Outdoor Education

Since 1971, Earlham has been at the forefront of training outdoor leaders and educators—and our program has become recognized nationally. The unique, liberal arts approach combines on-campus courses, field experiences and leadership practice for developing both technical and interpersonal skills. You’ll also find a variety of ways to explore the outdoors, get involved on campus and learn new skills.

Students outside with binoculars and a net

Core principles of the Outdoor Education program

Viewing obstacles as challenges to be overcome. Actively seeking out opportunities to learn and to push oneself outside the “comfort zone.” Living life in a “positive state of non-expectancy”.

A connection to the land we are traveling through such that we are not just tourists or passersby but, rather, we become changed by our relationship with the land and its stories.

Servant leadership is defined as the ability to think of others through the acquired skills of listening, observation, awareness, empathy, acceptance and foresight. It is the difference between caring “about” something or someone and “caring for” it.

The art of contemplation and reflection is what brings meaning to our lives. It is also fundamental to the kind of deep and rigorous observation and scholarship we value at Earlham. On courses, there will be many opportunities to practice the contemplative spirit.

Simplicity and simple living are comprised of two parts: inward simplicity and outward simplicity. The two are, of course, connected. Inward simplicity can be defined by the priorities and goals that you have in your life and how you make decisions about them. Outward simplicity is how you manifest those priorities and goals to the world. Wilderness courses are all about simple living-both inwardly and outwardly.

Getting Involved with Outdoor Education

Graduates have gone on to careers in environmental education, park management, wilderness guiding, and youth social work. Recent Earlham alumni have found work with Outward Bound, the Student Conservation Association, the National Park Service, and a variety of public and independent school settings.

Solomon Climbing Wall

Located in the Athletic and Wellness Center, the Solomon Climbing Wall offers 10-14 climbs of varying difficulty each semester.

Outdoor Gear Rental

Outdoor Education provides gear rental for field trips and outdoor excursions to Earlham students, faculty, academic departments and Wellness members.

Bike Share

The Earlham College Bike Share offers students daily use of bikes at no cost and operates out of the Public Safety Office.

Additional Outdoor Opportunities

Wilderness First Responder (WFR) & Wilderness First Aid (WFA)

Created to provide outdoor leaders with the knowledge needed to deal with crises in remote settings, WFR is a hybrid 70+ hour certification course that meets all DOT national standards for First Responder with additional protocols for extended care situations. The curriculum includes protocols for patient assessment, extended care, and wilderness rescue.

The Hybrid Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course takes place first online and then in-person March 9-13, 2024.

Wilderness First Aid, WFA, takes place in-person only on March 14-15, 2024.

Both are taught by Wilderness Medical Associates (WMA), a globally recognized wilderness medicine school.

Please email [email protected] or call 765-983-1790 for further registration details.

Participant typeCost (WFR / WFA)
Faculty, staff or student$575 / $295
General public$700 / $295

MWOLC in lights
Image credit: MWOLC Facebook

The Midwest Outdoor Leadership Conference (MWOLC)

The Midwest Outdoor Leadership Conference (MWOLC) is a student-run outdoor leadership conference that occurs each year, hosted by various colleges and universities throughout the Midwest. The weekend consists of workshops, networking opportunities, a Q&A panel, and a keynote address, as well as many fun activities. This conference is an opportunity for undergraduate students interested in the field of outdoor recreation and education to unite and learn from each other, developing their leadership and technical skills, while making connections with others that may influence their future careers or hobbies.

Outdoor Activities

Many opportunities exist on or near campus to enjoy the beauty of nature. Go hiking in Earlham’s back campus, explore the Whitewater Gorge or bike the Cardinal Greenways. Incoming first-year students should consider August Wilderness, a pre-orientation program that includes an 11-day backpacking experience in the Uinta Mountains of Utah. Students also can enroll in Outdoor Education courses to improve skills in rock climbing, backpacking and canoeing.

We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.
We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.