How to Get on OUTDOORLEADERS.COM’S Recommended Outdoor Programs List

Connecting Like-Minded Outdoor Leaders & Outdoor Ministry Programs Around the World


2015 ROP BadgeWe are pleased to recognize over 75 organizations, churches, camps and colleges around the world with the OUTDOORLEADERS.COM Best Outdoor Programs Award. These organizations have received the award based upon criteria which makes them stand out as a high quality faith-based outdoor ministry. Congratulations if you are on our ROP List!

There are a few things that I and my team look for in a quality outdoor ministry program. Although I am a strong advocate for Christian camping in general, my ROP list is for organizations, churches, camps, or colleges that lead groups on multi-day trips in the outdoors.

To be recognized on the ROP List, your organization must fit certain criteria. First we need to define a couple of key terms to make sure your program is on the same page with how we use the terms “outdoor ministry”, and “outdoor leader.”


What is “Outdoor ministry?”  It is a style of ministry that seeks to help connect people to Jesus through various types of experiences in the outdoors, i.e. adventurous pursuits, reflection time in the wilderness, camping ministries, or leadership training in the laboratory of God’s creation. Whereas outdoor ministry is a style of ministry that uses adventure and experiential learning to help people encounter Jesus and grow in their faith, outdoor leaders are those who are entrusted with guiding people through personally life-changing experiences by capitalizing on the setting of the outdoors as an anvil for transformation.


There is no way for me to check every organization completely, but if you are still with me up to this point, then here are a few criteria I look for in an outdoor ministry before I will include it on my ROP list:

  1. Quality Outdoor Leadership Training for Your Guides (please refer to my page on Outdoor Ministry Soft Skills vs. Hard Skills | 15 Essentials of Wilderness Leadership“)
  2. Excel in Leading Participants Toward an Experience of the 5 Essentials of an Authentic Wilderness Experience:
    • Humility (Guides display humility in their leadership style, and facilitate the experience in such a way that participants will learn the value of humility toward God and one another)
    • Primitiveness (Experiencing what it is like to thrive in community with only the bare essentials)
    • Chucking the Clock (Helping participants meet God by getting away from the busyness of their normal life routine long enough to focus on listening to God and investing in relationships)
    • Solitude (Wilderness experiences often give people the most uninterrupted amount of time they have ever experienced in solitude with God)
    • Caring for Someone Besides Yourself (Helping people learn how to genuinely care for one another as well as God’s creation).
  3. Sustainability: Have you been around for a while? Do you have testimonials of others who vouch for your effectiveness and safety as a ministry?
  4. Gospel-Centered: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is clearly presented in words and actions through your ministry.
  5. Relationship: I’m all about relationships. The more I can know about you and your ministry the better.
  • First, I would highly recommend that you read the book, Christian Outdoor Leadership–this will help you understand our outdoor ministry and outdoor leadership philosophy so you can decide if your organization would be a good fit for the ROP List. (The book is available in Paperback and Kindle).
  • Second, one way we like to stay in touch is through our Outdoor Ministry Newsletter. This helps us have two-way communication with other like-minded outdoor ministry leaders and organizations. So as a first step, please sign up for the outdoor ministry newsletter as a way to stay in touch with one another. Thanks!

If you are confident that your ministry has a reputation for displaying the qualities listed above, then please feel free to go online now and fill out the Recommended Outdoor Program List Application. After you fill out the application form we will be honored to consider adding you to our ROP List. We look forward to hearing from you!

Visit Ashley Denton’s Blog at OUTDOORLEADERS.COM

DISCLAIMER: Participating in backcountry adventures assumes potential risks. The Recommended Outdoor Programs list (ROP List) provided on this website is merely a directory of organizations that provide opportunities for people to enjoy outdoor adventure in a Christian ministry context. Each listed organization in this directory assumes all risks for the activities that they conduct. We have only been directly involved with some of the listed organizations, churches, and schools. Others we have been indirectly involved with, and still others we only have information based upon their website or other information that has been presented to us. This disclaimer releases Ashley Denton and Smooth Stone Publishing from any liability related to the above organizations, churches, or schools including responsibility for accidental physical injury, including death or illness, and loss of personal property while participating on any activities associated with the above organizations. This release is also intended to include all claims made by your family, estate, heirs, personal representatives or assigns.