Youth Conservation Leadership Crew FAQ

When should I have my application complete? Are there any deadlines?

SCA accepts applications on a rolling basis. However, we can only guarantee a review of your application if it is completed by the deadline. Our Leadership Crew application deadline is April 15th.  Spots on Conservation Leadership Crews are competitive! Complete your application today!

Is previous experience necessary?

No, just ample supplies of enthusiasm, a positive attitude, and a commitment to give it everything you’ve got. Keep in mind that a high comfort level with certain situations – such as sleeping in a tent, interacting with wildlife, or making do without regular hot showers – will likely result in an enhanced SCA experience.

How old do I have to be?

Crew members must be between 15 and 19 years old. 14-year-olds may apply as long as they will be 15 at the start of the crew. Candidates also need to be a current high school student when applying.

What is required in the application?

To apply for the Conservation Leadership Crew Program candidates are required to complete the online application, and have at least one reference form completed and attached.

How do I access and complete the online application?

To start an application, visit SCA’s online management system, MySCA. You’ll need to create a new account and follow the step-by-step instructions. You can also watch a tutorial on how to use the new MySCA system.  Be sure to enter the appropriate Promo Code for the program that you are interested in.

Is there a fee to apply?

There is a one-time application fee of $25 ($40 for non-US citizens). A single payment allows you to apply for an unlimited number of positions. You may pay by credit card online or send a check or money order to: SCA Center for Conservation Service, 689 River Road, NH 03603. If you have any questions, please contact Admissions staff at 603.543.1700 ext. 1499.

How do I apply to a different program?

Log into your online profile, and under “Applications” you will see a list of other programs you are eligible for. Click on the appropriate application, and follow the prompts.

How do I update my online application or profile?

  1. Login to MySCA and click on the green “Manage Application” button on your Home page
  2. Update your Basic Application and your Program Application(s)
  3. Your updated information will be visible to all application reviewers as soon as you save it.

How do I adjust the availability dates on my application?

  1. Login to MySCA and click on the green “Manage Application” button on your Home page
  2. Your availability dates are in the upper left
  3. Double click on each date to update it
  4. Be sure to hit “Save” before you leave the page

How can I update my email address?

  1. Login to MySCA and click on the green “Manage Application” button on your Home page
  2. Click on the “Contact Information” button
  3. Make your changes
  4. Be sure to click “Save” before you leave the page
  5. In case you are wondering, updating your email will not change your username. Your username will remain as the original email you signed up with.

When are crews in the field?

Summertime!  National, Regional and Leadership crews take place in summer. There are a variety of start and end dates for each program. 


To learn more about specific dates, visit the NationalRegional and Leadership crew program pages.

How are crews organized?

Each crew contains 8 members who are similar in age but diverse in experience and backgrounds. Members on each crew are usually an even mix of boys and girls. Each crew includes two experienced crew leaders.

What is the process for crew member placement?

SCA takes great care in selecting its crew members. Each candidate is evaluated individually based on the materials they provide. Please understand that this is a competitive process, and that there is no guarantee of being selected. Once your application is completed, we will review all of your information. There are several different criteria that are considered for placement. Following is a list of criteria we look for in an applicant, in order of importance:

  • Your motivation to serve and relevant skills and experiences
  • Your demonstrated maturity, leadership, and social responsibility
  • Your availability dates
  • Time spent outdoors and your personal comfort level with outdoor situations
  • Interest in ecological or environmental topics

These criteria reflect the care we take to ensure that all members receive a placement they are well suited for. We begin notifying candidates of their placement in early spring. Once an acceptance is received, SCA will send Selection and Payment information, which includes the Participant Agreement, and other relevant Selection forms. These must be completed before a member enters the field.

What will I have to pay for?

All crew candidates are responsible for paying the one-time $25 SCA application fee and for covering the cost of travel between their home and the crew location. Leadership Crew members also pay a tuition based on the length of their crew. The Leadership Crew program page has current tuition rates.   

You may also have some costs associated with gear. Crew members are responsible for providing their own personal gear, such as sleeping bags, backpacks, and water bottles. Visit the crew Gear Page and the SCA store for detailed gear lists and purchase and rental options through SCA.

