The Outdoor Program began in 1967, evolving from the practice of students posting notes in the EMU, looking for rides and adventure sharing. Gary Grimm (OP director 1967–1980) is credited with formalizing this practice, and for the OP’s beginnings.

From the start this shared responsibility model—or Common Adventure model—was the OP’s bedrock. Ron Watters in the Outdoor Education Papers (1999) defines Common Adventure as “two or more individuals working cooperatively for common goals, and sharing expense, decision making, and responsibilities as equitably as possible.” Intended or not, this concept defined the OP as a non-commercial entity allowing its trips to forgo the special permit requirements found in academic programs.

The OP followed this concept throughout the years, posting and facilitating trips of all kinds. Bruce Mason (OP director 1980–1999) saw trips to Denali, Cuba, and the Himalayas as well as day trips to Crater Lake and raft trips down the McKenzie River. Along the way the OP grew in gear and participant numbers. In 1991 the Rental Barn was built to house all the trip gear, and to have a trip-launching facility.

In 2003 (Dan Geiger, OP director 1999–2015) the OP opened its doors to the student body and community members by allowing them to rent the gear previously only available if posting a Common Adventure trip. This did increase users of the OP and definitely put the OP on the map as one of the only places to rent gear.

In 2008 the UO Bike Program was created from a concept and structure that was wholly student driven. The Bike Program includes a DIY workspace, classes, rentals, and events, and is very much involved with campus and city transportation issues.

In June of 2016 (Margaret Hoff, OP director 2015–present), the OP moved into the newly renovated EMU with a front-and-center space along 13th Avenue, a fully outfitted DIY bike workspace, and a new office area. In response to student feedback, the OP started offering student and custom introductory trips for underrepresented users, while still offering its decades old Common Adventure trips.