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SSRA Courses

Through the Sports Studies, Recreation and Athletics (SSRA) courses facilitated by Whitman College’s Outdoor Program you can try something new or pursue a passion—all while earning course credit.

You’ll find outdoor classes for every experience level from beginner to advanced. Along the way, you can develop problem-solving and leadership skills that will benefit you as you explore the outdoors and as you navigate through life in general.

The Leadership Education Advancement Fund (LEAF) provides need-based awards to reduce course fees for SSRA OP leadership classes.

Annual Courses 

137 Beginning Indoor Rock Climbing [Fee; no trip required] 
237 Intermediate Indoor Rock Climbing [Fee; no trip required] 
140 Beginning Whitewater Kayaking [Fee]
250 Intermediate Whitewater Kayaking [Fee]
119 Beginning Mountain Biking [Fee; trips required]

242 Wilderness First Responder, 2 credits
This Wilderness First Responder course is a nationally recognized course that trains participants to respond to emergencies in remote settings. The 80-hour curriculum includes standards for urban and extended care situations. Special topics include but are not limited to wound management and infection, realigning fractures and dislocations, improvised splinting techniques, patient monitoring and long-term management problems, plus up-to-date information on all environmental emergencies along with advice on drug therapies. Emphasis is placed on prevention and decision making, not the memorization of lists. Upon successful completion of practical and written exams a two-year WMI of NOLS Wilderness First Responder certification and a two-year Adult Heartsaver CPR certification will be issued. Graded credit/no credit. [Fee]

332 River Guide Leadership, 2 credits
A course designed for individuals interested in developing the technical skills, leadership skills and theoretical foundations for leading trips in a dynamic river environment. The skills and theories covered will be directed toward trip planning, risk management, hazard awareness and avoidance, legal implications, hard and soft skill development, conflict resolution, leave no trace, river hydrology, rescue skills, leadership techniques, multiday trips, rigging, and group management techniques. Skills for paddle rafts and oar rigs will be the focus of this course but management of other whitewater crafts such as kayaks may be discussed. A willingness to camp and swim in cold conditions are the only prerequisites. [Fee].

380 Outdoor Leadership, 2 credits
A course designed for individuals with a considerable interest and experience in at least one outdoor adventure sport who are interested in leading or organizing adventure trips. The skills and theory covered will be directed toward mountain and whitewater adventures, food planning, legal implications of leadership, hazard awareness and avoidance, navigation, avalanche awareness, mountain first aid, and minimum impact camping. Several weekend outings will be coupled with classroom studies. Not open to seniors. [Fee].

248 Climbing Wall Instructor, 1 credit
This course provides instructors and potential instructors with an in-depth and standardized understanding of the skills essential to teaching climbing in an indoor setting. It is the first step in a sequential approach to professional climbing instructor development. The course reinforces the importance of teaching technically accurate information and debunks many common climbing myths. The course emphasizes the presentation of sound fundamental skills to climbing gym participants, the use of deliberate and effective instructional methods, the formation of risk assessment and risk management skills and basic problem-solving skills such as belay transitions and on-wall coaching and assist techniques. Participants will be assessed on both their core knowledge and their ability to effectively teach and coach related skills. Graded credit/no credit. [Fee].

265 Climbing Movement and Technique, 1 credit
This course is intended for current climbers interested in improving their movement skills and technique. This course will have a heavy bouldering and movement emphasis but will do some roped climbing as well. Attention will be given to both footwork and hand and arm techniques. Advanced movement skills such as crack climbing, off width technique, knee bars, drop knee, flagging, monkey hangs, and much, much more will be covered along with taping and injury prevention techniques. Graded credit/no credit. Prerequisite: SSRA 137, 138, 237, 238, or 248, or instructor consent. [Fee].

