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Mar 26 / BARD CEP

Boundary Waters Canoe Expedition Instructor-Minneapolis, MN

Organization: Big City Mountaineers

Position Title: Boundary Waters Canoe Expedition Instructor

Location: Minneapolis, MN, US

Hours and Compensation:  $75-$115/day dependent on number of documented professional field weeks, $125/day for Senior Field Instructor. Pay Bump: $5/day per returning year in the same position starting 2013

Application Deadline: Not listed.


Job Description:

BCM aims to instill critical life skills in under-resourced urban youth through transformative wilderness mentoring expeditions. Working with community-based youth agencies 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 single gender, weeklong wilderness expedition (backpacking or canoeing) with a 1:1 ratio of 5 teens to 5 adult mentors. In addition to the expedition, groups participate in single day and overnight experiences pre- and post- expedition to help develop trust, skills, and transform learning from the backcountry to their urban lives.

General Description

Working as a Field Instructor with BCM is unique and highly rewarding. You will be responsible for leading a 7-day backpacking or canoeing expedition of 5 single gender urban youth ranging from 13-18 years old. Expeditions will also be staffed with 1-2 adults from BCM’s partnering youth agency and 1-3 trained volunteer mentors. This is likely the first wilderness experience for the teens and youth agency leader, and while BCM volunteer mentors often have previous backcountry and/or youth experience, it is not a requirement.

Returning Field Instructors can apply for a Senior Field Instructor role. The Senior Instructor provides coaching, mentoring, and supervision to new instructors while on BCM expeditions. The Senior Instructor is responsible for setting high standards of excellence in regards to leadership, program objectives, and supports safe, meaningful, and high quality programming.



  • Documented experience in at least one of the following youth development areas:
    • Experiential education and facilitation
    • Extended mentoring or teaching teen-aged urban under-resourced youth
    • Proven high-quality delivery of youth development programs
  • Documented experience in the following outdoor program areas:
    • Preferred minimum 6 weeks (12 weeks for Senior Instructors) of documented multi-day, wilderness-based outdoor leadership experience
    • 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, teambuilding
    • 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—lake hazard evaluation: weather, waves, lake rescue techniques, environmental, etc.
  • Current CPR plus WFR, or WEMT
  • Pass background and MVR check
  • At least 22 years old


  • Spanish speaking or bicultural
  • Priority given to Instructors willing and able to instruct two or more experiences

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 wellbeing 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

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

Risk Management

  • Follow BCM policies, procedures, and guidelines
  • Mitigate and manage risk, health, and safety according to industry standard best practices


  • Instructors maybe responsible for coordinating various regionally dependent logistics including: communications, gear issue/de-issue, food shopping, budgeting, evaluations, reporting required paperwork, etc.

Content and Quality

  • Participate in required training
  • Ensure adult volunteer and youth organization participants are thoroughly prepared for their BCM experience via pre-experience communications
  • 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 environment with adult participants
  • Evaluate volunteer mentor performance
  • Ask for feedback and evaluate your performance

In addition for Senior Instructors only: Managing & Coaching New Instructors

  • Assist with instructor orientation, trainings, briefing, and debriefing
  • Work as a lead instructor mentoring and supervising new instructors in the field
  • Provide guidance and consistent safety briefings with new instructors on managing risk and health
  • Support communication between the BCM Program Staff and field instructors, including instructor performance evaluation and program feedback

Compensation and Locations

$75-$115/day dependent on number of documented professional field weeks

$125/day for Senior Field Instructor

Pay Bump: $5/day per returning year in the same position starting 2013


  • Bay Area, California (Sierra Nevada backpacking)
  • Portland, Oregon (Olympics backpacking)
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota (Boundary Waters Canoe Area)
  • Denver, Colorado (Rocky Mountains backpacking)

Expeditions are 7-days plus a prep-day and run June-August with a variety of date options. They are staffed per expedition and priority is given to instructors who can work multiple expeditions.

How to apply:

Please submit cover letter, resume, and two professional reference contacts via e-mail Please include “Instructor or Senior Instructor” in the subject line.

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