We here at Crowsnest Lake Bible Camp have been outtripping in the Canadian Rockies since the 1960's. We depend on qualified and competent leaders to make this happen; our COLTS participants. Crowsnest Outdoor Leadership Training School is an accelerated leadership development program that aims to create Christ-centred leaders in the outdoor industry. This is accomplished through purposed instruction and in-depth training, then culminated with 2 months of experiential practicums leading outtrips during our summer camps. See below for further details.

COLTS 2020 begins in:


on April 26

2020, April 26 - August 31

2021, April 25 - September 2

Leadership Development – Develop leaders who are learning participants in leadership with a special emphasis on the following three leadership styles:

  1. Spiritual Leadership – blending the natural and spiritual qualities of leadership to influence others so that they may accomplish God’s purposes.

  2. Outdoor Leadership – strategically utilizing wilderness areas to bring together outdoor training and leadership principles.

  3. Servant Leadership – following Christ’s example of leading by means of servanthood.

Wilderness Guide Training – Equip participants via intensive training designed to provide them with knowledge and skills in seven basic areas pertaining to leading groups in wilderness settings:

  1. Wilderness Ministry – methods by which to minister to the “whole person” (i.e. physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually), but with a special emphasis on how to minister in a spiritual sense.

  2. Group Management and Leadership – the theoretical, communicative, and practical aspects of leading and managing groups in a wilderness setting and remote context—focusing on sound decision making while leading a group.

  3. Outdoor Skills – become competent in a wide variety of skills necessary to travel and camp in the backcountry.

  4. Emergency Response – prepare participants to critically think, communicate, and respond effectively and thoroughly in emergency situations that may arise while leading groups in the wilderness.

  5. Risk Management – identify, assess, and manage risk that is inherent with outdoor pursuits, providing appropriate supervision and direction in programmed activities.

  6. Environmental Stewardship – foster a biblically-based paradigm that acknowledges God as the maker and sustainer of all creation. (Romans (1:20)

  7. Administration – the imperative aspects of planning, preparation, and organization of outdoor-based programs. (Proverbs 16:9)

Instructive Teaching – As graduates of COLTS, participants are expected to be leaders who teach and instruct the summer staff and campers at CLBC in the following six areas:

  1. Whole Person – minister to the whole person in order to create enjoyable, learning, and challenging experiences for camp staff and campers.

  2. Outdoor Skills – teach wilderness skills to camp staff and campers with the intention of increasing their ability to effectively participate in outdoor programming.

  3. Wilderness Ministry – influence followers in devotional and spiritual insight towards greater effectiveness in an outdoor setting while applying both a biblical and theoretical knowledge in both a supervised and unsupervised nature.

  4. Leadership – instruct in leadership and demonstrate effective approaches to guiding people in God’s creation.

  5. Discipleship – adhere to and teach CLBC’s missional approach to camp ministry and community.

  6. Environmental Stewardship – foster a biblically-based paradigm that acknowledges God as the maker and sustainer of all creation. (Romans (1:20)

The anticipated and desired result of COLTS is that individuals with an interest in the outdoors can learn, practice, and develop personal leadership skills to the point where they are demonstrably qualified to lead outdoor programs involving participants of varying ages. At the same time, they develop a unique understanding of their personal limitations and are encouraged to develop personal methods of dealing with those limitations.

The emphasis within the program is on experiential learning, where the participants are taught concepts and theory and then allowed to experiment with implementation of those concepts, culminated with constructive feedback and encouragements while doing so. They are given the opportunity to first implement the concepts within a peer group and under close supervision, and then progressively given further opportunities to implement with less and less supervision. Which in turn, carefully exposes them to progressively greater responsibility.

The effect of such training is to give the greatest amount of personal competence within a short time frame. A large reason for this, is that the training becomes, by default, tailored to the specific needs of each participant. Basic and general concepts are taught to everyone together, but in course of the participants actually attempting to implement those concepts, feedback and further instruction is given and thereby responds to their specific needs. This is what we call the ‘experiential model’. In using this model as the basis of our programming, we may not give quite as broad a theoretical base as some other methods, but the concepts, skills, and training given may be more practical, and may contribute towards the development of more “able” leaders.

It is our desire to use this learning model as the basis of the development of programming for CLBC’s programs. In so doing, we feel that we will offer a practical sort of leadership development which lends itself to many specific applications and not just the wilderness setting. Wilderness skills will be taught, and taught well, but the leadership development is applicable to any endeavour the student may choose to pursue in the future.

