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Leadership Development and Experiential Education

Leadership Development and Experiential Education have always been central to both the DOC and Outdoor Programs. Outdoor activity is an ideal environment for developing leadership, critical problem solving, communication and many other important high-level skills. It is also a powerful way to connect to a community of people who actively support and respect one another, who value inclusivity and diversity, who are interested in learning through experiential and adventure education how to be effective team members and leaders of teams, and who care passionately about the natural environment.  We’d love to have you be part of that community.

Individual Development

As an undergraduate student at Dartmouth College, there are myriad ways that we here at Dartmouth Outdoors can help you develop. 

Club Leadership

Becoming a leader or officer in the Dartmouth Outing Club is often described by alumni/ae as one of the most powerful experiences they had during their time at Dartmouth. You might start by sampling some of the trips and activities offered by the various member clubs of the DOC. Don't be intimidated by that list! It's very easy to get involved in the club. Easiest way is to get on the mailing lists and start going on trips.

Once you've found your niche and gotten some experience, consider taking part in our leader training. While each club has slightly different requirements, a general overview can be found here: Becoming a DOC Leader

Leader Training

The DOC offers extensive training for students interested in becoming outdoor leaders. Each club has specific requirements, but all of them require successful completion of these seminars - the schedule for these sessions can be viewed here.

Risk Management training helps leaders assess life-safety hazards and come up with strategies to mitigate those risks. 

Group Dynamics  training helps leaders be as welcoming and inclusive as possible, both on an individual and organizational level, as well as working on strategies and theories to ensure that every participant has a positive experience on trips and at activities hosted by the DOC. 

Logistics and Outdoor Skills trainings are a big part of becoming a leader and are an integral part of each club's training process. 

To learn more about becoming a DOC leader, read the policies on this page. 

Wilderness Medicine

Dartmouth has a lot to offer if you're interested in Wilderness Medicine! 1)We're the only medical school in the US in a rural setting, 2)with access to wilderness classrooms, 3)and affiliated with the largest college outdoor program!


Club officers (chairs, presidents, etc) are elected by club members usually on a termly basis. Strong involvement in the club is usually a pre-requisite but some positions are best served by younger students with a lot of enthusiasm. These positions require significant time-commitment but are usually formative experiences for Dartmouth students and can really push individual development to the next level. 

Being an officer can help you develop skills like managing your peers, creating agendas and holding meetings, developing and managing significant budgets, organizing and planning events, recruiting and training volunteers, developing written and oral communication skills and much more. 

Professional Experience

Dartmouth Outdoors also has a number of employment opportunities for students, many of which require no prior experience. Working at Moosilauke, as a desk worker for Ledyard, or any other position provides many opportunities for development. All positions include training, and students can expect to come out of these jobs with a wide variety of skills. 

In addition, some positions involve significant management experience. Among the most notable are the Director and Assistant Director of DOC FY Trips, Manager and Assistant Manager of the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge, the Director of the summer Trail and Cabin Crew, The Business Director for the Ledyard Canoe Club and the Climbing Gym Manager. 

All of these positions are management level jobs and involve hiring, supervision and training of subordinate staff, as well as significant technical and adaptive skill development. This level of work is seldom available to students and the skills and abilities developed through this work cannot be overstated. 

OPO provides opportunities to learn how to facilitate groups in a variety of experiences ranging from group orienteering, challenge courses and initiatives.  Working with groups from across campus including UGA's, sports teams, on-doctoring groups from the Geisel School of Medicine, Tuck MBA's, Bridge and Executive programs, a facilitator helps these groups perform at their best.

Facilitating groups as they improve their ability to work together and overcome challenges provides one with lifelong skills in working with others.  Many organizations highly value individuals who have experience facilitating groups; people who can help a group overcome differences and work together.   

DOC First Year Trips

FY Trips offers a wide variety of experiences and roles that are valuable to a student's personal development. Being a Trip Leader is a great way to get some training and then quickly be in a position of responsibility for a group of your peers. Trip leaders are solely responsible for day to day safety and proper execution of the individual trips. For more information, see this page.

