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Outdoor Adventure Jobs

Backpacking Instructor

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Take A Hike!

As a camp counselor and backpacking instructor at Falling Creek, your summer will be full of adventure!

At Falling Creek, we hike in beautiful and famous locations, like Pisgah and Nantahala National Forest, the Appalachian Trail, the Art Loeb Trail, and Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest.

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Backpacking Instructor Description

Backpacking instructors at Falling Creek are able to spend time enjoying the rugged beauty of Western North Carolina firsthand, admiring waterfalls, open vistas, rhododendron tunnels, and hardwood stands dating back hundreds of years. Throughout the summer you’ll lead a variety of trips, ranging from short half-day adventures to epic five-day expeditions.

Each member of our Backpacking and Hiking staff become Wilderness First Responder certified, and will learn valuable knowledge of the local area.

While you are welcome to bring any of your own gear, we provide all the supplies and gear you’ll need for backpacking. Learn more about the adventure program at Falling Creek.

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What’s a Typical Day Like For This Position?

Backpacking and hiking trips are special signup activities at Falling Creek, like all of our Adventure Programs. You’ll make announcements about upcoming trips each day at Morning Assembly - campers can choose to leave their daily activity schedules behind and sign up to join you for 1 to 5 day long trips. Campers progress in the adventure activities based on their skill development, and trips are designed for different skill levels.

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On these trips, campers gain self-reliance and outdoor survival skills as you teach them how to do things like safely build a fire, cook outdoors, find and purify water in the wilderness, and read a map. You’ll be able to help many boys discover a lifelong passion for the outdoors by participating in the adventure program!

When not on a trip off-property, male camp counselors live in a cabin with one other counselor and eight campers. In addition to their activity/trip instruction, male counselors will have an assortment of responsibilities related to the management of their cabin. Female camp counselors also serve as activity/trip staff, but don’t live in cabins with the campers, and are responsible instead for organizational tasks during the times that male staff are busy with their cabins. Trip Leaders are responsible for the planning and logistics of backpacking trips, and do not live in a cabin with campers.

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Need internship credit?

Many of our counselors who need internship credit to graduate don’t realize that they can earn that credit while working at camp! We can coordinate with your department to tailor a unique learning experience, and have set up internship credit across a wide variety of disciplines. Read more about the value of an internship at camp or how to translate your camp experience to your resume.

Working at camp isn’t just fun and rewarding, it’s also a great way to jumpstart your professional development. The skills critical for success in today’s world are developed and practiced at camp, including communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and contribution. You’ll make connections with people from a variety of cultural backgrounds, across the country and around the world. Being a Falling Creek alumni also connects you to a network of former staff and parents who are business owners, entrepreneurs, outdoor industry professionals, and employers. We are frequently asked to refer our most talented staff members.

Career Development & Resources
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Why Should You Be a Backpacking Counselor?

Each day at camp brings adventure, physical recreation, and endless opportunities for personal and professional growth. As an outdoor adventure staff member, you’ll also earn your Wilderness First Responder certification during staff training.

As a backpacking instructor, you’ll be a role model for the boys both on and off the trail. If you’re majoring in recreation management or outdoor education, being a summer camp backpacking instructor will give you helpful skills for your future career path. Even if your college major is unrelated to the outdoors, you’ll still be gaining leadership skills and networking connections that will give you a competitive edge in the job market, no matter where you’re headed next.

To a counselor considering joining backpacking staff, I would say that you don’t have to be some crazy mountain man or super athlete to succeed on backpacking staff. What really counts is the ability to teach, entertain, and build community in the woods, and to keep a positive attitude and good decision-making skills even when you are tired or cold or wet or hungry or whatever else the trip throws at you. I think what makes the Falling Creek Adventure Program unique is our willingness to push the envelope of what we believe boys are capable of. Many times when I encounter leaders from other outdoor programs, their reaction is ‘you did THAT big of a trip with THAT young boys?’ But at Falling Creek, it doesn’t matter how young or old you are; what matters is whether you can demonstrate the hard and soft skills needed to carry out the adventure safely and competently.

Matthew K., 10 year backpacking instructor

What’s My Time-Off Like?

Each week you’ll receive a scheduled time-off period of 34 consecutive hours. In 2023 the time-off period began in the morning around breakfast on the first day, allowed you to be off throughout the reminder of that day and night, and required you to return the following day in late afternoon, around dinner. Staff are also able to take an hour of “self-care time” each day at camp, where you are free to read, workout, nap, or do anything you need to “recharge your batteries” daily. Everyone gets the same amount of time off; the schedule is based on your position and role at camp. Being well-rested and refreshed is a must! (During session changeover weeks, this schedule is altered slightly.)

What Benefits Do I Get?

We offer a competitive and progressive pay schedule that is determined based on your experience, age, education, certifications, and other factors. See the 2024 Estimated Pay Sheet here. Staff working the full summer (Orientation plus 4 sessions) will have a base pay of $4300, not including additional pay, experience, and bonuses.

In addition to housing, food, and pay, each day at camp brings adventure, physical recreation, and endless opportunities for personal and professional growth. You are welcome to use the camp facilities and participate in activities during your free time, so long as it does not take away from a class or camper.

Visit our “What You Get” page to read more about the value of an internship at camp, how to translate your camp experience to your resume, resources, networking, and certifications offered.

When Do I Need To Be Available?

While individual dates may differ based on your personal contract, our summer season is from mid May to mid August, and our preference is to hire for the full season. For the 2024 season, All-Staff Orientation begins on May 30th. Closing day is August 16th after the final session. Depending on your role at camp, you may need to arrive earlier in May for additional training (Lifeguard Training, the WFR Certification Course, Compass Horse Training, Adventure Staff Training, etc.) The WFR training for adventure staff will begin on May 18. You also have the option to extend your contract by joining us for Father/Son Weekends and/or Family Camp.

What Essential Skills Are Needed?

Completed At Least One Year of College and/or At Least 19 Years Old.

Our mission is existing to shepherd the journey of personal growth through love and adventure. Staff must be dedicated to live by the Falling Creek Code.

Patient. Flexible. Team Player. Genuinely Enthusiastic. Friendly. Eager to Grow. Open to Offer and Receive Feedback. Able to Think on Your Feet. Good Decision Maker. Hard Working. Get-It-Done Attitude.

See more on our staff FAQs page.