DCR's Virginia State Park Youth Conservation Corps Program was honored with the United States Department of the Interior's Outstanding State Volunteer program award in 2010. The Take Pride in America award cited the YCC's "... outstanding commitment to the stewardship of America's public lands and natural and cultural resources."
The program includes three elements united by the types of project, environmental education and adventure programming, and the age of the participants. These are environmental stewardship programs, not summer camps. Participants work hard, sometimes in difficult conditions including deep mud, heat and mosquitoes and flies.
Here's a video featuring a few crewmembers who participated.
Youth Corps projects are visible, tangible and meaningful. Crewmembers often return to the parks where they served and appreciate their projects for many years. Projects have educational aspects, are environmentally sound and fulfill an unmet need in the park.
Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) - This is a three-week residential program. Crews live in the park for three weeks. Work generally takes place in the daytime, and environmental education and adventure opportunities fill evenings and weekends. Crewmembers work and live as a team. Crewmembers also complete several projects throughout their park. Recruitment is targeted to attract youth from diverse backgrounds. Young people with a strong background in environmental education are encouraged to apply, but young people who have never experienced a park setting are welcome as well. An executive director and YCC coordinator handle the recruitment and selection of crewmembers and supervisors. Selection is based heavily on the quality of responses given in the application. Site selection and project planning are handled by park staff.
Youth Service Corps (YSC) - Through this non-residential program, service is used to re-engage at-risk and court-involved young people with their community and the environment. It runs Monday through Friday. Young people generally arrive at the park's corps site at 8 a.m. and leave at 5 p.m. The state parks partner with local youth service providers or organizations that generally work with at-risk youth. The partner provides meals and transportation and selects participants. Generally the partner also provides staff experienced in supervising the youth involved. Environmental education and adventure programs are offered in lieu of work during the day or added on the weekends or evenings, depending on the agreement with the partnering organization. Agencies that help at-risk youth and interested in learning more about this program should contact us.
Youth Development Corps (YDC) - This is a weekend program held during spring and fall. Crewmembers arrive on Friday nights, prepare a meal and set up camp. On Saturday, they work on a conservation project, much as in the YCC, but of course the scope of the work is limited by the short duration of the event. This program is particularly helpful to parks that lack adequate facilities to support longer summer programs. On Sunday the young people take part in outdoor activities such as rock climbing, kayaking, canoeing and interpretive hikes. This program is still in the planning stages.
Of the three programs, only the YCC requires potential participants to fill in an application form. The other two are by invitation of the executive director.
Virginia State Parks Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) is a three-week residential program that provides young people the opportunity to work in state parks on field-based projects. YCC crewmembers are why the program exists. The program’s goal is to create environmental stewards and future leaders through community engagement, physical labor and teamwork. The YCC experience is unique and impossible to forget. Crewmembers are expected to work in hot, sometimes harsh conditions. Some crewmembers shed blood, sweat, tears or a combination thereof during the three-week session. It’s not all fun and games, but in the end most participants believe, “The work is hard, but I had fun.” While YCC is here to offer opportunities to young people, some things are required from crewmembers.
Crewmembers should come into YCC willing and able to work in the outdoors on various projects throughout state parks. Crewmembers live in provided housing with nine fellow (same-sex) crewmembers and three crew leaders. Crewmembers should expect to jump into activities and projects feet first and put aside differences with fellow crewmembers to form a team. They will follow instructions given by any authority (park staff, crew leaders, etc.) comply with all safety regulations and guidelines. Crewmembers will complete chores as assigned and maintain proper hygiene and a clean bunk area, and they’ll take part in after-work programs and activities.
Except for cameras, all electronic devices (cell phones, laptops, tablets, etc.) are prohibited in YCC. YCC maintains a no-electronics policy to minimize distractions from team-building. Crewmembers must at all times be present in the sense that they’re fully focused on the task at-hand, and electronic devices detract from this.
YCC 2016 Session Dates
Applicants may choose a session preference but not a given park. Hundreds of applications are taken into consideration so specific-park requests can’t be accommodated. Some applicants’ session preference will not be granted. Also, participants are responsible for their transportation to and from the park.
