Working at YMCA of the Rockies

The YMCA of the Rockies is SUCH a fun place to stay as a guest, which I found out during my brief stay while on a trip with my family. So naturally I thought working there would be amazing.

It’s not your average YMCA, it’s a full blown adventure resort.

I waited several years until I was old enough to work there and then I finally applied for a position in the Craft and Design Center. The YMCA offers a wide variety of jobs from outdoor adventure guides to housekeeping. However, I decided to work at the craft and design center for several reasons:

  1. I’d been a kid’s program leader at Deer Valley Ranch the previous summer which was incredible (Click here for a full review of that experience), but it was also very tiring and I wanted something a little more laid back.
  2. I love being outside, but I didn’t have the necessary qualifications to be an adventure guide. Although, now looking back, it might have been worth it to get them.
  3. I love art so I thought the design center would allow me to have a creative outlet.

I’ll get into the details of that specific job a little later, but first I want to give you an overview of working at the YMCA as a whole.


  • THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SCENERY! The YMCA of the Rockies is situated right outside of Rocky Mountain National Park in a small town called Estes Park, CO. And the mountains surround the YMCA, it’s truly breathtaking. (Added bonus: so much amazing wildlife! Deer, elk, bears… oh my!)
  • Central Location. Estes Park is about an hour away from all of the best towns in Colorado: Denver, Boulder, and Ft. Collins. It’s also only an hour or so south of the Wyoming border if you’re looking to check that state off your bucket list.
  • Amazing hiking trails. You could hike non-stop for years and never walk the same trail. (Do not try this at home!)
  • Discounts on YMCA activities. This is a double edge sword because it’s cheap, but it adds up!
  • Free food and lodging. This is self explanatory. They pay you to live there, not the other way around.



  • Minimal pay. After a summer in Estes Park, I pretty much broke even. I spent too much money on activities, but how could I not?
  • Gross food. Remember that free food I was telling you about? Well, you get what you pay for. Sometimes it was edible, sometimes not so much. I ate out a lot, which also ate up (no pun intended) a lot of my budget.
  • Living among the tourists. As soon as the weather warms up, Estes Park becomes the tourist trap of nightmares. Ok, that’s a little dramatic, but going to the grocery is a fiasco.


If I had to do it all again, the only thing I’d change is my job. Working in the Craft & Design Center had its fun moments but it was more of a retail job than I was expecting. I did more restocking of shelves and cleaning up than I did crafting. And when I was teaching crafts, it was pretty monotonous. The main thing I didn’t like was being inside all day long knowing that there were so many other fun things I could’ve been doing. (I have hard core FOMO – fear of missing out.) However, I had a lot of friends who loved working at the craft and design center. I think it just wasn’t the right fit for me. I also happen to have a deep hatred for tie dye, which was part of the uniform.

Bonus Tips:

  • If you can, bring your car. Trust me, you’re going to want to travel around, so either bring your own or make friends with someone who has a car.
  • Purchase a National Park annual pass. With being so close to Rocky Mountain National Park, this is a must.
  • Get a Safeway Shoppers card. It sounds silly, but Safeway is the only grocery store in Estes Park, so you’ll need this.
  • If you like music at all, make the short trip to Red Rocks Amphitheater for a concert. It’ll change your life.


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