Lead Instructor

Lead Instructor 

at Big City Mountaineers 

About Big City Mountaineers 

Big City Mountaineers (BCM) is committed to providing transformative experiences through nature that strengthen life skills and build community for youth from disinvested communities. BCM creates opportunities for 12 to 18 year-old students to connect with nature, themselves, community, and joy by providing free, fully outfitted, and professionally led outdoor programs and backcountry trips.  

BCM has been connecting youth with experiences in nature since 1989 and our work has been regularly recognized within the outdoor industry. Our history and legacy serve as a strong foundation for improvement and innovation.  BCM is committed to a culture of continual learning and strives to create an environment that promotes a growth mindset and authentic investment for all team members, including full-time staff, seasonal trip instructors, and volunteers. For more, you can visit our website www.bigcitymountaineers.org


Position Overview 

The Lead Instructor is most often a solo position responsible for leading a variety of outdoor based programs with students from partnering youth development organizations. These programs include day programs, 1 to 2-night campouts, and 5 to 7-day backpacking or canoeing expeditions (Minnesota only), with varying group sizes dependent on the type of program. Adult team members include volunteers and staff from our partnering organizations. 

Lead Instructors will support logistics, and implementation of the field component of BCM’s programs while working to create a collaborative and inclusive environment that fosters students’ connection to nature, self, community, and joy. Instructors work closely with Regional Program Managers, adult team members, and students to facilitate experiences that encourage student agency and decision making, strengthen social emotional skills, increase awareness of self and others, and help cultivate positive relationships with nature, and community. Lead Instructors are responsible for delivering outcome-based curriculum, managing risk and safety, and overseeing direct program logistics. Programming takes place in city, regional, state parks, and national forest settings. Lead Instructors report to and work closely with Regional Program Managers. 


Instructor Expectations  

Leadership and Facilitation  

BCM students are resilient, adaptable, courageous, and resourceful. They come to our trips eager to learn and (sometimes) pretty nervous about the experience. Our instructors guide them in navigating this new experience with joy, compassion, empathy, and deep care. It is important that our instructors have an understanding of barriers to outdoor access that exist for communities that have been historically underrepresented in the outdoors and are capable of addressing those barriers in their work. Furthermore, Instructors must have a commitment to self-reflect, accept and give feedback, and lead with empathy.  


Group Development   

Instructors have the ability to build rapport and mutual trust between all the participants while facilitating a meaningful experience. Our instructors work to meet students where they are and prioritize validating and addressing student concerns. They exemplify humility, vulnerability, and a commitment to one another. It’s important that Instructors recognize that learning is a two-way street and that adults will be learning from and alongside the students. In addition to supporting student development, instructors work to facilitate space for adult growth and learning by offering thoughtful feedback. Each day there is allocated time for the adult/student groups to gather and discuss how to make the best of the trip.  


Risk Management  

Instructors are critical in providing experiences that mitigate the situational and environmental risks inherent in backcountry/outdoor trips. They understand BCM policies and guidelines and use them to inform group decisions and actions. Our instructors are patient and compassionate as they support students and adult participants through mental and physical concerns.  Instructors are responsible for accurately accounting in-the-field near misses and incidents. Lead instructors serve as the final decision maker for risk management decisions in the field.  


Outdoor Technical Skills  

BCM delivers programming in diverse course areas across the nation. Instructors have prior experience with multi-day overnight, backcountry-based outings and have proven experience and confidence making decisions in sometimes challenging outdoor and remote settings. They have competencies in outdoor technical skills such as; navigation, itinerary planning, route selection, cooking/camp stove use, LNT concepts, etc. These serve as a basic foundation that can be built upon through BCM specific learning opportunities.


Program Preparation and Clean-up 

Depending on program type an Instructors’ contracts will include tasks that take place before or after the actual program dates. These tasks begin before the start of a program and include finalizing program food and gear, reviewing registration forms, and meeting with members of the adult team. On the tail end of a program instructors are expected to debrief the trip with the Regional Program Manager, write and review evaluations, review and finalize incident reporting and near misses, and manage gear de-issue and cleaning.  


Qualifications & Compensation:   


  • Personal and professional values consistent with BCM’s mission, values, and principles
  • Lived experience as an individual who comes from a community that is underrepresented in the outdoors and/or experience working with youth who come from racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse communities. 
  • Passion for fostering a group culture that values student agency, strengths-based team dynamics, and positive relationship building 
  • Ability to model giving and receiving constructive and timely feedback and conflict mediation
  • Ability to self-manage and organize gear, documents, and other trip logistics 
  • Strong understanding of risk management practices that prioritize the physical AND emotional well-being of a group
  • Knowledge of technical outdoors skills and gear and the ability to guide a group in acquiring these skills 
  • Significant documented experience leading multi-day backcountry trips (we recommend about 35 total days) and/or experience relevant to the type of programming offered in your region of interest
  • Current WFR with CPR or WEMT certification, or an ability to obtain one by employment date
  • Ability to attend  5 days of Regional Instructor Orientation prior to the start of the program season (stipend included) 
  • Ability to pass a background check with a clean driving record
  • Be 21 years of age or older by start of contract


Preferred Qualifications 

  • Spanish speaking or bi-lingual preferred 
  • Priority will be given to instructors who can commit to facilitating multiple programs during the summer including day programs, overnights, and weeklong expeditions.  



Instructors are hired and paid as 1099 independent contractors. 

Daily compensation: $115 – $165/ day dependent on region, experiences and qualifications   

Pay increase: BCM instructors will earn an additional $5 a day per returning year up to $25.  

Expedition Locations  

BCMs programs occur on the ancestral territories of many of this nation’s first peoples. Our regional hubs are on the lands of the;

  • Ute (Denver)
  • Sioux and Anishinibawaki (Minneapolis)
  • Ohlone, Ramaytush, Chochenyo, and Muwekma (San Francisco Bay Area) 
  • Duwamish (Seattle) 
  • Cowlitz and Chinook (Portland)
  • Massachusett and Pawtucket (Boston) 


How to Apply 

Click here to apply. Please include any personal or professional experience that you feel will be relevant for the Instructor Position. 

Priority will be given to applications received by Friday, January 7. Additional applications will continue to be received on a rolling basis. 

For general questions about this position or for questions specifically about working in New England, Oregon, Washington, or Minnesota  please email: Fred@bigcitymountaineers.org 

For questions specifically about working in California please email: Jenna@bigcitymountaineers.org 

For questions specifically about working in Colorado please email: Jalen@bigcitymountaineers.org 

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