Camp Thunderbird

Adventure Seekers Wanted! Join Our Premiere Wilderness Program. Are you passionate about the backcountry? Do you thrive on adventure and love sharing your knowledge with others?

Join us as a Trip Leader and embark on a personal and professional journey. Lead teens on unforgettable wilderness adventures, teaching them valuable outdoor skills and creating memories for a lifetime. Log more than 20+ days in the backcountry on the Superior Hiking Trail and in the Porcupine Mountains. Paddle across the tranquil lakes of the Boundary Waters and Quetico Provincial Park.

You will receive training and support to enhance your leadership abilities and outdoor expertise. Don’t have a WFR, no problem, we offer and pay for a course that begins on May 28th. Or, we pay a stipend for those who have a WFR. Join us and make a difference in the lives of young adventurers while immersing yourself in the beauty of the Northern US wilderness. Apply now and let the journey begin!

About Camp Thunderbird

We Are Hiring: Trip Leaders and Expedition Trip Leaders

Staff Dates: June 6 - August 9, 2024 Apply Now!

Where will this path take you? 

Imagine yourself in the midst of campers who are laughing so hard, tears are streaming on some of their faces. They look to you for advice, friendship and so much more. Who influenced you in your younger and teen years? This is your opportunity to grow your skills and make an impact. Join us! We are focused on the growth of our staff and campers and after 75 of years of operation, we have quite a network of successful alumni looking for young talent.

What Makes Us Unique? 

We are multi-specialty, residential brother/sister camps in Minnesota with distinctive Expedition Programs in Pacific Northwest, Western States and Canada. Daily offerings of more than 20+ activities results in Tbird hiring about 100 staff at each camp for 160 campers. Staff come from 25+ states and 12 countries across the world. 

  • Boys and Girls Camps are two miles apart with social opportunities available for staff.
  • These are some of the best people you will ever meet
  • Staff instruct in one or more activity and help our campers acquire a level of skill that enables them to independently participate.
  • Being a part of the "ah ha" moment  is one of the most reaffirming experiences you will have at Thunderbird. These moments combined with laughter, bonding with peers/campers and actively creating and growing a community based on friendship, acceptance, support and so much more makes Thunderbird an unforgettable opportunity.
  • Campers can't wait to call you friend and mentor, Thunderbird is a second home to our campers and staff. Want to learn more or ready to apply

Campers join us for either 4 or 8 weeks at a time and typically start at age eight and stay with us to be staff members. Whether you are with us for one season, or ten, the friends that you make at Thunderbird are the ones you can call on a moments notice and pick up right where you left off! 

Thunderbird is a residential summer camp with an Expedition Program for our teen campers. 

As campers grow, they often seek new challenges. These challenges come in many forms: new activities, higher skill levels, or a completely new set of opportunities like our Expedition Programs. ​​​​​​

Distinctive Wilderness Programs

Young campers (8-11 years of age) who have an interest in wilderness travel are able to explore this throughout their camp years. These trips typically range in length from one to four days and include biking, climbing, fishing, kayaking, sailing and canoe. 

At 13, campers interested in participating in our T-Bird Expedition program, launch into our more advanced wilderness programming which involves furthering their wilderness skills and partaking in 3, 5 and up to 9 day backpack and canoe trips to areas such as the BWCA, Quetico Provincial Park in Canada, Porcupine Mountains in Michigan and Superior Hiking Trail in Minnesota. Campers participating in these experiences have the best of both worlds, activities and wilderness trips. 

Tbird Expeditions

Our adventure programming is truly unique. Only Thunderbird offers campers the opportunity to transition into a Teen Adventure Program experience so they never leave their camp friends or community. Campers completing 9th-11th grade opt into these trips and travel on multi-week adventures that start and finish at Thunderbird. You can’t beat the excitement of experiencing new challenges in some of the United States and Canada’s most renowned places with their friends and counselors from T-bird! 

Where we Travel to

Pacific Northwest, Wyoming, Idaho, New England and Canadian territories such as Banff, Jasper, Quebec. Canoers enjoy a 3-week Canada Canoe Bloodvein River or a two week+ Boundary Water Canoe. Visit our adventure page website to learn more. 

Facilities, Our Lake and More

  • Thunderbird sits on a quiet and large lake that is eleven miles around. We own about 1+ miles of sandy and natural shoreline. Both camps utilize the entire lake and on a typical day, you will see a dozen boats and half of them are ours.
  • Our sites are up to date with central washhouses at boys camp and a bathroom in cabins with central shower houses at girls camp. 
  • We are fifteen minutes from the town of Bemidji and three hours from the Canadian border. 
  • Bemidji is located between three American Indian reservations – Leech Lake, Red Lake and White Earth, staff at camp have the opportunity to experience a dynamic local culture and history. We acknowledge that camp is located on land and water that is the current and ancestral homeland of the Ojibwe and Dakota.
  • Our winter work includes assembling a staff committee to make sure that staff needs and mental health are a top priority. 

The Employee Experience

If you're ready to make connections with other college age+ staff and have the summer of your life, then Thunderbird is the community for you. Who knows, maybe you will become one of those people who find work for nine months so they can return to Thunderbird for three!

Ideal Candidate

Think you have what it takes to be a Camp Counselor or Trip Leader at Thunderbird? Our staff members are high-energy, fun, nurturing and compassionate. They care about kids and love to have fun and be silly. A camp job is hard work, but our staff are ready to work hard to meet those challenges. They're also great role models; counselors are often like superheroes in their campers' eyes. Most of all, our staff are focused on ensuring that their campers have an amazing, safe and memorable camp experience.

Room and Board

All staff live in comfortable, spacious cabins. Cabin Counselors and Trip Leaders live in cabins with 6-10 campers, but enjoy a separate living space.  All of our cabins have electricity. At Boys Camp, each village has a central washhouse. At Girls Camp, in addition to the village shower house, each cabin has its own bathroom. Staff without cabin responsibilities live in communal buildings in either individual or shared rooms, bathrooms and showers. Older staff, cooks, office staff live either in housing with other staff or on their own with electricity and bathrooms. Internet is available in designated areas and phone reception for most carriers is solid. 

Employee Perks

We believe that our staff work hard and therefore should have the time to relax. All staff receive each week: one 7 am-7 am day off, one 5 pm-7 am evening off and one 10 pm-12 am evening out.  In addition, there are opportunities to participate in many of the activities that we offer to campers. And, if you are coming to summer camp to make meaningful connections with your peers AND our campers AND fully experience a camp community, we offer all of that as well! You are our frontline workers and your happiness is critical to our community. Join us!

Getting Here and Getting Around

We offer a shuttle to and from the Minneapolis airport on designated travel days. Or, you are welcome to drive to Bemidji, it is four hours north of Minneapolis.  

Once at camp, we offer shuttles on days and nights off to those staff who need a ride.

For Fun

At Thunderbird, we believe that staff work hard and need to play hard to stay fresh and engaged. We offer other times of the day when staff can take a break and check in with friends and family, go for a run or sit and read a book. In addition, we offer cross-fit classes, yoga, dodge-ball games, game nights, water fights and other super fun ways to hang out with your peers.

How to Apply

A bit more about our dates:

May 30-June 6: Pre-season work available. We also offer Lifeguard, Wilderness First Aid and Wilderness First Responder during this time.

June 6-August 9: Camp Season for all

August 10-August 16: Post-season work available. Join us for a week of family camp.  Thunderbird runs like a resort and you work a short day and have a chance to participate in camp activities.

Contact Camp Thunderbird