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Outdoors education and careers
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Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
Outdoors education and careers on 04/05/2010 16:50:31 MDT Print View

I was amazed to discover that there are university level degrees in the outdoors. Outdoor educator, outdoor leadership and education, outdoor recreation, adventure education,Parks/recreation management,recreation administration, and wilderness therapy. I am very interested in these fields as they would unite my work with my passion. I was hoping if anyone is employed in these fields, or has educational experience in a university. Worked for NOLS? Please let me know how you got the job and what the job is like, and if you don't mind an idea of what kind of pay to expect would be nice as well.

I am considering one of these as a career path. Look forward to the responses! Thank you!


Edited by isaac.mouser on 04/05/2010 16:51:31 MDT.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Outdoors education and careers on 04/05/2010 17:28:26 MDT Print View

If you're going in to an outdoor field for pay, you'll be very disappointed. The majority of the jobs pay minimum wage until you make your way up to management and at that point you trade the field for an office.

Edited by simplespirit on 04/05/2010 17:28:44 MDT.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
i know on 04/05/2010 17:36:16 MDT Print View

i know the pay is not optimal, but money is not the most important thing. I already have a management degree, yea the objective is NOT to be stuck in a desk! Good points chris.

Edited by isaac.mouser on 04/05/2010 17:36:49 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Outdoors education and careers on 04/05/2010 17:50:15 MDT Print View

I met one fellow who was pretty satisfied with his work. For nine months of each year, he worked as a math teacher in high school. Then for three months, he worked as a wildlife guide at a remote wilderness camp (salary plus tips).

All of the school teachers envied him for his adventurous summer job, and all of the guides envied him for his decent winter job.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Re: Re: Outdoors education and careers on 04/05/2010 17:55:26 MDT Print View

As Bob said, teaching and then working an outdoor job during the Summer is a very popular option. There are several BPL members that have gone this route (some after trying NOLS and the like full-time).

/A .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: Re: Re: Outdoors education and careers on 04/05/2010 17:55:47 MDT Print View

In my experience, guiding can pay reasonably well, but it is difficult to keep a steady enough flow of clients in order to make a living thereby.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
thanks on 04/05/2010 18:03:21 MDT Print View

Thanks everybody! I am going to take some NOLS classes for sure, wilderness medicine, etc, etc. Possibly to do something like Bob described, teaching math(Which is actually one of the things i was considering! Nice idea bob!), then in the summer guiding.

Hopefully some of those bpl members who are teaching and leading/guiding in the summer will chime in here! =P

Edited by isaac.mouser on 04/05/2010 18:04:04 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Re: Outdoors education and careers on 04/05/2010 18:07:32 MDT Print View

Why not just become a math teacher and spend your summers going wherever you want outside and not working?

Edited by xnomanx on 04/05/2010 18:21:09 MDT.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
craig on 04/06/2010 04:57:22 MDT Print View

That is currently at the top of my list, being the most logical. As a math teacher(there is a shortage) employment is basically guranteed, i like the retirement, and if federal benefits are great.

Gerry Volpe

Locale: Vermont
wilderness careers on 04/06/2010 06:49:48 MDT Print View

I've been working for thwelve years in years round wilderness therapy/education for Eckerd Youth Alternatives. It was one of the few year round outdoor jobs I could find when I graduated college. I've been direct care, mid level supervisor, program director, and currently am a teacher. It is very demanding time wise and emotionally. Entry level counselor jobs are 24/5. only two days off. Also most of your time is spent at "camp" living in structures built by the kids though usually you can do as many wilderness trips as you can motivate them to plan. Alot of time is spent on behavioral interventions most of your time really. It has been a great career and I love the teaching postion as it is a normal mon-fri 8-4 job with comparable pay as public school teaching. I have still been able to do as many wilderness trips as I want but don't have to deal with the around the clock supervision which really burns you out. That being said I am starting to think about switching to a public school as there isn't much advancement available and I only get 6 weeks paid time off a year and I want more personal time to hike without the kids. Can be very rewarding but is extremely difficult as in no personal time and kids swearing at you all day long. It seems like there are really very few wilderness jobs that afford a decent standard of living, consistent employment, and clients who are always happy to be there. I too vote for teaching to max out your personal time after you have things dialed in.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
insight on 04/06/2010 10:04:04 MDT Print View

thank you very much gerry, just the kind of advice i needed.