267 Climbing Training and Route Setting, 1 credit
This course is intended for climbers interested in learning how to train more effectively for personal climbing and/or competitions in addition to learning how to do effective route setting. There is a lot to good route setting and this course will cover risk management and safety concerns with route setting along with artistic elements. This course will have a heavy bouldering and movement emphasis but will do some roped work as well. Attention will be given to strength and endurance training, preventive techniques to avoid tendon damage and overuse injuries. Preventative taping and post injury taping will be covered along with hold types, frequency and locations for holds to reduce and prevent certain common overuse or athletic climbing injuries. Movement skills, advanced climbing techniques and training drills and concepts will also be covered. Graded credit/no credit. Prerequisite: SSRA 137, 138, 237, 238, or 248, or instructor consent. [Fee]

Dependent upon year

SSRA 142 Wilderness Skills

244 Swift Water Rescue, 1 credit
The course is intended for guides, recreational kayakers and rafters and other river professionals. This course will combine skills from Lifeguard training, kayak instructor training, raft guide training and skills outlined by the ACA (American Canoe Association) and NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership school). The goal is to foster increased safety through the development of skills, knowledge and experience. This course will create a theoretical and practical experience that will enable boaters to be better prepared and equipped as a rescuer in the swift water environment. Classroom sessions will be complemented by practical "on water" exercises. The course will focus on throw ropes, safety vests, foot entrapment/ vertical pin scenarios, knots, anchors, mechanical advantage systems (i.e. z-drags and pig rigs), the reach system, as well as wading rescues, boat based rescue (kayak/raft), and other related theories and ideas. Graded credit/no credit. [Fee]

226 Glacier Mountaineering, 2 credits
The goal of this course is to learn the basics of glacier travel and mountaineering so that the participant becomes a competent group member capable of participating in trips with other skilled individuals. Some of the skills that will be covered include: knots and rope handling, belaying, protection placement and anchor building, hazard evaluation, ice axe use, self arrest, technical snow and ice climbing, crampon use, snow and ice anchors, fourth class climbing techniques, peak ascents, roped glacier travel, crevasse rescue, fixed line ascension & snow camping techniques. The primary class requirement is participation in the class weekend trips. This course is limited to 9 students for risk management and permitting reasons. Offered every other year. Prerequisite: SSRA 137, 138, 237, 238, 248, or 338 or consent of instructor. [Fee; includes three full weekend trips].

334 Sea Kayak Guide Leadership, 2 credits
A course designed for individuals interested in developing the technical skills, leadership skills, seamanship skills and theoretical foundations for leading kayak-touring trips in both ocean and inland water environments. The skills and theories covered will be directed toward safety and risk management, travel skills, rescue procedures, boat-handling skills, leadership, hard and soft skill development, conflict resolution, leave no trace practices, expedition planning, navigation and group management. This course will alternate between being offered locally and being offered in more distant locations so as to provide different teaching environments and different economic choice. Note: This is a theory class offered with standard grading. [Fee]

338 Improvised Rock Rescue Systems, 1 credit
This course is designed to train skilled lead climbers in improvised self-rescue systems for technical rock climbing. It is useful for both single pitch and multi-pitch climbers. It is especially useful for instructors and advanced climbers to help them both analyze and mitigate potential hazards and problems. It also will enable them to initiate self-rescue through a variety of tried and true systems that can be combined and used in various ways. Ascension systems, escaping the belay, passing a knot, lowering systems, raising systems, counterbalance rappels, assisted rappels and other rescue concepts will be covered. Prerequisites: SSRA 238 or 387 or consent of instructor. [Fee].

387 Advanced Climbing: Single Pitch Instructor Course, 3 credits
This course is designed for strong climbers interested in becoming climbing instructors and managing an institutional single pitch climbing site. Emphasis will be on developing an awareness of liability concerns and how to mitigate risk. Topics that will be covered include: movement on rock, knots and rope systems, anchors, protection placement, rappelling, belaying, lead climbing, following, single pitch rescue techniques, teaching techniques, route setting and climbing wall management. Prerequisite: consent of instructor. [Fee].

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