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Review: LeadAmerica

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People threatening to blow up Serbia, dancing to A Whole New World, and trying to get an army of penguins…sound like fun? LeadAmerica is a 10-day summer camp for leaders of tomorrow’s generation. It opens minds for middle school and high school students and, frankly, changes their lives. And, as a bonus, high school students receive two college credits.

This is my second summer at LeadAmerica. Last year, I did the Intelligence, Defense, and National Security conference based in Washington D.C. As in every conference, we have a simulation. Our simulation last year was North Korea threatening to attack us (Hmm…) and terrorists got a hold of some smallpox samples and released them in Chicago O’Hare airport.

I was given the position of United Kingdom in the United Nations Group. We were lectured by many great minds from people who work at the CIA to Jack Pinnix – a mastermind who taught us how to make a nuclear bomb. We visited famous sites in D.C. such as a tour of the Pentagon and The Annapolis Navy Academy. We even went to Capitol Hill and got appointments with senators and house representatives. I know a person who actually met Hilary Clinton and although I’m a huge republican, that is still pretty cool.

I loved LeadAmerica so much that I (A.K.A. my parents) paid another three grand to send me this year. I went to the Global Summit conference. Like the other conference did, this conference began in Washington D.C.; however, half way though the session we took a bus up to New York City. This simulation was rather different.

I’m sure everyone remembers the 1999 Kosovo crisis. Serbia (Now Yugoslavia) and Albanians were having some ethnic tensions. As a result, a mass genocide started. We were faced with the struggle of deciding how to stop the genocide, what to do with hundreds upon thousands of refugees, and whether or not Kosovo should gain independence from Serbia. Along the way, we were faced with several problems: Booby-trapped houses, U.S. bombing the Chinese embassy (oops!), and dealing with the Immigration department who wanted bring two million Kosovars into the United States (Homeland Security loved that idea…).

In the beginning, my group was given the US AID. I was extremely bummed out. Other groups were given the Department of Defense, Intelligence Agency, Senate … and I didn’t know what US AID even did.

The US AID is a Non-Governmental Organization who gives aid and helps repair infrastructure of other countries. It was so cool being the US AID because our group alone got to go to the US AID headquarters and talk to them. All the other groups were jealous because they got stuck having a really boring lecture by a guy who “didn’t know anything” and “only asked where you were from and then quickly changed the subject.” I came to love being US AID.

When we went up to New York, we switched roles. Instead of looking at the Kosovo crisis through the eyes of the United States, we began to look at it through the international eyes. My group got the U.K. and I was excited to be a country with the veto power. However, I was the U.K. in my first conference. Maybe it gave me an advantage. I would have preferred to be China, as they have a veto and it’s fun to mess with the rest of the U.N.

We went to places such as the United Nations and Wall Street. We did have some lectures, some obviously better than others. We did a lot more lectures this year. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that I am now in the High School group. Overall, the lectures were interesting. I learned a lot from them – like the way the United Nations functions and international affairs.

In all seriousness, LeadAmerica changed my life for the better. My first year, I was a little unsure if this is what I wanted to do with my life. I wasn’t really a “leader.” I was just a normal 13-year-old girl trying to pass high school. LeadAmerica taught me to develop my own opinions and support them. They gave me self-confidence. I know, I know, I sound really cheesy, but it’s true. LeadAmerica opened my eyes to career paths I never considered and introduced me to people with views that are worthy listening to.

The best thing about LeadAmerica is the people you meet. You all share one thing in common – the characteristics of leadership. I lost touch with the people from my IDN conference around December, six months after the conference. While at my conference this year, I actually ran into my friend from IDN. I wished I stayed in touch with him and I plan to e-mail him soon to see how his conference went. I made a lot of friends from around the country. Kansas, Maryland, New Mexico, New Jersey…even someone from Mexico. These people are the leaders of the future and I can say I knew them first.

So, I’ve told you that I’ve done all these lectures and learned all about the Balkan region. Sound like school? Yes, it is exactly like school. No, I’m totally kidding. I do have lectures and boring stuff like that. But, hello, they are giving me two colleges credits. I had to do some form of a lecture but in between the lectures, we did fun things. We goofed off and threatened to bomb Serbia as a joke. We had a talent show. We had two boys in our group dancing to the song "A Whole New World" from Aladdin. We joked about how the staff kept saying we are the future leaders of America, but we can’t lead ourselves across the street. We had fun.

