WEA Outdoor Leadership Curriculum

The Wilderness Education Association has adopted a revised curriculum that synthesizes the WEA’s historical 18 Point Curriculum to a curriculum based upon Six Educational Components. Each of the Six Educational Components have specific definitions that provide the structure for the specific outcomes in each component. True to the original WEA 18 Point Curriculum, Judgment is still the umbrella from which each of the components are assessed.

Here is the link to the WEA curriculum 


During our upcoming courses, here are the highlighted curriculum, based on the WEA educational components that we will be focusing on.


  • 9.1 Outdoor Living. The specific outdoor skills that are essential to individual / group sustainability in the backcountry.

  • 9.1.1 Understanding and demonstration of proper campfire use, camp establishment, and basic kitchen management.

  • Content to Consider: Safety and environmental considerations, components, materials, and structure of fire. Safety, environmental, and regulatory considerations of camp establishment. Safety and environmental considerations, tools and utensils, organization and sanitation, identification, preparation and storage.

  • 9.1.2 Understanding and demonstration of proper selection, repair, and storage of equipment and clothing for self and others.

  • Content to Consider: Physiological, thermoregulation, and psychological considerations. Materials, construction and fit. Care and use, sewing and improvisation.

  • 9.1.3 Understanding and demonstration of proper health and sanitation techniques.

  • Content to Consider: Personal and group health & hygiene consideration. Impact on group dynamics. Sanitation and waste disposal techniques and preventative self care.

  • 9.1.4 Understanding and demonstration of planning for the safety, comfort, and organization of a group in a backcountry environment.

  • Content to Consider: Safety and Environmental considerations. Time, energy, and personal climate control. Rhythmic breathing, walking techniques, group size, trail courtesy and group roles.

  • 9.1.5 Understanding and demonstration of getting from one place to another and how it is done efficiently and safely in a backcountry environment.

  • Content to Consider: Use of map, compass, GPS, Limitations of technology, primitive navigation.

  • 9.1.6 Understanding and demonstration of basic weather forecasting and the implications of the effects of weather on the comfort and safety of the group.

  • Content to Consider: Characteristics of weather patterns, reading signs of changing weather patterns, different options for technological assistance, weather hazards, & weather lore.

Please note: The Curriculum Committee has included “Content to consider” after some general outcomes. This is provided to aid understanding of the outcome, but does not constitute a list of content that a program must include to address the outcome.



  • 9.2 Planning & Logistics. The knowledge, skills and abilities to design, implement, and prepare outdoor expedition trips a minimum of 7 days long.

  • 9.2.1 Understanding of and ability to prepare an effective plan for group outings of seven or more days in a backcountry environment.

  • Content to Consider: Defining and framing of trip outcomes, itinerary development, gathering of risk management resources, liability and permitting paperwork, finances, transportation, post trip preparation

  • 9.2.3 Demonstration of ability to design and manage proper travel progressions.

  • Content to Consider: Utilizing trip outcomes to develop appropriate skill and knowledge progression. Assessment of appropriate skill and knowledge of leadership team.

  • 9.2.3 Understanding of and ability to adequately plan and package rations for a group of 5 or more for an outing of seven or more days in a backcountry environment.

  • Content to Consider: Food costs, nutritional value and weight. Food purchasing, re-packaging and preparing for resupply. Value of ration planning vs menu planning on extended trips.



  • 9.4 Leadership. The ability to accurately self-assess as well as those essential skills concerning or involving relationships between people; the ability to effectively implement a decision.

  • 9.4.1 Understanding and demonstration of ability to control one’s own emotions and behaviors and adapt to stressful or dynamic situations.

  • Content to Consider: Time management, goal orientation, organizational skills, work ethic, follow through, self awareness, self confidence, self control, stress tolerance, personal resiliency, adaptability

  • 9.4.2 Understanding and demonstration of ability to maximize the potential of others and motivate them to attain shared goals to improve expedition behavior.

  • Content to Consider: Active listening, discussion facilitation, psychological knowledge, group orientation, social perceptiveness, power and influence, developmental and motivational strategies, feedback strategies, group relationships, and conflict resolution.

  • 9.4.3 Understanding and demonstration of task-specific knowledge to guide a group to attaining its goals.

  • Content to Consider: Task execution, managing information, material and human resources. Performance enhancement strategies.

  • 9.4.4 Understanding and demonstration of creativity while taking initiative and calculated risks.

  • Content to Consider: Generating ideas, critical thinking, problem identification, independent thinking, openness to ideas, collaboration, group development forecasting, and managing change.

  • 9.4.5 Understanding and demonstration of integrity and honesty putting the best interest of a group before individual desires. Content to Consider: Civic responsibility, social knowledge, ethical processes, leadership theory, valuing diversity, responsibility for others and accountability.



  • 9.3 Risk Management. A structured approach to manage actual risk, emotional risk and perceived risk through: risk assessment, utilization of management and instructional resources, and development and execution of emergency protocols.

  • 9.3.1 Understanding and demonstration of the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to engage the process of identifying and implementing plans that control risk in outdoor activities.

  • Content to Consider: Hazard awareness, evaluation and management of physical, emotional and perceived risk.

  • 9.3.2 Demonstrate ability to design, implement and evaluate an effective risk management plan.

  • Content to Consider: Crisis response plan – student, instructor, administrative and external. Protocols vs. guidelines, evacuation considerations, Standard Operating Procedures, Local Operating Procedures, risk management consulting, incident levels and reporting.

  • 9.3.3 Demonstrate proper balance between the potential of risk with the educational benefits of adventure.

  • Content to Consider: Outcome based risk-benefit analysis, participant screening, adventure theory and concepts, actual vs. perceived risk.

  • 9.3.4 Demonstrate ability to manage group travel by moving a group in a safe manner.

  • Content to Consider: Instructor positioning, group movement, site evaluation, role delineation and delegation.

  • 9.3.5 Demonstrate the ability to organize and implement search/evacuation procedures to locate group members in need of assistance. Content to Consider: fundamentals of search and rescue, Incident Command System components and functions, search tactics, formations and crew management.



  • 9.5.1 Understanding and demonstration of concepts that embody ecological and cultural literacy along with the cooperative planning and management skills needed to ensure preservation of resources.

  • Content to Consider: Sustainability, natural systems, resource management, culture awareness, attitude towards cultural differences, knowledge of cultural practices, and cross-cultural skills.

  • 9.5.2 Demonstrates the capacity to perceive and interpret the basic health of environmental systems and take appropriate action to maintain, restore, or improve the health of those systems.

  • Content to Consider: Service learning, geology, ecosystems. Flora and fauna identification, interrelation, and person based resource management .

  • 9.5.3 Demonstrates the understanding of the theoretical foundations of environmental education.

  • Content to Consider: Goals, theory, and practice of environmental education. History of environmental education efforts in the public sector at the local, regional and national levels.

  • 9.5.4 Understanding and demonstration of the civic responsibility to educate land users to reduce their impact in backcountry as well as in their day to day lives. Content to Consider: Authority of the resource, effect of local flora and fauna on human development and society – past, present and future. Environmental advocacy for both backcountry and frontcountry environments.