Outdoor Leadership

The Outdoor Leadership program is designed to prepare students for leadership careers in adventure-based outdoor programs, outdoor education programs, state and national park systems, and camps. Students develop life skills in leadership, decision-making, problem-solving, teaching, and group facilitation within the context of a Christian worldview, as well as gain competency in outdoors skills, including rock-climbing, kayaking, wilderness expeditions, first aid, mountaineering, and more.

  • Outdoor Activities

    A student hiking on the beachThroughout their time at Simpson students will have the opportunity to choose and develop a variety of outdoor skills, from backpacking to kayaking to cross-country skiing. Each skill-oriented course focuses on technique as well as leadership and decision-making. Coupled with courses in risk management, expedition management, and instructional techniques, students graduate with an ability to perform as well as lead.

  • Personal & Social Development

    Two students posing for a picture A large part of outdoor leadership focuses on relationships. Specifically, at Simpson University we focus on four relationships—our relationship with ourselves, with others, with God, and with the environment. As our students learn about the outdoor environment and how to interact with it, they also learn how to foster healthy relationships within that environment. Students are encouraged to learn in community with one another and to make personal applications to their lives. Educating outdoor leaders is about educating the whole person.

  • Environmental Education

    Mountain ValleyIt is hard to care for what you don't understand. It is for this reason that our program contains may curricular components of Environmental Education. Whether it be astronomical lessons under starry skies, or meteorological forecasting in more inclement weather, our program introduces natural science relevant to an Outdoor Leader. By learning the many ecological principles God has established within His Creation, our students are better prepared to be stewards of it. This moral consideration extends not just to our own species but to the whole of the created order as we attempt to usher in the shalom that Jesus inaugurated in his incarnation. Thus, by following the Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics all our wilderness travel, we believe we come a little closer to acting justly, loving mercy, and walking with our God.

  • Christian Worldview

    Christian Worldview Diagram SmallWithin the Outdoor Leadership program, the three domains described above (Outdoor Activities, Personal and Social Development, Environmental Education) are taught from a Christian perspective. In fact, the central aim of our program is to facilitate the development of Christ-like character. The outdoors – through the three domains – are our means of doing so.

  • More About the Major

    Field and Classroom Time

    Simpson University's Outdoor Leadership degree program addresses these domains (see 3 points above) through both theory-based and skill-acquisition courses. However, any strict divide between the classroom and field is soon blurred by the major's significant field time – a May-term expedition, an immersion semester, and elective skill courses or your choice – in total, more than 2 months under the stars, and several more weeks of day trips.

    Northern California Location

    Mt. ShastaSimpson University is an ideal location for an Outdoor Leadership program. To the east, one quickly encounters Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. Traveling further, one is confronted by the towering peaks of the Trinity Alps Wilderness, which is bordered by the Wild and Scenic Trinity River. This beautiful river flows to the Lost Coast area of Northern California, and is flanked by both state and national Redwood parks. To the north, along the Sacramento River, one soon discovers why the Redding area is famous for its fly fishing. Continue driving and one will soon see the toothy profile of Castle Crags State Park, and the looming mass of 14 179 ft. glaciated Mt. Shasta. To the west, the scenery is no less spectacular. From campus, the horizon is dominated by an alpine ridge extending between Lassen Peak and Brokeoff Mountain, which both reside within Lassen Volcanic National Park.

  • Career Opportunities

    A student climbing a treeCombining academic-depth, leadership proficiency and training in a variety of outdoor recreational skills, our Outdoor Leadership program puts you on the right track to further your education or to begin pursuing a career in various fields. Since a significant amount of flexibility is built into the major, students are able to tailor their education to their learning needs and professional interests. Here are some of the ways our students are currently using or intend to use their degree:

    • state and national park systems
    • camp administration
    • adventure-based outdoor programs
    • college and community recreation programs
    • adventure guiding
    • wilderness education instructing
    • running your own adventure business
    • working for non-profit agencies such as the YMCA
    • going to graduate school


  • Business
    Course Code Title Units
    BUSS 1900 Introduction to Business 3
    BUSS 2940 Principles of Management 3
    BUSS 3980 Principles of Marketing 3
    Business 4670 Communication, Leadership and Organizations 3
  • Environmental Studies
    Course Code Title Units
    BIOL 3240 Ecology 3
    BIOL 3510 Environmental Science 3
    BIOL XXXX Environmental Ethics 3
    ODLE 3015 Environmental Education 3
  • Ministry
    Course Code Title Units
    YUTH 3110 Youth Ministry 1 3
    YUTH 4330 Youth Culture and Issues 3
    YUTH 4340 Counseling Adolescents 3
    CHED 3500 Small Groups 3
    THEO 4000 Spiritual Formation 3
  • Psychology
    Course Code Title Units
    PSYC 3016 Lifespan Development 3
    PSYC 3110 Intro to Social Work 3
    PSYC 3400 Multicultural Psychology 3
    PSYC 3600W Marriage and Family 3
    PSYC 3620 Counseling Skills 3


  • Wilderness Leadership

    The Outdoor Leadership major offers a Certificate in Wilderness Leadership through participation in the Outdoor Leadership Immersion semester. This is an intense, field-based experience that is available to students as a stand-alone certificate, or as part of a bachelor of arts degree in Outdoor Leadership. The semester allows students to take a concentration of Outdoor Leadership courses in a semester format in order to gain valuable outdoor skills, take part in an intentional community, and develop as Christian leaders. Successful completion of the certificate program will also include certification in Wilderness First Responder, a nationally recognized medical certification and an industry standard in the field of Outdoor Leadership.

