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Outdoor Leadership

Heart & Soul

2 readings
Reading: Spiritual Formation
Reading: The Church in Mission

Mind & Worldview

3 readings
Reading: Old Testament Survey
Reading: New Testament Survey
Reading: Intro to Christian Theology

Strength & Skills

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. Love your neighbour as yourself." -Jesus

2 readings
Reading: Effective Relationships or Marriage & Family
Reading: Service Practicum I & II

Outdoor Leadership

Adventure tourism training students in a yellow white water raft

About this course

Outdoor Leadership for the Adventure Tourism Industry

Outdoor Leadership training is a step toward a lifestyle of adventure and learning. Through experiential learning, the Outdoor Leadership program at Columbia seeks to train people to their highest level of potential in Christian ministry, leadership, outdoor skills, and accreditation in the adventure tourism industry.


Set in the heart of the Fraser Valley, Columbia’s campus is perfectly located to provide access to the incredible opportunities for recreational adventures and experiences students require as they develop as outdoor professionals. During their time of study, students are moments away from world-class skiing/snowboarding, ski-touring, rock-climbing, mountaineering, sea kayaking, white water rafting and more. Columbia students have the opportunity to receive premier Canadian outdoor leadership training. 


At the center of the Outdoor Leadership program is experiential education. Experiential education, defined as “learning by doing, combined with reflection”, is at the heart of the Outdoor Leadership program. Students will spend approximately fifty percent of their studies engaged in modular skills training, field courses, and certification programs. This hands-on experience will ensure that graduates are well-prepared to excel in the adventure tourism or outdoor careers.

Diploma in Outdoor Leadership

The two-year diploma program in Outdoor Leadership is ideal for students who want to develop the basic skills and competencies for leading others in wilderness environments and adventure sports. Students in their first year will complete the Emergency Rescue Technician certificate, which provides training in emergency medical response, search and rescue operations, emergency management, first aid, land navigation, wilderness travel, rope rescue, avalanche safety and risk management. Additionally, students will be introduced to alpine backpacking as well as winter travel and camping. In their second-year students will receive training in rock climbing, mountaineering, ocean and river kayaking, and group management. Throughout this training students will also take courses that challenge and foster growth in their spiritual lives. Many diploma grads have secured employment in the adventure tourism sector or outdoor ministry positions in camping and youth work.


In Canada all certifications are issued through external, national or provincial certifying bodies. Organizations do not self-certify, which keeps standards high and transferability simple between employment opportunities in Canada and abroad. Canadian certifications are regarded as having some of the highest standards in the world. During the course of the program at Columbia, students are required to complete selected certifications in our Continuing Professional Development program. These certifications are completed through, and awarded by, national certifying bodies such as the ACMG (Association of Canadian Mountain Guides), the CAA (Canadian Avalanche Association), the SKGA (Sea Kayak Guides Alliance), PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors), and the BCROA (British Columbia River Outfitters Association).


The Outdoor Leadership program is actively involved in the implementation of core curriculum standards for Adventure Tourism in British Columbia. Columbia is a member school of the BC Adventure Tourism Programs Articulation Committee, which is a collaborative effort of provincial and private colleges and universities, whose goal is to simplify the transfer of credit between our institutions in order to serve our students and industry better. Our aim is offer the best in Canadian outdoor leadership training.  


The following organizations support the BC Adventure Tourism Certificate Core Curriculum:

  • Association of Canadian Mountain Guides
  • Association of Canadian Sea Kayak Guides
  • Canadian Avalanche Association
  • Whitewater Kayaking Association of BC
  • Canadian Ski Guides Association
  • Sea Kayak Association of BC
  • Federation of BC Mountain Clubs
  • Recreational Canoeing Association of BC
  • Wilderness Tourism Association
  • Heli-Cat Canada

Technical Skills

The following is a breakdown of the technical skills taught in each level of the program:


Outdoor Leadership students will complete the Emergency Rescue Technician certificate in their first year. This set of courses equips students with core skills required for any type of outdoor leadership work: emergency medical response, navigation, search and rescue, radio operation, hazard and emergency management, GPS and digital mapping technology. First-year students are also introduced to technical environments: alpine backpacking, backcountry skiing/avalanche safety, and high-angle rope rescue.

