adventure education
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Adventure Education

Program Director: Drew Bentley, Ph.D.
Division of Sciences & Outdoor Learning

Programs offered:
  • BS in Adventure Education
  • Minor in Adventure Education

The adventure education degree program at Green Mountain College is focused on preparing high quality professionals equipped with the knowledge, experience, and skills to become leaders in the application of adventure as an educational tool in multiple environments.

The adventure education curriculum focuses on the development of a core skill set that can be applied in multiple professional settings. The outdoor, human, and educational skills developed through the academic program are integrated through multiple experiential learning opportunities critical for the outdoor professional. In addition, administrative experience is gained through practicum hours, internships, and management curriculum.

Establishing a strong outdoor skill set will allow young professionals to safely manage the “tools” of adventure, such as paddling, backpacking, rock and ice climbing, or expedition management. Second, developing the human and leadership skills necessary to perform effectively as a young professional is equally important. We challenge our students to critically self-evaluate in order to develop the human skills of communication, empathy, authenticity, and moral character. In turn, they are better prepared to safely evoke personal change in future participants and clients.

Lastly, the ability to intentionally design and manage an outdoor program to meet specific desired outcomes requires a solid grasp of educational skills. Students will learn the art and science of structuring learning opportunities using cutting edge pedagogical models and practical experience.

Learning Outcomes for Adventure Education Majors
The successful student will be able to:

  • Quickly build effective working relationships as young professionals as the result of a curriculum that accurately reflects the real world of adventure educators
  • Plan implement and evaluate high quality and safe adventure learning experiences for others among a variety of activities
  • Critically and accurately self-assess relative to human, outdoor and educational skills and to deliver articulate and effective feedback to others
  • Facilitate desired learning outcomes of an adventure experiences into learning for their own future participants
  • Perform a variety of administrative functions relevant to adventure programming
  • Articulate and utilize knowledge of adventure programming as it pertains to both natural and human ecological systems

Career Opportunities
Many of our graduates are employed by outdoor education centers, wilderness therapy programs, adventure guide services, resorts, municipal agencies, college and university adventure programs, and expeditionary outdoor programs. Several have started their own businesses in the adventure industry and others have pursued careers in the SCUBA industry or with ski resorts.

Career opportunities within the Adventure Education major include, but are not limited to:

  • Professional guide services
  • National nonprofit outdoor agencies
  • Collegiate adventure programming
  • Outdoor school leader (e.g. Outward Bound & The National Outdoor Leadership School)
  • Adjudicated wilderness youth programs
  • Resort adventure director
  • Municipal adventure program director
  • Ski/Snowboard school instructors
  • Mountain rescue services
  • Paddlesport center program staff

Adventure education majors are not limited to courses on campus and may take advantage of professional certification tracks (ADV courses), which allows students with a particular interest or focused career goal to seek appropriate levels of certification and obtain college credit with a variety of professional agencies including, but not limited to: the American Canoe Association (canoe, kayak, raft instructor), Association of Challenge Course Technology approved providers, Professional Association of Dive Instructors (Scuba Dive Instructor), American Mountain Guides Association or Professional Climbing Instructors Association, Professional Ski Instructors of America or American Association of Snowboard Instructors.

Green Mountain College (GMC) is a credit bearing affiliated institution for the National Outdoor Leadership School that permits students to obtain credit for attendance while remaining enrolled at GMC. The college is an affiliate institution of the National Ski Patrol System, Leave No Trace, Inc., Association of Experiential Education, and the Wilderness Education Association. Students may transfer credit for Outward Bound, National Outdoor Leadership School and Wilderness Education Association courses completed for college credit from other institutions.

Formal non-credit and credit bearing work experience (practicum hours and internship) is an integral part of each of the degree programs. The internship is a six-credit-hour work experience in the student’s selected area of specialization. More detailed information regarding the internship program is contained in a separate publication: The Internship Manual.

Specific guidelines that students need to satisfy prior to engaging in the internship experience are as follows:

  • Have Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification prior to the internship
  • Have earned at least one instructor level certification in an outdoor skill prior to the internship
  • Have attended at least one national conference in area of study prior to the internship
  • Complete 200 hours of practical experience of approved, documented adventure programming work prior to their internship
  • Possess a minimum GPA of 2.00 among major requirements


Leadership Outside the Classroom
Students have the opportunity to become certified leaders in a variety of field-based courses. These courses require additional fees.

American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA)
For over 25 years, the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) has been dedicated to supporting the guiding community through excellence in education, standards and certification to enhance the quality of services provided to the public, while serving as a resource for accessing and protecting the natural environment. As a group the AMGA presents a strong, unified voice for high standards of the professionalism of guiding and climbing instruction in the United States.

Professional Climbing Instructors Association (PCIA)
Specifically established to serve the needs of climbing instructors, the PCIA is focused on developing great climbing educators who are technically proficient and passionate about teaching climbing. The PCIA certifications will prepare students to safely and effectively manage groups interested in acquiring climbing skills as well as interpersonal skills during climbing activities.

National Ski Patrol (NSP) Courses
As an affiliate member with certified instructors of the National Ski Patrol System educational curriculum, Green Mountain College is able to offer certification courses in Outdoor Emergency Care, Level 1 Avalanche and Mountain Travel & Rescue Levels I & II.

American Canoe Association (ACA)
With faculty and staff certified as Instructor Trainers for the ACA a broad range of skill and instructor certification courses in canoeing and kayaking (river and coastal) are offered.

Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI)
Green Mountain College is one of the few colleges that offer the entire PADI curriculum in a manner which permits Instructor level certification that may be earned through a four year program of study.

American Red Cross (ARC) Aquatics
Lifeguard Training (LGT) and Water Safety Instructor (WSI) certification courses are available for those planning to work in and around aquatic environments.

Leave No Trace (LNT) Certification Courses
As affiliate members of the Wilderness Education Association and approved site for LNT, Inc. courses ROS is able to offer 3-day LNT Trainer and 5-day Master Trainer Certification courses. These courses certify outdoor leaders to conduct workshops and trainer courses that teach outdoor ethics and practices in keeping with sustainable uses of natural resources.

View course requirements for a BS or a minor in Adventure Education


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