Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) impacts people all over the Northeast, but nowhere is this more directly evident than through its North Country (NC) facilities and programs. The heart of the NC operations team during the busy summer season are our incredible seasonal staff. These fine young people are mostly college students on break from their studies, many of them in the midst of pursuing a career in environmental protection or outdoor education. To the thousands of visitors that flow through Heart Lake and Johns Brook Lodge, these individuals truly are the face of ADK. To insure we have the best and brightest representing us, ADK invests heavily in proper training for our staff, so they are well prepared to serve our guests from around the world. The following is just a sample of the great training our seasonal team receives.

All ADK seasonal staff gather for a one day comprehensive training that covers the gamut of policies and procedures for North Country operations, including presentations from ADK’s Conservation and Advocacy department as well as from Membership and Development staff. All staff get an overall perspective of ADK and its mission, along with a bit of the cultural history of the organization, and a tour of the Heart Lake property. In addition, representatives from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and the Wildlife Conservation Society give talks about black bears, backcountry preparedness, and outdoor recreational opportunities in the Adirondacks.

ADK Field Programs’ Professional Trail Crew (16), Supervised Volunteer Trail Leaders (2), and High Peaks Summit Stewards (5) all received Wilderness First Aid training. The Professional Trail Crew then gets down and dirty with five days of learning trail building techniques followed by two days conducting annual trail patrols in the High Peaks to hone in those skills. Summit Stewards receive intensive instruction over two weeks that touches upon alpine botany, trail work, radio protocols, and public interaction. After informative hikes to Algonquin, Cascade, Whiteface, and Marcy, Summit Stewards practice their trade for two weekends of team stewarding with an experienced mentor. During the course of the upcoming season, ADK Summit Stewards will record about 25,000 hiker contacts while protecting the New York’s Alpine ecosystem.

ADK’s Education Summer Naturalist Interns (5) and Wilderness Trip Leader (1) joined the Field Programs team for a two day Leave No Trace Trainer workshop and also underwent the National Association of Interpretation (NAI) Certified Interpretive Guide training. This course is geared towards staff members who make formal presentations to the public. The Summer Naturalists certainly qualify as they will personally interact with close to 15,000 guests this season. Additional training for the Summer Naturalists included alpine ecology, birding with naturalist Ed Kanze, geology, school outreach programming, visits to the Wild Center and Adirondack Museum, hikes to learn the trail systems, and local flora and fauna identification. Armed with this knowledge, ADK Naturalists are ready to share the wonders of the Adirondacks with the thousands of visitors to our North Country facilities.

The ADK North Country operations team consists of the front line staff at Adirondak Loj, Johns Brook Lodge, and the High Peaks Information Center (HPIC). These staff members all received the NAI Certified Interpretive Host training. This version of the two day course is focused on people who regularly interact with visitors but do not necessarily make formal presentations. The hands-on interactive training covers a wide variety of customer service and interpretive techniques and provides plenty of opportunities for the participants to practice and model their newly acquired skills. Of particular note is specific training on the development of related support statements, which aids in connecting their daily public interactions with the ADK’s mission and membership message. A total of 24 front line ADK staff received this training, which will make each of them better customer service professionals and raise the overall level of Heart Lake and JBL guest satisfaction.

While all this may seem like a bit of overkill for employees who will only be in our service for a few months, the importance of ADK’s mission and the responsibility we all share to impart its principles of conservation and responsible recreation to the thousands of visitors to the High Peaks demands that we provide ADK staff with the knowledge and tools necessary to excel at their jobs. We get hundreds of applications from all over the country and beyond for these seasonal positions, and the quality and rich experience of the successful candidates is always impressive. By investing in training our seasonal staff, ADK is investing in its own future. In fact, over a dozen current ADK full-time staff, including several of our management team, began their careers as ADK seasonal employees. So when you see an ADK seasonal staff member this summer, please say hello and thank them for their work. You may well be speaking with a future ADK leader and I can assure you, the Adirondacks are in good hands.