Experiential Learning Leadership Intensive

Lake Tahoe, April 15-18, 2018


Shine Your Light and the Gap Year Association, with support from the Association for Experiential Education and Education First, are pleased to announce the Experiential Learning Leadership Intensive (a.k.a. “EL Boot Camp”).

logoOUR “WHY”

In a world that’s become alarmingly tribal and an earth fighting back hard against humans’ collective abuse, Shine Your Light’s current focus has become clear:

We must coach and train leaders who share our mission of developing intentional stewards of the earth and more collaborative global citizens.

Hence the Boot Camp: A multi-day, intensive training to help these leaders hone both their programs and skills.


The EL Boot Camp is a 4-day intensive leadership retreat for executive directors, creators, and managers of experiential learning programs who seek to develop the next generation of global leaders and stewards of the earth, inside and outside of a school setting. The Boot Camp offers in-depth training and support in the key areas needed to run your programs successfully, including marketing, effective systems and administration, risk management, program development and fine-tuning, and learning outcome assessment. See below for a specific list of topics addressed.

NOTE: This is NOT a conference; it’s a roll-up-your-sleeves, deep dive into your specific areas of development, with one-on-one mentoring and coaching in critical programmatic and operational areas from experts in the environmental, experiential education, and global citizenship fields.

Unlike other leadership trainings, the Boot Camp:

  1. Is individualized to your specific skill and experience level, whether you and your program are brand-new or have been operating for decades;
  2. Provides an opportunity to drill down deeply into the program areas you most want to work on and improve, and
  3. Provides focused, dedicated time to work individually and in teams with personalized coaching on your program areas and leadership skills.


The EL Boot Camp is designed for leaders who are developing, directing, or managing experiential learning programs – including Gap year, environmental and outdoor education, cultural exchange, service-learning, internship, experiential preK-12 schools, and study abroad programs.


The 2018 Boot Camp will take place in beautiful Lake Tahoe, at the Granlibakken Resort, from April 15-18, 2018

logoWHY GO?

    • It’s your time to shine:  While much effort and time goes into thoughtful development of your students and programs, it’s equally critical to put dedicated energy and reflection into your own growth as leaders. Expand your leadership skills and knowledge, and focus on those bigger program priorities that get shelved amidst your pressing daily tasks. It’s time to take yourself and your organization to the next level!
    • Keep up your cred: The EL Boot Camp is the fastest, most fun, streamlined option for anyone seeking or maintaining four-year accreditation from the Gap Year Association. GYA-accredited programs are viewed as among the highest quality programs by families, schools, and the U.S. government.
    • Be a pioneer: Gap Year Association-accredited programs that attend the Boot Camp will be eligible to offer up to a full semester of college credit, access to federal financial aid (FAFSA), and access to tax deductions and discounts through federal 529 funds.
    • Create new bonds: Networking in the intimate Boot Camp setting, you will develop new friendships with professional peers to support each other in your current roles or open doors to opportunities within the broader experiential learning community.
    • The future’s in your hands: As developers and leaders of experiential learning programs, you are in a uniquely powerful position to role model and guide soon-to-be-adults how to become more collaborative and less tribal, creating win-win ways to share our global resources and to be caring, committed stewards of the earth.


The EL Boot Camp offers a range of interactive, in-depth sessions, guest and peer speakers, case studies, and indoor and outdoor group activities that address the essential concepts and skills for successful experiential learning program management. The pace of the Boot Camp is intense and engaging, yet also relaxed and fun. Key topics include:

    • Life-Changing Learning: Must-have elements of a transformational experiential educational program
    • Expanding Your Marketing Funnel: Finding new clients and funders and strengthening ongoing relationships
    • Sticky Personnel Issues: Effectively selecting, training, managing, and assessing your staff
    • Show Me the Money: Financial sustainability
    • Follow Me: Discovering and developing your leadership style and strengths
    • Say What? Communication and conflict resolution
    • No Duh! Making quick, clear decisions based on your inner knowing
    • I Won’t See You in Court: Risk management, legal and policy issues
    • All Systems Go: Effective program operations, information management, and key administrative strategies
    • Counting with Colleges: Updates and next steps in getting college credit and financial aid for your programs
    • Walking the Line: Work-life balance
    • How You Doin’? Program Assessment and Next Steps


    • EARLY BIRD SPECIAL, by January 15, 2018: $1,595 (GYA & AEE members), $1,695 (non-members)
    • REGULAR REGISTRATION, by March 8: $1,695 (members), $1,795 (non-members)
    • The fee covers 4 days and 3 nights of double-occupancy lodging, meals, use of the resort grounds and facilities, registration, materials, and presentations. Single lodging for an additional $255.60. Participants must arrange and cover the costs of their travel and incidentals.
    • Scholarships available. (Contact Laurie to apply.)
    • Organizational teams are encouraged to apply and attend together. 10% discount for each person subsequent to the first.
    • Partners and families welcome to enjoy the resort. Contact Granlibakken directly for additional fees and reservations.


Submit your payment and application online here.


View a draft of the Leadership Intensive schedule here.


Questions and requests, please contact Laurie Gardner.

Shine Your Light is an internationally respected leadership and personal development nonprofit founded by 25-year veteran leadership author/speak/coach, Laurie Gardner. Laurie has served as the close advisor and consultant to state and country leaders, mayors, education and business pioneers, and other movers and shakers worldwide. Her comprehensive leadership institute has helped thousands of education leaders and has been replicated nationwide.

The Gap Year Association is a nonprofit Standards and Professionalization Organization for Gap Years as recognized by the US Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.  GYA works primarily to help spread the word about Gap Years by providing resources and information, as well as work to increase financial aid resources and improve the professionalization of the field.