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Outdoor Skills Instructor

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Outdoor Skills Instructor Description

As an Outdoor Skills Instructor and Counselor at Falling Creek, you will equip boys with the tools and knowledge they need to be successful in the outdoors. This activity is called OSC, which stands for Outdoor Skills Certified. You’ll help campers explore the 900 acres of camp, teaching campers about 5 key areas: fire, shelters, navigation, tools, and “wilderness living,” which includes things like edible plant knowledge, rescue signals, and knot tying.

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At OSC, boys learn how to navigate the world, build confidence in their ability to be independent, and gain more knowledge to keep them safe on their adventures. You’ll be instructing a wide range of ages and skill levels, and helping to foster a love of the outdoors in the next generation.

Boys have the opportunity to work on the five different progression levels in the OSC program, culminating with the achievement of “Warrior”. The goal for campers achieving Warrior in OSC is to have the knowledge and confidence to be self-sufficient on a solo trip in the wilderness. Through the hard and soft skills taught at camp, you’ll be helping boys grow into the best version of themselves.

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What’s a Typical Day Like For This Position?

This blog shares a glimpse into a day at Outdoor Skills!

Male camp counselors live in a cabin with one other counselor and eight campers. In addition to their activity instruction, male counselors will have an assortment of responsibilities related to the management of their cabin. Female camp counselors also serve as activity staff, but don’t live in cabins with the campers, and are responsible instead for organizational tasks during the times that male staff are busy with their cabins.

Each day at camp begins with waking up and gathering as a community at Morning Watch. Next we enjoy a hearty breakfast and an exciting Morning Assembly on the porch. Then it’s off to the first three activities of the day, followed by a period of Free Choice before lunch. On a typical day, each counselor will be assigned a specific area to supervise during one Free Choice period, and have the other Free Choice period to themselves as their “Self-Care Time”. Rest Hour happens after lunch, before the three activity periods in the afternoon. Then there is the second Free Choice period, dinner, and a fun Evening Program! A typical day ends with Milk and Cookies, followed by Evening Embers, a discussion time with your cabin mates to talk about the day’s adventures. Everyone is tired and happy by the time it’s Lights Out. On weekends, we take a break from our regular activity instruction, sleep in an extra hour, and play games as a whole camp community.

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At Falling Creek, campers are free to choose the 6 activities they want on their daily schedule. Even though you might have 8 boys in your cabin who are the same age, you’ll be instructing a variety of ages and skill levels throughout the day in your 50 minute long activity periods. On a typical day, you’ll meet the campers in each activity period at the OSC building by the lower lake, and can either do that day’s lesson at the building or head out across property to explore and learn.

You might practice fire building methods, identify edible plants on a hike, build shelters in the woods, teach different useful knots, give a lesson on map reading, or learn about the wildlife native to this area. You and your fellow OSC instructors will have lesson plans (that you can help build!) that will be tailored to cover all the different parts of the program.

Our society doesn’t provide much direct experience in nature today, and as the young spend less and less of their lives in natural surroundings, I’ve always suspected that their senses don’t fully develop and they don’t experience the richness of the human experience. One essential part of Falling Creek’s value, which is difficult to understand as a camper, is the role of nature in one’s early spiritual development. Falling Creek is an antidote for today’s addictive ‘screen time’ and lack of social interaction, recreation, and outdoor time. Eventually, everyone wanders away from this magical place called Falling Creek, but we never wander away from the impact it has had on our lives.

-Chuck McGrady, Director Emeritus and Former National President of the Sierra Club

Need internship credit?

Many of our counselors who need internship credit to graduate don’t realize that they can earn that credit while working at camp! We can coordinate with your department to tailor a unique learning experience, and have set up internship credit across a wide variety of disciplines. Read more about the value of an internship at camp or how to translate your camp experience to your resume.

