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Field Guides

We are currently accepting Field Guide applications for our next orientation, which will take place May 23 to June 3, 2022, for full-time, seasonal, and intern positions. To be considered, please submit your completed application no later than Friday, May 6, 2022.

To apply please provide:

  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Copy of Wilderness First Responder or higher (W-EMT) medical certification
  • Copies of current CPR and First Aid certificates

We require Field Guides to complete their Wilderness First Responder (WFR), CPR, and First Aid certifications before their first shift in the field. Initial applications may be submitted without WFR, CPR, and First Aid certifications, but these must be obtained before working in the field.

COVID-19 Note: Open Sky continues to operate as an essential healthcare business during the COVID-19 pandemic. By combining CDC recommended strategies with rigorous risk-mitigation health and hygiene standards, we are proud to serve our students, families, and employees with care and professionalism.  

Open Sky inspires people to learn and live in a way that honors values and strengthens relationships. Field Guides at Open Sky work with early adolescent, adolescent, and young adult students in a wilderness setting, providing therapeutically rich environments where students grow and thrive. We seek Field Guides who are passionate about learning and growing in this work. Open Sky operates 365 days per year.

Field Guide Job Duties
Minimum Qualifications
Additional Experience
Open Sky Field Guides Are Professionals
Application Process
Field Guide Applicant Profile
Field Guide Orientation
Orientation Topics
Field Guide Development
Field Guide Work Schedule
Field Guide Compensation
Typical Field Week
Open Sky Base Camp
Living in Durango and Surrounding Vicinity


Field Guide Job Duties

  • Exercise sound judgment while managing risk and supervising students in a wilderness setting
  • Work as part of a treatment team to fulfill specific needs for each student
  • Live and teach comfortably and confidently in a wilderness setting for 15 days at a time
  • Provide effective instruction in therapeutic content and processes, including yoga and meditation
  • Role-model assertive communication and healthy relationships


Minimum Qualifications

  • 21 years of age or older
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Pass an annual physical examination and pre-employment drug screening
  • Clear federal and state criminal background checks
  • Hold current WFR, CPR, and First Aid certifications (certified within the last year)


Additional Experience (strongly preferred)

  • Demonstrated leadership in outdoor or wilderness settings
  • Experience and/or educational background in therapeutic treatment, youth development, psychology (or related field), teaching, and/or other experience in leadership with youth
  • Experience with yoga, meditation, or other mindfulness practices


Open Sky Field Guides Are Professionals

  • All Senior Field Guides are either EMT or WFR certified
  • The average Open Sky Senior Field Guide has worked more than 200 field days in wilderness therapy
  • More than 50% of our Field Guides have worked in another wilderness therapy or outdoor program
  • More than 90% of our Field Guides have worked with adolescents or young adults before to joining Open Sky
  • More than 90% of our Field Guides have college degrees


Field Guide Application Process

Open Sky typically holds four Field Guide orientations each year: in January, March, May, and September.

Additional orientations are held on an as-needed basis.  Successful candidates who are offered employment after orientation typically begin working in the field within three weeks.

A complete application must include:

  • Cover Letter
  • Resume
  • Employment Application
  • Field Guide Application Questions
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Copy of CPR and First Aid certificates (both certifications must have been earned within the year prior to orientation date)
  • Copy of current WFR certification or higher (e.g., W-EMT)

Please use “Orientation (Month) Application: (Last Name)” in your email subject line and send your completed application, including letters of recommendation to


Field Guide Applicant Profile

Becoming a Field Guide at Open Sky is competitive. We look for applicants who have a variety of skills and experiences. Our Field Guides share a passion for teaching and being positive role models for our students. We’ve found that successful Field Guides can persevere through adversity and seek out feedback and growth opportunities.

Beyond this, there is not a “standard” Field Guide profile; our Field Guides bring with them a widely varied background. Some have worked as classroom teachers, residential counselors, Peace Corps volunteers, environmental science educators, Outward Bound or National Outdoor Leadership School instructors, and as guides at other wilderness therapy programs. In addition, many of our Field Guides practice and teach yoga, meditation, or other mindfulness techniques.


Field Guide Orientation

Field Guides are responsible for the physical and emotional safety of our students. They are selected and trained with safety as the highest priority. Potential Field Guides attend a 10-day orientation before being offered a position, including seven days in the wilderness. An additional two days of medication administration training is usually necessary for those offered employment after orientation.

Orientation is a chance to learn about Open Sky, develop the basic skills needed for the position, and for applicants to demonstrate their strengths and personalities. It is also a chance for applicants and Open Sky to mutually assess whether Open Sky is the right fit for them. After successful completion of orientation as assessed by our field leadership, chosen applicants are offered a job and a $1,000 stipend.


