Jen Horshman, FBRA Girls Program Director
We believe powerful learning and growth happens when our middle school students engage in regular outdoor programming. Our students gain important foundational skills and values that are transferable to the academic classroom and other life endeavors. These student outcomes happen only because of the talent and commitment our staff bring to their job as outdoor leaders. It is FBRA’s highest priority to support the continued training and development of our staff as outdoor educators in order to ensure safe and meaningful outdoor programming.
Each outdoor adventure activity we do upholds industry standards from accredited organizations that guide the skill development of our staff. FBRA invests in this professional training for our staff because we know each outdoor activity requires knowledge and practice to gain competency in specialized techniques, risk management, and how best to teach and apply these skills to students.
White water canoeing is central to our fall and spring outdoor programming. FBRA has sent many of our staff to get certified at the Level 1-4 in canoe and kayak instruction with the American Canoe Association. Staff learn a clear progression of skill development and complete a skills assessment checklist. We have a few staff who are also Swift Water Rescue Level 4 certified, and in that training they recognize and respond to many types of aquatic emergencies including how to protect themselves while assisting others.
Alpine Skiing is our focus in the winter. We have three FBRA Girls staff who have attained their PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) Level 1 certification this year. We had to demonstrate proficiency relating to the National Standards in three all categories; skiing (using the skiing activities), teaching (from the list of provided topics and movement analysis), professional knowledge (written exam, individual and group discussions and movement analysis), in order to successfully pass.
Rock Climbing has become a new outdoor adventure component to the girls outdoor programming. We have two girls staff who are SPI certified (Single Pitch instructors). This intensive training happens over three days with hands-on experience to be able to teach rock climbing to novices in a single pitch setting.
All FBRA staff must be certified in wilderness medicine and safety as either a Wilderness First Responder or in Wilderness First Aid. FBRA has in house re-certification of these qualifications every two years.
Staff are encouraged and in some cases mandated to pursue these certifications to strengthen their outdoor leadership role at FBRA. Participating in these certification trainings has increased our staff level of safety by managing risk, making sound judgements, designing appropriate challenges for students, and improving proper skill abilities in specific adventure sports.
We are fortunate to have very passionate staff working at FBRA who are lifelong learners and committed to learning and growth in their professional responsibilities. I look forward to sharing how our staff are also educated, certified, and have special training in relationship to our academic programming in the next Current.