Recreation, Adventure Education & Leisure Management – Paul Smith’s College

Earn a degree in RAELM at Paul Smith’s College to further your path toward the perfect job or career.

Recreation, Adventure Education & Leisure Management

Learn to work with diverse groups to design and deliver high-quality recreation experiences that are ecologically and economically sound. Experiential education, leadership, management skills and adventure opportunities are the emphasis of our recreation degree. Students choose from several minors, including outdoor leadership, environmental communication and environmental studies. No matter which area of focus you select, you’ll graduate with a highly marketable and capable set of skills:

  • “Leave No Trace” wilderness travel and camping
  • Best practices in recreational program design and delivery
  • Effective management techniques for sustainable nature-based operations
  • Ability to analyze the cultural, historical and environmental impacts of nature-based tourism
  • Communication, leadership and problem-solving
Fast Facts

In your time in this program you will study best practices to provide safe high quality recreation experiences that are ecologically and economically sustainable. You will learn to plan and conduct recreation experiences that will include using our own high and low ropes courses, rock climbing, sea kayaking, winter camping, as well as planning and going on a Practicum trip to places like, Hawaii or the Virgin Islands. In addition to these recreational skills courses you will learn trip planning, marketing, tourism, and risk management practices.

Study Abroad opportunities are available for you with many different countries available for exploration.

In your senior year you will create a Capstone Project that will pull together your learning experiences.

Great Careers
  • Ecotourism Guide and Management
  • Recreation Outfitters, Guide, & Management
  • Nature/Interpretive Center Management
  • Program and Operations Supervisor
  • Environmental Educator
  • Professional Environmental Interpreter
Program Objectives

At the end of the program students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate foundational wilderness travel and camping skills according to the Leave No Trace philosophy.
  • Identify and exhibit fundamental management principles and industry standards relevant for leading a sustainable nature-based recreation business or agency.
  • Apply principles of quantitative problem solving, ethics, and sustainability to leadership and management decisions.
  • Respectfully exemplify facilitation and leadership skills through effective individual and group communication with diverse audiences in written, graphic and oral form.
  • Assess, design, deliver and evaluate safe, ethical, recreation pursuits that meet and develop the leisure interests of diverse audiences.
  • Analyze the effect of nature based tourism and recreation in different cultural, historical and environmental contexts.
  • Effectively select and use technology and equipment to meet programming, problem solving and communication needs.
  • Deliver and evaluate best recreation professional practices in a given professional setting or context.
Key Courses
  • Introduction to Recreation and Leisure
  • Adventure Recreation Leadership
  • Outdoor and Environmental Education
  • Sustainable Nature Based Tourism
  • Expedition Planning Practicum
  • Experiential Hard Skills courses
  • Recreation and Facilities Management
  • Sustainable Practices in Entrepreneurship


The trail to Mount Colden was amazing with some frozen brook crossings and a bunch of snow as we gained elevation. As we approached the summit the clouds opened up for us and we had an unbelievable view.»  


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