Leader In Training (LIT)


The Leader In Training (LIT) program is different from any other program offered at Camp Don Lee. Each applicant must fill out the entire LIT application and provide three references.  In 2020 there will be two sessions for the LIT program.  Each applicant will be able to declare their first preference and to answer if they are available for either session.  Program dates will be filled to put together the best possible groups.

For 40 years Camp Don Lee has had a history of providing
a quality leadership training program that prepares young adults for leadership roles
at summer camps, in their schools, churches, and ultimately for life.

Leader In Training (LIT) is a four-week, intensive leadership program for high school aged youth who are ready for a highly challenging and deeply rewarding experience. Objectives of the program include personal faith development, leadership growth and experience, and a deeper knowledge of outdoor skills. These skills include Leave No Trace programs, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, archery, challenge course and outdoor camping facilitation. In addition, LITs will develop a greater understanding of worship, leading creative arts and childhood development.

The outstanding reputation of this program is known throughout the region. Employers, colleges and scholarship selection committees have viewed this program very favorably over the years. The LIT program prepares youth for leadership in their schools, churches and communities as well as camp. Many of the young people who complete the program regard it as a faith-enriching and life-changing experience.

What’s Involved?

During the four week program LITs are given the opportunity to earn the following certifications:

  • American Red Cross Lifeguarding
  • American Red Cross First Aid, CPR and AED for the Professional Rescuer
  • American Red Cross Wilderness First Aid
  • US Sailing Association certification as sailing counselor

These certifications can prepare the candidates for jobs at summer camps or other organizations and facilities.

More activities include:

  • Participating in and leading group Bible studies
  • Fitness and Wellness Training
  • Planning and leading worship experiences
  • Camp counselor rotation
  • Overnight sailing and kayak experiences

LIT Testimonials

"It is absolutely wonderful how the LIT program has changed my two daughters’ lives for the better. The sense of accomplishment and confidence that my daughters gained from this program is immeasurable. They fell in love with their groups and formed a bond with 16 others that is unlike anything they had ever experienced."
    -Camille Smith, mother of two LITs (2013, 2015)

"It’s the qualities of the program that you can’t quantify that really sets LITs apart. It’s the leadership abilities that they acquire and harness. The level of maturity and self-awareness that they possess at the end of the program goes miles above what they might have learned as a camper… They’re entering into a guild of leaders that has been carried on since 1979."
    -Cooper Norris, LIT (2012), LIT Staff (2015)

"Camp Don Lee offers possibilities for leadership unavailable in the traditional school setting. At the end of four weeks, every participant in the program has transformed. LITs are better prepared to enter the world with a new perspective of themselves and others."
    -Hannah McMillan, Social Studies Teacher, LIT Coordinator (2015)

Who is eligible to apply?

Anyone with an interest in an intensive leadership training program who has completed grades 10-12 may apply. Applicants must be 16 years old by the course completion dates.

Prior camper experience at Don Lee is NOT necessary to make an application. People are selected by the leadership potential they have demonstrated in school, camp, church or in other leadership settings. Each applicant is evaluated on his/her own merit. There are a total of 32 slots available for LIT 2020. Competition is strong, so submit your application early.

How To Apply

  • CLICK HERE for more information and to complete the online LIT 2020 Application
  • You will also need to secure three letters of recommendation from people who are not related to you and can highlight the qualities you have that make you a compelling candidate. These letters should be on the reference’s letterhead and signed. You will mail these letters to us:
    Camp Don Lee
    315 Camp Don Lee Road
    Arapahoe, NC 28510
    Attn: LIT application
    Click Here for LIT Reference Letter Guidelines
  • Early decision deadline for applications and references was October 25, 2019. For that early decision, candidates were notified by mid-November.
  • If spaces are still available after early decision, the second deadline for applications and references will be January 10, 2020.

Cost and Payment

The four week program is TBA, which includes food, lodging, certifications and overnight trips.

Upon your acceptance, a $500 deposit is due to secure your slot in the program. Another $500 payment will be due by Jan. 17, 2020. A $1000 payment is due by March 1 and the balance is due by April 1, 2020. Those selected are encouraged to engage with their local churches to attempt to secure some funding. A limited amount of financial assistance is available to those with need. Please make sure to contact Kate Metts (kate@donleecenter.org) if you have any questions or to contact our business office for financial assistance (missy@donleecenter.org).

For LIT 2020, Camp Don Lee will be offering a scholarship for campers participating in the LIT program in the memory of Hannah Viall. Hannah was a former camper of Don Lee who was tragically taken from this heavenly place on February 24, 2018. Hannah had a kind, generous, and loving spirit with a smile that could light up a room. She had a way of reaching out to many people and making everyone feel loved and accepted. She loved to spread kindness throughout her community and Don Lee was a community she loved dearly. There is no better way to celebrate the life of Hannah than by providing an opportunity for campers to participate in the life changing experience of the LIT program.