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Becoming a Leader Trainer

If you are interested in becoming a Leader Trainer we strongly encourage you to participate in the Advanced Leader Training Trip. These trips are designed to provide an advanced level backpacking trip with opportunities for skill development. The next trip is scheduled over Spring Break. Signup at the OA TripStore.

Leader Trainer Applications for fall are due on Friday, November 9 . Complete the Word Application (on line soon) and email it to OA.

Becoming a Leader Trainer

Leader trainers carry the tremendous responsibility of training Princeton students to lead groups in a wilderness setting. As a result, we take the qualities and qualifications of a leader trainer applicant very seriously. A leader trainer applicant should be entirely comfortable in a leadership role and ready to take on the next level of leadership: teaching others how to lead.


In addition to completing all of the leader training requirements, applicants must have at least two outdoor leadership experiences, one of which must be through OA. It is recommended that applicants have led at least one multi-day trip other than the Frosh Trip (since the Frosh Trip does not require trip planning) or participated in an Advanced Leader Training Trip. In some cases applicants may have outside backcountry experience that also qualifies.

To provide a clearer sense of the qualifications we are seeking in applicants, we have identified four major skill sets which a leader trainer should possess:

Technical Skills

Technical wilderness skills (or hard skills) are fundamental to all aspects of OA trips.  Technical skills include tarping and bear bagging; stove use and repair; first aid; pack care, fitting and repair; etc. Because we expect all OA leaders to possess baseline technical competency, we expect leader trainers to display expertise in all OA related hard skills to the point that they can demonstrate these skills to trainees with comfort and ease, even in the worst wilderness conditions.

Teaching Ability

Excellent teaching skills are necessary in order to teach Leader Training Classes and to help LTT participants grow as leaders. Leader trainers are expected to take their teaching commitments seriously and should demonstrate the following qualities: proficiency in subject matter (knots, stoves, LNT, etc.), competence in assessing trainees' comprehension, the ability to recognize and capitalize upon teachable moments, creativity in teaching style, and patience.

Ability to Evaluate

We expect leader trainers to have the capacity to evaluate and provide feedback to their trainees. To this end, applicants must be comfortable evaluating their peers, and possess excellent observational and debriefing skills. We expect leader trainers to identify strengths and weaknesses in their trainees, provide a tailored environment for trainees to work on these identified areas, and effectively communicate feedback to them. We also expect a willingness to work closely with co-leader trainers to accomplish these goals. 

Debriefing Skills

Debriefing is a primary tool that leader trainers employ to help trainees reflect and develop their own leadership styles, particularly on the LTT. Leader trainers are expected to have solid debriefing skills, among which are active listening, an ability to ask probing questions, moderating skills, thoughtfulness, and an ability to recognize teachable moments. A strong candidate possesses the necessary qualities to debrief well and an eagerness to consciously improve upon them.

Leader Trainer Application Process

Applying to be an OA leader trainer is a multi-stage process designed to comprehensively evaluate leader training candidates. The first step, a written application, will be available online on October 15 and due November 9 by email to oa@princeton.edu. We expect the entire application process to conclude before the start of Winter Break.

Written Application

The written application consists of questions about outdoor experience and training, a self-evaluation portion, and an essay section. It can be found on the OA website on the OA Leader Homepage. The application will be reviewed to determine whether an applicant has the requisite outdoor experience to become a leader trainer. If the application is accepted, leader trainer candidates will be invited to participate in the second step—an evaluation of teaching skills.

Teaching Lesson

During this portion of the process, a candidate will be asked to prepare and teach a lesson to a small group of leader trainers. This five to ten minute lesson should cover a subject that is well-known and comfortable to the applicant. The lesson does not have to be outdoor-related. After this, the candidate will be asked to teach a basic OA skill such as the bowline knot or stove lighting. Upon a satisfactory evaluation of requisite teaching skills, an applicant will be invited to the interview process.

Interview & Leader Trainer Committee Review

The leader trainer interview is a short but comprehensive interview designed to solicit more information about outdoor skills and experience, technical and interpersonal skills, debriefing and evaluating abilities, as well as other qualifications necessary in becoming a leader trainer. After completion of the interview, Rick Curtis and the Leader Trainer Committee will discuss the results of the entire process in order to select new leader trainers./p>

Questions and Contact Information

If you have any questions concerning requisite criteria or qualifications, the application process, or any facet of being or becoming a leader trainer, please contact the Leader Trainer Committee Co-Chairs, Josh Blaine ’08 (jblaine@princeton.edu) or Alex Peters ’08 (awpeters@princeton.edu).

Advanced Leader Training Trip

The Advanced Leadership Training Trip is designed to provide current OA Leaders with a more in-depth experience of leading groups in the outdoors. The trip will spend 6 days backpacking in a remote wilderness location and will be led by Leader Trainers and OA Director Rick Curtis. The goal of the trip is to provide leaders with opportunities to refine their outdoor, teaching, and debriefing skills. Each participant will teach a class on the trip. There will be simulations and debriefing practice. This trip is only open to those who have completed all aspects of leader training and have led at least one trip. Due to the special nature of this trip people must submit a brief application available at http://www.princeton.edu/~oa/leaders/alttapplication.doc. Applicants will be notified regarding their applications.

For those interested in applying to become a Leader Trainer this trip will count as a second wilderness leadership experience.

Sun. 10/28 - Friday, 11/2

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