Work with Adventure Treks

Being an outdoor instructor is challenging, but it’s always worth it to see teenagers immersed in nature, fostering a community, and building their confidence and leadership on the trail! In the highs and lows of the trip, Adventure Treks instructors are always present, creating fun, staying motivated, and working hard. Instructors are in charge of safety, satisfaction, and success. We often hear that this is the most rewarding job our instructors have ever had.

Adventure Treks offers 10- to 30-day wilderness-based programs in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, British Columbia, Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska, and North Carolina for students ages 12–20. A typical program has 24 students and six instructors, and activities include backpacking, mountaineering, rock climbing, whitewater rafting and kayaking, canoeing, sea kayaking, mountain biking, ice climbing, and ziplining.

Give us a call to discover why Adventure Treks has the highest instructor and student return rate of any comparable program!

Summer instructors

Job description

Instructors are expected to be excellent role models as they teach a variety of outdoor skills and foster a close community. Course size is generally 20–24 students with 5–6 instructors. Outdoor skills taught include backpacking, rock climbing, mountaineering, mountain biking, canoeing, cooking, orienteering, Leave No Trace concepts, and general environmental education. Other specialized skills will be taught in conjunction with outfitters. On each adventure, the instructor team works closely together to coordinate all aspects of the trip, including instruction in all outdoor activities, risk management, managing group dynamics, planning menus, purchasing food, laundry, transportation, coordinating with outfitters, maintaining equipment, and handling medical issues. Instructors receive support while in the field from the regional directors.

Minimum requirements
  • At least 21 years old
  • College graduate strongly preferred
  • Wilderness first responder and CPR certifications
  • Several years experience working with teenagers
  • True concern for students’ growth
  • Solid outdoor skills in a variety of activities
  • Several years experience in outdoor education and leading wilderness programs
  • Expertise in Leave No Trace principles
  • A clean driving record
  • Ability to maintain positive energy levels with little to no time off and limited personal time

Personal and professional skills learned at Adventure Treks are applicable to many experiences for years to come:

  • Leadership and responsibility: Responsible for 24 teenagers and all aspects of running a safe and fun trip
  • Communication: With your students, co-instructor, trip leader, parents, and Adventure Treks directors
  • Resilience and adaptability: Positively overcome adversity and creatively solve problems
  • Decision making: Confidence in safe, quick, and intentional decisions
  • Strong work ethic: The hardest job with the biggest rewards and fulfillment
  • Relationship-building: A role model to students, creating strong connections with students, instructor team, and building a strong community
  • Feedback: Continual opportunities to provide and receive feedback to students, co-instructors, and trip leaders

Additionally, instructors will have:

  • The opportunity to be a teacher, mentor, and role model to highly motivated students
  • Up to eight months of employment (spring and fall opportunities are available in North Carolina)
  • Dynamic work environment
  • Highly organized and well-planned adventures
  • Professional development
  • Competitive salary
  • Outdoor experiences throughout the United States

We’re pleased to offer competitive compensation: Salaries for new instructors start at $2,800–$3,100, dependent on experience, hard skills, education, and certifications. Instructors also receive:

  • Travel reimbursements to help instructors get to and from staff orientation
  • Accommodations, meals on your trip, outfitted activities, group equipment, and transportation to and from the trip’s locations
  • Pro-deal accounts with access to discounts on a wide range of outdoor brands
  • Reimbursement for wilderness first responder (WFR) certification for returning instructors
  • A focus on year-round personal and professional growth, including career resource webinars and reimbursements toward professional development
  • An opportunity to work three seasons: Adventure Treks spring educational programs, summer trips, and fall gap semester.

Frequently asked questions

What does a summer at Adventure Treks look like?

Each instructor’s summer begins with our mandatory seven-day “big orientation” in Cascade, ID, at the Alzar School on June 9, 2021. Everyone will gather for the week to go over the big picture of Adventure Treks, including risk management and how to create the most incredible student experience ever. Then each trip team of five or six instructors will head out for a second week to scout the logistics of their specific itineraries, bond as a community, and prepare for their students to arrive. From the Alzar School, staff groups may drive as far west for the Alaska Expedition, or stay close for the Yellowstone Teton Adventure.

Unless an instructor is needed on another trip due to unexpected staffing changes, teams will stay in their trip locations until the end of summer. Staff will have several days between trips to de-rig, relax and take a breather, and prepare for the next trip. After all trips end, instructors will converge back at the Alzar School in Idaho to de-rig and close out the season. Overall, summers are incredibly fun and fast-paced. 

What is the application process like?

