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Southern Oregon University

The Department of Health, Physical Education and Leadership (HPEL) offers both a BA/BS and a minor in Outdoor Adventure Leadership (OAL). For information about OAL contact Adam Elson at 541-552-6857 (ElsonA@sou.edu) or Erik Sol at 541-552-8037 (SolE@sou.edu).

The Outdoor Adventure Leadership program has been designed from an integrative perspective offering comprehensive coursework in outdoor leadership, outdoor recreation management, adventure planning, tourism, risk management, stewardship, conservation, and preservation. The curriculum will help prepare students for a variety of certification opportunities in the outdoor recreation profession including Avalanche I (Forest Service), Leave No Trace Instructor, Swift Water Rescue (ACA), Open Water Diver (PADI), Introductory Canoe and Kayak Instructor (ACA), Wilderness First Responder (WSI), Safe Serve, Challenge Course Facilitator, and the National Recreation and Parks Association Certified Parks and Recreation Professional certification. Graduates from this program will be prepared to pursue studies in higher education and/or vocational pursuits in the areas of adventure services, outdoor recreation leadership and management, tourism, camp management, parks and recreation services, guide services, adult and youth recreation, adventure programming, etc.

The curriculum is offered through the HPEL department. Detailed information about the courses for both the major and the minor is available below.

A Growing Field in a Spectacular Region

There is growing opportunity to work in this field. The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) declares that "participation in outdoor activities is at an all-time high" and that "69% of the population age 16 and over participated in an outdoor activity during each of the last two years" (2003). Two-thirds of Americans participate in outdoor recreational activities monthly, up from 50% five years earlier, according to Outdoor Recreation in America (1999). This indicates a growing trend in the field of Outdoor Recreation.

The program provides for transferability from regional and national institutions offering coursework and/or associate degrees in related fields. This program would be particularly beneficial to the many 2-year institutions in our region that offer coursework in outdoor recreation, AAOT programs, or offer an associate degree in outdoor recreation or related fields (Rogue Community College, RCC; Umpqua Community College, UCC; Southwest Oregon Community College, SOCC; Central Oregon Community College, COCC; Klamath Community College, KCC; Mt. Hood Community College, MHCC; Feather River Community College, FRCC, etc.).

SOU operates under permits issued by the Klamath & Umpqua National Forest.
SOU is an equal opportunity service provider.

Check out our region! Work and play in the Southwest Oregon.

  • Proximity to the Pacific Ocean.
  • Access to a large number of rivers and extended seasonal whitewater opportunities.
  • Optimal climate for “all-season” experiential based learning.
  • Convenient access to several local mountain regions and lush interior valleys, national parks and monuments
    (Siskiyou, Klamath, Marble, Trinity Alps, Russian and Cascade Mountains, Klamath Basin, Rogue Valley,
    Valley of the Rogue State Park, Oregon Caves, Lassen National Park, Crater Lake National Park,
    Kalmiopsis Wilderness, etc.).
  • Opportunities for study at the Deer Creek Center for Field Research and Crater Lake Science and Learning Center.

Jobs in outdoor recreation

  • Recreation Leader or Superintendent
  • Recreation Specialist or Supervisor
  • Recreation Programmer
  • Special Events Planner
  • Military Recreation Director
  • Director of Parks and Recreation
  • Recreation Center Director
  • Natural Resources Manager
  • Correctional Recreation Director
  • Community Recreation/Recreational Sports Director
  • Therapeutic Recreation Director
  • Leisure and Fitness Director for the Elderly
  • Wilderness Expedition Director
  • Rafting/Mountaineering Guide
  • Ski Instructor
  • Travel and Tour Director
  • Resort, Hotel, Motel Manager
  • Camp Director

Outdoor Adventure Leadership Major Requirements
This information is also available in the SOU Catalog online here.