Being on a "Croo" involves a season of preparation and then 3 intensive weeks of full-time volunteer work. Croos are responsible for various forms of support for multiple trip groups. Croos learn how to work closely with others, manage priorities and work hard. For more information, see this page. 

The Directorate is comprised of the captains of the croos as well as several other important positions such as the folks in charge of Sustainability, Trip Logistics, Safety and Outreach. These positions require many months of regular commitment and these students can expect to learn a great deal about problem solving, developing and working toward goals, working with stakeholder groups and more. 


Group Development and Team Building

The Outdoor Programs Office offers a number of services and facilities to help support group development and team building. UGA groups, athletic teams, college offices and departments and many other groups make great use of these resources. 

Challenge Courses

Our challenge courses are a great way to quickly develop trust, common experience and group skills such as communication, teamwork and cooperation. We have a number of different courses including:

 Odyssey High Ropes course

The Dartmouth High Ropes Course offers linear team events, designed for 4-8 participants to complete together. The Odyssey Course’s central idea is that participants acting as a group will share a more productive, fun and educational challenge course experience than participants in a traditional ropes course design. The Odyssey Course allows small teams of 4-8 persons to have a more engaging challenge course experience since they go through the entire course together. The course can engage multiple groups of 8 persons simultaneously, with a total of seven groups –56 participants in the course at the same time.

Project Adventure Low Course

This is an extensive system and variety of traditional low course elements, including, for example, the "spider web", the "wall", the "Mohawk walk", and the "nitro crossing".

Participants work in groups of up to 15 to complete each challenge. The course requires team effort, creativity, and communication. Each element requires both physical and mental commitment from each participant, but are not necessarily physically demanding.

Team Challenge Initiatives


Group Orienteering

This is a group treasure hunt. You are trying to find a series of control flags that are marked on a very detailed map. You will search for these controls in your small team using specific skills that will be taught in short seminars. You will be accompanied by an Outdoor Programs facilitator. Each team will follow a unique sequence of controls.

The group must create ways to facilitate the sharing of information. Access the strengths and skills of each member. The navigation is difficult and you will be more successful if you share your opinions, feelings, and ideas about the problem at hand and how it is being undertaken. There is no one best route to find a control – the challenge is to choose the one that is most efficient for your particular team.

Keep to the schedule, even if it means not finding all the controls.  Your facilitator will help you get to the finish on time.

Consider asking yourselves: Are we missing anything that could be useful?

 Rock Climbing and Rescue Exercise

This program is designed to give you a unique experience in problem solving and decision making through outdoor adventure. The exercise involves two distinct agendas:

1. Rock Climbing: All participants will have an opportunity to climb the cliff and descend by rope to the bottom. Climbing is an activity that combines problem solving with the joy of movement, and does not demand great strength; climbing involves balance and mental concentration. 

2. Rescue Exercise: The second half of the day you will work as a team performing a litter evacuation exercise. The group will be divided into small groups to insure maximum participation in an exercise intended to challenge your management skills. You will work in a group size of 10-12 and will have access to enough resources both in equipment and consultation to accomplish the task. You will not have enough time for everyone to become proficient with every aspect of the rescue, but you will have the opportunity to have individual members become competent with particular skills such as knot tying, belaying, lowering and rope management. Most of these skills were used in the morning climbing exercise. The consultants on our staff will teach you everything you need to know about climbing, but they will not be allowed to perform the actual task. That is your responsibility. You have to manage your time and resources to your best ability. There are standard practices we will insist that you follow, and we will insist that risks be kept to a minimum.


We also offer a number of large group programs such as the Raft Orienteering program that we run for Tuck Bridge, and smaller programs in our Drake Hane Leadership Training Center, located in the Daniels Climbing Gym. 

We can set up custom programs for a group of any size. Simply contact Outdoor Programs




Last Updated: 9/23/21