Rocky Mountain Outdoor Semester (Gap Semester)


The Rocky Mountain Outdoor Semester is a 96 day outdoor education and wilderness expedition that occurs in Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona and Utah. It is designed to be a transformational college semester or Gap semester program. It is comprised of 5 programming sections that all focus on integrating and developing the core course components of every SROM expedition which include: spiritual transformation, authentic community, leadership development, character formation, and skill acquisition. The Rocky Mountain Outdoor Semester focuses on developing the heart, mind and body of a person utilizing the wilderness and wilderness programming such as backpacking and rock climbing as a classroom for discipleship, leadership development, and academic learning.  It is a robust learning experience in the context of God’s creation that participants can earn academic credit from accredited colleges, universities and seminaries.

Outdoor Semester Student on Wind River Peak


The Rocky Mountain Outdoor Semester will take place in the heart of North America’s Rocky Mountains with different technical programming sections in Wyoming, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.

The 5 programming sections include:

Section 1: 30 day Backpacking and Wilderness Living expedition

The backpacking expedition will visit two of the most beautiful backpacking areas in the lower 48.  The semester begins with a 14 day backpacking section in the iconic Teton Wilderness in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.   The Teton Wilderness is an enormous wilderness area situated below the southeast corner of Yellowstone National Park and east of Grand Teton National Park. The Teton Wilderness is one of the premier wilderness areas in the lower 48 states. Among many other features, the Teton Wilderness is notable for having the most remote location (farthest from any road) of any place in the lower 48 states. It is unmatched in terms of beauty, low use and visitor traffic and alpine plateaus that offer panoramic views in all directions.  It is a remarkable environment to learn backpacking and wilderness ministry skills in a remote and scenic setting. Next the section will visit the Wind River Mountain Range of central Wyoming.  The Wind River Range is the largest contiguous wilderness area in the lower 48.  It is also the most glaciated mountain range in the lower 48.  That adds up to a stunning location full of high alpine zones that are marked with numerous crystal clear lakes, jagged granite peaks, large alpine meadows and remarkable vistas.  Students will develop skills and competencies to travel, live and lead in remote backcountry environments.  Additionally, this section will begin laying a foundation for personal spiritual renewal, growth and maturity and developing deep community among participants.

Section 2: 10 day Wilderness First Responder course (WFR)

The Wilderness First Responder course is the industry standard for medical training among wilderness professionals and providers.  Certification as a WFR is becoming a common prerequisite for employment with outdoor education and wilderness adventure organizations. This course will be taught by SOLO.  SOLO is a nationally recognized and since 1976, with the opening of the SOLO campus, a facility dedicated to providing wilderness medicine education at all levels, SOLO has been the undisputed leader in wilderness medicine. SOLO now offers courses across the country and around the world. Known for their innovative and motivational techniques, SOLO programs stay in the forefront of medical advancements in a large part because of the active involvement of SOLO’s founder Dr. Frank Hubbell on the NH Medical Control Board as well as SOLO”s ongoing participation in curriculum consensus groups.

Section 3: 21 day Technical Rock Climbing course

The 21 day technical rock climbing section will progressively develop skills from the basics of putting on a harness to more complex skills such as traditional lead climbing and multi-pitch climbing skill development. This section is designed to educate and teach participants with little to no rock skills and progress them to minimum capabilities of setting up, facilitating and leading students and groups in a single pitch top rope climbing environment. This course training & certification incorporates many of the skills that are taught and practiced on the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Single Pitch Instructor course. However, this course is not an AMGA SPI course.  This course will be intensive with each day typically lasting nine hours spent climbing or working on skills.

Additionally, the last 7 days of this section will incorporate differentiated instruction. Based on student competencies and experience some students will learn to instruct and facilitate technical rock climbing in multi-pitch settings up to Grade III.  Grade III multi-pitch routes are defined as most of a day of climbing, including the approach and descent. You are expected to have a strong recreational climbing background with an acquired knowledge of knots, belaying, anchors, protection strategies, and climbing systems.  It is assumed that you can lead sport and traditional climbs up to 5.8 and have a climbing resume that has prepared you for a week of extensive rock climbing in multi-pitch settings.  Other students will have the opportunity to experience multi-pitch climbing but will focus on continued development of lead climbing and anchor building skills during the final week of this section.

