Outdoor Leadership Academy

Practical and Profound

The Outdoor Leadership Academy at Sun Valley Community School develops skills and imparts life lessons through exceptional outdoor experiences and professional training opportunities in Idaho.


The Outdoor Leadership Academy (OLA) is a three- or four-year program for Upper School students that develops the skills, experience, and certifications students need to lead outdoor trips professionally and fosters general leadership skills that can be transferred to any setting.

Though intensive, the program allows students to fulfill OLA-required coursework and trip requirements while also focusing adequate time and energy on academics and other interests.


A group of instructors and students on a mountain covered in snow
OLA members Eliza '19 and Ellie '20 helped to lead the first-grade winter outdoor trip as part of their leadership training

Outdoor Leadership Academy Specialty Areas

OLA Curriculum

A student kayaking in white water
I am extremely grateful and appreciative to be able to participate in the Outdoor Leadership Academy. The program allows for students to become further involved and educated in the outdoors and plays a huge part in defining our school's mission.

Addie '19

Outdoor Leadership Academy Objectives

  • To offer experiential, collaborative, reflective, and place-based opportunities for authentic leadership to complement and extend the school’s core values;
  • To inspire ethical, responsible, and joyous 21st-century citizens whose leadership will make a difference in the world;
  • To provide a program that develops the skills, certifications, and experience necessary to work professionally as an outdoor leader;
  • To provide experiences that help students develop essential life skills, including:
    • Preparation and organization
    • Responsibility for themselves and others
    • Resilience and perseverance
    • A positive outlook
    • Personal ethics
  • To provide experiences that help students develop a lifelong relationship with wilderness environments and a deep appreciation for natural beauty;
  • To provide experiences that help students experience meaningful personal growth.