Nice jobs! High-adventure bases have a few staff openings left for Summer 2014

It almost seems unfair. A few older teens and 20-somethings will work at Northern Tier, Philmont, Sea Base or the Summit this summer, and they’ll get paid for it.

Most of the summer staff is locked in for 2014, but the BSA’s four national high-adventure bases still have a few spots they’re looking to fill. But hurry, because summer will be here faster than you can say “best jobs ever.”

Jobs at high-adventure bases are especially attractive because they allow staffers to finish the summer with a healthy savings built up. Room and board is covered, so you’re not spending money on food or housing. And unlike summer jobs or paid internships in a city where excuses to spend money abound, the high-adventure bases off their own free fun.

Davey Warner, associate director of program at Northern Tier, told me he knows that to be true.

“Our staff every year will say” they left with a lot of cash, he said. “There’s always a handful who figure out how to blow their money, but for the most part they’re in the wilderness for days at a time, and town is a half-hour away. They can save.”

Before continuing, know that the minimum age to work at a high-adventure base is 18. Some positions, because of BSA standards, are only available to men and women 21 or older. And staffers must be or become registered members of the BSA. Oh, and you need to be legally able to work in the U.S. and complete a medical physical.

Which jobs are available? If you or someone you know meets the minimum age and is looking for an unforgettable summer job, check out this base-by-base roundup:

Northern Tier

northern-tier-logoFacts: Davey Warner, associate director of program at the BSA’s canoeing mecca in Minnesota, says that staff will arrive in two waves this summer: one on May 28 and the second on June 12. That’s two identical rounds of staff training to accommodate late arrivals.

Dates: Crews begin arriving at Northern Tier on June 5, and the last crew leaves Aug. 20.

Jobs available: They’re still hiring Interpreters, the staffers who take groups out into wilderness. They’re somewhat like Philmont’s Rangers, but Interpreters stay with the group the entire time.

Warner began as an Interpreter 10 years ago, he tells me. He says it was the best job he ever had for three reasons:

  1. You get to spend your summer in canoe country with awesome lakes and scenery all around you. “You get paid to tag along on other people’s vacations,” he says.
  2. It’s rewarding to be able to share an experience with Scouts and see them move past their comfort zone, he says.
  3. You build camaraderie and friendships that’ll last a lifetime. Warner still keeps in touch with some staffers he first met 10 years ago.

Benefits: Salary, plus room and board. They don’t advertise the exact salary, but Warner tells me it’s on a scale comparable to the other high-adventure bases. Basically, staffers are responsible for getting themselves there and home but otherwise don’t have to spend another dime.

Apply: At this link.

Questions: Call 218-365-4811 or email

Philmont Scout Ranch

philmont-logoFacts: Philmont, the hiking haven in New Mexico, hires more than 1,000 Seasonal Employees. The co-ed staff comes from every state as well as several foreign countries. The majority of staffers are 18-24.

Dates: Most staff contracts run from late May through mid-August.

Jobs available: Food Service (16 positions), Housekeeping (five positions) and Tent Repair (three positions).

Benefits: Starting base salary is over $1,000/month, plus room and board (housing and meals). Staff uniform parts are also included at no cost. Salaries are dependent upon experience and level of responsibility.

Apply: At this link.

Questions: Call 575-376-2281 or email

Sea Base

sea-base-logoFacts: I spoke with Rob Kolb, director of program, who tells me the sailing and scuba superspot in Florida starts staff training this week.

Kolb says jobs at Sea Base are popular because staffers get “a chance to work in a unique location in some unique programs.”

Dates: The summer season runs from May 29 to Aug. 22.

Jobs available: Kolb tells me that there are no openings right now, but he knows that each year a few staffers don’t show up for training. So there are typically three or four last-minute openings for people available right away. Contact Kolb at 305-664-5614 or to get on his radar.

Benefits: Salary, plus room and board. Plus, Kolb jokes, “our food’s better than Philmont’s.” Having eaten at both bases, I can attest that you’ll eat well at either one.

Apply: At this link.

Questions: Call Rob Kolb at 305-664-5614 or email

Summit Bechtel Reserve

summit-logoFacts: David Kopsa, director of the Paul R. Christen High Adventure Base at the Summit, tells me that the BSA’s newest high-adventure base in West Virginia still could use some applicants in a few areas. The Summit’s diverse high-adventure offerings means a diverse set of jobs for staffers.

Dates: The Summit’s summer season runs June 8 to Aug. 23.

Jobs available: Kopsa said there are still openings in shooting sports, aquatics (specifically for a head lifeguard) and aerial sports (specifically zip lines and the challenge course).

Benefits: Pay starts at $1,090 per month, plus room and board.

Apply: At this link.

Questions: Contact David Kopsa at

About Bryan Wendell 3286 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.