RSL & Services Clubs Association

Program Overview

- The Kokoda Youth Leadership Challenge
should be something every young Australian should aspire to do -

The Kokoda Youth Leadership Challenge (KYLC) is a peer group leadership program established by the RSL & Services Clubs Association in 2004 and overseen by the KYLC Benevolent Fund. The program was developed by Charlie Lynn of 'Adventure Kokoda'.

The Kokoda Youth Leadership Challenge (KYLC) Program is designed for young community leaders, young people with strong family military connections and management staff with leadership potential in the NSW club industry or suppliers to that industry with the view to strengthen their skills and attitudes to the challenges of management.

The program involves an arduous 10 day trek across the original Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea, presentations at significant battle sites and discussions on sacrifice, courage, mateship, endurance and leadership. It provides participants with a practical leadership experience based on the achievements and sacrifice of our diggers during the Kokoda campaign.

The learning outcomes from the program include:
• A practical understanding of the theory of leadership within a team environment.
• An appreciation of the aspirations and fears of other members of the group.
• A practical understanding of the effectiveness of interdependency within a team environment.
• A detailed strategic and tactical understanding of the Kokoda campaign.
• The limitations of leadership at the political/strategic level. The relationship between Prime Minister Curtin, General Douglas MacArthur and General Thomas Blamey, and the effects of this relationship on the leadership of the battlefield commanders on the Kokoda Trail.
• Case studies of leadership and sacrifice at the battles of Brigade Hill, Eora Creek and Isurava.
• The culture of the Koiari and Orokaiva people who live along the trail.
• An increase in personal fitness, a loss of fat from the body, a hardening of the muscles, a toughening of the attitudes and an improvement in grit and determination!

'Adventure Kokoda' have a simple approach to personal leadership development. It’s based on the reality of a jungle trail over the Owen Stanley Ranges in Papua New Guinea - not a contrived experiential scenario in a controlled environment. Our leaders have been led by great men and have led great men and women. Veterans are their mentors. PNG guides are their guardian angels. Kokoda is their leadership laboratory.

Association CEO, Garrie Gibson, said the leadership program provides a major contribution to the community by:
• Encouraging these young leaders to help motivate their peers to take a positive role in their community and, among other things, reduce
youth crime rates;
• Creating a source of young leaders coming back into their ranks; and,
• Encouraging participants to work with local community leaders on a range of projects.

The leadership program aims to create a greater awareness of the sacrifices of the diggers on the Kokoda campaign among our young people to ensure the traditions live on. At the same time it instils in participants a commitment to community service, enhance their personal development by providing an opportunity for them to experience the same conditions under which our diggers fought and hopefully transform them for future leadership roles back in the community.

Please note: Applications for 2017 KYLC are now Closed.

Information on the 2017 program can now be downloaded from this website.

Information for Potential Participants

The Kokoda Youth Leadership Program aims to create a greater awareness of the sacrifices of the diggers on the Kokoda campaign among our young people to ensure the traditions live on.

At the same time it instills in participants a commitment to community service, enhance their personal development by providing an opportunity for them to experience the same conditions under which our diggers fought and hopefully transform them for future leadership roles back in the community.

Being selected for the trek is a privileged opportunity to develop personal leadership skills based on the values our Kokoda veterans held dearly. These include personal discipline, mutual respect, trust, mateship, courage and self-sacrifice. Successful candidates should be prepared to act as a community volunteer in some way after they return.

The opportunity to participate in a trek across the Kokoda Trail is a privilege akin to a $6000+ scholarship. Participants should therefore understand that it is not a prize, a gift or a right - it is a privileged opportunity to develop personal leadership skills based on the values our Kokoda veterans held dearly - these include personal discipline, mutual respect, trust, mateship, courage and self-sacrifice.

The trek itself is a physically demanding challenge. You will be required to be in adequate physical and medical shape and free of any medical conditions that may prevent them from completing such an arduous personal challenge. You will need to alert us of any potential health problems prior to the trek. 

The most important qualities for a successful pilgrimage are a sense of adventure, a positive attitude, a healthy body, an inquiring mind, an abundance of common sense and a good sense of humour.

Applications for the 2017 Kokoda Youth Leadership Program will open on Wednesday 1 February 2017 and will close on Friday 28 April 2017.

A KYLC Trekkers Guide has been produced for 2017, to assist you with your application and selection criteria and is now available on the website.

Sponsorship is available from participating local RSL, Services Club other Clubs in your area and the RSL & Services Clubs Association.

Information for Clubs and Companies

With more than 300 young men and women now having made the trek since the project commenced in 2005, that represents an investment of more than $2 million by clubs in our country’s youth.

The program has the potential to build stronger ties with the community and local business while increasing their relevance with young people who will be their future members and become the ‘custodians’ of the Anzac and Kokoda traditions. Any club or company can join the program regardless of whether you are a member or partner of the RSL & SCA.

Commercial law firm Thomson Geer provided specialist legal assistance in establishing the program. The firm, which has a strong relationship with the clubs industry and acts for many large clubs and associations, provided this valued service pro-bono.

The treks are eligible ClubGrants Category 1 expenditure for clubs sponsoring participants on the leadership challenge. They are conducted under the banner of the KYLC Benevolent Fund which was established by the Association. Directors of the Fund are Bryn Miller, CEO of Merrylands RSL Club, Dean Thomas, General Manager of Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL Club and Cameron Provost, General Manager of Orange Ex-Services Club.

Independent ATM provider, Cashcard, annually provides a sponsorship to allow one of the nominating member clubs of the Association to send a second person on the trek.

A KYLC Sponsors Package and Administration Kit has been produced for 2017, and are now available from this website.

2017 KYLC Significant Dates

Monday 16 January - Information on Entry Requirements and Application will be available on this website.

Wednesday 1 February - Applications open.

Friday 28 April - Applications close.

Saturday 13 May - KYLC Workshop
at Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL Club, 20 - 26 Canterbury Road, Hurlstone Park.
All trekkers and a representative of the sponsor or parent/guardian must attend.

Monday 7 to Friday 18 August - Club Industry Trek.

Saturday 23 September to Wednesday 4 October - Young People's Trek.