I've been working for Outward Bound for just about eight years. I've been in my current position for one year, but before that, I actually worked in the field, leading these trips as an instructor. So I worked for the Colorado Outward Bound School, where we do mostly mountaineering, rock climbing, backpacking, and whitewater rafting type of trips. The school up in Maine, for example, is gonna specialize mostly in backpacking and sailing. So the experience that you have as an instructor is heavily dependent on where you're at geographically. As an instructor, my responsibilities are physical and emotional safety of my students, teaching them the outdoor skills they need to be successful and safe out there, and getting them ready to start taking care of one another in the field. It's always my goal that my students don't need me by the end of our trip together, that they have all the skills they need to survive physically and to thrive as a team. As an instructor, managing risk is probably my number one priority. I want students to feel like they're taking a bigger risk than they actually are, because I've mitigated the risk so well. An example of this is probably rock climbing. I've set up a really safe anchor and I've taught my students how to belay and keep one another safe, but they don't necessarily know everything that's gone into me setting up that anchor, and of course I'm not trying to trick them into thinking that it's unsafe for any reason, but I want them to feel that tiny element of fear, so that they can really push themselves to deal with that fear. Because I'm getting students so close to their comfort zone, sometimes there's tears, sometimes there's students maybe not wanting to push themselves that far, and so as an instructor, I need to be able to find ways to motivate students, to really open up and push past those boundaries. If you are working as an outdoor educator or a guide, you are heavily dependent on you physically being able to complete that skill, and it doesn't take a lot to be greatly reduced in your physical abilities. Say if you're teaching rock climbing all the time and you sprain one of your fingers on your dominant hand, you might not be able to work for a given amount of time, and that's a big challenge in this industry, is maintaining that balance between doing what you love for the sake of doing what you love, and staying strong so that you can also do it for work safely, and not getting burned-out on it. I would say burnout is one of the biggest challenges that the outdoor industry faces, because we're teaching our greatest passion, and having to do it literally 24/7, sometimes we just get sick of it and need a break, or we wind up hurting ourselves because we've overused our bodies.
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