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 one of the most beautiful backpacking areas in the lower 48.  The semester begins with a 26 day backpacking section in 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 Wilderness Medicine Training Center Inc.  WMTC is an internationally recognized and since 1997 by Paul Niolazzo, with the opening of the WMTC campus in the North Cascades of Washington State in 2008.  WMTC now offers courses across the country and around the world. Known for their innovative and motivational techniques, WMTC programs stay in the forefront of medical advancements in a large part because of the active involvement of wilderness medicine along with NOLS Wilderness Medicine to create more effective standard practices, techniques, policies, and advancements in the realm of remote medicine and training.


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 split up in two parts the first starting before the WFR to introduce climbing skills and techniques and the second part after the WFR introducing more advanced climbing practices. Each part of 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 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 part 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 Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  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: Backpacking

Day 30: Rest Day

Day 32-39: Section 3a: Rock Climbing Basics

Day 40: Rest Day/Prep for WFR

Day 41-48 Section 2: WFR

Day 49-67: Section 3b: Advanced Rock Climbing

Day 68-85: Section 4 Wilderness Ministry Professionals Course

Day 86-95: Section 5 Student Led Expedition

Day 96: Drive to SROM

Day 97-100: Clean, Deissue, Debrief, Transition, Celebration Party


Course Details

  • Location: Laramie, WY
  • Age: 18+
  • Tuition (per person): $13800

Select a Date and Come Join Us!

2020 Aug 09 – Nov 16

Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries is a permittee of Rocky Mountain, Grand Canyon, and Zion National Parks; Medicine Bow/Routt, Bridger-Teton, Shoshone, and Kaibab National Forests; Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument; Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. SROM is an equal opportunity service provider. © 2019. All rights reserved.