The Outdoor Recreation Program Directory & Data/Resource Guide is now in its Fourth Edition. The first three editions were published by David J Webb in 1991, 1996, and 2000.
The following brief history was written by the late David J Webb:
This directory had its beginnings as an inferiority complex. In 1982, I was hired by Brigham Young University to operate and expand their outdoor equipment rental service—Outdoor Rental—into Outdoors Unlimited, a rental service with adventure programs and expanded retail and repair services. Although I was not very familiar with university outdoor programs, I had operated adventure youth camps, guided climbing, backcountry skiing, and backpacking trips, had been an assistant manager in a specialty ski shop, and had taught adventure recreation and P.E. courses at BYU and Ricks College. I felt as though I would be able to develop a good outdoor program. However, the reality of what BYU Outdoors Unlimited was doing as an outdoor program in 1982 didn't live up to my mental picture of what could happen in an outdoor program. I began searching for an outdoor program I could use as a role model for developing BYU's program.
In 1982-1983, I visited eight to ten outdoor programs. Most of these programs, to my surprise, weren't providing the diversity and depth of services that we at BYU were providing! At this point my inferiority complex quickly began to dissipate. While visiting others operating outdoor programs, I learned that most programmers hadn't visited other programs, they didn't know what the others were doing, and they weren't networking to help one another! Each one that I visited did feel that they were doing a great job and that both the program participants and the institution were benefiting from their program.
Throughout the past seventeen years I have visited and examined over seventy-five outdoor programs, completed the first “base line” study of outdoor adventure programs in the U.S. Navy, served on the NIRSA and ACU-I National Outdoor Recreation Committees, served as one of the chairs of national and international conferences, and participated in eleven of the thirteen National and International Conferences on Outdoor Recreation. My curiousity, and the encouragement of my peers, has been the stimulus for creating this directory and database.
Although it is important to obtain comparative data in order to provide a framework for making a defensible decision, any empirical comparison (comparison based on data) will involve data that is to some degree invalid, inaccurate, or unreliable. The collection of this data is compiled so hypotheses can be objectively substantiated and so that this profession can mature through an accumulation of its theory.
Be warned, however, errors are bound to appear in such a large body of information. Using this directory as a tool, we will better know who we are, what we do, and how to contact each other. Hopefully this will result in the accelerated development of professionals, programs, and people. (DJW, 2000)