Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Leadership Lessons Series: Recommended Certifications

Recommended Certifications

This is a list of certifications you should consider acquiring if you spend any amount of time outdoors especially if you are leading. They are standard certifications among professionals in the outdoor ministry industry. Jesus spent 30 years preparing for his ministry. Being competent and professional is important to effective outdoor ministry!

Essential certifications are CPR and First Aid. At least one staff member on every trip should have these. They can be completed in one day with most classes lasting about 8 hours. There are many organizations that offer these certification so search the web to find the closest one. Your local YMCA should offer it. 

Also highly recommended is the more advanced, outdoor specific, Wilderness First Aid. This is typically a 3 day course but well worth the time. For more serious wilderness excursions take a Wilderness First Responder course which is usually about 10 days. There are many organizations that offer these certifications so search the web for one close to you. I highly recommend taking them through the National Outdoor Leadership School  (NOLS). 

Another course that is highly recommended is one of NOLS’ Trip Leader or Outdoor Educator classes. These range from 14-30 days but are well worth the time. They cover all the basics to prepare competent outdoor leaders while spending the whole time in the field gaining real experience. See

For those with little to no budget for certifications look into skills classes offered by stores like REI. Many of them are free and last a few hours. They can be a great introduction to learning how to do a sport correctly or learning specific skills. See; or

Take a Leave No Trace course to learn how to protect the places you go and how to use them responsibly. This is a great course to have your participants take as well. A Leave No Trace trainer can come to your facility or you can find a class in your area. Or better yet become a LNT Trainer or Master Educator and teach your own classes!

Most important is learning to utilize the outdoors effectively in turning participants to Jesus. There are a wide selection of courses from 3 days to a whole semester. Even if you are already trained in leading people to Jesus, learning to use the outdoors for this is key. Here at Outdoor Lessons you can find many tools for this purpose! But I highly recommend taking a course. See

By David F. Garner
Photo Credit: Elcio Coutinho (aka CONTTI)