I just finished my freshman year in High School. No offense, but people at my school are idiots. I think they think it’s “cool” to be a democrat. They claim they are big democrats. So, I ask them their position on the war. They respond by asking, “Uh…we went to war?” At LeadAmerica, it’s so different. Everyone has an opinion on politics. Although, most peoples’ opinions differ widely from mine, it was an awesome experience being with young people who cared about current events.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering about those penguins…

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About Maddy

  • Jeremy

    I attended the same LeadAmerica diplomacy program that you did just last week, but the fact is that the program is basically a scam. You dont need to be smart at all to attend. The program invites people that are on the lists of different organizations or from other sources without even checking their background or GPA. In fact, they threatened not give us our college credits if we did not reccomend other students from our school which they will invite without checking their gpa. In fact, I invited 2 of the dumbest kids I know who will probably get their letters soon. By the way, you can’t use those college credits that you supposedly get unless you are already enrolled in a college. Not to mention that not many colleges accept them and they don’t really count for much anyhow. Its also a bit ironic how you’re supposed to be the future leaders of america, yet they run the camp like a detention center where they control almost every facet of your daily routine. You wear your nametag every minute of the day and you’re basically holding your TL’s hand everywhere you go. Eeven if you’re sight seeing in something as small as the vietnam memmorial in D.C., you get yelled at if you’re not in a group of four and the boudaries they set for you in any place you go to are pretty small anyhow. Your “sight seeing” mostly consiststs of walking by the sight or stopping really briefly. If you want to do something as small as buy a hotdog at a stand on your way somewhere, you have to take a vote of hands. The Kosovo simulation which is supposed to be the core of the program is pretty lame. Preparation consists of girls checking their myspace and “meetings”. The actuall simulation consists of people with big egos standing up and arguing about nonsense. The TL’s they povide you with are not very smart and are basically your 24/7 baby sitters. The program charges you a high price for attendence, but you really don’t do much that costs a whole lot of money. Everywhere you go is free and you stay in college dorms. The closing address of the conference is given by the CEO, David Salamone who is basically a guy with a big ego who probably quoted evey bumber sticker I could think of and that had a camera on him the whole time (I could have sworn he was shooting a promotion video or something). Your whole time there is basically wasted on the afformentioned simulations and speakers that usually don’t give you much insight. The conference was hardly life changing, if anything it made me realize how you can turn a summer camp into an efficient businness. The information you get in the mail hardly tells you anything except for the exagerated statements about the credibility it has. If you do hear any positive statements about the camp from children, it usally has to do with the friends they met which is a standard facet of any program where you interact with other children. You won’t find many positive statements about the learning experiance itself which is the main focus of the camp and motivation for people to come in the first pace. By the end of the camp, you’re just relieved not to be under its strict controll anymore.

  • hugo-a-go-go

    Thanks, Jeremy!

    As a parent, I almost fell for this. I had to convince my wife that any organization that makes money by preying on both the ego and goodwill of parents is not one to be trusted.

    They use teachers as unknowing recruits for their organization. Our instructor received a packet in the mail; she took it as a great honor to be called upon to make a nomination…and nominated our daughter. We were initially ecstatic, but when we saw the price tag, my skepticism set in…

    Luckily, your review helped make a decision and saved my bank account.

    Helpful service…Thanks

  • CallmeMaddy

    I still think you made a mistake. I AM IN MY DORM RIGHT NOW! FOR LEADAMERICA, YEAR 3. It is again awesome

  • Runover by LA

    Jeremy, it’s so good to hear about your experience, as I’ve seen LeadAmerica try and silence students like you from speaking the truth. It is a scam, and one that runs deeper than just tricking kids into thinking that this is something special in order to wiggle several thousand dollars out of mom and dad.

    The people that run this company (er, I mean “organization”) are crooked, bully lawyers who run over anyone and everyone that gets in their way. When they don’t get what they want for cheap or free, they threaten to sue everyone. I was the unfortunate victim of their clever manipulations of the system in order to get services for free; and after nearly 2 years of not thinking about it was most displeased to see that all of that work is still being used by them for marketing.

    Parents, just say no to a bad organization and encourage your kids to look elsewhere for an educational, fun summer experience. LeadAmerica is trouble!

  • Went to NY

    Hey, I went to New York this year for the Global Entrepreneurship Conference. I’ve only got two things to say about LeadAmerica: 1. It’s a great social experience. 2. I learned… pretty much nothing. And in the end, it wasn’t worth the money.

    I can’t speak for other conferences, but as for the Entrepreneurship one, I want people to know what they’re paying for. Here goes my long review:

    At NY, they had us working in teams of about 20 on developing a business into a paper and presentation. The whole paper was about 6 pages. Some paper. I learned close to nothing. After we split up the work, my finance team (of 4 people) went to the library to go on facebook. Nobody gave us enough instruction as to what to do (they could have at least given us a little background on finance); nor did anyone facilitate the process of writing the paper. And the presentation? I swear, the PowerPoint that we made would have gotten a D or a C- in school.

