“My crew pushed ourselves further than many of us had ever pushed before, and the places that trail took us were beyond words. I remember standing on top of Mount Goddard, the highest point in the Sierra and Sequoia Kings National Forests, on the 40th day of my course. Not only was I surrounded by one of the most amazing views of my life, but I was standing among six inspiring human beings who had embarked on this journey with me and had quickly become my family. Six people who challenged me to learn and grow, who inspired me to keep going through the hardest of the challenges, and who taught me what it means to be compassionate.”
- Jenna Westendorf
Learn how to navigate mountainous alpine terrain and desert landscapes, rock climb and ascend technical peaks up to 12,000 feet. Get experience and insight on how to facilitate and lead wilderness expeditions for future students. Earn a Wilderness First Responder certification. Explore the varied and iconic terrain of California. Most important of all, gain the expertise required to further your career as an outdoor educator. Semester courses are physically and socially demanding. These courses are reserved for motivated participants who are ready to take on all of the challenges – and rewards - associated with outdoor education.
This course is closed for the season. 2019 courses coming soon.
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.
The first phase of this course is spent both on and off trail in Yosemite National Park and Ansel Adams Wilderness learning the skills necessary to travel in wilderness terrain. Here is where the foundation for group travel, gear selection and use, map and compass navigation, cooking and camp stove use, weather/hazard assessment, camp craft, communication skills and effective teamwork begins.
In addition to technical skills, Instructors will teach and facilitate the interpersonal skills needed for participants to function effectively as a team, accomplish goals and tackle new challenges every day. Challenges on course are designed to guide participants toward taking risks, drawing upon inner resources and developing trust in one another. One such challenge might include a peak attempt. With lighter packs, participants will start before the sun rises to summit a mountain and be rewarded with 360 degree views and an incredible sense of accomplishment.
During the mountaineering section, participants will build on the backpacking skills learned previously during the expedition. In addition to teaching more technical skills, the Instructors will focus on honing the group's judgment and decision-making skills. The crew will have the chance to attempt a technical peak during this section. Mountaineering is distinct from backpacking in that at least one peak attempt will take a steep, exposed route that requires the technical protection of ropes. Additional skills to be covered during this phase are the use of fixed-lines and snow travel, depending on season and temperatures.
With the first phase of the expedition behind them, participants will learn the skills necessary to provide first aid in a backcountry setting. These skills give individuals and the group the confidence to address health and wellbeing issues more independently for the remainder of the course.
A Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification is recognized as the standard level of expertise for backcountry first aid and is a required course (costing up to $850 if taken privately) for leading outdoor trips. Each student must earn this certification independently. At the end of the course, the WFR Instructor, not Outward Bound, will make the decision as to whether each student’s skills are sufficient for certification.
The following topics will be covered during the course: patient assessment, basic knowledge of body systems, basic life support, equipment improvisation, environmental medicine, toxins, trauma management, evacuation and wilderness rescue.
After the WFR course, the group will move to the desert landscape of Joshua Tree National Park. The section of the course in Joshua Tree will focus specifically on skills associated with technical rock climbing, including knots, anchors, movement over rock, top rope, belaying, use and care of harnesses and other equipment. An emphasis on climbing site assessment and management will ensure participants go back with sound judgement to implement safe and challenging experiences for the youth they instruct. Participants will have ample opportunity to actively improve their personal skills with various types of climbs including bouldering, face climbs, cracks and possibly a multi-pitch climb.
Following the climbing section, the group will test all acquired skills on their Final Expedition - a multi-day backpacking section in Joshua Tree. During this expedition, the crew works together to plan their route, gear, food and logistics. It’s time to put the essential skills for any aspiring outdoor educator to the test, to effectively navigate through the unique and beautiful rock and yucca filled landscape of Joshua Tree. This section requires competence in communication, teamwork, navigation and decision making skills.
