Crew: FAQ

Is previous experience necessary?

For National and Regional crews, no previous experience is necessary, 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!

What is required in the application?

To apply for a National or Regional crew, candidates complete the Basic Application and the National and Regional Youth Crew Application. For Regional Crews, candidates will also need to enter Application Codes to identify the specific positions they are applying for. The application includes 3 short essay questions and opportunities to share information about skills, education and experience. Candidates are asked to 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 [email protected] 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 a different program, just fill out the appropriate Program Application for the program you are interested in. 

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. Open the Basic Application
  3. Update your dates in the Availability section of the Basic Application
  4. Click the “Update Contact Information” button to save your new dates

How can I update my email address?

  1. Login to MySCA and click on the green “Manage Application” button on your Home page
  2. Open the Basic Application
  3. Type in your new email address
  4. Click the “Update Contact Information” button to save your changes
  5. Updating your email will NOT change your username. To change your username, email [email protected]

When are crews in the field?

Summertime!  National and Regional crews take place in summer. There are a variety of start and end dates for each program. 

To learn more about specific dates, visit the National and Regional crew program pages.

 

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 and Regional crew program pages. 

What if I don’t like my crew placement?

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

How does the National Crew waitlist work?

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

SCA has more National Crew applicants than positions, so there are always many strong candidates who don’t receive a placement. Qqualified applicants who haven’t been placed in a position by April 1st are invited to join the waitlist. These candidates will be considered as new positions become available in the spring, and as spots open up last minute during the summer.

Candidates on the waitlist are not rank ordered, so there’s no way to calculate where a person stands on the list. Instead, if a space opens up on a crew, SCA will consider all waitlist candidates who meet 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 find 15-year-old girls who are able to serve in the backcountry.

Last minute spots often open up during the summer, so waitlist candidates may be contacted by SCA as late as July 31st

Candidates can request to be removed from the waitlist by contacting [email protected]

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. Members may also have the option to borrow 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 assistance with the costs of participation?

SCA is able to offer a limited amount of travel support and program fee forgiveness on a first come, first served basis. Travel support covers the cost of the flight to and from the crew location. Program fee forgiveness reduces or waives the $500 program fee. Members will receive additional information about applying for travel support and fee forgiveness when they receive their crew assignment. 

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 first aid certifications. Crew leaders have primary responsibility for conducting all aspects of National and Regional Crew positions.

Can I go on a crew with a friend?

SCA does not generally place friends together on crews, however, since Regional Crews are made up of people from the same region, Regional Crew members may know each other from school or activities. 

Can I serve outside of where I am from?

Absolutely! We encourage applicants to try locations outside of where they live. We do, however, have some opportunities for members to serve in their local areas 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 usually free time at the end of the day. Some evening activities may include swimming, hacky sack, or a card game. Each crew will also have some days off from their work project. These days are usually used to explore the area together 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 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.  Check out the Crew Experience page for more details, great pictures, and awesome quotes from past members!

How will we get fresh drinking water?

Frontcountry crews often have tap water on site that can be used for drinking and cooking. On crews where there is no tap water, crews purify water for drinking and cooking by using iodine, boiling, or a water filter. 

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. Check with your crew leaders about any restrictions on what can be in care packages for your specific crew, such as no “smellies” for crews in bear country, or allergy friendly food if there is someone on your crew with a food allergy.

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 that the crew hikes a nearby peak, goes for a dip in a crystal clear swimming hole, or visits a local historic site.  

How do I get to my crew site?

You and your parents/guardians 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.

*If you are a resident of Alaska serving on an SCA Alaska regional crew, your travel will be paid for by SCA. Please talk to your SCA Alaska contact for more details. 

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.