Job Summary: Do you want to impact the lives of local youth this summer through an introduction to backpacking in the wilderness? Successful applicants will serve as lead instructors for The Nature Connection’s youth summer backpacking programs on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests for middle school to high school-aged youth.


  • Work with The Nature Connection Leadership Team in all aspects of planning and executing wilderness trips for middle and high school students that focus on safety, mental health and outdoor leadership skills 
  • Manage pre and post-trip gear plus food checkout and inventory
  • Responsible for decision-making and risk management from trip departure to return (24 hours a day) 
  • Navigate a planned backpacking route under The Nature Connection and Forest Service related operating guidelines
  • Instruct up to 11 youth in a backcountry setting for four days, three nights on topics including wilderness ethics, Leave No Trace travel, wildlife, natural history, health and wellness and backpacking skills
  • Mentor and supervise up to two Nature Connection high school backpacking interns ages 14-18
  • Ensure trips meet health and safety guidelines while providing a fun and exciting learning environment for youth and interns
  • Other duties as assigned

Position Requirements:

  • Demonstrated experience in backcountry travel and outdoor leadership skills 
  • Ability to carry 50+ lbs while hiking 5-10 miles a day in high altitude environments 
  • Experience working/teaching youth in an outdoor environment
  • Familiarity with the West Elks or other alpine Colorado Rocky Mountain ecosystems
  • Drivers License and clean driving record
  • First Aid/CPR certificate required
  • Wilderness First Aid or Responder certificate preferred
  • Ability to navigate,  select suitable camping sites and adjust itinerary as needed
  • Strong group facilitation, conflict mediation and communication skills
  • Experience navigating backcountry environments (map and compass, GPS technology); survival skills
  • Leave No Trace Trainer preferred

Compensation: DOE; Contract position 2-7 weeks

Location: The Nature Connection HQ; 397 Miners Way, Hotchkiss, CO 81419

Effective Date:  Open until filled; Priority given to applications received by March 15

Specific Trip Dates: 

*Backpacking leads will be assigned to different trips according to participant numbers, experience and background

  • June 13th-16th    Healthy Forests High School Leadership Program
  • June 20th-23rd   Boots to Roots (10-14 year olds)
  • June 27th-30th   Bike Packing Co-ed (10-14 year olds)
  • July 11th-14th      Girls in the Wilderness (10-14 year olds)
  • July 18th-21st      Boots to Roots (10-14 year olds)
  • July 25th-28th    Girls in the Wilderness (10-14 year olds)
  • August 1st-4th     Wilderness Aware (7-11 year olds)

Please Submit:

  1. Resume with cover letter to
  2. Three professional references
  3. Top candidates will be selected for an interview by The Nature Connection Leadership Team