Josh Oberleas

Josh Oberleas kayaking down a waterfall
My name is Josh Oberleas. In 2008, I graduated From Western State College (Now Western State Colorado University) with a degree in Outdoor Education with and Emphasis in Outdoor Leadership and a Minor in Geology.

The Outdoor Leadership Program prepared me for many things: It prepared me to work with all people, how to teach, and most of all how to lead.  There are many walks of life that you can choose, yet it is essential that you learn to become a well-rounded human being—including how to work with people from all backgrounds. This program taught me how to work with, lead, and teach people of all ages, interests, abilities, and limitations in the outdoors. Consider that nature is not your typical classroom, there are numerous factors that are unpredictable. I learned how to teach various methods to get my message across to different learning styles. In the outdoors, safety is key, and it is imperative that your clients understand what you are presenting. During lessons, many clients are in a fearful state of mind compared to most other times when they have been learning something new.  One of the most important things that the program taught me was how to lead and how to inspire others to do something that they never believed they could ever do!

The C.O.R.E. program changed my life forever. Without it, I never would have had the experiences nor met the people who have influenced where I am and what I do now. I have lived and worked in Chile 6 times since then. Thanks to the C.O.R.E. program and the Chilean trip, I made many contacts who played a major role in leading me to work in Pucon, Chile. Beyond the networking, I found the C.O.R.E. program gave me the confidence and laid the groundwork for me to be able to do this on my own. I get to pursue the job of my dreams.  While in school, my goal was to become an international raft guide.  Well, I am international now!

Josh Oberleas kayaking in pool
Currently, I am working in Pucon, Chile as a safety kayaker and raft guide with plans to travel throughout South America in the off season.   Previously, I would switch between working seasonally in Chile and in Salida, Colorado on the Arkansas River—enjoying endless summers!  While in Salida, I work as a kayak instructor at Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center ( where I enjoy seeing the growth of my many returning clients. Additionally, I recently became an Instructor Trainer for the American Canoe Association ( and can now expand my love of the river and my passion for teaching to other kayakers who would like to become instructors.  I am now organizing my own ACA instructor courses here in South America and also in the States. In fact, I just successfully completed the first-ever ACA Whitewater Instructor course here in Chile and in South America for Whitewater kayaking.

Other connections:

Anyone who is thinking about doing something like this should know one thing. Go and do it!  If you have a passion for an outdoor activity that you participate in, don't hesitate, don’t procrastinate—do everything in your power that you can imagine. Put 100% of your energy into it, and you won’t be disappointed.  You will make it where you want to get.  Just keep going and never give up. This is undoubtedly the greatest thing that I could have ever done for my life, as it has made me a very happy person. I feel as if my life is full of great experiences. Remember, one thing that no one can ever take from you is your experiences. Many things easily come and go, but experiences are never stolen, taken or forgotten.