Top 5 Outdoor Activities to Foster Leadership in Youth

In a world that is engrossed in technology and devices, young people today crave opportunities to develop practical skills and people skills that will set them up for life and leadership. School camp is a great way to de-tox from screen and social media and a place where leadership skills emerge, often in the unlikeliest of candidates.  At QCCC we believe that the outdoors provides one of the best classrooms for development of skills for leadership.

Here are 5 outdoor activities that we believe cultivate leadership qualities in young people.

1 – Orienteering

Orienteering combines navigation, teamwork, and racing. Orienteering challenges participants to find their way across unfamiliar terrain using a map and compass. This activity enhances strategic thinking and encourages youth to take initiative, communicate, and lead their group to each checkpoint. Orienteering is available at QCCC Mapleton, and also available at our Tamborine and Brookfield sites through our outdoor education partners Vertec Adventures.

Some of the leadership skills we believe this encourages include:

  • Strategic and critical thinking
  • Showing Initiative
  • Navigation skills
  • Confident Communication and Leadership under uncertainty

2 – Survival Skills

Teaching survival skills, such as building shelters, starting fires, and finding food and water, empowers youth with practical knowledge and self-reliance. Leading a group in survival scenarios requires clear communication, resourcefulness, and the ability to stay calm under pressure. Multi-day survival programs can be tailored to your needs as part of our off site QCCC Expeditions program. Other journeying activities can be included (e.g., sea kayaking) with an overnight survival camping experience.

Some of the leadership skills we believe this encourages include:

  • Self-reliance
  • Resourcefulness
  • Clear communication
  • Calmness under pressure

3 – Canoeing and Kayaking

Canoeing and kayaking require coordination and collaboration. When navigating the ocean or rivers or lakes, youth must work together to steer, balance, and keep pace. These activities highlight the importance of a synchronised team effort and mutual reliance. Canoeing activities are available are QCCC Mapleton. The canoe lake at QCCC Mapleton is 120 metre long, 50 metres wide and is partly sheltered by an island in the centre. All students are taught some canoe skills & knowledge before venturing out onto the lake to play some amazing water games, and potentially get wet at the same time!

Some of the leadership skills we believe this encourages include:

  • Collaboration and cooperation
  • Coordination
  • Mutual reliance
  • Strategic thinking

4 – Crate Climb Challenge

The crate climb is an engaging and strategic team activity featuring a high rope element. Achieving success in this challenge relies on effective teamwork, making it an excellent learning experience for outdoor education. Participants collaborate in teams to stack milk crates into a tower, climbing higher as the structure grows. Often, we see the active climbers leading and giving instruction whilst building the crate towers. For safety, they wear helmets and full harnesses. This activity demands problem-solving within the team, and the unique high ropes element allows team members to assist the builders in maintaining balance and managing the weight load on the crate tower. Climbers are carefully belayed by their peers, creating a group activity that fosters trust and engages all participants throughout the exercise. This activity is available at QCCC Mapleton.

Some of the leadership skills we believe this encourages include:

  • Trust and support
  • Communication
  • Confidence
  • Decision-making under pressure

5 – Raft building

Raft building is a powerful outdoor activity that combines creativity, teamwork, and problem-solving. It involves constructing a functional raft using limited materials, then testing it on water. This activity not only provides a fun and engaging experience but also develops essential leadership skills in youth. At QCCC Mapleton, raft building forms the basis for our “Van Diemen’s Land” activity. The Van Diemen’s Land activity involves the recreation of the convict shipments to the young Australian colony. This activity includes raft building for use on our lake to get across to the island in the centre. Such an excellent team-building exercise, while also exploring the reasons behind the First Fleet journey and the challenges it faced.

Some of the leadership skills we believe this fosters include:

  • Teamwork & Collaboration
  • Problem-Solving and Innovation
  • Communication
  • Planning and Organisation
  • Delegation
  • Perseverance

Outdoor activities provide a unique and effective platform for youth to develop leadership skills. At QCCC, we are passionate about seeing individuals grow in self-confidence and confidence to lead others. By engaging in activities like the above and more, we see young people learn to navigate challenges, work collaboratively, and take on responsibilities. These outdoor education experiences not only build strong leaders but also foster a deep appreciation for nature, the environment, and culture.