The mission of the Master of Arts degree program in Outdoor and Adventure Leadership (OAL) is to build Christ's church and benefit society worldwide by fostering the development of whole and effective leaders through transformational outdoor experiences.
This degree is offered through HoneyRock, Wheaton College's Outdoor Center for Leadership Development in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Since 1951, HoneyRock has operated as an experiential leadership development laboratory that integrates leadership of camp programs with liberal arts training and coursework to develop leaders for Christ church worldwide. HoneyRock operates as a fully functioning camp year-round, providing a variety of youth focused camp and undergraduate programs as the context for graduate student learning. Our faculty are fully engaged practitioner-scholars, simultaneously leading a camp while they study and teach in the field.
A Masters degree in Outdoor and Adventure Leadership seeks to apply the biblically grounded, historic principles of whole person development and formation to leadership in the Christian camp, outdoor, and adventure ministry movement worldwide. Throughout human history, God has used temporary community experiences and engagement with creation to equip leaders for His mission of calling people to Himself, building Christ's church, and benefiting society worldwide. This program is designed for current ministry professionals, as well as those looking for excellent training to launch them into the field. Students pursuing a degree in Outdoor and Adventure Leadership will pursue development of the following competencies for effectiveness in the field of outdoor and adventure ministries. This degree is applicable to those in the fields of Christian camping, outdoor education, challenge course facilitation, wilderness ministry, and outdoor related programming in college, church, or other organizational settings.
We hope that our graduates will be characterized as academically grounded, spiritually maturing and practically skilled leaders who humbly, compassionately, and wisely minister the Gospel and build up God's people in a constantly changing world.
Academically grounded in that they will have…
- Articulated a biblical, theological, historical, and philosophical perspective of formation and ministry, in light of contemporary global realities.
- Identified the role of creation, temporary community and organizational dynamics as context for fostering encounters with God and holistic growth.
- Demonstrated an understanding of the spiritual formation and experiential education practices by applying them in outdoor ministry contexts.
Spiritually maturing in that they will have…
- Demonstrated a life of discipleship, spiritual growth, and balanced self-care as the foundation of effective ministry and leadership. (B1; IF1, IF3)
- Identified their gifts, calling and passions, and appropriately offered them in service to Christ and the world.
- Engaged in authentic Christian community, valuing the diversity of cultures, ethnicities, traditions and individuals and effectively contributing as a member of Body of Christ.
Practically skilled in that they will have…
- Taught and led effectively, appropriately integrating truth, facilitated reflection, and experiences in creation to build healthy communities and foster holistic development of individuals.
- Served collaboratively and compassionately as part of a team for the achievement of organizational purposes and shared goals.
- Demonstrated the necessary skills of an outdoor ministry leader-scholar including: creation care; organizational leadership; oral and written communication; program development, implementation, and evaluation; facilitative leadership and reflection; and multiple outdoor related activities.
It is expected that all OAL students have an active role in an outdoor related ministry while completing the degree so that coursework is immediately integrated with ministry practice. As a result, students have two options for completing the degree.
First, students can apply to live, work and study full-time at HoneyRock. Students complete all courses as a cohort by taking modular intensive courses with faculty at HoneyRock, combined with a few tele-conferenced, online or hybrid courses with faculty from the Wheaton Graduate School campus in Illinois. All students at HoneyRock will also have a role as a graduate assistant, coordinating some aspect of HoneyRock's ministry as the hands-on laboratory for ministry practice and collaboration. An employment application process is required in addition to the graduate school application.
The second option is for students to participate from a distance while maintaining their role as an employee or graduate assistant in another camp or outdoor ministry related organization. In this model, students take some courses in an online or hybrid format and others by attending modular intensive courses at HoneyRock or at one of our remotely located partner organizations.
Requirements for the Outdoor and Adventure Leadership MA, students will complete 32 hours of credit in the following core courses and 8 hours of credit in approved elective courses:
|BITH 565||Christian Theology||4|
|CFM 518||Research Methods for Ministry||2|
|CFM 521||Personal Spiritual Formation||2|
|CFM 547||Philosophy of Ministry||2|
|OAL 525||Camp Ministry-Global Context||4|
|OAL 534||Care and Counsel in Ministry||2|
|OAL 548||Program Planning and Leadership||2|
|OAL 661||Foundations of Experiential Education||4|
|OAL 662||Theology and Practice of Outdoor Ministry||4|
|OAL 663||Organizational Leadership and Staff Development in Outdoor Ministry||4|
|OAL 683||Integrative Seminar||0|
|OAL 692||Creative Project||2|
|or OAL 698||Thesis/Applied Thesis|
|The elective options allow students to specialize in an area related to their context and calling in camp ministry. Students will propose their elective courses for approval as part of their candidacy application. They may choose from one of the specializations below or develop their own by selecting from available and accessible courses in the Wheaton College Graduate School or at another college.|
Potential specializations include:
- Curriculum planning and development with courses from CFM
- Adventure program leadership: OAL 564 and OAL 664 at HoneyRock
- Church ministry with approved courses from the EVAN or MISS programs
- Higher education student affairs with courses from the Higher Education and Student Affairs program in CFM
- Global ministry with courses from the INTR program
- Independent study (CFM 695) in special topics related to aspects of camp ministry including: adventure leadership skills, site and facility management, marketing, and advancement/fundraising.
- Current issues study (CFM 694) on ministry with special populations including (as examples): people with disabilities, fatherless youth, gap year programming, college outdoor orientation programs, or military healing and recovery.