Leadership Development Institute (LDI)

YMCA Camp Orkila Leadership Development Institute (LDI) 

Our Leadership Development Institute's (LDI) two week program is a great "next step" for teens who have been coming to traditional camp for years, and a wonderful introduction to camp for someone new to Orkila. LDI combines familiar traditional camp activities with a leadership focus with a five-day expedition - sailing, sea kayaking or bike touring. 

Together with their peers and skilled instructors, a group sets out on an adventure. The two main parts of this journey are life in and around camp, where participants engage with each other and younger campers through workshops, service projects, and active leadership tasks with younger children AND backcountry travel via self-supported bike touring, sea kayaking or sailing.

In camp, LDI participants will lead games with younger groups, partake in traditional camp activities, come together on our challenge course and take an active role in camp life. The goal of each activity is to transition away from simply participating in Camp Orkila, and instead, practicing creating that experience for someone else and learning what it takes to be a leader at camp.

On expedition, every participant will be put in the position of "leader for the day" with at least one of their peers. In this position, Teens will run every aspect of the day, from the time the group gets up in the morning, travels to a new campsite, and all the way to what value session will be facilitated that evening with support from instructors as needed.

Throughout the groups’ time together, wherever the group goes, they are continuing an extended conversation about the inherent qualities of leadership. The questions our workshops explore are: “What is a leader, and what are their qualities?” “How can I communicate most effectively?” “How do I make decisions as an individual and in a group?” “What does it mean to engage in healthy conflict?” 

Our Leadership Development Institute (LDI) program is the 2nd step in Orkila’s Teen Leadership Progression. Each step is progressive, building upon lessons from the previous experience. Completing this sequence is a great way to prepare for applying to join the Orkila summer staff, though completion is not a prerequisite of employment.

Click HERE to see a sample LDI schedule

More about the LDI Program
Food and Lodging
LDI Participants may spend the first five days of their either in the Dederer Center or in open-air cabins in Tracy Strong Village. Tracy Strong cabins are co-gendered and Dederer Cabins have separate rooms for male- and female-identified participants. While on their expedition, participants will sleep under tarps, separated by gender. Participants at camp have meals in Tracy Strong lodge and work together to cook meals while on expedition.
Expedition Component
For five days, LDIs will travel through the San Juan Islands by bike, kayak or sail boat. They will pack everything needed into boats or on to their bikes and spend each night making camp on a different island. Participants will have to read through the parent handbook to make sure they bring appropriate equipment with them*. They will also need to prepare themselves physically prepared to spend between 2 and 6 hours traveling each day.

*Camp Orkila can also provide clothing and equipment for participants unable to provide their own – Please call us if you have any questions at 206.382.5009
Service Component
Service is a big part of leadership. Every LDI session incorporates a planned service component so the group can contribute to the Orkila or Orcas Island community in a small but impactful way. Service projects have included partnering with local farms to plant or harvest vegetables, working with community organizations and improving camp infrastructure. Upon completion of the program, participants receive 10 hours of community service.

In addition to traditional camping activities, Teens will also have the opportunity to take part in some intentional workshops as a part of the LDI program. All LDI Participants will learn about leadership, communication techniques and working with youth. LDI Trip Leaders may also add in other workshops and activity that explore community development, storytelling or other areas of interest.

"Coming to camp really showed me how fast you can truly bond with someone and become loved with all of that person’s trust. I will always remember my family at Camp Orkila!"   

"I learned how to maintain an outlook of positivity, even in the most trying situation. Overcoming difficulties like passing the flip test and kayaking helped me learn how to push myself through, ultimately making me a stronger person."

"I will bring back my newfound confidence. During the LDI program, I learned how to just go up and have a conversation with a person. I learned that true happiness doesn’t mean getting everything you want, it means fighting through things and emerging on the other side with people you truly care about."

"Here at camp, I have learned to always be myself, and not change in order to fit in with other. I’ve also learned to keep a positive mind-set and to stay confident.”

“The main thing that I will bring back with me when I go home is to be true to yourself and those around you. Also another thing I will bring back is to give respect to others and your others will return to you with respect, always stay humble."

"One moment that I will never forget is the time I overcame my greatest fear, heights. Our group did a high ropes course. It’s about 30 feet in the air! I was terrified because I had already tried to accomplish it for the last two years, but everyone in my cabin cheered me on and gave me the confidence to complete it."

"The two ideas that have resonated with me the most have been ‘be childlike without being childish’ and self respect. The first has shown me how to work with people and difficult situations instead of around them. The second is one that I didn’t fully appreciate until this year. Camp is my center, so coming here is like re-finding myself every year and re-learning what I love about me and what I have to be proud of. Camp has given me a self to respect and I’ll never be able to give enough thanks."

"20 years from now I will still remember being an LDI and doing our five day kayak trip. It’s the longest I’ve been away from the indoors and has opened my eyes to the outdoors. This experience will always be with me because of our groups hardships and ability to overcome them."

"I have seen such a variety of people that I need to get along with in order to make the week work out for everyone. I also like to think of the three respects wherever I go. The six core values of respect, responsibility, honesty faith and fun are all ideas that I would like to carry with me."