True North students are continuously learning more about themselves and experiencing new challenges in the wilderness. They live in small groups where they are working to build community, learn leadership skills, and understand their own therapeutic process. Their personal and group experiences may seem daunting and stressful at times. But the students are not alone in their journey. They are supported throughout each day by their guides who work 8-day shifts, teaching them how to communicate effectively, create shelter, work as a team, make bow drill fires and much more.
True North guides are a very integral part of a student’s stay and therefore experience a high level of intentional training in therapeutic and outdoor living strategies before and during their employment at True North. After engaging in interviews and background checks, all True North guides have the opportunity to participate in an extensive hiring and training process. Since no two guides enter their career with the same skill set, our Field Directors, Mary, Reilly and Jordan, periodically run a vigorous multi-day seminar that is required for all guides before they can be officially hired. This ensures that applicants demonstrate the unique skills specific to working as a wilderness therapy guide. It also provides comprehensive training and vetting regarding the unconventional schedule, job expectations, and the location in the Green Mountains.
Guide candidates begin the hiring seminar on a Monday morning with introductions (including a few cheesy jokes from the Field Directors to break the ice) and orientation. Food and gear is packed and all seminar attendees are warmly welcomed into the True North community. Everybody then heads to the field to set up camp and begin living and learning the daily True North life. Over the next several days, our staff continue to teach about the student curriculum, daily and weekly programming, camping skills (including primitive fire and trap making), and much more. The warm and welcoming learning environment creates an enjoyable and memorable experience, as strangers become friends around the fire.
The training portion of the seminar concludes with what is often the most fun part of the seminar…an overnight in a True North group! This experience helps to give context to everything discussed over the course of the seminar and is an important opportunity to shadow active guides and meet a group of students. It’s also a chance to practice what they have learned, build relationships with the students, and observe the guiding style of the more experienced guides. At the conclusion of the overnight, attendees debrief their experience with the Field Directors, enjoy a hot shower and leave the field to celebrate their completion of the seminar with the larger True North community. The Hiring Seminar is a unique opportunity for applicants and True North leadership to work together to determine that this is the best fit. We are able to ensure that our guides are competent, compassionate, and capable prior to hiring them for the position, and new guides are able to enter their first shift feeling confident in their abilities to help their group thrive.
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