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Outdoor Action

Leadership Starts Here

Becoming a Leader Trainer

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New Prerequisites

With Frosh Trip being virtual this year, the new prerequisite for applying to be a Leader Trainer is having led one multi-day outdoor Frosh Trip.

Leader Trainer Application Process

If you are interested in becoming an OA Leader Trainer, please read this page carefully so you understand the application process and our expectations for all applicants. We encourage all OA Leaders to continue to develop their leadership skills, and becoming a Leader Trainer is a great way to do that. We do expect that leaders will take this application process as seriosly as we do. Leader Trainers carry the tremendous responsibility of training Princeton students to lead groups in a backcountry setting. A Leader Trainer applicant should be comfortable in an (outdoor) group leadership role and ready to take on the next level of leadership: teaching and mentoring others in how to lead.

You should approach the Leader Trainer Application Process like a professional job interview. There is a search committee made up of all the current Leader Trainers and the OA Director and Program Coordinator. The search committee reviews all of the candidates. The final selection is made by the OA Director with input from the search committee. The application process consists of four stages:

  1. Written Application - reviewed by the entire search committee
  2. Teaching & Debriefing Session - two short demonstrators of your teaching & debriefing with a group of 2-3 Leader Trainers
  3. Interview with Leader Training committee - each candidate has an interview with a group of 2-3 Leader Trainers
  4. Interview with Director or Program Coordinator - individual interview with one of the OA professional staff

Candidates are reviewed by the search committee and the OA professional staff at each stage of the process. At each stage of the process the OA Director makes the decision about whether a candidate is ready to move onto the next stage in the process. At the end of the entire process, the committee submits all of their material to the OA Director, who makes the final selection. There is no specific number of Leader Trainers selected each year. On average 40-60% of the total applicants are accepted as Leader Trainers.

Becoming a Leader Trainer requires a significant commitment to OA throughout the year with weekly meetings and the expectation of leading LTTs over Wintersession and/or Dead Week once students return to campus.


Written Applications are due by email on Sunday, October 18, 2020 by 11:00 PM. Complete the attached Application and email it to OA (at) princeton (dot) edu

Applicants: If you apply, you must be available be able to fully participate in virtual Leader Training Committee meetings and events throughout the semester. If your current situation would prevent you from doing that, then you should wait to apply.

Questions:

If you have questions feel free to contact any of the current Leader Trainers, Caroline Perkins, the OA Program Coordinator or Rick Curtis, the OA Director:

Manasseh Alexander* 2021
Ben Angarone* 2021
Mary DeVellis 2021
Hans Imhof 2021
Minh-Thi Nguyen 2021
Kamila Radjabova 2021
Grace Stempel 2021

 *Indicates Leader Training Committee co-chair


Application Criteria

In addition to completing all of the standard leader training requirements, applicants must be a currently enrolled student and have led at least one 5-day outdoor (not virtual) OA Frosh Trip. If you have additional experience leading outdoor trips outside of OA, you can also include that in your written application. Experiences like leading multi-day backcountry trips with 15-year olds in a summer camp program would be an equivalent experience, while going on a family camping trip would not.

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

1. Teaching Ability

Excellent teaching skills are necessary in order to facilitate leadership workshops 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.

2. Ability to Evaluate & Give Feedback

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 LTs 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. 

3. Leadership & Debriefing Skills

Leader Trainers must be able to role model effective leadership both through their own style and by demonstrating collaborative leadership with co-leaders. 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 identify and utilize teachable moments. A strong candidate possesses the necessary qualities to debrief well and an eagerness to consciously improve upon them.

4. Technical Skills

Technical wilderness 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; respect for the principles of LNT, etc.. Because we expect all OA leaders to possess baseline technical competency, we expect LTs to display expertise in all OA related technical skills to the point that they can can effectively teach these skills to trainees with comfort and ease.


Leader Trainer Application Process

Applying to be an OA leader trainer is a multi-stage process designed to comprehensively evaluate leader training candidates. Please be aware that each stage, including the written application, is a selective process.

