Program Leader (Spring - Summer 2024)

Mentor, OH
Program Operations
Entry Level

Program Leader (Spring - Summer 2024)

Rustic Pathways is a student travel organization that offers the world's finest experiential education, community service, foreign language, and adventure programs. Our destinations stretch from the white-sand beaches of Fiji to the rainforest canopies of Costa Rica, the high Atlas mountains to the Great Barrier Reef, and many places in between. We provide superior quality travel and service in some of the most welcoming countries for students around the world. Rustic Pathways demands professionalism and integrity across all of our operations, insists on quality in all aspects of our programs, and places a strong emphasis on the protection, safety, and well-being of our students and staff. We empower students through innovative and responsible travel experiences to positively impact lives and communities around the world.

Program Leader at Rustic Pathways

The Position

As a Program Leader, you are a visitor in the country of operation. Your primary responsibility is the care and well-being of our students while they travel. You are a primary responder in all escalated situations, incidents, and emergencies. In partnership with your co-leader, you’ll collaborate to create a safe and successful program experience for all Rustic Pathways students. You’ll work directly with local leaders, community partners, activity operators, and Rustic Pathways managers. You are a liaison between the program experience and all stakeholders, providing trip updates and managing communication with parents and the global Rustic Pathways team. Expect to spend long days in some of the most welcoming communities on the planet. Community service professionals, customer service experts, globally conscious travelers, logistics lovers, and youth development facilitators are encouraged to apply. Rustic Pathways is committed to increasing diversity in our staff and recognizes the benefit of having a diverse, inclusive work environment. We actively encourage those from equity-seeking groups to apply. We believe in the value of diverse perspectives and experiences represented by our leaders.

Must be safety-oriented, with a passion for experiential education. The position requires a lot of physical and emotional stamina. 

This is a seasonal position.


  • Embody Rustic Pathways’ mission, vision, and values
  • Act as a role model and mentor to students
  • Protect the safety of students and children by abiding by our zero-tolerance policy for inappropriate behavior
  • Monitor and manage student well-being
  • Follow Rustic Pathways’ protocols while on the program
  • Address any student health issues and communicate action plans with parents 
  • Communicate daily updates and photos to our team to share with parents, and provide real-time info regarding student health and behavioral issues
  • Respond calmly to issues as they arise with a focus on customer service and safety
  • Demonstrate responsible leadership and judgment, including cultural sensitivity
  • Create positive and inclusive group dynamics
  • Partner with local Program Leaders to ensure students understand the history, culture, and context of the places visited
  • Model responsible travel by adhering to Rustic Pathways' sustainability protocols
  • Facilitate discussions drawing from your own personal experience and Rustic Pathways' discussion guides

Job Qualifications

  • Experience:
    • At least 2 years of relevant experience in service-learning, tourism, outdoor leadership, youth mentorship, customer service, or experiential education.
    • At least 2 years of experience working with young adults and/or adolescents
    • At least 6 months of experience living and/or working in an international, multicultural, or cross-cultural environment
  • Education:
    • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university OR equivalent work experience
  • Requirements:
    • Must be legally eligible to be employed in the United States 
    • Must be 22 years of age or older before your start date
    • Demonstrated maturity and leadership skills
    • Professional working proficiency in English
    • Basic CPR and First Aid certification from a licensed provider
      • NOTE: Certifications must ONLY be obtained through classroom or a blended online + classroom training. Online-only certifications are not acceptable. Certificates must be submitted to Rustic Pathways at least three weeks prior to the start of Program Leader training
    • Fluency in Spanish is required for Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and Peru
    • Professional working proficiency in Arabic, Burmese, Fijian, French, Haitian Creole, Hindi, Karen, Khmer, Lao, Mandarin Chinese, Mongolian, Nepali, Quechua, Shan, Swahili, Thai, or Vietnamese is a plus
    • A valid driver's license and a clean driving record are required for programs in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand
  • Working knowledge in the following areas and/or roles:
    • Adventure Guiding, Outdoor Education, or Wilderness Therapy
    • Teaching and/or instruction, specifically middle school or high school, in a multicultural environment
    • Teaching (any subject) to non-native English speakers
    • Leadership Instruction
    • Customer Service
    • Volunteering with AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and/or national service, or comparable positions
    • Sociology or Anthropology
    • Social Justice, Immigration, or Migration
    • Marine Biology, Environmental Studies, Conservation, or Wildlife Biology
    • Public Health, Global Health, or Water sanitation and hygiene program
    • Mountaineering or Technical Climbing
    • Community Service Coordinator
    • Surf Instructor
    • Soccer Coach
    • Camp Counselor
  • Preferred Certifications (including but not limited to):
    • Wilderness First Responder
    • Wilderness EMT
    • Ocean Lifeguard
    • Teaching Certifications (ex. TEFL/TESL)
  • Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:
    • Appreciation for diversity in cultures and experiences
    • Excellent verbal and non-verbal communication skills
    • Patient, enthusiastic, analytical, flexible, and solution-oriented
    • Passion for discussion-based learning and helping students make meaning of their experiences
    • Understands the value of experiential education and travel for high school students
    • Understands the value of parental communication for high school travel
    • Eager to learn from colleagues and enjoys open collaboration and teamwork
    • Able to maintain excellence under pressure and ever-changing conditions


Ability to work in one of our country destinations for at least 1-10 consecutive weeks at a time (start date determined by mandatory in-person training dates, which vary by country operation).


The weekly rate for this position is between $400 to $1200 per week (weekly rate is determined by the number of years of Rustic Pathways program leader experience and by country operation).

A Note About Equal Employment Opportunity Questions:

Though you are not required to answer them, we do encourage applicants to answer the Equal Employment Opportunity questions on our application. We cannot see your answers as we review your application. We only see the data as a full set, not connected to any identifying data on your application. In order to most effectively work to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion at Rustic Pathways, we need the data to know where we stand. Numbers are powerful. Please help us to improve as an organization by answering these questions if you are comfortable doing so.

Equal Opportunity:

Rustic Pathways is an Equal Opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex including sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, national origin, disability, protected Veteran Status, or any other characteristic protected by applicable federal, state, or local law.

At-Will Notice:

Each employee of Rustic Pathways is employed “at will,” which means either the Company or the employee may terminate the employment relationship at any time, for any or no reason, with or without advanced notice. No individual or representative of Rustic Pathways can change this at-will relationship absent a specific, written contract signed by the Company’s Chief Executive Officer or designee.


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