Do you love the wilderness, helping others discover their strengths and fostering teamwork? Do you want to share your passion with others by doing these things for a living? Outward Bound’s Instructor Development Course offers a great foundation for any career working in the outdoors, in character development and teaching.
At Outward Bound, the wilderness is our classroom. Learning by doing, then reflecting on what we’ve learned, is the core of our methodology. Whether you take a course in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina or the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the horizon is your white board and the trails are your hallways.
Instructor Development courses include: a 7-10 day Wilderness Responder Course; in-depth workshops on technical skills such as rock climbing, canoeing, backpacking, sailing, sea kayaking and mountaineering; group dynamics, leadership and interpersonal skills development; and adventures with others who love the outdoors.
As a wilderness Instructor, I taught some of the early Instructor Development courses at North Carolina Outward Bound in the late 1980s and early 1990s. One of the most satisfying parts of the job was to watch future outdoor educators grow in confidence, competence and self-awareness.
Over time, numerous careers and opportunities have evolved for those who have a passion for the outdoors. Outward Bound saw the need to “professionalize” outdoor education, and became a pioneer and innovator in helping to create standards for safety and quality that exist today.
Why Become a Wilderness Instructor?
People sign up for Outward Bound courses for many reasons: personal challenge, to learn outdoor skills like backpacking, to savor time in the wilderness under the guidance of skilled instructors, and many more. Only a small number of students go on an Outward Bound course because they want to work with others in a wilderness setting, leading groups, empowering others to discover their potential, and providing a safe place for those who are new to the backcountry.
Of course it often means a lifestyle of living outside in all weather, sleeping on the ground, and getting by with few creature comforts while on the job! When you sign up for an Instructor Development Course, you’ll find yourself with others who are drawn to the lifestyle, with all of its challenges and joys.
Careers in the Outdoors
Pursuing a potential career involving outdoor education could go in many directions. You might start as a camp counselor leading overnight trips by canoe or backpacking. You could find yourself working for one of the many Outward Bound schools, starting out as an Assistant Instructor, or specializing in rock climbing or teaching paddling. Your career might lead to mastering the heights of high peaks to become a mountain guide. Or you may find yourself leading expeditions for a canoe outfitter or river rafting company. You might lead outings for a school or college outdoor program, or get your sailing license to captain a boat. The career direction you choose to take will be determined by the activity, population, and environment you prefer. Plus, you’ll need to find or create an opportunity to get started.
How to Find Those Jobs?
Use the internet to research your particular interest and direction. Some good places to start include:
- Association for Experiential Education’s Jobs Clearinghouse http://jobsclearinghouse.aee.org/
- Student Conservation Association http://www.thesca.org/
- Outward Bound Careers http://www.outwardbound.org/about-outward-bound/employment/]
- Conservation Job Board http://www.conservationjobboard.com/
- Outdoor Industry Association careers.outdoorindustry.org
“Whatever career direction you imagine yourself heading, you’ll learn the best practices of safety and leadership on the Outward Bound Instructor Development Course.” – Outward Bound alumnus, former Instructor
Which Wilderness Environment? Which Adventure Activities?
Outward Bound offers Instructor Development courses across the U.S. Where would you like to live, learn, and possibly work? It’s worth thinking about what activity and environment you are drawn to, or that you would like to get to know well. You’ll be spending a lot of time…