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The WEA 6+1

The WEA approach to outdoor leadership training and development is based on six educational components applicable to all people living and working in the outdoors, whether a person is an outdoor enthusiast or a full-time professional: Outdoor Living, Planning and Logistics, Risk Management, Leadership, Environmental Integration, and Education. These educational components were derived from the original 18-Point Curriculum developed in the early years of the WEA.

Within the WEA model, Judgment is not a separate educational component. Rather, the WEA considers judgment an integral element to each of the six educational components. Hence the 6+1 language:  Six educational components plus One (judgment).

Outdoor educators and leaders are often presented with decision-making challenges in an uncertain environment with limited information. We demonstrate sound judgment by integrating educational components and situational variables to make and implement quality decisions. Accurate assessment and application of skills using judgment is the central quality of an effective outdoor educator or leader.

The WEA 6+1 Educational Components

Outdoor Living Skills

The activity-specific skills essential for traveling through the backcountry, securing food/water/shelter, and providing for participants' physical needs in a caring, responsible and sustainable manner.

Planning & Logistics

The knowledge and skills required to transition a planned program design into a concrete deliverable for multi-night backcountry outings; moving from a plan into an actual program.

Risk Management

The systematic analysis of risk and the development of a plan for minimizing the risk of harm to clients and staff, as well as minimizing the risk of legal liability for harm that does occur.

Environmental Integration

A commitment to interpreting ecological and cultural resources, sustainable practice in program planning and implementation, and mindfulness of the power and meaning of wild and natural spaces for current and future generations.


Effective educators in the outdoors apply sound experiential education theory and design principles to the creation, delivery, and evaluation of learning experiences in, through, and/or for the outdoors. They inspire curiosity, empower participants, and provide positive coaching and instruction.


Effective leaders in the outdoors are people of integrity, motivated by the best interests of participants, formally trained, technically prepared to make good decisions in variable conditions, and engaging and inspiring communicators. The influence of the professional leader enriches the outdoor experience while promoting safety and the sustainability of wild places.


Judgment is the act of integrating existing knowledge and experience with situational factors to arrive at a decision. Accurate assessment and application of skills using judgment is the central quality of an effective outdoor educator or leader.

Wilderness Education Association, Inc.
PO Box 12 Stonewall, OK 74871 

© 2021 Wilderness Education Association, Inc.

Black Mountain, NC, is located on the ancestral lands of the ᏣᎳᎫᏪᏘᏱ Tsalaguwetiyi (Cherokee, East), S’atsoyaha (Yuchi), & Catawba Nations.

Driggs, Idaho - launch site of the first WEA courses - is located on the ancestral lands of the Shoshone, Bannock, Blackfoot, Crow, Flathead, Gros Ventre, Nez Perce and other peoples.

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