Section 4: 14 day Wilderness Ministry Professional Course (WMPC)

The WMPC section will occur in Grand Canyon National Park. Grand Canyon National Park is one of the majestic places of the southwest United States. The course will travel through the less frequented North Rim of the park. Due to few visitors and less development, the North Rim area is remote. It is common to travel for many days, even weeks, and not encounter another visitor. The North Rim area is excellent for learning and developing backpacking skills and backcountry leadership skills in a remote and wild setting. During this section you will have opportunities to develop and improve your heart, character and competencies as a wilderness leader in the context of community and magnificent created places.  You will develop leadership skills, instructional (teaching) techniques, hone decision making skills and refine your critical thinking to assess and manage risk in outdoor contexts.

Section 5: 7 day Student Planned and Student Led expedition

This final section is the capstone of the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Semester.  Under the direction and supervision of SROM instructors, students will research, plan, and design a 7 day backpacking course in the southwest.  Students will then execute their designed route as an independent cohort.  Instructors will shadow the independent student team throughout the 7 day expedition but contact will only be made in the event of an emergency.  This will not be a contrived independent student led expedition.  Instructors will expect and empower students to incorporate all prior learning on the semester course to prepare and lead this experience.

outdoor semester rock climbing student

Learning Objectives

Because students will spend 96 days in the wilderness the learning is deep, experiential and exponential. Over 1400 hours will be spent actively learning in the backcountry.

Learning objectives will range from Christ centered spiritual formation to industry preferred practices in a range of technical skills. As noted above, students will participate in outdoor activities as a team and a community.  However, these activities are not the focus, but rather the means for growth, challenge, and refinement.  The arc between each lesson learned, activity experienced and the practical application to life becomes a catalyst for revelation and change.  Our prayer is that this experience will lead to a renewed identity in Christ, confidence, restored relationships with family and peers, leadership development, and character refinement.

Each section will focus on specific learning objectives, however the lists below represent some but not all of the content and desired learning outcomes for each section.

Section 1: 30 day Backpacking and Wilderness Living expedition

Section 2: 10 day Wilderness First Responder course (WFR)

The 80-hour curriculum includes standards for wilderness, urban and extended care situations. Special topics include but are not limited to: wound management and infection, realigning fractures and dislocations, improvised splinting techniques, patient monitoring and long term management problems, up-to-date information on all environmental emergencies, plus advice on drug therapies. Emphasis is placed on prevention and decision-making, not the memorization of lists. Half of your time will be spent practicing your skills in hands-on case studies and scenarios designed to challenge your decision making abilities. The SOLO Adult & Child CPR is included in this course. The Wilderness First Responder course is pre-approved for 70 hours of EMT Continuing Education Hours (CEH) by the Continuing Education Coordinating Board for Emergency Medical Services (CECBEMS).

Section 3: 21 day Technical Rock Climbing course

Section 4: 14 day Wilderness Ministry Professional course (WMPC)

Meta Skills:

Soft Skills:

Hard Skills

outdoor semester course students in grand canyon


Day 1: Orient and Pack Food

Day 2: Issue Gear

Day 3: Drive to trailhead for Section 1

Day 4-30: Section 1

Day 31: Drive to SROM for the start of the WFR

Day 32-42: WFR

Day 43: Drive to location for Section 3

Day 44-65: Section 3

Day 66: Drive to trailhead for Section 4

Day 65-79: Section 4

Day 80: Drive to location for Section 5

Day 81-82: Plan and Prepare Section 5

Day 83-90: Section 5

Day 91: Drive to SROM

Day 92-96: Clean, Deissue, Debrief, Transition, Celebration Party


Course Details

  • Location: Laramie, WY
  • Age: 18+
  • Tuition (per person): $13152

Select a Date and Come Join Us!

2018 Aug 18 – Nov 21

Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries is a permittee of Rocky Mountain, Grand Canyon, and Yosemite National Parks; and Medicine Bow/Routt and Bridger-Teton National Forests. SROM is an equal opportunity service provider.
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