Students run the Bowdoin Outing Club, from the four student officers through the student trip leaders to the student participants.
Outing Club trips are led by students that complete Leadership Training. A full-time professional staff, consisting of the Club's Director and two Assistant Directors, guides the students through their training. Leadership Training (LT) requires more than 350 hours of lecture, demonstration, and fieldwork. While in the field students are designated as Leaders of the Day, a role that allows them to practice situational leadership and learn from feedback they receive from their peers. Through this first-hand experience students practice different leadership styles, acquire knowledge of group dynamics, and learn and demonstrate the risk management required to lead people as safely as possible in the field. Additionally, prospective leaders learn and must demonstrate proficiency in map and compass navigation; trip planning and logistics (food, gear, emergency preparedness, transportation); gear use, maintenance and repair; cooking; natural history; and low-impact camping techniques. Students also devote eight full days to training with instructors from Wilderness Medical Associates to achieve certification as Wilderness First Responders (WFR). This course include classroom, practical and field experience. The LT program culminates in a five- to seven-day wilderness expedition. Only after successful completion of Leadership Training can a student lead a trip for the Bowdoin Outing Club.
Students apply for Leadership Training each semester and interview with the BOC staff and Leader Instructor Trainers for a spot in the competitive program. 12-18 students are accepted for each course. All of our leadership trainings prepare students to lead backpacking and canoeing trips for the outing club. The Fall Leadership Training course takes place from September to November and Spring Leadership Training takes place from March to May. Out of the Zone Leadership Training, an endowed program started in 2009, was established to improve access and opportunity for all students and increase diversity and inclusivity in the BOC and its student leadership. Because OZ-LT trips occur mostly in the winter months, participants learn cross country skiing and winter travel skills in addition to backpacking and canoeing. There is no outdoor experience necessary to participate in any of our leadership training programs.
Additionally, the BOC staff selects and invites veteran student leaders of the BOC to participate in Leader Instructor Training during their junior and senior years at Bowdoin. In this program the BOC staff work with individuals to develop their teaching and instruction skills and promote opportunities for them to instruct. LIT students teach parts of LT both in the classroom and in the field and receive immediate feedback on their teaching throughout the program.
Once a student has completed Leadership Training they can lead trips for the outing club during the school year and are invited to lead Orientation Trips for incoming Bowdoin students. For students who are accepted as BOC Orientation Trip Leaders and have not yet completed one of our three LT programs, the Outing Club provides a five day orientation trip leader training in May.