Frequently Asked Questions
Applied Health Sciences - Recreation & Leisure Studies
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the Outdoor Recreation concentration at Brock all about?
A: The Outdoor Recreation concentration focuses on leadership in the natural environment. This program provides students with the skills, knowledge and dispositions necessary to serve as wilderness trip leaders, to facilitate groups in outdoor recreation settings, to work in a variety of outdoor and experiential education environments, and to serve as agents of social and environmental change in the world.
The Outdoor Recreation faculty are dedicated to help students develop the critical thinking, decision-making and leadership skills to mature as active, engaged citizens of our global society. We offer a well-rounded mix of theory, leadership and technical skills, and practical experiences to enable students to gain entry level positions in the outdoor industry and recreation and leisure services field around the world.
Q: What kinds of students are in outdoor recreation?
A: Outdoor recreation students come from all walks of life! We are proud of the diversity of our outdoor recreation student body. Students arrive at Brock with a range of outdoor recreation experience – some have been active outdoor recreationists their whole lives, while others have little experience in the outdoors. There is no need to worry if you have enough experience or not – everyone fits right in! Regardless of their background, all of our students are passionate about learning, are willing to step outside their comfort zones and meet challenges head-on, love working with others, and care about issues related to social and environmental justice.
Q: Can I transfer from another college or university?
A: Of course – we love to have transfer students join us! However, it is important to understand the implications of transferring into the Outdoor Recreation concentration and how it may impact your timeline for graduation (i.e., it may take a little longer than you think!). Please consult with Mike Fawkes, our Undergraduate Program Coordinator for specifics.
Q: Who are the faculty?
A: There are three full-time faculty members who teach primarily in the Outdoor Recreation concentration as well as in the general Recreation and Leisure Studies program.
Q: How many days will I spend in the field learning outdoor leadership and technical skills?
A: On average, Outdoor Recreation students spend a minimum of 29 days in the field during the course of their studies at Brock. Depending on the electives you choose to take, this may increase.
Q: Where do we go on field trips?
A: Traditionally, we’ve run field trips in the following locations:
- Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area (Milton, ON) – rock climbing
- Algonquin Provincial Park – canoeing, backpacking
- Bruce Trail, Tobermory Peninsula (ON) – backpacking
- Appalachian Trail (West Virginia, United States) – backpacking expedition
- Welland River and Old Welland Canal (Welland, ON) – canoeing, cultural and natural history
- Muskokas (ON) – winter camping, snowshoeing
- Frontenac Provincial Park (ON) – winter camping, backpacking
- Short Hills Provincial Park (ON) – orienteering, backcountry navigation
- Bruce Trail, St. Catharines area (ON) – environmental and ecological literacy
- Niagara Glen (Niagara Falls, ON) – issues in outdoor recreation resource management, bouldering
- Norval Outdoor Center (Norval, ON) – outdoor facilities management
Q: What equipment do I need?
A: You will receive a detailed equipment list for each class you take that has an extensive field component. You will need, at a minimum, the following personal equipment for all your field courses:
- headlamp or small flashlight
- 2 water bottles (minimum 1 liter each)
- jackknife (Swiss army knife or similar)
- long underwear top and bottom (polypropylene or other synthetic material – no cotton! We recommend 2 tops and 2 bottoms)
- rain jacket (note: we often have special purchasing deals with local outdoor stores at the beginning of the school year that enable you to buy quality gear at reduced prices! Check with Outdoor Recreation faculty for more information)
- rain pants
- fleece or synthetic warm layers - tops & bottoms
- sturdy hiking boots (minimum mid-weight recommended)
If you plan on being an outdoor recreation professional, we recommend investing in quality gear right from the start – if you take care of it properly it will last through many years of hard use. Please contact us if you have questions before buying any equipment, clothing or footwear.
Our state-of-the-art Outdoor Education Lab offers complimentary use of all the group equipment needed for your field experiences (e.g., first aid kit, rock climbing equipment, tents, stoves, group cooking gear, canoes, etc.). For our academic programs, students are able to borrow sleeping bags (winter and 3-season), sleeping pads, backpacks, canoe packs, snowshoes, sleds, etc. for individual use on field trips.
Q: If I have my own outdoor equipment, can I use it?
A: That depends. If it is in good working order, meets risk management and industry standards, and passes inspection by your instructor, you will most likely be able to use your own equipment. We do not permit students to use their own ropes for rock climbing.
Q: What technical skills will I learn? Can I get certifications?
A: Core outdoor skills you will learn include: backpacking, campcraft (knots, stove lighting, tarps, etc.), canoeing, winter camping, orienteering & backcountry navigation, backcountry cooking, top-rope rock climbing, Leave No Trace principles, and snowshoeing. Depending on student interest and availability of instructors, other skills may be offered. Generally, we don’t provide certifications for technical skills. However, you will be certified as a Leave No Trace Trainer.
Q: Do you teach white water paddling, lead rock climbing or lead ice climbing?
Q: Does it cost extra for field experiences? How much?
A: Yes, we do ask students to pay a field activity fee (in addition to tuition) to help cover the cost of transportation, food, gas, equipment, supplies and permits/fees. Students are credited any amount that is unspent at the end of the academic year. Sample field activities fees are as follows:
- RECL 2F16 - $425.00
- RECL 3P86 - $450.00
- RECL 4P16 - $500.00
Q: Who teaches the field experiences?
A: Outdoor recreation faculty (who have over 55 years of combined professional experience in the field) and qualified field instructors teach our field experiences. Our field instructors come from a variety of backgrounds and work for the leading organizations in the outdoor recreation field in Canada and around the world.
Q: What does a typical field trip look and feel like?
