ELEVATE Gap Program at Estes Park Center

Apply For Elevate


Fall Program: July 31 – December 8, 2023

Take a Gap Semester in the mountains! Opportunity for adventure and work experience next to Rocky Mountain National Park.

The Elevate Program at YMCA of the Rockies provides young adults (ages 18 - 22 years old) with a variety of experiences designed to enjoy the outdoors while gaining work and life skills. The three components of this program are outdoor adventure, employment in the hospitality industry (rotating through departments at YMCA of the Rockies) and meaningful community service. This is a great opportunity for those interested in expanding their outdoor education knowledge while living in a genuine mountain town and gaining a greater skillset and lifelong friends along the way. Elevate participants lead with heart and thrive in our diverse, equitable, inclusive, and supportive work environment.

Elevate Gap Program includes two week-long road trips to:

  • 6-day trip to Utah
  • 3-day backpack in Rocky Mountain National Park
  • 3-day winter adventure at Winter Park, Colorado

(The destination of the trips may be subject to change to comparable locations. *)

Outside of these trips, activities may include hiking and snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park, rock climbing, horseback riding, fly-fishing and exploring all that Colorado has to offer. All Elevate participants will have the opportunity to gain free certification in Wilderness First-Aid, Red Cross CPR, and opportunities to further their career based on individual goals. Start your adventure this fall at YMCA of the Rockies. Apply today!

Rocky Mountain Living Package:

All Gap Program Participants receive the option to opt-in to our exclusive Rocky Mountain Living Package! YMCA of the Rockies strives to offer an unforgettable staff experience for people who dream of working and living in the Rocky Mountains. We offer incredible perks that can’t be matched.
Proximity to Colorado Mountain Adventures
  • Both centers are close to Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Access to a variety of terrain for outdoor activities (trails, National Forest, alpine lakes).
  • Both centers offer walkability between housing, dining, work sites, and fun.
Lifelong Friendships
  • Our experienced year-round staff and hundreds of seasonal employees offer great networking opportunities and friendships.
Meeting People From All Around the World
  • We host staff from over 25 different countries and celebrate each other’s heritage through engaging cultural events.
Inclusive Environment to Grow Professionally and Personally
  • YMCA of the Rockies is a place where all are welcome and can be their best selves. We welcome and support all staff who are looking to grow and expand their horizons.
  • Professional growth opportunities are available through YMCA of the USA trainings.
Wildlife Viewing
  • Our proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park means we have a lot of wildlife in our backyard! This includes elk, moose, deer, and bear.
Serve the YMCA Mission
  • The work you do here matters! As a non-profit organization with a mission to build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all, staff have the opportunity to play a key-role in helping cultivate our impact.
Hassle-Free Living

YMCA of the Rockies seasonal employees live on-grounds for a base-fee per week. No credit check or rental agreement required. This includes:

  • Housing in dormitory style rooms
  • Utilities (electric, heat, water)
  • Internet
  • Laundry
  • Cleaning supplies and vacuums
  • Housing lobbies with refrigerators, microwaves, Keurig’s, large screen TV’s, and cable
  • 3 buffet style meals daily – option to eat-in dining room or take meals to-go.
  • Access to all YMCA of the Rockies facilities, free gear rentals, free or discounted tickets to local attractions, and the ability to sign-up for ski passes, indoor climbing, or golf.

Access to the Staff Experience Team who provide:

  • Individual support to you
  • Daily activity options
  • Excursions like hikes, concerts, sport games, cultural experiences, seasonal adventures, and more!

Meet some of our team members.

  • Customer Testimonails

    ELEVATE has given me more life and work experience, to try things out and see what I like. The people and mentors are the best part in helping me explore what I want to do.

    Claire, ELEVATE New Jersey
  • Customer Testimonails

    Being forced out of my comfort zone has helped me learn about myself and others. I have loved every minute of it.

    Will, ELEVATE Illinois
  • Customer Testimonails

    By the end of the first week, we all felt like family. I have been able to adapt and thrive in a new environment. It’s hard to find one word that encompasses it all.

    Gustavo, ELEVATE Florida

Ready to start the ELEVATE application process?

That’s great! Learn more about our application process today.