In the second year the complete fall semester is dedicated to modular skills training units where students have the opportunity to immerse themselves in professional preparation. Participants will work on rock climbing, mountaineering, rope rescue, sea kayaking and river kayaking/rafting, first aid, and swift-water rescue. At the end of this semester time has been set aside to allow students to travel and practice their skills as they prepare for further certification and studies.

In order to enter the Outdoor Leadership diploma, students must have successfully completed the following courses from the Emergency Rescue Technician Certificate: HKIN 132 Emergency Medical Responder, HKIN 142 Rope Rescue Tecnician, HKIN 143 Avalanche Safety Training, HKIN 161 ERT Skills Evaluation, OUTL 103 Emergency Rescue Technician I and OUTL 104 Emergency Rescue Technician II.

Outdoor Leadership is a complex program that requires additional equipment and clothing. Below are the equipment, clothing and course requirements for first and second year. Please note that second year students will have the opportunity to buy used or borrow equipment from the upper-level class. A gear swap will be arranged in the spring.

Year 2

Rock & Mountain Course Requirements
  • Climbing Helmet (8 can be provided by CBC)
  • Sit harness (Adjustable leg loops & gear racking loops)
  • Belay/rappel device; ATC type (no figure 8’s)
  • Carabiners
    • 2 standard locking
    • 1 large locking (suitable for Munter hitch)
    • 1 “locksafe” 3-way locking action (for glacier travel)
  • Climbing shoes (can be rented from MEC, reserve early)
  • Chalk bag
  • Mountaineering axe & crampons (can be rented from MEC, reserve early)
  • Mountaineering boots
    • Plastics (can be rented from MEC) or
    • Full leather (crampon compatible) are preferred
    • Leather gloves (snug fit for rope handling)
    • 5m of 1″ tubular webbing
    • 10m of 7mm cord (to be cut into specified lengths on course)
River & Ocean Requirements
  • Technical equipment is provided by the individual course providers.

Outdoor Leadership Program Specific Fees – Year 2

Updated 2024-2025 Fees Coming Soon!

Description Costs (2023-2024)
Tuition $9,000.00
Textbooks $500.00
Administrative Fee (applicable for payment plans) $100.00
Course Materials Approximately $300.00  (student is responsible for purchasing equipment)
Deposit (towards total amount of tuition) $100.00
Course Fees $6,795.00
Residence* $3,300.00
Meal Plan* $4,000.00
Resident Student Fees (STUCO, Recreation, Technology, Residence Programming Fee)* $430.00
Resident Student Parking Fee (Optional)** $200.00
Commuter Fees (STUCO, Recreation, Technology)* $300.00
Commuter Student Parking  Fee (Optional)** $168.00
International Student Medical Plan*** $190.00
Total: $16,595.00

* Students have the option to be either a Resident or Commuter.

** If student does not park a car on campus, oarking fee is not applicable.

*** International Students: Medical plan is mandatory.

Student Stories

Adventure tourism student in Outdoor Leadership program

Morgan C.

“I have grown in every way during my time at Columbia. My comfort zone has been constantly stretched – physically and spiritually. Scripture became real in a way I didn’t think it could, I learned so much about myself, and about God’s faithfulness when life doesn’t look like I thought it would. 


Some of my all-time favourite memories are the mountaineering trips from my modular semester and the time my roommate almost killed her fish, which sounds morbid, but it is a really great story. 


The most important thing that I have learned about the Bible during my time at CBC is that everything in the Bible points to a God who is faithful, who invites me to know him and to be used by him daily.”

To view the Program Objectives for the Diploma in Outdoor Leadership, click here.


This program has been approved by the Private Training Institutions Branch (PTIB) of the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training.


Heart & Soul 0/2

2 readings
Reading: Spiritual Formation
Reading: The Church in Mission

Mind & Worldview 0/3

3 readings
Reading: Old Testament Survey
Reading: New Testament Survey
Reading: Intro to Christian Theology

Strength & Skills 0/2

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. Love your neighbour as yourself." -Jesus

2 readings
Reading: Effective Relationships or Marriage & Family
Reading: Service Practicum I & II