Why I became an Outdoor Instructor | Nathaniel Reeks

I remember driving past Sandbanks on warm summer days, seeing people paddle boarding, kayaking just living their best life and I wanted to be a part of it.

Why I chose to become an Outdoor Instructor | Nathaniel Reeks

The last 2 years has been a hell of a journey! It's been loads of hard work, saving furiously, 4 months of training and now like most waiting for the next adventure... 

I had been working in retail for about 10 years in between studying photography at university. 

After university finished I struggled to find full time work as a photographer and I became stuck in the routine and security of a retail salary, taking on the odd creative job when I could.

I ended up in a role where I could be outside, working as a delivery driver, which gave me more of a glimpse into what life working outdoors could be like but it still wasn’t anywhere near enough time outdoors. 

I remember driving past Sandbanks on warm summer days, seeing people paddle boarding, kayaking just living their best life and I wanted to be a part of it.

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I was bored, I remember hearing my colleagues moan about working in jobs they’d been in for years and I started thinking to myself “I don’t want that to me and waste the next 5, 10 or 20 years being unhappy.”

I wanted to make a change. I wanted something exciting and I wanted to be happy. 

I’d played around with outdoor sports on my days off and introduced friends to the joys of being outside; everything from bouldering, to kayaking, to paddle boarding and as much else as I could fit in between.  

Through my degree I'd then gone on to teach photography at the local university and I wondered if there was a way I could combine that teaching experience with my love for outdoor pursuits and my own photography skills.

Then an Instagram advert caught my eye - Land and Wave’s Outdoor Instructor Training course.

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Open Day 

In August 2018, after a few emails with Land & Wave my girlfriend and I went along to an Outdoor Instructor Training Open Day.

I was hooked straight away, the Land & Wave crew were informative, friendly, relaxed. We went Coasteering at Dancing Ledge with Tom, who had completed the course the previous year - it was great to hear about the course from someone that had done it and see for ourselves what it the activities would be like on the course. 

Land & Wave subsidise the course but it’s still not a cheap course and financially I wasn’t in a position to sign up straight away. I had made up my mind to do the course and I spent the next year working hard and saving to be able to afford the course.

It was definitely tough saving and constantly working towards being able to afford the course but all absolutely worth it when I could finally put my name down for the course. 

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Getting Signed Up 

The team were great, we stayed in contact over the course of the year and they sent me helpful finance information to help support my saving and look into other help. In January 2019 I went for another visit, more of a refresher for myself to be honest but it was great to see the course in action and we managed to get out Coasteering again too!

I signed up later that year and continued working and saving for the course. 

Then finally November 2019 came around and the course began. It really was incredible. It helped me rediscover the adventurer inside me and has given me life long professional and personal skills. Four months of playing outdoors was physically demanding - I considered myself to be a pretty fit person but it was hard work but so much fun.

The course is full time and covers not just the core qualifications in the Outdoor Industry, it also includes essential skills for the industry - group management skills, confidence building, teaching methods and lots more.

I’ve learnt a huge amount and have left the course with the perfect foundation to build a career from. I’ve met so many inspiring, like-minded people who are now friends for life that I look forward to having more adventures with in the future.

Throughout the course I put my photography background to use and took lots of photos whilst out and about and hope to continue this in the future. 

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Starting work as an Outdoor Instructor 

When I interviewed for the Seasonal Instructor role, there was an opportunity to introduce an element of marketing and content creation too – if I wanted. I absolutely did.

Suddenly, I’d just landed my dream job. Working in the great outdoors, helping others discover adventure AND being creative and capturing adventurous content.

I think too many people work boring jobs because they think they have to. It was a bold move sacrificing the security of a “normal” job but it was a decision I’m glad I made and would do again.

If it's something you're thinking about then I definitely say do it! Of course there are financial and life factors but where there's a will there's a way and you won't regret it.

I am absolutely buzzing to get outside and start working in the Outdoors properly. I’m proud to be a qualified Outdoor Instructor and I love it when people ask “so, what do you do?”

Like everyone else at the moment that is temporarily on hold but the Outdoors will still be there and when we can I'll be straight back out making the most of it.

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Words by Nathaniel Reeks 

by Owen Senior

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