Where is the ELEVATE program located?
The Elevate program takes place at YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park Center (EPC), which sits at an elevation of 8,000 feet, is located on over 860 acres and surrounded by the natural splendor of Rocky Mountain National Park. With over 217 family cabins and 9 lodge buildings, the Estes Park Center is a premier family getaway and conference center. We are located in a deep valley surrounded by soaring mountains, including Long’s Peak. Downtown Estes Park is about 10 minutes away via car, and Boulder is an hour away. If you prefer a slightly shorter, milder winter and want to be on the border of Rocky Mountain National Park—home of endless wilderness, outstanding fly fishing, and some of the best hiking/rock-climbing in the world—but closer to a bigger town, this is the place for you.
What are the program dates & fees?
ELEVATE is offered in three independent semesters, in the winter and fall.
  • Winter Program Dates: January 30, 2023 - June 2, 2023
  • Fall Program Dates: July 31 – December 8, 2023

Participants that successfully complete our program will be eligible to stay on as YMCA employees for up to 4 additional months.

Acceptance fee of $250, which should be mailed or paid via credit card in advance. Scholarships available.

What can I expect to gain?
As a graduate of the Elevate program, you will emerge with greater self-confidence, self-awareness and a sense of purpose. Through a number of trainings in the outdoor industry, you will have a resume of certifications that include WFA, CPR, BEETLES, LNT, and more. You will also have documented skills in a variety of outdoor pursuits, and background in natural science, and a clear pathway to a career in the outdoor industry. You will learn time management skills and the responsibility that comes from having a job. Through an employment experience in a mission-based, not-for-profit organization you will gain an understanding as to how your work positively impacts our guests. Through both structured and free-time opportunities to enjoy the multitude of recreational activities available in our stunning location, a greater appreciation of the outdoors and the Rocky Mountains will be gained. Our goal is to better prepare you to face upcoming challenges such as starting/finishing college, applying for/engaging in employment opportunities and living independently. You’ll live and learn as part of an intentional community within our YMCA center, with a mentor and group of peers all there for the same purpose.
How do I apply for ELEVATE?
Click “Apply Now” below, or search our current opportunities for “Elevate” and complete the online application. Please include the contact information for 3 references (2 professional and 1 family reference). Upon acceptance into the program, we will request your $250 application fee. If you need assistance with your application, Please contact Susan Taylor at staylor@ymcarockies.org or call 970-586-3341 ext. 1108.
Do I get paid as a participant of ELEVATE?
Yes! As an Elevate participant, you receive our seasonal compensation package. You will be working in a seasonal, hourly position, paying $12.56/hour (based on 40 hours/week), with employee perks including:
  • RMLP (housing in dormitory style building with internet, heat, water, electric, and 3 meals/day, 7 days/week)
  • Access to the YMCA of the Rockies facilities, which include: an indoor pool, basketball gymnasium, fitness classes, hiking/biking/skiing trails, climbing wall, library, and Craft and Design Center
  • Free passes for skiing, rock climbing, mountain biking, and golf, as well as free gear rentals (dependent on season and resort – limited number available, first come first served basis)
  • Employee programming, including free or discounted staff trips, provided by the Residence Office
  • Discounted nights at YMCA of the Rockies lodges (with some date restrictions based on season/occupancy)
What else do I need to know?

Drug Policy In accordance with our healthy spirit/mind/body mission, we have a zero tolerance policy for drugs on property. If you want to use marijuana, don’t apply for the Elevate program.

Pet Policy Though we would love to welcome your pets, unfortunately we cannot allow animals of any kind, with the exception of certified service animals.

What will you be doing? You will work 4 days per week in hospitality at the YMCA in our housekeeping and food service departments. On your Elevate day, you will be paid for outdoor adventure activities and trainings to further your career.

How much free time do I have? You will work 40 hours/week, with at least 2 days off. During those days off, you can explore the Rocky Mountains or participate in other activities at the YMCA, including crafts, rock climbing, mini golf, roller skating, sports and recreation, games, and more.

What sort of supervision do Elevate staff have? Elevate staff are assigned to small cohorts led by an facilitator with extensive experience in the outdoors. These facilitators serve as mentors for participants, helping guide their interests and nurturing them.

Who do I contact if I have more questions?
Please contact Susan Taylor at staylor@ymcarockies.org or call 970-586-3341 ext. 1108.

Join Us

We invite you to join us in this amazing work—to develop your skills, to realize your leadership potential and to discover a career that is so much more than a job.