Outdoor Leadership Institute

The Outdoor Leadership Institute (OLI) is a year-long program for high school students from the Richmond area. This program brings together students from diverse economic and cultural backgrounds for an immersive 5-day wilderness trip and monthly community service projects, designed to foster individual growth, increase personal resiliency, and cultivate leadership skills.

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9th - 12th grade participants


Hours outdoors each


Hours of community service each

High School

Trekking towards Leadership

The Outdoor Leadership Institute works with approximately 20 new participants each year and engages program alumni throughout the year. During the summer, Blue Sky hosts three trips: one for OLI Alumni and two trips for new participants. Throughout the academic year, participants join on monthly community service projects that both benefit our community and help introduce students to the potential careers and pathways.

Are you a rising 9-12th grader, interested in building your confidence, leadership abilities, & cultural awareness while also learning new skills of community involvement & backcountry basics? Then join our Outdoor Leadership Institute!

Participants will commit to joining a summer wilderness excursion and eight community service projects throughout the academic year. This is a great opportunity to experience the summit of our state's highest peak and make some new friends!

For more information about OLI, contact David, the Adventure Programs Manager at adventure@blueskyfund.org

Are you interested in being part of the program?

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2024 Trip Dates & Details

Trip 1 Dates

July 9-19

Includes an eleven day commitment including 5-days backpacking to Mt. Roger's Virginia's highest point.

Trip 2 Dates

July 30 - August 9

Includes an eleven day commitment including 5-days backpacking to Mt. Roger's Virginia's highest point.

Alumni Trip 

June 17-28 

Program graduates from the previous year are invited to join the Alumni Trip. The location changes each year, as the OLI Alumni help decide where to go!

School Year

Service Saturdays

After completing the summer portion of OLI, students will meet one Saturday each month throughout the school year, during which crew members will apply their new skills across Richmond by engaging together in meaningful community service.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • OLI has been such an incredible experience. It's really hard for people to leave their life and be a part of nature, with all of life that flies by around us. The Mt. Rogers trip was incredible. But I also enjoy all of the volunteer work that I have had the opportunity to do throughout the year. I love OLI and all that it has done for me.”

    Lili, OLI Graduate 2023

  • Growing up already adventurous and in love with nature, OLI has been a great way to experience even more nature with friends while helping my and others communities along the way.”

    Sam, OLI Graduate 2023

  • It felt good to be back on Mount Rogers since my [first] backpacking [trip] six years ago. I was given the chance to stop & notice changes on the mountains & make new connections.”

    Qui, OLI Graduate 2017 & 2023 Guide