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Outdoor Leadership Program

(Instructor Trainer Program)

SDSOS’s IT Program is designed to train those who would become guides for outdoor education programs, Sporting Outfitters, Outdoor Professionals, and professions where work environments are remote.

 Our philosophy on leadership encompasses ideas of Emotional Survival, as well as the upmost emotional strength and character one must maintain while leading groups in the wilderness in professional, recreational, and of course life or death survival situations.

 The program is completed over a period of days week or months depending on the demonstrated ability of students to apply fundamental survival, navigational, emotional and leadership skills and knowledge.

 Students should expect to be tested in the following trials and skills.

 Group Hikes.

            Students will be expected to lead hikes into the wilderness in a multitude of climates and geographical areas, and short to lengthy distances. Each hike will have a group of role players that fit different characters found in actual group hikes but also people who the student will find in professional settings. The students will assign leadership roles and responsibilities with in the group to help the hikers reach the destination safely, all together and with high morale!

            Students should expect unusual occurrences that each role player will provide during the hike. The student should be expected to handle the situation appropriately with a calm mindset. On the trail and in many real life scenarios, people come from different cultures, religions, political ideals, professions, and life philosophies that may come up in conversation among people getting to know each other for the first time. Some do no agree with each other and it is up to the group leader and assistance to recognize and resolve these situations immediately before spiraling out of hand and ultimately affect the majority of the group which can make for an awkward 5-10 mile hike.

Group Hike leaders should demonstrate the following skills

-Navigation -Know where you are going and how to get there.

-Prior Preparation. -Weather forecast, Proper Gear        

-Local Knowledge. – Plant and animal life, geology, and interesting history

-Public Speaking. -You have an audience, have charm and comedic timing!

-Basic First Aid. – Treat wounds, and breaks. Know CPR.

-Awareness. – Who has medical conditions/ allergies and how to treat them?

-Leadership. – Conflict resolve, direction, authenticity, and observation


           Navigating any terrain both wilderness and urban is a skill that will cut time and stress from any ordeal. Most situations that lead to dreadful circumstances is becoming lost. Wandering around on streets is irritating and degrades morale. Being lost in the wilderness compounds that feeling ten fold.

            A good leader knows where he/she is going in any area by having done research before a scenario and having a base skill set in navigation. Of course when it comes to wilderness, we will focus on the “primitive” ways of navigation. Here we will focus on good old Map and Compass skills as a way to find our way. We will put aside our smart phones and other technology and rely on magnetic directions and topographic contour lines coupled with pace counting, and self-confidence.

Students will be tested on their ability to find points previously set out by instructors over many miles and topographical areas.

Students will be expected to demonstrate the following skills:

Map Reading. –Understanding contour lines, declinations, scales, keys, grid zones, rose compass

Plotting Points. – Ability to plot and find plotted points on a map and navigate to said points using a protractor.

Use a Compass. – Ability to select and use appropriate compass for navigation coupled with a protractor.

Night land nav. – Using Pace counting and rangers bead with compass to find points.

Final grading will be conducted on student’s ability to teach learned skills to Role Players and lead them through a plotted land nav course designed by student.

 Wilderness Skills

            There are certain basics skills one must have for self-rescue. In our daily lives we have certain basic skills to get us through more annoying times like changing a tire, or jump-starting a car. These are self-rescue skills in that we didn’t need some one to do it for us. In the wilderness we will have to do a bit more though, like building a shelter, finding food and water.

            Both our Pleistocene and Paleolithic ancestors lived and breathed basic skills to get us where we are today. If we reach back to study our Neanderthal and Anatomically Modern Human ancestors we can see that as they lived in the same eras and often-same geographic locations. However, only one species are around today. To find out why, we have to look at how both species adapted and use those lessons to help us survive. It is also important to use anthropological studies of our more recent aboriginal ancestors closer to our own geographical area. It is important to know and understand how the Kumeyaay survived and lived in the many different climate conditions Southern California has to help us understand how to adapt our selves.

            The important lesson to learn from learning these skills is the ability to survive and adapt to any and all situation thrown at the student even if he/she isn’t in their element.

 Students will be expected to demonstrate the following skills

Construct various shelters

Find and purify water using a multitude of different ways

Find food and identify plants, explain the aboriginal and modern uses

Safely travel and navigate using organic navigational methods.

Construct and maintain a fire.

Observe, Stalk and Hunt game. (No Killing will be necessary) Patience is the name of this game

Tool and weapon identification, construction and uses.

Anthropological studies on local indigenous cultures and their adaptations to environments

Rescue signaling using numerous methods

 Emotional Survival

            The brain will be the first thing to kill a person in the first 24 hours of a survival situation. The ability to understand the affects the brain has over a single individual or group as a whole can help one maintain control over the situation and the ultimate ability to stay alive during a less than ideal situation. 

            If one were able to quickly identify or recognize their own emotions and chemical cocktails setting in, one could use that to their advantage to control and develop emotional strength, thus allowing one to continue to lead and maintain the ability to function.

            This is not something that is learned right away. This takes time to develop through life experiences and personal development. But I firmly believe the basics to which one should develop and build upon can be instilled in the SDSOS IT Program.

How students will be tested.

            This will be an on going observation through the trials and challenges that SDSOS staff and instructors set out. Students should be able on their own account, demonstrate leadership, mental acuity, initiative, patience, willingness to learn, ability to lead AND follow, learn from other students.

 The settings for this instruction will take place in both classroom settings, and outdoors settings.  Outside research is encouraged along with personal exploration of ones desire and ability to survive and challenge themselves through this ordeal. 

Fees will vary