Outdoor Program

The Outdoor Program (OP) is committed to providing equitable access for all to the outdoors. “The OP” fosters personal growth, facilitates learning and creates recreational opportunities through skills and risk management training, leadership development, and environmentally sound trips in a supportive community”. The OP assists people in outdoor pursuits while also managing risks so as to offer safe and rewarding recreational experiences. Additionally, the OP provides quality rental equipment in the fields of hiking, backpacking, climbing, flatwater and whitewater kayaking, rafting, canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, telemark and alpine touring skiing. Activities cater to beginner and intermediate skill levels. On campus, the OP organizes visiting speakers, instructional seminars, film showings, and other special events, including the Banff Mountain Film Festival. The OP also oversees the Whitman Climbing Center and contributes to orientation programming.

Another important function of the Outdoor Program is to teach outdoor skills, both elementary and advanced, in such areas as risk management, wilderness first aid, whitewater and flatwater kayaking, rafting, climbing, skiing, canoeing, mountaineering, backpacking, and outdoor leadership. There are over 75 different jobs per semester that students can practice their leadership skills working for the OP in the rental shop, leading trips and instructing in the climbing center. The program is a resource for those interested in planning their own trips, exploring the outdoors surrounding Walla Walla, purchasing equipment, or obtaining instruction. Magazines, instructional videos and books, guide books, maps, and information about outdoor jobs are available at the OP Rental Shop.

The Outdoor Program is not a club. There are no dues; anyone, regardless of ability or skill level, may participate. Through the Outdoor Program, all students interested in noncompetitive, non-motorized pursuits may share adventures. The Bob Carson Outdoor Program Fund enables all students to experience OP trips by providing trip credit to every current Whitman student each year to be able to participate in at least one free outdoor trip. The Leadership Education Advancement Fund (LEAF) offers need-based aid for SSRA Outdoor Leadership courses.

While the OP is not a club it supports and serves as advisors to several ASWC student organized and run outdoor clubs including:, Backcountry Ski Club, BIPOC Outdoor Club, Climbing Club, Club Sports Climbing Team, Mountain Biking Club and the Whitewater Club.

In 2013, the Outdoor Program was granted the prestigious David J Webb Program Excellence award issued by the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education. An AORE press release stated “Whitman College is an outstanding example and embodiment of AORE values. The Whitman College Outdoor Program is an incredible teaching program based in Walla Walla, WA. They are best known for their freshman orientation program and climbing center, but also have strong sea kayaking, backpacking and whitewater programs. The program has been a part of the school for over 4 decades. They also work closely and in collaboration with academic departments to provide general trips and opportunities for the campus at large, and to encourage involvement and dedication to betterment and growth of the [outdoor recreation] industry.”