Title: Associate Program Director, Table Rock Base Camp
Years with NCOBS: I started working for the school in 2010 as an Assistant Instructor and am now entering my eighth season with NCOBS!
What inspired you to become an instructor?
My own “ah-ha moment” is what inspired me to become an instructor. The “ah-ha moment” is when you realize something that will stick with you forever. This moment is powerful, we often witness it with students while on course, and it’s why I believe outdoor education exists.
My entrance into the outdoor education field started in college through my involvement with my school’s Outdoor Program. When I first started learning I was very much focused on myself. I wanted to learn how to climb and I wanted to go backpacking. But in order to experience these things, I had to sign up to go on trips with other people. I soon learned it was fun to go out in groups, learning things together, and working as a team. I was suddenly more focused on what we could accomplish and what we could learn. The more trips I attended, the more experience I gained, and then before I knew it, I was leading the trips and helping students find their own “ah-ha moments.”
Upon graduating, I got a job that somewhat aligned with my degree in Business Management, but I quickly realized I would not last long in a cubicle with no window working in an environment where so many people disliked their job. After quitting that job and following my childhood dream of thru hiking the Appalachian Trail, I realized that I missed seeing those “ah-ha moments” in the field. When I returned home, I quickly applied to work with NCOBS as an Assistant Instructor and the rest is history!
What is your favorite part about leading courses? I like when students reflect back on the hardest moments of course. Often, those times not enjoyed while they were happening because it was meant to be hard and challenging – both mentally and physically. But, usually, after some recovery time, these “hard moments” are appreciated. I enjoy hearing students talk about it because these are where the “ah ha” moments happen. At Outward Bound we call this Type II fun; it may not have been fun while you were doing it, but now that it’s over you’re glad you did it.
You work with our Outward Bound Professional Program, that must be very different from “traditional” OB courses, tell us what that is like: Working Outward Bound Professional courses is a lot of fun! It is challenging in similar ways as traditional courses but there are also some differences. The main difference I’ve found so far is the ability of our clients to go in depth with basic metaphors and tie them not only back into their work life, but also their home life. I find that Outward Bound Professional clients are often pleasantly surprised coming off course. They often go in with the mindset that they are gaining skills just for the workplace, but they come out with so much more!
What kind of qualifications do you need to work with the Outward Bound Professional Program? There aren’t specific qualifications to working with the Outward Bound Professional Program other than a desire to work with this population. As with any course or specific group population, you need to be able to adjust your framing and debriefing of activities to the group of people you’re working with. After being with a group for a certain amount of time, you start to learn things about the group and you realize what kind of facilitation draws the most learning and/or discussion from them.
So, to sum it up, I would say that one skill you should have working with this population, is multiple ways of getting the conversations or learnings, flowing naturally, and that comes with being a skilled facilitator.
How do you integrate the four pillars into your life? Do you have a favorite or one that challenges you? There is not one that I like more than the others. All of them resonate with me for one reason or another. Probably the two that were more foreign to me coming into this organization were the concepts of self-reliance and craftsmanship and it has been fun to try and integrate those into my daily life.
I had never considered what it meant to be self-reliant before and it is a liberating feeling to realize how self-reliant we can be. Craftsmanship keeps me on my toes! I realize it more now when I have not done something to the best of my ability. Physical and mental fitness has always been important to me because I’ve only got my one mind and body, so I want them to be prepared for the adventures and challenges of life. I love that “Above all, compassion” is such a strong Pillar for everyone at Outward Bound. I do believe it is so important to remember to be compassionate to ourselves, to one another, to Mother Nature – especially now, when so many feel turbulent and unsettled in our world.