How to Get on Ashley’s Recommended Outdoor Programs List?

Ashley Denton’s Recommended Outdoor Programs (ROP List) Criteria

I have been involved in outdoor ministry for a long time. As a result, there are a few things that I 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, camps, or churches who lead groups on multi-day trips in the outdoors. First we need to define a couple of key terms to make sure your organization, camp, or church is on the same page with how I use the terms “outdoor ministry”, and “outdoor leader.”

Defining Key Terms

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 and 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 my book, Christian Outdoor Leadership–this will help you understand my outdoor ministry and outdoor leadership philosophy so you can decide if you even want to be on my ROP List in the first place (It’s available in Paperback and Kindle).
  • Second, I like to stay in touch is through my Outdoor Ministry Newsletter. This helps me have two-way communication with other like-minded outdoor ministry leaders. So as a first step, please sign up for my 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 contact me, I would love to hear from you. Just go to contact form and include “ROP List Inquiry” in the Subject Box. Make sure to list your website address as well. I look forward to hearing from you.



Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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