Trip Counselor

Wilderness Adventures is looking for individuals 19-20 years of age who are mature, experienced, highly motivated, and enthusiastic about working with students 11-20 years old in group wilderness settings!
two people looking at a map of Denali State Park figuring out their route for backpacking

Job Description

*Our Trip Counselor position is currently FULL for the 2024 season! All Trip Counselor applicants will be waitlisted at this time.

Along with Trip Leaders, Wilderness Adventures is looking for Trip Counselors who are enthusiastic about working with students ages 11-20 in group settings. Trip Counselors are 19-20 years old and will work alongside two Trip Leaders to take students through exciting, yet challenging adventure activities. While trips can be mentally and physically challenging for leaders and participants, our Trip Counselors bring FUN to each day! Adventures range from one to six weeks in duration.

As a Trip Counselor, you will be in a unique position to gain and refine leadership skills alongside experienced leaders. Wilderness Adventures seeks counselors who are mature and are able to work in a shared leadership position. We want people who will be a positive influence on the students, an inspirational role model, devoted to supporting student growth and education throughout the trip and creating a fun and non-competitive environment in which the students can thrive. We look for people who excel in decision-making, adaptability, risk management, and have the ability to work effectively with a small team of co-leaders.

This position is highly competitive and there are only about 8 positions available for the 2024 Season. Wilderness Adventures Leadership Institute graduates will be given priority in the available positions.

So, what do we look for in a candidate for this role?

  • Successful completion of a Wilderness Adventures Leadership Institute (WALI) Gap Semester
  • Experience working with youth in an official job setting
  • A passion for youth development
  • Mature and highly motivated
  • A positive, can-do attitude
  • The ability and willingness to work through difficult situations. Including but not limited to: logistical complications, budget management, unexpected obstacles, interpersonal conflict with students, interpersonal conflict with co-leaders, etc.
  • Experience giving, receiving, and facilitating feedback


  • 19-20 years old
  • A valid U.S. Driver’s License
  • A clean driving record
  • A minimum of two professional references
  • A Wilderness First Responder (WFR) medical certification or higher certification that is valid through our 2024 Season (June-August) – you do not need to currently have this certification to apply. We do offer a discounted WFR Course option for our staff! You will learn more about this through your interview process.
  • A recent physical examination ensuring physical and mental health
Woman talking to students while backpacking in Alaska

Dates of Employment


Required Summer Contract: June 2 – August 4, 2023

Option to Extend: August 5 – October 31, 2024

Optional WFR Course: May 30 – June 1, 2024

Salary & Benefits

  • Trip Counselors are paid using a weekly pay rate that is based on previous experience leading youth overnight outside. This experience is not exclusive to time at Wilderness Adventures. You will be asked to share an experience log of sorts.
  • Wilderness Adventures will provide seasonal bonuses to counselors with additional certifications (i.e., Scuba Certification, Lifeguard Certification, WEMT, Teacher Certification)
  • Counselors can receive additional bonuses for staff referrals!
  • All program expenses will be paid for while working for Wilderness Adventures (transportation and flights to the trip start and end locations, all accommodations, all meals, all activities).
  • Wilderness Adventures sponsored WFR course. (See FAQs for details)
  • Wilderness Adventures offers many pro-deals and industry discounts with brands such as Outdoor Research, Orvis, Mountain Hardware, Crocs, and more!

How to Apply

  1. Complete an application through CampInTouch here.
  2. Submit a minimum of 3 professional references.
  3. Complete 2 rounds of interviews with our Leadership Team.
  4. Pass a series of three background checks.


Email if you have any questions about the application process!

Leader spotting a student while climbing

Frequently Asked Questions

Trip Leaders are 21+ in age and have full responsibility of all trip needs. Trip Counselors are folks 19 – 20 in age and are experienced in participating in/leading outdoor adventures that are looking to further that leadership. Trip Counselors are unable to drive our 15-passenger vans when there are students in the vehicle. Other than that, Trip Counselors are encouraged to fill all other trip responsibilities as they focus on growing as a leader!

Once you apply, you can expect to hear from us within one week on next steps. If your application aligns with what we are looking for in candidates, we will offer you a first-round interview. This interview is a 30-minute phone call with a member of our Leadership Team. Following a successful first-round, you will receive an email from our Staff Coordinator, Rachel, about a second-round interview. This is a 1-hour Zoom meeting where you will dive more into scenarios and details of the position. If all goes well in both interviews, you will receive an offer!

