Thanks for your interest in Elements Wilderness Program. We are searching for passionate, dedicated, and experienced outdoor professionals to welcome to the Elements team.
Field Mentor Position
Field Mentors are the foundation of our program and a client’s experience. They are most importantly responsible for client safety, both physically and emotionally. Mentors operate as front-line staff, building relationships with our clients. Field Mentors work closely with the therapist to help implement the treatment plan designed for that week while maintaining the big picture approach for the clients and the group. As such, they are part outdoor professionals and part mental-health professionals. Successful mentors are passionate about this work, have a desire to grow and learn, and demonstrate patience and flexibility.
The next field mentor training opportunity for 2023 are:
January 19th to the 26th
March 2nd to the 9th
April 6th to the 13th
May 11th to the 18th
June 15 to the 22nd
Elements Wilderness provides a safe and healthy environment for struggling young men (13-17). While with us, our clients (and their families) will be provided the opportunity to explore past choices and set a new course for their futures. In order to accomplish this goal, we’ve chosen to use the outdoors, healthy role-modelling, adventure activities, and evidence-based therapeutic methods.
We are different from other wilderness therapy programs in three significant ways: 1) we are a small company that is owner-operated 2) we use evidence-based methods to work with a specific population, and 3) we use an expedition model and adventure-based programming as another way to introduce metaphor and encourage change within our clients.
Listen to one of our owners and founders, Lynn Smith, talk about the intentions behind starting Elements.
Field Mentors at Elements work an 8-days-on, 6-days-off schedule. The work week runs Tuesday-to-Tuesday, with two shifts alternating in the field. This schedule provides ample time to get to know the clients while working, and also provides plenty of time off to relax, explore, and connect with your friends and family. Elements operates 365 days a year. Field Mentors alternate working major holidays. Mentors accrue two paid shifts off per year and are encouraged to take time off to practice self-care.
We utilize an expedition model—we believe this means that clients (and staff) more fully embrace the ‘wilderness’ part of wilderness therapy. An expedition model means that the group is consistently hiking from place to place within our field area. It provides for one, continuous journey that clients complete and a deeper connection to the natural world around us. It also means no time is spent at a basecamp of any kind and that no time is spent simply driving students around or in transition. Clients and staff alike are cooking on open fire, sleeping under tarp shelters, and embracing the beauty and challenge the wilderness has to provide!
Elements specializes in treating young men, ages 13-17, who are struggling with emotional or behavioral issues such as low self-esteem, mood dysregulation, anger and defiance, and poor relationships with peers, family members, and/or authority figures. Many of our clients have begun to experiment with or abuse drugs or alcohol as the result of peer pressure and/or in an attempt to manage their own painful emotions. The clients we work with will have a wide range of issues but have in common the intelligence and internal resources to engage productively in therapy, form new pro-social ways of dealing with life’s challenges, and enter healthy, independent adulthood.
An average stay at Elements for clients is eight to ten weeks. We do a constant rolling admission which provides the opportunity to maintain positive group culture with the senior most clients becoming client mentors and helping the newer clients with acclimatization to the program as well as learning program expectations. Being small, Elements has the opportunity to individualize each client’s therapeutic needs so clients’ experiences and lengths of stay can differ.
We use Adventure Programming (AP) as a unique way for clients to engage with the program and practice skills in a concrete way. We have separate, certified staff, who facilitate the technical aspects of adventure activities. That said, Mentors are supervising and participating the whole time as well. Our goal is that AP is built seamlessly into the flow of the week, both logistically and therapeutically.
Our Field Area allows for numerous climbing and rappelling sites, and these make up the bulk of our AP. In the summer, we also add in fly-fishing. All year long we will also use low-rope initiatives with our clients.
From the staff perspective, a typical week will start out on a Tuesday morning doing some-sort of on-going training (topics vary) and also creating a rough-draft logistical plan for the week ahead. You and your staff team will then drive to your group for the week. Tuesday afternoon is a time for both staff teams, all the clients in a group, and the clients’ therapist to all share information about the past week—highs, lows, challenges and successes, etc. You will use the information to inform the plan for the rest of the week, marrying logistical needs with therapeutic intentions.
Two types of days typify the usual daily logistical schedule. One is a hiking day, in which the group breaks camp, backpacks cross-country, and sets up camp. The other type of day is a lay-over day, in which the group will largely focus on formal group and individual therapy sessions. Both kinds of days will include practicing therapeutic skills like assertive communication, time-management, distress tolerance, and increased self-awareness. Baseline expectation is that safety and/ or health concerns are being addressed each day, that clients are getting exercise, healthy meals, plenty of rest, and the chance to practice new skills.
In addition to the daily essentials like meals, rest, etc, a typical day at Elements may include some or all of these: formal group time, individual time to work on assignments or read, a game or two, 1-on-1 sessions between clients and Mentors, therapeutic sessions between clients and their therapist (Mentors join as well), daily chores, bathing, an adventure activity, hiking, bow-drilling, breaking-down and setting-up camp, learning how to cook, mindfulness activities or other DBT skills, etc.
