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Last Child on the Couch

How 10 grassroots innovators are helping kids get active outdoors

Find Them a Trail Job Next Summer
When lining up teen jobs, think beyond house-painting and lifeguarding. Those will get youth outside, but not like a trail crew or park internship will. The National Park Service hires 10,000 seasonal employees from wranglers to fire tower observers. Check specific park websites ( for the latest and best opportunities. Or try the Student Conservation Association (, which deploys teenage crews to 250 NPS properties every year. Sporting distinctive yellow hardhats, SCA crews cut down trees, build lean-tos, prevent trail erosion–and enhance their resumes for outdoor-focused careers, says Kevin Hamilton, a vice president at SCA. Closer to home, teens can work as counselors-in-training at outdoor camps or challenge courses–and see another kind of green. In BACKPACKER’s Boulder hometown, the Open Space and Mountain Parks department hires high schoolers as junior rangers–at a starting wage of more than $7 an hour. 

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