    Our so-called team leader sat in the classroom and joked around with the students. When we had a leadership workshop to do, she told us we didn’t have to do it as long as we didn’t talk to any other team or team leader. I didn’t want to sound like a nerd or anything, but I had to speak up and protest. Unfortunately, my opinion didn’t resonate with the team, so we all went back to facebook-ing. Honestly… my parents forked up a couple thousand for this camp…

    On that note– many of the kids at my camp were rich. A lecturer asked us to raise our hands if our parents owned a business, and about 80-90% of the students did. I understand that small businesses don’t make you rich, but one guy I knew had a dad who was the CEO of a video game company. A couple other guys were loaded too. They’re nice, and some of them are my friends, but honestly, it gives me the feeling that none of the students who went to LeadAmerica were smart or destined to become future leaders… they only had money.

    The guest speakers… many of them were pretty average. 90% of them were college professors, pretty dissapointing, because I was anticipating a few CEOs or at least executives or something. 2 speakers showed up very late, and 1 speaker didn’t show up at all. WTF? Guess who it was? The CEO of LeadAmerica! We had one good (actually, I should say great, in comparison to the others) speaker: the founder of Princeton Review (test prep company). He gave a very biased speech about running your own business. Biased is what we need– we need to hear a successful guy’s opinion on what to do and what not to do! LeadAmerica should have brought in more speakers like him; it may have made the conference worth the $$.

    The social experience was pretty great. At NY, we stayed in dorms, and my floor was the loudest, most obnoxious, and GREATEST floor to live on ever. Now I understand why so many people say college will be the best experience of your life. And the dance… amazing. They were really pretty lax about rules and what not, they let us freak dance and brought in a cool DJ. And a couple of kids got away with getting drunk (although 2-4 students were caught and sent home immediately, with their parents having to pay for the airline tickets). This will probably alarm some parents… If you trust your student not to get wasted, then he/she will be fine. I’d say, out of 200 kids at the conference, only about 20-40 were wasted that night. I wasn’t among them of course.

    By the end of the conference, the general attitude of students was like this: “I didn’t learn anything here and the conference was a scam. I made so many friends and I had so much fun.” I’m not sure why people would want to come back a second year… maybe they’re rich and want to do something other than see movies all summer, or maybe they want to meet friends. There are some hot girls who attend… and I guess guys too– that sounds weird, as I’m a guy if you haven’t noticed. Some people do hook up, and most of them realize that this is a short-term thing, just to have fun.

    So parents: send your kid to LeadAmerica only if you have a lot of money (preferably if you’ve paid off your house mortgage and also have all of your kid’s tuition saved up, oh and have enough retirement savings to last the rest of your life). It will be an awesome social experience for them, but they won’t learn anything and it won’t be life changing AT ALL. Furthermore, if you’re thinking of this for college, colleges don’t care. Colleges know that camps like LeadAmerica invite basically anybody (disregarding their intelligence). Putting LeadAmerica on your college apps is equivalent to saying: “I’m rich, I’m spoiled, and I’m living the life…”

    Perhaps my expectations were too high. I’m a high-achiever, and I wanted to learn (but I still have my share of fun). I definitely didn’t get what I bargained for. By the way, I’m from a middle class family, and I guess I’m a little stingy.

  • Went to NY

    Something I forgot to add to my review:

    The field trips weren’t field trips at all. For example, on our schedule, we were to go to the NY Mercantile Exchange from 8:30-12:00. Well, it takes us 45 minutes to line up and walk over. We wait 20 minutes for the NYMEX to set up for us (they’re very tight on security). We head up to an elevator and stand in front of a glass window above the trading floor. A person speaks to us for 10 minutes. We head back down the elevator and leave. We get lunch and then sit around for the remainder of the time.

    This field trip that I’ve elaborated on was the most impressive one that we went on. A couple other times we went shopping. Also, we stopped by the Statue of Liberty for enough time to walk around and find a suitable spot to take a picture and find the bathroom– then we had to get back on the ferry. Our first field trip was a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Not too exciting.. we walked half way and walked back (it felt like 10-15 minutes).

    If you want me to elaborate on any aspect of the conference, I’ll do so gladly (although with high school starting in a few days… I might not ever visit this site again, but please do ask anything as I might respond!). I’d like to save you guys money– I feel like it’s my cause. When I came back home, I felt like I had disappointed my parents, because it was I who had persuaded them to let me go. When they asked me how it was, I demurred. I said that I made so many friends and had a good time. It took me a while to come clean and say that I didn’t really learn that much. Hmm. They weren’t too pleased, but it wasn’t my fault. We were all suckered by LeadAmerica’s clever advertising– but I don’t want you guys to fall for this scam!