In a typical week, staff will generally: have 1-3 client mentees that they work with more closely, run segments of a day (e.g. a hike, creating dinner and cleaning up, etc), run a therapeutic group or two, practice pro-active risk management, look after client health concerns, follow Elements policies and procedures, fill out student paperwork, create and follow-through on their own development goals, role-model program tools for students, bring their passion and personality!!
We believe Field Mentors are professionals in this industry. Therefore, we provide on-going training and hold staff to a high standard. We also provide one of the highest starting wages, and one of the most competitive overall packages in the industry.
Mentors work through a level system, each level focusing on developing skills relevant to certain areas of the program. Field Mentors will start with an Apprenticeship which lasts 3 rotations and is fully paid. After that, you will move through the levels at your own pace with our support and direction. Each level with an increase in wage. The upper tiers are Group Leads which make $225/day with Advanced Leads at $240/day. For most staff, it’s possible to achieve the Group Lead position within ~ 9 months. In addition, we do offer bonus-based retention contracts starting at six months of employment to those employees in good standing that commit to certain amounts of time.
Benefits – Mentors are eligible for medical & dental insurance after 30 days of employment. Elements pay 75% of the monthly premium. We also pay for Wilderness First Responder certifications and re-certifications as well as providing pro-deal discounts.
If you have significant previous experience in wilderness therapy, we are certainly interested in chatting with you about your professional goals and may recognize your previous experience on a case-by-case basis.
Most staff live in the Salt Lake City area when not working. Salt Lake offers the advantage of a big city along with nearby outdoor attractions, such as renowned skiing in the winter and hiking/ biking trails in the summer. Some staff also choose to live in Moab or Grand Junction, CO to be closer to other climbing sites and mountain biking trails. Staff can live wherever they want, as long as they arrive to work on Tuesday at 9am well rested and ready to work. Although we do not provide housing, we do have a bunkhouse, including a shower and small kitchen, that staff may use at the beginning and end of each shift.
An Elements training is an extended job interview. We do not “play the numbers”—if you are invited to Training, there is a potential spot for you. However, being invited on the training does not guarantee you a position with the company. We want to make sure Elements is a mutual fit, and either you, or we, may decide it is not.
Applicants will receive a list of required gear when invited on the training and are expected to own and maintain all their own gear. If you come to us with prior outdoor experience, whether personal or professional, chances are you have most of it already. Elements offers employees access to a wide variety of pro-deals to assist with the acquisition and maintenance of the gear you will need to have to go into the field.
Once on the training, you can expect to participate in a variety of lessons and scenarios, all geared at evaluating your drive and desire to work with this population, as well as existing skill sets (campcraft, self-care, decision making, etc) and resilience when faced with challenge. Upon successful completion of the training, scheduling and start dates will be discussed. After your first actual work shift, your first paycheck will include an $500 as a training stipend.
Seasonal Work & Internships: We offer seasonal work a limited basis, over the summer. Typically, any seasonal candidate must be able to commit to at least 6 shifts. Most Internships are accepted if it can fall into full-time work. Internships with minimal availability become more difficult to honor. As a small program, Elements needs consistent and experienced staff to establish and maintain relationships with the clients. Also, due to the schedule in the field it can be difficult for interns to get the number of hours their programs may require. If you are interested, please contact the recruiter for more information.
Schedule Options: For consistency and the ability of the staff to properly rest between shifts, we have found 8-days-on to be best and do not have any other scheduling options available for new staff.
Weather: The weather varies seasonally, and though the winters are often milder in temperature, we can see colder temperatures in December and January. We have in the past seen several feet of snow. Even after 4-6 inches accumulate, it’s not uncommon to have the sun melt it all away during the day. Summer temperatures can typically range from in the 30’s at night, to the 90’s during the day.
- Step 1 – Read over this page and our website to ensure Elements, and this work, seem like a good fit
- Step 2 – Ensure you meet the basic requirements:
- 20 years old
- Able to pass a Federal Criminal Background Check
- Pass a pre-employment and random drug screenings
- Have at least a High School diploma or equivalent (Bachelor’s preferred)
- Certified in 1st Aid and CPR at a minimum (WFA and WFR strongly preferred)
- A strong love of the wilderness and camping
- Patience, resilience, flexibility, and a sense of humor
- Step 3 – Complete the online application by clicking Apply Now below and upload your current Resume and Cover Letter.
If you would prefer to submit a paper application and/ or the above online application is not working for you, please download the paper application, fill it out, and submit it alongside your Resume and Cover Letter. Include contact information for at least two professional references with your Resume and note any current certifications you possess.
Please click on the following link to download the application.
All applications can be emailed or sent to: PO Box 1166, Huntington, UT 84528
Primary Therapist Position
We are always open to hear from those eager to become a wilderness therapist. We are not currently hiring; however, we like to continue the conversation with those interested. Please send your resume to Neal Christensen at firstname.lastname@example.org.