This is our model: to create Christ-centered servant leaders for the outdoors.

Our model for leadership is Christ, our theory of leadership is based on Scripture. Although other theories of leadership help us understand leading principles, God's ideas about leadership is foundational to our program. It is God, not us, who makes the kind of leaders we want to see emerging today. This sets us apart from secular leadership training programs.

We approach the wilderness as a ministry environment. That means we recognise its value to the whole person and especially its spiritual value as testifying to God's reality and character. This sets us apart from training for leadership in other environments, e.g. church leadership or corporate leadership.

We aim to develop leaders who will be able to serve whomever they are leading. Another way to look at it is that we are trying not just to serve our COLTS participants but are equipping them to serve others. This sets us apart from experiential and outdoor skills programs.

1. Outdoor Leadership Training (7-8 weeks)

Legalities and Risk Management

 4 hour session, practiced throughout the program

Safety and Emergency Response

 4 hour session, practiced throughout the program

Wilderness First Aid (WFA) Bridge Course

 40 hour course

WFA Extracurricular Practice & Technique

 30 hours training, practiced throughout the program

Leadership Theory

 4 hour session, development throughout the program

Navigation and Orienteering

 12 hours training, practiced throughout the program

Outdoor Equipment Usage and Repair

 8 hours + weekend trip, practiced throughout the program

Meal Prep & Back Country Culinary Skills

 16 hours, practiced throughout the program

Outtrip Programming

 3 hour session, practiced throughout the program

Introduction to Weather 

 4 hour session, practiced throughout the program

Avalanche Awareness

 2 hour session


 12 hours training, practice during training outtrips

Helicopter Safety

 3 hour session, practiced throughout the program

Improvised Carries

 3 hour session, practice during training outtrips

River Crossings

 4 hour session

Nature/Plant Identification

 3 hour session, practiced throughout the program

Environmental Stewardship

 8 hour event, practiced throughout the program

Leave No Trace Principles

 2 hour session, practiced throughout the program

Forms and Professional Documentation

 2 hour session, practiced throughout the program

Bear Awareness

 3 hour course hopefully not practiced throughout the program

* Course Outline is subject to change or be modified. 

2. Skills Week (1 week) - See page here

Participants will receive instruction in either rock climbing, canoeing, or archery. The purpose of this instruction is to gain a good understanding of safety, general skills, and how to lead that particular skill at Crow. The end goal of the week is to certify participants to become instructors in that discipline and teach that skill during the summer programs.

3. Acclimatization Weekend (4 days) - See page here

This training will prepare both COLTS participants and other summer staff to work delibeately with campers. Mission and values of Crow, staff orientation, cabin bible study, evangelism, and camper discipline are examples of some topics that may be covered.

An orientation to Crowsnest Lake Bible Camp, its philosophy, purposes, and resources will be provided. In addition, there may be a one or two night outtrip and introductory sessions in climbing, canoeing, archery, etc.  Both the skills session and the outtrip will be led by COLTS participants.

4. Experiential Practicum (July and August) - See summer camp schedule

Leading Outtrips is the main role of COLTS participants in the summer months, and is where most of the learning is solidified. You will be involved in the summer programs in various capacities as determined by the camp leadership staff. Due to possible staff shortages, this may not always be Outtrip Directing.

Practical Assignments

Bible/Leadership Studies:
Overview: Periodically throughout the program, each student will be given 30-45 minutes to lead the rest of the group in a Bible or book study.  Scripture and books will vary each year.

Outtrip Leadership:
Overview: Each student will be responsible for leading a portion of each training outtrip (this could be a few hours or multiple days). This gives them an environment in which the can learn how to lead others with the capacity of making mistakes. Instructors take a back seat approach and assist each student in their personal leadership growth.

First Aid/Emergency Simulations:
Overview: Throughout the COLTS training, instructors will conduct a variety of First Aid and Emergency Simulations to give students practice in dealing with different situations.  Each situation is followed by group and personal debrief to aid in the students learning.  Risk management, group management, decision making and Wilderness First Aid techniques are emphasized during simulations.

Overview:  Each student at the completion of the COLTS training partake of a 1 night solo in which they use all of the skills learned to navigate to certain locations and set up their own camp.  The solo is intended to give students time with God in reflection and as a chance to prove to themselves that they now have the skills needed to look after themselves in the wilderness. 