  • John

    Jeremy, I have to disagree with you man. I have been to three conferences and what you have said just is not true. They are very well run, especially if you have ever been anywhere else. The lectures were great, true some were not, but that is what college will be like. (at least that is what my dad says and he’s a doctor). The college credits are real. Sure spending time to line up sucks, but that is usually because not everyone listens the first time. We had really sweet speakers at my conference, and if you listen and ask questions, you learn a ton. It seems that the students in my group who complained (and it was only 2 or 3) probably were not ready for it anyway. Long story short it is a great experience.

  • student

    For those of you that attended LeadAmerica and enjoyed it…how did you raise money? I really want to attend the Homeland Security one, but my parents are asking me to pay for all of it, so how did you guys do it??

  • Jessica

    My parents couldn’t afford the tuition, but I was still able to go. I am in college now, and it was a great experience. I was able to do fundraising to help cover most of it, and from what I was told by their staff was that they also have merit and needs based scholarships available. My mom and I called the office at LeadAmerica, and they helped us through all of it! They answered our questions and gave us advice and guidance in those areas. Some of it was even on the website! It is awesome, Trust me!

  • Truther

    Let me just add an insider’s perspective here. Having worked for LeadAmerica, I can attest that they are money-hungry crooks! It is very sad to read about all of you fundraising the thousands of dollars it costs to attend an inflated summer camp! Of course they will help you, they want money in their bank! LeadAmerica sues and goes after people to get and keep their money! It’s a total scam, so I hope more people will stop throwing their family’s dollars away.

  • Doug

    I have been to a LeadAmerica conference, 3 years ago, and it was great. My brother went last summer. I am now a pre-law major with a business minor. I researched the LeadAmerica lawsuits you mentioned, but did not find any. If you had a bad experience working for them, sorry. But that doesn’t mean that we didn’t have a great time attending. We also learned very much. I have had many jobs over the years as I have put myself through school and I can tell you that every company has employees who may be unhappy. But that doesn’t change the fact that both I and my brother (as well as the friends I made while at the conference that I still talk to) did not find it a rewarding experience.

  • John

    I researched NJLC / Lead America since my 11 year old daughter not even in middle school yet (but a great student) received an invitation. My wife is all excited, I smell scam parents out of money for a glorified Summer trip. I have no idea where they get their names but it doesn’t seem like this program applies to an eleven year old !

  • Kevin


    My suggestion to you is to call them and ask. I was sceptical as well. However, she had been nominated by her teacher. My daughter went and had a great time. It was scary letting my daughter go, but she had so much fun. She brought back course materials that quite frankly impressed me. I’m a lawyer so my job is to be skeptical. I asked around alot about LeadAmerica and they checked out ok. All in all, it was rewarding for her. She loved her leaders which she called “TL’s” and wants to go back again. Give them a call and talk to them, I did.

  • Erin

    I went to a NJLC conference right before I started middle school and it was sooo cool! My teacher nominated a couple of us to go. I am going to the CSLC confernece this year since I am in High School now. We heard from great speakers, and got to see lots of things. I also made lots of friends and the one I keep in touch with the most is going to go to the same conference as me this summer! Best part is that with the HS conference we get college credit :)!

  • Chellie

    My severely disabled [mind of a 6-month-old] was just “selected” for their 2008 conference. If you get the letter by mail it is because your child’s name is obviously on a mailing list and not because they’re “chosen”. I am awaiting response from LeadAmerica as to how my child got ‘chosen’ and frankly, they can respond to me or to Dateline NBC. I dont care either way, I intend to expose them for defrauding unsuspecting parents.

  • Rico

    My son is attending a conference this year. He is going to the Medicine and Healthcare conference at the law school. He had a friend that went to a conference last year. He is very excited about it. I did some checking and it seems to be a pretty credible organization. The LeadAmerica foundation is what is helping my son attend the conference. We aren’t able to afford the tuition, but through some fund raising and help from the LeadAmerica Foundation he is going to be able to go.

