This course combines the beautiful and challenging environments of the Washington wilderness with intensive educational curriculum and activities, giving priority to the skills needed to work in the fields of outdoor and adventure education.
The Northwest Outdoor Educator course focuses on developing the educational and technical skills necessary to begin a career as an expedition educator in wilderness environments. As you explore the roles of student and educator, you’ll discover the challenges, teamwork, and reflection that makes a lasting impact on our courses. Additionally, you’ll learn in-depth risk management and technical skills, including a Wilderness First Responder course. Toward the end of this 55-day course, you’ll have an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge by planning and leading a 3-day overnight outdoor experience for local students.
For detailed information on course availability statuses and what they mean,
Thank you for your interest in Outward Bound!
This course starts within the next week. Please call us at 866-467-7651 to assess the possibility of applying for this course!
APPLY NOW This means a course has several open spots and is actively processing applications.
APPLY NOW – Almost Full This means there are three or fewer currently available spots left on a course. To secure your spot click Apply Now to begin an application!
JOIN WAITLIST Once a course has reached capacity, three waitlist positions become available. To join a course’s waitlist, click “Join Waitlist” to begin the application process. A $500 deposit is required. This $500 deposit includes a $150 non-refundable application fee and a $350 tuition payment. The $350 tuition payment is refundable only if you cancel your waitlist application or if an open position does not become available. If a position does become available, the applicant will be applied to the open position and the Application and Cancellation Policies of the Regional Outward Bound School will be followed, including forfeiture of the $500 deposit if you cancel 90 days or less prior to the course start date.
Waitlist applicants are encouraged to complete all required admissions documents while awaiting an open position. Positions may become available up to two weeks prior to the course start date. Applicants may only apply to one course. We recommend applying to a course with open positions instead of a course that is accepting waitlist applications. If you have questions, please call 866-467-7651 to speak with one of our Admissions Advisors.
CALL TO APPLY This means a course is very close to its start date. Although it is unlikely to secure a spot this late, you can call the National Admissions office at 866-467-7651 to discuss your options.
COURSE IS FULL When a course has reached maximum capacity, meaning all spots and the three waitlist spots are occupied, a course will read “Course Is Full.” This means applications are no longer being accepted.
CLOSED As a course nears its start date, the availability status may read “Closed.” In this event, a course roster has been finalized and applications are no longer being accepted or processed.
The following is an example of what your course itinerary might look like. Your actual course plan will vary according to weather, student skills and abilities, and instructor preferences.
Course Start and transport to the San Juan Islands
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.
You want to be an outdoor educator? We feel so seen. We know what it takes to gain the technical skills and field experience to build your resume and we’re here to support you on that journey. Designed specifically for individuals interested in pursuing positions as outdoor instructors, guides, or outdoor teachers, Outdoor Educator courses offer in-depth technical skill development while simultaneously exploring group dynamics, assessing risk, problem solving and leadership. Join a supportive community of like-minded adventurers and discover opportunities to be both student and educator.
Previous participants have gone on to work in all facets of our industry — as guides, instructors, and classroom teachers — and have expressed that these courses delivers invaluable experience, relevant skills, and knowledge needed to help them become better educators.
Build skills, form connections: Refine backcountry, technical, and interpersonal skills - and practice teaching them. Help students evaluate options, manage risks, and learn to engage people of different ages and backgrounds in an environment where they are “crew, not passengers.” Master the outdoor knowledge, strengths and skills that can’t be found in a traditional classroom.
Value strengths and strengthen values: Absorb the technical prowess you’ll need to master multiple outdoor activities and potentially help others do the same. Discover the power of reflection and how to create lasting impact behind every adventure, challenge and opportunity.
Demonstrate mastery: Learn from the best outdoor educators in the industry and add your own strengths as you design and lead courses, as you take on physical and mental challenges in numerous wilderness environments and as you become responsible for the creation and fulfillment of life-changing lessons.
Train in basic first aid and wilderness medicine: Learn the principles and techniques of patient assessment, care and treatment in remote and extreme environments. Earn Wilderness First Responder (WFR) Certification on select courses.
What you’ll learn: Return home with the knowledge and skills necessary for teaching and leading field-based wilderness education programs. Depending on the course, you’ll have expanded knowledge and skills relating to a variety of land and/or water-based activities. You’ll be a conscientious safety and risk management leader and you’ll have a solid grounding in the Outward Bound philosophy and methodology for teaching and facilitation.
Outdoor Educator courses allow 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.
