Wilderness Instructor Course with Northwest Outward Bound School


Nadia Lubeznik is an alumna of a 50 day Northwest Wilderness Instructors Course, and subsequently, has worked as an Outward Bound instructor at Northwest Outward Bound School, Hurricane Island Outward Bound School, and Outward Bound Australia over the last six years. Here is Nadia’s story.

Outward Bound Instructor

Caption: Nadia Coming Off the Deschutes River.

At age 30, I found Outward Bound, and my life was never the same. I’d been working as a corporate event planner in Chicago, a high-paced, high-stress position that kept me indoors and on concrete. I didn’t know what my life was missing until I spent a week in the woods on an 8 day Outward Bound canoeing/backpacking course.

Whisperlite cooking

Photo by Jor-El Zajatz. Caption: Learning how to cook outdoors.

On my first Outward Bound course, I felt like I’d discovered my truest self. I became completely alive, alert, and present in a way I hadn’t felt in a long time as all of the chatter of a busy urban life faded away. I immediately asked my instructors, “How do I work for Outward Bound?”

The following season, I was thrilled to participate in Northwest Outward Bound School’s 50 day Wilderness Instructors Course. I thought I just needed technical skills to become an excellent instructor, feeling as if, at 31, my interpersonal skills were polished. On this 50 day course, though, I realized I had a lot of soft skills to learn, and I strengthened communicating and offering feedback, motivating struggling peers, and also motivating myself while continuing to lead. As my leadership skills emerged and strengthened, I became instrumental in creating a positive experience for the entire team.

Before my Instructors course, I had never rafted or mountaineered, and I had very limited rock climbing experience.

Climbing rope management

Photo by David Moskowtiz. Caption: Climbing rope management.

Oregon is unlike anywhere in the nation as all of these activities lay within a few hours of each other. The high desert meets pine forests, wild rivers, and 10,000 foot peaks in a region well-known across the country. I built technical rock climbing skills on world-class Smith Rock, summited Oregon’s highest peak, Mt. Hood, and rafted the challenging Deschutes River. Although I am currently back in the Midwest, my heart lies in magnificent Oregon.

South Sister

Photo by Jor-El Zajatz. Caption: Contemplation on South Sister.

I consider my time with Outward Bound to be one of the top two most influential experiences of my entire life, and I cannot imagine life without Outward Bound. Every day, I use skills I gained on Northwest Outward Bound School’s Instructors Course in my personal and professional life, challenging myself daily to communicate honestly, find authentic compassion for others, and step out of my comfort zone so that I can continue to grow every single day of my life as I have grown on Outward Bound courses.

Monkey Face, Smith Rock State Park

Photo by Kim Budd. Caption: Atop Monkey Face, Smith Rock State Park.