The Washington Outdoor Educator Course is an extraordinary expedition that is designed specifically for individuals interested in pursuing instructional, guiding, or teaching positions. This semester course offers 50 days of in-depth learning in mountaineering, backpacking, sea kayaking and first aid, while simultaneously exploring group dynamics, experiential education theory and methods, and wilderness activity management. This course will provide you with opportunities to act as a student as well as an educator within a community of peers. Previous students are working in all facets of our industry as guides, Instructors and classroom teachers, and those who have taken this course feel that it gave them valuable relevant skills and knowledge to be better educators.
This course is closed for the season. 2020 courses coming soon.
Most College Savings Plans, including the 529 College Savings Plan, may be used to attend an Outward Bound expedition, thanks to a partnership with Western Colorado University. Anyone can register – you do not have to be a current Western Colorado University student. Registration is easy! Click here to learn more.
Are you motivated by the never-ending discovery in the adventure of the outdoors? Are you passionate about sharing knowledge and helping future generations become comfortable and confident appreciators of the natural world and skilled wilderness wanderers? Working as an outdoor educator requires deep technical expertise in outdoor skills alongside hands-on training in the science behind experiential learning and how to create lasting impact for students. Outward Bound leads the outdoor education industry in both areas, providing a coveted foundation to jump-start an outdoor-involved career.
The Outdoor Educator course is the most comprehensive Outward Bound course available, allowing you to work in and through the widest variety of wilderness environments and develop high level skills in each. Beyond preparing you for career opportunities in the outdoor industry, you may also earn academic credit in the field of Recreation and Outdoor Education.
Outward Bound is accredited with the American Gap Association and is the longest running program in this elite group dedicated to providing safe, meaningful and high-caliber educational experiences to students.
The course starts with almost two weeks of sea kayaking in the San Juan Islands, exploring Washington’s inner coastal waters that make this area a renowned cruising ground for United States paddlers. Students will traverse the waterways in single and double kayaks, seeking out beaches to sleep under the stars and getting acquainted with the fascinating natural and cultural history of the Pacific Northwest coast. Becoming a competent sea kayaker involves learning how to read a chart, perform self and assisted rescues, use a paddle efficiently and determining the sea conditions manageable for each student and the group’s abilities. Students will gain skills in reading currents and tides, kayak rescue techniques, marine navigation and assessing the weather. Team building and learning about marine environments will be emphasized during this section.
Nine days of the course will be spent completing 80 hours of advanced backcountry first aid and evacuation techniques. Mornings are generally devoted to lectures and exams with afternoons devoted to practical hands-on sessions and rescue simulations. Expect many rescue simulations with made-up victims and stage blood that will be videotaped for enhanced learning. Evenings are reserved for study and assignments. Successful completion of this section involves full participation in the field simulations and written exams that make up the assessment process. Students will receive WFR and CPR certification cards from Wilderness Medicine Training Center upon completion of the course. These are the industry-standard medical certifications that are required for professionals in the outdoor industry.
The rock and mountain section focuses on mountaineering, including institutional top-rope climbing management. Students will learn skills such as knots and hitches, fixed-lines, climbing technique and anchor building. Each day presents a different focus, with ample time for experiential learning. The low Instructor-to-student ratio during this section allows for personal coaching on the physical techniques of climbing and mountaineering, as well as catering the curriculum to the specific interests and aptitudes of individual course participants.
The last 6-10 days of the mountain section will include independent travel from the Instructors, in which the students design and prepare for their own expedition. During this Final Expedition, the students will navigate, travel, camp and work together without oversight from their Instructors, who will be following the group to aid in case of emergency. This culminating backpacking trip is a unique opportunity for students to really put all their skills together as a highly-functioning expedition team, and may include on- and off-trail travel as well as a non-technical peak attempt.
Toward the end of the course students will have the opportunity to practice the educational skills used to lead groups in a wilderness environment by facilitating a 3-day outdoor education overnight program for local students. The program may include hiking, rock climbing, rappelling, initiatives, games and a service project. Many students consider this the highlight of the course because it allows for the use of many of the skills that have been learned in the past six weeks. Two days of intensive training and practice led by the Outward Bound staff prepare students to fill the instructional role with confidence and competence. Afterwards students will receive direct, constructive feedback from Outward Bound staff about their performance.
Service to others and to the environment are core values of Outward Bound and they are integrated into each course. Participants follow Leave No Trace ethics as part of their service to the environment. Students develop an ingrained appreciation of service, seeing the impact of their actions firsthand, by multiple small acts of service with and for their crewmates while leading and supporting each other throughout the journey.
In order for profound learning to take place, there must be time to reflect on the experience. Solo is that opportunity. The Solo experience provides an important break from the rigors of the expedition and gives students the opportunity to reflect on their Outward Bound experience. With sufficient food and equipment, students will set up camp at sites of their own, using the wilderness skills learned during the first portions of the course. The time students spend on Solo depends on limitation of the itinerary and Instructor preference. On this course Solo experiences can last up to 72 hours. Solo campsites are chosen to offer as much solitude as possible (yet be within emergency whistle-signaling distance of other group members). Most students spend their Solo time journaling, drawing, reflecting, thinking and resting as they process lessons of the course to focus on their goals for the future. Instructors check on each participant at regular intervals, as safety is always the top priority.
Outdoor Educator Course students will receive in-depth training in technical, interpersonal and educational skills that apply to being an outdoor educator. With a progression of teaching and leadership skills where Instructors and peers will provide feedback in an organized setting, students will be prepared to step into the roll of an Instructor for a short outdoor education experience. Much like other courses, students will be challenged to try new things, step outside their comfort zones, and do things they never before thought they could do. As a team, each group will work together to complete difficult tasks necessary for backcountry travel, expedition living and outdoor leadership.
San Juan Islands, Puget Sound, Washington
Nestled between Vancouver Island and the North Cascades, the San Juan Islands are a unique coastal cruising ground with large expanses of sparkling water and mountain scenery. Students will encounter coastlines with a combination of sandy and rocky beaches, shallow and deep harbors, still and reef-studded bays. Knotty, twisted madrona trees grow along much of the shorelines while evergreen fir and pine forests cover large inland areas. Sightings of harbor seals, porpoise and eagles are common as well as the occasional glimpse of an Orca whale. The islands get less average rainfall than the surrounding area due to the rain-shadow effect of the Olympic Mountains. Summertime high temperatures are around 70 degrees Fahrenheit while lows could be in the 40s.
The North Cascades, Washington
The North Cascades are called the “American Alps” for their rugged beauty and glaciated peaks; they remain some of the wildest and most unrestricted wilderness in the United States. The North Cascades host the greatest concentration of glaciers in the “Lower 48” and are full of high mountain meadows peppered with wild flowers. The Outward Bound course area hosts some of the most stunning alpine climbing and backpacking routes in the United States. Our backpacking and mountaineering programs operate in the Sawtooth Wilderness, Pasayten Wilderness and North Cascades National Park on the east side of the North Cascades, which customarily receive significantly less rainfall than the western coast of Washington.
If you are ready to enroll on a course click the enroll button next to the course you wish to select or you can enroll over the phone by speaking with one of our Admissions Advisors (toll-free) at 866-467-7651.