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Summer Trip Leader

Wilderness Kids Alexandria (WKA) seeks experienced, dynamic educators to co-lead one or more Summer Peak Experiences in summer 2024, including 1-day outings and 3- to 7-day summer camping trips in natural areas of Virginia and surrounding states. Students on these trips are 12 to 16 years old and from under-resourced families.

The Basics:

Our Summer Trip Leaders will:

  • work with a Co-Leader and an Assistant Trip Leader to provide an enriching experience that includes activities such as backcountry backpacking; paddling; sea-kayaking, rock-climbing; day-hiking; camping, and more. 

  • guide students through activities from the WKA Curriculum Manual as well as through “in-the-moment” activities created by the Leaders.

  • assure the physical and emotional well-being and safety of all students.

  • report to the Trip Coordinator on a regular basis


  • June 10th- 12th (summer staff training) 

  • June 24th- 26th

  • June 30th- July 2nd

  • July 8th- 12th

  • July 21st- 27th

  • July 31st- August 2nd

  • August 6th- 10th

  • August 14th- 16th


If you are interested in the role and have some summer availability, we can often make an opportunity work for you, whether it is working many days through the summer or just on one or two trips.


$155-175/day; based on experience for Trip Leaders and Assistant Trip Leaders.

Additional Detail:

Trip Leaders are dynamic and creative, empathetic and sensitive, adventurous and courageous. At any given moment, they may be a lesson leader, a bedtime storyteller, a shoulder to cry on, a conflict mediator, or a raucous game player. 

Trip Leaders live and sleep in front-country and backcountry campsites alongside campers and fellow staff. They accept challenges alongside participants and guide the community through new experiences and activities.

Staff are expected to meet the needs of a vibrant and diverse community, and to cultivate radical inclusion as they foster the growth and development of their campers, other staff, and even themselves.


We actively seek and encourage applications from people of all backgrounds and identities in areas including, but not limited to race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, and ability. We welcome questions and open discussion about this commitment throughout the application process.


Job responsibilities

Leading Others

Educating, Facilitating, & Guiding: 

  • Work collaboratively to organize and lead a variety of small and large group activities, including hiking, swimming, climbing, canoeing, kayaking, crafts, art, nature, singing, games, etc.

  • Plan and carry out safe, challenging and fun wilderness backpacking excursions.

  • Lead chores with enthusiasm and fun.

  • Coordinate with Program Partners (e.g. Climbing or Paddling Instructors) to assure a safe and fun experience for WKA students.

  • Supervise campers in the preparation of three meals per day.

Modeling Behavior & Communicating Well: 

  • Cultivate participants' spirit and a love of play—within yourself and others.

  • Provide space and encouragement to let campers be leaders.

  • Model flexibility and resilience when plans shift due to unforeseen circumstances.​

  • Communicate regularly and clearly with campers, co-leaders, and other WKA staff.

  • Solve problems proactively and collaboratively.

  • Ensure that sites that we visit are kept clean and organized, and left better than they were found.


Safety and Wellness

  • Know, understand, and implement as needed all emergency procedures associated with the experience; 

  • Know, enforce, and follow all safety guidelines associated with the experience.

  • Be responsible for students’ safety and their whereabouts at all times and provide a safe place and source of protection for our young people.

  • Identify and respond to students' emotional and behavioral issues, recognizing that for many of our students this will be their first experience of extended camping

  • Be aware of and take care of your own needs.

  • Be attentive to the health and hygiene of the students.

Foster Community

  • Demonstrate inclusiveness and respect for all people.

  • Empower students and staff to express their individuality within the structure of the community.

  • Be flexible in leadership style, tailoring to fit individual camper needs.

  • Assume responsibility for the community by actively engaging in solving problems.

  • Demonstrate enthusiasm for outdoor activities by playing, working, and creating with campers (rather than only supervising) and encourage others to join activities.

  • Engage with other adults in the community such as students' family members, Program Partners, other WKA staff, etc.

  • Demonstrate and encourage interest in nature, sustainability, and care for the environment.

  • Embrace and celebrate an “unplugged” culture that centers around human interactions and the wonder of nature rather than focusing on technology.

  • Maintain a youth-centric attitude that allows each camper to feel loved, supported, encouraged, and celebrated.

  • Help challenge each member of the community physically, mentally and emotionally. Push or respect boundaries, as appropriate. WKA programs are always challenge by choice.​

  • Set and maintain clear, appropriate boundaries with campers.

Required Qualifications

  • Wilderness First Aid, or the willingness to get certified, required. Wilderness First Responder Certification strongly preferred.  WFA for Assistant Trip Leader preferred.

  • Experience working with young people, ideally in an outdoor setting, ideally with students of middle-school or high-school age.

  • Enthusiasm to lead, plan, organize, and implement engaging program activities.

  • Ability to work as a member of a team and the ability to accomplish tasks with little direct supervision.

  • Respect for and appreciation of young people

  • Commitment to abide by and enforce camp regulations including policies on youth safety, drug, alcohol and tobacco use.

  • Good judgement.

  • Willingness to take direction from Administrative staff as necessary in fulfillment of job duties.

  • Sense of adventure and ability to live rustically.


Strongly preferred Skills and Experiences

  • Experience, lived or worked, among communities that have historically faced discrimination in the United States, including but not limited to BIPOC and immigrant communities.

  • B.A. or B.S. degree preferred, for Co-Leaders; High School graduation for Assistant Leader. Education, Environmental Science, Outdoor Ed and similar majors encouraged to apply.

  • Strong organizational and communication skills.

  • Interest in learning and/or experience with wilderness skills (kayaking, climbing, camping, etc), games, music, and arts activities (visual, theater, etc.)


Physical Demands

  • Counselors lead and participate in camp activities which include, but are not limited to, hiking, canoeing, swimming, backpacking, camping, kayaking, rock-climbing, team building initiatives, physical games, and activities.


To Apply

Please complete this form, which takes the place of a cover letter and which will also request you to upload your resume.


Note: Background checks will be required for all staff, to ensure the safety of our young people.


Thank you for applying.

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