Core Classes
ES/GEOG  Geog101 (social science-Univ Stud)  OR  ES 101/102/103(science-Univ. Stud)   
HE 250  Health and Society I    
OAL 194 Professional Activities: Outdoor Recreation Activities     
OAL 199 Land Navigation   
OAL 250 Foundations in Outdoor Adventure Leadership   
OAL 252 Wilderness First Aid & CPR  
OAL 275 Adventure Based Facilitation 
HE 325 Nutrition  
HE 331 Environmental Health 
PE 372 Kinesiology  
OAL 309 Practicum  
OAL 362 Outdoor Recreation Programming and the Environment  
OAL 375 Advanced Techniques in Adventure Leadership  
OAL 409 Practicum  
OAL 425 Program Evaluation  
OAL 430 Outdoor Survival  
OAL 443 Senior Capstone  
OAL 444 History of the Pacific Northwest Wilderness  
OAL 470 Environmental Physiology  
BA 312 Hospitality & Tourism Marketing  OR  BI 386 Forest Ecology and Management  

Activity Classes
Land  (Minimum requirement of 3 land classes)
OAL 177  Rock Climbing I  
OAL 204  Rock Climbing II  
OAL 205  Rock Climbing III  
OAL 179  Skiing/Snowboarding  
OAL 180  Skiing/Snowboarding Maintenance  
OAL 175  Mountaineering I  
OAL 203  Mountaineering II  
OAL 176  Mountain Biking  
OAL 170  Bicycle Maintenance  
OAL 171  Boat Maintenance  
OAL 174  Hiking  
OAL 290  Challenge Course Facilitation  
OAL 481 Technical Rope Rescue  

Water  (Minimum requirement of 3 water classes)
OAL 172  Fly Fishing I  
OAL 173  Fly Fishing II 
OAL 181  Whitewater Activities I  
OAL 207  Whitewater Activities II  
OAL 182  Whitewater Kayaking I  
OAL 208  Whitewater Kayaking II  
OAL 178  Sea Kayaking I  
OAL 206  Sea Kayaking II         
OAL 234  Scuba Diving  
OAL 236  Advanced Scuba Diving  
OAL 399 Scuba Diving Leadership  
OAL 480 Swiftwater Rescue Technician I  
OAL 482 Advanced Swiftwater Rescue Technician  
PE 298 Lifeguard Certification   

Minimum credits to graduate: 180 total credits; 60 Upper Division Credits

Outdoor Adventure Leadership Minor Requirements

Core Classes
OAL 194 Professional Activities: Outdoor Recreation Activities    
OAL 250 Foundations in Outdoor Adventure Leadership  
OAL 252 Wilderness & Remote First Aid & CPR 
OAL 275 Adventure Based Facilitation
OAL 362 Outdoor Recreation Programming and the Environment  
OAL 375 Advanced Techniques in Adventure Leadership  
OAL 430 Outdoor Survival 
OAL 444 History of the Pacific NW Wilderness  OR  OAL 470 Environmental Physiology

Activity Classes  (Minimum requirement of 3 classes total & 1 from each)
Land 
OAL 177  Rock Climbing I  
OAL 204  Rock Climbing II  
OAL 205  Rock Climbing III  
OAL 179  Skiing/Snowboarding  
OAL 180  Skiing/Snowboarding Maintenance  
OAL 175  Mountaineering I  
OAL 203  Mountaineering II  
OAL 176  Mountain Biking  
OAL 170  Bicycle Maintenance  
OAL 171  Boat Maintenance  
OAL 174  Hiking  
OAL 290  Challenge Course Facilitation  
OAL 481 Technical Rope Rescue  

Water  
OAL 172  Fly Fishing I  
OAL 173  Fly Fishing II  
OAL 181  Whitewater Activities I  
OAL 207  Whitewater Activities II  
OAL 182  Whitewater Kayaking I  
OAL 208  Whitewater Kayaking II  
OAL 178  Sea Kayaking I  
OAL 206  Sea Kayaking II         
OAL 234  SCUBA Diving  
OAL 236  Advanced SCUBA Diving  
OAL 399 Scuba Diving Leadership  
OAL 480 Swiftwater Rescue Technician I  
OAL 482 Advanced Swiftwater Rescue Technician  
PE 298 Lifeguard Certification