General Staff Information/ Full-time and Summer
Bearskin Lodge employs about 8 year round staff members plus additional seasonal staff members in the summer. Staff members work about 30 to 40 hours per week. Long-term employment at Bearskin is possible for the right person. All our staff members are required to be flexible and have cross training in other areas than their main job. Absolutely everyone learns how to clean cabins in addition to their primary jobs. We all help out when and where it’s needed.
We choose our Bearskin staff very carefully. We are looking for happy, optimistic, and enthusiastic people who are passionate about the wilderness and who will work hard while living in this unique environment. Previous experience in canoe country is much appreciated, but we can teach you how to enjoy our world if you are the right kind of person for this environment. A good work ethic, a healthy attitude about the ups and downs of life, well-developed problem-solving skills, and an appreciation for the woods are the most important traits for happiness in this job.
Staff housing offers full kitchen and bathroom facilities. You live by yourself, not in shared housing or a dorm. (But friends are always nearby!) You pay for your staff housing, but it is very reasonable rent. Equipment is available free for staff to use and includes canoes, fishing boats (you pay for the gas), staff dock, cross country skis, snowshoes, sauna, etc. High speed wireless internet is available for a small monthly charge. You may arrange to pay for a phone in your housing if you choose. Cell phones do not work here; wi-fi phone service may be an option.
As a Bearskin employee, you will have many opportunities to fully enjoy his area. If you have a car, Grand Marais is a fun town with many great events over the summer. The 4th of July fireworks over Lake Superior, the art festivals, Fishermen’s picnic, all the great dining places and cute little shops — at Bearskin you are only 26 miles away from all the fun the “coolest small town in America” offers. You are also a quick drive to the far end of the trail — take a day to try the zip line, go horseback riding, or visit Chik-Wauk Museum on your days off.
You will be living on a BWCA entry point, so on your days off you can go canoeing, kayaking, hiking, fishing and exploring. If you’re a photographer, you are sure to come away with many fabulous pictures. We promise you will often see moose, loons, bears, otters, foxes, and lots of other interesting northwoods creatures. Take advantage of living in this amazing environment and explore.
This is the hospitality industry, which means we are open on days when other people have a holiday. You will probably work weekends. There is a chance you might have to work on a day you consider a holiday, although we try to take care of many of those ourselves. Sometimes your 2 days off will jump around from week to week, which might mean you have more than 5 days in a row between your days off. Occasionally, if you are closing, you will work until 8 PM and then be scheduled to come in the following morning at 7:30 AM. Sometimes circumstances will suddenly change and we have to alter your schedule. We strive to be fair about our staffing and compared to many other area businesses, we are pretty good. We usually post schedules with a decent lead time. But this is the hospitality industry and, as is almost always the case, your hours won’t be as regular as an office job would be. This is always the nature of this type of business so if somewhat erratic scheduling makes you crazy, a resort may not be your ideal employer.
What is our staff like? What is it like to live here?
Bearskin employees tend to be healthy people who love the opportunity to live so close to the outdoors. We have a non-smoking environment; housing is non-smoking. It is easier to live and work here if you don’t smoke.
Most of our permanent staff members are under 30 years old, but they have been with Bearskin for a long time. If you would not be comfortable taking direction from a fairly young supervisor, this may not be your perfect job.
You will be living and working with a group of interesting individuals. Every year we have many cross country and track runners on our staff — trail running from Bearskin is good for 3 seasons a year. We often have staff members who are vegetarian or who eat carefully; we try to support our staff’s special dietary needs in whatever way we can. Over the summer, we encourage the option of planting a small garden on site.
Most of our jobs involve frequent interaction with our guests. You become the face of Bearskin, so you need to be a good representative of our business. We expect our employees to be clean and clothed appropriately for working with the public.
We do not hire J1 foreign students at Bearskin. We find that we always get a wonderful crew of American students each summer. Since we do need our staff members to be legal drivers, J1 students are not a good fit here.
