top of page


Celebrating Over 50 Years of Empowering Youth to Become the Leaders They Were Called to Be


Since 1968, the District of Columbia National Guard has conducted an annual Youth Leader’s Camp for students age 11 – 15 from all over the DC Metropolitan area. Major General Charles L. Southward, Commanding General, District of Columbia National Guard from 1967 – 1974, and Mr. William Calomiris, former President of the Greater Washington Board of Trade are two of the Camp’s Founders. They believed the best way to help youngsters was to provide an opportunity to “experience and practice leadership” in an environment outside of the city to gain and sharpen their leadership skills. They both decided that a camping experience would be the “ideal” experience to achieve their goal.


The Camp’s enrollment has grown from 68 males to more than 140 students each summer. Originally the camp was only for young men, the program began accepting young women in 1977. Our goal is to have 50 percent males and 50 percent females participate in each camp.

The Youth Leaders Camp has been recognized by Mrs. Ronald Reagan, the former First Lady, as well as other individuals and organizations, to include the Freedom Foundation of Valley Forge, Department of Defense, Fraternal Order of Police Officers, and the Adjutants General Association of the United States.


This year’s camp will be held July 31 - August 12, 2022 at Camp Dawson, WV. In the past years, local businesses, organizations, and parents have provided the camp’s primary financial support. Members of the District of Columbia Guard plan, provide administrative/logistical support, as well as provide the camp’s staff each year. The average cost per camper is $350. The Youth Leaders Camp is a 501 (c) (3) tax exempt organization, therefore contributions are tax deductible.

The camping experience provides a positive and unique opportunity geared towards shaping teens into future leaders. Campers will be given guidance on the importance of leadership, respect, developing a strong sense of self-respect, and pride. In order to create the best environment to accomplish our mission, we take extra care in selecting only positive National Guard members and leaders from our community to be members of the camp staff.

The curriculum for the camp is constantly being redesigned to help teens deal with today’s hot issues such as peer pressure, teen pregnancy, drugs/inhalants, bullying, misuse of social media, and teen suicides. We will only use experts as speakers for these topics. The use of alcohol and smoking are strictly prohibited anywhere on the camp grounds.

Our overall mission is to provide campers with an opportunity to learn and practice the principles of good citizenship, with an emphasis on academic achievement, high moral character, and the importance of being role models. Attendees are encouraged to learn to live and work together in a camping experience. The staff teaches them to use teamwork to attain goals and objectives. Campers channel their energy into team sports and practicing good sportsmanship. Instructors offer guidance in character building and good citizenship. They also strive to teach each individual to understand responsibility and the importance of being leaders in our community. We expose them to some of America’s best traditions and the opportunity to gain a greater depth of understanding of our Country’s rich heritage. In addition, campers are given a first-hand look at various facets of the Army and Air National Guard’s role as a component of the nation’s National Defense.

bottom of page