I've been planning to take a 35-day instructor course from the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) for quite some time now, ideally working courses for them afterward. I broke the news to my office a few weeks ago, so I guess it's safe to mention in the public forum of blog space now.
For the majority of May and part of June, I will be backpacking and climbing out of Lander, Wyoming while learning how to become a NOLS instructor. The typical NOLS course takes high school- and college-aged students into the wilderness for a month, and focuses on teaching wilderness/technical skills (cooking, camping, hiking, climbing, etc.), leadership skills, and life skills. Courses are predicated around a backpacking expedition, some focus on rock climbing, some focus on mountaineering, some fishing . . . you get the gist. With additional training beyond the instructor course, I could potentially teach 2-week backcountry skiing trips, rafting/canoeing trips, or pretty much any combination of everything mentioned above.
My passion for this type of work far exceeds that of my current engineering position. So far, my current company has been highly accommodating after the initial shock wore off. They have agreed to try to be flexible and work with my schedule. Hopefully, I'll end up spending about half the year as an engineer and half the year as an outdoor educator for the next couple of years. I have great hopes that this will open doors to a world with which I have much more in common than here in the land of cubicles.
I have 2 more weeks of work before taking several weeks off for the course as well as some personal time!