Outdoor Technical vs Facilitation Skills – How to be an outdoor instructor?

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“How to be an outdoor instructor?” a common question crept up. “Should I work on my outdoor technical skills or learn about facilitation?”

I’ve been asked this type of question often, especially when I run programmes where there are many new instructors. I smiled and will always get reminded of my own journey.

So how to be an outdoor instructor?

Well, first thing first, regardless if you are a more technical or softskill-type of instructor, you will definitely need both sets of skills. You CANNOT run away from it.

BUT … even before you think of which one to go for, my greatest advice is … TRY OUT BEING A CAMP TRAINER first.

WHY? The outdoor industry is one that has a high turnover rate and one of the greatest reason is that many trainers only realised soon that it is not their cup of tea. They do love the outdoors … ┬ábut the job itself, taking care of participants, managing risks while balancing their learning journey … the demands are really quite high.

(Since it is so difficult to train and retain an instructor, a lot of local companies’ programme are really matrixed. Trainers don’t need to be technically sound, just be there to spark participants’ enthusiasm through the endless cheers and songs. Can’t blame anyone for the situation)

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So, once you’ve more or less decided that you could last in the industry for some time, I suggest strongly for you to pick up some outdoor technical skills certificate. Easy ones are sport climbing and kayaking. Because without the outdoor technical skills, you are just an instructor … not an outdoor instructor.

With sound outdoor technical skills, you can better take care of yourself out there and also make appropriate judgements for you participants’ learning and safety.

So, once you have the technical skills, you could then consider upgrading your softskills skills. (haha) To bring justice to this fine scientific art of the trade, a lot of the skills are learnt along the way but there are specific trainings available out there.

(I recently wrote an ebook sharing about how to facilitate an abseil activity – The Art of Not Kicking Your Participant Down the Abseil Rope. Check it out.)

So here you go ..

  1. Try out some camps as a group trainer (wateva it is called)
  2. Pick up some outdoor technical skills
  3. Learn how to facilitate

(If you’d like to build up you climbing and abseiling skills, I’ll be more than happy to coach you. Click here to find out more)

Follow Ahmad Bahktiar:

Outdoor Educator

I'm an outdoor educator and blogger. Outdoors, I teach both technical and experiential courses. Indoors, I blog about the outdoors, environment, health and life! Contact me if you'd like to explore opportunities together, whatever they might be.

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