Field Staff – Internship

Company: Voyageur Outward Bound

Job Description

Internship, Ely – Homeplace Basecamp (Variable Hour/Seasonal, Exempt, Per Diem)

Reports to: Staffing Director, Technical & Support Program Manager


The internship is an on-the-job training program for individuals aiming to become field instructors facilitating expeditions for VOBS.  Depending on skill level, experience, scheduling, and availability, some interns will be promoted to instructor the same season.  Most will complete the 9-week internship and will seek to be re-hired as a field instructor the following season.  Internships begin with 10-12 days of in-the-field expedition training, 5-6 days of introductory technical skills, and another 5-6 days of student management skills training.  This is followed by 6 weeks of practical work supporting the program.

The VOBS Ely Summer Interns will perform a wide variety of duties on any given day or week ranging from supporting a rock-climbing day for students, driving to the airport to greet a new student group, or staining one of the many buildings on our 40-acre wilderness basecamp.  The intention is for the interns to have a diversity of work that will deepen their understanding and appreciation of the position of field instructor, program management, how the basecamp runs, and how to work with students.  The internship is designed to be an educational experience with approximately 40% of the intern’s time spent in student contact and approximately 60% will be spent supporting courses, course delivery, and the base camp community.


Role and Responsibilities

  • Trainee
    • Participate in a wilderness training expedition and that is modeled on an Outward Bound student experience and thus, is deliberately challenging.
    • Technical Skills: Whitewater and flatwater paddling, rock climbing, top rope anchor building, campcraft, and navigation.
    • Facilitation Skills: Group dynamic and student management skills, conflict resolution skills, expeditionary leadership, and decision-making skills.
    • Program Function and Logistics: Gain awareness and skills pertaining to how a large program runs ‘behind the scenes’.
  • Student Program Support
    • Greet, supervise, and inspire students at the airport on arrival days.
    • Driving during student transport including to/from the airport, to/from trailheads, and to/from technical sites using passenger vans and equipment trailers.
    • Assist with gear issue on student arrival days or gear switches when (i.e. canoeing to backpacking).
    • Assist at technical sites including rock climbing, whitewater kayaking or canoeing, and high ropes sites.
    • Supervise students who leave the field due to illness, injury, or behavioral incidents.
    • Support instructors and students in the Intercept (at-risk) program during their final week at VOBS where they are working to transition home and preparing to reunite with their families.
  • Basecamp Support
    • Assist field instructors during course preparation including packing food and gear, and setting up camp before student arrival.
    • Assist VOBS Facilities Manager in maintaining the basecamp.  This includes a variety of tasks that help the basecamp run smoothly and run efficiently.  This could include staining a building, cleaning, filling pot holes, yard work, kitchen work, etc.
  • Participate as needed to support the basecamp’s on-call field response system.  This could include paddling or hiking to evacuate an injured student from the wilderness, answering the emergency field line, and preparing food and gear for evacuation teams.


Skills and Qualifications

  • Strong desire to learn and eagerness to serve the mission.
  • Exceptional communication skills.
  • Passion for back country travel, community living, and youth development.
  • Willingness to live in rustic conditions at Homeplace, VOBS wilderness basecamp, with a common dining hall and shared washhouse.
  • Ability to be flexible and positive in a dynamic, team-oriented work environment
  • Maintains motor vehicle record within OBUSA policies and procedures, ability to drive 15-passenger vehicle with trailer in all seasons (including towing canoe and equipment trailers), minimum age of 21
  • Professional experiential education experience (NOLS, Outward Bound or similar organization) (preferred but not required)
  • Experience coaching, mentoring, or training youth, coworkers, or peers
  • Required Certifications: First Aid and CPR (Wilderness First Responder required for Field Instructors), Valid Driver’s License



Working Environment and Physical Requirements

  • Ability to participate in moderate to rigorous physical activity including, but not limited to, paddling, backpacking, running, carrying canoes overland, swimming, or rock climbing. High-output activity levels and outdoor exposure is varying weather conditions required, especially during emergency situations
  • Ability to work a varied and flexible schedule including many weekends
  • Ability to pass background & motor vehicle record check
  • Ability to lift and move up to 70 pounds on occasion, 40 pounds regularly
  • Physically and mentally capable to participate in all course activities with reserve energy to safely support students


Compensation, Benefits, and Dates

  • Per Diem compensation in accordance with VOBS’ Field Pay Scale for all preparation, duration, and completion of coursework; plus eligibility for 403(b) plan with 2% match
  • Staff housing provided on the Homeplace Basecamp
  • Eligible for ProDeal (professional discounts from a variety of outdoor companies)
  • Applications should be submitted online at www.vobs.org/jobs.
  • The three Internship Sessions for 2023 are:
    • May 6 – July  10
    • June 6 – August 1
    • June 26 – August 21
  • During busy seasons, some interns may be given the option to extend
  • Hiring happens on a rolling basis beginning in November and positions will remain open until filled

How to Apply

Please check out our Employment Website to read more about available opportunities and how to apply. If you run into any issues or need any assistance and/or accommodation in the application process please reach out to [email protected].  We are looking forward to meeting you!
Posted on: November 23, 2022
Application Closing Date:
March 1, 2022
Job Activity(ies): Backpacking, Canoeing - flatwater
Region(s): Midwest US