Our latest on COVID-19 is available here

teen leadership

Junior Counselor and Teen Assist Programs

Gain skills and professional experience teaching  side-by-side with seasoned expert wilderness skills Instructors 

Primitive Pursuits focuses heavily on our youth leadership development programs beginning with our CIT program and continuing with our Junior Counselor and Teen Assist programs for 16 and 17 year olds.

Join us as a Junior Counselor

Our goal is to create powerful, growth-full and life-changing experiences for all of our teens. Under the wings of our seasoned Wilderness Instructor staff, our youth leaders are in the unique position of simultaneously observing and practicing mentoring skills while being mentored themselves.

As a Junior Counselor with Primitive Pursuits you will have the opportunity to learn and teach side by side with our seasoned staff in the following areas:

  • Leadership and Team Building
  • Earth Living/Outdoor/Naturalist Skills
  • Primitive Technologies
  • Awareness of Self and Others
  • Mentoring Practices
  • Communication and Professionalism

Many graduates have continued on with Primitive Pursuits and other local nature awareness programs as paid employees. Others, after graduating high school, have gone on to establish popular outdoor adventure programs while at schools like Tufts University and SUNY ESF - a testament to the experience they had here with youth outdoor/environmental leadership. Use your Junior Counselor experience as a resume builder!

A Day in the Life: Junior Counselors become part of a team of instructors to work with a group of campers for the week. They arrive at camp early each day to participate in team-building, game-planning and preparation time with the rest of the staff. This sneak peek behind the scenes allows teens to begin developing an awareness for both curriculum design as well as the need for improvisation, making last minute changes due to things like weather or new opportunities. Throughout the day they play dual roles; both as participants, practicing skills along with the group, and as assistants, being called upon to lead activities. At the end of each day they participate in our daily debrief, receiving and offering valuable feedback, sharing stories and closing the circle for the day. Some teens will assist in our after-camp care.

What does this look like?

1. Skill training days - Teens receive direct instruction from core Primitive Pursuits staff. Prior to summer you will be part of our summer staff training.
2. Leadership opportunities - Teens get experience mentoring younger participants at programs each week
3. One on one coaching and skill assessment in four core areas: Primitive Technology, Outdoor Skills, Teaching, Teamwork and Professionalism.
4. Resume building - References for job and college placement.
5. Regalia - The coveted, limited edition 2020 Summer Staff t-shirt

Who: Young adults ages 16-17 (must turn 16 by June 22, 2020)
When: Junior Counselor spaces are offered each week of summer. We require Junior Counselors to participate in Staff Training Week (June 22-26) plus a minimum of three weeks of summer camp (120 hours).
Cost: Free. Junior Counselors are part of our vital volunteer corps. As a non-profit organization, we rely on skilled volunteers to make it all happen.


Becoming a Teen Assist: The Journey Continues...

Primitive Pursuits offers a limited number of coveted paid Teen Assist positions for our most qualified 16 and 17 year old teens. Teen Assists have been campers themselves and have participated in our CIT and/or Junior Counselor program. We made the decision to invest in supporting these teens because of thetremendous potential they have to develop into outstanding adult leaders.

This is on the job training! You will be joining our college interns and apprentices in an adult-level leadership training program where you will be mentored by our experienced Wilderness Instructor staff, receiving opportunities for self-directed growth as well as feedback and support regarding your performance. Teen Assists are an integral part of our instructor team, contributing to the planning and implementation of our summer camp programs while gaining valuable experience in collaboration and teamwork.

Once 18, teens are eligible to apply to be a Wilderness Instructor with Primitive Pursuits. Completion of our teen leadership training provides an enormous advantage as we highly value their experiences and perspectives. Some choose to work with us for many summers to come.

A Teen Assist experience with Primitive Pursuits offers work experience relevant to other future jobs as well. Businesses and nonprofits alike seek prospective employees with supervisory, program planning and team leading experience. Working as a Teen Assist is a fantastic resume builder!

Our Teen Assists are passionate about nature and the outdoors, adventures and games, and mentoring young campers while growing their own skills. This meaningful work is highly experiential and rewarding. This is an opportunity to mentor future generations, foster well-being in other young people, and develop your personal gifts while contributing to the legacy of the Primitive Pursuits mission.

"My daughter loves your program, it is the highlight of her summer! Every day when I pick her up, she is happy, grinning from ear to ear, excited to share everything she's learned, or to show off items she created by hand, and filthy with good old fashioned mud. What could be better than that? Thank you!" E.F., Parent

Need a trail guide?

We’re happy to help you navigate. Give us a call at the office (607) 272-2292 ext. 195 or use the link below

Get In Touch

Don't miss a beat, add yourself to our list to get all the latest details.