Our applications run on a rolling basis so we hire until all positions are filled. Based on previous years, our hiring season runs up to March!

June 4- Aug 7, 2022 – Full contract length

  • June 4 – June 15, Staff Training in Jackson Hole
  • June 16 – Aug 1, Trips all over the world
  • Aug 1 – Aug 7, Wrap Up in Jackson Hole

June 4- June 15.

Staff training kicks off with 6 days of all staff together in one spot. Here, we focus on overarching Wilderness Adventures policies and procedures- diving into our Staff Manual, Risk Mitigation Handbook, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Mental Health First Aid, and more! Through this time, we also dissect daily summer paperwork, finances on trip, and what the curriculum looks like. These first few days take place in more of a classroom setting (powerpoints, some lecture-style, etc.) but we also are passionate about working in tons of group games and fun events each night to keep us all up, moving, and having fun while we learn!

Following this all-staff training, we break up into smaller groups of 10 – 15 leaders called ‘Pods’. Each pod is led by returning WA leaders (Pod Leaders) that go through an additional training prior to summer’s start. These Pod Leaders take their crews through another 6 days of training in the backcountry to essentially simulate what a WA trip looks like in real-time. This gives folks a chance to put in to practice the methods, policies, and ideas we covered in the classroom setting. This also provides an amazing opportunity for bonding, confidence-building, and growth for leaders!

Following staff training, our whole staff breaks off into their individual trip leader teams. If you are leading Pacific Northwest Explorer, you will drive from Jackson to Seattle. If you are leading Costa Rica Pura Vida, you will fly to San Jose. You travel with your team to whatever destination you are assigned to for that season.

Which brings us to the next question of…

Once you are officially signed on to lead a summer with Wilderness Adventures, you are sent what we call a ‘Dream Sheet’. This Dream Sheet asks you your preferences on factors such as age group, geographical location, and co-leader characteristics. It also asks you about your competency in specific areas like fly fishing, spanish speaking, off-trail navigation, and more.

With a combination of individuals’ past experience, skills, strengths, passion, personal preferences, and where our needs are, leaders are assigned a trip! In most cases, leaders will run through the same trip itinerary 2 – 3 times throughout the summer season. Other times, leaders will execute two different trip itineraries that are paired with each other. Every trip will always have a co-leader team of 2 – 4 people (depending on location, age group, logistics).

An important note on trip placements is that they are always subject to change. We look specifically for folks that are adaptable and excited about getting youth outside no matter the location. In the event of a staff injury, last minute logistical change, etc. leaders will be assigned a different trip. This could happen at any point in the summer, May 15th pre season or July 24th mid summer. It’s all a part of the adventure!

The 2023 Staff WFR course will take place May 30 – June 2, 2022 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The WFR costs $250 and will be taken out of leaders’ pay checks. The remainder of the course cost is covered by Wilderness Adventures!

The WFR will be a hybrid course- half online coursework required to be completed prior to May 30 so that the in-person days can be focused on applying skills!

If you are opting to get your WFR certification outside of our sponsored course, we do require a full 70-hour WFR course. If you are unsure if your prospective course will be sufficient, reach out to our Staffing Coordinator!


Great question. Short answer – no, but having experience is a plus! 

All of our backpacking trips as well as local kayaking + canoeing trips are all led in-house by our trips leaders. Other than that, Wilderness Adventures works with a variety of subcontractors all over the world. When participating in activities such as rock climbing, ice climbing, whitewater rafting, mountaineering, scuba diving, etc., we work with third-party organizations. Those organizations bring all of the necessary equipment as well as the technical instruction you need. On the days you work with subcontractors, you are still overseeing, participating, and responsible for your students at all times!

After you’re hired, you will receive a general pack list focused towards Staff Training. Once you are assigned your trip, you will receive a trip-specific packing list! All leaders will be responsible for bringing personal clothing, toiletries, etc. that are needed for their trip location. In most cases the packing list will also include a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and backpack. Other than that, Wilderness Adventures will provide all other gear (tents, stoves, kitchen equipment, water purification, etc.).

Apply For the Summer of a Lifetime