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Meet Our Rocky Mountain Instructors

Outward Bound Canada is full of talented instructors and staff! Learn more about three of our current Rocky Mountains staff; Lauren, Mathew and Emily below.

All three have diverse qualifications such as Association of Canadian Mountain Guides Apprentice Hiking Guide, Wilderness First Responder, Mental Health First Aid, and extensive outdoor education experience. Emily joined Outward Bound after completing the Instructor Development Program and Matthew is a graduate of the Indigenous Instructor Development Program.

What is your favourite part about being an OBC instructor?

Lauren – There are so many! Let’s see, I think one of my favourite things about being an instructor is creating communities where people from all backgrounds find a place of belonging. You know it is happening when things get a little weird. It’s that point in a course where people get to be their real weird and authentic selves and the group values them for it. The community that I get to be a part of is pretty special. Even though we don’t see each other most of the year, whenever I get to see the folks that I work with, it’s like we pick up where we left off. The culture that OBC Rockies tries to foster amongst staff is one of support and camaraderie and that makes for an amazing work environment.

Mathew – I think Outward Bound is special because of the balance they bring to their courses between technical outdoors skills, and mental and emotional learning. Being outdoors can be intimidating for some people, and Outward Bound creates a really special environment to bridge that gap through the focus on creating a safe space to learn, not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. It creates an ideal space for a deeper connection with yourself, with the land, and with the people with whom you are sharing the adventure.

Emily – I love reaching the point on a course where students have become so proficient in their technical and leadership skills that they take initiative in shaping their own trip. As an instructor, I am always there for risk management and support, but seeing that student growth is very rewarding.

What are your favourite expeditions to lead?

Lauren – My favourite courses are longer than 2 weeks and have backcountry pizza on the menu!

Emily – I am a huge fan of the 21-day backpacking courses in the Rockies. To me they are such a classic OBC offering and allow for so much time to dig deeper into themes that come up on the course and get to know students better. This season, I am very excited for our first-ever 2SLGBTQ+ course! Connecting with the 2SLGBTQ+ community has been very important to me and I am so excited to do that in a backcountry setting.

Is there a stigma you would like to break when it comes to going on expeditions?

Lauren – Our courses are not meant to be a race, they are built around working together as a team, whether that’s making it to a specific destination on the map or making sure the group is working well. The physical portion of the course is only part of it.

Emily – As a woman in the outdoor industry, I regularly deal with assumptions that I am less proficient than my male co-instructors when it comes to technical skills, even with the privilege I carry as a white person. I would like to shatter the image of what a typical outdoors person looks like, or that you need expensive gear to have a good time in nature.

Article contributed by Maha Ejaz