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Working at Trails Carolina: 23 Reviews

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Exciting but unreasonable expectations

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This was a unique and meaningful experience but the expectations were very high and at times felt impossible to meet. If management wants eyes and ears on every kid at all times, they need to have enough staff in each group to make that doable. Another issue is that the management undermines their staff by telling us that we need to hold strong boundaries and then when we do just that, they bend the rules for someone and make us look stupid for trying to enforce the rules.
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Poor management and would avoid for any future instructors

Worked as a field instructor for 6 months. Enjoyed being able to work outdoors and working with all the other field instructors. I would just avoid this job due to poor management that doesn’t look out or care for their employees. They will hire too many instructors versus student ratio causing you to have to be forced to take off without pay and potentially being fired like I did from no fault of my own. When asked why I was being let go, they told me it was because of ongoing safety and supervision concerns on my part and couldn’t come up with any specific examples when asked. This was the firsttime hearing about any of these concerns, and always had great reviews by lead and costaff and from all the kids I worked with. I’ve seen many other employees have the same fate as me and sure I won’t be the last. If you may make one mistake, management will choose to get rid of you instead of helping you realize your mistake and teaching you how to grow from it and be a better employee. It is very disappointing to see potential growth for employees and kids ruined by poor management that will only lookout for themselves
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Trails Carolina insights

Based on 18 survey responses
What people like
  • Inclusive work environment
  • Supportive environment
  • Feeling of personal appreciation
Areas for improvement
  • Fair pay for job


Fun place to work on the farm and drive the tractor and get hay and feed the cows and horses and sheep. and chickens and goats and harvest all of the crops
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Poor management ruins great potential!

There would be so much to love about this program if not for the poor, ineffective management. Departments are totally compartmentalized with very little effective communication, poor training protocols, no on-boarding support from HR. They require Red Cross CPR/First Aid certification, yet do not reimburse you for this expense (up to $100).Work/life balance suffers and management plays favorites with PTO requests. They do not value or appreciate the skills that staff bring to the company from practical experience in the field. Pay is basically min. wage but the responsibilities and work conditions are very stressful and potentially dangerous. They advertise the "get paid to hike" feature when that may be a very small part of your day-to-day job. The best perk is the outdoor gear discount club, to which employees are given access.


Some great people, field work can be fun & challenging, outdoor gear discounts


Terrible management, poor work/life balance, two-faced office politics
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Pay is on the 5th and 20th of every month. 1 week shifts are Wednesday - Wednesday on, Tuesday - Tuesday off. 2 weeks shifts are double that. The way shifts runs, pay isn't consistent. Even though the pay might be rough at times, the experience has no price.


1 or 2 weeks off at a time.


Learning amazing ways to build rapport with staff and students.
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find a different wilderness therapy program

If you are looking to work in wilderness therapy find a different program where management actually care and support their field staff! You don't get paid enough for the job you do and when you need support because of difficult kids in the field and not enough staff management is not there and don't provide more staff for support. It is an extremely stressful job and the supervisors don't care about your mental health in or out of the field.
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Varied and Meaningful

As a Field Manager, each day is very different—from location to task, you won’t be bored or redundant. Your primary focus is working with adolescent groups or youth groups, maintaining a boots-on-the-ground perspective of each group to strengthen the overall understanding of the program.


Positive and supportive work environment


On-call & occasionally weekend availability
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Poor pay for the work done

This job is high stress. The pay does not nearly compensate the amount of time you’re in the woods. Overall great culture, loved my time there. I had to leave because $1000 for being with the kids over night and all day for a week straight was not worth it.
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Great place to grow in

This is a great place to work. The culture is amazing and management is really supportive. That being said it is a mental health job and not a summer camp. These are individuals that need your legitimate help and attention at all times. If you can come in with this understanding this is a very rewarding job.
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As you can guess, going in to this role is tough but super rewarding. It combines physical challenges with mental ones as well.

Coming into this world is a major change from a 9-5 you may have had before Trails but it is so worth it. My experience has prepared me in so many ways. I feel more confident in my self, in my strengths, and in my ability to overcome challenges set in front of me.


Time off, co-workers, staff trainings, Science Steve. Watching students grow from your first shift with them then watching them grad.


Long hours, can be cold, kids can be tough.
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The most challenging and rewarding work I've ever done!

