BC Wilderness Skills Certificate

While students are working hard on getting credits for their degrees, there is something else that students can work towards on the way to their main goals. The athletic department has a few certification programs to choose from that students can work on while pursuing a degree. One of these programs is the Wilderness Skills Certificate. The purpose of the certificate is to promote an active lifestyle while learning skills that can be used in the great outdoors such as rock climbing, hiking and snow shoeing. One of the best parts is that the credits that are earned from the certification process can be used in getting a degree. The credits are not just limited to the certification process.

Ray Butler is the chair for the Health and Physical Education department and is an advocate for healthy lifestyles. He is one of the main developers and supporters for the certification, “we designed the Wilderness Skills certificate just because there is a growing need for people to maintain active lifestyles. We are trying to develop a program that trains individuals to lead outdoor activities. This is more of a stepping stone as a lot of our students go off to get a four-year degree, become physical educators and some want to be back-country guides or snow sports or water sports.” The certification isn’t just a piece of paper acknowledging completion of the program. Students keep the credits they earn during the program— toward degrees—and the certification helps them get jobs in the outdoors.

The certification program started at Bellevue College around five years ago. Butler was integral in the development of the program itself, “I really felt there was a need. I looked at other community colleges around the state and I was stunned that there weren’t really any opportunities [to be outdoors]. So we wanted to get a program started where we could branch off.” Many classes from the program such as snowshoeing and rock climbing take place outside of Bellevue College. “There are a ton of opportunities for students to learn about the outdoors and practice skills and activities,” said Butler.

To complete the certification, students must complete a set list of classes which total 19 credits. The classes are all oriented towards being able to not only work in an outdoor environment but to also promote a healthy lifestyle. Each class focuses on something different, whether it is just lectures on wellness or learning about a specific activity such as rock climbing and snowshoeing. The certification also has a focus on leadership. There is a full class dedicated to outdoor leadership, while the other classes also have an emphasis on leadership. If started in fall quarter, the whole certificate can be completed in two quarters of time.

The certification is something that students can do to not only help their futures, but to also help themselves. The program is designed to help people lead a more active lifestyle, while helping them find activities outdoors that they can enjoy. The Wilderness Skills Certification can be completed by anyone, as long as they want to lead a healthier life style and still get credits while they complete it.