Final Exam:
Overview: The final exam consists of written and practical portions.  The written exam focuses on factual information learned during the training as well as situational questions and is in short answer format.  The practical portion changes depending on needs of the group and individuals.  It can consist of simple campcraft testing (tarp set up, bear line set up, fire making), and/or First Aid simulations that test the decision making and judgment of the student.

Theoretical Assignments:

Route-planning Assignment (4 hours of work)
Overview: This is an assignment that uses all three of the students’ supplied topographical maps to get them to practice route finding and map familiarization. Using their maps and route-planning resources they will decide which route to take between map coordinates, how to calculate elevation, decide which routes are preferable to others, estimate hiking distances and times, etc.

Equipment and Gear Research (6 hours of work)
Overview:  Students will be asked to research a certain type of equipment or gear that we use in our outdoor pursuits. This could include, boots, backpacks, sleeping bags, etc. Once completed, each student will give a presentation to the rest of the group and some local folk to teach them about what they have learned. This assignment is to help students research and present ideas to others, as well as familiarize themselves to outdoor gear.

Leadership Assignment (6 hours of work)
Overview: This assignment will get students to analyze themselves as leaders. They will see what kind of leaders they are and what kind of leaders they would like to be.  This assignment can be used for future reference. Students are asked to reflect on different situations or experiences in their lives that has shaped them to be the leaders that they are. They are also asked to look to the future and see what kind of leader they would like to be. This assignment allows them to document their progression in their leadership development and gives them an idea of leadership aspects they need to work on.

Outtrip Programming Assignment (3 hours of work)
Overview: In this assignment, students will be programming a typical Intermediate outtrip. It is meant to take them through all the steps of programming and outtrip and things to consider. This outtrip plan could be used for future reference. A summarized form of this assignment will be required for every outtrip that students lead.

Individual Project (6-10 hours of work)
Overview:  This project is to be completed by the end of COLTS training. This way it is finished before summer sessions begin. It should be something that would enhance Outtrip Directing in some way and would help with the development of outdoor programs. Students are given ideas of projects that could be done, but are also given the freedom to come up with their own idea. Ideas could include, making options signs or compiling game ideas.

Individual Evaluations (On-going)
Overview: The instructors of the program see the value in working directly and intentionally with each participant therefore the instructor to student ratio is usually 1:2 or 1:1. They take a coaching style approach to leadership and will be intentful in the development of each participant's skills and competence by recognizing the needs for their learning accordingly. All camp staff receive ongoing feedback with respect to performance, while the COLTS participants receive consistent feedback in regards to leadership development.

 Kyle McElheran - COLTS 2019

COLTS is a phenomenal program that trains participants to depend on God while they address the physical, personal, and spiritual needs of campers. Listening to God, following exceptional leaders, developing diverse skills, and gaining outstanding experience help to shape a strong and healthy leadership point of view. COLTS is a program that will test and exceed your limits, increase your leadership capacity, and build your faith. The instructors are highly conscious and competent; passionate about participants realizing their full potential; committed to demonstrating authentic servant leadership; and humbly submitted to God’s direction for each year of students. For me, COLTS was an exploration with God, of his heart and mine. Taking a pause from following a clear career and life path, I began asking God about how he has made me. Through serving campers in the wilderness and witnessing God encounter so many he has given me a heart to serve others in meeting and growing in Christ.

 Bronwyn Schulz - COLTS 2018

It was a childhood dream of mine to be able to do COLTS, I grew up at camp watching the outtrip directors do daring and wonderful things. I wanted to be like that. SO when the opportunity arose for me to apply I jumped on it. COLTS was more than just a training program, it was, in the most cliché way, life changing. When I started COLTS I was a young person in search of who she was and insecure in her leadership abilities. I emerged, from a third of a year spent at camp, a leader. Sure of herself, strong, and capable.

COLTS training pushes you beyond what you think you are capable of physically and takes you to heights you couldn’t imagine before. We stood on ridges with 120 km winds, we hiked from bowl to bowl, we threw ourselves down hills, we carried each other in first aid simulations, we got real lost in the woods, slept on snow, trekked through every type of weather, and cried. One thing I learned in COLTS was to “fall into the hill, it will always catch you.” While that was meant to be about falling down actual hills I took it and applied it to my relationship with Christ. “Fall into Christ, He will always catch you.” I would recommend COLTS to anyone who seeks to learn more about themselves in Christ and as a leader.

