City Kids holds adventure day and overnight trips on weekends for City Kids of all ages throughout the school year based in the DC area.

We rely on a small core of Program Volunteers that provide positive engagement with youth, assist lead staff with group management, and support youth in trying new things, learning new skills, and having fun.

We are also grateful to have a large and enthusiastic team of Friends of City Kids; this is a bigger group of volunteers that doesn’t attend programs, but does support in a myriad of other ways such as providing hot cocoa and snacks on a chilly morning, or performing a gear inventory.

If you are interested in volunteering in the DC area, please carefully review the Frequently Asked Questions below, in particular the “Interested Volunteers” section. If you are interested in becoming a Friend of City Kids please send us an email at, and a team member will get back to you.

Please note that we have a robust team of Program Volunteers at this time, and do not have immediate plans to welcome new Program Volunteers. If you have questions, would like to be informed when we do welcome new volunteers, or would simply like to discuss the volunteer program, please contact us at

If you are a new or current volunteer, please note the FAQ sections below that apply to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of volunteers do you have? Do I have to join trips, or can I help in the office?

City Kids has two primary kinds of volunteers: Friends of City Kids, and Program Volunteers. Friends of City Kids help in all kinds of ways – they bring food and hot chocolate to help youth fuel up before big trips, they support occasional gear inventory or cleanup days, and if they have a unique skill set, they may help with a specific project. Being a Friend of City Kids is a fantastic way to support the organization that doesn’t require extensive background checking and paperwork. If you want to join us on trips, you’ll want to be a Program Volunteer. Because we run a limited number of programs, the need for Program Volunteers is dependent on how many active volunteers we have. We only bring on new Program Volunteers when the pool of available and engaged volunteers drops too low.

Can City Kids alumni become Program Volunteers and join trips?

Yes! Alumni make some of the best volunteers given their experience and familiarity with the program. This is a wonderful way to give back to the City Kids community if you’d like to stay connected and engaged.

When do new volunteers start? When is your next orientation?

Friends of City Kids are always welcome, and we typically don’t run an orientation for this type of volunteer. Instead you can expect a conversation with at least one member of our team to orient you to what City Kids is all about, and how we might ask for support. Once you’re on the list, you will get any calls to action directed towards the Friends.

Program Volunteers will be invited only when the program team determines that they need additional support. We typically maintain about 25-30 active Program Volunteers, which is more than enough to sustain our program needs. When that number drops, we invite folks to join us for orientations.

What is the Advisory Board?

The City Kids Advisory Board is made up of some of the strongest ambassadors of the organization. They are often our most experienced volunteers, summer flight chaperones, and support with local fundraising events and campaigns. Advisory Board members do a lot to help spread the word about the City Kids program with their networks and potential partners or supporters in the outdoor industry. Contact if you are interested in joining the Advisory Board.

What is required to be a CK volunteer?

Friends of City Kids don’t attend programs with youth, and thus have very few requirements – we simply ask that you remain engaged, attend an event or two when possible, and consider offering your time, hands, and voice for a few hours each year.

Program Volunteers have more requirements and expectations. While we don’t expect Program Volunteers to have expert technical skill in the outdoors, some level of adventure experience and a high level of comfort and joy in the outdoors is important. That experience could include, for example, climbing, hiking, backpacking, biking, and so on, especially in the DC region. Because this is direct youth work it’s also expected that you have experience with and confidence in engaging with youth of color, sometimes in challenging situations. You must also be able to pass a criminal and SSN background check that includes being fingerprinted.

Can I pick what kinds of activities I do?

Generally, yes! Cleared Program Volunteers are asked about their interest and availability before each season of programming, and the team uses this information to schedule volunteers as needed. If you have more experience with a specific activity, we encourage you to sign up for those trips. If your profile doesn’t already describe that experience, we appreciate a reminder of your skills.

Can I pick what ages of youth I want to volunteer with?

Generally, yes! In fact, there are some real advantages to sticking with a certain age group for the year – they get to know you, and you get to know them. Building authentic lasting relationships takes time, so spending that time with the same set of youth can pay real dividends for you and them. Some of our Program Volunteers choose to follow a specific cohort of youth as they move through the program – this can also support strong relationships.

Do I need to have technical outdoor skills?

Yes and no. While we do sometimes prioritize Program Volunteers who have a specific technical skill and welcome your contributions in the field, we don’t require it. Some level of technical skill is helpful, simply because your attention should be on the youth and their experience rather than yours. We expect that Program Volunteers have some amount of technical skill or experience in at least one or two of the activities we run, but it wouldn’t be feasible to expect experience in all of them at once. Much more important than technical skill is your ability to interact with, enjoy time with, and develop healthy relationships with young people. Enthusiasm for the outdoors is helpful, but admitting when you’re a little out of your element (and enjoying the challenge of it!) sets a positive example for youth.

If you do have a specialized technical skill, please be sure to mention it in your volunteer profile – that way we can prioritize you when those opportunities arise.

I’m great at [Salesforce/marketing/underwater basketweaving/organizing/IT/dancing/applying to colleges/etc] can I contribute that skill?

It’s possible! As a nimble nonprofit, we know that occasionally a skilled person can support us in ways that our employees cannot. The most common way to contribute a skill like that is to share your knowledge and career experience with our JETs – high school students who sometimes attend programs relating to career or education pathways.

