Latest Eagle Rock Job Opening: Outdoor Education Instructional Specialist

If you’re an experienced outdoor educator who is truly passionate about working with high school students (not to mention, you’re someone who can’t understand how 35 television seasons of “Survivor” can continue to produce finalists who can’t build a fire — even with a hefty chunk of flint in their hands), then you need to know about our latest job opening.

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Eagle Rock School students during a wilderness orientation trip.

At a 30,000-foot level, what is mostly required of our new Outdoor Education Instructional Specialist is a dedication to teach others and, more specifically, high school students who haven’t found a lot of success in traditional school settings. If you can wear a variety of hats that weren’t just designed for warding off the sun, this jobs for you.

Successful candidates must be enthusiastic about implementing an outdoor education curriculum and hiring and supervising field instructors, in addition to teaching classes both on campus and in the backcountry. Most important, our new outdoor education leader will lead our traditional 24-day wilderness orientation trips for incoming students — a rite of passage for all incoming Eagle Rock School students that takes place three times a year within areas designated as Wilderness.

The position also includes conducting outdoor education classes for veteran Eagle Rock School students, keeping track of all of the equipment that goes along with an outdoor-focused campus, mentoring at least one Public Allies Fellow, and an Continue reading…

Eagle Rock School is looking for an Adjunct Outdoor Education Instructor

One of the current positions we’re recruiting for is titled Outdoor Education Adjunct Instructor. It’s a job we imagine would appeal to anyone who loves working in the outdoors, especially with diverse adolescents from backgrounds that haven’t afforded them the opportunity to experience the healing and generative nature of the outdoors or a unique and supportive community like ours.

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Not a lot of classroom time required here. In fact, most of the job requires extensive time with underserved youth in the open air, surrounding by mountains, meadows and meandering streams.

And while that admittedly sounds like an outdoor professional’s dream, there’s a ton of administrative prep work involved in this position. For instance, just preparing for the Eagle Rock School New Student Wilderness Orientation Course begins with planning and coordination among various Eagle Rock team members in the areas of logistics, instruction and course directing.

There’s also the task of assisting with the complex technical components of adventure-based classes — again including logistics support. In addition, there’s equipment and food inventory, activity risk management and training, climbing wall training, curriculum development, and assisting us with our ongoing accreditation documentation through the Association for Experiential Education (AEE).

Oh, and then there’s a solid amount of time spent with our veteran students and Continue reading…

Connecting Wilderness Field Experiences to Academic Success

As frequent readers of the Eagle Rock Blog may already know, the Eagle Rock School New Student Wilderness Orientation Course is a staple rite of passage in the Eagle Rock student experience. All new students, since the founding of the school in the early-1990s, are challenged to start out their Eagle Rock experience by leaving behind the comforts of modern society and heading out into the wilderness for 24 days with a small group of strangers/fellow incoming students.

They are required to sleep on the ground, cook their own food, face the challenges that Mother Nature presents, and deal with all of the issues that arise in small group living. On top of that, these students are challenged to take a deep look at themselves, working on self-awareness, self-control, effective communication and tools that will help them to be successful in the Eagle Rock community.

Our wilderness courses follow a typical Outward Bound type model (backpacking, rock-climbing, solo, service, etc.) where the group — focusing on personal growth and development — gradually builds towards more independence from the instructor team. But we differ dramatically from most outdoor programs in that this is truly an orientation program with the primary focus of preparing students for both the academic and student living experience on campus.

Eagle Rock School Wilderness Orientation

Literally everything we do during the first five weeks of the new student experience should be focused on helping these novice Eagle Rock School students to achieve success in their time here.

When new students arrive, their first week is packed full of the Eagle Rock experience. They are expected to fully engage and participate from Day One. The intention of having a full week on campus is for the students to fully understand what they are getting into. That time also provides our wilderness instructors the opportunity to observe these “newbies” and have something to draw from later when Continue reading…

An Outdoor Education Fellow’s Perspective of The Eagle Rock School Wilderness Orientation Course

Since Eagle Rock’s inception, a new student wilderness orientation course has been an unconventional tradition that sets ours apart from other learning habitats. As an Outdoor Education Fellow, I continue to be blown away by how Eagle Rock engrains — and then celebrates — the wilderness experience as a right of passage for new students.

The moments they first step foot on campus, new Eagle Rock School students find themselves surrounded by veteran students and the first topic of conversation is inevitably, the wilderness course. These more experienced students talk about how much they enjoyed it or hated it. They offer the newbies tips and tricks on staying clean, or the best way to snag some extra toilet paper.

And soon, these fresh new faces hear about circles — a restorative process that is used frequently while in wilderness. Like the name suggests, students and instructors form a circle in order to create an emotionally safe space for discussions. Interestingly enough, there has been an evolution in how students reminisce about their experience with circles.

It was often described as a negative experience, but over time, something has changed. The concept of circles, and the perspective of them, has changed. I’ll explain why I think this change has occurred in just a moment.

I often tell students near the end of the 24-day wilderness expedition, that one of the many reasons we go out into the backcountry for two dozen days is because there’s really no place to hide. Wilderness forces us all to step up to the plate, to embody our strengths consistently, and it exposes areas with which we are struggling.

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Sometimes, it exposes problem areas we didn’t even know we had. But the one thing 24 days gives us is time. We have time to stop, time to contemplate, time to discuss what’s going on. And time to figure out how we can move forward in order to curtail, contain or take the power out of a conflict that might impede the functionality of the group — our community.

Of course, conflict is unavoidable. We like to think it is a healthy approach to developing a positive group culture that correctly, and appropriately reflects the vast values and perspectives of its community. An introductory way that we do this is with affective statements and questions. These tools are incorporated into circles and the progression of questions the facilitator uses. One-on-one coaching is an essential tool of the wilderness instructor. Students often need support in how they bring up issues or frustrations with affective statements.

For instance Continue reading…

Meet The Team: Eagle Rock Human Performance & Outdoor Education Instructor — Jon Anderson

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Jon Anderson

Today, we’re placing our blogging klieg lights on Jon Anderson, who is an Instructional Specialist at Eagle Rock where he works to integrate adventure-based activities into our science, math and human performance classes held here on campus in Estes Park. Along the way, Jon teaches our students all about environmental science, leadership, and citizen science.

Here’s his story:

Eagle Rock: What did you do prior to coming to work for Eagle Rock?

Jon: I worked at a kindergarten through 12th grade school in Denver where I taught high school history, K-8 physical education, and high school outdoor education classes.

Eagle Rock: What attracted you to Eagle Rock?

Jon: I found out about Eagle Rock initially through a professor in college. She didn’t think I’d be a very good (or very happy) traditional Physical Education teacher. When I came to Eagle Rock for a visit I was excited about the small classes and the “in your face” attitude of the place. I was also really impressed — and I still am — that the community revolves around relationships.

Eagle Rock: When you’re not working, what do you like to do in your spare time?

Jon: Try and be a good daddy and husband. I’m also happy to go fly-fishing and Continue reading…