Thank you for your interest in the Outdoor Adventure Leadership (OAL) Immersion Semester Program (ISP). The ISP is an intensive semester-long study away program for outdoor leadership and skill development. The OAL ISP seeks to develop outdoor leaders through emphasizing six core competencies including outdoor living, planning and logistics, leadership, risk management, environmental integration and educational skills.

The ISP utilizes six courses (18 credits) addressing these core competencies:

  • RLS 18005 Selected Topics in Rescue
  • RLS 21600 Outdoor Adventure Skills
  • RLS 22000 The Wilderness Experience
  • RLS 22300 Wilderness Literacy
  • RLS 37000 Wilderness Land Use Ethics
  • RLS 42100 Wilderness Expedition Leadership

Successful Completion 

ISP participants that successfully complete all academic and field-based components will obtain a minor in Outdoor Pursuits or fulfill required Outdoor Adventure Leadership major degree requirements and receive a certificate of completion in outdoor leadership from the Wilderness Education Association. However, the ISP is NOT guide training or high-risk adventure for the sake of high-risk adventure. The skills gained on the ISP are intended to prepare future professional outdoor leaders AND to be easily transferrable and applied to an industry—outdoor or otherwise—of choice. 

The ISP application process includes four components:

  1. Experience Inventory and Letter of Interest
  2. Medical Information via Outward Bound Student Services
  3. Screening interview with ISP coordinator
  4. IC Judicial, and Academic Standing Reviews

Experience Inventory and Letter of Interest -The first part of your ISP application is the completion of the Experience Inventory and Letter of Interest. Students may submit part one at any point in the spring semester the year prior to participating in the ISP (for example, a student should submit part one in spring 2020 to participate in spring 2021).

Medical Information via Outward Bound Student Services - Students will receive an email at the start of the fall semester with a link to completing the medical information form. Outward Bound reviews the information provided on this form and screens applicants for suitability of participation given the physical and mental requirements of the program and our ability to provide potential accommodations. This form and any follow-up requests for physical or mental health information from Outward Bound must be completed prior to fall course registration.

Screening Interview with ISP coordinator -The third portion of the ISP application process is an in-person interview with the ISP coordinator. This meeting will review applicants experience inventory and letter of interest as well as discuss course expectations and alignment with individual motives for participation.

Ithaca College Judicial Affairs and Academic Standing - The final component of the ISP Application is clearance from the Ithaca College Office of Judicial Affairs. Further information will be provided on this approval process during your screening interview.

How to Apply

Prior to completing the online application, please read the Participation Agreement Form.

Note: Consider preparing your Experience Inventory and Letter of Interest prior to completing the online application:

  • Experience Inventory: There is no experience required! You will be asked to describe your experience in the following - backpacking, camping, rock climbing, & rafting.
  • Letter of Intent: a typed one-page letter of interest explaining why you want to participate in the ISP.  Please include in your letter how you plan to use the ISP in your future with the Ithaca College community, your home community, and your potential professional community. Applicants are asked to upload the Letter of Interest at the end of the online application.  

Participant Selection

Our goal is to accommodate all interested applicants. However, in the event we are unable to do so, applicants are prioritized for selection based on the following:

  1. All Outdoor Adventure Leadership (OAL) majors are required to participate in the ISP. Pending successful completion of major relevant coursework, and timely submission** of all application materials, OAL majors are given priority selection for participation.   
  2. All declared Outdoor Pursuit (OP) minors are encouraged to participate on the ISP. Pending available space, timely submission of application materials, declared OP minors are given second priority for selection.
  3. All remaining majors and minors are encouraged to apply and participate on the ISP. Pending available space, timely submission of all application materials, the remaining applicants are given third priority for selection.

Note: In the event of limited program capacity, prioritization within the above categories will be determined by the following:

  1. Participant screening interview
  2. Completion of RLS 21800 Wilderness First Responder
  3. Potential to attend the ISP in a subsequent year
  4. Grade Point Average

** Application timeliness will be determined on a case by case basis for all OAL transfer students.

Participant Reminder

Applicants selected for participation should expect to spend extended periods of time living outside in the natural elements traveling through challenging environments as a member of a small and close community. The ISP is an academic semester and applicants should expect to engage with and complete traditional academic assignments while in non-traditional environments.

Course fee and tuition

ISP participants must be enrolled in each ISP course (6 courses, 18-credits) and pay required semester tuition and fees to Ithaca College to be an expedition member. The ISP course fee is an additional course fee that is paid in lieu of one semester’s room and board on campus. This fee is billed upon course registration and paid directly to Ithaca College.

Students are responsible for arranging and paying for travel to the course start and home from course end. Once on course, all transportation during the semester, meals, lodging and access to technical equipment will be provided. Students that leave the course for any reason including, but not limited to, injury (temporary or permanent departure), because they are dismissed for violating ISP rules, or for reasons outside of the control of Northwest Outward Bound (e.g., public health emergencies, natural disasters, or government declarations) are responsible for all lodging, meals, transportation, and associated costs for early departure as described in the contract.

ISP Courses

  • RLS 18005       Selected Topics in Rescue
  • RLS 21600       Outdoor Adventure Skills
  • RLS 22000       The Wilderness Experience*
  • RLS 22300       Wilderness Literacy
  • RLS 37000       Wilderness Land Use Ethics
  • RLS 42100       Wilderness Expedition Leadership

                             *Indicates course fee attached


Questions and further information about the ISP should be directed to the ISP program coordinator.

Dr. Patrick Lewis

file-outline Participant Agreement Form Updated 4-13-20.pdf - Participant Agreement Form Updated 4-13-20.pdf (152.78 KB)