If you think becoming a guide sounds cool, then please stop by Outdoor Adventures and introduce yourself or attend one of our Tuesday evening meetings that take place at 7pm in UC 129. We'd love to see you there.
New Guide Orientation
Welcome! This information is designed to give you valuable knowledge about becoming a guide. It should answer many of your questions and contains important information – be sure to read it thoroughly. If this is a program you feel you would like to benefit from and you feel you can be an active member of then complete the application and get started!!!
About Outdoor Adventures
Outdoor Adventures (OA) is a service of the University Center, the hub of student life at USD. Since 1986, we've offered a variety of wilderness outings designed for beginners, provided extensive equipment rentals and facilitated teambuilding and orientation programs. Our services are available to USD students; faculty, staff, administrators, alumnus and immediate family members at prices about half what you might find off-campus. Non-community members pay an additional 20 percent.
Becoming an Outing Guide
Our trips are facilitated almost exclusively by volunteer outing guides who prepare components of the trip including the itinerary, equipment, menu and other logistics as well as help their participants prepare for the trip. Due to the nature of the program, all outing guides are required to have health insurance.
While the people and programs have changed over the years, Outdoor Adventures remains committed to four fundamental principles:
- Inclusively – This means more than simply being open and available to everyone. We strive to be a welcoming place for everyone. Whether you're signing up for an outing or just hanging out in the office, Outdoor Adventures wants to be a place where you feel comfortable being yourself, meeting new people and trying new things.
- Challenge By Choice – Everyone is challenged by different things. For some, just tying into a climbing rope is a success, but for others, just signing up for a trip by themselves is something new. We strive to create an environment in which people feel supported and encouraged to try new things, but also feels safe saying "no" when they feel they need to.
- Minimum Impact – We have a special responsibility to minimize our environmental and social impact on our outings and in the office. OA endorses and uses the Leave No Trace model of environmental ethics in which we tailor our actions to the particular environments and situations we're in. We also strive to reduce our impact on other users by being aware of regulations and simply being courteous.
- Student Leadership – The personal development and enrichment of students is at the core of what we do at OA and we infuse this philosophy into our outings, our guide development and our student staff training. Without student leadership, the program wouldn't exist, and we strive to provide academic and co-curricular leadership development opportunities.
Benefits of Being An Outing Guide
- Go to amazing places with amazing people
- Gain Leadership skills and experience
- Develop outdoor skills
- Develop job & life skills (group management, judgment, etc.)
- Retail discounts and pro-deal opportunities
- Free equipment rentals
- Internship credits
- Certifications for reduced rates
Guide Development Program
No previous experience is required. Our guide development program is designed to provide you with the training you need to lead safe, fun and educational outings. As you might imagine, however, developing these skills requires a significant commitment of time and energy on your part. Completing the in-house training and earning your certifications takes about one year. Each person develops the maturity and trip experience necessary in his or her own time.
The program includes training in:
- Leadership & Group Facilitation
- Safety & Emergency Procedures
- Logistics/Trip Planning
- Technical Skills (e.g. climbing, biking, backpacking, canoeing, etc.)
- Field Skills (e.g. map & compass, minimum impact, cooking, etc.)
We take advantage of various methods for training:
- In-house "classroom" sessions (mostly during dead-hours or on the weekends)
- Training in the field
- Mentoring/shadowing experienced outing guides
- Joining trips as a participant
- Guide meetings (twice a month)
- Conferences and other opportunities
To advance from a Guide in Development to an Outing Guide you must earn two of the following certifications:
- First Responder level first aid/CPR (either urban or wilderness context)
- California Class B driver's license with passenger endorsement
- Leave No Trace certification
Levels of Achievement
Your progress as an outing guide is measured in four stages.
Level I (Guide in Development) – includes basic certifications and general orientation to OA. Go on trips as a participant. Come to guide meetings. Learn as much as you can from other outing guides. Some assistant trip leader positions may be available for those who show enthusiasm and commitment.
Level II (Outing Guide) – includes leadership, safety, field & technical skill training. Completion is expected within two to three semesters and is required to be the primary or secondary guide on a trip. Additional training may be suggested before trip assignments are made.
Level III (Trip Leader)- achieving this status is a sign of commitment to specified hard skills in an area. A guide may achieve this status in one or two areas, or may strive to reach this level for all skill areas. This requires attending specified trainings or working with the director to achieve skill levels. TL status is optional and reserved for those guides working toward mastering skills in specified areas.
(Instructor) – includes self-evaluation and administrative-oriented training. Becoming an Instructor is optional and reserved for a select few outing guides with the experience and skill needed to assume partial responsibility for training Level I and II guides.