Life Lessons from the OutBAC

The OutBAC

REC faculty training on the OutBAC this past May

The Outdoor Beach Adventure Course, or OutBAC, is back and better than ever this semester. Managed by the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies (RLS) within the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS), The OutBAC is a low elements challenge course used for team building, and will eventually be used for both on and off campus groups. The OutBAC was first installed by the Department of Kinesiology, and Dr. Keith Fulthorp, tenured professor in the Department of RLS, and his colleagues, have helped to resurrect the course. Fulthorp says that the course is ready to go this semester.

“The challenge course had been sitting for about five or six years – it has to be stained and water sealed every year and was in poor shape when REC volunteered to take it over – we didn’t have any money to fund this course or staff to run it, but starting in about 2017 we slowly started to get funding for the project,” says Fulthorp.

In 2016, Recreation and Leisure Studies wrote a new class called Team Work and Group Dynamics.

“Once the class got approved, we received funds for Instruction Related Activities (IRA) to support the class. The class exists to teach students about how to facilitate these types of activities, so we used those funds over the last few years to make needed safety and use related improvements.”

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The most recent updates include two black and yellow shade structures, as well as new signage that has the Recreation and Leisure Studies Department name on it, new windscreens with the ‘OUTBAC’ logo, and a new 30 foot storage shed, which houses supplies and equipment for the course.

“The purpose of this particular course is to facilitate activities that are near the ground, as opposed to other challenge courses that include activities that are facilitated at greater heights using ziplines, ropes and harnesses.”

The way people move through the course, Fulthorp says, is through following specific rules that the adventure course facilitator sets in place. “As people go through the course, the facilitator interacts with the group to discuss how each member of the group is communicating with one another, and how they’re planning and participating in the activity.

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The bottom line is to use physical activities as a planned metaphor to achieve group and team goals.

“For example, we had a group of CSULB students out here this summer, and we talked about the start of the course being their freshman year, and graduation and employment being at the end of the course. Students used persistence to graduation as goal to progress through each initiative activity.”


Fulthorp says he would eventually like to see this course being used by the different departments within CHHS. For example, in the School of Social Work, students could be taught the importance of team group dynamics and see how adventure-based counseling could be used as an effective method for therapeutic intervention.

“This course can be applicable to anyone,” he says. “It can be used for any metaphor you need, whether it be about strategic planning or how to teach students life lessons. The OutBAC has been and will continue be such a great tool for us here on campus.” 

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