Staff Trainings – May 2016

By Rusty Ott

In preparation for the busy summer season, Northwest Outward Bound School (NWOBS) has conducted various trainings during the month of May, both in Washington and Oregon. Training at Odin Falls, in Oregon, were divided into training for new field staff, returning field staff, and logistics coordinators.

Luke o'neill6
Photo by Luke O’Neill

New staff began training at Mazama, the NWOBS basecamp in Washington, in a combined training including staff from the Oregon and Washington wilderness bases (Odin Falls and Mazama, respectively), and the  Portland programs. Administrative and student services staff from Portland also attended. There, Oregon new staff went through Student Management Skills Training with their Washington and Portland counterparts. This combined training was an excellent opportunity to strengthen the personal relationships between staff from our various bases. Upon returning to Oregon, the Oregon New Staff embarked on the Deschutes River for six days of River Skills Training. Following that, they hiked into the Three Sisters Wilderness in the Central Oregon Cascades for nine days of Mountain Skills Training. They began training by practicing backcountry navigation, and finished by guiding themselves to a point called Trung’s Finger. This was a technical ascent requiring fixed lines. New staff will complete their training with three days of Rock Skills at Smith Rock State Park.

Training at Smith
Oregon new staff trainees prepare to rappel at Smith Rock State Park

Although several of Oregon’s returning staff went through Alpine Skills Training on Mt Hood earlier this spring, they officially began their training with five days of Rock Skills at Smith Rock State Park. Much of the training was done in small groups, so that each individual’s specific needs could be met. The culmination of that portion of their training was a Tyrolean Traverse and ascent of a feature called Monkey Face. From there, they embarked on River Site Management Training, first spending four days on the Deschutes River, then four more days on the North Umpqua River. This training emphasized managing rivers as moving sites, working with smaller craft, and progressing to increasingly difficult situations. The Deschutes River was chosen because it is the site of many of our courses, and the trainers wanted staff to be familiar with it. Meanwhile, the North Umpqua was chosen because it is a river few staff have been on, and the trainers wanted trainees to practice their skills in an unfamiliar setting. Highlights from the river included practicing managing flipped boats in big rapids. Returning staff completed their training with two days of Student Management Skills Training at the Odin Falls base in Central Oregon. This training helped staff understand the brains, behaviors, and psychology of our student population, and was conducted by instructor and course director Jor-El Zajatz, who recently received his M.A. in counseling.


While the field staff conducted their trainings, logistics staff spent six days being trained to support our courses. They became familiar with NWOBS equipment, supplies, food, operations, and vehicles, and completed their training by conducting the course end of Oregon’s fifty-day instructor development course at the mouth of the Deschutes River.

Water training.jpeg
Swiftwater Rescue trainee Justin Hall dives into the Deschutes Rover with a rescue line

In addition to all of these trainings, a Swiftwater Rescue course was offered at Odin Falls this month. Six Oregon staff members spent three days honing their skills by swimming, setting up technical rescue systems, and conducting mock rescues in fast rivers. I myself pretended to be a victim for a night rescue scenario on the Deschutes River.

Overall, the month of May has been busy with trainings both on the rivers, mountains, and crags of the Oregon course area, and in the warehouses and classrooms at the Odin Falls base. The Oregon staff members are excitedly anticipating implementing their learnings while maintaining NWOBS’ high safety standards and delivering the Outward Bound mission with excellence.



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