  • fact

    Last summer I went to the lead America Leadership summit. Wow. It is the biggest rip-off in the world. It’s a joke. I have a good GPA so I thought the letter saying I was chosen for “academic achievements” was true, but one kid at my school who skips three days a week and smokes pot every week got one too, saying the same thing (he didn’t go).
    The camp is just a huge business, you stay in dorms, go to free public places, and still have to pay 3,000 dollars! you are under a Nazi like control, while walking you cannot stop, wander more than 5-feet away, or look at anything. the simulation(which is supposed to be the big event) is just 3 or 4 kids arguing for everyone, while the rest just talk to their friends. you do nothing acaemicly, you just discuss ideas and listen to speaches.
    The guests were usually late, and just talked about:
    1. how great their collage would be for us
    2.how much we are going to learn at this camp
    Basically its a giant social camp, you hang out with kids, meet new kids, and do stuff with kids. and for some people thats great but alot of the kids were rich and arrogant, or just bored and mean.
    by the end everyone was disappointed that for 3,000 dollars we just got babysat the entire time, and felt like we had got gypped.

  • Chellie

    This is my second comment in this blog. My very severely disabled child [mind of a 6-month-old] was invited. I investigated: Here us wat the Executive Director of LeadAmerica wrote me [copied and pasted from his Email]: Dear Mrs. van Antwerp,
    I am writing in follow-up to my email from Monday March 10, 2008. Again I would like to say how sincerely sorry I am that a letter and materials were sent to your home. As promised, we have investigated the source of the data which caused the misdirected mailing.
    We have identified that Jessi’s name was provided to us by a student list provider, American Student Lists. American Student Lists is one of a number of national talent identification programs, surveys and student list organizations that identify and provide names of students to organizations like ours for purposes of recruiting to academic and other summer programs. Some of these organizations also identify and provide student lists to colleges and universities as part of their recruiting and admissions process.
    American Student Lists has informed us that Jessi’s name was obtained by them from what they term as a “non-internet survey”. While they were not able to identify the exact survey source, they have taken action to remove Jessi’s name from their files for mailing purposes. I have taken the liberty of attaching American Student List’s reply to our request.
    In addition, we have asked that American Student Lists be prepared to make available a senior representative should you wish to speak with them directly. The attached e-mail contains the contact information for Stacy DeNatalie. She is aware of the situation and will be happy to provide a more detailed explanation if you feel that is necessary.
    Mrs. van Antwerp, please know I am extremely disappointed and disturbed by this incident. I am grateful that you made me aware of the situation and allowed me the opportunity to address it with our information providers and with you. As disappointing as this situation may be, it does present us with an opportunity to learn and improve as an organization.
    I hope you will accept my formal and heartfelt apology. As I mentioned in my earlier email, LeadAmerica is a very honorable organization that serves a very important mission, to which I have dedicated most of my adult life and energies. Please let me know if we can be of further assistance.
    Chris M. Salamone, Esq.
    Executive Director
    MY CONCLUSION: Anybody who has the money to send kids to DC for nothing more than a summer camp go for it. But dont be fooled into believing that your child was “specially selected”. I have filed FTC complaint against them.



  • CallmeMaddy

    You’re making a mistake, Megan.

  • Vik



    I just got back from the engineering and robotics congressional student leadership conference (june 16-25)in boston, MA at franklin olin college and i can say that i am SEVERELY DISAPPOINTED!!!! the whole thing was like a detention center. MOST of the staff were OK, some were great, but a lot were tyrants and one was almost exactly like professor umbridge from harry potter. it was a major waste of time and money. it’s just a dynamic scam. there were and are loads of other lead-america “alumni” that agree with me. it’s supposed to be for outstanding students and kids that have tremendous leadership potential. BULLSHIT!! there were dropouts that were attending vocatonal tech schools at the conference. obviously, leadamerica does not perform the extensive background checks it claims to do. quite a bit of the lectures they gave us were just advertisements for the college that the conference was held at. SO MANY POWERPOINTS! the whole thing was just a big joke. i expected a lot more. at the end of the conference, they gave us a paper with name slots on both the front and the back to fill out. these are supposed to be kids we think should be nominated for the conference. as incentive, leadamerica will give us conference points for the more kids we nominate. the points can be used as assets for other conferences, but the points, and conferences, are virtually worthless. STAY AS FAR AWAY FROM LEADAMERICA AND GUYS IN FANCY SUITS AS POSSIBLE!!!!! they just want your money

  • kidsmom

    My daughter is going tomorrow to the Medical health conference at Fordham. She is a EXTREMLEY nervous, and very shy. Since it will be the first time away from home for a long period of time, I’m wondering if I should allow her to go. After reading these blogs, which I wish I would of read prior to enrolling her, I am wondering if I made a huge mistake. I did get the insurance, and, would be able to get a medical note to get her out of this conference. So I am asking for some advice, should I nix the program knowing her shy personality or let her go to experience a conferance that may be a great experience.

