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Lead Instructor

Applied already? It’s come to our attention that instructor applications and volunteer applications or inquiries submitted through the BCM website during January and the first week of February were not received due to an error on our application and registration software’s backend. The issue has been fixed, and all inquiries, applications, and registrations are once again being received.

About Big City Mountaineers

At BCM, we provide multi-day, fully funded, professionally led expeditions for high school aged students who come from dis-invested communities. Alongside Mother Nature, our programs focus on joy, creating a sense of belonging, positive youth development and learning outdoor skills for nearly 1,000 students annually. We operate on the ancestral territories of the Ute, Cheyenne, Arapaho & Shoshone (Colorado/Wyoming), the Sioux and Anishinibawaki (Minnesota), the Ohlone, Ramaytush, Chochenyo, and Muwekma (San Francisco Bay Area), the Duwamish (Seattle), the Cowlitz and Chinook (Portland), and the Massachusett and Pawtucket (Boston).


Position Overview

The Lead Instructor is most often a solo position. The group size will vary, but almost always comprises a 1 adult to 1 student ratio, and they rarely exceed 10 participants. They lead and manage all aspects of programs while creating a collaborative and inclusive environment that fosters positive youth development, learning, and joy. They are responsible for managing risk and safety, adherence to policy and procedures, and quality delivery of the curriculum.BCM programming may take place in city and state parks as well as remote settings, where communication and consultation with administrative and program staff is not always possible. While BCM expressly encourages group decision-making, instructors are ultimately responsible for all field decisions including but not limited to:  

  • Itinerary and/or route changes
  • Behavior management
  • Youth development practices
  • Adult Team management
  • Collaboration with co-instructor


Instructor Experience 

Leadership and Facilitation 

BCM students are resilient, adaptable, courageous, and resourceful. They come to our backcountry trips eager to learn and (sometimes) pretty nervous about the experience. Our instructors guide them in navigating this new experience with joy, compassion, empathy, and deep care. It’s important that our instructors have an interest and passion for understanding and addressing outdoor access barriers for communities that have been historically underrepresented in the outdoors. And furthermore, have a commitment to the personal and professional exploration of power and privilege, including a willingness to self-reflect, accept and give feedback, and lead with empathy. 


Over a multi-day course, Instructors will be responsible for delivering BCM curriculum with a focus on; creating opportunities for joy and rejuvenation, building student comfort and confidence in their outdoor skills, facilitating group and personal goals, and emphasizing collaboration, teamwork, and mutual support. 


Group Development  

Instructors have the ability to build rapport and mutual trust between all of the participants while facilitating a meaningful experience. Our instructors work to meet students where they are at and prioritize validating and addressing student concerns. They exemplify humility, vulnerability, and a commitment to one another. It’s important that Instructors recognize that learning is a two-way street – and that adults may be learning from and alongside the students. In addition to supporting student development, instructors work to facilitate space for adult growth and learning by offering thoughtful feedback. Each day there is allocated time for the adult/student groups to gather and discuss how to make the best of the trip. 


Risk Management 

Instructors are critical in providing experiences that mitigate the situational and environmental risks inherent in a backcountry trip. They understand BCM policies, procedures, and guidelines, and guide the group in proactively following them. Our instructors are patient and compassionate as they support students and adult participants through mental and physical concerns. While there will be other adults on the trip to discuss with, the Instructor serves as the final decision maker for risk management decisions in the field. 


Outdoor Technical Skills 

BCM delivers programming in diverse course areas across the nation. Instructors have prior experience with multi-day overnight, wilderness-based outings and have proven experience and confidence making decisions in sometimes challenging outdoor and remote settings. They have competencies in outdoor technical skills such as; navigation, route selection, cooking/camp stove use, LNT concepts, etc. that serve as a basic foundation that can be built upon through BCM specific learning opportunities. 


All instructors participate in two 8-hour days of logistical support working in collaboration with the Regional Program Manager (RPM) to:

  • Pre-trip: outline field-specific risks, incident trends, finalize the food and gear preparation 
  • Post Trip: debrief trip with thoughtful feedback and growth points, write and review evaluations, review and finalize incident reporting and near misses, and assist in gear de-issue and cleaning 



  • Current WFR with CPR or WEMT certification (or an ability to obtain one by employment date) 
  • Ability to attend Regional 3 day Instructor Training (stipend included) from May 21 – 23.
  • (Minnesota Canoe Trips Only) Experience with flat water canoeing, portaging, lake hazard evaluation: weather, lake rescue techniques, etc 
  • 21 Years or older by the start of your employment.


Preferred Qualifications/Background 

  • Experience working with youth who come from racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse communities
  • Spanish speaking or bi-lingual 


How to Apply/Time Commitment

  • Priority will be given to instructors that can commit to multiple trips, with each trip contract lasting up to 9 days in length during the program season will start as early as mid-June and run through late August. 
  • Upon hire you will be asked to pass a background and Motor Vehicle Report (MVR)



$112 – $142 a day dependent on experiences and qualifications  

Pay Bump: additional $5 a day per returning year up to $25. 


Expedition Locations 

Bay Area, California (Regional backpacking)  

Boston, Massachusetts (Regional backpacking or canoeing) 

Denver, Colorado (Regional backpacking)  

Minneapolis, Minnesota (Boundary Waters Canoe Area)  

Portland, Oregon (Regional backpacking)  

Seattle, Washington (Regional backpacking)  



Click here to apply. Please include any personal or professional experience that you feel will be relevant for the Instructor Position.


For questions regarding this position please email the regional program manager in the area you’re most interested in working. For general questions please email

  • Boston: Scott Myers (he/him/his) at 
  • California: Jenna Topper (she/they) at 
  • Colorado: Lance Tsosie (he/him/his) at 
  • Minnesota: Fred Sproat (he/him/his) at 
  • Oregon/Washington: Anne Hayward (she/her/hers) at 



Applications will continue to be received on a rolling basis.

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