Leaders Club is a teen character and leadership development program that serves teens ages 12 to 18. It is organized for the purpose of providing knowledge, training and experiences to teens so that they become strong leaders in their communities, fosters a spirit of service others and to shapes a healthy lifestyle in Mind, Body and Spirit.

Typically YMCA’s will run a Junior Leaders Club for Middle School youth and a Leaders Club (sometimes referred to as Senior Leaders Club) for High School teens. Not all YMCA’s have a Leaders Club or have separate groups for middle school and high school.

Contact your local YMCA for information on what teen program(s) they run including any Leaders Clubs. Click here for a list of YMCA’s known to have a Leaders Club.


Goals of the Leaders Club Program

  • Leadership Skill Development
  • Volunteer & Community Service to Others
  • Character Development
  • Social & Emotional Growth


What Teens Get from the Program

  • Confidence
  • Skills for job/career success
  • Volunteer service hours for school, honor society, etc.
  • Strong sense of self and purpose
  • Resiliency and emotional maturity
  • College recommendations
  • A network of friends they’ll have for life
  • Exposure to diverse groups, backgrounds, cultures, and ideas
  • Caring adult role models both regionally and their home club advisor

Many YMCA’s often hire their Leaders Club teens as sports instructors, swim instructors, lifeguards, camp counselors and childcare staff. Some even end up as YMCA Professionals in Aquatics, Sports & Recreation, Camping, Childcare and other positions!


The Leaders Club Environment

Leaders Club is a welcoming, judgement free environment that emphasizes positive peer relationships, provides hands on learning experiences, and fosters growth through the YMCA’s Core Values of Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility. To this aim most clubs have the following ground rules.

  • One Mic – One person speaks at a time
  • Accept & Respect Others, their rights & opinions
  • Avoid Put Downs
  • Confidentiality
  • Option to Pass
  • Expect & Accept Unfinished Business
  • Speak for Yourself
  • You’re Responsible for Your Own Learning

Leaders Clubs are staffed by adult YMCA staff and/or adult volunteers. It is a best practice at all YMCA’s to screen staff and volunteers through background checks and provide training in positive youth development principles and techniques.

The advisors help facilitate the program with club members, provide opportunities and training, and also chaperone teens on volunteer service trips, regional events such as rallies, and other club related activities.


Time & Commitment

Being part of a Leaders Club is a commitment. Teens are expected to attend club meetings and activities as well as volunteer at their Y or in their community. A core part of the program is that teens take an active role in planning and facilitating club activities. Like many other youth programs the more time, effort and energy a teen puts into Leaders Club the more they’ll receive back.

Days and times for meetings, club activities and other commitments vary YMCA to YMCA. We recommend talking to your local YMCA’s Leaders Club advisor about the expectations of their specific program.