Outdoor Adventures

Drop Shadow

Guide Development Program

two outdoor adventure students looking at guide

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 (Tuesdays 7-9pm in UC 129)
  • Conferences and other opportunities

To apply for Guide status with the program two of the following certifications must be met:

  • Wilderness First Responder level first aid/CPR
  • California Class B driver's license with passenger endorsement
  • Leave No Trace certification

"Being an OA Guide was one of the most rewarding parts of my four years at USD and it made me decide to pursue a career in the outdoor industry. It was a life-altering experience." - JaRae Birkeland '11