No media, no screens, no hectic schedules for miles. You are waist deep crossing a mucky swamp with 60-pound backpacks strapped on and your student refuses to go one step further. You think “Here? Now? Are you kidding?” This all comes with the job - witnessing self-discovery and transformation can be hard, frustrating and exhausting, but the journey can also be powerfully rewarding. Do you have what it takes to truly stand with your students, in that “mucky swamp”, and the next and the next and the next? Fast forward to the final days of the course. As the sun is coming up and your group is preparing for the final leg of their expedition, it is time for you to step back and let them take the reigns. Why? - Because as an Outward Bound Instructor, you have done your job. You just spent the last days, weeks or months teaching technical outdoor skills and meaningful life skills in equal measure. You have provided your students with progressively more challenging activities. Now, the “impossible” is only a temporary obstacle to overcome. You have cultivated a confident expedition team – resilient, compassionate and driven. This is the essence of being an Outward Bound instructor. You have exposed people to new skills, experiences, ideas and a profound sense of accomplishment that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
Many roads can lead to Outward Bound. The typical new field instructor has at least one of these four qualities: expertise in a certain outdoor skill or significant expedition experience, very real teaching and/or leading credentials, a strong philosophical alignment or OB student experience.
Most staff begin as interns, and a few start as new assistant instructors. No one starts as a lead instructor. VOBS believes in helping staff grow just like students, through challenge and discovery. We mentor staff through clarity, purpose and method, active supervision and the supreme advantage of the two-person co-worker relationship.
With our students, we believe in structure, role-modeling and follow-through. It is the same with development of our staff.
Field Positions Available at VOBS
The Voyageur Outward Bound School internship is where we grow your heart. It takes a lot of passion to do this work, to spend time hungry, tired, hot, freezing, lonely and at times too long with too many people. We must stand next to students when they are not their best selves, in order to lead them to realize they have better options. This takes heart. The internship is where you grow it.
Every internship has a training phase and a support phase, about three weeks and six weeks long, respectfully. The formal training might end after three weeks, but the support phase is full of formal and informal development opportunities. You don't do it alone. There are seven other interns in your crew, and together you learn all about Outward Bound and the basecamp from the bottom up. Nothing can better prepare you to be an instructor.
You are paid money throughout, but that's not what will want you to return to VOBS. It's the fact that you are bonding with other amazing people around the values of Outward Bound and helping students in the wilderness learn the lessons that the adventure has to offer.
The Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love
Outward Bound is challenging, by design. It takes grit, heart, a belief in our human potential to change and a deep desire to do meaningful work to succeed here. Your group will be looking to you for leadership 24 hours a day. Whether you are on expedition for five days or fifty, what you will be doing is showing people how to resolve problems, face challenges, overcome obstacles and rely on themselves.
As an Outward Bound instructor, you create a catalyst for discovery. Master rapport building. Lead courageous conversations. Build functional teams from scratch. Deliver visionary leadership. These are just a few of the skills our instructors hone at Outward Bound. This is meaningful work that is guaranteed to change your life as well as your students. Our staff are passionate educators, committed outdoor enthusiasts, community focused, service oriented, good-humored and consummate professionals. They lead inspiring lives on and off the trail. Instructors are given tremendous responsibility to bring diverse groups together for a common purpose. The job demands resilience, humility, boldness, compassion, creativity and good humor.
Some Interns become Assistant Instructors during their first season if they are technically and educationally proficient . Others return as new AIs the next season. AIs are on a steep learning curve with Outward Bound national policy and local procedures and traditions. We work hard to make sure that all of our Assistant Instructors gain the skills they need to be effective educators and have a progression of mentors that aligns with the responsibility and feedback that every person needs. It is common to be an AI for one to two seasons--two to five courses--before promoting to Lead Instructor.
The Learning Starts Once You Become a Lead Instructor
With over 50 years of experience, Outward Bound provides facilitated emotional and physical challenges in safe, outdoor environments for groups and individuals. Every experience includes a deliberate program progression, or “Graduated Level of Responsibility” for students as they move toward new awareness of their capabilities. Participants discover that perseverance leads to success through grit and determination, creativity and collaboration. By discovering their strength of character, ability to lead and their determination to serve their community, they help to create a more resilient and compassionate world.
It is the Lead Instructor who must shoulder the burden of this responsibility, complete with vision, details and necessary relationships to inspire forward movement. And they have to laugh and mean it! While there are certainly some consistencies in our instructor pool, every Lead is unique, bringing him or herself to the job in an authentic way. Our Leads range in age from 20s to 60s, spanning decades and just adding more life experience as they go. They return year after year for the mission, the environment and the lasting connections from intense and wonderful times with other staff in the field.
Industry Leaders in Leadership Development
We know that our students’ success is directly related to the professional growth and development of our instructors. We invest in our staff’s growth with ongoing training and development, ensuring our staff set the industry standard for outdoor leadership. We value technical, instructional and leadership competencies in equal measure. Instructors develop the leadership abilities that not only enhance their students’ experience, but also support their long-term career aspirations. Former staff often reflect that Outward Bound is a formative training ground for lifelong skills in group facilitation, leadership, coaching and teaching.
Lead Instructors can work for VOBS year-round or seasonally, mixing OB administrative jobs or life outside of OB with field instructing. Our Leads are our most valuable asset. They are the most talented, versatile and graceful. From that pool of individuals we choose our Course Directors, Program Directors, Admissions Staff and Leadership Teams. The training and mentorship continues into roles that both use Lead Instructor skills but also in turn augment them for the better.
VOBS admires and strives to retain its Lead Instructors for five, ten, fifteen or more years.
Develop Skills To Use For A Lifetime:
Learn to Influence, Lead, Coach, Mediate and Collaborate
Gain Technical Skills in Specific Course Area Elements
Develop Risk Management and Emergency Response Skills
Acquire Educational Training – Teaching, Student Management Skills, Assessment, etc.
Broaden Facilitation & Interpersonal Communication Skills
Increase Emotional Intelligence
Explore Experiential Education Pedagogy
Receive Ongoing Feedback
Expand Skills To Work with Diverse Populations
Top 5 Reasons Why Our Staff Return:
• Sense of purpose. Every day. • Pride in Outward Bound as a mission-driven organization • Lifelong learning happens here, via professional development opportunities, staff expeditions, and on-the-job training. • The staff community – fun, vibrant, intentional • Healthy, active, outdoor lifestyle - you have an office like no other.
Additional Benefits for Field Staff:
• Housing, or a housing stipend, is provided at each of our bases • Per diem pay rate with regular increases for days worked in the field • Worker’s Compensation • Professional Development opportunities at little or no cost • Professional Equipment Purchase Program • Discounted rates on Wilderness First Responder courses sponsored by Outward Bound
Sign Up for Updates
Stay informed on Voyageur Outward Bound School news and updates! Please fill out the form below to begin receiving our email newsletter.