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Camp Widjiwagan Trail Counselor Guide

YMCA of the North
Full Time
Ely, MN 55731
$85 a day
Posted Just posted
Job description

The Camping Depart ment of YMCA of the North is looking to hir e a diverse team of enthusiastic, responsible and adventur ous Trail Counselors /Guides (Instructors) who are excited about youth development , outdoor recreation, wilderness travel and adventure education . The YMCA of the North is a leader in outdoor recreation , outdoor and adventure education , youth development and wilderness travel.

Trail Counselors/Guides (Instructors) are first and foremost youth development professionals and mentors. Trail Counselors/Guides (Instructors) us e the context of wilderness canoe and backpack expedition s to build confidence , leadership and self-awareness in participants as well as build community within groups and with our natural environment . Our ideal applicants have experience in youth development and outdoor education as well as a passion for spending time outdoor s . Applicants should be ready to spend most of their time outdoors - c anoeing and backpacking with youth . We are prepared to help Trail Counselor/Guides (Instructors) develop technical wilderness, canoeing and backpacking skills if they do not com e with experience in these areas .

Trail Counselors/Guides (Instructors) solo or co-lead s mall groups of 4- 7 participants on overnight wilderness canoe , backpack and rock - climbing expeditions that range in length from 1 night to 40 nights. Trail Counselors/Guides (Instructors) can expect to spend most of their time outdoors - leading groups on canoe trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Quetico Provincial Park . We also send groups to wilderness destinations all over the northern US and Canada . Backpack ing tri ps travel to the Beartooth Mountains in Montana, Wil l more Wilderness Park in Alberta, CA , the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as well as the Wind River and Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming . Canoeing groups also travel to Atikaki , Woodland Caribou and Wab a kimi Provincial Park s in Manitoba and Ont a rio and the Canadian and Alaskan Ar ctic .

Trail Counselors/Guides (Instructors) can expect to learn and grow from challenging but rewarding wilderness canoe and backpack experiences with , primarily, youth participants . Trail Counselors/Guides (Instructors) will also be expected support general operations at our base camp s including maintenance , issuing food and gear , driving groups to canoe and backpack trip destinations and camp traditions like games, group singing and campfires.

If you are excited about youth development on wilderness canoe and backpack expeditions , a Trail Counselor/Guide (Instructor) position is for you! Apply if you are looking for a rewarding and challenging outdoor adventure !

Benefits and Pay:

  • Free seasonal YMCA Membership
  • YMCA Program Discounts
  • $85/day (depending on qualifications) + food and lodging
  • Subsidized Wilderness First Responder and Lifeguarding certifications

1. Job Summary:

The Trail Counselor is responsible for leadership in group facilitation and wilderness camping for groups of teenagers, families, or adults as well as program support.

2. Essential Functions:

  • Provide professional and culturally sensitive leadership to diverse groups of campers on overnight wilderness trips and during pre-trip preparation
  • Provide inclusive instruction in wilderness camping, canoeing, and backpacking
  • Participate in camp programs, such as campfires, group singing, and games
  • Guide and influence the trail group's social interaction and personal growth
  • Observe camper behavior, assess its appropriateness, and apply the necessary behavior-management techniques
  • Promote the core values – Equity, Honesty, Caring, Respect and Responsibility
  • Enforce safety and health regulations and emergency procedures
  • Complete all paperwork including camper evaluations, parent letters and trip reports etc. in a timely, high-quality manner
  • Participate in routine camp maintenance, facility upkeep and other duties as assigned

3. Relationships:

This position reports to both the Program Director and Executive Director. Trail Counselors need to maintain professional, positive working relationships with the entire camp team including kitchen staff, office and support staff and other trail counselors.

4. Qualifications:


Required certifications may be acquired after hire but must be completed before an employee supervises youth in the backcountry:

  • Lifeguard certification plus waterfront skills. The YMCA recognizes and accepts certifications from the following institutions: American Red Cross, YMCA, Star Guard, and Boy Scouts of America
  • Basic Life Support/CPR for the Professional Rescuer (renewed annually). Must include adult, child, and infant 1 and 2 person and use of an AED.
    • The YMCA recognizes and accepts certifications from the following institutions: American Safety and Health Institute BLS, American Red Cross BLS or CPR for the Professional Rescuer, American Heart Association Basic Life Support.
  • Wilderness First Responder (WFR).
    • The YMCA recognizes and accepts WFR certifications from a variety of institutions if they meet certain requirements. A full course must be at least 70 hours with a practical in-person component, must be called a “Wilderness First Responder” certification, and the institution providing the certification must have a medical director who is an MD and advises on the curriculum.
  • Commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Experience or education in wilderness risk management, camp counseling, outdoor education, outdoor recreation, youth development, or related field
  • Training or experience in wilderness camping, canoeing, backpacking, and/or trip planning
  • Demonstrated good judgment without direct supervision
  • Ability to operate in an emotionally demanding environment without access to front-country support systems
  • Strong organizational and communication skills
  • A sense of adventure
  • Rock Guide: requires documented climbing experience
  • In addition, all YMCA employees who work with youth are subject to annual background checks.


  • 1 season of experience leading wilderness trips, camp counseling or a related field
  • Leadership experience with groups of youth
  • Wilderness camping experience

5. Work Conditions:

  • Ability to communicate and work with groups of campers, adults and families
  • Emotional awareness, health and stability to create a supportive, empowering and affirming environment for young people
  • Visual, auditory, and decision-making ability to calmly and effectively identify and respond to environmental, human and other hazards related to remote travel.
  • Ability to lift and carry canoe and backpack weighing up to 100 lbs in rough and hilly terrain for extended periods of time.
  • Ability to live and work outside in a wide variety of conditions including extreme weather.

6. Additional Notes:

At all times the Trail Counselor must keep the safety and enriching experience of the campers in the forefront of their thoughts and actions.

This job description represents the major functions of the position but is not intended to be all-inclusive. The Trail Counselor is also responsible for taking direction from the Executive Director and Program Director or their representatives in completing projects or performing duties deemed necessary for the Branch or Association success.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Pledge

The Y of the North is committed to the work and everyday practices of eliminating disparities and eradicating of unjust systems to become a multicultural, anti-racist and anti-oppressive organization. YMCA of the North team members and volunteers must exemplify the association’s mission, vision and values of caring, equity, honesty, respect and responsibility.

The YMCA of the North continues to develop plans and strategies to ensure team members and volunteers reflect the demographics of the communities we serve. We will continually conduct institutional racism and oppression review of our policies, procedures and practices in recruitment and selection; compensation and benefits; professional development and training; promotions; transfers; layoffs; terminations; and the ongoing development of a multicultural, anti-racist and anti-oppressive work environment and culture that promotes equity and respect for the human dignity of all. We value and respect this diversity and choose to be inclusive through our acceptance of all.

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