outdoor leadership Experience (OLE)

The goal of the OLE is to expose students to the WEA 6+1 and provide a model of the WEA approach to teaching and leading in the wilderness. The OLE can serve as a great introductory course for students curious about or just entering the field of outdoor leadership or as the first step in formalized learning for outdoor enthusiasts. This course, offered only by WEA Organizational Member programs, exposes students to WEA practice in the field while introducing the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for professional outdoor leadership. A typical college outdoor skills course, campus recreation introductory trip, or an outdoor skills overview course for the general public are common settings for this curriculum. Typically, no experience is necessary to participate.

The WEA 6+1 is a focused, standard-based curriculum that covers Outdoor Living, Planning and Logistics, Education, Risk Management, Environmental Integration, and Leadership plus Judgment and Decision-making. All of the training and certification programs of the WEA are grounded in the 6+1.


The OLE course requires a minimum of two consecutive nights (3 days total) in the field where the WEA approach to outdoor leadership is modeled by the instructor. Course content must include a brief history of Outdoor Leadership, including but not limited to the role of the WEA.  Organizations may add more days and traditional classroom hours to the minimum time requirements if desired. COE(s) will manage, supervise and otherwise be responsible for the design and delivery of the courses, but are not required to be present during course field time. Course costs vary by provider, location, and activities.


The WEA Outdoor Leadership Experience is NOT a certification program. Participants do not receive formal certification, rather a certificate of completion. There is no renewal of this certificate – the next step in the WEA Training Structure is the Outdoor Leadership Training Course.


The OLE is an optimal way to begin the process of developing student skill sets for outdoor leadership. Acquiring additional training from WEA providers as well as completing additional field experiences can serve as the gateway toward a position as an outdoor leader.

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Wilderness Education Association, Inc.
151 NC Highway 9, Ste B
Black Mountain, NC 28711

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