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Outdoor Adventure Jobs

Paddling Instructor

Pinkies Up!

Falling Creek offers an outstanding progression-based paddling program oriented toward single and multi-day trips on exciting whitewater rivers, as well as peaceful and scenic mountain lakes.

Save Your Spot
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There's a long history of canoe and kayak instruction at summer camp, and we're proud to hold our paddling program to a high standard at Falling Creek.

Paddling Instructor Description

Paddling staff at Falling Creek will be able to run and instruct on some of the most beautiful rivers and lakes in the Southeast. We paddle rivers like the Lower & Upper Green, Tuckaseegee sections I, III & V, French Broad sections VI & IX, Chattooga sections II & III, Pigeon, Ocoee, Nolichucky, and New River Gorge. We also take canoe trips to Lake Jocassee and Lake Fontana.

Throughout the summer you’ll teach canoeing and kayaking techniques to a wide range of ages and skill levels, and lead a variety of trips ranging from short half-day adventures to epic five-day expeditions.

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

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What’s A Typical Day Like For Paddling Staff?

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

You’ll be instructing both canoeing and kayaking during the summer. On a typical day, you might be teaching canoe strokes or kayak rolls in the lower lake at camp, leading a beginner canoe day trip to the Green River, or heading out on an advanced 4-day trip to the New River Gorge. While we have campers with a wide variety of skill levels, everyone starts the program by learning the correct canoe stroke techniques, working with a partner in a tandem canoe to run the gates course. After they master their skills on the lake, you’ll take campers to the Green and Tuckaseegee Rivers to learn river running skills in whitewater.

As campers progress, they advance to more challenging rivers like the French Broad and Nantahala. Once a camper has completed his progressions in a tandem canoe, he may continue his whitewater training in a solo canoe, C-1, or kayak. Each summer builds on the progression made previously, and as paddling staff, you’ll be equipped to continue teaching and offering new challenges, no matter the paddling level of the boy. You’ll be able to help many boys discover a lifelong passion for the outdoors by participating in the adventure program!

Sound Like Fun?
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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 paddling 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 Paddling 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 paddling instructor, you’ll be a role model for the boys both on and off the river. If you’re majoring in recreation management, sports management, or outdoor education, being a summer camp paddling instructor will give you helpful skills for your future career path. Even if your college major is unrelated to the outdoors or athletics, 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.

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We don’t start you at the bottom and give you busywork; you are directly involved in running camp and helping campers succeed. If you are a male counselor, you’ll be responsible for the eight campers in your cabin, as well as the campers you instruct in your activity(s). Instructing a group of campers will challenge you, but you’ll learn how to be a more engaging and encouraging teacher, better logistics manager, and help boys learn new skills that can easily lead to new passions. At the end of the summer your teaching and leadership skills will become more defined and polished.

Paddling is unlike any other activity at camp. While it can be considered an adventure sport, it can also be a relaxing experience where one can connect with nature. The places we travel can oftentimes only be accessed by a boat, making a truly unique experience. The progression from a canoe to kayaking allows campers/counselors the ability to build skills and find exactly what part of paddling they enjoy. Whether it’s a lake trip or a whitewater river, paddling has something for everyone.

Steve McGrady, 11 year camper and paddling instructor 2019-20

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.