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summer jobs

All Trip Leader positions for the 2024 summer have been filled.

Applications for the 2025 summer will open in September 2024.

Every summer we hire for our most important job: Trip Leader.

Our leaders are vital to the integrity and safety of our trips. Their responsibilities are diverse; they are instructors, leaders, facilitators, friends, fellow participants, and role models to our students. This exceptional group of people is at the center of what Moondance has done every summer for the past 28 years.

As a Trip Leader, you will be pushed to communicate, problem solve, and be decisive, all while empowering those around you to do the same. Each and every one of our leaders recognizes the invaluable experience a Moondance summer provides.

What you do as a Moondance leader matters. It’s as simple as that.

Trip Leader Qualifications

  • A strong desire to work with teenagers
  • Minimum 21 years old (avg. age 23)
    20 year old Moondance alumni can apply to be a third leader for British Columbia, Colorado Trail, California, Maui, and Belize + Costa Rica.
  • College graduate or college student
  • Current WFA + CPR or WFR certification*
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Excellent driving record
  • The ability to lift and carry at least 50 pounds
  • Available for our 12-day Staff Training through Debrief
  • Tetanus immunization within last 10 years
  • At least two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine

Program Destinations

  • With 31 unique programs, we run over 160 trips in total, operating in 9 states and 20 countries (across 5 different continents!)
  • Domestic: From Colorado to Wyoming, California, Alaska, Oregon, Washington, and all the way to Hawaii, our Domestic trips have been consistently adored by students and leaders alike since 1996.
  • International: Moondance has increasingly grown in our number of incredible international destinations. Spanning from Thailand to Europe, to British Columbia, Fiji, Africa, and South America, and more, we love exploring the uncharted and the wild.
  • Our trips are typically co-ed with at least one male leader and one female leader. We cap our group size at 12-14 participants and aim for a 50/50 ratio of guys to girls.

Important Dates

The 2025 Trip Leader Application will become live in early September 2024

We accept applications on a rolling basis. We encourage candidates to submit their applications in the Fall. Opportunities become limited after February. Our priority deadlines are typically:

  • December 2
  • January 31
  • March 1

Staff Training & Debrief

  • Our mandatory Staff Training ran from May 16-29, 2024 in Asheville, NC. The 2025 Staff Training dates will be similar.
  • Debrief ends by August 3, 2024 in Nashville, TN. The 2025 Debrief date will also be similar.


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What is it like to be a Moondance leader?

As a Trip Leader you are responsible for up to 14 teenagers – parent’s most prized possessions! You’re on call 24 hours a day, 7 days of week. You are responsible for risk management, logistics, and the accounting / finances of your trip. Manage your trip budget of $5,000-$20,000 throughout the summer. Develop your communication skills – with your students, co-leader, our outfitters, and Moondance HQ. Build on your problem solving skills, spontaneous motivation, and work ethic as you provide the trip of a lifetime for students every single day!

What is a trip leader's compensation?

First-year salary for a Moondance summer is an average of $2,300, depending on the trip you are selected to lead. Leaders are typically assigned 2-3 sections of the same program in the same location. All Moondance program expenses including accommodations, meals on your trip, outfitted activities, and transportation to and from the trip’s location are included throughout the summer. As a Trip Leader, you will have access to Pro Deal accounts giving you exclusive access to significant discounts on an assortment of respected outdoor brands.

What do leaders do and where do they stay in between trips?

Our leaders are contracted to lead multiple sections of trips throughout the summer. In between sections of trips, leaders are allotted free time with which they are able to debrief from their previous trip, complete any necessary paperwork, and prepare for the next group of students to arrive. This free time will be spent in the “gateway city” of each trip, where the first “airport day” of each trip will begin.

What do you look for in an applicant?

Moondance leaders come from a variety of different backgrounds and experiences, but are all united behind a passion for working with teens and a love for the outdoors. In order to provide a great experience on a Moondance trip, you must hold a desire to make a positive impact on the students of your trip while excelling as a leader in a team setting. Our strongest leaders have previously held leadership positions where they grew as role models and mentors, such as captains of sports teams and camp counselors. While we do value hard skills (i.e. starting a fire, setting up campsites, fishing, etc.), we are searching for individuals who have a contagious love of life and hold an optimistic perspective that they wish to share with others.

What equipment am I responsible for?

Leaders provide their own personal clothing and equipment necessary for a particular trip. This may include a sleeping bag, ground pad & backpack for domestic trips and some international trips. Moondance provides tents, cookware and general group gear for domestic wilderness trips.

What certifications do I need, and do I need them before I apply?

While you do not need any certifications to apply, if accepted, you must obtain a Wilderness First Aid + CPR or Wilderness First Responder certification by the beginning of Staff Training. Each Moondance leader is required to have Wilderness First Aid + CPR certifications at minimum; however, many programs with time spent in the backcountry require a minimum of a Wilderness First Responder.

What's the application process like?

After submitting your application online, our staffing team, will notify you that your application is under initial review. We will contact strong candidates to offer an additional set of questions and to schedule an interview. Following 2-3 rounds of interviews, we make rolling offers to lead for Moondance throughout the fall and early spring. Contracts containing salary and specific trip placement are extended in March, though most applicants apply by early February. Please note that though select opportunities may be available until April, most applicants are respectful of the following deadlines. We encourage you to apply by mid-February for our summer positions.

Do you offer internships?

For applicants who are under the age of 21, we are able to offer a limited number of internships in our office and in the field for select trip locations. The responsibilities of an intern vary slightly from those of a Trip Leader, though our interns are equipped with the same training, certifications and ability to leaving a lasting impact on their students’ lives! Preference for the intern position is given to Moondance Alumni.

How do you place leaders?

Returning staff are always given the first opportunity to choose where they would like to be. First year staff are placed where we feel they will be most beneficial to Moondance based on their application, prior experiences, references, and interviews, but their preferences are taken into consideration. Moondance Alumni who apply for the Trip Leader position are typically given special consideration.

What happens after all trips are complete at the end of the summer?

Moondance provides transportation for each leader back to Nashville for a mandatory 3 day Debrief.

Staff Training? What's that all about?

Probably one of the most fun, exciting, and motivating weeks you will experience. We will hold our 12-day, intensive staff training in the mountains of Western North Carolina prior to the start of our summer programs. Our emphasis is to educate staff on Moondance policies and procedures as well as create a working, trusting bond amongst our leaders. During the week you will be mixed with some of the most dynamic, energetic and enthusiastic people you’ll ever meet. A portion of our training will be spent in the backcountry simulating a Moondance trip, giving first year leaders a chance to practice and teach the skills they have learned throughout Staff Training.

What's the flow of a Moondance summer?

Each leader’s summer begins with our mandatory 12-day Staff Training in Asheville, NC. Upon successful completion of Staff Training, you will begin your respective trips composed of 10-14 students, plus your co-leader, with whom you will assume complete responsibility of the group. Leaders are assigned 2-3 sections of a specific trip, and each section is 14-23 days long. After leading, leaders are required to return to Nashville for 3 days of debrief with the Moondance administrative staff to wrap up your trips and help improve them for the future.