Bearskin isn’t much of a “party resort” for employees. Our staff members are more likely to be found out in the woods in their off time than out in the bars. If your favorite activity is shopping, you may not be happy living on the Gunflint Trail. Bearskin is 26 miles from the nearest town, and shopping in Grand Marais is very basic unless you are shopping for gifts or art. A car is helpful as an escape and as a way to get groceries and supplies. We consider a car essential for winter employees, and will no longer hire winter workers without transportation.
We live in close quarters. If you work at Bearskin and choose to live here, you will spend time with many of the same people both at work and after hours. This employment situation is best suited for people with a history of getting along well with others, people who are happiest with minimal drama in their lives. We have no tolerance for employees or friends and relations of employees who cannot treat all co-workers with respect and kindness, both at work and after hours.
This is a healthy environment. Live as you wish if your housing is elsewhere, but if you live on our site you need to choose a non-smoking, drug-free, minimal alcohol use lifestyle. Substance abuse of any type will be grounds for removal from our housing.
We no longer have TV in staff housing at Bearskin. Staff members do stream a lot of TV shows and movies though. If you would miss TV, but think Bearskin would be a great choice for you then consider watching full seasons of your favorite shows on DVD or streaming.
Your staff housing is 100% contingent on your employment at Bearskin. You will be living at your workplace. This is not exactly like living in an apartment building; if you lose your job, you also immediately lose your housing. There are expectations for Bearskin appropriate behavior in your “off” hours, as well as for when you are at work. You need to be a good representative of Bearskin Lodge while you work and live here.
If this description of Bearskin life sounds like you would fit in, fill out the application!
Summer Employment Opportunities at Bearskin for 2017:
We will start considering applications for 2016 after January 1. A good introduction to what it’s like to spend a summer at Bearskin Lodge can be found in Cara Finnegan’s blog about her memories of working at Bearskin: http://caraf.blogs.com/caraf/2008/06/all-i-know-about-cleaning-i-learned-at-bearskin-lodge.html
Also, see our blogs about the quality of our employees at http://bearskin.wordpress.com/2008/06/07/summer-fun-working-at-bearskin-lodge-or-making-love-to-toilets/ and http://bearskin.wordpress.com/2008/08/17/summer-goodbyes-so-soon/
We don’t ever hire high school students and only rarely do we hire college freshmen. This is a better environment for employees who are experienced at being away from home and who are already accustomed to making life choices for themselves.
A few things you should know before you consider applying for summer 2017 employment at Bearskin Lodge:
It is a common practice for resorts and outfitters to hire more employees than they need for summer, then fire the ones they don’t want after a few weeks. Bearskin Lodge does not do this. We hire the number of people we truly need for the whole summer. The trade-off for not hiring & firing extra people is that if you do get the job, you are genuinely expected to be here. If you are hired, you are needed for all your agreed-upon work time.
- Bearskin is one of the larger resorts on the Gunflint Trail, but we are still a small, family-owned resort. We are very dependent on the reliability of a minimal number of employees. If you leave earlier than you promised, it is no small thing — we employ exactly the right number of people to make it through the season. We will ask you to sign a contract specifying your end date, and your final check will be dependent upon reaching your contractual date.
- We will give first priority to summer employees who can start by mid-May and especially to those who can work through Labor Day, or close to that date. If you are returning to college, check your fall start date before you apply, please!
- You should also know that whatever job you take at Bearskin, you will probably be called upon to assist in some way with housekeeping. If you would not be willing to cheerfully help with this task, please don’t apply. Providing beautifully clean wilderness cabins is what we do here. We all help clean, even our owners.
- Everyone works on Saturdays and Sundays during the summer, “turn-over” days. You will have 2 days off each week, but those days will usually not be on the weekend.
- We pay you by the hour for all the hours you work. You will usually get 30 -40 hours a week, or more; we don’t guarantee 40 hours, but we’ll usually come fairly close. We adhere to fair employment practices, so we will pay you overtime if you work over 40 hours a week. (You will find if you are looking at resort or outfitting jobs that these employment practices are not always typical in this industry. We’re pretty fair here.)
