The Season Workers Guide: Entry Level Outdoor Sports Jobs

Rock Face

Working as an outdoor instructor is so much fun. You get to work within a team, that love the same things you do, live with you, work with you and share their laughs and troubles with you. For the past season (April-August), I have had the pleasure of working within a team of people like the above. We worked long days but put our all into everything we did. We had school groups on camp every week since we started in April and this was were the fun was. We worked in groups of three instructors, going up to forty, depending on our site and school group.

We were based in the UK; West Sussex, but ran outdoor courses in the Peak District, also taking a group of sixth formers to the French Alps. The quality of people you work with obviously varies but mainly they are all outgoing, happy to help you people. Everyone looks out for each other and we all have a laugh especially at weekends. We lived on a campsite (which is where we ran the groups from), allowing us to live were we work. Some people might thing that’s a bit rubbish, but I assure you it’s awesome. Being able to crawl out of bed with one minute to spare and still being on-time, also allowing you to become great friends with the people you live and work with.

I know every outdoor centre is not the same which is good, letting us see how different styles work. This is why outdoor instructing is so versatile. Our groups ranged from year 2 on a day trip, to year 11&12 on the Alps trip. Outdoor sports work in the UK varies. We have high ropes activities, watersports, problem solving, rock scrambling, mountain biking, orienteering and archery. The high ropes activities you may experience or work on vary, they are set into levels. This depends on how many ropes you have; level one is one rope, two, two, three, three ropes etc up to four. But then the zip wire is classed as triple rope, as you have to understand how to bring the person up to you safely and if they happened to get stuck on the wire and couldn’t get down with the aid of the ladder, you would have to clip on zip down to them and lower them off!

It all sounds complicated but I assure you it isn’t. Once the first skills are grasped there is no stopping what you can do. What I thought was good about our company, was that you had to be trained on an activity, assessed on it, then observed minimum of three times. This might seem a lot, but I feel it is so worth it as the safety of children is involved. This article is just to give you an insight into what sort of people your with and what sort of activities centre’s might run. To apply for a job, you don’t need to be qualified you can start working in outdoor centres from scratch, but it is better for you if you have some basic knowledge. Also the qualifications you earn and the type of job it is means that you can travel the world and work at the same time. Many companies welcome foreign workers at it can bring diversity to their workforce. You may also know techniques that other people do not know! It is possible to do work experience, volunteer or be a trainee in the outdoor world.

I have previously done two weeks voluntary work for a centre specializing in disabled clientele. It was amazing to work for them as they have adapted everything for the needs of the clients. For example some holiday makers had sever autism, epilepsy, little or no sight, deaf, physical disabilities and challenging behavior. So they had a sensory room which had open access. There is apartments you can rent, single rooms; say for a school group, and dormitories. There were swimming pool sessions, kayaking, canoeing, sailing, abseil, climbing, low ropes, explore and discover day, horse riding and a variety of other sessions. It really was a brilliant experience. Because some of the service users had physical disabilities, the activities were adapted so everyone could join in. the horse riding could be done on the horses back if they were more able, with two spotters, or in the carriage of the horse. They were then lead out into the paddock when they had got the hang of it, then lead off down the tracks and had a horse ride around the centre.

There was a large outdoor pay area to play in whenever anyone wanted. With a swing adapted to people who had little movement. It was a large suspended rubber basket, meaning they could lie in it and get swung. Everyone ate in the food hall together; meaning families in similar situations could meet each other and chat about the things they faced. It is a very worthwhile thing to do and a great beginning in the industry.

Helen Rosewarne