 Mariah Funk - COLTS 2018

For years I put my identity into what I did. During that time I just felt frustrated and out of place all the time, because everyone around me had “their thing” that they thrived at and worked towards. I didn’t understand why I just never felt like I fully belonged anywhere. I came into COLTS knowing very little, had a hard time allowing myself to fail and ignoring the toxic thoughts in my head. Over the four months, I was stretched beyond what I thought my limits were, when it comes to leadership and the outdoors. After finishing my 5th and final outtrip, I couldn’t help but praise God for shaping me into the leader He has created me to be. For I know that in my own strength I would never be where I am today. Knowing that I’m only just a vessel for Him to lead through. This is all for Him. Living my life for Him is “My thing”.

 Eric Reno - COLTS 2018

One cannot truly communicate the COLTS program by words alone, it must be experienced. I could tell stories of incredible highs and lows, of which I certainly had many of, but the overall impact COLTS will (likely) have on you is more than that. I can confidently say that by the end of the entire experience I was, for all intensive purposes, a different person. I now see myself as a leader as God made me, not by how I thought a leader to be. I had first hand experience of what it looks and feels like to live actively in faith, something which will anchor me for years to come. Hilariously enough, I have never wanted to quit something so badly, while simultaneously never wanting it to end. I love this program, and this camp. If anyone reading this wants to ask me a question, I would love to have a discussion. Ask Daniel for my contact info, or look me up somehow.

 Caroline Munnings - COLTS 2017

Every challenge is met with precontemplation. I engaged with the COLTS Program often unsure of my abilities in comparison to the magnitude of the task at hand. This brought me to my knees often and proved to be the anchor of my soul, strength for my steps, and direction as I led precious youth through the vastness of God's wonder provoking wilderness!

A constant assurance through the training portion of COLTS was the servant leadership role models guiding our standard of ministry at Crowsnest Lake Bible Camp. Stretching and growing in an environment where learning from our mistakes was a welcome foundation for leadership development brought joy and freedom along the journey. I am grateful to have engaged the challenge of providing youth with backpacking adventures and witnessing their hearts discover the grandeur of God's personal investment in their lives!

 Graeme Collins - COLTS 2016

COLTS, how do I explain COLTS?  At first before I arrived at camp, I was very reluctant of being there, not really knowing much about CLBC.  As I arrived, I was warmly greeted by some friendly faces and felt a bit better about being there.  Right away we sprung full swing into training, giving me little time to think about fleeing.  As the program progressed, getting to know the other participants and my instructors was a joy, and I started to grow quite fond of this place and the people.  I liked them so much, that when I came back the next summer, I met my now Fiancé and soon to be wife, Lauren Algra, whom has also taken the COLTS program. I learned a great amount about myself, leadership tactics, hard skills, and most importantly God. Working with campers had its ups and downs (pun intended), but I would not change this challenging experience.  I enjoyed COLTS so much that I came back and did COLTS II in 2018, which meant I was an instructor.  I have been putting the skills I learned to the test in everyday tasks involving conflict and leadership, outdoor adventures and now with my work, as an Education Assistant at a Christian high school.  I would never have had the confidence and peace God has blessed me without having done COLTS. 

 Daniel Vanderpyl - COLTS 2011

I did COLTS knowing that I would learn and grow a lot, but what I didn't expect was just how much it would be. I now instruct in the program, but more accurately consider myself a student-in-disguise (shh, don't tell anyone). The day to day leadership development and unique instructional approaches changed the way I view and structure many aspects of life now. Specifically, I remember being awestruck at the mountains we got to explore both in training and with campers, reminding me that we are here for a purpose. And, what better way to share God's creation than backpacking in the Rocky Mountains. 

For a list of required gear/equipment, see Gear List.pdf

For a sample of the course schedule, see Sample Schedule.pdf

For a sample daily schedule, see Sample Daily Schedule.pdf

For details on the course fees, see Course Fees.pdf

To read an article on our training approaches, click here

  1. Growing and mature Christian with a strong desire to minister to children and adults through the wilderness.
  2. Current First Aid certificate - Taken within one year of the start of the program but can be obtained after acceptance into COLTS.
  3. Minimum 19 years of age as of June 26, 2020 or June 25, 2021 respectively.

Fees including tuition, food, accommodation, equipment/gear, and transportation for COLTS are free upon a four month commitment to the end of experiential training. The fees for the program, but excluding the experiential training (here for May/June only) is $6500.00. See 'supporting documents' for more information on course fees.

*To request application instructions please contact daniel@crowcamp.ca (link sends e-mail)​ or call the office at 403-563-5120

There have been joys too great to be described in words, and there have been griefs upon which I have not dared to dwell; and with these in mind I say: Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end.

~Edward Whymper~