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Outdoor Action

Leadership Starts Here

Becoming an OA Leader

Leadership Starts Here!

Update for 2020-2021

In a typical year, beocming an OA Leader requires completing on-campus training in 4 skill areas (leadership, first aid, outdoor technical skills, and risk management), followed by a 6-day outdoor trip to practice implementing these skills. As is probably obvious, many of our plans have been thrown upside-down this year, and we are still in the process of figuring it all out.

For now, we've started by identifying the components of training that we could offer virtually so we can continue to train new students for leading outdoor trips. Our focus is on the leadership workshops (Leadership 101 & 102) and some parts of the outdoor technical skills (but not the first aid or the multi-day trip). The first opportunity will be during Wintersession in January, and the registration is available on the Wintersession website (not TripStore). 

As of now, all of our Wintersession courses are full, but if you are interested in attending them we encourage you to register for the waitlist and we'll notify you if space becomes available.

We will also be offering these workshops in the spring (specific dates TBD) as well as exploring how we may be able to offer the other components in the spring.

Become an Outdoor Action Leader

Being an OA Leader is one of the most valuable things you can do to help next year's first year class have a successful transition into Princeton. OA Leaders are role models and mentors for more that 50% of the incoming class. Ask anyone you know who is an OA Leader (and there are more than 300 of them on campus) and they'll tell you it's an absolutely incredible experience. Any student can learn the skills needed to lead a group on an OA Trip and with the diversity of trips we offer (base camp, biking, backpacking, canoeing, rock climbing, sustainable farming) there's a trip for you. Don't miss out on this special Princeton experience. Train to become an OA Leader this semester.

In a typical year, we offer two formats for Leader Training, one is to take the various classes on a weekly basis over the entire semester or you can opt for FastTrack and complete all of the classes over Fall Break, Wintersession, or Spring Break.  After you've completed all the required coursework, you can take your Leader Training Trip in January over Wintersession or after exams in May.

Outdoor Action encourages all students, faculty, and staff to participate in the OA Leader Training Program. OA’s Leader Training Program is considered one of the most comprehensive in the nation and has been imitated by numerous other schools. You can sign up for all Leader Training activities at the OA TripStore.

Impact of OA Leaders

Watch the video to learn out more about the incredibly positive impact that OA Leaders have on incoming freshmen and how much OA Leaders learn and grow from being part of the program.

  • Why Being an OA Leader is so valuable - leaders reflect on their experience
  • Did you have a great time of your Frosh Trip?
  • Want to be an OA Leader next year & help freshmen have a great start?
  • Want to meet new people?
  • Do you enjoy the outdoors?
  • Want to learn new skills?

OA Leader Training is a great way to meet FUN people while you easily complete the training and lead an OA Trip. We are looking for motivated students, graduate students and faculty or staff to become leaders for the Frosh Trip in September. Don’t consider yourself outdoorsy? Outdoor Action will teach you the skills you need to be competent in the outdoors. Our priorities are to find people who are excited about working with others and learning and teaching new skills, and who bring a diversity of experiences and backgrounds to the program. The more our leaders represent the Princeton campus, the more accurate an impression the Frosh will receive. The Outdoor Action Leader Training program is recognized across the country as one of the most comprehensive college outdoor leadership programs. Once you complete all of the requirements this year, you are eligible to apply to lead a Frosh Trip in the fall!

Leader Training Requirements

To see the dates/times for the training sessions below, visit the OA TripStore.

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Planning OA Leader Training into your Schedule

OA offers two complete sets of leader training each year. There is a fall semester training with the Leader Training Trip over Intersession and a spring semester training with the Leader Training Trip taking place during "Dead Week" after exams. You can mix and match when you take the various courses and workshops as long as you have completed all of the other requirements before going on your Leader Training Trip.

We encourage all students to take part in the leader training program and have worked out a schedule which we feel is most flexible for a broad range of students. If you are an athlete or have other regular commitments, it is still possible to participate if you plan carefully.

Religious Observances & OA

Outdoor Action makes every effort to schedule Leader Training activities so that they do not interfere with religious holidays and observances. Where possible, workshops are scheduled on Sundays after church and not on the Sabbath for Jewish students. For the 6-day LTT, we usually have one trip that departs on Sunday and returns before sundown Friday. For the other LTTs, we are able to adapt the trip to meet shabbat observance needs. Please contact the OA office in advance so we can understand how to best meet your needs.

Varsity & Club Sport Athletes

Many athletes become OA Leaders either to lead Frosh Trips or other trips during the year. Depending on your sport(s), you may have to plan carefully for when you can complete the various Leader Training requirements.


The number of available spaces for OA Leader Training is always a factor of the number of instructors we have on hand to teach classes like first aid and the number of available Leader Trainers to lead trips particularly at the end of the year. Because Leader Trainers won't be sure of their availability until the final exam schedule comes out in mid-March, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to train everyone. Therefore, you should sign up for all of the Leader Training requirements now including the Leader Training Trip in May, since we will take people on a first-come, first-served basis.

Skill Evaluation

Our goal is to create qualified outdoor leaders capable of successfully leading and facilitating groups on multi-day wilderness trips. As a result, Leaders-in-training are evaluated at various stages through the process to assess the level of their skill development. First Aid and CPR both have written and practical tests. The Leader Training Trip involves mastering a number of technical and leadership skills. Participants will be given constructive feedback throughout the trip along with an individual evaluation at the end of the trip.

Outdoor Action Instructor Requirements

Outdoor Action may utilize the services of various persons who are skilled in a particular area but who have not completed the entire leader training program or who, at the discretion of the Program Director, are not appropriately qualified to lead multi-day trips with a group dynamics format. The following policies will apply to these individuals:

1. The person interested in becoming an OA Instructor in a specific skill area must demonstrate knowledge of that skill at an appropriate level, ability to perform the skill themselves at a reasonable level, knowledge of safety and rescue issues for that skill, and the ability to teach the skill and interact well with participants. These qualifications may be presented through resume, discussion, and/or practical evaluation by the Program Director or other designated OA personnel. This information will be evaluated by the Program Director to ascertain whether the individual has the necessary qualifications to become an OA Instructor in that specific skill area.

2. If someone is selected as an instructor in a specific skill area they are required to complete the same specific skill training that a regular leader would be required to complete in order to lead a trip in that activity (see Leader Policies for that activity) or demonstrate the equivalent skills.

3. OA Instructors are required to be currently certified in CPR, HEART Wilderness First Aid or an equivalent level of training as a minimum of first aid training.

4. If the specific skill activity requires driving the group, the OA Instructor is required to be an Authorized Van Driver (unless not eligible).

5. OA Instructors are not to lead multi-day trips without the authorization of the Program Director.

6. These policies are effective for the following specific activities:

  • Rock Climbing
  • Canoeing
  • Biking
  • Kayaking
  • Cross-country Skiing

How to Sign Up for OA Leader Training