Who are your leaders?
Without question, the leaders make the difference in the success of Moondance, so we take great care in selecting the people we feel will make outstanding instructors, role models, and friends. The ability to work and relate to teenagers is a critical element in the success of any leader. They must understand that the safety and well being of each individual is of the utmost importance, but we also want to make sure that they have strong wilderness skills and are fun! Our leaders are bright, energetic, conscientious adults with a healthy sense of humor who love sharing their enthusiasm for the outdoors. They are united in their passion to create the best student experience possible. Most are graduates of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) or Outward Bound. In addition, many of our leaders are former Moondance participants with over 40% of our staff last summer having been on a Moondance trip as a teen.
How old are your leaders?
All leaders are a minimum of 21 years old, with the average age being 26. All are college graduates or on their way to earning their college degrees. They are motivated and high achievers who have been leaders in their schools and/ or athletic teams while in high school and college. They understand young people and share their interest in the outdoors. They are highly responsible, safety minded, fun, dynamic and reliable. Our leaders are the key to our success.
What are the leaders’ backgrounds?
We find Moondance leaders to be highly motivated to share a unique outdoor experience with our teen participants. They are committed to providing each individual with a safe, powerful learning experience. They certainly have to have strong outdoor skills to work for Moondance, but we find it is equally important that they express a love of working with teens when they express their interest to work with Moondance. They are dynamic role models, who understand the trip is all about the kids and thus they are creating an environment for every individual to have the opportunity to achieve great success.
Do Moondance leaders have any medical certifications?
Every Moondance leader holds a Wilderness First Responder, an 80-hour backcountry medical certification. This nationally recognized training teaches outdoor educators how to safely handle wilderness emergencies when hospital care is hours, sometimes days away. This certification includes CPR training. The most common medical issues Moondance handles in the field are blisters and minor cuts and scrapes.
Do Moondance staff have additional training before their trip begins?
Absolutely! It is mandatory that each staff member holds his/her Wilderness First Responder certification. Even though the majority of our staff are graduates of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), Outward Bound with a large number being Moondance alumni, we require all staff members to complete additional staff training at the beginning of each summer. During this intensive 11-day staff training we cover all policies, procedures and protocol for every Moondance program. Safety practices are discussed and reviewed. We also find this to be a great time for a variety of outdoor educators to share teaching styles and practices that they have found helpful. Each instructor renews his/her commitment to Moondance’s philosophy and rededicates himself/herself to serving Moondance’s students. Every Moondance leader is committed to the idea that to lead, we must serve. In addition, when we are involved in more technical activities such as rock climbing, mountaineering or whitewater rafting, we subcontract with professional guides and outfitters to give us the best instruction possible.
How many leaders are on each trip?
In each group, there are at least two leaders, one male and one female.
Do many leaders return for a second or third summer?
You bet. There are quite a few leaders who have worked four and five summers for Moondance. Usually we see over half our staff are returning for another summer.
Can I talk to my leaders before my trip begins?
Leaders will call home a couple days before your trip departs to touch base, introduce themselves and answer any last minute questions you might have about your trip. They will confirm your travel plans and help alleviate any anxiety you might have before departing on your trip.
How does Moondance select and train its leaders?
We will have a large number of applicants every year who want to work for Moondance and we have the luxury of hiring only the finest each year. We hire only about 25% of those who apply for us and once they have been thoroughly reviewed, we have everyone participate in an intensive 11-day staff training prior to our trips getting underway. During this time, we cover all Moondance Policies and Procedures to ensure the safest trip for all.
What are the keys to a great trip leader?
We have found the best leaders share the same desire to instill a sense of adventure in every student, while motivating them to go above and beyond what they ever imagine they were capable of doing. Their sense of humor is icing on the cake as it creates the atmosphere of fun on every trip.
Do you use local guides in areas you visit?
On all of our technical activities, we hire the finest guides and outfitters to help us conduct our programs. These include our climbing, mountaineering, whitewater guides that allow us the best instruction for these activities.
Are leaders trained to deal with the dynamics of teens?
A great deal of time at our staff training is spent discussing group dynamics of teens. Having young people who are excited about an experience like Moondance makes it easy for the group to form incredibly tight bonds over the course of just a few weeks.
How do you encourage safe practices among teens?
Safety policies and procedures are constantly discussed throughout our trips allowing young people to understand the risk and challenges that we face operating our trips.