundamental concepts of outdoor leadership and how to apply those theories to both short term and extended field based experiences. Students will examine the broad scope of the outdoor profession, while exploring its value to environment professionals. Topics include historical and philosophical foundations of outdoor leaders, researchers and philosophers, theories of leadership, judgment & decision-making, values and ethics, teaching and facilitation, safety and risk management, and environmental stewardship. In addition to classroom meetings, this course also incorporates several field components, including one overnight outdoor experience and participation in a full-day high ropes challenge course program. Using these experiences as an opportunity to apply concepts, students will gain a better understanding of how to lead and follow in the outdoors.

ENVS 491 Section 007 - Wilderness First Responder
Instructor: Karl Schmidt, kmschmidt@vcu.edu
Winter dates: January 5 - January 12 
Spring dates: March 2 - March 9
Prerequisites: None
Credits: 3
Capacity: 0 (override only)

If interested, register through OAP first. Registration for course credit via eservices is optional and is done by override only with instructor permission.

The Wilderness First Responder is the perfect course for anyone working in a position of leadership in an outdoor setting or for individuals who want a high level of wilderness medical training for extended personal backcountry trips or expeditions. The WFR is 72+ hours long, and is a comprehensive and in-depth look at the standards and skills of dealing with: Response and Assessment, Musculoskeletal Injuries, Environmental Emergencies and Survival Skills, Soft Tissue Injuries, and Medical Emergencies. Additional topics, such as CPR, are also included. Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course is the recognized industry standard for those who work as backcountry trip leaders, camp counselors, mountain guides, river guides, and ski patrollers. This course covers much of the same material as the Wilderness First Aid, but more extensively and with more practice applying your new knowledge and skill set. The WFR certification is good for three years and this course includes CPR.