About Big City Mountaineers

Big City Mountaineers (BCM) is committed to providing transformative experiences through nature that strengthen life skills and build community for youth from disinvested communities. BCM creates opportunities for 12 to 18 year-old students to connect with nature, themselves, community, and joy by providing free, fully outfitted, and professionally-led backcountry trips.

BCM programs occur on the ancestral territories of many of this nation’s first peoples. Our regional hubs are on the lands of the Ute, Araphaho, and Cheyenne (Denver), the Dakota and Anishinibawaki (Minneapolis), the Ohlone, Ramaytush, Chochenyo, and Muwekma (San Francisco Bay Area), the Duwamish and Muckleshoot (Seattle), and the Massachusett, Wampanoag, and Pawtucket (Boston) and Muscogee and Shawnee (Birmingham).

For over thirty years, the BCM idea and organization has shown staying power, and has a stable operating budget to match. Headquartered in Denver, CO, BCM is a national organization with a dedicated team of full-time staff, seasonal trip instructors, and volunteers. For more information, you can visit our website,

Position Overview

BCM youth are resilient, adaptable, courageous, and resourceful. They come to our trips eager to learn and may be nervous about the experience. BCM’s instructors are responsible for providing youth with the high quality experiences in nature that BCM is known for. Instructors guide with joy, compassion, empathy, and deep care in facilitating this often new experience. It’s important that Instructors have an interest and passion for understanding and addressing access barriers for communities that have been historically underrepresented in the outdoors. Furthermore, they have a commitment to personal self-reflection, accepting and giving feedback, and leading in a way that centers youth experience.

Instructors are an integral part of the BCM program model. Instructors manage implementation of the field component of BCM’s programs, while working to create a collaborative and inclusive environment that fosters youth’s connection to nature, self, community, and joy.
Instructors are responsible for leading single day programs, 1 to 2-night campouts, and 5 to 7-day backcountry expeditions, as well as supporting the logistical needs of each of these trips. The group size varies anywhere from 5 to 15 youth depending on the type of program as well as a team of up to 5 other adults composed of local volunteers, staff from partnering organizations, and potentially student leaders, and in many cases a co-instructor also hired by BCM.
Instructors are responsible for delivering outcomes based curriculum, managing risk and safety, and overseeing direct program logistics with support from the Regional Program Manager (RPM). BCM programming takes place in city and state parks as well as remote settings on public land.

While BCM expressly encourages group decision-making, instructors are the primary decision makers in the field. With frontcountry support from RPMs, these decisions include but are not limited to:

  • Trip itinerary and/or route changes
  • Managing group and individual dynamics
  • Co-creating and upholding community agreements
  • Curriculum delivery
  • Adult team coordination
  • Risk management, including initial backcountry medical and emergency response

Instructor Responsibilities

Leadership and Facilitation

Over a program series (i.e. a day trip, overnight, and weeklong expedition designed to be with the same cohort of youth), Instructors will be responsible for facilitating and delegating deliverance of BCM curriculum:

  • Orienting participants to group roles and empowering youth step into leadership positions
  • Encouraging all participants to deepen their personal connection with the natural world through intentionally designed activities
  • Recognizing and integrating curriculum connection points during gear organization, meal preparation, campfire discussions, campsite setup, etc.
  • Creatively engaging group in curriculum through on-trail games and activities

Group Development

Instructors are responsible for creating the conditions for all participants that build rapport and mutual trust and make for a meaningful experience: 

  • Working in collaboration with the group to set expectations for engagement and upholding group commitments 
  • Facilitating discussions on group and individual goal setting and reflection
  • Creating an open and positive learning environment for all participants
  • Utilizing, modeling and encouraging group development skills such as active listening, validating and addressing concerns, expressing vulnerability, etc.

In addition to supporting youth development, instructors provide thoughtful direction and feedback to the adult team so that they can best support youth participants

Risk Management

Instructors are critical in providing experiences that mitigate the situational and environmental risks inherent in a backcountry trip: 

  • Implementing BCM policies and guidelines and guide the group in proactively following them
  • Communicating effectively and appropriately with all members of the group throughout the entirety of time spent together 
  • Assessing risks, making informed decisions in the field and serving as in-field responder to incidents with support from RPM
  • In the case of incident response, following BCM’s emergency action plan and response protocols and being in clear and direct communication with regional managers and other members of BCM’s team

Outdoor Technical Skills

BCM delivers programming in diverse course areas across the nation.

  • Teaching outdoor technical skills such as; navigation, route selection, cooking/camp stove use, Leave No Trace concepts, etc. 
  • Demonstrating how to fit gear to personal needs and modeling proper use and care for gear 

Program Preparation and Clean-Up

Depending on program type, Instructors’ contracts will include time and tasks that take place before or after the actual program dates. These tasks can include: 

  • Pre-trip: facilitating an adult team meeting with the adults participating in a program, reviewing student registration forms, finalizing the food and gear preparation
  • Post Trip: debriefing trip with thoughtful feedback and growth points, writing and reviewing evaluations, reviewing and finalizing incident and near miss reports, administering youth and adult participant surveys, and assisting in gear de-issue and cleaning

Qualifications and Compensation

Baseline Qualifications

  • Experience working with youth who come from racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse communities, specifically youth whose identities and lived experiences are underrepresented in outdoor recreation spaces 
  • 35 days of documented multi-day backcountry trip leading experience relevant to the type of programming offered in your region of interest
  • Current WFR with CPR or WEMT certification (or an ability to obtain one by employment date)  
  • Ability to attend Regional Instructor Training (stipend included) 
  • Ability to pass a criminal background check
  • Clean driving record

Preferred Qualifications

  • Spanish speaking or bilingual  
  • Mental Health First Aid training
  • Trauma Informed Care and training

Priority will be given to instructors who:

  • Can commit to facilitating multiple programs throughout our program season (April 1 – Labor Day) including day programs, overnights, and weeklong expeditions
  • Live within 100 miles of BCM hub cities


Instructors are hired and paid as 1099 independent contractors. 

Daily compensation: $120 – $189/ field day dependent on experiences and qualifications . $97/admin day. $48/pre-trip meeting & meeting prep

Pay increase: BCM instructors will earn an additional $5 a day per returning year up to $25.  

Work Expectations

BCM will hire instructors who commit to 1-4 complete trip series per season with BCM.  Instructors should expect to work with the same cohort for an entire trip series and be present for the day trip, the overnight, and the expedition.  We expect trip dates to be finalized with Youth Agency Partners in February / March at latest and can confirm Instructors’ seasonal schedules shortly thereafter.

BCM will make every effort to staff each trip with two instructors.  We will provide training, resources, and guidance to instructors on how to effectively co-guide.

BCM Hub Cities

  • Birmingham, Alabama – backpacking
  • Boston, Massachusetts – backpacking
  • Denver, Colorado – backpacking
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota – canoeing (Boundary Waters)
  • San Francisco Bay Area, California – backpacking
  • Seattle, Washington – backpacking


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

Applications will continue to be reviewed on a rolling basis.

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