Summer Opportunities 2022

Looking to spend your summer connecting with like-minded people and youth in the outdoors? Consider working in the woods with us!

With an exceptional core of seasoned year-round staff, low instructor to student ratios and a supportive environment, a job with Primitive Pursuits offers many opportunities to grow and master valuable skills.

Primitive Pursuits of Ithaca, NY is a renowned outdoor youth development program in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension and 4-H Youth Development. We offer nature-based skills and experiences that foster youth development and connections with nature. Our summer programs utilize time-honored mentoring techniques and an outdoor immersion curriculum. By learning and teaching wilderness living skills in small groups, locally, we create unique experiences of wilderness adventure and community building in a format that is inclusive for families of all income levels. 

A Video Introduction

JOIN US FOR…FRICTION FIRE. EPIC GAMES. LAUGHTER. STORIES AND SONGS. COMMUNITY BUILDING. GRATITUDE. PRIMITIVE SKILL BUILDING. ALL-OUTDOOR FUN.

The Summer Camp Season runs from June 27-September 2, 2022 plus one week of mandatory staff training, June 20-24.

We are proud to be an equal opportunity workplace and an affirmative action employer. At Primitive Pursuits, we don’t just accept difference — we celebrate it, we support it, and we thrive on it. We are committed to creating an inclusive environment for the benefit of our employees, our programs, and the communities we serve.

If you have any questions send us an email at [email protected]

Position Descriptions

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Wilderness Instructor

Wilderness Instructors facilitate the core aim of Primitive Pursuits; bringing groups of youth into natural areas, away from facilities and without modern gear, and engaging them in a self-directed inquiry into basic, personal and group survival needs. Their key role in this task will be to assist and instruct youth on survival skills in the wild including but not limited to: primitive technology, fire making, shelter construction and procurement of food and water. Wilderness instructors also mentor youth in naturalist skills and knowledge, promote stewardship and build healthful relationships in the outdoor environment. Wilderness Instructors may work with Growing Wild (3-5 yr olds) or Day Camp (5-14 yr olds).

Hours Per Week: 40 Monday – Friday
Pay Range: $13.20-$15.25/hr (depending on experience)
Ideally a minimum of 7-week commitment

Responsibilities:

  • Creating and implementing experiential environmental immersions for diverse groups of youth in the context of wilderness survival, living skills, naturalist skills and knowledge
  • Role-modeling passion and enthusiasm around engaging with the elements of nature
  • Facilitating group energy and responding swiftly to group needs in order to effectively manage and engage each participant in a positive experience
  • Actively contributing to efforts of leadership team in planning, preparing, delivering and evaluating each week and each day of programming
  • Representing the high caliber of the organization when speaking to parents, staff and participants
  • Delivering high-adventure experiences while keeping an unfailing eye on the safety of each activity and each participant and co-worker in accordance with risk management protocols
  • Working with ages between 3-15, day camp (potentially overnights too)

Required Qualifications:

  • 18 + years of age
  • Driver’s license and/or ability to arrange transportation to various camp locations.
  • Experience as a naturalist/wilderness instructor OR camp counselor working with youth ages 6-15 in an undeveloped setting
  • Willingness to work in a changing environment and tackle new problems each day
  • Ability to learn and convey skill sets efficiently                                                                                                                                                                                
  • Demonstrate a high level of comfort and curiosity in the natural world
  • Developing skills in specialized areas pertaining to wilderness living and primitive skills OR seeking to learn specialized skills pertaining to wilderness living and primitive skills
  • Demonstrate ability to inspire and relate positively with youth and teens
  • Previous experience with primitive technologies and wilderness survival skills

Preferred Qualifications (optional for hire):

  • Demonstrate ability to thrive in rigorous outdoor physical education activities
  • Experience with working with youth and/or primitive technologies and wilderness survival skills
  • Reflect on a range of personal experiences working independently and within a team
  • Passionate about learning new material and practicing skills outside of work 
  • Past experiences working with people of diverse educational and cultural backgrounds
  • Experience in eight shields mentoring

Applications are still being accepted and preference will be given to those candidates who are able to work August 8-September 2,2022.

View or Download Full Job Description

Apply Now

Cornell Cooperative Extension is an employer and educator recognized for valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities. Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County provides equal programs and job opportunities. No person shall be denied employment on the basis of any legally prohibited discrimination involving, but not limited to, such factors as race, color, creed, religion, national or ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, or qualified disability. Individuals who bring a diverse perspective and are supportive of diversity are strongly encouraged to apply.

