For More Info Call:  503-946-3404

Washington Instructor Development (Ages 18+)

Course Details

    Location: Washington
    Activities: Backpacking, Rock Climbing, Mountaineering, Kayaking
    Tuition & Fees: $6795
    Financial Aid Available: Yes

Designed for aspiring outdoor educators, this multi-expedition course offers students the chance to sea kayak, rock climb, mountaineer and backpack while developing skills necessary for an entry-level job in outdoor education.  The expedition combines beautiful environments and challenging activities with an intensive educational curriculum emphasizing the skills needed to work in the field of outdoor and adventure education. This 50-day expedition travels through two of Washington’s most breathtaking and prized wilderness areas: the North Cascade Mountains and the San Juan Islands. Students practice conflict resolution, group facilitation, risk management and course design while developing a leadership style and potentially earning a Wilderness First Responder certification. After the course, students can embark on a new career path or simply embrace life’s next adventures with a new found confidence and strength. 

Available Courses

How to Enroll

Steps to becoming a Northwest Outward Bound course participant:
Step one: Complete the online enrollment by clicking on Reserve Your Spot Today (above), or call to enroll (866-467-7651 or 503-946-3404)
Step two: You will receive a personalized Registration E-Mail from your Course Advisor within 48 hours.
Step three: Complete the paperwork that we have directed you to on this website.
Step four: We may need a couple of weeks to review your enrollment packet and approve your participation.

Enrollment Packet & Course Information

Enrollment Packet Deadline Policy: All applicants must adhere to the due dates listed in their Registration E-Mail. If you are unable to meet the requested deadlines, please be sure to contact your This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Otherwise, your spot on the course will be opened up to another student.

Instructor Development Application

Physician Exam Form

Admissions & Enrollment Policies

Note: Supplemental Forms may apply if we need more specific information about you. Refer to your Registration E-Mail to determine which supplemental forms are required for your enrollment packet.

This section contain details that are key to the specific course you have enrolled on. This information will come in handy when packing, planning, and preparing for the adventure you have chosen. Please read these documents CAREFULLY and contact your This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions.

Gear & Footwear

Travel Information

Course Description

Instructor Development Course Curriculum

Attending Outward Bound

Mazama WFR syllabus

Course Preparation & Physical Fitness

Information on Completing & Returning Forms

Supplemental Forms & Scholarship

Refer to your Registration E-Mail to determine if any of the following forms are required for your enrollment process. AGAIN, note the DUE DATE in your Registration E-Mail.
The Northwest Outward Bound School offers financial assistance in the form of Needs-Based Scholarships. The scholarships typically do not exceed 1/2 of the base cost. In order to receive an award offer, you will have to enroll in your chosen course, go through the enrollment and medical screening process and be officially cleared to participate on the course. There is a $500 deposit that must be paid at the time of enrollment, which is refundable if your scholarship award does not meet your needs. Please note that all scholarship applicants are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and awards are strictly based on need and scholarship money availability. The applications form is available below. Please contact Skye Clifford (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) if you have any questions regarding the Needs-Based Scholarships, and/or other questions regarding financing for your course.

Need-Based Scholarship Application

Course Description


Northwest Outward Bound School offers two distinct types of long-format (50 days +) courses: semester courses and instructor courses. Instructor courses are specifically designed for students that want to explore a career in outdoor education, whereas semester courses are designed for students looking for a long Outward Bound course that maximizes the depth of the experience. While both course types teach numerous technical and human skills, the instructor courses add a layer of educational skills. Instructor course students spend significant time learning experiential education theory and are required to utilize their educational learning in a formal educational practicum where they design and implement a multi-day outdoor education experience for other students. Instructor courses also include a 9-day Wilderness First Responder course. If you have any questions, or are having difficulty choosing between a semester and instructor course, please call a Course Advisor at 503-946-3406 ext. 2351.

Please see the detailed syllabus provided by the Wilderness Medicine Training Center Inc. for more information.

Northwest Wilderness Course -  Instructor

During this course students will enhance their readiness to work in outdoor programs by participating in this extensive multi-faceted educational expedition. Students will develop skills in sea kayaking, mountaineering and rock climbing. They will also learn group facilitation methods and creative course planning strategies. Risk management  will be studied in groups in a variety of settings and situations, planning for and actually teaching youth from the area. The group will complete an expedition Outward Bound style, learning about wilderness education through direct experience. Instructors and other staff will enrich this expedition with seminars and discussions about how to teach both the skills students know and those students learn, plus broader issues concerning how to manage a wilderness experience to achieve specific goals for individuals and groups.

