Field Guides


Thank you for your interest in joining the Field Team at Open Sky. We encourage you to read this page carefully for a detailed description of the Field Guide position and our application process.  If you have additional questions that are not addressed on this page, rather than call our office, please email field  We will respond as soon as possible.

Open Sky holds four new field guide trainings each year, in January, March, May, and September with additional trainings occasionally held due to increases in student enrollment.  The positions on our upcoming spring and fall trainings are currently filled, but we are pleased to receive applications from highly qualified Field Guide candidates at any time during the year.  Successful candidates who are invited to join our training and are then offered full-time employment generally begin working in the field within 3 weeks.  

Completed applications must include:

  • cover letter
  • resume
  • application form
  • three letters of recommendation
  • copy of current First Aid or higher level (WFR/EMT) medical certification (guides are required to obtain a WFR before transitioning into the senior guide role) 
  • copy of CPR certification (*CPR certification card must be provided SEPARATELY from the WFR certification card)

Please use "desired month TRAINING APPLICATION: last name" in the subject line and email your complete application to  

Open Sky field guides are the heart and soul of the Open Sky team, spending more time with the students than any other member of our team. Field guides are highly trained and well-educated professionals who serve as inspiring role models for our students.

At Open Sky field guides are uniquely qualified professionals:
  • Average age of 30 years
  • Greater than a 4:1 ratio of applicants to new hires
  • More than 50% of our guides have worked in another wilderness program
  • More than 90% have worked with adolescents or young adults prior to joining Open Sky
  • More than 85% of our guides have college degrees
  • Average Open Sky senior field guide has worked more than 200 field days in wilderness therapy
  • All senior field guides are either EMT or WFR (Wilderness First Responder) certified

Initial Guide Training

Open Sky’s primary mission is to maintain each student’s safety at all times. Field guides are selected and trained with this as the highest consideration. New field guides attend 12 days of training prior to employment, including seven field days. Employment is offered after successful completion of the training.

Training topics include:

  • Wilderness safety
  • Run-away prevention
  • Self-harm prevention
  • De-escalation
  • Emotional safety
  • Medication administration
  • Weather-related challenges
  • Communication systems
  • Medical emergency

Ongoing Guide Training

After the initial training, a field guide will receive ongoing training each week for the duration of their employment in such areas as risk management, therapeutic skills, psychological diagnosis and treatment, emergency response, and first aid.

Field Guide Minimum Requirements

Our field guides are required to:

  • be at least 21 years old
  • hold current first aid (or higher-level WFR or EMT) and CPR certifications
  • pass an annual physical examination
  • have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • pass pre-employment and random drug screen tests
  • clear Federal & State Criminal Background checks

Field Guide Applicant Profile

Field Guide employment at Open Sky tends to be competitive. We are looking for guides who have a variety of skills and life experiences. Our guides love to teach, explore the wilderness with teens and young adults, and are patient and willing to work hard and to grow. We have hired guides who are in recovery from addiction, have worked as classroom teachers, residential counselors, Peace Corps volunteers, and Outward Bound and National Outdoor Leadership School instructors, practice and teach yoga, meditation, primitive skills, and nature-awareness, and have been guides at other wilderness therapy programs.

Field Guide Work Schedule

Guides work eight days on, six days off. Full-time guides typically work about 160 field days in a year’s time, enjoying several shifts off which allows for an abundance of time to travel and explore the surrounding vicinity, reconnect with family and friends, or go to more exotic locales throughout the world.

Field Guide Pay & Benefits 

  • Competitive daily wages ranging between $130 to $210 a day
  • Exceptional paid time off (base PTO is 12 days)
  • Health Insurance (for full-time employees)
  • Professional development funding (for WFR/CPR re-certifications, Yoga teacher trainings, etc)
  • Pro-deals with multiple outdoor gear and apparel companies

Typical Field Week


Open Sky Expedition

Each week our students spend five to six days out on expedition, exploring the canyon country of Utah or the high mountains of Colorado by backpack. While on expedition, the group wakes up to yoga and meditation, then has breakfast and packs up camp. The day is spent hiking, at times exploring ruins and petroglyphs, holding therapeutic groups, and constructively dealing with what arises among the students and taking advantage of teachable moments. When the group arrives at evening camp, students prepare dinner with the coaching of staff, and often sit together in a process group while sitting around a fire. All the fires are made with a bow drill set.

Typical Expedition Day

  • 8:00am Wake up
  • 8:15 Hygiene
  • 8:30 Yoga & meditation
  • 9:30 Breakfast
  • 10:00 Camp chores and pack up
  • 11:00 Start hiking
  • 12:00pm Short break
  • 12:30 One on one session with field guide mentor
  • 1:30 Lunch
  • 2:30 Resume hiking
  • 4:00 Letter writing, therapy assignments
  • 5:00 Set up camp & camp chores
  • 6:00 Process group
  • 7:30 Dinner
  • 9:00 Community time (games, music, fun)
  • 10:00 Bedtime

Open Sky Base Camp

The Open Sky base camp is a simple living environment with platform wall tents and teepees and no electricity or running water. Field guides spend about two to three days at our base camp each week with variation depending on the season and the week’s itinerary. While at base camp, students meet with their therapists, do group chores, write letters, participate in wellness education, work on personal assignments, take backcountry showers, and occasionally participate in community projects such as trail maintenance, site clean-up, or seasonal preparations. We also have a sweat lodge at our base-camp, and students and guides participate in sweats about once a month on average.

Typical Base Camp Day

  • 8:00am Wake up
  • 8:15 Personal hygiene
  • 8:30 Yoga & meditation
  • 9:30 Breakfast
  • 10:00 Camp chores and showers
  • 11:00 Letter writing, therapy assignments
  • 12:30pm One on one time with field guide mentor
  • 1:30 Lunch
  • 2:30 Personal therapy session
  • 4:00 Group therapy session
  • 5:00 Camp chores and personal time
  • 7:00 Dinner
  • 9:00 Community time (games, music, fun)
  • 10:00 Bedtime

Living in Durango and Surrounding Vicinity

Our field guides arrange their own room and board around the Four Corners area when they are not working in the field. Many field guides live in Durango, CO, where there is excellent climbing, world-renown mountain biking and boating, snow skiing, as well as live music and good restaurants, natural food stores and naturopathic health spas. Durango is also home to Fort Lewis College, a small, state liberal arts college with approximately 4,000 students.

For those looking for a quieter location, there is an abundance of small towns in close proximity to Durango and our field operating area. Small towns in the vicinity of Durango where guides have resided include: Pagosa Springs, CO; Aztec, NM; Bayfield, CO; Mancos, CO; Dolores, CO; Cortez, CO; and Monticello, UT. Some field guides have lived as far away as Moab, UT.