Women's Outdoor Leadership Course

Women's Outdoor Leadership Course

Applications for the Women's Outdoor Leadership Course are now closed for 2023. We hope to run the course again at a similar time in 2024. Please email katherine.obrien@outwardbound.org.uk if you would like to be kept informed.

Why do we run a Women's Outdoor Leadership Course?

We believe that role models matter to the young people we work with and we want to play a part in providing opportunities for the next generation of great female leaders.

50% of Outward Bound course participants are female, yet our instructional team is not representative. We recognise our traditionally masculine roots and therefore since 2019 we've been committed to taking action to redress the gender imbalance in our workforce. We don’t know if this is an answer to increasing representation by women within the outdoor sector. But we do know that if we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll likely get what we’ve always got. This is an opportunity to challenge ourselves, tread new ground and hopefully learn a lot through the process.

We've listened to practitioners, academics, national governing bodies, experts outside of the outdoor sector and most importantly you. Women looking forward to a career in the outdoors. We’ve heard from women who experience limitations (internal or external), women who don’t and from those who in hindsight recognise a variety of factors which have stalled progress, undermined confidence or limited movement towards their potential as an outdoor leader.

These are themes that come up time and time again in conversation and research into women’s leadership in the outdoors. It’s exciting to be in a position to take some practical action!

Perhaps you identify with the self-doubt that can show up uninvited when you’re putting yourself forward for challenges, new roles or assessments. Or the feeling of needing to be 110% ready. You might have come across more subtle influences that can lead to a different experience for female leaders in the outdoors. When you stop and consider the history of participation, leadership and media portrayal in the outdoors, it’s unsurprising that this affects women disproportionately.

Maybe you recognise the value of an opportunity to be led and mentored by other women (as well as men), and the benefits that can flow from learning alongside female peers. Interestingly research suggests a paradox here, with some women feeling the benefit only after overcoming initial resistance to joining a female specific opportunity. Will you take the leap to find out?

It’s possible that none of the above applies to you and you are simply interested in the opportunity to develop your skills as a leader in the outdoors. We’ve heard a mixture of responses to women specific courses. They won’t be for everyone. If you’re curious, and the course appeals, we hope you’ll consider applying to find out more so you can see for yourself whether this could be the next step in your career.

WOLC 800x500
Womens outdoor leadership course 400x250
WOLC 2021 500x600
WOLC 400x250
WOLC 400x500
WOLC 800x500 1
More information
Who are we looking for?

This is a course for women who want to work as an Instructor , developing young people, within The Outward Bound Trust in the future. If you identify as non-binary or transgender and the purpose and themes of the course resonate with you, we’d love to receive your application.

You should have completed a minimum of one out of three of Summer Mountain Leader Training, Rock Climb Instructor (or SPA) Training, and/or Paddlesports Leader Training (or equivalent) and have significant personal experience / logbook time in another, by the course start date. There is no maximum level of qualification. It is desirable to have 12-18 months experience working with young people in any context.

The course could be for you if:

  • You are working your way towards outdoor leadership qualifications and a career in the outdoors developing young people.
  • You have completed the core qualifications listed above, want a job with Outward Bound and are keen to be part of a supportive community as you start with The Trust.
  • You want to challenge yourself to grow and develop alongside a group of capable women.
  • You have passed some or all of the technical qualifications listed above and want to learn more about how you can use these working in wild places to develop young people's confidence, resilience and self-belief.
  • You want to experience being led by women further on in their career journey, while sharing your skills and being a role model for others too.
  • You have thought about working at Outward Bound and are not sure if you are ready, or it feels like a big step from what you’ve previously been doing.
  • You have previous experience in working with young people (e.g. education or youth work), are hoping to change direction by developing technical skills to work in the outdoor context, and would like to gain valuable experience by working at Outward Bound in the future.
  • You want to be part of the movement towards Outward Bound and the outdoor sector becoming more diverse, inclusive and welcoming to everyone in society.

Depending on your start point, and aspirations there will be different pathways into employment following the programme.

What is it?

A 10 week outdoor leadership development programme, based at our Loch Eil Centre. The course will include the opportunity to work on your technical (mountain, rock and water) skills as well as developing your intra-personal (self-awareness) and inter-personal (leadership & group) skills, with our most qualified staff in adventure and psychology. There will also be time working with groups of young people alongside experienced instructors and structured mentoring. Your course lead will work with you as a group and individually over the 10 weeks to ensure you have maximum opportunity to progress and work towards your goals. Outward Bound are investing in this because we want more women and marginalised genders to be motivated to come and work with us in the future, to inspire and enable the thousands of young people who are impacted by an Outward Bound course each year. Outline programme to follow when applications go live.

What does it include?
  • Personal adventures and skills development with experienced staff.
  • Understanding leadership and psychology of personal development.
  • Focused mountain and water skills weeks consolidating the skills you need to lead groups of young people.
  • Working on adventures with groups alongside experienced instructors.
  • Individualised opportunities to work on your logbooks, gain group experience for the qualifications you’re working towards, upskill, refresh and consolidate in the areas you need to develop.
  • Accommodation, food and kit provided for the 10 weeks.
  • Career advice, planning and signposting towards relevant roles to progress within Outward Bound.
  • The opportunity to contribute to and be part of Outward Bound’s journey to being a more diverse and inclusive organisation.

9th October 2023 to the 15th December 2023.

What is the course cost?

We ask that you show your commitment by paying a deposit of £500 when you register. Upon completion of the leadership programme The Outward Bound Trust will return this amount to you by paying for any outdoor leadership assessment(s), in the 12 months following the course, that you’ll need to gain in order to work as an Instructor at Outward Bound. This is non-refundable. If you change your mind about joining before the course, or decide it is not for you once starting, we will reinvest the money into development of the programme. If finding the deposit is a financial barrier, please contact us to find out more about means tested bursary funding which may be made available.

Where will we stay and is food provided?

Shared accommodation will be provided for the duration of the course (max two people per room). Food is provided at the centre from Monday lunch to Friday lunch. Outside of these times you will need to self cater, facilities provided at your accommodation.

How do I apply?

Applications will go live on International Women’s Day, Wednesday the 8 March.

You should send a CV to Kate O’Brien at katherine.obrien@outwardbound.org.uk, and click on the link below to fill in the application questions, by 5pm on the 28 March 2023. If you have further questions feel free to email or call ahead of applying. Kate can be reached on 07765221373, during normal office hours.

We will invite successful applicants to an “Is it for you?” day on the 22 April at the Ullswater Centre, in the Lake District. You will be notified if you have been selected for this by Friday 7 April.

If selected, you will need to undergo an enhanced level PVG check ahead of the course starting. The cost of this will be covered by Outward Bound.

What are the opportunities within the Outward Bound Trust after the course?

During the course we will work with you to identity your career pathway, desired location and timescales. This may involve being signposted towards paid seasonal pastoral contracts, an Instructor Development position, or an Instructor role anywhere in The Trust. See here for more info about working with The Trust and where our centres are based: Why work at Outward Bound?

Quote womens leadership course
I met wonderful role models, worked collaboratively with an amazing cohort of likeminded women, and perhaps most significantly gained a deeper understanding of myself. It was an incredible opportunity that's truly altered my mindset, and given me the tools to progress.
2019 course participant