<p>The Training Academy for Outdoor Professionals</p>
A Letter From Our Director
Welcome to the Training Academy’s 2022 Year in Review. The purpose of this publication is to share foundational information about Outward Bound Canada’s Training Academy for Outdoor Professionals and to highlight the developments over the last year.
2022 was a year of growth, change and connection. Not only did we launch programs in three regions across Canada and bring together a new staff team, we also deepened connection with our communities and gained new perspectives that informed our continued program development. Our work was made possible by the generous support of the Government of Canada through their Sectoral Initiatives Program and the dedication of the Outward Bound Canada staff, whose passion and expertise created the foundation for this amazing initiative.
Over the past three years, the outdoor sector has experienced significant disruption due to shutdowns during the pandemic, a lack of representation within the industry, high demands for outdoor recreation and the complex needs of our population. While we have made strides towards rebuilding, racial justice and equity thanks to the diligent work of many organizations, there are still barriers to entry for equity-seeking groups and a lack of relevant skills training opportunities. Our work this past year is a testament to the passion and perseverance of many dedicated staff, and yet there still remains much to do. We will continue to grow and connect with Indigenous, Black and Leaders of Colour in order to invest in the change needed until we are all sustained and thriving as a collective outdoor sector.
In gratitude and community,
The Training Academy is an initiative of Outward Bound Canada that was created to address the representation gap within the outdoor sector and provide exceptional training to outdoor leaders. This fully funded program provides technical skill development to grow social and emotional competencies so that Canada’s next generation of outdoor leaders can respond to the evolving needs of Canada’s diverse population.
Funded by the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives program as an investment in the outdoor sector’s economic recovery, this innovative and exciting program is offered nationwide.
At the heart of all our programs is a foundation of equity, diversity and inclusion. We strive to create accessibility for equity-seeking groups and create programming that is inclusive.
About The Training Academy
HOW WE CREATE THE FUTURE
We deliver comprehensive, inclusive and equitable training, nationally, through an innovative combination of experiential workshops, outdoor journeys and virtual training that aims to address the skill gaps in the outdoor sector.
WHAT THE FUTURE LOOKS LIKE
We envision a diverse and vibrant outdoor industry that offers exciting opportunities for Canada’s next generation of outdoor leaders.
A small but mighty team, the Training Academy team is built on the following principles:
- We are all adventurers. We embrace the unknown and challenges in our work and lives. We dare to learn and to try something new.
- Diversity is at the heart of what we do. Diversity is not only the right thing to do, but it’s how we grow. Whether through a diversity of backgrounds, experiences, opinions or views, diversity is how we will build a thriving organization and outdoor sector.
- Be curious and seek to understand. We consider and actively explore diverse perspectives. Only from a place of shared understanding can we care for each other and the world around us.
- Channel courage in all we do. We think big, speak up and are empowered to act. Whether it’s the courage to share a new idea or to have a difficult conversation, we embrace our vulnerability and cultivate everyday bravery.
- Trust is built everyday. We consistently build trust through every interaction; conducting ourselves in an open, professional and honest manner. We accept responsibility and quickly correct mistakes because trust is built through both our successes and our failures.
In Help Me Out: How Outdoor Education Impacts and Empowers Youth to Thrive, Outward Bound Canada highlighted research on how outdoor experiential learning can help youth to build resilience and social-emotional skills to allow them to embrace challenges, recover from setbacks, maintain a positive outlook, and meet the challenges of today and tomorrow with confidence.
Josephine Baran, Director of the Training Academy, sat down with Kris Cromwell, the host of the BIPoC Outside Podcast to chat about barriers to the outdoors both recreationally and as a career path; an increase in eco-anxiety; and how the Training Academy is working to help build a thriving outdoor space for everyone. Listen to Episode 7: Building Tomorrow's Leaders for the full conversation.
<p>Why We're Needed Now More Than Ever!</p>
The COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on summer camps, outdoor recreation, outdoor education and tourism. The Canadian Camping Association forecasted that 57% of camps were at risk of bankruptcy in 2021. The outdoor sector continues to face challenges including a lack of availability in skilled workers, barriers to accessing training and relevant professional development and a lack of diversity in the outdoor workforce.
The Training Academy offers an innovative model that offers free training to current and aspiring outdoor leaders. It pairs technical skill development through experiential outdoor journeys with classroom workshops on topics such as wilderness mental health first aid, trauma-informed care and coaching techniques, to name a few. Participants can also gain both technical and occupational certifications along with year-long mentorship by the Training Academy’s highly experienced faculty.
"57% of camps were at risk of bankruptcy in 2021."
We are also partnering with BIPOC and 2SLGBTQ+ grassroots organizations across the country to build access for
"…a lack of diversity in the outdoor workforce."
under-represented groups, refine programming and build more inclusive spaces. While there remains much to do, we will continue to connect with equity seeking groups to invest in the change needed until we are all sustained and thriving as a collective outdoor sector.
Do you see a lack of diversity in your workforce?
- Very much so, but we're striving to do better.
- We've made a strong effort to address this, so not as much.
<p>2022 Year In Review</p>
Pilot Program Stats:
- 80 individuals have participated since the start of the program
- 63.75% of participants are from equity-deserving groups
- 50% of participants self-identified as women
- 3.75% of participants self-identified as Indigenous
- 2.5% of participants self-identified as Black
- 12.5% of participants self-identified as a visible minority
- 5% of participants self-identified as having a disability
- 25% of participants self-identified as being part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community
- 10% of participants self-identified as being a newcomer to Canada
35% of participants identified as BIPOC or 2SLGBTQ+
*Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPOC); Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Plus (2SLGBTQ+).
Program regions: Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario
Number of partners participating in this project: 5
Participant age range: 25-32
Active; Adventurous; Outdoorsy; Youth-focused; Looking to Up-skill; Looking to Educate themselves; Wants to be a skilled Community Leader; Leads Expeditions.
We received valuable feedback from community partners, our participants, and staff that informed our program refinements. Some of our learnings included:
Creating multiple formats so that participants can take programming that fits within their schedule. We are launching weekend workshops and intensive formats in 2023 for flexibility.
Building a pathway for introductory access so that participants are not overwhelmed and can learn at their own pace. We designed a new Foundations level for 2023 that builds fundamental technical knowledge and experiences within the outdoors, especially for equity-seeking and under-represented groups.
Staying connected so that participants can benefit from the networks and expertise of the Training Academy’s faculty. We now offer a one-year mentorship program for current and aspiring outdoor leaders, with networking, webinars, resources and job opportunities.
Industry recognition of training and certifications is important within the outdoor workforce.
After analyzing these gaps, we were able to develop a more accessible program offering heading into 2023. This included:
Developing a Foundations and Essentials level of programming to accommodate varying skill levels and past experiences,
Offering two formats, Access and Intensive, to accommodate participants’ lifestyles
Offering a series of job-relevant certifications at both the Foundations and Essentials levels