Far removed from starry nights and alpine lakes, San Francisco is a bustling city of streetlights and people. This city exposes participants to the juxtaposition of wealth and poverty – back alleys and striking bay views, sprinkled with tourist destinations that attract travelers from across the globe. Continuing ‘expedition style’, participants will carry their gear and travel like locals, taking the bus, walking and ferrying to their nightly abode. With the city as their classroom, participants will focus on developing their cultural competency and ability to work with diverse populations through discussions and service learning opportunities. As an educator, this can be just as challenging as climbing high in the mountains, and equally necessary as participants prepare for the practicum and future work in the field of outdoor education.
Instructor courses are geared towards participants who are looking to pursue a career in education and/or the outdoor industry. Throughout the entire expedition, Instructors will not only be teaching the ‘what’, but also the ‘why’ and ‘how’ necessary to share these skills with future participants. There will be many opportunities for participants to practice their own facilitation skills and receive feedback.
The culminating experience at the end of course will be a practicum, where participants will facilitate a 2-day experience for local youth in an outdoor setting. The practicum will have a strong emphasis on designing and implementing curriculum, teaching basic outdoor skills and facilitating initiatives and discussions with a group of participants from diverse backgrounds and experience levels. Participants will gain first-hand teaching experience as they begin to build cultural competency as experiential educators.
Service to others and the environment is a core value of Outward Bound and is integrated into each course. Participants follow Leave No Trace ethics and do acts of service while leading and supporting fellow participants. Designated service projects are coordinated with land managers like the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service to collaborate on land restoration projects. Additionally, students may have the opportunity to work alongside select social service agencies like nursing homes, hospitals and organic farms. With a broader context for needs-based career opportunities, participants develop a value of service, seeing the impact of their actions first hand, and they transfer this desire to serve their communities once they return.
Outward Bound believes in order for profound learning to take place, there must be time to reflect on the experience. Within course, the solo is that opportunity. It is a chance to experience solitude in the wilderness without distraction while also taking a break from the physical rigors of course. Students are separated from their group for a period of time which depends on course length and Instructor assessment of group capability. Solo sites are chosen to provide solitude. Participants have all necessary equipment, food and water. Solos range in length from 12 hours to 72 hours.On the Outdoor Educator expedition, participants can expect a longer solo, up to 72 hours. The solo and reflective time in Instructor courses will be focused on contemplation around experiential education methodology and their individual strengths as educators.
Outward Bound courses vary in length from 4 to 85 days. On shorter courses, participants will receive an introduction to leadership skills, strength of character and a desire to serve. With longer courses, the same outcomes and benefits are achieved with the ability to reach a more profound level of mastery as there are more opportunities develop technical skills, receive and implement feedback and further personal development.
Yosemite National Park and the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range are famous for breathtaking views of waterfalls, massive granite domes and peaceful alpine meadows. Yosemite is home to some of the world’s most treasured landmarks. Places like El Capitan, Half Dome and Glacier Point can be seen on the horizon along with dramatic alpine scenery, including peaks rising from the valley to elevations above 12,000 feet. With fairly stable and beautiful weather, temperatures range from the 70s and 80s during the day and 30s to 50s in the evening.
Joshua Tree National Park is famous for its high desert moonscape, where rugged mountains and desert plateaus have been sculpted by wind and rain. Three distinct ecosystems come together to form this land of extremes: the dark, cold, star-filled nights against warm sand and boulder-filled days. Weather in the park is generally dry and rainfall is sparse, though unpredictable and sometimes persistent thunderstorms do occur. Temperatures can vary, averaging 50 to 80 degrees during the day to a cool 30 degrees at night and potentially hitting 100 early or late in the season.
The urban portion of the course will take participants on a tour of San Francisco landmarks like Chinatown, Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39, the Mission District, Baker Beach and Market Street. Participants will camp in local parks and with unique partner agencies across the city. San Francisco offers rich histories, diverse cultural traditions and foods, and an abundance of initiative opportunities. Though a dramatic change from the mountains and desert, participants will find inspiration and new perspectives in this bustling, beautiful city.
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.