Leadership and Adventure course to be taught in spring

Release Date: 11/14/2011

This spring for the first time Ozarks students will have the opportunity to learn and practice leadership strategies in a beautiful environment, when U of O's Director of Outdoor and Environmental Experiences Jamie Lewis Hedges will teach a course in "Leadership and Adventure."

"This course is primarily about developing leadership and secondarily about outdoor programming," said Hedges. "There are no prerequisites other than the ability to live and work extensively in natural environments exposed to weather. The philosophy of the class is 'you can teach leadership,' so we're not necessarily looking for people who already consider themselves leaders; at the same time, people who already consider themselves leaders are likely to get in the class and find out they have more to learn than they thought they did. People who don't consider themselves leaders will get in the class and find there are characteristics of good leaders they do possess, and that they can draw those out and that they can learn the other characteristics."

The class, which will meet Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 11 to noon at the Ozark Outdoors Base Camp building on the edge of campus, will combine classroom lecture and a basic intro to outdoor living skills to prepare students for three or four weekend expeditions where they will put those ideas into practice. "We'll be going through all the basic skills right away," said Hedges. "How to walk into the woods, be self-sufficient while there, and have reasonable confidence that you can walk back out of the woods on your own. That kind of self confidence is one of the characteristics for a leader. We leave as early as possible on Friday and not come back till late on Sunday, and the entire trip will be in the hands of the students, with my supervision. On that trip each student will take a turn being a designated leader for a large portion of the day, and after we're done, we'll all sit down and evaluate what happened and how improvements might be made."

The course will teach the students how to plan for a group, how to work with those group dynamics in the outdoors, and how to operate as a leader in that group. "Students will not only have a good understanding of what it means to be a leader, but they will be able to exhibit those characteristics in themselves," Hedges said. "There are two things we want push in this course: self-assessment, in other words being able to look at what you've done and evaluate it, positive and negative; the other is group-assessment, where the other members of the class go through that same process. Those two methodologies will be the biggest way we assess the students in the course."

Hedges said the curriculum being used for the course is one developed by the Wilderness Education Association, an international group co-founded by the mountain climber and outdoor leader Paul Petzoldt. In addition to the Wilderness Education Association, Petzoldt was the Chief Instructor of the first Outward Bound program in the United States and later the creator of NOLS, The National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander, Wyoming. 

PHE 2783/4783 will count as an upper or lower division Physical Education and Wellness distribution credit. For further information, email jhedges@ozarks.edu or call (479) 979-1386.