  • CallmeMaddy

    Hey kidsmom–

    Don’t worry about your kid. I’m not shy at all, but I had a very shy roommate my first year. She ended up having fun. If worst comes to worst, she can come home early. I’m the most talkative person alive and I was nervous all three years. But honestly, don’t worry about it. And I don’t what these kids are talking about, because I had a blast.


  • kidsmom

    Thanks Maddy,
    I appreciate you writing me back, And I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it. You really should share your experience on the blogs about Lead America, because yesterday, I had spent a few hours reading so many blogs on many different sites about Lead America, and I have to be honest, about 90% of what was written was not good! I should have researched this org. before I signed her up. I also spoke to a teacher from her high school, and she told me it is illegal for a teacher or counsler to give out any information about any student to any type of org. So when Lead America states in its letter that a student is nominated by a teacher or counsler, that alone is a lie. I have that bad feeling in the pit of my stomach not to send her, and as a parent, I have to follow my instinct.
    Any body else willing to share? Thank-you

  • Blake

    I am a teacher in Pittsburg PA. I understand some of your concern. I am sending my daughter this year to a LeadAmerica program. She went to one last year too. I am sure your daughter will have a great time. Remember, people usually don’t hand out compliments, but they are quick to complain. I use restaurants as an example and caught myself in the same act. It is great 99% of the time and unfortunately I don’t say anything to them when it is. Even my favorite restaurant has a bad day. But let me get a bad meal just once and I am all over them. Point being is most people get vocal only about a complaint (justified or not I don’t know). Very few sing anybody’s praise. (which now reminds me to tell folks when things are good!)

    What conference is your daughter going to? Maybe it is the same as my daughters.

  • Rachel

    What you said about the restaurant is right on point. I find myself doing the same thing! Anyway, my niece went to a Lead america program in June. She had nothing but great things to say about her time in DC with the group.

  • kidsmom

    my daughter was going to do medical at Fordham with studies at Mt. Sinai in NY. Since my husband is a Dr.he made some phone calls to this hospital and found out it was a one day visit, a total of 1-2 hrs, including a tour.Not exactly what was described in the curiculum. As for “having a blast”, that is not what we were sending her for.
    As for the Journalism program, it’s discription of this program was to go “BEHIND THE SCENES” at “network news stations”.I know a parent who has their son at that program this week, and all they did so far was stand outside the CBS Morning news show, holding up signs, with one of the “counslers” trying to TALK their way inside, that didn’t work. Again not exactly what was described in the curiculum. Is he having fun, yes, he loves “hanging out” with his new friends.He describes it as a camp with some cranky counslers. This is worth $3000? I will let everyone I know NOT to fall for this program.

  • Mike

    I am going to the Medicine Conference in about three and a half days. This is my third LeadAmerica conference. I come from a poor family, having grown up in New York City, with my mom working two jobs, we now live in an okay house in New Jersey. The LeadAmerica Foundation has given me scholarships to go to the conferences and I used money from my part-time job for everything else.

    I have to agree with Maddy here. These conferences have been the best experience of my life. I have learned so much, have made so many new friends and grew as a person. I learned a lot about myself during these conferences, and what I want to do with my career. I enjoy meeting new people and learning new things. I ask questions to learn things at these conferences during the lectures.

    Many of these kids who don’t like them either don’t listen during the lectures or did not make many friends or just did not give the conference their full attention. I always listen to these lectures, and listen to people before speaking. The keyword here, is: LISTENING. Listen to other people’s views and other people when they speak. Don’t be focus on your myspace or anything stupid during the conference. Focus on you and the people that speak to you and try and learn about what they say.

    I am not a rich kid, just a thankful one, because of LeadAmerica helping me with my life.

  • wow WHAT A PEICE OF SHIT!!!!!

    WELL! i back form the medicine science and robotics at johns hoplins university and let me just say that i truly think it was the biggest joke i have ever seen in my life. im so sorry i wasted my parents money on this peice of shit and im never ever gong anywhere close to there again. first off al the speakers are paid off to say a hole bunch of bull shit to feed bull shit to kids. they eat it up. they were extremely boring and i wanted to catch up on the sleep i missed (gotta get up at damn 6 to take a shower and go to breakfast at 7. sounds like fun?) anyways! time to review the “medicin, science androbotics” part.medicine, was the simulation were you had to pick betweena spider bite and mrsa and rosacea and some other shit. wow, 2 hours to go through the whole entire medicine part. robotics was building a lego car and pushing cans out of a circle. BUT OH WAIT! it got cancelled! because they planned out everything so poorly that everything was cancceled because we ran out of time. like for the georgetown emt trainging. we were late, so we wasted 2 hours sitting in on stairs. which we also did for the foirth of july fireworks they thought started at 730. nope, started at 930. waited 3 1/2 on bricks outside the tiny maryland science center we visited. in the pourin rain were alot of kids caught colds because there was shelter to hold about 50 people and everyone waited outside of it in a thunder storm. we didnt even DO anyhthing science and we went knowhere interesting, and if we did we didnt see ANY of it because we were always RUSHING! they make sure you see every other camp going on with enough freedom they can walk all by themselves and play sports. did i mention we cant go outside when we have the 15 minutes f freedom, its either in your room or shaing a couch with 18 people. and the excuse for our program director mr. ezekial williams was “good leaders are flexible.” screw yor williams you scumbag. scamming kids doesnt get old does it? also his speeches are boring as watching paint dry, so if your dumb enough to pay 3000 for a scam like i was, and you have him as your pd. your seriously screwed and need to bail out NOW! literally the biggest peice of shit program and i hope salamone goes bankrupt.