Please be sure to read the Notice to Applicants found on the Jobs with CCE page.

No relocation or VISA Sponsorship is available.

The Association may make reasonable accommodations to enable applicants to participate in the hiring process and employees to perform the essential functions of their job. If you require accommodation so you may participate in the selection process you are encouraged to contact CCE Tompkins HR at [email protected]

For additional questions please contact:
[email protected]

Lead Wilderness Instructor

Lead Wilderness Instructors facilitate the core aim of Primitive Pursuits; bringing groups of youth into natural areas, away from facilities and without modern gear, and engaging them in a self-directed inquiry into basic, personal and group survival needs. Their key role in this task will be to assist and instruct youth on survival skills in the wild including but not limited to: primitive technology, fire making, shelter construction and procurement of food and water. Wilderness instructors also mentor youth in naturalist skills and knowledge, promote stewardship and build healthful relationships in the outdoor environment. Wilderness Instructors may work with Growing Wild (3-5 yr olds) or Day Camp (5-14 yr olds).

Hours Per Week: 40 Monday – Friday
Pay Range:$14.50-17.50/hr (depending on experience)
Ideally a minimum of 7-week commitment

Responsibilities:

  • Creating and implementing experiential environmental immersions for diverse groups of youth in the context of wilderness survival, living skills, naturalist skills and knowledge
  • Role-modeling passion and enthusiasm around engaging with the elements of nature
  • Facilitating group energy and responding swiftly to group needs in order to effectively manage and engage each participant in a positive experience
  • Actively contributing to efforts of leadership team in planning, preparing, delivering and evaluating each week and each day of programming
  • Representing the high caliber of the organization when speaking to parents, staff and participants
  • Delivering high-adventure experiences while keeping an unfailing eye on the safety of each activity and each participant and co-worker in accordance with risk management protocols
  • Working with ages between 3-15, day camp (potentially overnights too)
  • Mentoring staff on a path to comfort and success among their peers and in potentially adverse environments

Required Qualifications:

  • 18 years of age or older
  • Must have RTE First Aid OR WFR Certification, and CPR for the Professional or higher OR be able to attain it before the start of camp
  • Driver’s license and/or ability to arrange transportation to various camp locations.
  • Minimum 1 year experience as a naturalist/wilderness instructor OR camp counselor working with youth ages 6-14 in an undeveloped setting
  • Minimum 1 year’ experience in mentoring OR coaching staff members in problem solving, organization and day to day coordination                                                                     
  • Experience in planning daily activities, projects, and games for youth ages 6-14   
  • Willingness to work in a changing environment and tackle new problems each day
  • Ability to learn and convey skill sets efficiently
  • Demonstrate a high level of comfort and curiosity in the natural world                                                                                                               
  • Passionate about learning new material and practicing skills outside of work
  • Demonstrate ability to inspire and relate positively with youth and teens
  • Developing skills in specialized areas pertaining to wilderness living and primitive skills OR seeking to learn specialized skills pertaining to wilderness living and primitive skills
  • Previous experience with primitive technologies and wilderness survival skills          

Preferred Qualifications (optional for hire):

  • Reflect on a range of personal experiences working independently and within a team
  • Demonstrate ability to thrive in rigorous outdoor physical education activities
  • Past experiences working with people of diverse educational and cultural backgrounds
  • Experience in eight shields mentoring
  • Experience with working with youth and/or primitive technologies and wilderness survival skills

Applications are still being accepted and preference will be given to those candidates who are able to work August 8-September 2,2022

View or Download Full Job Description
Apply Now

Cornell Cooperative Extension is an employer and educator recognized for valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities. Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County provides equal programs and job opportunities. No person shall be denied employment on the basis of any legally prohibited discrimination involving, but not limited to, such factors as race, color, creed, religion, national or ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, or qualified disability. Individuals who bring a diverse perspective and are supportive of diversity are strongly encouraged to apply.

Please be sure to read the Notice to Applicants found on the Jobs with CCE page.

No relocation or VISA Sponsorship is available.

The Association may make reasonable accommodations to enable applicants to participate in the hiring process and employees to perform the essential functions of their job. If you require an accommodation so you may participate in the selection process you are encouraged to contact CCE Tompkins HR at [email protected]

For additional questions please contact:
[email protected]

Assistant Summer Camp Director

The Assistant Day Camp Director works collaboratively with the Camp Director to support this all-outdoors wilderness youth program mission. Responsibilities include mentorship of staff, responding to emergencies, facilitating staff meetings and planning, maintaining camp resources and supplies, and interacting with parents, campers, staff and administration as needed. Prior to the summer camp season, this position also assists the Summer Camp Director with staff training preparation and implementation, site and resource organization, and other administrative tasks. 