YCC crewmembers have the following responsibilities:
Those who have already served as crewmembers are welcome to apply again. A returning crewmember must have demonstrated exceptional prior performance in the program. Applicant selection is based heavily on the quality of responses given in the application. Remember, this is a work-at-will program. If upon arrival or during the session a crewmember chooses not to help with a project, that person will be sent home and receive no stipend. Applicants need not live in Virginia to apply.
The crewmember application will be available on Jan. 1, 2016. The crewmember application deadline is March 1, 2016.
The application has questions covering the applicant’s interests and experience. Applicants also must submit two references (name and email address). Email notes will automatically be sent to the references to complete the recommendation survey when the online form is submitted. For a crewmember applicant to be considered, both references must submit responses before March 1, 2016. Applicants are responsible for verifying that their references received the email and have completed the survey in time.
Upon successful completion of the program, crewmembers will receive a $500 stipend. If a crewmember is sent home before the program is over, no stipend will be given to that individual.
This program is a volunteer opportunity with stipends awarded to offset the personal costs and time for the individual’s commitment to the program. Therefore, the time spent during YCC can be counted towards community service hours in school, etc.
YCC Gear and Amenities
Participants are responsible for transportation to and from the park. Participants’ meals, lodging and transportation are covered upon arrival at the park. Crewmembers are given a YCC backpack, hat, shirt, water bottle and safety gear. Participants are responsible for bringing a few necessary uniform items. Housing varies by park, but each YCC participant will have a bed or cot with linens provided (bring pillow), access to showers or a bathhouse, and time for laundering. Participants must bring about $10 in change for laundry and some spending money for souvenirs, personal snacks, etc.
Virginia State Parks Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) is a three-week residential program that provides youth with the opportunity to work in Virginia State Parks on field-based projects. YCC crews help parks with various projects including the construction of benches and picnic and camping pads, trail creation and maintenance, preventing pollution, etc. Crew leaders have many roles and are key to the success of YCC. This position is demanding but provides many rewards. Successful applicants demonstrate high standards, creative problem-solving, excellent judgment, and compassion for Virginia’s natural resources and young people. A crew leader’s primary responsibilities center on helping crewmembers in the field while ensuring their emotional and physical safety.
Leaders must reside with crewmembers in provided housing and are responsible for maintaining a positive team atmosphere for the duration of the program. Leaders work with their team to plan various educational and recreational activities including at least one environmental education program a week. Leaders must minimize their use of cell phones, computers and other electronic devices.
Leaders are responsible for organizing crew schedules, a budget, equipment, required forms and evaluations. Leader must submit receipts and documentation for the budget and submit them along with forms, evaluations, and all other documents and files to the program coordinator at the end of each session.
YCC 2016 Dates (all mandatory)
Crew Leader Duties
Leadership and Mentorship
Safety and Risk Management
Program Management and Implementation
To become a YCC crew leader, you must be entering at least your junior year of college in fall 2016. The applicant must refrain from using any tobacco or alcohol for the duration of the crew leader training session and the YCC session(s) in which they are working. The applicant must have a driver’s license prior to crew leader training. Those chosen must wear their YCC-issued uniform attire for the duration of the program.
Upon successful completion of the program, crew leaders will receive an $1,800 stipend plus a $350 travel stipend. This is awarded at the end of each session. If a crew leader is sent home at any time before the program has concluded, stipends will not be given to that individual.
YCC Gear and Amenities
Transportation to and from the park is the sole responsibility of the participant. Upon arrival at the park, meals, lodging and transportation will be provided. The program will provide the participant with a YCC backpack, hat, shirt, water bottle and safety gear. Participants are responsible for bringing a few necessary uniform items. Housing varies by park, but each YCC participant will have a bed or cot with linens provided (bring pillow), access to showers or a bathhouse, and time for laundering. Participants must bring about $10 in change for laundry and some spending money for souvenirs, personal snacks, etc.
We are hiring applicants on a first-come, first-served basis.