How We Got Here
COR Expeditions officially started under this name in November of 2016. However, COR has been operating and providing trips for much longer in the Outdoor Leadership Program of Wyoming Catholic College (WCC).
WYOMING CATHOLIC COLLEGE: WCC has been in operation since the matriculation of its first class in the fall of 2007 and, alongside its robust Great Books Program and unique Liberal Arts education, is known for its excellent Outdoor Leadership Program. Every freshmen begins their college career with a 3-week backpacking expedition in the Wyoming Rocky Mountains. In addition, every freshmen does a semester of horsemanship and a winter backpacking trip where they ski into the Tetons and sleep in snow caves. Then, every student does at least one week-long outdoor trip every semester during their sophomore, junior, and senior year. As a result, every student at the college does a total of at least 10 weeks in the backcountry by the time they graduate. All of these WCC trips have been organized, planned, and run by the COR staff: over 20,000 student days, over 20 3-week backpacking trips and over 100 week-long backcountry expeditions doing a variety of activities including but not limited to rock climbing, canyoneering, backpacking, flat-water kayaking, canoeing, ice climbing, mountaineering, mountain biking, winter camping and skiing, whitewater rafting, and kayaking.
BEYOND WCC: In 2012, WCC’s outdoor program began getting calls from various other programs inquiring if WCC could provide outdoor programs for their group. In addition, individuals and families were also calling hoping they could get on one of these great trips. Outdoor recreation was trending and WCC was offering something unique in this thoroughly secular and expensive industry: authentically Catholic outdoor adventures. It was clear that the word was out that WCC’s outdoor program was doing something exciting in the outdoors. While there are an endless number of outdoor programs available, most of them are secular and don’t offer a Christ-centered, or, more specifically, Catholic program. WCC soon realized they had something that was needed in the larger Catholic community that would go beyond its college students. In 2014 WCC did its first contract course, a 10-day backpacking leadership program for 9 seminarians from St. Joseph’s Seminary in Louisiana. The positive feedback from this trip further emphasized the importance, value, and need for providing contract courses beyond the college community.
By 2016, this outreach had grown so much that it received it’s own name: COR Expeditions. Since then, COR has been offering leadership training and outdoor contract courses for various seminaries and religious communities, multiple youth groups, other colleges and universities, a disabled veterans organization, private K-12 schools, and other Catholic organizations including Eagle Eye Ministries and FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). COR Expeditions is proud to officially offer these trips and its leadership development programs to the larger Catholic community as well as continuing to foster the Outdoor Leadership Program at Wyoming Catholic College.
FILLING 2 VOIDS:
- The lack of Catholic Ministry in the outdoor industry. COR provides technical outdoor adventures and training courses for all Christians—Catholics and non-Catholics alike—who want to gain the experience and knowledge in the outdoors. While there are numerous programs that teach people how to backpack, rock climb, or raft for example, most of them do not have a curriculum or instructors who share and live out the Catholic faith. The COR curriculum glorifies the amazing and beautiful setting in which these trips take place and incorporates faith into everything we do through prayer and the sacraments. In addition, COR Expeditions provides a trip structure that is Christ-centered in everything from focusing on community to growing in virtue. One example of this is how COR trips have men and women sleep in separate tents, a practice not followed by many outdoor programs, not only to remove temptation but alto to mitigate opportunities for situations that could destroy the community. If you or your children want to learn how to backpack, kayak, climb, etc. and are looking for a program that will teach them the technical skills but also integrate those skills and time in the outdoors into the larger purpose of life, growing closer to Christ, then COR Expeditions is here to serve you.
- A lack of opportunity for wonder and awe. Many companies take people into the wilderness and many of the people on those trips come to love the wildness and beauty of the outdoors, but no other organization makes awe and wonder at the beauty of creation and at the one who created it one of the central goals of their trips. COR provides an opportunity for individuals who might not initially want to go in the outdoors to experience the beauty, wonder and joy of the natural world. At this point in history, fewer and fewer people are spending time in the outdoors; the disconnect with nature and closer connection with technology in the urban culture further leads to a distance between mankind and the rest of God’s creation. COR Expeditions provide a place where participants disconnect from the business of life and the electronically encompassing world in which we live. Spending time in nature allows one to step back for a moment and recognize what life really should be about and to wonder about truly important things. In nature we experience true beauty and wonder about our creator, we live in true community, we practice and utilize true virtue and leadership and in all of this we collectively grow in faith. COR Expeditions provides trips for those who already love the outdoors as well as for folks who don’t know how amazing and transformative an outdoor trip can be. Once you spend your first night away from the distractions that a busy life surrounds us with you will find there is much more room than you thought to grow closer to Christ.
The 3 Main Challenges of a Catholic Outdoor Program
- The outdoor industry has a very limited number of highly skilled outdoor educators that have the technical expertise to provide high end technical outdoor trips as well as faith based programming. This challenge has been met now that WCC has alumni that have both the technical skills and experience and the robust theological education and understanding that WCC provides. Most of the staff for COR are graduates from WCC and are able to combine their desire to share their faith with their technical expertise.
- The biggest challenge of outdoor programming is land access. Unless you own property you have to rely on public land permits with various US Government land agencies. New companies have an extremely difficult time acquiring permits especially for programs that want to run various rivers, climb numerous mountains, hike a variety of trails, etc. In addition to being very time consuming, procuring permits also comes at a high expense. Again, COR has already overcome this challenge through its parent program WCC. For the last ten years WCC has been securing permits in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Oregon. Most of the permits are also used for the needs of COR Expeditions resolving one of the most difficult challenges to a new and growing outdoor program.
- The third obstacle for specifically outdoor programs is having a solid reputation, spotless history, and adequate experience. Even though outdoor programs can safely provide high end adventures, there are many companies and programs that don’t have the necessary experience and expertise to prevent avoidable hazards. New programs have difficulty proving their experience and ability to provide safe adventures. However, COR Expeditions not only has two directors with over 35 years of collective outdoor programming experience but the COR program is the same program that has provided 10 years of outdoor expeditions for Wyoming Catholic College. WCC’s outdoor program has developed a strong reputation over the years which led to catholic programs contacting the college to provide trips. Now, through COR Expeditions, the larger Catholic community has access to the same outdoor program that WCC has had since 2007 .