If you’ve ever been on one of those outdoor pursuit weekends with school or work, you’ll know how ridiculously fun they are. You know the ones, where you drive to the middle of nowhere, climb trees, throw yourself into rivers and drink nasty Welsh ale.
You probably didn’t notice at the time, but there are people out there who do things like this for a living. The instructors, managers and staff who lead the activities are involved with this sort of thing day in, day out. If you become an expert in an outdoor pursuit or an extreme sport, there’s absolutely no reason at all why you can’t forge a career out of it.
What does this career involve, and what does it require?
The beauty of these careers is that you can work with pretty much anyone, just about anywhere. You could work in the Brecon Beacons with a group of senior I.T. managers from Rotherham, or in the Outer Hebrides with underprivileged children.
Working in outdoor pursuits, adventure and extreme sports involves becoming an expert in virtually anything you can imagine: snowboarding, surfing, mountain climbing, horse riding, orienteering, skydiving, canoeing, mega-ramp skateboarding, motor cross, diving…
We could go on and on and on. You’ll have to look up ‘mega-ramp skate boarding’ though, it looks mental!
It’s common for someone working in outdoor pursuits or extreme sports to be able to turn their hand to a number of different activities. One day you could be rock climbing, the next kayaking or orienteering. If you have more than one area of expertise, you’ll become far more employable.
As far as everyday skills are concerned, you’ll obviously need to be a very good communicator. On a Tuesday you could be working with children and on Wednesday those pesky I.T. guys from Rotherham might be back for more. Either way, you’ll need to be able to talk them through the different activities, walking a tightrope between emphasising the safety concerns and offering as much enthusiasm as possible.
You’ll need to have extensive knowledge of the equipment that’s used, any safety precautions people will need to take and have a canny knack for keeping an eye on changes in weather and other external forces that may make activities far too dangerous.
Oh and how could we forget! You’ll also need to be physically fit and have good stamina, but that goes without saying, surely?
How do I break into this career?
Mostly, people kick-start their career as an instructor and work in local outdoor sports centres. The work tends to be mainly educational and involves teaching people new skills, but a lot of the time it can also merely involve keeping an eye on people and ensuring their safety.
A lot of outdoor jobs are based where the action is, such as Wales, Scotland, the Lake District and other rural parts of England. However, if you are a rock-climbing expert, for example, you could look for a job anywhere with an indoor climbing wall facility.
Similarly, if you want something completely different, you could move abroad and teach snowboarding in the Alps, surfing in Bermuda, diving in Cancun, and so on. It might help in these situations though to have a good grasp of other languages.
Whatever you choose, you’ll need to be an adventurous sort. Have a look at the likes of Go Ape and UK Outdoor Pursuits for examples of the sort of company you could work for.
So, if you live for the thrill and excitement of rock climbing, white-water rafting or mountain biking, why not pursue a career in outdoor pursuits, adventure and extreme sports and pass on the adrenaline bug to others!