Outdoor Instructor

Outdoor Adventure is a key pillar of The Athenian School, a competitive independent school in the San Francisco Bay Area. The AWE program is a unique component of the diverse curriculum that has been in place since the school’s founding. The founders believed strongly in the maxim, “There is more in us than we think...,” and AWE instructors are at the center of supporting students as they explore this concept to discover who they really are.
The AWE Program
  • AWE is a rigorous 26-day expeditionary backpacking course with rock climbing, solo, and possible independent student travel components. The course is a graduation requirement completed by students in their junior year.
  • Courses are run during two sessions per year. These are March (in Death Valley National Park) and August (in Yosemite National Park and surroundings). Each session consists of 5 courses, or itineraries, each undertaken by a separate team. Teams are comprised of a maximum of 10 students and lead by 2 professional instructors.
  • The program’s mission is to: Encourage student’s appreciation of the natural world, improve their self-awareness, and encourage positive community participation. All within the context of a rigorous backpacking expedition. Aspects of the program include acquisition of technical outdoor living skills, place-based education on natural and human history and environmental science, and advocacy for environmental sustainability. Students are encouraged to reflect on their role in community and are provided the support to think critically about their future goals.
The Athenian School
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion are at the core of our values and actions at The Athenian School. We seek individuals to join our community who are invested in cultural competency and building community through relationships.
  • Our students come from all over the San Francisco Bay Area and, in our boarding program, from elsewhere around the nation and the world. They represent a huge diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints. What unites them is that they are astute, thoughtful, inquisitive and invested. We think our great students are one of the main reasons we have so many returning instructors year after year.
AWE Instructors

  • Instructors for the program are seasoned, professional outdoor educators who have received training previous to their work with The Athenian School. They work in pairs, have excellent interpersonal skills and are experienced in managing and supporting teams. Risk management is of paramount importance.
  • Program instructors love understanding students, meeting them where they are on their educational path, and mentoring them in this unique setting. For many students, this is their first experience in the outdoors and we scaffold instruction accordingly.
  • Our instructors value and honor the significant diversity of our student population. They understand how community is enhanced when a variety of life experience is reflected by its members. Instructors value honest, appropriate discourse aimed at building bridges of understanding.
Hiring Timeline and Structure

  • The AWE program hires on a rotating year-round basis. The majority of hiring occurs in early fall and early spring. Instructors are temporary employees who work 34-day contracts.
Minimum Core Qualifications

  • Professional experience leading multiple outdoor adventure trips of 7-10 (or more) days
  • Experience managing risk as a professional group leader in a remote setting
  • Experience with managing technical components of a backpacking course. Some examples are: navigation with map and compass, backpacking stove use and safety, teaching shelter set-up and site selection, and terrain assessment
  • Ability to provide structure, to role model, and to uphold behavioral standards for 15-18-year-old youth
  • Understanding of ideals around social justice, diversity, equity and inclusion, and a desire to engage in personal and professional growth to support these ideals
  • Flexible and positive-solution oriented when working with others. Skilled at receiving and providing feedback.
  • Maintains a professional demeanor throughout the duration of contract including pre and post field days
  • Ability to undertake the physical rigors of an expeditionary backpacking course with heavy packs and long days
  • Ability to write cogent and meaningful student evaluations. These follow a standard paragraph format with an introduction, supporting statements and conclusion
  • Current certification as a Wilderness First Responder, Training in Epinephrine Auto-Injectors
  • Previous experience with rock climbing and belaying
  • Proof of US citizenship or appropriate work visa and able to complete a Live Scan in advance of employment 
Additional Preferred Qualifications

  • Professional experience leading wilderness trips of 2 weeks or longer
  • Experience designing and implementing curriculum
  • Continued professional development to build a “toolbox” of resources for teaching
  • Interest in and ability to teach topics in human history, natural history, or environmental sciences
  • Experience working with 15-18-year-old students
  • Experience as a backpacking instructor
  • Has undertaken professional development around topics of social justice, diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Provides a unique perspective which program directors feel students may benefit from
  • Undergraduate degree or higher
  • Personal or professional experience in the program course areas (High Sierras or Death Valley)
  • Engages in personal adventures in the outdoors which challenge personal limits and increase awareness of risk management
  • AMGA/PCIA or other single pitch or top rope site manager certification
To Apply
  • Please send a resume/CV to awedirector@athenian.org. Resumes must include professional positions held (eg: volunteer/assistant instructor/lead instructor), duration of courses worked, and age of participants.
  • Also, include 2 or 3 professional references. It is preferred that 2 of these references consist of recent supervisors. Please list the reference’s full name and title and provide both e-mail and phone contact information.
  • We will contact qualified applicants as positions become available and will include the current year’s exact course dates and pay scale.