Position Opening – Substitute Lead Instructors

We are accepting for applications from potential Substitute Lead Instructors for our school-year programs for 5 – 15 year olds.

Our school year program calendar starts in on or near September 9th and continues all the way through the end of May. Successful applicants will work at one or more of the following programs:

Our school-year calendar begins with a staff training day on in early September and ends with a staff meeting in the final week of May. See the full program calendar here. (Note that staff meetings are not included in that calendar.)

About the position:

We’re looking for vibrant, experienced instructors to complement our teaching team if an existing Lead Instructor is absent. Substitutes Lead Instructors must commit to living within commuting distance until after the last day of the program and maintain availability on one or more days of the week when VWS youth programs occur (i.e. Tuesdays or Thursdays).

If offered an opportunity to fill in, your role would be to lead a group of 10-12 youth for a six-hour day outdoors with the support of an assistant OR a group of 5-6 youth with only the support of a volunteer teen or adult helper.

A love of children and an understanding of their developmental needs is crucial to your success in our program, as is your skilled communication and playful spirit. Long-term mentoring is a hallmark of our programs, as some of the children begin at VWS when they are only 5, and many of them return year after year.

Instructors are paid for program facilitation and planning/prep time. More than a job, it’s an opportunity to grow and tend nature-connected community.


  • Experience with nature connection mentoring
  • Naturalist knowledge, earth living skills, and familiarity with past and present human relationship with the lands of this region
  • Ability to create a safe and nurturing program experience for all children and families, including those who identify as Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BiPOC), LGBTQ+, and/or disabled.
  • Strong group management and safety skills
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Organizational and time management skills
  • Current First Aid/CPR certifications
  • Ability to perform essential job functions involving light-to-vigorous physical outdoor activity in all weather conditions
  • Able to attend staff trainings before your 1st day with youth; dates & times to be arranged with your Program Director

What you embody:

  • Love of children
  • Love of nature
  • Attunement to the diverse experiences and identities participant bring
  • Playfulness and fun
  • Integrity & high emotional intelligence
  • Humility & service-mindedness
  • Creativity & collaboration
  • Commitment to personal & professional growth
  • Commitment to equity, anti-oppression, anti-racism, and decolonization


  • Oversee physical and emotional safety and instruction for children during our nature programs.
  • Work with teaching team to develop program activities.
  • Meet seasonally with the Program Director.
  • Communicate with parents (email, phone calls, in-person, before/after programs) on a weekly basis.
  • Participate in staff meetings, on-going staff development trainings, and other meetings as requested.
  • Supervise & mentor the assistant & intern/service instructors that serve our programs.


You will be paid hourly for your time in the field (8 hrs/day for most programs, 6 hrs/day for our Foxwalk program), time spent communicating & coordinating outside of programs, and several mandatory meetings & trainings.

The base pay is $16.00/hour (individuals with current Wilderness First Aid/CPR certifications make an additional $0.25/hour, and $0.25/hour is added for each 2 previous years of experience as a VWS Lead Instructor). It may be possible to work multiple programs, depending on available openings.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

To apply, complete this form

More about who we are:

The Vermont Wilderness School envisions a world where every person and every community is able to cultivate a deep connection with the natural world. We believe this will only be possible alongside the replacement of systems of colonization, oppression, and extraction with new systems of equity, justice, and regeneration. Our vision and values are reflected in our employment-related decisions, including hiring practices. VWS actively seeks to employ a diverse staff.  We invite you to bring your own unique perspective, culture, and identities if you join us in this work.

As an EOE/AA employer, VWS will not discriminate in its employment practices due to an applicant’s race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin or ancestry, age, sexual orientation, gender identification, genetic information, veteran or disability status, or any other factor prohibited by law.