"During my year in YLC, I have dug deep to develop my own rhythm and style as a wilderness leader."
- Dylan E.
Youth Leadership Corp Testimonial
"For once in my life, I wasn’t judged by what I couldn’t control - my clothes, my knowledge, etc,- but by my character."
- Emma G.
Join our YLC cohort!
The Youth Leadership Corps, or YLC, is a merit-based scholarship program that focuses on leadership, a commitment to service and character development. You'll plan and execute monthly service projects with your crew, living the Outward Bound value of service. There is a strong focus on bonding with your cohort and strengthening your leadership skills, which will happen as you implement feedback, plan service projects and participate on a 14-day High Sierra expedition!
This program is completely free! You'll need transportation to different places in the Bay Area, most of which will be in San Francisco, and some gear, though we can lend most everything!
The application for YLC is open to local Bay Area students who will be sophomores, juniors or seniors in the following school year. We have a full roster and applications are closed for the 2023 cohort. Please check back next year!
Bay Area high school students (rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors) who want to develop their leadership skills and serve their community.
A one-year leadership and service-focused program that starts with a 14-day expedition including rock climbing, backpacking, camping, navigation and a solo experience (see FAQ about the solo). The program continues with monthly service projects led by the Youth Leadership Corps students.
A note about COVID-19: Due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, all applicants should be aware that dates, health & safety precautions, scheduling and program length are all subject to change. You can review OBCA's pre-course and on-course protocols on our COVID-19 Practices website.
The expedition will take place in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains. The school year service projects and meetings will take place in the Bay Area.
Expedition: July 29 - August 11, 2023 Orientation: September 2023 Service Projects and Meetings: The service projects will take place on one Sunday of each month following your expedition, from October through April. Dates to be determined based on availability. Graduation: May 2024
If you are interested in learning more about opportunities to fund access to these experiences, please contact Matt Patchell, Development Officer, at (415) 316-0571 or you can make a gift here and designate it "scholarship fund."
Youth Leadership Corps FAQs
What is the solo part of the expedition?
The solo is near the end of the trip and is a time when students are separated from one another and the Instructors in order to have solitude from the group. Instructors are never more than a brief walk away from student solo sites and they will check in on students to provide water refills, administer any medication needed, clean up any cuts and scrapes that might have come from the rigors of navigating the backcountry and ultimately check on the general well-being of students.
The purpose of the solo is to reflect on course and any learnings that came up, and also to have a break from the rigors of course.
What is the application process for Youth Leadership Corps (YLC)?
All potential students will need to submit a completed application, this includes:
A Letter of Intent
A Letter of Recommendation from a teacher or mentor (ex. College Advisor, Manager at work, Teacher, Youth Group Mentor).
If selected for an interview, we will contact you to schedule a time. We will reach out to give you a final answer by the end of April. If selected, you'll then begin the medical screening process with our Student Services team.
Do you need previous backpacking experience to be accepted into the YLC program?
No, no previous experience needed. You need to be excited to step outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself!
What are the merits of an applicant?
Past applicants have shown creative project ideas, dedication to building community, excellent organizational skills, timely communication, and a willingness to push themselves.
What are the criteria for completing the program?
The requirements are as follows:
Attend orientation first in September
Complete 10-day wilderness portion in the High Sierras
Help plan and implement a service project for the group to participate in.
Have no more than 1 excused absence from a project (make- up service hours available)
What skills can I gain from YLC?
The YLC instructors and mentors work with students to help them develop their understanding of what makes an effective leader by teaching SMART goal setting, collaboration, commitment to service, and problem-solving. We do this by providing opportunities to experience real-life situations that force us to rely on each other and practice assessment of a given situation.
How is a typical service project planned?
Service day projects are planned and designed by students in small groups (2-3 students). This group will pick a project to support. Every project will consist of a Tone Set, Service Project, and a Reflection. Outward Bound California offers rides from our SF location or from an east bay BART location as needed.
What does a typical service day look like?
Every service day will consist of the theme for the day, an organization location to work with, an intention for the group to focus on and finally a discussion topic at the end of the service day.
Will food be provided on service days?
Yes, Outward Bound California provides lunch on programs that occur during lunch time. If a project is in the afternoon, snacks will be provided and students will be asked to come having already eaten lunch.
How many days of Service do we do?
We meet once a month from September- May. Each month we complete a service project EXCEPT for the following months:
September- Instead we will focus on Professional Development and Planning Meeting
January- Instead we will have 1 overnight camping trip in the Bay Area
May - Instead we will hold Graduation from the program.
Can a service day be anywhere in the Bay Area?
YES! Students work together to reach out to organizations around the Bay Area. We try to stick to areas easily accessible by public transit, but Outward Bound California can support with transportation if needed (ie Coastal locations, State Parks, etc)
How will I get to service projects?
Outward Bound California will be able to offer rides from our SF base in the Presidio. Most projects are close to major public transit lines for better access for students around the Bay Area. If you have concerns about access to transportation, let us know and we can work with you to make sure your transportation needs are considered.
What happens if you miss a project?
Makeup service hours will be required to meet the attendance policy.
However, we understand that life happens. If you need to miss a project for an extraneous circumstance, you’ll be responsible for notifying the YLC Coordinator prior to the project.
To encourage students to plan accordingly we send out the schedule of project dates during orientation in May.
What future opportunities will I have after this program?
Outward Bound California has a number of events throughout the year that you may be invited to come and talk about the program with donors and friends of our community. Every student receives a letter of recommendation from Outward Bound California which students have used in college and job applications. You’ll be a part of a larger alumni network to share ideas with and seek mentorship from each other.
Sign Up for Updates
Stay informed on upcoming courses, Outward Bound California news and special offers. Please fill out the form below to receive our email newsletter.