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 applications are due in:


on February 16, 2020

2019, April 28 - August 30

2020, April 26 - August 28

1. Equip participants to minister spiritually to campers and staff by providing:

  • Discipleship training
  • Service opportunities
  • Involvement in camp ministry
  • Personal time with God

2. Develop innovative leaders who are skillful and competent as successful outdoor leaders and recreational users.

3. Instruct a wide variety of outdoor skills while increasing the ability of outtrip leaders to:

  • Teach those skills to other staff and campers
  • Act appropriately and effectively in the event of a crisis/emergency situation
  • More adequately govern the safety and suitability of activities the group engages in
  • Enhance the enjoyment of the experience by staff and campers alike

4. Provide outtrip directors with practical opportunities to apply theoretical knowledge in both supervised and unsupervised settings.

  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.
  3. Minimum 19 years of age as of June 28, 2019 or June 26, 2020 respectively.

1. Outdoor Leadership Training (7-8 weeks)
2. Skills Training (1 week)
3. Camp Volunteer Staff Training (4 days)
4. Experiential Practicum (9 weeks)

Outdoor Leadership Training Includes the following items:

Navigation and Orienteering

12 hours training, practiced throughout the program


12 hours training, practice during training outtrips

Wilderness First Aid (WFA) Bridge Course

40 hour course

WFA Extracurricular Practice & Technique

30 hours training, practiced throughout the program

Legalities and Risk Management

4 hour session, practiced throughout the program

Leadership Theory

4 hour session, development throughout the program

Outdoor Equipment Usage and Repair

8 hours + weekend trip, practiced throughout the program

Meal Prep and 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

River Crossings

4 hour session


2 hour session, practiced throughout the program

Emergency Response

4 hour session, practiced throughout the program

Helicopter Safety

3 hour session, practiced throughout the program

Improvised Carries

3 hour session, practice during training outtrips

Avalanche Awareness

2 hour session, practice during training outtrips

Nature/Plant Identification

3 hour session, practiced throughout the program

Environmental Stewardship

8 hour event, practiced throughout the program

Invasive Species in Plant Life

2 hour session, practiced throughout the program

Forms and Professional Documentation

2 hour session, practiced throughout the program

Bear Awareness

2 hour course, hopefully not practiced throughout the program

* Course Outline is subject to change or be modified. 

Some of the books that we have used in our curriculum development include:

Outdoor Council of Canada Student Manuals: Field Leader (Hiking), Field Leader (Winter), Field Leader (Overnight), Navigation 1 (Using Maps), Navigation 2 (Using a Compass).

The Mountaineers (2003). Mountaineering The Freedom of the Hills: 8th Edition. The Mountaineers

Books: Seattle.

Christensen, Anna (2003). MisAdventure: Rise to the Challenge!. Wilderness Alert: Vancouver.

Graham, John (1997). Outdoor Leadership. The Mountaineers: Seattle.

Jamieson, Bruce (2000). Backcountry Avalanche Awareness. Canadian Avalanche Association:


Priest, Simon & Gass, Michael A. (2005). Effective Leadership in Adventure Programming. Human

Kinetics: USA.

Kjellstrom, Bjorn (1976). Be Expert with Map & Compass. Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data.

Sanders. J. Oswald (2007). Spiritual Leadership. The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.

Route-planning Assignment (4 hours of work)

Overview:  This is an assignment that uses all three of the students’ supplied 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 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.

  • Students are required to research, by any means, and collect as much information as possible about a certain type of equipment or gear.  They then practice teaching each other by presenting their research in a way that assists the other students in their learning.

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.

  • Students plan a 3 day outtrip and document all of the programming that they would like to do on the outtrip.  This helps students understand that they need to be intentional about the programming they do for every outtrip that they 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 encouraged to come up with ideas of what they could do and then get approval from instructors.

  • 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 to 2 or 1 to 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.

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.

Skills Training (1 week)

Participants will receive instruction in either rock climbing, canoeing, archery or mountain biking.  The purpose of this instruction is to gain a good understanding of safety, general skills, and how to lead that particular program at Crow.  The goal of the training is to prepare participants to teach that skill during the summer.

Acclimatization Weekend (4 days)

This training will prepare both COLTS participants and other summer staff to work intensively with campers. Cabin Bible study, evangelism and camper discipline are some of the topics 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.

Experiential Training (July and August)

Throughout the remainder of the summer, COLTS will be involved in the various camps in whatever capacity is determined by the camp leadership staff.  Due to possible staff shortages, this may not be Outtrip Directing.

Fees including tuition, food, accommodation, supplies and transportation for the COLTS program are free upon a 4 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 below for a supporting document on course fees.

 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

*To request an application 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~