Seattle Wilderness Navigation Instructor Information Page 2019

Seattle Wilderness Navigation Instructor Information Page 2019

A place for instructors to get information about instructing at a Seattle navigation activity. Checklists, Links to Materials, How-To Guides, etc.
The Wilderness Navigation course makes use of volunteer instructors to help our activities run smoothly and safely.  Safety is the first consideration, then learning, then a little fun.   
For 2019, the course has been modernized to include use of GPS, and restructured. These pages and worksheets can help you understand the changes and be better prepared to serve as an assistant instructor and later serve as an experienced instructor. 


Review the course description itself for information about how it's structured, required activities for students, and primary learning goals.


Each year, we hold several instructor training sessions.  Search the website for upcoming sessions.

Review the eLearning Workshop

If you wish to review the eLearning Workshop, please contact Lynn Graf or Michael Hutchens to get a login to the learning management system.

Already (or interested in) instructing an eLearning Workshop? Read the following FAQ: eLearning (LITMOS) FAQ and Tips for Leaders and Instructors

Review the GPS Online Module

The GPS Online Module is the newest part of the course for 2019.  Review the GPS Online Module in Google Slides.

set up your own gaia gps

To prepare your Gaia GPS for the workshop and field trip. view a GPS Setup Guide on Mountaineers.Org.  As an instructor, follow the Instructor version of the guide.

Review the in-person workshop material

Reviewing the instructor version of the workshop packet will prepare you to instruct at the In-Person Workshop.  The In Person Workshop Material is also available on Mountaineers.Org

Review the field trip material

The two field trip packets, student, and instructor, are also available on

leader information

If you will be a workshop day-lead or primary activity leader, please see our In-Person Workshop Leader Page (under construction)

If you will be a field trip day-lead or one of the primary field trip leaders, please see our Field Trip Leader Page

Best Practices for Instructors

As volunteers, we're not trained instructors, but we do have skills to share. Certain practices have found to be helpful:

  • First time instructors are seen as "assistant" instructors, and usually will be paired with an experienced instructor.  This way, you get to help where you can while you "learn the ropes" of what and how we teach.
  • Be supportive to students.  Be a guide and a mentor.
  • It's usually more important to "grasp the concept" than it is to "get the perfect right answer."  For example, the "best route" question can have a variety of answers.
  • Have questions?  Grab a senior instructor or committee member.
  • Identify Yourself -- We use name badges and/or colored tape to identify us as instructors.
  • Watch the schedule.  Gently nudge students forward when they're getting behind.
  • Offer the mentor session.  Usually, two days before each field trip on a Thursday evening, there will be a mentor session at the program center. It's an opportunity to practice and cover what they missed.
  • There are lots oof opinions and biases out there.  Which tools? Which GPS? Which Apps? Which technique?  Don't get too deeply into those.  These come up quite often:
    • UTM vs Latitude/Longitude -- Both are commonly used in the field. We've found that UTM is easier to teach and fits within our time constraints. It's based on 1000 meter squares. People can conceptualize distances in meters.  Lat/Long is introduced as a valid coordinate system but takes too long to teach the plotting and reading of Lat/Long.
    • DATUMS & PAPER MAPS (NAD27 vs NAD83/WGS84) -  For the geographic areas we use, the older NAD27 maps are still the best suited for our teaching purposes.  We'd love to move to newer maps using the newer datums, but they aren't yet available with the detail and features we want in a map (except from digital only sources).  When they are available, we'll make the shift.
    • GAIA GPS vs. OTHER APPS -- After years of running GPS classes with mixed apps and devices, we really had to standardize on one.  We standardized on Gaia. It is a fully-featured app and the Board obtained a pro-deal  so members can get a GPS tool without additional cost, at least for one year.  It helps us teach the basic concepts of GPS and students can transfer those same concepts to other devices and apps if they wish.