The 65-day Yosemite, Joshua Tree & San Francisco Instructor Development course is perfect for students looking to experience backcountry living, improve their technical skills, earn certifications and skills needed to work in outdoor education, and so much more. We asked a recent student of this course, Natalie, to share her experience of the expedition.
Natalie’s experience included backpacking in California’s Yosemite National Park and the Ansel Adams Wilderness, mountaineering and backpacking in the John Muir Wilderness, climbing and backpacking in Joshua Tree and sea kayaking in Point Reyes. She also completed a service project and practicum in San Francisco. Keep reading to find out what Natalie gained from her time with us.
Outward Bound: Why did you choose to go on this expedition?
Natalie: After researching and speaking on the phone with representatives at both NOLS and Outward Bound, I quickly realized that what I needed during this time was something that only Outward Bound could offer. I first applied for a semester course, and then began exploring the possibility of completing an Instructor Development course. I was curious about pursuing a career in the outdoor education field, and through my course advisor’s guidance and much soul searching, I decided to enroll in the Yosemite, Joshua Tree and San Francisco Instructor Development course.
Ultimately, this course gave me the opportunity to gain essential skills in leading students, while also allowing me to discover my limits, my confidence and most importantly, to find myself.
OB: Did you have expectations or pre-conceived ideas of what the expedition would be like?
Natalie: Because the course was geared toward future outdoor educators, I was nervous that everyone would already have experience in all of the skills associated with outdoor education, like climbing and mountaineering. I had backpacking and some climbing experience but the rest was new territory for me. In the end, I didn’t have to worry because we learned all we needed while on our course,
I also came into it thinking that I would be one of the youngest students on the course, when in fact we were evenly spread out in terms of age.
OB: What was the hardest part about the expedition?
Natalie: Trying to come to terms with the different abilities in our group was difficult, and taking those into consideration when making decisions as a group. It was particularly hard once the Instructors stepped back and we were on our own during the final expedition.
OB: What lessons did you learn?
- Conflict resolution is essential to maintaining a positive group dynamic for almost three months
- We are stronger than we think
- Overcoming emotional challenge and reflection can be much more difficult than overcoming physical challenges
- Adaptability is a key skill to have in the backcountry and in everyday life
OB: What was your favorite part about the expedition?
Natalie: Becoming such a tight knit group was my favorite part. Our group still talks almost every day through our group chat. It was incredible to see so many diverse individuals, all in different walks of life come together as one congruent group.
I also loved learning how to navigate using topographic maps and becoming proficient in off-trail travel. There is something really special about being able to know where you are with one piece of paper; it is a feeling of accomplishment. It is also incredible being able to travel on foot, with everything you need to survive on your back, to some of the most secluded places in America, with crystal clear alpine lakes and mountain streams.
OB: Looking back now, what do you wish you could have told yourself before you went on the course?
Natalie: Write everything down. We learned so much from our Instructors about being outdoor educators, including small tools to use with students, and I wish I had written them all down!
OB: What did you learn from your Outward Bound experience that you apply in everyday life?
Natalie: I am extremely perseverant, and I can apply this to any challenge I may come across in my day-to-day life.
I’ve also realized the value of nature in my life. Anytime I feel trapped or anxious, I know that I can find a pocket of nature, whether that is a day hike, an urban park or something else. I know that I have nature to help soothe my tensions and stress.
Interested in speaking to someone about this course? Click here to request a call from an Instructor Development course specialist.