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


We are no longer hiring for the Trip Counselor position for the 2023 summer season. Any applications submitted after 12/28/22 will be automatically waitlisted.


Job Description

Wilderness Adventures boasts 50 years of success in providing life-changing summer adventures for students. Nothing is more essential to this success than the enthusiasm, skills and dedication of our staff!

Leading for Wilderness Adventures offers the opportunity to experience a wide range of exciting locations, cultures, and remote wilderness areas, all the while providing a group of students with an unmatched opportunity for growth that they will remember for the rest of their lives.

Along with Trip Leaders, Wilderness Adventures is looking for trip counselors who are enthusiastic about working with students ages 11-20 in group settings. Counselors will work with two Trip Leaders to take students through exciting, yet challenging adventure activities. Trips are mentally and physically challenging for both staff AND students, with adventures ranging from one to six weeks in duration.

Wilderness Adventures seeks counselors who will be a positive influence on the participants, an inspiring 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. Trip Counselors are mature and willing to step up into this leadership role as they will participate with students in a wide variety of activities such as: mountaineering, climbing, backpacking in over 30 National Parks and wilderness areas, rock climbing, sea kayaking, whitewater rafting and kayaking, ice climbing, canyoneering, sailing, snorkeling, SCUBA diving, and international and domestic service projects. Experience in these activities is helpful, but not required.


  • 19-20 years of age by June 4, 2023
  • An excellent driving record with no major infractions of unsafe conduct.
    • You will be required to drive a 15-passenger van towing an 8-foot utility trailer if leading one of our domestic trips. Trip Counselors will NOT drive vans with students in them.
  • A minimum certification in Wilderness First Responder by June 2023. 
    • You can apply and then complete the certification before June or through our sponsored course.
  • A minimum of two professional references.
  • College graduate or in the process of completing a degree.
  • A passion for working with youth and youth development.
  • Quality experience teaching/leading in a variety of settings, ideally with students in grades 5-12.
  • Availability June 4- August 7, 2023.
people fly fishing in a river

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!
  • A trip counselor coming in with 0 weeks of experience and baseline certifications will earn ~$2300 for the season.
  • 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

  • Submit the application
  • Upload your resume as a PDF Document
  • Complete the background check form
  • Upload a copy of your current driver’s license

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