How to Get Involved as an Instructor

Volunteer instructors take on a fundamental role in our organization by supporting, leading, and instructing our hundreds of monthly courses. As a volunteer-led organization, volunteer instructors are instrumental in carrying out our mission and upholding our core values.
Michelle Song Michelle Song
Associate Volunteer Development Manager
September 29, 2022
How to Get Involved as an Instructor
Kelvin & Ashley learning to tie knots on a Crag Course at the Seattle Program Center

The Mountaineers has a long history of volunteer instructors sharing their knowledge and teaching the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts and conservationists. Volunteer instructors take on a fundamental role in our organization by supporting, leading, and instructing our hundreds of monthly courses. As a volunteer-led organization, volunteer instructors are instrumental in carrying out our mission and upholding our core values.

Many of our volunteer instructors began instructing as a way to give back to our Mountaineers community. Time and again, we have heard how learning from a volunteer instructor inspired individuals to dedicate their time to our courses. Larry Walker, a volunteer instructor with the Kitsap Branch, summed it up well in his Leader Spotlight: “A lot of good people came before me and helped me to grow, and I feel that it is incumbent upon me to honor their work and pay it forward.” 

As an instructor, you are not just a deliverer of content. You are a facilitator of your students’ learning. It takes a lot of practice to find your instruction style, and volunteer instructors are often learning about new theories and experimenting with different approaches. We strive to make it easy (and fun!) to stay involved as an instructor.  

For Recent Course Graduates 

Did you know that once you’ve graduated from a course, you are eligible to help instruct in a future iteration of that course? Many of our most active volunteers start out by taking a course and returning to help as an instructor the following year. There is no better way to hone your skills than to teach others, under the mentorship of more seasoned instructors. Instructor opportunities fall within a wide range of time commitments. Some courses welcome one-time instructors and volunteers throughout the year. 

You may wonder whether you are qualified but your experience as a course graduate is a valuable resource. New students who may be nervous will benefit from hearing about what your experience was like when you took the course. A mix of new and seasoned instructors provides a great support network for our students. 

Being an instructor can be an opportunity to gain experience, mentorship, and leadership skills. Instruction offers an opportunity to share your experience with new students, deepen your own skill-set, have fun with your community, and pay it forward - a win-win!

As you look ahead, consider a volunteer instructor role to keep your freshly learned skills up to date. Find an upcoming Instructor Opportunity. Or get in touch with a past course instructor or leader to see if there are any opportunities to instruct!

Re-engaging as an Instructor 

Are you a former instructor who stepped away and now wish to re-engage? Regardless of how fulfilling an instructor role may be, you may have chosen to take a break from volunteering for some time. When you are ready to rejoin as a volunteer instructor, browse the available instructor opportunities. Then, reach out to the Committee Chair of the activity you’re interested in to reconnect with committee and course leaders. 

To Help with a Course You Haven’t Taken

If you’d like to help with a course you haven’t taken, you can earn many of our course badges by successfully demonstrating the same skills through a process called equivalency. Doing so enables you to volunteer as an instructor. If you have reviewed the skills outlined in a badge/course, and feel like you have the prerequisite set of skills, please contact Member Services at info@mountaineers.org with an overview of your experience and we will help you navigate the process for obtaining equivalency. 

Shaping our Programs

Volunteer instructors shape our courses and provide unmatched outdoor memories for our members. Our volunteer instructors are a real testament to the value of volunteering. They keep their skills fresh, support their students' growth, build upon their relationships with fellow instructors and leaders, and bring a diverse leadership style and perspectives. We cannot thank our volunteer instructors enough for all that they do to support our courses and students! 

Brynne Koscianski, a Director At Large on The Mountaineers Board, shares our enthusiasm for our volunteers in her leader spotlight: “I'm so thankful for how The Mountaineers has helped me increase my skills to get outside in bigger objectives, safely. I have also met AMAZING friends through this organization. It's truly a gift to be able to support this organization in return. Plus, when you are out having fun leading a trip it hardly feels like ‘work.’” 

Instructing Has Many Benefits 

Not sold yet? Consider these benefits of instructing: 

  • Instructor refreshers are offered in many of our courses so you can learn new skills and get to know your fellow instructors more
  • Build and grow your community at The Mountaineers. 
  • Enjoy the mentorship of  experienced instructors to expand both your teaching skills and your proficiency in the sport
  • Practice, refresh and refine your technical skills
  • Support students and help them navigate the many emotions of learning something new

Looking for other ways to get involved?

We have a volunteer opportunity for you! Check out our recently updated Volunteer With Us page to discover the many volunteer opportunities we have available. Whether your interests are in teaching, leading trips, helping at events, supporting stewardship efforts, or serving on a committee, we have opportunities for you to pitch in and make a difference.

If you have any questions, reach out to Member Services at info@mountaineers.org with your specific volunteer interests and they’ll be happy to get you connected. 

For more ways to develop into a leadership role at The Mountaineers, visit our Leader Resources page to access additional resources. 

Kelvin & Ashley learning to tie knots on a Crag Course at the Seattle Program Center