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Center for Experiential Leadership Development
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Spring Break Expeditions

ELD's Spring Break Expeditions are courses designed to meet the needs of midshipmen and the USNA's demand for small unit leadership experience. During the course, midshipmen work as a team with expedition leaders who emphasize the ideals of character, leadership, and service. The trainings include activities such as canoeing, backpacking, rock climbing, and serving the community.

Outward Bound Spring Break Expedition

Mid-March was Spring Break, and 18 mids joined 18 military veterans once again for the fourth iteration of this annual expedition.  Spending five days hiking the Appalachian Trail (Harpers Ferry area), the mids, vets, and their expert guides traversed roughly 30 miles, hitting cold weather, some snow, and lots of time to bond and discuss leadership and life lessons.  Over the course of the week, the mids and vets bonded as a team to overcome the challenges of elevation, weather, and the need to work together to find the correct route, build nightly campsites, and keep themselves warm and well-fed.  

Midshipmen who participated made the following comments:

“A great opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and work on my mental fortitude.”

“Really learned what it means to be a servant leader. I learned that I like to work hard and motivate those around me, looking more towards the morale of the group.”

“The hike taught me that I am a lot stronger than I realized and I can push through much more for the benefit of the group.”


A letter from one of the veterans on the trip, a USNA ’83 grad, included the following:  

“Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the USNA Outward Bound Spring Break Expedition.  I very happily report that the Brigade is in better shape now than when I attended, and the quality of junior officers produced by our Alma Mater has improved.  I very much enjoyed my discussions with the mids on such things as Sea Trials, Capstone Projects, their summer training programs, and of course, these Experiential Leadership Development programs.    

ELD gives the mids a small-scale yet meaningful opportunity to put to practice in a real-world stressful situation the theories and concepts in leadership taught in the academic curriculum and in Bancroft Hall.  I have an emotional connection to these leadership programs and the value they bring to character development.  I know ELD programs will pay dividends when these future officers are charged with leading America’s sons and daughters into harm’s way.  

And a huge shout out to the Baltimore Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound team!  The organization of the trip was beyond excellent.  I sincerely hope the Academy not only continues, but expands, its relationship with Outward Bound.” 


Outward Bound Summer Block Expedition

A small group of eight midshipmen participated in our second field-based Outward Bound leadership experience, complementing classroom leadership theory by allowing students to practice real-world decision making in austere, unpredictable, and dynamic wilderness environments. 

The two-week small-unit leadership expedition tested their resolve in fostering effective teamwork in the wilderness, emphasizing character, leadership, and service. This transformative learning experience taught the mids new technical skills, self-confidence, and a desire to make a difference in the community and back at USNA.  

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