The Development Pathway

Our role as adventure guides doesn’t change as we progress; it’s the expectations placed on us that change as our training, skills and experiences increase within each of the competency areas.

There are many ways to achieve this combination of training and experience, including college and university programs, certification courses, in the field experience with more experienced guides and professional development opportunities.

Our approach is to match new guides with simple itineraries in low-risk terrain. Simplifying all aspects of the tour allows us to spend less energy on decision-making so that we can focus on the guest experience instead.

Progressing to guiding more complex itineraries requires learning new skills, refining them through experience and demonstrating how we can apply them in a variety of conditions.

This is how it looks in practice.

Assessments and certifications are not the goal but only benchmarks on the path to lifelong learning.

A Paradigm Shift

This is the approach used in sports where coaching certifications are now issued based on the observations made by mentors working with the coaches in a variety of situations.

Unfortunately, we have yet to see a formal implementation of this approach in the outdoors where certifications are still typically issued based on attendance or tests completed during training courses.

The Field Leader Certification from the Outdoor Council of Canada is an exception, providing us with the flexibility to do assessments based on observed performance instead of the standard exam completed during the course.

We are working on refining our guide assessment criteria used to determine which tours guides are ready to facilitate. This tool will also help in identifying professional development opportunities for our team.