There are no easy jobs at Trails Carolina. Definitely not a place to just collect a paycheck. You need heart and desire. But everything you do helps change the lives of others. Your "office" is out in the woods with a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Your coworkers come from all walks of life and you get to meet together with one common goal, your desire to help kiddos aged 10-17 be the best versions of themselves and live their best lives! It's a community - surrounded by like minded but diverse humans. LGBTQ+ You definitely have a home here! It's an opportunity - you will collect so many new skills that can be applied in a multitude of ways. You will get dirty and you'll love it! Their wilderness hybrid model is key to long term student success. The work is hard - and you'll feel like what you did mattered. Health, Dental, Vision, Mental Health copay reimbursement, PTO, training reimbursement


Community, outdoor work, life changing


Shift work isn't for everyone
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The kids are great!

The students are great (though some can be pretty difficult). Co-workers are great. I met some of the nicest people I’ve ever met here. The job itself is chaotic, understaffed, and unnecessarily stressful at times.


Students, outdoor, classtime


Chaos, tough situations with students.
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Employees at Trails are Family

Life changing work is never easy… but always worth it. Management recognizes that and works diligently to ensure that they are effectively supporting their staff to the fullest. Being an employee of such a remarkable program is an honor and knowing the differences we are making in our students’ lives is the amazing reward of being apart of such a supportive family of coworkers and management at Trails!
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Meaningful Work - Great Colleagues

At Trails Carolina the work we do on behalf of students and families is so rewarding. Students are struggling with mental health and behavioral challenges. Parents have tried everything at home but nothing is working. To watch the tremendous change in students, parents and their relationship is a tremendous gift. I am so grateful for the role I play in helping families. And, the team of people I work with are incredible from therapists to logistics team members!
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It is a mental health job

I know the title sounds funny, but let me explain. A lot of people come in looking for the wilderness aspect and do not expect the mental health aspect. These are kids with social, emotional, and behavioral problems. It isn’t a summer camp. The kids are challenging. It is a lot of emotional labor, and it brings up your own stuff. The pay is not the best, which is unfortunately a problem in mental health jobs nationwide. There is high turnover, which is common in mental health. However, I think that turnover is also related to people not really understanding what they’re signing up for. This is a residential treatment facility that happens to do its work in the wilderness. The opportunity to have two weeks off is awesome, and our field staff can earn pto on top of those two weeks. The culture is my favorite part. I love the openness to give and receive feedback. I love the opportunities to grow. I’ve met some incredible people here. I’ve been at trails for four years now and have worked in three different departments. I feel like my work in each department has informed and improved my work as I moved on to other departments. You can have work-life balance if you set appropriate boundaries, which I admittedly have trouble with. Management always accepts if they ask you to work extra and you say no. They don’t pressure you or force you to work. Field staff are never mandated to stay (other residential facilities I worked were allowed to mandate you if people called out)


Schedule, coworkers, feedback culture, spending time in nature, pto and benefits, advancement opportunities


Emotional labor of working mental health, other industries (not mental health) offer better pay
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Good luck

$7.25-8.00 an hour + overtime. Work 240 hours (16 hour days), you are not paid for nights unless you are on ”loo duty.” Loo duty occurs approximately once every three days, it requires you talk to students while they use the restroom throughout the day. At night, it is that staff’s responsibility to wake up and allow kids to use the restroom. You are compensated in 15 mins every time you wake up to facilitate this. No supervision from management when in the field. High staff rotation causing minimal senior staff and experience. Explosive behaviors that management does not sufficiently train or brief you about.
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Great schedule, emotionally draining days

Being outdoors is my favorite part, and it’s great switching from expo to yurts to cabins. What they don’t tell you is how hard and taxing the job really is. The kids DO NOT want to be here. They’ll punch, spit and call you every name in the book. 20% of the job is wilderness 80% is dealing with kids who love you one minute and hate you the next. This job is not for everyone. But the reward of getting through to these kids and watching them grow is what makes it all worth it.


You’re not spending any money for 2 weeks


No phones, defiant kids, limited vegetables
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Challenging and rewarding work experience

I loved the work I did with Trails Carolina. The kids are generally enjoyable to work. What made this job difficult for me and ultimately resulted in me leaving was being away from my life for two weeks at a time and exposure to the elements (cold weather and rain) for two weeks at a time.
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Love hate

Children can do no wrong, and staff is almost always in the wrong. The pay is minimal wage. But the two weeks on two weeks off is awesome. The kids are awesome to work with most of the time depending on the group.
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Lots expected from you for very little pay

I would not recommend working here. Your expected to do so much for very little in return. Very little free time to yourself. You are always having to watch the kids.
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A rewarding and therapeutic environment, Very busy but that is oar fir the course in a mental health job. Beautiful locations and the kids where awesome =.
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Overall rating

Based on 23 reviews

Ratings by category

3.1 out of 5 stars for Work/Life Balance
2.9 out of 5 stars for Compensation/Benefits
3.6 out of 5 stars for Job Security/Advancement
3.6 out of 5 stars for Management
4.0 out of 5 stars for Culture

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