Work for BOAT
BOAT is trying to change how organizations access the outdoors – and we need your help. We’re looking for guides, instructors, and volunteers for a range of programs.
Interested in joining our efforts to make a more accessible and inclusive outdoors? Check out our mission – and read on:
The mission of BOAT – the Bus for Outdoor Access & Teaching – is to get other organization’s missions outside. A not-for-profit wilderness program on wheels run from a custom bus, we bring a full service outdoor program to the front doors of our partners. Being outside has powerful effects on health, wellness, and learning – BOAT can serve as the logistical backend that gets you there.
REQUIREMENTS: Class B Commercial Driver’s License with a Passenger endorsement required. BOAT can provide training to the appropriate candidate to receive their license.
DETAILS: Daily rate, per trip. Ample opportunities to drive on weekdays throughout the summer and into the fall. Typical days last from 8am – 4pm, but hours may vary. It’s easiest – but not required – to live in or near our headquarters in Milwaukee, WI, or our major areas of service: Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis. That said, programs range more widely and occasional trips may be available throughout the US. Additionally, for those with the spirit of adventure, we can pay for travel if you want to drive for our longer expeditions.
DATES: A range of programs are available in 2023. This includes full-season work, and some contract opportunities for single trips or programs. Reach out to micah@theBOATbus.com for details. Specific contract availability includes:
- Full season: June 30th, 2023 – August 19th, 2023 (7 weeks), including:
- ~1 week+ of training
- ~6+ weeks of backpacking or basecamping expeditions
- Weekly contracts may be available – please inquire for availability.
REQUIREMENTS: Wilderness First Responder preferred. Experience with backcountry navigation, outdoor meal preparation, and basic facilitation required. See job description for more.
PROGRAMS & CLIENTS: While details will vary, most programs in 2023 range between 3 – 5 days. We are proud to partner with programs led and designed by leaders for their own communities, with BOAT as an enabler. This makes guiding for BOAT distinct, as the ability to flex to the needs of different programs is critical. We are truly “guides” more than we are “leaders.” Strong preference for guides with background in facilitation, social-emotional learning, and with cultural competence and humility.
As an example, 2023 program partners include:
- Multiple weeks working with a program that uses diverse, cross-cultural immersive programs aimed at interrupting cycles of segregation
- Multiple programs serving a partnership agreement with the US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service as part of their “urban connections” program.
As a rule, >80% of BOAT participants in any given year represent historically underrepresented groups in the outdoors. Most, though not all, are high school aged. Our demographics vary with our partners.
SCHEDULE: Trips will primarily be backpacking, with occasional base camping trips (i.e. car camping from the bus). Most trips are 5-6 days on, with 24-36 hours off. Because we serve the region, some additional days will involve travel to a new city. Housing is primarily in Milwaukee, WI but campsites or residences (i.e. Airbnb) will be provided when serving other areas. Transportation to and from our HQ is provided, or you can opt to transport yourself.
See details in “Learn More” section below. Many of our arrangements (clients, trip locations, schedule) are seasonal and will be settled throughout the year, but we’re happy to share more of what we know in the interview process!
The name is an acronym, but it really is like working on a ship. Our crew is small, the quarters are tight, and everything is on board. We aren’t a camp, and we don’t have our own students – instead, every program is a partnership, with leaders from the communities and schools we serve directly involved. You may be used to programs that work out of a particular camp or area, or have their own philosophy and model – we find we can serve more programs, in a more thoughtful way, by focusing on their approach. Our challenge is to mirror what they already do in an outdoor setting. Each trip can look a little bit different. That can be refreshing for some, but stressful for others.
There are still things we look for in our team. We’re proud of trying new things, and we think operational excellence, innovative thinking, and a willingness to change will help us make a more inclusive outdoors. We’re looking for people who want to join us in finding new ways to use the outdoors to fulfill the missions of our partners. We have really robust operational systems, but we want to learn from you too. A commitment to diversity in outdoor spaces is critical; we are often providing the logistical backbone to support leaders from groups who have historically lacked access to the outdoors.
Given the above, we don’t believe in “culture fit.” We are looking for “culture adds.” Bring who you are to the work, and we will try to find the right match (both with partner guides, and partner programs!). Review available opportunities and apply in the other tabs.
Because our trips range widely – both in location and style – each contract may be unique. We strive for competitive rates and to limit costs to our employees, while also being transparent about our budget and capabilities. At a high level, you can expect the following:
- $125/day base pay, $150/day with a WFR (+$10/day with lifeguarding)
- Bunk + board covered**
- All program expenses will be paid while working, including travel to and from the trip start and end location, meals, accommodations, and activities (this may not apply during time off, or for travel to BOAT at the beginning / end of the season).
- Access to pro deals and industry discounts
We use a daily rate to help calculate as new trips emerge. Sometimes new trips become available mid-season or end of season. In a typical season, a guide with a WFR will make $940/week before taxes, or >$6,500 in a full seven week season.
** Specifics vary by location. Read on for details.
Where you’ll live
While in the field, you’ll be camping along with participants. Typically guides are in a separate guide tent, and if you prefer to sleep alone in a tent that may be an option. Most trips in the warmer months are tent or tarp based, but as it gets cooler we may utilize cabins.
