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Center for Experiential Leadership Development

The Center for Experiential Leadership Development (ELD) combines the Leadership, Education and Development (LEAD) Division’s curricular programs with USNA’s experiential leader programs. ELD transforms classroom theories into real-life leadership opportunities and prepares midshipmen to excel in leadership positions through practice and reflection.

Even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, ELD remained committed to delivering leadership development opportunities throughout the Brigade to further the mission of the Naval Academy. The following highlights from the 2020–2021 year reveal how the core tenets of this leadership curriculum remain:

•  National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS): During Summer 2021, 60 midshipmen attended five separate courses in Wyoming and Alaska.
•  Outward Bound Spring Break Hike: The Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound School (CBOBS) offers a field-based leadership practicum that challenges midshipmen through living as a group in a wilderness setting. During a typical spring break, 18 midshipmen participate in a five-day hike along the Appalachian Trail with 18 veterans from USNA and the community in a one-on-one mentoring and leadership expedition. The Spring Break 2021 hike was cancelled due to COVID-19, but the summer block took place with 10 midshipmen.
•  Gettysburg Leadership Encounter (GLE): The Class of ’77 Gettysburg Leadership Encounter occurred for the Class of 2021 over one day per cohort in August 2020, January 2021 and February 2021 at the battlefield and via online sessions due to COVID-19. In June 2021, the Brigade leaders from the Class of 2022 attended two days on the battlefield. Varsity team captains and Brigade leadership learned about the responsibilities and challenges of command through lessons from the iconic U.S. Civil War battle.
•  The Network (Formerly NAWN): The Network empowers and equips midshipmen to navigate careers as leaders through increased opportunities for engagement, education and experiences with women officers and graduates. The Network cultivates an inclusive and diverse mentoring system of women and men from USNA, the fleet and the operating forces. The Network typically involves 400-500 midshipmen annually and provides Lean-in Circle opportunities, as well as four networking events throughout the year to foster mentoring and future retention of women service members.

These programs are just a few of the many opportunities offered by the Center for Experiential Leadership Development. Ongoing funding makes it possible for ELD to continue to expand and engage midshipmen in a rich variety of experiences, strengthening their leadership skills and shaping them into the dedicated officers they will become.

For a complete narrative, please review the 2020-2021 Experiential Leadership Development Stewardship Report.