  • funinthesun

    Sorry for your awful experience. Just be thankful that you came home safley. Too many parents ,including myself, do not have much info on this program. This is why we need to continue these reviews.

  • Jackson

    Wow. I have never read a review like #30. Sounds like you should have never been invited to a leadership conference. What a foul mouth you have! Certainly not one of a future leader. I too am looking for information on leadership programs, but your comment is totally out of line with the profanity and anger.

  • Jackson

    Wow. I have never read a review like #30. Sounds like you should have never been invited to a leadership conference. What a foul mouth you have! Certainly not one of a future leader. I too am looking for information on leadership programs, but your comment is totally out of line with the profanity and anger.

  • Blake


    I understand your concern. I don’t send my daughter just for fun. After all I am a teacher, I can’t afford to send her just for fun. She is at the medicine conference right now at Georgetown. I do know this, she will come back with information and knowledge that she did not have before. This may spark a further interest in medicine, or she may decide that she does not like it. I know of other students in the district that have went to Leadamerica conferences, the ones I have spoken with have enjoyed it and said that the learned quite alot.

    I guess I have a different take on it then you and some of the others who claim to have went and use profanity and hateful language. I am a teacher, and I see students doing this type of thing all of the time. Tell them no, cancel a field trip, give them detention and BINGO! they are on the phone calling home. To me, I give that type of student review little credit. The meaner, the more hateful remarks, are 99 out of 100 times from the student who couldn’t behave away from home.

  • Cora’sDad

    Comment #30 doesn’t sound like a kid I my child around. If someone with such a foul mouth had a bad time, it doesn’t surprise me.

  • LA Victim

    What a relief it is to find a place with all of these wonderful, TRUTHFUL comments and examples of how this “company” is out for a quick buck. Having been bullied and harassed by this company for more than 2 years after providing them with creative services, they used their law degrees to threaten lawsuits over intellectual property and information until I was forced to call a lawyer. They are horrible, mean people with no interest in young minds. They abuse others to get what they want and will stop at nothing when it comes to their money. I am so glad to see that so many here are openly sharing the same unfortunate stories about their dealings with Lead America. If enough people stop sending their kids there, maybe they will eventually just go out of business.

  • Blake

    LA Victim,

    It sounds like you have more of a business complaint. This forum is for parents who want information about the academic programs. My daughter had a great time this summer, and I was impressed with the material she brought home. Have a child, send them to a program, and then give us your comments. It seems that you didn’t have a problem with them when they were paying you based on your post. Let us, the ones with children who attended the programs or are going to attend, make the comments. I could talk about the business dealings of those unhappy with my School District, but it has no bearing on the quality of education my students receive.

  • Alice

    I sent my son to a conference this past year. He enjoyed it very much. He came back with renewed interest in business, and seemed to be very motivated by his experience. Even his behavior has changed, he is becomming more of a leader. He is a Junior and wants to attend another conference next year. If anyone has any questions, they can contact me about my son’s experience. The staff was always very helpful to us during the whole process. I don’t know what post the other post is about, it seems like more of a business to business issue. But as a parent, I can attest that my son greatly benefited from his LeadAmerica experience.

  • Marie

    My child is interested in the Theatre Arts program in New York. Has anyone participated in this seminar and how was it? Was it worthwhile?

  • Lori

    Wow, I just received a nomination letter from my 7th grade teacher to attend this conference. The thing that stumped me was the price…My Lord!!!

    Of course, before I shell out money that I do not have, I am going to do my research and I am glad that I came across this site…

    My son is anxious to go, but now that I am reading these comments…..I highly doubt he will attend. Does anyone know of any other “legitimate” programs similar to this one?

