Miniwanca Jobs

Four Trails Adventure Trip Leader

Four Trails Adventure Trip Leaders are responsible, experienced, and camper-focused youth development professionals from diverse backgrounds and experiences.

The Four Trails Adventure Trip Program takes the AYF philosophy and mission on trail to inspire youth to develop their best selves through wilderness adventure activities. The Four Trails program offers a unique progression of hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and cycling trips for campers aged 13-18. Our trips range in length from 2 to 28 days. The campers will journey throughout the Midwestern and Northeastern United States and Ontario, Canada.

Trip leaders can expect to plan and co-lead groups of 8-10 campers. They will lead specific hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and/or cycling trips during our 6-week summer camp season. Trip leaders will work to facilitate fun and engaging activities that promote positive youth development for campers.

If you’re interested, click the Apply Now button below. You can also scroll down for more information, reflections from previous Four Trails Trip Leaders, and photos.



What should I know before applying?

As a trip leader your focus should always be on the experience of your campers, so we typically look for leaders…

• Who have some experience working with youth and who love being outside.

• Who have some experience hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and/or cycling.

• Who are 20+ years old and love adventuring in varied weather, settings, and circumstances

What can I expect if I am hired?

• The Trip Leader position is a 9-week commitment, and the starting salary for first-year leaders is $300 a week.

• You'll also participate in an immersive Wilderness Workshop where you'll gain hands-on backcountry experience while being exposed to how the AYF's mission and philosophy apply to the wilderness setting of the Four Trails program.

• All food and housing is provided while you work at Miniwanca, and you'll have access to pro-deals through Outdoor Prolink and discounted gear via Liberty Mountain.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of kids can I expect to work with?

Four Trails campers are from diverse backgrounds, experiences, and geographies. They range in age from 13-18  years old. Many of our campers return each year though Four Trails leaders can also expect to work with campers who are experiencing the program for the first time.

I like being outside, but I do not have trip leading experience. Can I still apply?

Definitely. We offer an extensive and hands-on Wilderness Workshop training course for all incoming Four Trails Adventure Trip Leaders. Wilderness Workshop is typically 10 days long and is designed to offer new and returning trip leaders an introduction to basic backcountry skills in addition to the more specific skillsets of backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, and cycling.

What kind of trips can I expect to lead?

Our youngest campers will participate in shorter 2-7 day hiking, canoeing, and cycling trips as they are introduced to being on trail. As campers progress through the program from year to year, they will participate in a 14-day cycling trip up the coast of West Michigan to the Leelanau Peninsula, a 5-week kayaking expedition in the beautiful Georgian Bay of Canada, and in their final year as campers, they will participate in a 6-week cross country cycling trip from Miniwanca to Merrowvista, our sister camp located in New Hampshire.

Can I apply to lead a specific trip?

You are welcome to request to lead a specific trip, but we are unable to guarantee that you will be hired to lead that trip. In general, first year leaders can expect to lead the trips that are more centrally located to Miniwanca.

How are trip assignment decisions made?

We consider a variety of factors in determining trip assignments including the trip leader’s application, written/verbal references, previous trip-leading experience, availability of specific trips, performance during Wilderness Workshop, and matches with prospective co-leaders. We ask that our leaders keep an open mind in regards to trip assignments, bearing in mind the knowledge that every trip is equally important in the progression of the Four Trails Program.

What equipment can Miniwanca provide for trip leaders?

Miniwanca provides as much gear and equipment as possible for campers and staff of the Four Trails program. In general, leaders are responsible for providing personal gear including personal clothing, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads and Miniwanca will provide all essential group gear (including bikes, tents, panniers, etc). We encourage all trip leaders to consider cost-effective options for acquiring gear including borrowing from friends and family or purchasing secondhand items that are in good condition.

What does a typical day look like for a Four Trails Trip Leader?

Though most days will look different based on where you are and who you’re interacting with, trip leaders generally find that there is a rhythm, to being on trail: waking up between 7-8am and then traveling to your next campsite whether by boat, bike, or the power of your own legs. Along the way, you’ll stop to see some of the most beautiful beaches, lakes, rivers, and forests in America. You will always plan to be at a campsite in the early evening where you will work with your campers to prepare dinner and lead evening activities that involve a reflective component.

I have never been to camp before. Is that ok?

It is not uncommon for leaders to be experiencing camp and Miniwanca for the very first time. Leaders should be open to new experiences and ways of operating when they come to Miniwanca, especially if this is their first time at Miniwanca or at a summer camp in general.

What if I have specific dietary needs?

While in camp, we will provide a vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free meal options. Our on-trail meals can be adjusted to suit those needs as well. We are a peanut and tree nut aware program as well so we will not serve anything with those products in it. Some snacks and desserts may be created in a facility that uses peanuts or tree nuts, and safe alternatives will be offered as needed.

I do not have a car. How do I get to camp?

Miniwanca will pick up leaders on specific days from local airports and bus stations. If you do not have a car and are interested in using public transportation to get to camp please talk to your supervisor about what options are available to you.

Leader Reflections

Jessie Baloga

Four Trails Trip Leader (2016-2018)

"I’ve spent three years leading Four Trails trips, and I have this program to thank for who I am today. As I’ve mentioned, Miniwanca, and specifically Four Trails, has helped me celebrate my own best self, which allows be to celebrate other’s best selves in return. Loving and growing along side my campers is such a special experience and the bond we create as a trip group inspires me to continue loving and growing when I leave Miniwanca. Miniwanca is a part of me and has taught me that not only at camp, but everywhere I go, is full of unexpected beauty and change, and through absorbing these experiences I am becoming my own best self."

Hannah Patterson

Assistant Director of Camps (present), Four Trails Trip Leader (2013 - 2014)

"The confidence that I gained from being a trip leader has lasted long beyond that first summer leading trips. Life isn’t always easy, whether it’s here at camp or out in the rest of my life, but I have an unshakeable belief that somehow it will all turn out. After biking to the top of a mountain one day, one of my campers looked out over what he had just done and said, "After biking that, I feel like I can do anything." For anyone, camper or staff member alike, the Four Trails program can provide you with a greater sense of confidence and belief in yourself. It certainly did for me."

Nicky Murphy

Four Trails Trip Leader (2017-2018)

"As a trip leader I have had the opportunity to work with many amazing young women as they learn to connect to one another and to the natural world. I’ve seen them embrace a simpler way of living and then equally embrace opportunities to dig deep into challenge or to have difficult conversations. Being a trip leader at Miniwanca has allowed me to facilitate and witness my campers as they grow, and in turn it has fueled my passion for the outdoors and for environmental education. I am so much of who I am today because of my experiences in the outdoors and those who have served as leaders for me. Miniwanca has become a perfect outlet for my purpose and continues to be a place that I call home."

Summer on the Four Trails Team: