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Expedition Instructor

BCM aims to tap into the critical life skills of youth through transformative wilderness mentoring experiences. Working with community-based Youth Agency Partners and caring adult volunteer mentors, our professionally guided programs improve integrity, self-esteem, responsibility, decision-making abilities and communication skills in youth participants. BCM’s core program is a (self-identified) single gender, week long wilderness expedition (backpacking or canoeing) where 1:1 ratio of 5 teens to 5 adult mentors, is generally attained. 


 Big City Mountaineers’ Expedition Instructors are the heart of our programming and serve as the front line for helping us serve youth across the country. More than anyone else, they understand the importance of the work that BCM does and how best to create a lasting impact on everyone that they work with. The dedicated field staff that works with BCM, role models excellent expedition behavior while facilitating an invaluable experience that will ultimately help the youth we work with to feel more empowered in their everyday lives back home. Instructors serve as field risk managers, educators, guides, mentors and stewards as they venture into remote and wonderful areas across the country. 

BCM is excited to offer new opportunities for Expedition Instructors to take youth out into the ancestral territories of the Ute, Cheyenne, Arapaho & Shoshone (Colorado/Wyoming,) the Sioux and Anishinibawaki (Minnesota,) the Central and Southern Miwok (San Francisco,) the Duwamish, Snoqualmie and Sauk-Suiattle (Seattle,) the Cowlitz and Chinook (Portland), and the Massa-adchu-es-at (Boston).  

General Description 

Working as an Expedition Instructor with BCM is highly rewarding. You will be responsible for leading a 7-day backpacking or canoeing expedition of 5 youth ranging from 13-18 years old. Our programs are primarily (self-identified) single-gender, serving students who come from marginalized communities and have limited access to the outdoors. Our unique 1:1 mentorship model also allows instructors to creatively lead a team of adult mentors. Expeditions are staffed with 1 adult from the Youth Agency Partner and 1-3 trained volunteer mentors. This is likely the first outdoor experience for the youth and Youth Agency Leader, and while BCM volunteer mentors often have previous backcountry and/or youth experience. 

Instructor Responsibilities 

The BCM Instructor leads and manages all aspects of the experience while creating a collaborative and inclusive environment that fosters youth development and learning. The instructor is responsible for managing risk and safety, adherence to policy and procedures, and quality delivery of the curriculum. BCM programming may take place in remote settings. Communication and consultation with administrative and program staff is not always possible. In order to provide for the physical and emotional well-being of expedition participants, instructors must be prepared to make decisions affecting all aspects of their expedition including but not limited to: 

  • Itinerary and/or route changes  
  • Behavior management
  • Youth development practices
  • Adult Team management 

While BCM expressly encourages group decision-making, the instructor is ultimately responsible for all field decisions. 

  • Training
  • All instructors are required to attend BCM’s Instructor Training 
  • May 14 – 18, 2020 at Winter Park, CO 
  • Travel stipend provided 
  • Risk Management 
  • Follow BCM policies, procedures, and guidelines as outlined in the BCM Adult Handbook. Mitigate and manage risk, health, and safety according to industry standard best practices 
  • Logistics 
  • Instructors may be responsible for coordinating various regionally dependent logistics including: communications, gear issue/de-issue, food shipping, budgeting, evaluations, reporting required paperwork, etc. 
  • Instructors are expected to conduct a full preparation of their expeditions during a full day of prep.  Instructors also will be expected to conduct a full de-brief process during a workday, the day following the completion of an expedition. 
  • Content and Quality 
  • Participate in required training in Colorado, May 14 – 18, 2020 (travel stipend provided) 
  • Ensure adult volunteer and youth organization participants are thoroughly prepared for their BCM experience via pre-expedition communications and adult team pre-trip phone call. 
  • Ensure trip effectiveness by: 
  • Instructing and facilitating BCM curriculum 
  • Identifying and facilitating group and personal goals 
  • Establishing and managing expectations for all participants 
  • Managing in-field adult team roles and relationships 
  • Keep program focus on outcomes by emphasizing key program elements 
  • Managing & Coaching Volunteers 
  • Provide guidance and reminders on managing risk and BCM policies and procedures 
  • Create a BCM curriculum, knowledge-share with adult participants 
  • Evaluate volunteer mentor performance 
  • Ask for feedback and evaluate your performance 

Essential Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities 

  • Current WFR plus CPR, or WEMT  
  • Must be at least 22 years old  
  • Must pass a background and MVR check  
  • Cultural competency 
  • Experiential education and facilitation experience 
  • Extended mentoring or teaching teen-aged youth 
  • Proven high-quality delivery of youth development programs 
  • Wilderness travel: navigation, map and compass, route selection, off-trail travel 
  • Wilderness camping: LNT, cooking/camp stove use 
  • Group development: group process, behavior management, mentoring, team building 
  • Health and safety management and adherence to policies and procedures 
  • Knowledge of environment and hazards 
  • For backpacking trips—mountain hazard evaluation: terrain, weather, river crossings, environmental, etc. 
  • For canoe trips—flat water canoeing, portaging, lake hazard evaluation: weather, lake rescue techniques, etc. 


  • Spanish speaking or bi-cultural 
  • Priority given to Instructors excited and able to instruct a full summer season 


Contracts are based on the instructors’ field experience and will range between $800 – $1200 per expedition 


Bay Area, California (Sierra Nevada/Yosemite backpacking) 

Minneapolis, Minnesota (Boundary Waters Canoe Area) 

Denver, Colorado (Regional backpacking) 

Seattle, Washington (Regional backpacking) 

Portland, Oregon (Regional backpacking) 

Boston, MA (Regional backpacking or canoeing) 


Please follow THIS LINK or go to the Careers page at  

For more inquiries, reach out to Jason Yale (he/him/his) at for more information 


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