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Outdoor Recreation and Leadership

Outdoor Recreation and Leadership is one of three concentrations in the Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism at Radford University. Upon successful completion of the program, you can find employment in camps, state parks, federal agencies, resorts, outdoor education agencies, municipal parks and recreation systems, youth organizations nature centers and non profit groups.


Jenna Huggins, a senior recreation, parks and tourism major from Mahwah, N.J., talks about the opportunities she has had to participate in various institutes within her program.

Outdoor Recreation and Leadership Concentration (19 credits)

In addition to the core curriculum and major requirements, students wishing to complete the outdoor recreation and leadership concentration must choose from the following two options:

Option 1

  • RCPT 317 - Adventure Programming (3)
  • RCPT 325 - Natural and Cultural Interpretation (3)
  • RCPT 331 - Outdoor Living Skills (3)
  • RCPT 421 - Challenge Course Programming (3)
  • RCPT 430 - Outdoor Leadership (3)
  • RCPT 460 - Wilderness First Responder (4)   

Option 2

  • RCPT 325 - Natural and Cultural Interpretation (3)
  • RCPT 421 - Challenge Course Programming (3)
  • RCPT 460 - Wilderness First Responder (4)
  • RCPT 476 - Wilderness Institute (9)

Wilderness Institute

You will have academic opportunities to develop the skills to organize, lead, and evaluate a variety of outdoor adventure programs. You will develop novice to advanced technical skills in rock climbing, caving, canoeing, kayaking, backpacking, and ropes course facilitation. Those who desire a wilderness leadership experience can take a five-week intensive summer course. The Wilderness Institute focuses on leadership development, group processing, adventure programming, and outdoor living skills. This course emphasizes leadership development in the field of outdoor recreation involving skill acquisition in hiking, orienteering, camping, backpacking, rock climbing, caving, and paddling.


You will have the opportunity to obtain a Wilderness Education Association Outdoor Leadership Certificate if you choose this concentration. In addition, all outdoor recreation students have the opportunity to receive the Leave No Trace Trainer Certificate through several of their classes. Another opportunity exists to obtain Wilderness First Responder (WFR) training for credit.  Upon successful completion WFR, you receive a national certification recognized by all potential employers.  Topics covered include patient assessment, equipment improvisation, trauma, environmental emergencies and basic search and rescue skills. 

Campus Resources

You will be able to build technical skills and leadership abilities. For example, you may be employed through RU Outdoors, the adventure programming component of campus recreation. Many of our students serve as trip leaders for RU Outdoors or facilitate the indoor climbing wall located in Peters Hall.

RU ABLE, an experiential learning lab, offers ropes course experiences, team building activities, and adventure-based trips for people of all abilities and ages. Through RU ABLE, you can operate an indoor and outdoor high ropes course and state-of-the-art helix climbing tower on the RU West Campus. This facility serves as the primary classroom for two classes Ropes Course Programming and Advanced Ropes Course Programming. You work your way from an apprenticeship level to senior facilitator.

Radford University operates the Selu Conservancy, which is located fifteen minutes from the main RU campus and provides a variety of outdoor and environ-mental opportunities. Selu has 380 acres of forest and grasslands and is named after the Cherokee Grandmother Corn Spirit. Outdoor Recreation students have participated in the construction of several trails, and operate a low ropes course for Selu guests.