Financial aid is available to all crew candidates on a first-come, first-served basis. Financial aid application details will be provided to selected members. 

Visit the Leadership crew program page for more details about program costs. 


How much equipment do I need to buy?

We offer a generic list of equipment. Please do not buy all the items on it until you talk with your crew leader about your specific program. Your leader or our staff in the office can give ideas of what to bring for your specific location.  SCA has some equipment for rent and information will be in your selection forms.

How much cash will I need?

We recommend that you bring about $80 for souvenirs and other small purchases during travel days and recreational/education days. SCA will provide all necessary food.

How do I apply for financial aid?

A financial aid form will be included in your selection information. You should submit this completed form to SCA and, if you qualify, we will reimburse you for part of the tuition or travel costs associated with the program. Please note that the financial aid pool is limited, and we may not be able to grant the full amount requested.

How qualified are the crew leaders?

All of our leaders are caring and dedicated outdoor professionals who have experience conducting youth programs and outdoor activities. They come from a wide range of backgrounds. Some are attending graduate school, while others are school teachers or year-round outdoor leaders. They are all 21 years of age or older and hold current wilderness medicine certifications. Crew leaders have primary responsibility for conducting all aspects of the National, Regional and Leadership Crew program.

Where will I sleep?

Conservation Leadership crew members sleep in tents on both front- and backcountry programs. Tent occupancy is divided by gender. Crew leaders have separate tents within the camp.

Will I have free time?

There is free time at the end of the day, both before and after dinner. Some evening activities may include swimming, hacky sack, or a card game. Each crew will also have some days off and the crew will decide as a team what they will do on their time off. These days are usually used to explore the area or learn something about the environment of the region or participate in a training.

How will we get fresh drinking water?

The water supply used for cooking and drinking is purified by using iodine, boiling, or a water filter. Frontcountry crews often have drinkable water on site.

How do I get to my crew site?

You and your parents will schedule and pay for your transportation. You should use whatever method is the most feasible. In most cases, this will be a flight that is scheduled to arrive by the time specified on your placement email. Your crew leader will meet you at the airport and provide transportation to the camp site. We recommend that members travel with a cell phone so that they can use it to contact their leaders and parents if their flight is delayed.

Which airport should I use?

It is important that you travel to the airport specified on your placement email and not a larger or cheaper airport. Your crew leaders will inform you and other members of your crew of travel day details before you leave home.

Can I bring my cell phone?

We discourage crew members from having their cell phones powered on while on crew. Crew leaders carry radios and/or cell phone for emergency use and parents are able to contact students through SCA’s 24-hour Emergency Line. Members are encouraged to travel with a cell phone but are then required to hand them over to the leader for safe keeping. Occasionally members will call home to check in when there is cell service.

Can my parents send me a care package?

Yes. Some backcountry crews do not get mail on a regular basis so be sure to check with the crew leader to see if care packages will be delivered to you. If your parent or guardian does send a care package of goodies, they should send enough so that you can share with the entire group.

Can my parents visit me?

Parents and guardians can visit the group during the day if prearranged with the crew leaders. Parents and guardians may not stay with the crew overnight.

How much does it cost?

The tuition for Leadership Crews is $2750 for 3 week positions and $3000 for 4 week positions. Participants are also responsible for travel costs and for providing personal equipment including a backpack, sleeping bag and sleeping pad.

What is a typical day like for a Leadership Crew member?

Each day is a little bit different on Leadership Crews.  Some days will have a heavy focus on service projects, while other days will include longer training sessions on leadership, wilderness medicine, and outdoor living.  Days will often have a mix of service project work time and focused learning time.

On typical service days, members get up around 6:30 AM and take turns preparing breakfast and cleaning up the kitchen and camp site.  Everyone then packs a lunch and heads off to the project site.  Crews work approximately 8 hours, taking time out for lunch and breaks.  At the end of the day, the crew members head back to camp and take turns preparing dinner and cleaning up.  Evenings may be unstructured, with time for reading, writing letters, or playing games, or they might include a learning session.

Typical service days will follow a similar structure, but members will take part in focused trainings instead of, or in addition to, working on service projects.