Co-operative Young Leaders (CYL) is a unique summer camp experience for youth ages 13 to 18. This series of week-long camps brings together young people from across Ontario to learn about and practice the International Co-operative Principles, communication, and leadership, through games, team building and community projects.

For over 50 years, CYL has been educating and engaging youth in co-operatives. Since its inception in 1967, over 3,300 young people have gone through the program, thanks to the co-operatives and credit unions that have supported it over the years!

In 2017, we also launched Base Camp, a weekend long retreat for youth ages 12 to 13 which provides an introduction to co-operatives, credit unions and CYL.


We bring together youth from across Ontario with established co-operative mentors in a relationship that embraces and enhances their leadership potential. 

CYL is an experiential learning program that integrates co-operative principles with teambuilding practices, empowers youth to be visionaries, and equips them with the change-making tools they need to excel. They develop self-confidence, learn from inspiring guest speakers and have a lot of fun with camp-like activities. Who knew that public speaking, and business conceptualization could be so exciting!

The Benefits of Participating in and Supporting the CYL Program:

  1. It  educates youth on co-operatives - and the values and principles inherent in the model;
  2. It develops communication and leadership skills that youth can apply in all aspects of their lives;
  3. It instills a sense of confidence and greater purpose among youth participants;
  4. It provides adults with a unique professional development opportunity that ultimately helps strengthen their co-operative or credit union.

Program Overview

"CYL really does change your life." 

- Program Facilitator

Held over one week periods throughout July and August, youth participate in a variety of co-operative activities while learning about the co-operative principles and business model. CYL introduces them to a different way of living and doing business as they prepare to go out into the world, and increases their engagement with the co-operatives and credit unions in their communities when they return home - and hopefully throughout their entire lives!


CYL is also an opportunity for adults employed in the co-operative sector to further their own professional development, through both our facilitator training program and by facilitating a week of camp. Facilitators improve their own communication and leadership skills, while also expanding their knowledge of co-operatives - a win-win for both the facilitator and the co-operative organization that employs them!