Recreational Therapist Certification Offered at Southern Adventist University



Students can now earn a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist credential with Outdoor Leadership degrees at Southern Adventist University, the only college in the North American Division to currently offer this certification, granted by the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation.

The curriculum for Southern’s program not only instructs in canoeing, rock climbing, kayaking, whitewater rescue, wilderness first aid, and topography maps but also teaches interpersonal communication, psychology, and counseling. Two-year as well as four-year degree options combine behavioral science, leadership training, and wilderness adventure education.

“In an increasingly face-paced, technological world, spending time outdoors is needed more than ever,” said Robert Benge, recently retired dean of the School of Health and Kinesiology, which houses the program. “The balance it brings is essential.”

Tasked with helping patients achieve mind, body, and social well-being, a recreational therapist creates and coordinates recreational-based treatment programs and techniques targeting specific illnesses, disabilities, and injuries. Career and ministry opportunities include positions as adventure recreation and outdoor education specialists, naturalists, cultural interpreters, camp rangers, and activity guides.

Daniel Tanksley, a senior majoring in outdoor leadership, said the multipurpose degree is “giving me the confidence to take on responsibility and be the leader for groups. And while knowing hard skills is necessary for keeping people safe in the outdoors, training in soft skills allows me to be able to serve people from diverse perspectives and help them reach their greatest potential.”

For more information about the Outdoor Leadership program, visit

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