Playing in the tidal rapids of Surge Narrows.

Why Choose COLT?


We really do believe that COLT is the best outdoor adventure program in Canada. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best program for everyone. 

In brief here are the reasons why we think it’s a great program:


For the time spent in the field the price can’t be beat. Comparing COLT to other programs, particularly college programs, is like comparing a swim suit to a canoe. COLT’s price includes all the accommodation and food during the entire three months. Most college programs are only charging course fees. Living expenses (housing and food) are your responsibility. That’s a significant cost over two years.


Want to get working in the industry already? The COLT program is one of the fastest and most affordable ways of gaining the experience and education to become a sea kayak guide or outdoor educator. In three months you will be employable with many of the same skills as college grads.

Job opportunities

COLT’s curriculum is designed to create employable outdoor leaders. Successful COLT graduates may be offered a spot in Strathcona Park Lodge’s practicum, an on the job training program for outdoor educators. It’s excellent real world job experience and a great way to join the staff at Strathcona, one of Canada’s busiest and best outdoor education centres. You will meet many college program graduates working at Strathcona. Plus COLT graduates can be found all over the outdoor industry.

The Lodge

The Lodge is a welcoming community where you will be inspired, mentored and befriended by the employees. Being surrounded by other outdoor guides can provide mentorship and networking opportunities which is often crucial for individuals looking to break their way into the professional outdoor scene.

Group life

You will spend three months living and learning with your COLT colleagues. It’s intense and incredibly valuable, forcing you to develop leadership, group dynamics and group management skills in a real world setting.

Instruction style

The COLT director hires instructors for the COLT program who are not only experts in their given field, but who are educators as well. These are people who are passionate about teaching their craft. Instructors aim to provide a fun, supportive and structured learning environment.

The purpose of the COLT program is not to be guided up a mountain or down a river, but for you to learn how to do it yourself. Our instructors are there to teach and to keep you safe, but also to let you make mistakes and, more importantly, help you learn from them. As the course progresses students will progressively take on more leadership responsibilities until they are ready to start leading their own trips.


COLT utilizes indoor and outdoor classrooms to optimize skill retention and understanding. Evenings at the Lodge are often spent learning skills in a theoretical setting or watching educational movies. During the day is when the real learning takes place in a hands on, supportive environment. It’s a group centred education. You’ll learn everything with your peers. We’ve found it to be one of the best ways to learn to live and work in a team. It’s a formula that encourages success.


Regular oral feedback throughout the course is followed up with a written evaluation and interview with the COLT director at the middle and end of the semester. All earned certificates, including a COLT Certificate, will be mailed out to the student after the course.

Program Skills Learned Certifications Price
COLT Sea kayaking, whitewater kayaking and canoeing, mountaineering, rock climbing, backpacking, leadership, first aid Lake water canoe instructor, assistant sea kayak guide, radio operator, 80 hour first aid $7,900 tuition plus  $6,900 in accommodation and food.
Yamnuska Rock climbing, whitewater canoeing, ice climbing, backcountry skiing, first aid, leadership, mountaineering Avalanche skills training, first aid $11,200 to $13,000 including most meals and accommodation
College Adventure Tourism Program Varies by program, includes college classes Varies by program: raft guide, sea kayak guide, ski instructor, whitewater instructor, first aid $9,800 not including meals or accommodation
Program Job Opportunities Length of Course Best For
COLT Onsite work practicum, employment at Strathcona Park Lodge, sea kayak guide, climbing gym, hiking guide, outdoor education centre instructor 100 days Job opportunities. Teacher training. Water and land skills.
Yamnuska Climbing gym, ski hill, hiking guide, 80 to 83 days Land focus. Beginning of ski and rock guide progression.
College Adventure Tourism Program Raft guide, sea kayak guide, climbing gym 9 months to two years College diploma