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Spring Reflections from a Professional Outdoor Instructor

May 25, 2017 by Melanie

I recently found myself contemplating this end to another spring season and looking ahead to our upcoming seasons. As expected, this time of year finds all of our program areas converging each day. It keeps us on our toes with saying goodbye to one season, while welcoming another. I paused to reflect one day and asked one of our Professional Outdoor Instructors specifically why she chose to come to Bradford Woods and why she is returning for a second season this coming fall. Here is what Tory had to say:

I wrote about Bradford Woods in research papers. It was one of those places I deemed incredible even before I had any interaction with the place itself. I never dreamed I would one day work here as a Professional Outdoor Instructor.

I have loved every single moment of this job and each one of those days and moments could look a little different than the one before it. One day I would be leading an all day experience, which includes teaching local fifth graders about aquatic life and outdoor living skills; and the next I would be leading initiatives for a group of young adults from Burma who were here on an exchange program. Between these programs, staff in-services twice a week, and workshops I’ve had opportunities to participate in; I have learned more here than I could have imagined coming into the season.

I could talk all day about the things I’ve learned and the lessons we teach, but when it all comes together, and you figure out why you are here for this seemingly short season, is when one of those same fifth graders hands you a drawing they made just for you right before they get on the bus to leave camp, or when that same group of Burmese students take tons of selfies with you before they leave because they want to be sure they will never forget their experience.

Whether you are a participant, or, like myself, a seasonal staff member, this place changes people. I am humbled each time I think about my experience here. For me, it was an easy choice to be here and decide to come back for next season; I know I am a part of something incredible.

Content provided by Tory Bonners – Professional Outdoor Instructor Spring 2017 and upcoming Fall 2017.


Bradford Woods continuously hires seasonal staff just like Tory to help support Environmental and Adventure Education programming. Many staff have recently graduated, are finishing internships or are pursuing graduate degrees. All possess a love for the outdoors, an interest in learning and teaching about the environment, and a desire to personally grow through the process. If you are interested in learning more, check out our page Outdoor Education Seasonal Positions.

If you have specific questions, please feel free to contact Melanie Wills at 765-342-2915 or at

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