While not in the field, there are a few options. Most of the time we’ll be in our base in Milwaukee, WI. Guides share a space in the Hawk’s Nest Community, an intentional living community and urban homestead in an eclectic walkable neighborhood. Out the front door, you’ll have access to the city of Milwaukee, with much of downtown within just a few miles (bikes are provided for those without vehicles). Out the back door, the view over the river valley hides any sense of a city, and weekend activities can include walking miles of trail connected to the property, borrowing a boat to paddle down to lake Michigan, or enjoying the breeze on the porch. At night, relax in the hot tub or with one of our many fire pits. And one advantage relative to many youth guiding programs – no kids on site! Rooms vary based on availability, and range from private rooms to bunks in shared space. Sometimes, we will simply use a local Airbnb.
While in other cities, we typically provide a shared Airbnb for guides. Some opt instead to get their own place or stay with friends. These can vary widely, but are typically near the city we are operating in.
Breakfast supplies, lunch, and dinner are provided, though you may opt to eat out instead, or provide your own groceries – there is a kitchen available for your use in this case.
Some days are travel days, as the bus moves from place to place. In those cases, we may be camping out along the way.
What you will do
In many ways, we’re the same as many other expedition-based programs. You will lead groups of people, typically youth, through beautiful areas. You will teach them outdoor skills and life lessons. You’ll facilitate activities, help prepare delicious camp meals, sleep under the stars, and encourage social and emotional development.
In other ways, we are quite different. Because we want BOAT programs to enhance the existing mission of our programs, there are some unique aspects of our field work:
- More often than not, an adult mentor, teacher, or chaperone from the program is part of our leadership team. We want to help foster and continue long-term relationships of support with our students.
- Program philosophy or style may vary across trips, to better honor our partner’s efforts. That can mean training between programs on the things that do change.
- Our programs range widely! Rather than a core base of operations we work out of, our base of operation moves.
In practice, you can expect to participate in three kinds of programs, detailed below.
Travel off-trail through one of our premiere backpacking destinations. You will teach students to navigate and work as a team. We focus on remote areas with a lot of authentic choice and flexibility for students.
Ride BOAT to a wilderness base camp for a week of adventure exploring the region. Typically tent camping with a central lodge or kitchen area, or cabins in the winter. We base in one place and move around for day trips.
Adventure Road Trip
Play some tunes, hop on the bus, and check out a new adventure every day – a wider array of activities and campsites, switching locations on a regular basis. This lets us cover a lot of ground to see a “greatest hits” of an area.
Note: This is an unconventional role based in Milwaukee, WI. These duties that might typically be performed by a volunteer or a group of volunteers. That said, we believe in gateways to the outdoors, and that includes paying for labor. We don’t have enough work while trips are out for a full time role – but we have more work than we could manage! What we can’t offer in hours we can offer in flexibility – this is very much the type of job you could fit around existing commitments like school or work. If it sounds intriguing, reach out! We’re flexible in how this plays out.
DATES: This is an intermittent, part-time role. The busiest season will be in July and August, with the option of 10-20 hours of work per week. Reduced hours can be negotiated for the right candidate. Reach out to micah@theBOATbus.com to discuss details.
REQUIREMENTS: Primarily, a good attitude and an eye for logistics! We know we’re looking for a “unicorn” role here – the right candidate will be local to our area, inspired by our mission, and interested in jumping into a range of administrative tasks: packing food, repairing equipment, managing communications.
The right candidate need not have a CDL or wilderness medicine certification initially, but should be willing to get them (we’ll pay!).
RESPONSIBILITIES: While details will vary, expect to:
- Spend a few hours / week picking up, organizing, and labeling food for the next trip.
- Train to drive, and eventually drive solo, with a busload of participants on their way to a trailhead.
- Field an evacuation call, making a plan to pick someone up entirely via satellite communication.
- Intake, repair, and organize gear and equipment in our mobile gear library.
- Throw up a social media post (you’ll see we’re pretty bad at this)
SCHEDULE: This will be a very light role from February to June each year, with potentially only a few hours of work a month.
From July to August, this role can expect 5-20 hours per week. The high end of the spectrum includes driving, the low-end is for a candidate who cannot drive (preferably the bus, via a CDL, but some driving opportunities for secondary vehicles may exist). Food planning can happen anytime: morning, evening, night, weekdays or weekends. Driving is based on the schedule of our trips, but primarily occurs on weekends or Mondays / Fridays.
We know this is not a full time role. In lieu of that consistency, we aim to offer a high degree of flexibility, perks, and training – in addition to compensation.
COMPENSATION: We strive for competitive rates and to limit costs to our employees, while also being transparent about our budget and capabilities. Unlike our guiding and driving jobs, with a daily rate, this is an hourly role. We will pay $20/hour. Housing may be provided for non-local candidates.
BOAT’s application process is online – you can find the full application here. You will be asked to provide basic information about yourself and your skills, to provide a resume, and to provide at least three references. You cannot save information midway through, so have your references, their title, e-mail, and phone number in advance.
Note that each job has a series of brief question statements – these can be brief, but you may want to prepare answers in advance. Our Job Application Checklist is the best place to get a sense of the process!