    • Introduction to Outdoor Leadership
    • Leave No Trace
    • Instructional Techniques
    • Expedition Management
    • Immersion Skill Set
    • Risk Management

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Synthesize an understanding of the historical, philosophical, and theoretical foundations of outdoor leadership through careful research and critical thinking skills, evidenced through research papers, presentations, and insightful classroom discussions.
  • Apply various models of leadership, teaching, and facilitation skills through practice.
  • Demonstrate technical proficiency in a variety of outdoor skills through an ability to perform these skills and plan expeditions with an awareness of environmental impact and the appropriate management of physical and emotional risk.

Students wishing to minor in Outdoor Leadership can choose between the traditional curriculum model or the field-based curriculum model. Those interested in the field-based model are encouraged to speak with Outdoor Leadership faculty to ensure compatibility with the student’s major.


Required (15 credits)

Course Code Title Units
ODLE 1000 Introduction to Outdoor Leadership 3
ODLE 2005 Outdoor Living Skills 3
ODLE 2015 Group Processing and Program Design 3
ODLE 3960 Survey of Leadership Theories 3
ODLE 4060W Theology and Philosophy in Experiential Education 3

Two credits from the following:

Course Code Title Units
ODLE 1005 Wilderness Journey Practicum 3
ODLE 1010 Downhill Skiing 1
ODLE 1015 Snowshoeing/Winter Camping 1
ODLE 1020 Rock Climbing 1
ODLE 1025 Mountaineering 1
ODLE 1030 Orienteering 1
ODLE 1040 Mountaing Biking 1
ODLE 1050 Kayaking 1
ODLE 1055 Canoeing 3
ODLE 1060 Hiking 1
ODLE 1070 Cross-Country Skiing 1
ODLE 1080 Backpacking 1
ODLE 1230 First Aid/CPR 1
ODLE 1950 Special Topic 1-2

Six credits from the following:

Course Code Title Units
ODLE 2010 Challenge Education 3
ODLE 3015 Environmental Education 3
ODLE 3020 Wilderness Rescue 3
ODLE 3040 Camp Programming 3
ODLE 3100 Solitude & Outdoor Leadership 3
ODLE 3950 Special Topics 3

Total Credits: 23


REQUIRED (19 units)

Course Code Title Units
ODLE 1000 Introduction to Outdoor Leadership 3
ODLE 2005 Outdoor Living Skills 3

Immersion Semester

Course Code Title Units
ODLE 1085 Leave No Trace 1
ODLE 2020 Instructional Techniques 3
ODLE 3005 Expedition Management 3
ODLE 2025 Immersion Skill Set 3
ODLE 3930 Risk Management 3

Three credits from the following:

Course Code Title Units
ODLE 1005 Wilderness Journey Practicum 3
ODLE 2010 Challenge Education 3
ODLE 2015 Group Processing and Program Design 3
ODLE 2015 Environmental Education 3
ODLE 3040 Camp Programming 3
ODLE 3100 Solitude & Outdoor Leadership 3
ODLE 3950 Special Topics 3
ODLE 3960 Survey of Leadership Theories 3
ODLE 4060W Theology & Philosophy in Experiential Education 3


Scott Barnett

Associate Professor of Outdoor Leadership


"I have wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl, and when I came to Simpson, I fell in love with the idea of working in a wilderness setting."Aixa Correa

"I joined the Outdoor Leadership major hoping to get a degree in what I enjoyed, but it ended up being a place where I learned more about myself and about education."Shane Wachlin

"With such close community and so many experiences together, you get to know your professors, and they really get to know you. They know my fears, my dreams, my strengths and weaknesses and have come alongside me and encouraged and empowered me."Anni Graham

"Life-changing both professionally and personally."Jessica Kenning

"ODLE is a lot more than just playing outside. It will challenge you as a person in your faith, leadership, and intellect. My ODLE classes were often the most demanding academically. In many ways it is a conglomeration of majors--education, business, psychology, leadership, philosophy, theology, and ethics. You will learn so much about life and yourself and have lots of fun in the process!"Melody Board

"It is incredibly valuable… I learned more about myself and about loving life. I’ve become more confident in myself and truly a better person because of this major."Christina (Coleman) Madj

"It provides an opportunity for students to experience a very holistic major, which focuses on personal growth in mind, body, and soul within the context of community."Ruth Jones

"It allows you to gain the skills and knowledge from highly qualified professors to be able to work in the industry."Trever Meier

"The Lord has created us with all different talents, experiences, and even spiritual temperaments. For those who particularly connect with their Creator through His creation, the Outdoor Leadership major is extremely important and a great blessing. Through the usage of experiential education, connecting the subject with the whole person, the ODLE major does an excellent job of providing relevant knowledge that is transferable for our field of work. The original intent of the liberal arts university is to create global citizens who can think, make decisions, and contribute to society. As a Christian University, the ODLE major, embodies this philosophy, for Simpson students to go spread Kingdom values with their everyday lives; well ours are often lived outdoors. The ODLE major creates godly men and women who are capable to teaching and leading others, and helping individuals discover their whole self."Mitchell Kellogg


Student-Produced Videos

Immersion Experience

Forest Service Logo

This institution is operated under special use permit with the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

Forest Service LogoThis institution is operated under special use permit with the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.