Volunteer with ETC


“ETC draws an incredible cadre of talented people into its ever-expanding circle. The friendships I’ve made have been important and lasting, both with the agencies ETC serves and within the ETC community of volunteers. These are people who truly care about others, care enough to get out of the way so our participants can experience personal transformative moments in their lives.”


– Dave Patten, ETC Volunteer


Volunteers are the heart and soul of ETC

ETC’s volunteers come from all walks of life, representing diverse cultures, ages, occupations, and abilities. Annually, our volunteers’ collectively give more than 26,000 service hours to make our outdoor adventure programs accessible to over 3,500 participants. ETC provides all our volunteers with expert training in wilderness skills, disability / diversity awareness, and environmental education. In return, every volunteer brings their own talent, dedication, and enthusiasm to share with our participants.

We invite you to join ETC’s volunteer community and grow your skills and your heart!

• Enjoy incredible adventures with ETC’s remarkable participants
• Participate in a community of nature enthusiasts and explorers
• Develop outdoor leadership skills
• Learn about the natural world— and become an advocate for environmental stewardship
• Change the lives of our participants, and your own

Interested in volunteering? Please download and fill out our Volunteer Guide Application. We will contact you when we begin recruitment and interviews for the program-specific Volunteer Guide Trainings that occur each year.

Volunteer for ETC's Sea Kayak Program

ETC’s Sea Kayak Volunteer Guide Training is conducted in April and May of each year, and consists of three evening sessions, a weekend of on-water training on Tomales Bay, a 4-day training on San Francisco Bay and Angel Island, and an Inclusion Training at ETC’s River Camp in May. For more information on becoming part of ETC’s Sea Kayak Program, check out our Volunteer Announcement.

2024 training dates are April 6-7, April 20-23, and May 18-19! Click the button below for information on 2024 guide training.

Send your completed application to:
kayak@etctrips.org by February 28!

Volunteer for ETC's River Program

ETC’s River Program Volunteer Guide Training is annually conducted in the month of May. It incorporates a 7-day guide school, a 2-day river rescue training, and a 2-day Inclusion Training in May. For more information on joining our River Program as a volunteer, take a look at our River Program Volunteer Announcement.

2024 training dates are April 13-20, May 18-19! Click the button below for information on 2024 guide training.

Send your completed application to:
riverprogram@etctrips.org by March 15, 2024!

Volunteer for ETC's Winter Program

ETC’s 3-day Volunteer Winter Guide Training normally occurs annually in the beginning of January, and is conducted from our winter cabin in Arnold, California, Bear Valley Nordic, and in Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Due to COVID-19, our Winter Program will not operate in winter 2023/24.



Application Instructions


We ask everyone to send in a completed volunteer application and participate in an interview.  This process ensures that there is a mutual fit for the program, and that you are fully aware of what it means to serve as an ETC volunteer. We welcome all applications, and look forward to reading yours and meeting you in person.


Submit: Please submit the application materials to the appropriate program manager:


Sea Kayak: kayak@etctrips.org

River: riverprogram@etctrips.org

Winter: winter@etctrips.org


Why I Volunteer

Meet an ETC Volunteer: Helen Head

Meet Helen Head, one of ETC’s amazing Sea Kayak volunteers! Passionate, dedicated and inspiring, Helen has logged  80+ trips, amounting to over 1000 volunteer hours. To top that off – since Helen is an analyst with Google – the tech giant donates an additional $25 to ETC for every hour she volunteers. We are thrilled and proud to count Helen among our ETC community! Read more about Helen here.

Volunteer FAQ

Do I need outdoor experience or an environmental education background to become a volunteer with ETC?
No. In each of our programs ETC provides extensive training for new volunteers, to bring them up to speed in sea kayaking, whitewater rafting, or cross-country skiing skills. These trainings focus on developing a basic outdoor skill set, safety protocols, and environmental education training so you can work within a team of guides to facilitate an ETC trip.

Are new volunteers required to have experience working with people with disabilities and/or under-resourced youth?
While previous experience working with people with disabilities or youth from under-resourced backgrounds is always a plus, it is not necessary. Each new trainee is asked to participate in a two-day Inclusion Training, which is an opportunity to learn about the diverse populations ETC serves and the special adaptations that are necessary to best serve the wide range of populations we work with.

What is the ETC volunteer age requirement?
We require our volunteer guides to be 18 years old and our Trip Leaders to be 21 years old. If you are younger than 18, please consider joining one of our Youth LEAD summer courses. There may also be other opportunities for youth under age 18 to volunteer as an Assistant Guide. ETC guides represent a wide age range with our youngest guide currently being 18 and our elder guide being 83. WOW!

I have previous experience in the program’s sport, or have been a guide before. Am I required to go through training?
Our new guide training is a great opportunity for individuals with a wide range of outdoor skills to learn about ETC trips and brush up on all the skills expected of volunteers. Additionally, new guide training is a great introduction to the ETC community, offering the opportunity to meet fellow guides and form strong community connections. That said, people with significant experience are encouraged to contact the Program Manager to discuss if it might be better for them to simply complete Inclusion Training and begin volunteering on trips.

What does the ETC Training cost cover?
At ETC, we work to ensure that the majority of our budget is devoted to our scholarship fund. While training expenses are partially subsidized by the organization, we have a fee for training that helps to cover some of the costs including overnight accommodations, food, equipment, training materials, and instruction. We do not want financial issues to prevent someone from volunteering with ETC, so we offer sliding-scale scholarships to people in need. If you are super enthusiastic about volunteering, but have a financial need, please contact the manager of the program for which you are applying.

Am I required to volunteer a certain amount of days each year?
Each program has its own volunteer commitment for the first two years as an ETC volunteer. Here is the required commitment:

Sea Kayak Program: 8 days during first season & 8 days during the second season.
Whitewater Rafting Program: 8 days during first season & 8 days during the second season.
Winter Program: 4 days during first season & 4 days during the second season.

Most volunteers enjoy their time on ETC trips and often exceed their volunteer commitment. We once had two guides volunteer together for 52 days in one year. Amazing!

Does ETC require volunteers be certified in First Aid and CPR?
Yes, all volunteers are required to have a minimum of Basic First Aid and CPR. ETC offers a number of subsidized classes for new and current volunteers to receive and maintain these certifications. Volunteers are also encouraged to take classes focusing specifically on wilderness medicine, and ETC offers a Wilderness First Aid class each year at a reduced cost for volunteers.

Am I required to have my own equipment?
ETC provides all the necessary outdoor equipment and gear for each program, though volunteers do typically need some basic personal gear (ex. sleeping bag, water shoes, etc). At the training orientation your Program Manager will provide an equipment list and discuss options for obtaining each item.

How does ETC support new volunteers to be successful?
Outdoor adventures and guiding comes with an important level of responsibility. That’s why our volunteers will always be working with a team of expert guides on each trip, along with a highly experienced Trip Leader who is responsible for overall decision-making.