Teaching Resources

Accreditation Process

Timeline for Earning Accreditation

Three months, six months, a year plus — the timeline to earn the Leave No Trace Youth Program Accreditation will vary by program. Factors like a dedicated staff member heading up the process, the depth of Leave No Trace programming already in place and the operating season length with youth participants will play a role in your program’s timeline to submit your completed accreditation application. Since input from seasonal staff and youth participants is required, a program should expect to work on some of the requirements during its main programming season.

Once submitted, the Accreditation Review Team at the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics will review the materials and make its recommendation for accreditation. A program may be asked to submit supplemental materials for specific standards if the review team determines the original materials to be below the current accreditation criteria standards. A detailed explanation of the accreditation review process is included in the programs digital download package. The Leave No Trace education team is on hand to help you make a plan to track your efforts to become accredited in a time frame that is most desirable and realistic for your program.

Additional resources like the Accreditation Program ManualStandards GuideSupplemental Documents and Annual Reporting Tools provide a clear roadmap for earning and maintaining accreditation.

If you have more questions about the the accreditation process, please reach out to Julia Oleksiak, Youth Programs Specialist at the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.

Organizations with Multiple Programs

It is our goal to work with those wishing to accredit multiple unique programs within their organization and to keep cost from being a barrier in those instances. If you are an organization* with multiple unique programs, we have created the opportunity to only have to invest in one set of accreditation materials. From there:

  • Each unique program uses the accreditation materials and goes through the 11 standards for their specific operations.
  • Upon completion of the 11 standards, each unique program submits an accreditation application.
  • If awarded accreditation status, each unique program under the same organization will then be required to start individually paying the annual accreditation fee when submitting its unique Annual Review.

Depending on the various programming types, however, this scenario may not always be possible. Youth-serving organizations wishing to accredit multiple programs within the structure of their organization should contact Andrew Leary, National Youth Programs Manager to discuss more details.

*National organizations (e.g., Y of the USA, the American Camp Association, the Boy Scouts of America, the Girl Scouts of the USA, Expeditionary Learning et al.) are not allowed to disseminate the accreditation resources out to their individual programs without first entering into an accreditation agreement with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. For more information, please contact Andrew Leary.