Hidden Villa will be closed to the public from June 3 through August 3 for the safety of our camp community.

Backpacking Trip Leader



All Summer Camp Staff Positions are full for 2024


Thank you for your interested in working with us at Hidden Villa!

If you would like to be added to our Staff Waiting List, please send a resume and cover letter to [email protected] with subject line: 2024 Camp Staff Waiting List

Check back with us in January when the application for summer 2025 is open! 


Program Summary

Hidden Villa is a non-profit organization with a 100-year history, focusing on environmental education, land stewardship and community building. We use our organic farm, surrounding wilderness and community to provide opportunities to learn about the environment and social justice. Hidden Villa stretches over 1600 acres of open space in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, about 40 miles south of San Francisco.

Hidden Villa is committed to creating an environment where all people are welcomed and feel a sense of belonging while here on the farm. This approach opens the door for formative experiences for our campers as they enjoy this beautiful place in nature and build connections with the people and world around them.

Each day campers embark on adventures through the farm and wilderness preserve. They are challenged to try new things and find confidence in their individuality as they strike up friendships with the other youth in their group. Our staff are trained on how to maintain an empathetic and compassionate learning approach while they facilitate thought provoking activities and discussions around social and environmental issues.  

Position Description

The Backpacking Trip Leader is responsible for the successful preparation and completion of  Hidden Villa’s backpacking programs. With the support of the Co-Trip Leaders, this position will guide Middle and High School age youth with varying levels of backpacking experience, on two 1-week and two 2-week trips over the summer while creating a fun and educational experience that supports Hidden Villa’s mission. 

Our unique access to open space and excellent trail systems that meander through the Santa Cruz mountains sets us up for providing amazing backpacking experiences for our campers. Our trip leaders will facilitate environmental education learning moments, reflections on topics around social justice and inclusion, and build community within the group as the campers trek through wilderness areas. 

Trip leaders will facilitate two 1-week trips at the beginning of the summer. The first week will be for 8th and 9th graders and the second week will be for 10th-12th graders. Then our trip leaders will facilitate our two week long Bay 2 Sea program where 10th-12th graders will hike from Hidden Villa through the Santa Cruz Mountains and conclude their trip at the Pacific Ocean. 

Applicants who are hired for the summer are eligible to get their Wilderness First Aid certification here at Hidden Villa this coming spring. 

A Backpacking Trip Leader will work on a team to lead groups of campers in 8th - 12th grade.

About the Position

Position Title: Backpacking Trip Leader

Reports to: Unit Leader

Exempt/ Non-Exempt: Exempt 

Benefits: $650/per week. Outdoor living space & meals provided.

Duration: June 3rd - August 3rd, 2024

Essential Job Duties

  • Ensure the health, safety, and well-being of all participants. Act as a First Responder in emergency situations.

  • Management of risk for social, emotional and physical factors that occur and shape experience for optimum learning and growth.

  • Plan lessons for first-time backpackers: including wilderness skills, trail health and safety, equipment use, meal planning, etc.

  • Collaborate with Co-Trip Leaders on the menu in cooperation with the Unit Leader and Program Coordinator to order and purchase food.

  • Create a fun, safe and exciting camp experience for teens in your charge.

  • Incorporate the Hidden Villa Mission in daily activities and reflections in camp and on the trail.

  • Build a cohesive team and role model collaborative teamwork for campers.

  • Address and document when there are camper adjustments or discipline problems

  • Demonstrate excellent ethics and respect for the Regional, State & National Park system and its workers.

  • Ensure that all ACA regulations concerning programs are adhered to, including supervision ratios.

  • Provide opportunities for the group so that each individual experiences success during camp.

  • These are not the only duties to be performed. Some duties may be reassigned and others assigned as required

  • Ability to communicate and work with teens and staff in your program and provide necessary instruction.

  • Abilities to observe camper behavior, assess appropriateness, enforce appropriate safety regulations and emergency procedures, and apply appropriate behavior management techniques.

  • Visual and auditory ability to identify and respond to environmental and other hazards in camp and on trail.

  • Physical strength required to lead a 10-day backpacking trip carrying personal and group gear and respond appropriately to emergency situations.

Candidate Qualifications

  • Possess the stamina and energy to safely lead others through difficult terrain, challenging weather, and long days

  • Ability to work independently, with little guidance, for planning and preparation of the trip

  • Current CA Food Handler, WFR, and CPR certifications preferred

  • Valid Driver’s License and clean driving record (no major infractions) strongly preferred

  • Experience leading backpacking trips on and off-trail for ten days or longer

  • Experience meal planning for backpacking trips, ten days or longer

  • Ability and experience working with high school age youth

  • Ability to evaluate camper performance, minimize risk and give and receive feedback to a diverse staff and teen campers

  • Mastery of backpacking equipment and camp craft, including camp stoves and water purification technique

  • Ability to navigate with map and compass on and off-trail through a variety of terrain and environmental conditions

  • Knowledge of natural history and low-impact philosophy

  • Enjoy and feel comfortable in remote settings and be in a camp community with little privacy

  • Excellent communication skills and ability to exercise sound judgment in decision-making.

  • Manage self-care and energy appropriately in the backcountry for extended periods.

  • At least 21 years of age

Physical Requirements

Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. This job operates in an outdoor setting. While performing the duties of this job, the employee is exposed to weather conditions prevalent at the time. Camp can be a high energy environment where noise and stimulus can reach overwhelming levels. While performing duties of this job, the employee is required to regularly stand; walk up to 15 miles on uneven terrain. The employee must regularly lift and/or move up to 50 pounds.

Mandated Reporting and Staff Training

Our summer camp staff members are mandated reporters and are required to complete a mandated reporter training.  It is possible that a camper will share information or experiences from their homelife that requires Hidden Villa to file a report with Child Welfare Services. This can be upsetting to some individuals and is our legal and ethical duty to report cases of suspected child abuse.

Summer camp staff training is designed to equip our staff with the skills and tools they need to be effective leaders within our camp. At times staff training will focus on complicated topics such as mental health crises, child abuse, sexual harassment in the workplace, and neurodivergent behavior. While staff can take space when needed, participation in all training sessions is required. 

Hidden Villa is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees and campers.