Hours Per Week: 40 Monday – Friday
Pay Range: $14.50-17.50/hr (depending on experience)

Responsibilities:

  • Develop and coordinate Primitive Pursuits camp programs and activities for a safe, engaging, high quality summer program
  • Provide organizational and programmatic support as necessary
  • Assist with hiring and training of all summer camp staff
  • Assist with maintaining fiscal records for the summer camp program, including summer budget and fundraising efforts
  • Assist Health Director in assuring that Health Department Guidelines for Summer Camp are met
  • Assist with follow-through of any correspondence necessary related to camp functions and activities, i.e. summer staff contracts, permits, etc.
  • Assist with camp recruitment and registration
  • Oversee designation of camper placement within groups
  • Address crisis management, discipline and troubleshooting issues related to campers and/or staff.
  • Assist in determining supply and equipment needs and in ordering/purchasing
  • Support and supervise instructors in organizing, implementing, decision-making and trouble-shooting
  • Maintain a positive team atmosphere that includes campers, families, camp based and office based staff, and volunteers
  • Schedule, supervise and evaluate program staff, including Lead Wilderness Instructors, Assistant Instructors, Interns, Teen Assists, MITs and volunteers, providing support and disciplinary measures when necessary.
  • Assist in the evaluation of the camp itself, as well as the camping experience for youth participants.
  • Other duties as assigned

Required Qualifications:

  • Current driver’s license with clean driving record
  • Ability to pass NYS background checks
  • Access to reliable transportation
  • At least 21 years old
  • At least 24 weeks of administrative OR supervisory experience
  • Experience teaching children of all ages in a variety of outdoor settings
  • Values diversity and inclusion and demonstrates sensitivity to issues of cultural appropriation and privilege
  • Strong commitment to teaching and to sharing an appreciation for nature
  • Works well with minimal supervision and asks for assistance when needed
  • Ability to manage conflict situations appropriately
  • Ability to work some weekends and evenings

Preferred Qualifications (optional for hire):

  • Excellent social, communication, writing and computer skills
  • Experience providing programming for diverse populations
  • Well-developed sense of humor, play and curiosity
  • Experience with nature awareness culture, such as Wilderness Awareness School, Art of Mentoring, or Kamana
  • Experience with Primitive/Earth-based Skills

Applications are still being accepted and preference will be given to those candidates who are able to work August 8-September 15,2022.

View or Download Full Job Description

Apply Now

Cornell Cooperative Extension is an employer and educator recognized for valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities. Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County provides equal programs and job opportunities. No person shall be denied employment on the basis of any legally prohibited discrimination involving, but not limited to, such factors as race, color, creed, religion, national or ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, or qualified disability. Individuals who bring a diverse perspective and are supportive of diversity are strongly encouraged to apply.

Please be sure to read the Notice to Applicants found on the Jobs with CCE page.

No relocation or VISA Sponsorship is available.

The Association may make reasonable accommodations to enable applicants to participate in the hiring process and employees to perform the essential functions of their job. If you require an accommodation so you may participate in the selection process you are encouraged to contact CCE Tompkins HR at [email protected]

For additional questions please contact:
[email protected]

Who should apply?

We are looking for people who value time spent in nature in all weather, are inspired by connecting with youth of all ages in the outdoors, enjoy working in a collaborative enviornment, and strongly believe this work is contributing to the future sustainability of our community and the world.

When is the deadline to apply?

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Applicants who are interesed in applying for Assistant Summer Camp Director, Summer Site Leader, Logistics Coordinator, Lead Wilderness Instructor or Wilderness Instructor are encouraged to apply by April 1. Applicants who are interested in an Internship position should submit their application by May 1.

Interviews will continue until all positions are filled which is usually in May. The earlier you apply, the better.

What happens after I submit my application?
Ideally, within a week of receiving your application, you will receive an email from us letting you know whether you have qualified for an interview. Interviews will happen in person, if possible. If not possible, video calls will be second choice and phone interview third choice.
How can I strengthen my application?