Please understand that managing one-off or specialized volunteer projects may not be possible for a number of reasons (capacity is the biggest reason), and that we are always grateful for an offer of skilled support even if we can’t take advantage of it in that moment. We often engage with professional volunteers through the platform Catchafire, and strongly encourage professionals to join that program to support nonprofits all around the country. You may also consider joining as a volunteer with Compass Pro Bono – an exceptional consulting firm that utilizes skilled volunteers to deliver amazing projects to nonprofits.

What’s the time commitment expected of volunteers?

We hope that Friends of City Kids (non-program volunteers) can support a food delivery, gear cleanup, or other event at least a couple of times per year. More is great, but mostly we just ask that you stay engaged!

Program Volunteers are asked to join 3-4 programs per year (usually between September and May) – these could be as short as an afternoon or as long as an overnight backpacking trip. This number will always vary a little because our programs vary, our needs vary, and the availability and skillset of our volunteers also varies. If you don’t think you can commit to 3-4 per year, we recommend you join Friends of City Kids instead.

Can I bring my friends to volunteer on a trip with me?

Youth programs can only accept fully cleared volunteers, so generally no friends are allowed. If you are joining a gear cleanup or other event, friends are often allowed and welcomed, provided you let us know in advance.

When do I sign up for trips?

Program signup will occur 6-8 weeks before a season begins, depending on the time of year and other circumstances. That means we’ll typically send the signup tool in August (for Fall trips) and December (for Spring trips) of each year.

When can I expect to know if I’m going on a trip?

We open our trip sign-up for DC twice a year, in late August for Fall programs and in late December for Spring programs. Those sign-up sheets are open for a period of about 10 days to two weeks, and we send reminders during the period to ask volunteers to sign up. Once sign-up is closed, our Program Managers will arrange their schedules and reach out within another two to four weeks (by the end of September for Fall or the end of January for Spring) to confirm trip participation.

Do I have to have a car to volunteer?

We ask volunteers to be able to get to our office at 2437 15th St NW on their own, and sometimes at very early or late hours; a car is usually not necessary, but it may be helpful for some programs. Youth never drive in personal vehicles – only City Kids vehicles or charter buses – but sometimes a volunteer will choose to drive themselves to a location. In those situations you won’t be covered by our insurance, however.

I’m going on an upcoming trip. Who should I ask about what to bring, where to go, etc?

We try to get you in contact with the Program Manager for your trip as quickly as possible, since they are your contact for all trip details including what to bring or wear, where to go, who to call, and what to expect. If for any reason you are having trouble communicating with your Program Manager, we’ll direct you to the Program Director to get things sorted out.

Who is my point of contact at City Kids?

You will have different contacts through different stages of your volunteer journey. During the paperwork and background check process you’ll work with the Operations team. Once cleared, your primary program team contact will be our Program Director. When you’ve been scheduled for a trip, your Program Manager will be your contact.

At any time you’re welcome to send a message to – this is a shared inbox, and a staff member will assign your question to the appropriate person on our team.

How frequently do I need to complete forms? Do my background checks expire?

The bulk of your paperwork is one-time-only, but you can anticipate small adjustments each year (for example, a new waiver or health form). Our partnership with the DC Office of Out of School Time (DC OST) requires a full fingerprinting and background check every other year, alternating with an affidavit. That means if you stick around for two years (we would love that!), you’ll complete your first round of fingerprints, an affidavit the following year, and a new set of fingerprints the next year.

Why do my fingerprints have to be taken?

City Kids takes the security and wellbeing of our staff and youth very seriously; one aspect of that due diligence is a background check. We perform our own criminal background check through Veritable, and also require a fingerprint-based check. That check is both required and provided by the DC Office of Out of School Time (DC OST), so it’s free to us and a requirement for our OST grant.

These specific checks are only required of Program Volunteers, so if you want another way of supporting City Kids that doesn’t require much paperwork, we recommend being a Friend of City Kids instead.

How long does it take for background checks to clear, and who has access to my information?

The only people with access to your paperwork and background check results are those who need to know – nothing is shared with Program Managers unless previously discussed. Medical information is screened first, and then discussed with Program Directors only if relevant to our risk management protocols.

The Veritable background check is usually very fast; once you enter your information it typically takes less than 3 days. If you lived in New York City, or other places with highly restrictive background check laws, it might take longer.

The DC OST fingerprinting check can sometimes take as little as 3-5 days after printing, but it could take 6-8 weeks in some cases. This is why we give ourselves as much time as possible to clear volunteers before programs begin.

Are there any optional forms?

Yes! They are marked as such when possible, but please take note of the nuance:

  • The Physician’s Exam form is only required if you wish to attend overnight programming (backpacking or camping trips, for example).
  • The Tuberculosis (TB) Test is only required if a licensed medical professional says that it is necessary on your Physician’s Exam form.
  • The certification documents are only a request – if you have a first aid/CPR or similar certification, we’d love to know about it.

Why do I need a physical? My doctor is booked for months.

The Physician’s Exam form is only required if you want to attend overnight programming. A few things make this much easier than it seems!

First, many physicians will fill out the form without you present, provided you’ve had a physical in the last year. Give your provider a call and see if they’ll do this for you.

Second, in some cases we can accept a generic physical form – something that is often easy to request from your doctor. Please talk to us before doing this though, since our form provides critical context for medical professionals to make specific judgements on how your personal needs interact with our programming.

And third, there are many providers who do walk-in sessions such as CVS Minute Clinic. Your health insurance may also allow for free telehealth sessions that cover the questions we need in the form.

If you’re having trouble, just let us know and we can work together.