The Northwest Wilderness Course in Washington

The Northwest offers stunning course areas, and a reputation of expertise in training instructors that makes it an ideal location for a 50-day instructor course. During this course, students will have the opportunity to learn and master sea kayaking, rock climbing, mountaineering, wilderness medicine and light weight backpacking in some of the most renowned course areas in the United States, while building the human and educational skills necessary to be an effective instructor. All the while students are gaining their own Outward Bound experience, working in a team, pushing personal limits and exploring personal values. Students will also have the opportunity to explore how to structure this experience for others in the future. Since this course takes place at the height of the summer season, students will also experience first-hand the working of courses and base camps 'behind the scenes.' At the end of the course students will leave with Wilderness First Responder certification, as well as skills and experience in sea kayaking, light weight backpacking, mountaineering, rock climbing, wilderness travel, and state-of-the-art training in safety management and educational programming. Instructor courses are designed for those with a serious interest in a career in outdoor education. They are not interchangeable with our semester courses.

Workshops (Ongoing)

Workshops include sessions on Outward Bound philosophy: adventure and experiential education, teaching styles and techniques, group dynamics, group facilitation and debriefing practices. A large component of the course also addresses leadership theory, which encompasses conflict resolution, judgment and decision-making, risk management, course planning, and logistics design.

Sea Kayaking

During this initial phase of the course students will learn how to paddle a sea kayak, perform self and assisted kayak rescues, plan routes and navigate on the water, set up camp and plan and cook meals. After mastering basic skills, students will learn and practice more advanced kayak skills, such as rolling, bracing and paddling in strong tides and currents.

Wilderness First Responder

Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification is recognized as the standard level of expertise in backcountry first aid. Professionals from the nationally recognized Wilderness Medical Training Center will teach our WFR class at our beautiful basecamp in Mazama, WA. Students will develop skills in: patient assessment through the knowledge of body systems, equipment improvisation, trauma, environmental/backcountry medicine, allergies & toxins, and not to mention wilderness protocols and rescue. Students will also receive WFR certification if they pass the exam.


This multi-day mountaineering expedition will take students into the heart of the North Cascades and through the Sawtooth Wilderness. Students will learn land navigation skills, and travel in the North Cascades will include time on and off-trail both above and below tree line. This phase of the course covers a wealth of technical skills, including basic knots and hitches, ice axe use, technical climbing on snow and rock, and rope-team and fixed line travel.

Rock Climbing & Top Rope Site Management

During this phase of the course, students will learn more advanced rock climbing skills at our front country rock sites while living on our base camp in Mazama, WA. Topics will include knots, anchors, movement over rock, top roping, belaying, belay escapes, harnesses and other equipment, site assessment, and site management and facilitation skills.

Educational Practicum

This phase of the course involves two days of preparation to run a course, which is closely mentored by Outward Bound staff. Once the Instructor Development group is ready, they will spend 2-3 days working with local students. Instructor Development students will facilitate their Outward Bound experience with the support and mentorship of Outward Bound instructors. These instructors will assess performance in real time to offer useful feedback and learning so that participants can improve rapidly as an outdoor educator.

Backpacking Final Expedition

As students near the last days of the course, they will be able to maximize their independence and decision making as instructors empower them to use their newly acquired confidence and skills to make the decisions that will see them through the final days of the adventure. The group will plan and undertake a significant backpacking itinerary. They will plan the itinerary, choose and pack the food, and develop leadership and risk management protocols for the group. If the group is assessed to be competent and ready, they will travel independent of instructors, who will remain in the field with should assistance be needed.


Each Outward Bound course in Washington includes a solo experience. Instructors thoughtfully manage a solo so that it is a time where students can relax from the physical and mental rigors of the course and spend some time reflecting upon the experience. While students will be largely alone during this time, they will be camping close to the instructor base camp and instructors will check on them regularly. Our courses also include an environmental service component. Service projects range widely depending on the course, but may include projects such as trail repair, removal of invasive species, assisting at our local food bank farm or doing repairs at our community non-profit nursing home.Successful completion of this course demands mastery of skills, trust, fitness, confidence, tenacity, leadership, initiative and compassion. The promotion of these qualities and the discovery of what strength lies within is the purpose of Outward Bound.

Course Area

The San Juan Islands are located between the Olympic Coast Range, Vancouver Island and the North Cascades. The combination of glaciated peaks and sparkling waters make the San Juan Islands one of the best kayaking venues in the world. Sightings of Orca whales, seals, porpoises and eagles are common. There are over 400 islands in Puget Sound that are rimmed by rugged shorelines, pristine beaches and mountains. The North Cascades are called the “American Alps” for their rugged beauty and glaciated peaks; they remain some of the wildest and most untrammeled 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 wild flowers. Our course area hosts some of the most famous alpine climbing and backpacking routes in the United States. Our Mountaineering programs operate in the Sawtooth Wilderness on the east side of the North Cascades and receive significantly less rainfall than the western coast of Washington.

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