JOLT: 4-H Journey of Opportunities for Leaders of Tomorrow

Support Increased Economic Opportunities and Improved Quality of Life in Rural America
Research Year: 

Modern society is often filled with negative attitudes toward teenagers and views most teenagers as problematic at best. Programs like JOLT help turn teens into positive role models and future community leaders.

Description of Action: 

JOLT (Journey of Opportunities for Leaders of Tomorrow) is an Arizona Teen Leadership camp held annually each June near Heber, Arizona. Activities promote trust-building, leadership, and communication skills. Arizona Cooperative Extension and the Arizona 4-H Youth Development Foundation sponsor the camp, which has been held for 17 years. Teenagers aged 14-18, of various backgrounds, gather from across Arizona to develop open-minded and positive attitudes, develop a strong sense of teamwork, and learn to reject selfish actions that only benefit individuals. Conflict resolution skills and relationship building skills help create the sense of the "JOLT community" that is uncommon in other camps. Empowered participants enhance their interpersonal skills and strengthen their communication abilities, which helps promote long-lasting and true friendships. Over the last four years, 23 teens and staff from the New Mexico state 4-H officer program have attended JOLT.


More than 1,500 teens have attended JOLT over the past 17 years. Teens who were youth staff members have gone on to serve as state 4-H Ambassadors, state 4-H Teen Council officers and representatives and state Youth Adult Council representatives, and about 41 percent of the participants report they have participated in school government and community leadership opportunities after attending the camp. Participants reported increasing their leadership skills and abilities by 45 percent; ability to trust others by 74 percent, and ability to logically solve problems in a group by 43 percent. Nearly 50 percent of the 2004 campers had not attended JOLT sessions in previous years, leading to significant changes in their growth and development as evidenced by the evaluation statistics. Prior JOLT successes were also evident in the participant survey; the starting average reference point was higher for returning participants for each question. The 2004 camp was gave ample opportunity for leadership as participants learned not only about leadership theory, but also about serving a community and how to develop new plans when uncontrollable situations force redirection.


"JOLT meant stepping out of my comfort zone - stretching as a trusting person - solving problems as a group - many angles." - participant

"JOLT impacted my whole life, after this camp I'll do almost everything differently." - participant

"I've seen such a change in my daughter. JOLT is the changing factor in her development and I am proud of my emerging young lady. Thank you." - Mother of a 2003 youth staff member

"The greatest satisfaction is seeing teens serve on staff and watch them grow by developing leadership skills through planning and implementing programs for their peers. Most youth staff begin with limited understanding and skills and by the time camp is over they are confident and competent leaders." - JOLT advisor.

"JOLT 2004 taught me that not all leaders are perfect and I learned a lot." - participant

"JOLT is a chance to explore yourself, and meet new people." - participant

"JOLT 2003 taught me a lot of things, but mainly it was about finding myself." –participant

"JOLT meant making new friends, learning to trust people you don't even know at first, and just having a great learning experience." –participant

Funding Agencies: 

Arizona Cooperative Extension; 4-H Youth Development; Arizona 4-H Youth Foundation; Participant registrations

Conact Name: 
Bryan Chadd
Contact E-mail: 
Contact Address: 

Maricopa County Cooperative Extension

4341 E. Broadway

Phoenix, AZ 85040

(602) 470-8086 ext. 350 office (602) 470-8092 fax