Mike McHenry
(mtmche2) - F
Have considered a similar job on 04/07/2010 03:13:34 MDT Print View


I have been told to look at guiding as more of a sumer job opportunity and less of a "career" (especially given that you already have a degree).

I am in a similar boat in terms of wanting to have a career that will allow me some time off in order to get outside. I am a couple of semesters away from earning an engineering degree and have considered either going grad school/phd route in order to become a professor, or just teaching mathematics in a secondary school setting (perhaps running some sort of outdoor adventures program for the high school?). This would allow me to blend some of my interests (outdoors, analytical problem solving, controlling my own work, etc).

Are there any members out there who were in a similar situation or have taken any similar types of jobs? Thanks.

Edited by mtmche2 on 04/07/2010 03:14:22 MDT.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
wow on 04/07/2010 05:05:38 MDT Print View

Great idea! Running an outdoor adventure class on the side for the high school, being a club, i guess you could get paid for it as well as enjoy it.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: wow on 04/07/2010 08:46:20 MDT Print View

I'm a high school teacher and sponsor an outdoor/environmental education club.

Unfortunately, I have found MANY obstacles to getting kids outside. It seems that greed, lawyers, and litigious parents have successfully destroyed the ability of public schools to offer things like this. Great Job Folks!

I entered a never ending world of liability waivers, paperwork, proposing prospective trips 4 weeks in advance to the school board, face questions such as "How can you GUARANTEE nobody will be hurt?", and having to seek medical clearance (and document it all) for students to simply go on a hike. Yes, a doctor's clearance is needed for a student to walk in the woods if the trip is school-affiliated.

A simple one hour hike on easy trail became a nearly month long process to organize.

The flip side: bypass the bureaucracy and just go...and stake your career and everything you own on NOTHING going wrong.

Not to discourage you, but the system I work within has forced us primarily into the classroom. I teach LNT, we study environmental issues, talk about gear and techniques, involve ourselves in direct-action environmental campaigns, etc.

But actually getting out, especially for anything overnight, is EXTREMELY difficult to make happen.

Wherever you end up teaching, I sincerely hope your experiences are different. This is why I believe private organizations are better at this- there is just far too much liability and schools don't want anything to do with it.

Mike McHenry
(mtmche2) - F
That was really my next concern on 04/07/2010 16:10:35 MDT Print View

I appreciate your comments. I am not at all surprised by the fact that the system gets in the way of kids getting outside and enjoying a easy hike with some friends. As your experience has shown it seems you have to jump through hoops in the process of planning, getting students to sign up for, and hopefully executing a trip.

Let's face it - nowadays any high school kid NOT participating in some sort of extracurricular activity is far more likely to be getting into trouble or getting hurt than the ones who have focused on outdoor adventures, football, drama club, or even skateboarding IMO.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
hey craig! on 04/08/2010 14:36:38 MDT Print View

Good points craig, but unfortunately i have a baby and would not bet my job on an outdoor trip. Providing is most important right now. I am not a teacher yet, but when i am i will not risk my career to do something I think is important. There are other less risky ways anyway: boyscouts, personal guides, etc.

(charleswwoods) - F

Locale: Wandering
Other options on 05/10/2010 08:38:23 MDT Print View

Another thing you might look at is teaching at a school that is very outdoor oriented. When I was in High School, I went to Colorado Rocky Mountain School (CRMS) in Carbondale, Co.
CRMS is a private boarding school that focuses on learning both in and out of the classroom. To give you an example, orientation for every new student is a 10 day backpacking trip. Also, in the winter, school let out at noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the school ran buses to the mountain to ski. It was an amazing place to go to school, and I have often thought about applying for a teaching job there.

Check them out if you're interested.