Established in 1978, College Outdoors has a long history of developing outstanding leaders both on campus and in life beyond Lewis & Clark.
Hannah Mäder ’12
College Outdoors was the most important part of my college education and an excellent complement to the academic side of Lewis & Clark.
As a leader at College Outdoors, you learn how to manage groups of people, build compassion into your leadership style, and juggle small details while maintaining a big picture outlook—all of which are skills that help you whether you continue in the outdoor education field or head for an office chair.
I am so thankful for the opportunities to try and fail at leading groups, for the feedback from my peers and mentors, and for all of the good friendships I still have today from College Outdoors.
After graduating I went on to work in a wilderness therapy program for troubled youth and now work as an instructor for the Colorado Outward Bound School. Without my early attempts at being an educator with CO, I don’t think I would be where I am today.
Gabe Nagler ’08
The autonomy, confidence and sense of community that is built through College Outdoors trips inspired me to be a high school science teacher. On day one of a new student trip to the Wallowa Mountains, participants are excited, nervous and anxious to spend 5 days on the trail with a group of strangers. For some, this is the first time they have slept outside. For others, being on the trail is where they feel most comfortable. Over the course of the trip, the incoming freshman transform from learning skills as basic as the proper technique to tie the shoelaces to reduce blisters on day 1, to deciding as a group where to go, when to camp and what meals to cook by day 3. Now, I am working as a high school biology and chemistry teacher at West Linn High School. My goal as an educator is to facilitate similar transformations for the students in my classroom. In September, students are still learning the bell schedule and throughout the year, a community of learners is built that gives students the confidence to be the leader of their own education.
Sarah Clement ’14
The hands-on trainings and ample experience that College Outdoors provides is incredibly unique for a college program, something I did not fully appreciate until leaving Lewis & Clark. Through College Outdoors, I learned how to teach, how to organize logistics, and how to manage groups. I left with a high stoke factor and a strong desire to work in outdoor education as a career.
JJ Simms ’12
It happened during my 7-day New Student Trip on Oregon’s infamous Deschutes River. I slept under the stars, gazed up at canyon walls, played goofy games, paddled over 4-foot rapids, and explored my fresh identity as an incoming college freshman. What I experienced that week changed my life forever. Immediately I jumped in for more: dayhikes, backpacking, mushroom hunting, sea kayaking, rock climbing, map reading, group facilitation, snowshoeing, and an amazing community of people. College Outdoors offered me unmatched support in my development as a leader at Lewis & Clark. They provided me in-depth training as a trip leader, featuring my strengths and offering guidance in my growth areas. I am indebted to the mentorship, acceptance, and encouragement I received from the College Outdoors leadership team. I was able to find a place for my skills to blossom and my soul to flourish. I have since been working for the Colorado Outward Bound School, Deer Hill Expeditions, and Open Sky Wilderness Therapy. I am most grateful for the responsibility and autonomy that College Outdoors gave me as a trip leader. I learned how to thoroughly plan, organize and implement trips through my own efforts. The breadth of locations, resources, and expert support offered at College Outdoors is unprecedented. They have set me up for success in my professional life and every year I look forward to returning to lead a New Student Trip, extending an opportunity for awe and inspiration that I gained so many years ago on the Deschutes.
Tom Rodrigues ’14
I just moved back to Portland after a year of traveling abroad. I work at the Portland Rock Gym, running the youth programming, lending a hand to the competition team, photographing events/competitions, and guiding when the weather gets warm. I spent a season as an Assistant Instructor for Colorado Outward Bound School, where I led groups of ~10 students on back country mountaineering and backpacking trips. College Outdoors has profoundly changed the trajectory of my life path. College Outdoors, and by that I mean my bosses and peers, has given me the tools to become a leader in the outdoors. Not only did they give me the tools, but they gave me the opportunity, for which I am forever grateful. I learned how to take care of myself in challenging situations and lead others in the face of bad weather, unstable group dynamics, and medical emergencies. I learned to delegate and teach others to lead while managing the big picture risks associated with long term group travel in the wilderness. Joe, Thom, Kate, Josh, and my fellow leaders let me make mistakes and take on challenges that I hadn’t thought I was capable of before my time at CO. Now, though, I have come out of the program with a confidence in myself, an appreciation of my LC CO community, and a love of the Northwest wilderness.
Micah Leinbach ’14
While at Lewis & Clark I had the chance to interact with most College departments - College Outdoors
was by far the most student-centered, highly functional leadership development opportunity around. I entered Lewis & Clark as a relative novice in the outdoors world - my NST was one of the longer backpacking experiences I’d had. By the time I left, I was hiring other students to work at an outdoor education program I had started back home and College Outdoors deserves nearly full credit for that transformation. College Outdoors not only provides exceptional professional development in outdoor skills, group facilitation, and leadership, but they are also a high functioning outdoor program in their own right, with lessons to teach in vehicle use, food packing, logistics, and administration. I have taken advantage of things I have learned at College Outdoors in every professional experience I’ve had since. More important are the memories: scaling downed Redwood trees in the pursuit of the largest grove in the world, jamming to music while frying up a day’s collection of mushrooms, gazing out at the otherwordly expanse of the Alvord Desert, and many more besides.
Caleb Diehl ’16
Since graduating from LC, I’ve led backpacking trips for underserved urban youth, mentoring them in leadership, communication, teamwork and other critical life skills; taught English to high school students in rural Thailand and adults in Salt Lake City; and traveled to Japan and Cambodia. Soon I will move to the San Juans in Northern Washington for a season of guiding sea kayaking trips and begin graduate school at Portland State University to earn a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning. With this degree, I’ll be able to help communities in the Pacific Northwest achieve their goals of encouraging active transportation (walking and biking) and access to urban nature. CO has been critical in shaping my interest in this path and giving me the skills to succeed. CO has been one of the biggest single factors in my life for developing the leadership skills I’ll need as a planner. I learned how to adapt my leadership style to cater to the diverse personalities and needs of the people I’m leading; how to empower, delegate, and support whenever necessary; and how to make important decisions under pressure. CO gave me a passion for getting people excited about active living, something that will carry over into my projects to involve more city residents in active commuting and recreation. Besides career skills, I think CO has made me a better human—teaching me to interact with others with humor, patience, and empathy.
Robin Gropp ’16
If your L&C experience was positively impacted by your involvement in College Outdoors and you would like to be included in our Alumni Spotlight, please send a brief profile about yourself - including your name and graduation year, along with a photo - to firstname.lastname@example.org.