Working at camp isn’t just fun and rewarding, it’s also a great way to jumpstart your professional development. The skills critical for success in today’s world are developed and practiced at camp, including communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and contribution. You’ll make connections with people from a variety of cultural backgrounds, across the country and around the world. Being a Falling Creek alumni also connects you to a network of former staff and parents who are business owners, entrepreneurs, outdoor industry professionals, and employers. We are frequently asked to refer our most talented staff members.

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Why Should You Be an Outdoor Skills Instructor?

As an OSC instructor, you’ll play an important role in helping boys be more knowledgeable, confident, and prepared outdoorsmen. Under your guidance, boys can learn about the environment and gain valuable outdoor skills they can use for the rest of their lives. Our goal is to equip boys with the skills to navigate the world – both metaphorically and literally (thanks to the OSC progression system which includes map reading).

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As a camp counselor, you’ll be a role model for the boys both in and out of your activity, helping them gain both knowledge and confidence in the outdoors. If you’re majoring in outdoor education, recreation management, agriculture, or teaching, being a summer camp Outdoor Skills instructor will be a rewarding experience that will give you helpful skills for your future career path. Even if your college major is unrelated to the outdoors, you’ll still be gaining leadership skills and networking connections that will give you a competitive edge in the job market, no matter where you’re headed next.

We don’t start you at the bottom and give you busywork; you are directly involved in running camp and helping campers succeed. If you are a male counselor, you’ll be responsible for the eight campers in your cabin, as well as the campers you instruct in your activity(s). Instructing a group of campers will challenge you, but you’ll learn how to be a more engaging and encouraging teacher, better steward of the natural world, and help boys learn new skills that can easily lead to new passions. At the end of the summer your teaching and leadership skills will become more defined and polished.

What’s My Time-Off Like?

Each week you’ll receive a scheduled time-off period of 34 consecutive hours. In 2023 the time-off period began in the morning around breakfast on the first day, allowed you to be off throughout the reminder of that day and night, and required you to return the following day in late afternoon, around dinner. Staff are also able to take an hour of “self-care time” each day at camp, where you are free to read, workout, nap, or do anything you need to “recharge your batteries” daily. Everyone gets the same amount of time off; the schedule is based on your position and role at camp. Being well-rested and refreshed is a must! (During session changeover weeks, this schedule is altered slightly.)

What Benefits Do I Get?

We offer a competitive and progressive pay schedule that is determined based on your experience, age, education, certifications, and other factors. See the 2024 Estimated Pay Sheet here. Staff working the full summer (Orientation plus 4 sessions) will have a base pay of $4300, not including additional pay, experience, and bonuses.

In addition to housing, food, and pay, each day at camp brings adventure, physical recreation, and endless opportunities for personal and professional growth. You are welcome to use the camp facilities and participate in activities during your free time, so long as it does not take away from a class or camper.

Visit our “What You Get” page to read more about the value of an internship at camp, how to translate your camp experience to your resume, resources, networking, and certifications offered.

When Do I Need To Be Available?

While individual dates may differ based on your personal contract, our summer season is from mid May to mid August, and our preference is to hire for the full season. For the 2024 season, All-Staff Orientation begins on May 30th. Closing day is August 16th after the final session. Depending on your role at camp, you may need to arrive earlier in May for additional training (Lifeguard Training, the WFR Certification Course, Compass Horse Training, Adventure Staff Training, etc.) The WFR training for adventure staff will begin on May 18. You also have the option to extend your contract by joining us for Father/Son Weekends and/or Family Camp.

What Essential Skills Are Needed?

Completed At Least One Year of College and/or At Least 19 Years Old.

Our mission is existing to shepherd the journey of personal growth through love and adventure. Staff must be dedicated to live by the Falling Creek Code.

Patient. Flexible. Team Player. Genuinely Enthusiastic. Friendly. Eager to Grow. Open to Offer and Receive Feedback. Able to Think on Your Feet. Good Decision Maker. Hard Working. Get-It-Done Attitude.

See more on our staff FAQs page.