National and Regional Crew: FAQ

Is previous experience necessary?

No, just ample supplies of enthusiasm, a positive attitude, and a commitment to give it everything you’ve got. Keep in mind that a high comfort level with certain situations – such as sleeping in a tent, interacting with wildlife, or making do without regular hot showers – will likely result in an enhanced SCA experience.

How old do I have to be?

Crew members have to be between 15 and 19 years old to participate in a crew. 14-year-olds are eligible to apply as long as they will turn 15 before the crew start date. Candidates must be current high school students, or have graduated from high school the spring immediately before the crew. 

What do you mean by “backcountry” and “frontcountry”?

Frontcountry sites are close to access roads and usually have running water and a bathroom or outhouse. Backcountry sites are further from roads and do not generally have running water or bathroom facilities. Both types of crews usually live in tents.

Where do crews serve?

SCA places young people in national parks, forests, cultural sites, and urban green spaces nationwide. Some positions are based deep in the backcountry, but most are closer to population centers. The common thread among our sites is that they are all places in need of our conservation efforts!

How much does it cost?

There is no tuition cost for serving in an SCA National or Regional Crew.  For these programs, participants pay only a $25 application fee to SCA and the travel costs to get to and from their crew location.

SCA Leadership Crews are tuition-based, so participants pay a full tuition for this program, in addition to the $25 application fee and the cost of travel. To learn more about tuition details for Leadership Crews, check out the Leadership Crews web page.

Candidates selected for National, Regional and Leadership crews are eligible for up to $400 in financial aid.

What is required in the application?

To apply for crews, candidates must complete the full SCA application, including the Crew program section. As part of the application, candidates respond to 3 short essay questions, share information about their skills, education and experience, and provide at least one reference. There is a one-time $25 application fee that allows you to apply to all SCA programs for life.

Check out the How to Apply page for more details about the application process.   

How do I access and complete the online application?

If you are new to SCA, login to the online application by clicking the “Apply Now” link in the upper right corner of this page. You will be prompted to create an account and then will be able to login and complete the application. 

If you already have a MySCA account, click on the “Member Login” link in the upper right corner and enter your username and password.

Check out the How to Apply page for more details about the application process.   

Is there a fee to apply?

Yes. There is a one-time $25 application fee that allows you to apply to all SCA programs for life! You will be able to pay the fee online as part of completing your application.

For questions related to the application fee, email Recruiting@thesca.org or call 1-888-722-9675 x1499.

How do I apply to a different program?

SCA has a variety of programs for Youth (ages 15 to 19) and Young Adults (18+). The good news is that all SCA programs share the same SCA Basic application. Once you complete it for one program, you won’t have to do it again. To apply to different programs, you will just need to complete an additional program-specific section at the bottom of the application page.

Click here to learn which program is right for you. 

When you’re ready to apply, visit the Youth or Young Adult “How to Apply” pages to learn more.  

How do I update my online application?

  1. Login to MySCA and click on the green “Manage Application” button on your Home page
  2. Update your Basic Application and your Program Application(s)
  3. Your updated information will be visible to all application reviewers as soon as you save it.

How do I adjust the availability dates on my application?

  1. Login to MySCA and click on the green “Manage Application” button on your Home page
  2. Your availability dates are in the upper left
  3. Double click on each date to update it
  4. Be sure to hit “Save” before you leave the page

How can I update my email address?

  1. Login to MySCA and click on the green “Manage Application” button on your Home page
  2. Click on the “Contact Information” button
  3. Make your changes
  4. Be sure to click “Save” before you leave the page
  5. Updating your email will not change your username. To change your username, email Recruiting@thesca.org

When are crews in the field?

Summertime!  National, Regional and Leadership crews take place in summer. To be eligible, you must be able to start on one of the dates listed below and to serve for at least 2 weeks. Crew lengths vary by program, and range from 2 to 8 weeks long. 

To learn more, visit the National, Regional and Leadership crew program pages.

2015 Crew Track Start Dates

  • June 8
  • June 15
  • July 13
  • July 27

How are crews organized?

Each crew is made up of 6 to 10 members who are similar in age but diverse in experience and backgrounds. Members on each crew are usually an even mix of boys and girls. Each crew is led by 1 or 2 experienced crew leaders.  

To learn more, visit the National, Regional and Leadership crew program pages. 

What if I don’t like my placement?

If you don’t like your crew placement, you can choose to decline it. Your application will go back into the applicant pool, but SCA crew positions are highly competitive, so we can’t guarantee that you will receive a second position.  

How does the waitlist work

Only applicants who receive a waitlist invitation via email are eligible for the waitlist.

Crew members on the waitlist are not rank ordered. If a space opens up on a crew, SCA will identify a candidate from the waitlist who meets the requirements for the open position. 

For example, if a 15-year-old girl drops out of a backcountry crew, SCA will use the waitlist to identify a 15-year-old girl who is able to serve in the backcountry.