- Your daily hours will fall somewhere between 7:30 AM – 8:00 PM. If you are a seasonal or new person, you might be scheduled to work the last half of the day a few days each week. Many people like this because they can sleep later; go running, hiking, paddling, or fishing; take care of shopping, meals, or projects; or do something fun for themselves before lunch. Occasionally we ask an employee to work a “split-shift,” coming in to work a few hours in the morning, then being off for the middle of the day, and returning in the evening. We try not to do this much, unless we have a staff member who enjoys having the mid-day off to enjoy the outdoors.
- Expect to be quiet if you live here. Our guests pay to be here to enjoy the solitude of the BWCA. They want to hear loon songs, not your music or noises. Earphones: they’re a beautiful thing.
- Our housing is simple, fairly nice, and non-smoking. All housing has full kitchen facilities. You take care of your own meals. Our staff lives in houses or individual apartments; we do not have a dorm or bunkhouse. We do have some fairly non-intrusive rules while you live in our housing. Your continuing employment is dependent on your following the rules during both your “on” and “off” hours.
- You should know that the Gunflint Trail is a small community of people who tell everyone everything. If you do it, we will hear about it — probably within a few hours. Amazingly fast. Only choose to apply here if you think your typical behavior wherever you go will reflect well on Bearskin Lodge.
- No drama, please. You will be living in close proximity to others. Our ideal employee will be a good neighbor to co-workers and tolerant of individual differences. Bearskin employees almost function as a family. This is a good job for people who care about others and who always get along well in a group situation.
- We prefer employees who are 20+ years old, or who have been living away from home for more than one year. We are located a long distance from everything, so you need to be competent at caring for your meals, health, and daily needs.
- Employees with cars are happier employees. Sometimes it’s really nice to get away from the rest of us. Scooters and motorcycles as a primary mode of transportation do not work out well on our gravel roads. A car is almost a necessity. Other employees can help you get to town for groceries or town visits if you don’t have a vehicle, but it is very difficult to always be dependent on others for your food and your fun.
- You will probably be less connected to the internet than you are now. We do not have cell phone service in this area. Bearskin staff members often discover that life can be quite sweet without being on the phone all day. Explore your world — it’s beautiful out there! You may not be on your phone at work, of course.
- You need to be able to drive a car. All jobs at Bearskin require at least occasional driving around our site, as our cabins are quite spread out. We only hire employees who have a valid driver’s license and if you are licensed, we require a clean driving record in order to use any Bearskin vehicles.
- What you need if you work here: You need a watch, to tell time on the job; rain gear in the spring, summer, and fall, or very warm clothes and boots in the winter; sturdy work boots and gloves if you will be an outside employee; closed toe shoes or sturdy sandals for work, not flip flops; clean clothing suitable to wear when interacting with the public; no T-shirts with questionable sayings or pictures (you can buy Bearskin T-shirts at discounted rates–shop for your work shirts here); sturdy workwear pants or jeans that you can clip your staff radio onto, rather than leggings. In short, the same things you need in any outdoor-based, public-focused job.
- About your dog. The answer is no. (Note: if you are applying for long-term, full-time positions, perhaps we can discuss a dog but we haven’t had very good luck saying yes to this.) Seasonal, short-term help: just no.
Applying for Summer 2017: If you think you fit these criteria, please fill out the application linked to this page and fax or mail it to us. A cover letter or e-mail describing your interest in the job and your background helps us get to know you, as does a photo (optional, of course.) The more information your provide for us, the better! Your job references will be checked, so please provide accurate contact information.
Note to potential employees: Bearskin became a non-smoking resort a few years ago. Our staff housing has always been non-smoking. We do not allow employees to smoke at work. We try very hard to create a healthy environment for our staff members. This is a very minimal alcohol use environment, and we do not tolerate any drug use. Please only apply if you feel you can fit this model. This has to really be who you are, because there are no secrets when you live in such close quarters.