• Work or volunteer for an outdoor education organization with direct experience with youth
• Attend a primitive skills gathering
• Participate in adult development opportunities related to naturalist skills and nature mentoring such as the Primitive Pursuits Wilderness Year program, Alderleaf Wilderness School, programs through Wilderness Awareness School and others with similar outcomes.
• Become familiar with nature mentoring, such as by reading The Coyote’s Guide by Jon Young

Staff Expectations
• Spend entire days immersed in the fields, forests and waterways of undeveloped nature in the Finger Lakes Region, in all weather conditions
• Be punctual and present for required trainings, planning sessions and assigned hours
• Explore your own personal connection with nature so you can share stories, experiences, learning and inquiries with others
• Engage and connect with children in nature in meaningful and inspiring ways
• Work collaboratively on teams to create meaningful and memorable experiences
• Promote inclusive and welcoming environments that value diversity of staff and participants
• Value and practice self-awareness, professionalism and positive communication skills
• Have a good sense of humor, be creative and flexible, and have a deep love for learning
• Believe that connecting kids to the natural world in meaningful ways plays a big part in improving the health of our planet for future generations
• Role-model engaged, compassionate, inspired, curious learners
• Ask questions!
What training is offered?

For new staff, we provide a three-day training specifically tailored to introducing staff to our methods, philosophy and culture of nature connection. During this training, staff will be exposed to a range of games, activities and skills, and become familiar with the land we use for our camps. This training is required for new staff and runs Monday – Wednesday of training week.
For returning staff, we provide a special one day training for our lead instructors and a one day training for all archery instructors. These experiences help foster our specialized focus and develop staff as leaders in the field.

For all staff, we provide a one to two-day all-staff orientation held before the first week of camp. This is an opportunity for all staff to gather, get to know each other and learn together. The goal of these two days is to discuss, inspire, appreciate, communicate and inquire about our upcoming adventure together. We spend our time deep in skills, risk management, communication systems, team building and fun! We aim to model the feel and culture of what camp might be like while also creating an atmosphere of community.

During the summer, we value feedback as a gift at all times and support staff to learn effective and meaningful forms of feedback. We see this process as a way to learn and grow as leaders and nature mentors. All staff participate in weekly feedback discussions with their team for that week. New staff and more novice staff work with our seasoned lead instructors to build on successes and find areas of growth and improvement. We also offer opportunities outside of camp hours for further skill training and community building throughout the summer.

What are past staff members saying?

“ I made so many friendships with other instructors during this summer, and I loved coming to work. This definitely felt like a community. I also felt like I gained a lot of good experience and ideas after working with skilled lead counselors.”  – Summer Wilderness Instructor

“ I feel extremely lucky that I was able to spend so many of my weeks in the woods this summer. I love being in nature, and probably the most rewarding aspect of my work this summer was being able to connect with so many kids. I loved that I could create a positive, happy experience for kids by playing games, telling stories, and just being in the woods having fun.” – Summer Wilderness Instructor

“Working with Primitive Pursuits has taught me invaluable life skills. It combines learning, mentoring, exploration, daring, creativity, intuition, and practicality for an enriching experience, with the natural world as the classroom!” – Summer Wilderness Instructor

“The sentiment of “meeting everyone where they are at” has left me with a lifelong lesson to practice. My heart beams with gratitude for the empowerment, empathy, and support I felt from my time at Primitive Pursuits. This experience allowed me to grow as a leader, teammate, and individual.” – Summer Camp Coordinator

Time Commitment
  • All staff are required to attend staff training the week of June 20th-24th.  
  • Summer camp runs from June 27-September 2. All wilderness instructors are required to work ideally a minimum of 7 weeks and a maximum of 9 weeks during the camp season in addition to staff training. Interns are required to work a minimum of 3 weeks and a maximum of 9 weeks in addition to staff training week.
  • Admin and Photojournalist Interns will a schedule based on the camp’s needs and expectations
Do I need to be vaccinated?

Cornell Cooperative Extension is following all guidance and recommendations by the CDC, NYS Health Department, and Tompkins Health Department. 

Cornell Cooperative Extension is an employer and educator recognized for valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities. Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County provides equal program and job opportunities. No person shall be denied employment on the basis of any legally prohibited discrimination involving, but not limited to, such factors as race, color, creed, religion, national or ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, or qualified disability. Individuals who bring a diverse perspective and are supportive of diversity are strongly encouraged to apply.

Please be sure to read the Notice to Applicants found on the Jobs with CCE page:

No relocation or VISA Sponsorship available.

The Association may make reasonable accommodations to enable applicants to participate in the hiring process and employees to perform the essential functions of their job. If you require an accommodation so you may participate in the selection process you are encouraged to contact CCE Tompkins HR at [email protected].  

 

My daughter has been pointing out plants to us, and she made a great shelter in just a few minutes on a hike the other day just to show us her skills. We are impressed!”

TP, Parent