Waitlist candidates can expect to be contacted by SCA by phone or email as late as July 31st

Candidates can request to be removed from the waitlist by contacting Crews@thesca.org

What will I have to pay for?

All crew candidates are responsible for paying the one-time $25 SCA application fee and for covering the cost of travel between their home and the crew location.  

You may also have some costs associated with gear. Crew members are responsible for providing their own personal gear, such as sleeping bags, backpacks, and water bottles. Visit the crew Gear Page for a detailed gear list. Selected members will also have the option to rent or purchase gear through SCA.

Leadership Crews are the only crews that are tuition-based. Members pay tuition to participate in Leadership crews. The Leadership Crew program page has current tuition rates.   

Financial aid is available to all crew candidates on a first-come, first-served basis. Financial aid application details will be provided to selected members. 

Visit the National, Regional and Leadership crew program pages for more details about program costs.  

 

How much equipment do I need to buy?

Crew members are responsible for providing their own personal gear, such as sleeping bags, backpacks, and water bottles. Visit the crew Gear Page for a detailed gear list.  elected members will also have the option to rent or purchase gear through SCA.

How much cash will I need?

We recommend that you bring $50 to $80 for souvenirs and other small purchases during travel days and recreation/education days.  

How do I apply for financial aid?

SCA is able to offer a limited number of financial aid grants on a first come, first served basis. Funds can be used toward the cost of travel to any crew program or to assist with the tuition cost for Leadership Crew participants. There is a limit of $400 for each financial aid request.

Selected candidates will receive additional information about the financial aid application process.  

How qualified are the crew leaders?

All of our leaders are caring and dedicated outdoor professionals who have experience conducting youth programs and outdoor activities. They come from a wide range of backgrounds. Some are attending graduate school, while others are school teachers or year-round outdoor leaders. They are all 21 years of age or older and hold current wilderness medicine certifications. Crew leaders have primary responsibility for conducting all aspects of the National, Regional and Leadership Crew program.

Can I serve outside of where I am from?

Absolutely! The SCA experience is about doing something totally new and different. Therefore, we encourage applicants to try to go to a location that is outside of where they live. We do, however, help people serve in their local areas as well if they are interested in staying closer to home.

Where will I sleep?

Most crew members sleep in tents, either in a frontcountry campground or a backcountry location. Tent occupancy is divided by gender and crew leaders have separate tents within the camp. There are a few crews each year that stay in bunkhouses, and on some Regional crews, members live at home and commute to their site each day.

Will I have free time?

There is free time at the end of the day, both before and after dinner. Some evening activities may include swimming, hacky sack, or a card game. Each crew will also have some days off and the crew will decide as a team what they will do on their time off. These days are usually used to explore the area or learn something about the environment of the region.

What is a typical day like for a crew?

Crew members usually get up around 6:30 AM and take turns preparing breakfast and cleaning up the kitchen and camp site. Everyone then packs a lunch and heads off to the project site. Crews work approximately eight hours – taking time out for lunch and breaks. At the end of the day the crew members head back to camp and again take turns preparing dinner and cleaning up. Most evenings are unstructured, with time for reading, writing letters, telling stories, or playing games.

How will we get fresh drinking water?

The water supply used for cooking and drinking is purified by using iodine, boiling, or a water filter. Frontcountry crews often have drinkable water on site.

Can my parents/guardians send me a care package?

Yes. Some backcountry crews do not get mail on a regular basis so be sure to check with the crew leader to see if care packages will be delivered to you. If your parent or guardian does send a care package of goodies, they should send enough so that you can share with the entire group.

Can my parents/guardians visit me?

Parents and guardians can visit the group during the day if prearranged with the crew leaders. Parents and guardians may not stay with the crew overnight.

Will we be able to explore the local region?

Yes!  Crews often spend their non-work days exploring the local area. This might mean hiking a nearby peak, going for a dip in a crystal clear swimming hole, or visiting a local historic site.  

How do I get to my crew site?

You and your parents will schedule and pay for your transportation. You should use whatever method is the most feasible. In most cases, this will be a flight that is scheduled to arrive by the time specified on your placement email. Your crew leader will meet you at the airport and provide transportation to the camp site. We recommend that members travel with a cell phone so that they can use it to contact their leaders and parents if their flight is delayed.

Which airport should I use?

Your crew assignment will include details about where you should plan to arrive to meet up with your crew leaders at the start of the position. If this is an airport location, the specific airport will be identified in your crew assignment.  

Can I bring my cell phone?

Crew members may not carry cell phones while on their crew. Crew leaders carry radios and/or cell phones for emergency use. Members are encouraged to travel with a cell phone, but are then required to hand it over to the leader for safe keeping. Members may occasionally be able to call home during recreation days.   

Where does SCA funding come from?

The National Park Service and other partners require SCA to raise funds from the public to match the grants they make to us for the cost of our volunteer programs. Generally, they pay 80 percent of the costs to us and we have to raise the other 20 percent. That funding comes from people like you, foundations, clubs, and corporations.