Orientation Topics

  • Building rapport and emotional safety
  • Safety and risk management
  • Wilderness skills
  • Student supervision
  • Aegis de-escalation techniques
  • Basic therapeutic concepts and skills
  • Medication administration
  • Weather-related challenges
  • Communication systems
  • Medical protocols


Ongoing Field Guide Professional Development

After the initial orientation, Field Guides receive ongoing professional development each week for the duration of their employment. Topics for professional development include safety and risk management, appropriate consequences, therapeutic program tools, small group leadership skills, emergency response, assertive communication, and medical protocols.

Field Guides continuously receive feedback from their peers and are expected to set and pursue professional goals to further their development.

Senior Field Guides manage the overall therapeutic goals and logistical plan for a team during a given shift. They also mentor less experienced and less skillful peers.


Field Guide Work Schedule

Field Guides typically work 15 days on, 13 days off, roughly 160-176 field days in a year. We encourage Field Guides to enjoy several shifts off per year, which allows for an abundance of time to travel and explore the surrounding vicinity, reconnect with family and friends, or travel to more exotic locales throughout the world.

We hire some Field Guides as seasonal support for the summer months. These Field Guides maintain the same 15-on, 13-off schedule for the duration of the summer. Typically, orientation for these positions will happen in May.


Field Guide Compensation

  • Competitive daily wages ranging between $187 to $271 a day
  • $1,000 stipend after successful completion of guide orientation and offer of employment
  • Periodic bonuses
  • Paid sick leave
  • Professional certification funding and professional development funding (e.g. WFR/CPR/First Aid re-certifications, yoga teacher trainings, etc.)
  • Health, dental, and vision insurance after six months of full-time employment
  • 401k plan with matching contributions after one year of full-time employment
  • Employee assistance plan
  • Pro-deals with multiple outdoor gear and apparel companies


Typical Field Week

Open Sky Field Guides provide ongoing facilitation and supervision to students while providing stable, compassionate role-modeling and leadership. Students are grouped in teams of 8-10, with Field Guides and therapeutic clinicians assigned to each team.

Each week, teams spend four or five days on expedition and the other days in Open Sky’s outdoor base camp. While on expedition, students backpack through the canyon country of Utah (in winter) or the mountains and plateaus of Colorado (in summer), typically moving to a new location each day.


Typical Expedition Day

  • 8:00 a.m. Wake up
  • 8:15 a.m. Yoga and meditation
  • 9:15 a.m. Breakfast and hygiene
  • 10:15 a.m. Camp chores and pack-up
  • 11:30 a.m. Start hiking
  • 12:30 p.m. Hiking break (time for a therapeutic group, 1-on-1 time with students, journaling)
  • 1:30 p.m. Lunch
  • 2:00 p.m. Resume hiking
  • 4:30 p.m. Set up camp and camp chores
  • 5:30 p.m. Letter writing, therapy assignments
  • 6:00 p.m. Bow-drilling
  • 7:00 p.m. Dinner and clean-up
  • 9:00 p.m. Community time (games, music, fun, processing the day)
  • 10:00 p.m. Bedtime


Open Sky Base Camp

The Open Sky base camp is a simple, outdoor living environment. There are no permanent cabins or structures for students or Field Guides. In the winter months, teams sleep in wall tents or tipis, each with heat sources. In the summer, students and Field Guides sleep under large group tarps.

Field Guides and students alike utilize simple gear and outdoor living methods, such as bow-drilling to create fire.

While at base camp, students meet with their therapists, complete chores, write letters, work on personal assignments, take backcountry showers, practice yoga and meditation, and occasionally participate in community projects such as trail maintenance, site clean-up, or seasonal preparations. We also have a sweat lodge at our Utah basecamp, and teams can periodically participate in sweats.


Living in Durango and the Surrounding Vicinity

Open Sky Field Guides arrange their own room and board in the Four Corners area when they are not working in the field. Many live in Durango, Colorado. The Durango area offers excellent outdoor recreation, including hiking, climbing, skiing, boating, and mountain biking. As a popular travel destination, Durango also features plenty of live music, good restaurants, natural food stores, health spas, and hot springs. Durango is also home to Fort Lewis College, a small liberal arts college with approximately 4,000 students.

For those looking for a quieter location, there is an abundance of small towns near Durango and our field operating area. Smaller towns in the vicinity of Durango include Pagosa Springs, Bayfield, Mancos, Dolores, and Cortez, all in Colorado. Field Guides have also lived in Monticello and Moab, both in Utah, and in Aztec, New Mexico.