Trail Counselor/Guide in Ely, Minnesota

Job Details

  • Date Posted: April 27, 2022
  • Location: Ely, Minnesota
  • Job Type: Full Time
  • Salary: $75 / day
  • Housing Offered: Yes
  • Experience: No experience required

Company Contact

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  • Ely, Minnesota
  • $75 / day

The Camping Department of YMCA of the North is looking to hire a diverse team of enthusiastic, responsible, and adventurous trail Counselors/Guides (Instructors)who are excited about youth development, outdoor recreation, wilderness travel, and adventure education.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)use the context of wilderness canoe and backpack expeditions to build confidence, leadership, and self-awareness in participants as well as build community within groups and within our natural environment. Our ideal applicants have experience in youth development and outdoor education as well as a passion for spending time outdoors. Applicants should be ready to spend most of their time outdoors-canoeing and backpacking with youth. We are prepared to help Trail Counselors/Guides (Instructors) develop technical wilderness, canoeing, and backpacking skills if they do not come with experience in these areas.

Trail Counselors/Guides (Instructors)solo or co-lead small groups of 4-7participants on overnight wilderness canoe, backpack and rock-climbing expeditions that range in length from1nightto 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. Backpacking trips travel to the Beartooth Mountains in Montana, Willmore 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 toAtikaki, Woodland Caribou andWabakimiProvincial Parks in Manitoba and Ontario and the Canadian and Alaskan Arctic.

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 to support general operations at our basecamp including maintenance, issuing food and gear, driving groups to canoe and backpack trip destinations, and camp traditions like games, and 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!

1. Job Summary:

The Trail Counselor/Guide is responsible for leadership in group facilitation and wilderness camping for groups of teenagers, families, or adults.

2. Essential Functions:

  • Provide professional leadership and instruction to all campers
  • Provide instruction in the wilderness camping, canoeing, and backpacking, during overnight trips
  • 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 – Honesty, Caring, Respect, Equity, 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 cannot lead groups until all certifications are complete):
  • 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, and American Heart Association Basic Life Support.
  • Wilderness First Responder (WFR). The YMCA recognizes and accepts a WFR certification from a variety of institutions as long as 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.
  • Experience or education in wilderness programs, camps, youth programs, or related field
  • Training or skills in the wilderness camping, canoeing, backpacking, and/or trip planning
  • Strong organizational and communication skills
  • Rock Guide: requires documented climbing experience
  • River Guide: requires the physical ability to perform swimming and canoe rescues
  • BackpackGuide: requires the physical ability to perform trail rescues and first aid
  • Commitment to diversity and inclusion


  • 1year experience in wilderness or camp counseling or related field
  • Leadership experience with groups of youth
  • One or two summers camp counseling
  • Wilderness camping experience

5. Work Conditions:

  • Ability to communicate and work with groups of campers, adults, and families
  • 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 the canoe and/or 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 at 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’s success.