A Christian College of the Liberal Arts & Sciences

History of Wilderness Adventures

Wilderness Adventures was founded in 1979 by Doris (Mabel) Nielsen and the ropes course was first installed. The STEP program was started soon there after in 1988, again by Doris. She developed the Highlander Adventure program at Houghton College that is still in operation today, to give new students an experience to “carry them over the dead places” or “valleys” in their first year of college. She used the outdoors as her classroom, dividing the 60 students into 6 groups and giving them opportunities to go rock climbing, backpacking and use the Houghton College ropes course.

As a professor in the Physical Education and Recreation Dept, she inspired and encouraged young people to use the classroom of the outdoors as a place to help others learn about God, themselves, the environment and other people. During the STEP Adventure program, which she founded, college students have the opportunity to use the skills they learn in her classes. Program assistants help the participants reach their full potential by challenging them to do their best on the rock climbing, backpacking and initiatives course segments. The program is designed to teach the participant’s goal setting strategies, problem solving techniques and communication skills.