Outdoor Educator students receive in-depth training in technical, interpersonal, and educational skills that apply to outdoor education. With a progression of teaching and leadership skills and feedback from Instructors and peers, students will gain a strong foundation for their work as outdoor educators. 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, you’ll work together to complete difficult tasks necessary for backcountry travel, expedition living, and outdoor leadership.
The course starts with nearly 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 paddlers. Students traverse the waterways in single and double kayaks, seeking out island beach campsites, sleeping 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, paddle efficiently, and assess sea conditions appropriate to individual and the group’s abilities. Students gain skills in reading currents and tides, kayak rescue techniques, marine navigation and assessing the weather. Team building will be emphasized during this section.
The rock and mountain section focuses on mountaineering skills, including institutional top-rope climbing management. Students learn skills such as knot tying, climbing and belaying technique, anchor building, and climbing site management. Each day presents a different focus, with ample time for experiential learning. The Instructor-to-student ratio is never more than 1:5, which allows for personal coaching on the physical techniques of climbing and mountaineering. During the mountaineering section, Instructors focus the curriculum on educational philosophy and group dynamics.
Nine days of the course will be spent completing 80 hours of advanced backcountry first aid and evacuation techniques. Mornings are 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 recorded 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. Students receive WFR, CPR and epinephrine administration certification cards upon successful completion of the course. These are the industry-standard medical certifications that are required for professionals in the outdoor industry.
Outward Bound believes that an appropriate amount of independence is a powerful educational tool. During the travel sections of this course, Outward Bound Instructors purposefully and gradually transfer certain leadership responsibilities to the students culminating with our “Final Expedition.” Near the end of course—if the group has demonstrated the necessary leadership, team problem solving and wilderness living skills—students may have the opportunity to travel without Instructors immediately present. Many of our students feel this phase of the course is the most rewarding, as the group learns to work as a team, problem solve, and accomplish a goal independently, while utilizing all the skills they have acquired.
Toward the end of the course students will have the opportunity to practice their 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 they use of many of the skills they've learned in the previous six weeks. Intensive training and practice led by the Outward Bound staff prepares students to fill the instructional role with confidence and competence. Afterwards students will receive receive honest, growth-oriented, constructive feedback from Outward Bound staff about their performance.
Service to others and to our environment is a core value of Outward Bound and is integrated into each course. A structured, half day of service is scheduled into most of our courses. In Mazama, at our Washington base, we work with several different local organizations. These include:
Methow at Home: fire mitigation and yard work for elderly community members
Classroom in Bloom: weeding, planting, harvesting in an educational garden at the local high school
Methow Trails: trail work on the Methow Valley trail network
Methow Valley Interpretive Center: working in the native plant garden and learning about local Indigenous communities
Methow Arts: projects to bring art to the valley and community
Little Star: Montessori school serving pre-K and kindergarten that offers scholarships to local children
In addition to scheduled, formal service, students may do impromptu trail service or campsite service in the Okanogan National Forest or Pasayten Wilderness. This might include breaking apart illegal fire rings or covering up social trails. Lastly and perhaps the most important of all, the students learn that by offering compassion to each other and supporting the crew through their daily chores of putting up tarps and cooking and cleaning, service can be given freely and daily in small acts of kindness. Students see the impact of their actions firsthand, develop an appreciation of service, and transfer this desire to serve their communities back home.
For profound learning to take place, students need time to reflect on their experience, and 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 amount of time students spend on Solo is based on length of course, weather, student condition, age, and Instructor preference. 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.
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. During their journey, students will encounter coastlines with a combination of sandy and rocky beaches, shallow and deep harbors, placid 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, and you might catch a rare 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. These regions are the ancestral lands of the Lhaq’temish (Lummi), Klallam, Samish, Tulalip, W̱SÁNEĆ, Lekwungen/Songhees and Coast Salish nations.
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 least traveled 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 wildflowers. The mountain sections operate in the Sawtooth, Pasayten, and Glacier Peak Wilderness areas, as well as North Cascades National Park. All lie on the east side of the North Cascades and receive significantly less rainfall than the western coast of Washington. Temperatures typically range from freezing to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. These regions are the ancestral lands of the Syilx tmixʷ (Okanagan), Yakama, Nłeʔkepmx Tmíxʷ (Nlaka'pamux), Methow, np̓əšqʷáw̓səxʷ (Wenatchi), Coast Salish, Skagit, Tulalip, Entiat, Chelan, Skykomish and Nuxwsa'7aq (Nooksack) nations.
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.
To secure your spot on a course you must submit an enrollment form and $500 deposit that is applied toward the total cost of the course and includes a $150 non-refundable enrollment processing fee.