John's Journal...

The Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School with Willie Webb, Jr.

What is COAGS?

Greg MillerEditor’s Note: The Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School (COAGS), of Cripple Creek Colorado, is a unique learning environment which includes indoor classroom instruction and outdoor, hands-on activities that provide the students with the groundwork needed to attain success in the outdoor-recreation industry. Although most of the students aspire to become employed in the outdoors, COAGS welcomes any outdoors enthusiast who wants to become more comfortable in the wilds to participate in any or all of the courses.

The Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School has no hallowed halls like those of Yale or Harvard; no fast-paced New York City streets; no L.A. traffic jams and noise pollution; no Houston smog; and, no flushing toilets; however, it does have fresh, clean mountain air. God’s Rocky Mountains are where classes are held, and its rock-walled draws are the hallowed halls. Noise pollution is the sound of bugling bull elk in mid-September and horses ’ hooves pounding the earth on their way to their morning grain. A traffic jam in these mountains is caused by stopping to observe a mule deer or a doe and her fawn cross the road. Traffic may come to a halt to stare at a herd of yews feeding between the road and a rock wall they effortlessly ascend at a moment’s notice. At COAGS, students don’t choose this career for monetary reasons, but because there’s something about the outside of a horse that does something to the inside of a man. COAGS instructors use years of knowledge to educate students in the outdoor skills, horsemanship and confidence they’ll need to conquer a career in the outdoor-recreation industry.

Greg MillerIn 1993, Gary Jordan purchased the Gold Camp Ranch and an outfitting business and guide school. With this ranch and his new outfitting business, his need for quality employees gave him the foresight to continue and improve the training school for his own employees and guides. He laughs about keeping the best students for himself and sending all the other students to his competitors. In 2000, Mr. Jordan separated the guide school from his outfitting business and renamed it, T=the Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School. With the new name came the new demography of COAGS students. Most students still enroll in classes with aspirations of landing careers in the outdoors, but some come for an educational vacation. These students aren’t looking for employment opportunities, but ways to become closer to nature or hone their own outdoor skills.

The Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School (COAGS) is a vocational institution unlike most found around North America. Located on the Gold Camp Ranch just south of Pikes Peak, COAGS is a licensed vocational school, accredited through the Colorado Division of Private Occupational Schools, the Colorado Department of Higher Education and the United States Department of Labor. Several colleges and universities around the country award college credits to graduates of the guide school. COAGS takes pride in training individuals for careers in outdoor-recreational fields and helping outdoor enthusiasts. COAGS’s mission statement states, “Our objective at the Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School is to expose our students to the best-possible instruction and direction in becoming a part of the outdoor-recreation industry, to provide the outdoor-recreation industry with the most-prepared, skilled and professional guides and outfitters in the industry, and to be considered the premier outfitter and guide school in the world.”Greg Miller

COAGS is only as good as its team of instructors, a team that consists of former ranchers, outfitters and guides. The students and instructors come from various backgrounds and parts of the country, each with something different to offer. COAGS president, Gary Jordan, a Texas A&M grad, is a former rancher and western outfitter and is especially involved in horsemanship and business training. Bill Stroh, COAGS Vice President, has a colorful background growing up in Ohio. A graduate of Ohio State University, he’s a former Vietnam veteran, major airline pilot, rancher and outfitter in Colorado, who leads the school’s day-to-day activities. Kim Sauerbrey, another Vietnam vet and instructor for the past 10 years, has worked with mountain rescue, is a “Leave No Trace” Certified Instructor, has been a hunting guide throughout Colorado and is a COAGS graduate. Mark Stone, originally a fiber-optics engineer from West Virginia and COAGS graduate, has participated in our Instructor Development Program. The final member of our full-time staff is myself, Willie Webb, who after graduating from the University of Mississippi, came to COAGS looking for a career in the outdoors and found a job as COAGS camp cook. He’s currently involved in the “Instructor Development Program” and manages a small private farm in Mississippi during the late fall and winter months. Several guest speakers instruct students in fly fishing and outdoor writing, photography and videography. Ed Engle, a former smoke jumper and forest firefighter, is COAGS’s fly-fishing guru. He’s written several books on fly fishing and tours the country lecturing. The outdoor writing, photography and videography team is composed of Kathy Matoon and Andy Lightbody, owners of Rocky Mountain Television (RMTV). Lightbody has been an editor for several well-known magazines, as well as a news reporter for Fox News. He’s also written over 20 different books on a variety of subjects. Matoon’s a videographer for RMTV, as well as the host of “Cookin’ on the Wildside.” Engle, Matoon and Lightbody help broaden the COAGS’ students’ ideas about the future of the outdoor industry.

Greg MillerCOAGS welcomes people from all walks of life, from a German Air Force pilot to a good ole’ boy from Mississippi. Its purpose is to instill in each student a basic understanding of land navigation, horsemanship, wilderness survival, camp cooking and other subjects. From the humble beginnings as an outfitting business and small guide school to the present COAGS, it has evolved from a predominately hunting-guide training field to an institution that welcomes any person wanting a career in the great outdoors and anyone looking for an educational vacation.

For more information on courses and the 2007 class schedule, go to the website, or call 1-800-714-4864. If making a career in the outdoor industry is a dream for you or if you’re interested in becoming more confident in your outdoor adventures, then come and join the Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School’s outdoor fraternity. If you think you’re good, COAGS will make you better.

Tomorrow: COAGS’ Graduates and Their Futures

Check back each day this week for more about "The Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School with Willie Webb, Jr."

Day 1: Whitetails and Dreams
Day 2: What You’ll Learn at the Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School
Day 3: The COAGS Experience
Day 4: What is COAGS?
Day 5: COAGS’ Graduates and Their Futures


Entry 375, Day 4