What it takes to be an Outward Bound instructor

What it takes to be an instructor

What it takes to be qualified to work in the field:

As leaders in the wilderness based experiential education field, we look to hire staff that, first and foremost, have a strong desire to educate youth.  Our staff and community are mission-driven, tight-knit, diverse and inclusive.  We value a blend of individuals to deliver the Outward Bound Mission to the surrounding communities of the Philadelphia Outward Bound Center.  Our staff members come from varied backgrounds; they are traditional classroom educators, wilderness educators, veterans and much more.  They are individuals who have recently entered the work-force and they are folks who have sought out a work life that is inspiring, impactful, challenging and fun.  The populations we work with are just as varied as our staff.  The under-served youth of Philadelphia makes up the greatest segment of our student population.  Field staff must have a strong will and desire to deliver our mission to those who could benefit most from it.  We also serve students who come from all over the country, youth who have risen to leadership roles in their schools, on sports teams, and within other community organizations.  We serve veterans, groups of employees from large corporations, kids as young as 10 and adults of every generation.

Applicants who demonstrate abundant inter-personal competence will be extremely successful.  Outward Bound field staff who thrive most are flexible, humble and open-minded leaders.  They seek out opportunities for growth, are able to give and receive feedback and demonstrate strong communication skills.  They display proven and sound judgment in challenging circumstances but also the ability to learn from mistakes.  Our community and culture is one in which humility, self-awareness, sense of humor and above all, compassion are nurtured and valued.

We deliver our mission on High Ropes courses, backpacking on the Appalachian Trail, canoeing on the Delaware Water Gap and Potomac River and traversing the cities of Baltimore and Philadelphia.  Applicants who have technical skills as both a backpacker and as a paddler are of great value.  That said, a proven and sustained ability to work with underserved populations in an urban setting is of utmost importance.  As you can imagine, individuals who encompass these varied factors are the most desirable candidates for field staff positions.

Field staff positions for which we yearly can include:

  • Interns
  • Logistician
  • Assistant Instructor
  • High Ropes Facilitator
  • Course Director

As positions become available, job descriptions will be posted to this website under the “Jobs” tab.

General Qualifications for Field Staff (dependent and varied based on position)

  • Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness First Aid certified
  • Ability to carry 40-50 lb. backpack both on and off trail for extended periods of time, often up to 10-12 hours a day
  • Competency with map and compass navigation
  • Comfort with backcountry living; cooking, camping, Leave No Trace, etc.
  • Personal experience with extended expeditionary travel
  • Comfortable with basic paddling skills; American Canoe Association Certification and/or Wilderness Lifeguard Certification is considered a plus
  • Capable on high ropes courses
  • Strong facilitation and communication skills

General Requirements for Field Staff

  • Interns must be 18 years old
  • Instructors and Logistics staff must be 21 years old
  • Clean driving record
  • Excellent physical condition
  • Background clearance including the following must be provided before employment is offered:
    • FBI and Maryland criminal clearance via fingerprints
    • Pennsylvania criminal clearance
    • Pennsylvania Child Abuse Clearance

Details of application, hiring and training

The Philadelphia Outward Bound Center is fortunate to have a long standing and intimate partnership with the Baltimore Outward Bound Center.  Though they are two independent Outward Bound entities, the proximity between the two lends itself to a great deal of resource and staff sharing.  Those who demonstrate flexibility and willingness to serve both Centers as program calls for will have the most opportunity for growth and work.

In general, the hiring process opens in late fall for the following year.  We hire on a rolling basis and suggest that you apply early.  The strongest applicants will be offered conditional employment and invited to participate in an Outward Bound field training delivered in our course areas and instructed by our Senior Staff Trainers in early to mid March.  This will be most effective in evaluating the broad scope of your abilities; creative lesson planning and delivery, ability to work as a member of a team, ability to give and receive valuable feedback, comfort and capability with back country living, etc.  Upon completion of the course, a formal assessment will be made of your skill set.  From that assessment the Program Directors and Staffing Manager will determine where you might fit best in our program.  The next steps include an extensive training in late March.  The training touches on all facets of the program.

Both Centers offer per diem pay rates, housing, and food staples as a part of the compensation package.  While the administrative offices do remain open through the winter months, we do not book a significant amount of winter programming.  Despite that, we strongly suggest and ask for a 2 year commitment should you be selected for a position with Outward Bound.  It takes time to hone and develop the skills to be successful in this field.  Outward Bound is willing and ready to invest in those employees who demonstrate a genuine commitment to the program.

For the hiring season

If you have read through and understand the complexities to becoming an Outward Bound field staff member, go to the jobs pages, select a position and apply!  You application will be reviewed and measured against our staffing needs.  Should your qualifications fit our needs you will be contacted for an interview.

For the non-hiring season

Job Descriptions will be listed in late fall/winter for positions in the following year. Please be sure to visit us then to apply.

Thank you in advance for the time and attention you put forth into your application process.