Wilderness Ministry Professionals Course (WMPC)
Because SROM seeks to dive deep into what it means to be a wilderness ministry professional, this course is not designed for beginners. (If you are a beginner, we recommend you enroll in one of the 40/40 Courses). The WMPC will be offered twice each year. The course is a 14 day backpacking intensive to equip and develop leaders for wilderness ministry. It is designed to develop the hard, soft and meta skills indicative of competent wilderness ministry leaders. In addition, SROM teaches a core spiritual curriculum for wilderness ministry leaders and SROM instructors that is integrated throughout the entire 14 days. The WMPC can be paired with the SROM Rock Instructor 1 course to develop backpacking and backcountry living skills as well as technical rock climbing skills. If you are applying to this course to become a SROM instructor, the WMPC course will qualify you to lead SROM backpacking courses. If you would like to instruct rock climbing courses you will need to apply for both the WMPC and Rock Instructor 1 course. There are typically two categories of people who apply for the WMPC: those who are specifically interested in applying for employment as a field instructor for SROM and those not interested in instructing for SROM, yet seeking additional professional growth, training and development as a wilderness ministry professional or leader.
The Wilderness Ministry Professional’s Course is available to all individuals who meet the following experience prerequisite. Individuals must have a minimum of six weeks field experience. The six week experience must be in one week increments at minimum. Six week long trips qualify, but eighteen weekend trips do not. The goal is to enroll participants who have a foundation of extended wilderness experience that can be built upon and developed. Participants should come ready to build upon past experiences, explore and refine their competencies, and be challenged in their relationship with God. Please take a look at the descriptions below, this will help you fill in the WMPC Online Resume that is part of the admissions process for the WMPC.
- Those applying for field instructor position with SROM must document the following:
- Six weeks of field experience, in minimum blocks of 7 days per trip.
- Not a novice in 2 of the 3 following skills–backpacking, rock climbing and mountaineering.
- Expeditionary progressive travel model, moving camp to camp on a daily basis, not base camping.
- Majority of travel days 5 miles or more from the trailhead – deep wilderness travel.
- Majority of travel days are 6 miles or more in length per day.
- Experience in off trail backpacking travel.
- Those seeking professional development as a wilderness ministry leader.
- An aggregate of six weeks, preferably in trips of 5 days or greater per trip.
- Preferably not a novice in 2 of the 3 following skills–backpacking, rock climbing and mountaineering.
- Must be familiar with and competent in back country living and skills.
This is not a beginner’s course. It is designed for wilderness professionals, and as such it is important to be aware of the demands and challenges you may face. Listed below are some items to keep in mind when preparing for this course or considering signing up for this course:
- Pack weight: your pack will generally range between 40-60% of your body weight. It is not unusual for your pack to be up to 75 pounds.
- You will be hiking on uneven terrain, which may be rocky and/or muddy, and off-trail at times. Depending on your itinerary, you may be on rocky approaches and descents, navigating talus and scree.
- Depending on the itinerary, you may be hiking 5-8 miles per day often off trail and on variable terrain.
- SROM programs in areas of deep wilderness, and you may be hiking a days away from the nearest trailhead.
- Depending on where you currently live, you may experience a significant change in elevation. Laramie, WY is at an elevation of 7,165 feet, and SROM often plans this itinerary through areas that range between 7,000 to 10,500+ feet above sea level. Elevation changes may be +/- 2,600′ and, depending on the itinerary, you may be attempting a peak!
- Days on course are often long, and may require you to be up at 5 am and in bed at 10 pm.
- Community on course is often one of the highlights. We have students from a variety of different backgrounds, ranging in age from 21 – 40 years old.
Locations: In May, the course will occur in the Southwest, in August it will be programmed in the Rocky Mountains. In May, the backpacking section will occur in Grand Canyon National Park. Grand Canyon National Park is one of the majestic places of the southwest United States. The backpacking section will travel 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. In August, the backpacking section will occur in the vast Teton Wilderness 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. If you are a current or emerging wilderness ministry professional, this course is for you. It is an opportunity to develop and improve your heart, character and competencies as a wilderness leader in the context of community and magnificent created places.
The following is a list of some but not all of the learning objectives and skills that will be taught and practiced on the WMPC.
- Risk Management
- Experienced Based Judgment
- Decision Making
- Leadership Styles
- Problem Solving
- Developing a Theology and Philosophy of Wilderness Ministry
- Spiritual Formation Methodologies (integrating spiritual formation/discipleship into wilderness contexts)
- Effective Communication
- Group Dynamics
- Group Facilitation
- Instructional Methods/Skills
- Pedagogy-teaching models, techniques and tips
- Organizational Skills
- Technical Skills: navigation (topographic maps and compass, route-finding), backcountry living (campsite selection, body and equipment care), backcountry cooking, off trail travel, first aid topics and considerations.
- Safety Skills: practical methods for assessing and managing risk
- Environmental Skills: Leave No Trace Master Educator Training
Leave No Trace, Environmental Ethics, and Land Management
Leave No Trace includes principles and practices that prevent, reduce, or mitigate impacts of human activity in the backcountry. SROM is an ardent proponent of Leave No Trace education and practice, and a corporate nonprofit partner with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics (the Center). The Center serves as a national steward for a standardized Leave No Trace curriculum. SROM instructors are certified as Leave No Trace Trainers by the Center. SROM provides a unique Christian version of the standard Leave No Trace curriculum by infusing it with Scripture, Biblical perspectives, and Christian tradition. The 40/40 is held in WY, where over 40% of the State is public land administered by various federal agencies. Throughout the country, various laws and regulations govern use of wildlands managed by the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and other agencies. Wildland management and environmental ethics are essential to this course. Understanding and appreciating the blessing and unique character of these wildlands guides students in the way they eat, sleep, travel, and practice their skills while in the backcountry.
While on the WMPC with SROM, students have the opportunity to earn their Leave No Trace Master Educator.
Leave No Trace Scholarships are available to cover up to $350 of your WMPC with SROM!Here’s How
Day 1,2: Pre-course planning and organization (preparing food rations and outfitting gear)
Day 3-17: 14 day backpacking section in a deep wilderness environment
Day 18, 19: Post course instructional modules (river crossing and bear risk management practices–WMPC Team 1) or organization, debrief, celebration–WMPC Team 2
Day 20: Post course organization, debrief, closing celebration (cleaning and organizing food and equipment, debriefing the course, dessert party)