The best job ever!
It’s funny how a moment can last a lifetime. On my desk in my office sets a picture of my first year as a Wilderness Trek summer guide in 1995. I am tied into a rappel site outside of Salida Colorado with another first-time guide named Tim. He and I were on our first trip as summer staff. The lead guide for the trip was a guide named Archie Chankin. Archie had been a guide for several years and took Tim and me under his wing to teach us the ropes and to show us how to lead people safely in the backcountry. I remember the moment precisely. In my mind, I was thinking, “this is the best job ever!” 24 years later I am still saying the same thing.
Much has changed in the past 24 years. Outdoor gear, equipment, and technique have changed a lot. Gone are the old external frame packs, gone are the stoves that were just as likely to blow up as boil water. Gear has gotten lighter, easier to get, and evolved to almost be comfortable. My 4-pound leather hiking boots have evolved to sub 1 pound gore-tex “runners”. You could not pay me to carry some of the gear we carried back then on a trip now.
One thing has never changed though. The people. I am still close with many of the staff I worked within the ’90s. As we have grown up and started different careers we still come back to our shared experiences on the trail so long ago. The foundation of everything Trek has done has always been about the people.
As a ministry, we still rely on scores of passionate, smart, wonderful summer staff to keep our ministry going. Every summer we hire 10-15 college-aged students from all over the country to lead our trips. That young kid pictured on the cliffside in 1995 is replaced every year with talented, smart, funny, passionate, young adults ready to spend a summer living an adventure of a lifetime.
From time to time I run into some of the old guys. Summer staff from days gone by. Some I worked with, some came before or after me, but all of us have one thing in common. Almost every former staff member I have ever talked to tells me the same thing. “That was the best job ever!” The gear may have changed but experiences last forever.
They all say reply this way because working at Wilderness Trek is more than a job, it is an adventure. Over the past 42 years over 700 young adults from all over the country have spent one or more summers with us. Everyone was different, everyone one came from different backgrounds, everyone brought a different gift, but all made our ministry what it is today.
Gear styles change, technique evolves, equipment gets lighter but working at Trek stays with you for life. A moment can last a lifetime and no matter what life holds in the future for you one thing can never be taken away from you, your experiences. Once you work at Trek, you will always be part of our family.
A new year brings a new opportunity to add to our family. We are looking for another great new crop of summer staff to join our family this year. If you are interested or know someone who might be interested, we would love to talk with them.
So what will it be? Will you have a job this summer or will you have a once in a lifetime experience this summer and leave saying “that is the best job ever!”