Stage 1 - Written Application

The first step is a written application which consists of questions about outdoor experience and training, a self-evaluation portion, and an essay section. The application will be reviewed by the OA Director and Program Coordinator to determine whether an applicant has the requisite 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 and debriefing skills. Applications for students proceeding to Stage 2 will also be read by current Leader Trainers.

What we expect: We expect a thorough and thoughtful application that both is an assessment of your skills and demonstrates thoughtful self-reflection on your previous leadership experiences (both within and outside of OA) and expresses your leadership style. This is an opportunity for you to share with the committee important aspects of your experience and philosophy. Length should be 150-350 words per question. Please provide specific examples drawn from your primary leadership experiences and use them to reflect on your leadership philosophy.

Stage 2 - Teaching Lesson & Debriefing

During this portion of the process, a candidate will be asked to teach a basic skill on a Zoom call (for example, how to tie a bowline know).  The specific skill will be provided to those going through the Stage 2 process.

The second portion is a Debriefing section that mirrors another primary responsibility of Leader Trainers.  We will provide a prompt drawn from a real Frosh Trip or LTT scenario, and ask you to debrief the situation. Two to three LTs will participate in the debrief as sim characters. Upon a satisfactory evaluation of requisite teaching and debriefing skills, an applicant will be invited to the interview process.

What we expect: You will also be asked to teach a skill online through Zoom. Here are the specific things that we will be looking for in your teaching session:

  • Ability to assess the trainee’s level of understanding
  • Organization/class flow
  • Engages audience
  • Language and physical presence
  • Patience & Creativity
  • Assessing audience about their experience with the subject matter to be presented
  • Proficiency with skill/subject matter taught
  • Time awareness

We will provide more information about the debriefing criteria if you are invited to this stage.

Stage 3 - Leader Training Committee Interview & Interview with OA Director or Program Coordinator

The Leader Trainer interview is a short but comprehensive interview designed to solicit more information about general leadership skills and experience, interpersonal skills, debriefing and evaluating abilities, and outdoor technical skills as well as other qualifications necessary in becoming a Leader Trainer.  

What we expect: The interview is a chance to learn more about your specific leadership style, how you have handled different interpersonal situations and your debriefing skills. We will also ask some hypothetical questions relating to different scenarios that Leader Trainers might encounter. While there is no specific way to prepare, we expect that you will be thoughtful and reflective about your leadership.

Stage 4 -  Interview with OA Director or Program Coordinator

The final interview with the OA Director or Program Coordinator is similar to the interview with the Leader Training Committee. 

The OA Director reviews all of the information gathered on each candidate. The final selection is made by the OA Director.


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: Mannasseh Alexander and Ben Angarone.

Requirements of Leader Trainers

Leader Trainers play an essential role in the organizational structure of the Outdoor Action Program. Those who are accepted to become Leader Trainers are role models for all leaders within Outdoor Action and students at large on the campus. That means that the role and responsibilities of a Leader Trainer extend beyond activities within the OA Program.

Regular Responsibilities

Weekly Meetings: Leader Trainers meet weekly 1-2 hours per week.

Leadership Workshops: Leader Trainers help facilitate Leadership 101 & 102 Workshops each semester.

*Leader Training Trip: Leader Trainers are required to lead at least one Leader Training Trip each year (either Wintersession or after final exams in May). 

*Leader Trainer Retreat: There are 1-2 Leader Trainer Retreats each semester which are required. These are typically 5-8 hour events aimed and expanding teaching and other skills.

Leader Trainer Interviews: Leader Trainers are involved in the interview and selection process for new Leader Trainers. This is in addition to weekly meetings and includes reviewing written applications. running hour-long teaching sessions of candidates, hour-long interviews with candidates, and meetings to review and discuss applicants.

Other Responsibilities: Leader Trainers are periodically called upon for other duties that support the growth of the OA Program.

*may be adapted for 2020-2021 based on public health situation.

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