Developing Outdoor Leadership in Boys and Girls

BOLD & GOLD Program

A Y-USA Initiative: Boys & Girls Outdoor Leadership Development

At YMCA of the Pines, we’re very proud of our incredible Teen Outdoor Leadership development programs, BOLD & GOLD, which take youth on back country trips in order to develop their fullest potential as positive, multicultural leaders in their communities. For more than 70 years, YMCA of the Pines has engaged teens in wilderness camping (known traditionally within camp culture as Rangers). Partnered with YMCAs across the country that have adopted a nationally recognized curriculum through Y USA, our BOLD & GOLD programs develop cultural competency and leadership skills in young men and women through challenging outdoor activities.

The small groups (about eight to ten teen participants and two instructors) travel to some of the most beautiful and natural places in the northeast, including parts of the Appalachian Trail, the Delaware and Susquehanna rivers, and the Adirondack Mountains. Using breathtaking wilderness as our classrooms, our participants return from these trips knowing that the confidence, strength and friendships they developed will help them meet any challenge on the trail, in the classroom, or back home in their communities. The primary goal of the BOLD & GOLD experience is to reduce and remove barriers for all youth and teens, regardless of experience, ethnicity or socio-economic status, to enjoy access to the outdoors through wilderness adventure and to build leadership value and skills. These trips inspire courage, community awareness, emotional intelligence and a sense of wonder in our participants!

BOLD & GOLD participants develop deep friendships as they become part of a diverse group.

  • The intentional mix of participants creates opportunities for students from different backgrounds to experience shared, challenging outdoor activities while learning how to build team leadership skills as well as self-confidence and community-awareness.
  • Working with those who are different stretches our participants’ learning, and inspires them to be bridge builders in today’s multicultural world while making lifelong friendships!

BOLD & GOLD participants enjoy epic adventures with amazing leaders.

  • On BOLD & GOLD trips, young people get to explore the wilderness through a variety of exciting and fun activities, including backpacking, canoeing, rock climbing, rafting, fishing, outdoor cooking and/or service projects in their local community.
  • A true love of nature is cultivated in the hearts of our participants, as they sleep beneath the stars by night and explore the beauty of the natural resources of the wilderness by day.
  • Trips are led by our outstanding wilderness instructors, all of whom are certified in Wilderness First Aid, CPR for the Professional Rescuer and Lifeguarding.

As part of this state-of-the-art leadership program, we focus on five core competencies that we strive to instill in all of the BOLD & GOLD participants.

On a BOLD & GOLD trip, leadership means:

  • While navigating the challenges of travel in the wilderness, participants get to see what they are truly capable of. We help our youth become multicultural leaders by combining their own unique selves and skills with our program areas of focus:

BOLD & GOLD Campers build confidence and self-worth by mastering skills, achieving goals and creating positive relationships.


BOLD & GOLD Campers learn to develop and act with courage to empower and create a sense of resiliency to overcome life’s challenges.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence helps BOLD & GOLD campers develop empathy, increase self-awareness, and create a stronger relationship with others.

Community Awareness

BOLD & GOLD campers learn to respect others and create an environment where all feel valued for their unique perspective and contribution.


Having fun, learning to marvel at nature and feeling a sense of curiosity benefits BOLD & GOLD campers and those around them.

All of these core competencies, when intentionally developed in youth, contribute to their sense of well-being by fostering achievement, relationships and belonging. (YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) research has shown that achievement, relationships and belonging are the high-priority outcomes the Y can positively impact in youth, as we seek to nurture the potential of every child and teen.)

By using tools such as emotional and physical safety, emotional and physical challenge, framing, reflection and power sharing, we can ensure that every camper that joins us on a BOLD & GOLD trip is leaving as a well-rounded community leader.

A big part of making sure this program has a lasting impact in our communities is through partnering with other organizations and people who care about this mission. Our goal is to ensure that BOLD & GOLD becomes a staple program here at YMCA of the Pines and we need your help! Whether it is a specific donation to the BOLD & GOLD program, or just dropping off that head lamp that you no longer use, it all adds up. If you would like to learn more about the program, know a teen that you think would do well in the program, or are interested in donating gear you no longer use, please contact Carol Yard at