A: Core outdoor recreation field-based courses (i.e., RECL 2F16, RECL 3P86, RECL 4P16) are sequenced to allow students to gradually take-on more of the planning, leadership, and instructional roles. You will finish up in your fourth year with an expedition that is entirely student facilitated. Throughout your time at Brock, you will be increasingly responsible for trip considerations such as: food planning, shopping, and cooking; route planning; budgeting and budget management; equipment planning, maintenance and cleaning; leadership, group dynamics, facilitation and debriefing; technical skills instruction; and program design, delivery and evaluation (among others). This usually includes work on your own before and after field experiences. Faculty and field instructors are not “guides” in the traditional sense – we don’t make all the decisions and do all the work for the “clients!” We strive to create learning conditions in which you can practice the knowledge, skills and dispositions necessary to become a top-notch outdoor leader. We believe this requires you to experience these things first-hand so you can do them on your own in the future.
Q: How big are the field trip groups?
A: We try and keep our group sizes small to facilitate student learning and to take into account risk management standards. Group size is also dependent on the primary technical skills being taught. On average, groups range in size from 7 students + 2 instructors to 24 students + 4 instructors for trips with technical skills components. Some field trips will have larger student to instructor ratios if they don’t include a technical component.
Q: Do I have to take courses on weekends or in the spring?
A: Yes. RECL 2F16, a required course, has many field experiences that run over the weekend (e.g., Friday to Sunday or Saturday to Monday). Instructors attempt to create field trip schedules that minimize conflicts with student schedules. However, you may be asked to miss a class or two to participate in field activities. RECL 3P86 (Advanced Outdoor Leadership Theory and Practice), a required course, is offered in a two-week block in early May. RECL 4P16 (Advanced Wilderness Program Planning), a required course, is offered in the Winter semester (lecture format), and has a 10-day field component running in late April through early May.
Q: Can I bring my cell phone or IPod on field courses?
A: No. In our experience, these get in the way of learning and group dynamics. Our instructors carry communication devices as appropriate to the location and activity. Most of our students are glad to have left their phone behind!
Q: Can I get credit for taking courses with Leaders of the Day, Outward Bound, the National Outdoor Leadership School, Boundless Adventures, Wilderness Medical Associates or other service providers?
A: Yes! Depending on the nature and duration of the course, you may be eligible to receive up to 2.5 credits towards your degree. Please consult one of the Outdoor Recreation faculty or the RECL Undergraduate Program Coordinator for specifics before signing up for a course.
Q: Do I need first aid, CPR, or water safety training before I arrive at Brock?
A: No, but we highly recommend you take a Wilderness First Responder course (it includes CPR) which is the industry standard for outdoor leaders. These courses are regularly offered at Brock University and you can usually get credit for taking it (see above). Additional costs are your responsibility. Our faculty and field instructors are certified in first aid and we carry well-stocked first aid kits on every field trip. If you are interested in water-based outdoor recreation (e.g., canoeing, sea kayaking, white water paddling, etc.), we highly suggest you take Bronze Cross, Bronze Medallion, NLS or Swiftwater Rescue Technician training. Many of these courses are available on campus through Recreation Services.
Q: Are there opportunities to get employment as an outdoor leader at Brock?
A: Yes, there are! Many of our students work as trip staff for Brock BaseCamp, an outdoor orientation program that offers rock climbing, backpacking and canoeing trips for incoming first-year students over the summer. BaseCamp offers competitive wages and a chance to practice what you’ve learned in the classroom. Youth University also offers employment opportunities for students interested in working with kids or in the challenge course industry. Upper-year students are often hired as field instructors or as teaching assistants for outdoor recreation courses as well. We encourage students to volunteer as leaders to gain experience too!
Outdoor recreation faculty also coordinate visits from many employers in the outdoor recreation industry and post job announcements on the Outdoor Recreation board the Rec Hallway. There are plenty of opportunities for work!
Q: What outdoor activities can I do in the St. Catharines area?
A: Just about anything you want! Within an hour drive of Brock University, you can rock climb, boulder, sea kayak, canoe, backpack, camp, winter camp, mountain bike, white water canoe/kayak, road bike, ice climb, alpine ski, snowshoe, or cross country ski – usually at world-class locations! The Bruce Trail runs right through Brock University which is the only university in the world located in a Biosphere Reserve (the Niagara Escarpment).
Q: Is there the opportunity to get involved in research?
A: Yes! Each of the Outdoor Recreation faculty is actively engaged in various research projects. They often hire research assistants or look for volunteers to help out with projects. If you are an Honours student, you will do a group or individual research project related to your area of interest.
Q: Can I get a Masters or PhD degree in Outdoor Recreation at Brock?
A: Yes! You can get a Master of Arts in Applied Health Sciences – Leisure Studies (with a focus in Outdoor Recreation) by working with one of the Outdoor Recreation faculty as your supervisor. Similarly, we also offer a PhD in Applied Health Sciences – Social and Cultural Health Studies in which you can study outdoor recreation. Please visit Faculty of Applied Health Sciences - Future Graduate Students or the Faculty of Graduate Studies for more information on how to apply. We highly recommend contacting one of the Outdoor Recreation faculty directly before applying to discuss the options available to you for graduate studies. Graduate students are often assigned as a teaching assistant to one of our outdoor recreation courses as part of their funding package.
Q: What other professional development opportunities are available?
A: There are many conferences, training seminars, and other prospects for professional development available on campus and nearby in Ontario and the United States. Outdoor recreation faculty often coordinate student attendance at conferences sponsored by the Council of Outdoor Educators of Ontario, SUNY Cortland, the Association for Experiential Education, the North American Association for Environmental Education and the Coalition for Education in the Outdoors. We also help students to present workshops, write articles for newsletters, journals, and websites and become active in local groups such as the Ontario Access Coalition.