Outdoor Leadership Semester

NOLS & Paul Smith’s College

Course Descriptions

REC 363: Outdoor Leadership Practicum with NOLS – 6 Credits
This course provides an extended backcountry experience that gives students the chance to develop leadership skills through the daily application and evaluation of individual and group decision making and judgment. This 33-day course follows the NOLS’ Environmental Education, Leadership Skills, and Wilderness Skills tracks through hiking, paddling, exposure to rock climbing, and finishing with an Independent Student Group Expedition. The Outdoor Leadership Practicum offers students the opportunity to demonstrate leadership level judgment required to make and implement quality decisions while experiencing both mental and physical challenge. Students will travel in small groups in wilderness areas away from immediate medical assistance by canoe and foot. Students typically do multiple canoe portages, carry 40-75 pound backpacks, climb 4,000 foot peaks, and complete rigorous off-trail navigation exercises.

REC 399: Certified Interpretive Guide – 2 Credits
This 32-hour course combines both the theoretical foundations of interpretation with practical skills in delivering quality interpretive programming to visitors. Content covered includes the history, definition, and principles of interpretation, designing programs that are purposeful, enjoyable, relevant, organized, and thematic, using tangible objects to connect audiences to intangible ideas and universal concepts in interpretive programs, and presentation and communication skills. In addition to academic credit, this course offers a four-year, interpretive guide certification through the National Association for Interpretation.

REC 299: Intro to Wilderness Recreation Therapy – 3 Credits
This course provides an introduction into the increasingly prevalent field of wilderness therapy. Wilderness settings have been recognized as important adjuncts from a therapeutic perspective, conferring ideal opportunities for separation, self-awareness, focus, healthy lifestyles, intentional solitude, reflection, group therapy, individual therapy, goal clarification, cognitive therapy and reentry. Students will explore the recent history, claims, therapeutic results, and professional issues surrounding this emerging tool for health.

HUM 399: Guide Culture in the World– 3 Credits
Wilderness, adventure, and nature guides are a historical and modern phenomena. This course reviews guiding practices and philosophies from across the world, including in-depth case studies focusing on diverse cultures. An emphasis will be placed on guiding culture in popular nature-tourism destinations including the Adirondack Park. Students will also explore the social functions served through the dynamic between the professional guide and participants. A series of professionally guided trips in the Adirondack region will provide opportunities for reflection and observation of professional philosophies and practices. Liberal Arts Elective (LAS)

REC 499: Practicum Trip – 1 CR
This 10-day course provides students with learning experiences in unique habitats not found in the Adirondack Park, while demanding the high level of accountability, leadership, and hard skills-expertise covered in the first portion of the semester. Students may paddle and camp in the Okefenokee Swamp of Georgia, sea kayak off of the shore of South Carolina, hike in Great Smoky National Park, experience professionally-guided birding or horseback riding trips, and more. Students will be involved with planning logistics, including food and gear, and will take turns leading their peers through content lessons and leadership exercises throughout the experience.