Our application process is very thorough and one that our instructors appreciate. Interested candidates will email a resume and cover letter, and those who meet our minimum requirements will complete an additional online application. Applicants will have three interviews with our directors, and we will contact three to four professional references and perform a background check.

This rigorous process is to ensure that we are a good fit for each other, as we want all of our instructors to succeed at Adventure Treks. We hire on a rolling basis, but we recommend that you submit your resume and cover letter no later than February to work as an instructor for summer 2021.

Read more about our application process here.

Can I apply for a specific trip and choose where I work?

When creating staff teams each spring, the Adventure Treks directors spend hours building cohesive, experienced, and dynamic groups of instructors. There are several determining factors to consider: former experience with Adventure Treks, personality, areas of expertise and hard skills, leadership style, schedule conflicts, etc. When recruiting new and returning instructors, we not hire staff for a specific location; rather, we hire people who would be a great fit and help grow a fantastic community on any of our trips. 

Trip placements are usually finalized in mid-May, but please know this could change based on any unexpected situations that crop up. In addition, instructors may not or may not work with the same age group all summer; it depends on the region and trip location.

Can I apply to be a trip leader?

All first-time applicants apply to work as instructors; our trip leaders, who supervise and manage each staff team, are always returning Adventure Treks instructors (in 2020, trip leaders’ average AT tenure was six seasons). It is crucial that trip leaders are seasoned, experienced outdoor educators who are familiar with our program, standards, and policies. Professional development and growth are important to us, and there are opportunities for growth within the company for all instructors. 

Do you offer internships?

We do not formally offer internships for field instructors, but if acceptable by an advisor, the instructor role can be applied toward an internship requirement. Please note that writing papers, submitting evaluations, and regular communication with an advisor throughout the summer is not possible due to our remote locations and the demands of running an outdoor adventure trip. The advisor and instructor must agree to our internship policies prior to being hired.

What certifications do I need? Do I need them before I apply?

While we prefer new instructors to be wilderness first responder–certified when applying to work at Adventure Treks, it is not required. However, when our instructors arrive at orientation in Idaho, they must have a current wilderness first responder and CPR certification (meaning you can obtain your certifications between your hiring and the beginning of the summer). While we do not reimburse new instructors for certifications, Adventure Treks does offer reimbursements toward WFR recertification for returning instructors.

What is the instructor compensation?

Compensation for new instructors for a full summer (two to three trips) starts at $2,800 to $3,100, dependent on certifications, education, and skills. Instructors are typically assigned to two trips; compensation will scale for instructors who can only work a partial summer season.

Instructors also receive a plethora of benefits, including:

  • Pro-deal accounts with access to discounts on a wide range of outdoor brands
  • Travel reimbursements to and from orientation
  • Reimbursement for wilderness first responder (WFR) certification for returning instructors
  • A focus on year-round personal and professional growth, including career resource webinars and reimbursements toward professional development
What do instructors do between trips? Do we get time off?

Adventure Treks instructors will have minimal free time during a trip. When with students on a trip, instructors must keep personal cell phone use to a minimum, as our program is technology-free for students. (Of course, instructors will be able to use phones to play music during van rides, look up directions, take photos of students, and for any Adventure Treks–related business.) We hope you understand that students must come first, and we cannot guarantee free time. 

The time between trips is also busy, filled with closing responsibilities (e.g., de-rigging gear, sorting food, and submitting finances), writing evaluations for both students and co-instructors, and preparing for the next group of students to arrive.

While these are full days of preparation, we work hard to give instructors up to a day off between trips (as long as all required tasks have been completed). Instructors are responsible for their expenses during this time if they choose not to utilize the campsite and food we provide.

What kind of gear do I need? Will Adventure Treks provide anything?

Instructors are responsible for providing their own personal gear, including a two-person tent; backpacking backpack (we recommend 70–85 liters); daypack (25–35 liters); duffel bag (80–20 liters); sleeping bag (rated to at least 15 degrees); sleeping pad, and personal items like clothing, outdoor accessories, and toiletries. We do provide technical gear for rock climbing, water activities, mountaineering, mountain biking, etc., though you’re welcome to bring your own if you’d like.

We will provide a detailed packing list to all staff upon hiring, and instructors will have access to pro-deals in early spring.

Additionally, Adventure Treks will cover all accommodations, meals on your trip, outfitted activities, group equipment, and transportation to and from the trip locations.

Are there only summer field positions available?

Adventure Treks is unique in the summer program industry in that we offer three seasons of work. Instructors can apply to work our outdoor education programs in the spring, outdoor adventure in the summer, and gap semester for college students in western North Carolina in the fall.

Apply now!