Miniwanca Jobs

Four Trails Trip Leader

Four Trails Leaders (summer camp counselors) are seasonal youth development professionals who co-lead a cabin group of 10 to 12 campers during backpacking and/or canoeing trips off-site and on Miniwanca property. Trips may be 2 to 17 days in length. This role will include one to two weeks of paid staff training, followed by two three-week camp sessions.

Essential Functions

  • Lead and mentor a cabin group for each camp session, living and eating with campers as they adjust to camp life and helping them achieve their personal best.
  • Manage behavioral issues, homesickness, injury, or unforeseen circumstances from remote locations in conjunction with your co-leader, Coordinator and support team.
  • Facilitate group activities that support the mission of the AYF, guiding discussions and debriefing after completion.
  • Adhere to established safety procedures and guidelines for backpacking, canoeing, and other outdoor experiences outlined in Trip Leader Handbooks.
  • Learn and teach Leave No Trace outdoor ethics and camp craft skills such as outdoor cooking, fire and stove safety, tent and equipment repair, bear bagging, and general care for self, others, and equipment in the wilderness.
  • Establish personal and professional goals for the summer and work toward those goals
  • Complete all job functions including recordkeeping and reporting before and after a trip, and other duties as assigned

General Functions

  • Encourage leadership development, healthy community living, Best Self practices and balanced Four-Fold growth according to the philosophy of AYF by instruction and example.
  • Protect the safety and health of campers by adhering to community expectations and following all policies and procedures outlined in the Staff Handbook, including our alcohol-, drug-, and tobacco-free camp policy and AYF COVID-19 Staff Eligibility and Expectations.
  • Provide instruction in some skilled program activities when not on trail
  • Fully participate in and be present at all community activities and staff training

Required Skills

  • Four Trail leaders must be in excellent physical condition and experienced with through-hiking, backpacking, kayaking, and/or canoeing. Must be able to lift at least 45 pounds and have the stamina and energy to safely lead campers during travel through challenging terrain, inclement weather, and over long days.
  • Strong emotional and mental health. Must be adaptable and exhibit good judgement during an emergency or unforeseen circumstances while directing campers to maintain calm and safety.
  • Effective communication with youth participants and adult staff across a wide range of identities and backgrounds. Ability to foster positive relationships.
  • Ability to understand, promote, actively include, and work effectively with diverse perspectives and identities
  • Thorough understanding of critical issues shaping the lives of young people in the U.S., especially racial and gender equity, inclusivity, justice, ethics, and cultural competency

Education, Experience, or Certification Requirements

  • Must be 21 or older and at least one year post-high school graduation experience
  • Previous experience with group management, facilitation, and outdoor education required
  • Previous outdoor trip leading experience preferred. Current certification in CPR and Wilderness First Responder (training available for hired applicants).


  • Weekly rate: $600
  • $200 referral bonus paid at the end of summer for each hired employee the applicant refers
  • Four Trails Leaders will receive one day off for every six days worked when onsite.
  • Trail gear such as backpack, stoves, tents, and other group gear provided

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, backpacking, canoeing, and/or kayaking.

• 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 six- to seven-week commitment.

• 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 gear suppliers.

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 to 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, and kayaking.

Can I apply to lead a specific trip?

You are welcome to request to lead a specific trip (learn more about our 2022 Four Trails offerings), 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, tents, stoves, 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 to 8 a.m. and then traveling to your next campsite whether by boat on foot. 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.

Summer on the Four Trails Team: