Outdoor Program Instructor

Sierra Nevada Journeys

Portola, California

Job Type Permanent
Salary Details $110 to $115 per day
Required Experience 0 - 1 years


Sierra Nevada Journeys seeks Outdoor Program Instructors with experience delivering culturally relevant camp-based programs for schools and community partners. This is a full-time, seasonal position; the camp operates annually from February to mid-November, with approximately a two-month hiatus over winter. Get hands-on training on our challenge course on using the best practices from the University of California at Berkeley's BEETLES (Better Environmental Education, Teaching, Learning & Expertise Sharing) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). 

During the spring and fall seasons, the Instructor's responsibility is delivering residential, one-to-five-day outdoor science education programs serving 5th and 6th-grade students from regional elementary and middle schools. All lessons build upon the foundation of hands-on science and collaborative problem-solving, focusing on critical thinking, exploration, and environmental stewardship. Instructors lead groups of 12-to-15 students, and their responsibilities include facilitating extensive group activities and leading meals and evening programs. All lessons are written according to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and we train our employees using the University of California of Berkeley's BEETLES (Better Environmental Education, Teaching, Learning & Expertise Sharing) teaching techniques and pedagogy. Sierra Nevada JournJourneys'ol programs see several thousand participants each year.  

During the summer, Sierra Nevada Journeys delivers residential summer camps and community partner programs, including camps for people with disabilities and camps for teen leadership development. During our week-long summer camps, Instructors facilitate activities such as the challenge course, swimming, kayaking, and leadership programs. Instructors may be in a summer camp leadership position as head lifeguard, staff mentor, cabin leader, or challenge course assistant. During community partner camps, Instructors deliver programming using the challenge course and social-emotional learning (SEL) competencies to facilitate leadership experiences. Instructors also assist organizations that serve people with disabilities by adapting traditional outdoor activities to provide an enriching experience for their participants. Many of our community partners also bring participants to camp on the weekends in the spring and fall seasons; additionally, Instructors work with these groups to meet their program goals.  

Instructors are responsible for ensuring that the educational outcomes of participants attending schools and community groups are met. The Logistics Coordinator supervises instructors. To learn more about this position, please visit sierranevadajourneys.org/opi-faqs. For more information about outdoor science school and community group programs, please visit sierranevadajourneys.org/ool and sierranevadajourneys.org/about-GCR


  • Facilitate high-quality outdoor science education, outdoor recreation, and challenge course programs (day and evening) 
  • Safely facilitate the challenge course to achieve collaborative problem-solving goals. 
  • Proficiency in all Sierra Nevada Journeys outdoor school curricula and teaching methods 
  • Attend staff training delivered by the program management team 
  • Deliver, organize, and grade student assessments and related paperwork 
  • Effectively deliver programs while working with chaperones, teachers, community partner staff members 
  • Lead meals and engage students before meals
  • Work on assigned projects, including but not limited to creating necessary paper materials for schools, camp improvement projects, revamping curriculum, etc.
  • Act as overnight on-call staff or cabin lead as needed – staying overnight and helping groups with requests.
  • Clean and inventory program supplies and participate in debriefs after each program.
  • Observe, identify, and do what is needed to move Sierra Nevada Journeys forward in a way that best represents who we are as an organization. 


  • Leadership experience or experience working with youth 
  • Experience delivering culturally relevant camp-based programs for schools or community partners serving youth from under-resourced communities  
  • Ability to work irregular hours and days, including nights and weekends 
  • Ability to live and work positively with other staff members 
  • Ability to take initiative, work independently, and maintain a positive attitude 
  • Willingness to be 30 feet off the ground on challenge course high elements 
  • Ability to pass background checks, including both an online check and fingerprinting. We work with children, and their safety is our top priority.  
  • Ability to lift to 50 pounds and hike over varying terrain and distances up to seven miles 
  • Current CPR and First Aid certification or willingness to obtain certification before the start date 
  • All employees and volunteers must attest in writing they have up-to-date immunizations against the diseases required for public school attendance in the state where they work.  


  • Fluency in Spanish or another second language
  • Experience in science instruction – either in a formal outdoor setting or in a classroom setting
  • Experience working with students from communities of BIPOC
  • Wilderness First Aid/Wilderness First Responder Certification
  • Current lifeguard certification or willingness to obtain certification before the start date 


  • Competitive Compensation Package $110- $115 per day 
  • Plus, off-site staff housing and workday meals are provided, which is equivalent to $172.77 per week 
  • Three days paid time off per year and three sick days per year (nine-month seasonal position) 
  • Employees will earn $1 per day extra for each certification; for example, if you have four of the five certifications, you'll pay $4 more per day:
    • Experience working with students from communities of BIPOC
    • Waterfront lifeguard/pool lifeguard
    • Experience in science instruction – either in a formal outdoor setting or in a classroom setting
    • Wilderness First Aid/Wilderness First Responder Certification
  • Optional 403(b) retirement plan and up to a 4% match by Sierra Nevada Journeys
  • Bilingual fluency in Spanish differential of an additional 3% added to hourly rate/annual salary
  • Home base for living, working, exploring, and recreating in the beautiful Sierra Valley
  • Employment with an innovative company focused on improving outdoor education delivery

Please apply through our applicant tracking system portal.


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Category Environmental Education, Outdoor Recreation