Must Do Outdoor Skill Courses & Certifications In & Around Calgary

March 29, 2021 by Briana Hamilton

Getting certified in various skill & safety courses greatly increases your knowledge and confidence in the outdoors. (Meaning you get to explore more, and more safely!).  A few organizations within the Calgary area offer courses including:

More information on each course, including where to get certified, is provided below:

Wilderness First-Aid

Me and my friend during our Wilderness FirstAid Course with RMAM

What is it?

Wilderness first aid focuses on adaptive first aid and rescue skills suitable for backcountry and other remote locations. These skills are fundamental for efficient initial first aid care and stabilization in locations with limited physical access and access to emergency and medical resources.

Where to get it:

Pet First-Aid

What is it?

Pet First-Aid courses are designed to teach you how to best respond to incidents such as injuries, heat stroke, poisoning and choking. This can truly be a life savior, especially when you’re in remote settings. They also review how to transport injured pets. 

Where to get it:

  • Walks N’ Wags (offers online & in-person courses – they also offer an “Off the Grid” course that is specially designed for adventurous dogs)

Avalanche Safety Training

What is it?

Avalanche Safety Training is a long, in depth process – there’s truly always more to learn.  At a recreational level, however, Avalanche safety training consists of two levels; AST 1 and AST 2.

 They cover fundamental skills including: 

  • Understanding avalanches; formation and release
  • Identifying avalanche terrain
  • Proper tool and resource usage
  • Avalanche forecasts 
  • Planning and travel techniques
  • Terrain & danger ratings
  • Companion rescue

Where to get it:

FYI: Above AST-1 and AST-2 there are additional courses including:

  • Managing Avalanche Terrain 
  • Companion Rescue Skills
  • Teaching Avalanche Skills 
Avalanche Canada is the best source for other Canada-wide courses and up to date avalanche conditions, safety and news. 

Wilderness & Outdoor Survival

What is it?

Wilderness survival courses review and enhance skills that are necessary to survive the outdoors with limited to no equipment. These skills are highly useful in unexpected, threatening scenarios as they help eliminate fear by replacing it with confidence.

Some of these skills include, but are not limited to signalling methods, building shelters and fire building techniques.

Wildlife Awareness

A black bear that popped out of the trees while I was guiding a group in Banff, AB.

What is it?

Animal encounters are one of the risks associated with outdoor adventure. When we put ourselves in their territory, we are putting the safety of both us and the animal(s) at risk. 

These courses encompass specie identification, how to avoid confrontation and what to do if a confrontation does occur. 

Where to get it:

Wildlife awareness courses are currently offered as private group bookings only (RMAM and Bear Safety & More)


Rope Rescue Training

What is it?

This course covers skills on how to complete both self rescue and peer rescues in high angle environments. 

 Although designed with climbers in mind, rope rescue training is equally useful for other sports!  Not a bad skill to have if you find yourself scaling, shredding or scrambling those mountains!

Where to get it:

Currently, RMAM is the only organization offering rope rescue training relative to outdoor sport and recreation.

 (Various other companies offer rope rescue training but are focused around industrial workplace training and safety)

Swift Water Safety & Rescue

What is it?

Swift water rescue courses encompass both proactive and reactive skills. Beyond learning how to properly execute rescues in various scenarios, you learn skills such as reading and reacting to water currents, obstacles and volume.

Paddling Skills

What is it?

Even though jumping on a river or lake in a kayak, canoe or SUP seems simple enough, there’s actually more risky stuff below the surface than one may realize. These courses help you learn how to read the water, how to self-rescue and how to paddle smart. 

Ice Safety & Awareness

What is it?

Ice safety awareness goes beyond recognizing ice types and their capacity load. These courses also teach people how various ice types form, how to test them, how to travel on them and what equipment you should have with you during these risky times. The Rocky Mountain course even goes over knots, anchor systems and mechanical advantage  – which is super useful for reasons we don’t think need explaining.

Above awareness and accident prevention, these courses also teach you how to execute both self and peer rescue, as well as how to respond to dangerous situations (such as treating frost bite or recovering from a near drowning experience). 

Where to get it:

(Rescue Canada also offers more advanced programs for ice rescue) 

The Canadian Red Cross has also provided tips for ice safety. This is a great resource for an intro and basic overview. 

(The courses however, are a lot more in depth. Especially with RMAM… they cover more material and the physical application and practice makes it a lot more effective and memorable!)


What is it?

Although foraging is prohibited in national parks, it’s certainly allowed other places! Foraging courses help you learn how to identify, prepare and eat safe wild plants. 

Extremely useful in survival situations, but equally useful to learn about and connect with nature around you. 

Where to get it:

Although not a certified course, Forage Your Food hosts community events and guided foraging walks. 

Have you taken any outdoor skill courses?

I’d love to hear about your experience. What’s the most memorable take away from the course you took?

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3 years ago

[…] For a list of some courses offered near Calgary, click here.  […]

The Adventurer Behind the Screen

Being an avid outdoor explorer (with an adventure bug that just won't quit biting), Briana is sharing experiences and tips to inspire others to get outdoors.

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