  • Lori

    I agree with #31 comments…
    I am also a little leary sending my thirteen year old to New York or Boston, Mass…

    I can’t just hand off my son for 10 days and not know who the facilitators are or if they have criminal backgrounds…

    My son is going to be heartbroken, but I think I am going to pass on this.

  • its a scam.

    My best friend just went to one of these programs, held by the same organization, except it was to see the inauguration of the president. I was invited as well, but had to turn the invitation down for financial reasons. Basically, they played games and sat around until the inauguration day, then woke up extremely early to catch a bus, and sat on the bus for hours and hours to get to the capital. They parked about a mile away from the actual inauguration, got out of the bus, and watched the inauguration on a television screen. (Did I mention it was raining and freezing cold?) Then they got back on the bus and went back to the hotel. My friend though it was a complete waste of time and vowed never to be scammed by this organization again. Well, it looks like they run another camp, and I get an odd sense of Deja Vu when I read over my invitation I got in the mail. There is no way I will be scammed like my friend was. I strongly think that if you are going to learn something, look elsewhere.
    I actually have gone to one of these leadership conferences before, which was probably why I was invited to the one I just mentioned. Although you meet plenty of people, I did not learn ANYTHING from the experience, and my interest in becoming a leader was not increased at all. Most of the time we sat around using the limited knowledge we already had to try to put on a presentation; I ended up calling a friend back home to ask her to research topics for me.
    I don’t recommend this at all. It is a scam. I repeat, it is a SCAM!

  • (Did I mention it was raining and freezing cold?)

    That’s odd. I seem to recall a bright sunny morning. Cold, certainly, but there was no rain in DC on Inauguration Day.

  • Dan

    The following comment pertains to the: NATIONAL LEADERSHIP SUMMIT (according to them, invite only), I really don’t have any knowledge on the other conferences.

    To be perfectly honest, I received a letter from LeadAmerica this afternoon regarding their National Leadership Conference, and I was astounded how terrible it sounded initially.

    My first impression of that letter or propaganda promoting their programs, if you will, was that is was a scam. In the first sentence, they use that oh so often used phrase – “Your child has been chosen to represent the state of Michigan because…etc.” (Not the exact words, but you catch my drift.)

    Those sorts of exclusivity and limited enrollment ploys have been used for ages upon ages, from sneakers to toys. Anyone could have received an invitation to “represent the state”.

    I was only slightly skeptical, until I checked out the website online. 2500 dollars for a 10 day stay? Okay. Now that I’ve read some of these reviews, definitely a no go. To top that off, a conference for learning leadership skills/improving them?

    Lets think about this. In the letter they state that I’ve been selected for my leadership skills, academics, and extracurricular activity involvement. Why would I pay 2500 dollars for a vacation to Washington DC for a “summit” and learn skills that I already possess, according to them. The seemingly computer generated invitation that they gave me puts me off as well, sounds like they just want to make a quick buck.

    I have good grades, good social skills, and good leadership skills. Now, you’re thinking, what if your kids don’t possess good leadership skills, and want to improve them? That question in itself will throw off any defense of LeadAmerica. If a person doesn’t possess such skills, and was invited, then obviously their mailing list was computer generated and/or bought from a marketing corporation.

    Let’s be honest, I don’t need to pay 2500 dollars for a trip to DC, to make new friends, or learn leadership. I can live life, and learn it the way I was created to learn it. I’m not an ignorant person.

    To top all that off, even if I were to go, I’d be forced to make up all of my summer football lifting, which is a bitch to catch up on.

  • Andrea

    I’m disappointed to read all of this! 🙁

    I was very interested in attending the medicine and healthcare conference. I’m 17, a junior in highschool and receive very good grades, and I was flattered(though maybe a little suspicious) to receive such an inciting packet in the mail. My parents suspected their advertising to be just a scam, and advised me to do some research to see if it was legitimate.

    This is sadly as I feared! It seems the only pros to this are the college credits, and hanging out with new friends on a college campus(not worth $3000.). Also, I believe that most universities KNOW that this program is phony, and will most likely dismiss the credits and completion of this program, thus, NOT helping you at all on your college application as much they make you think.

    If anyone can help me, I am looking for medicine and healthcare specific leadership camp, with weight and credibility that I can really learn and grow from, one that colleges will take seriously. I would love something real. And not somewhere that accepts anyone who will put money in their pockets. Any advice?

    Thank you so much for your reviews! I was almost roped into earning and fundraising all this money myself to pay, since its too expensive for my parents to just hand over, considering everything else they pay for with me and my 3 sisters, especially with one in college and another in grad school. What a sad waste of hard earned money that would have been!! Darn crooks.

    Thanks again guys. 🙂

  • charliegirl

    My son just received one of these letters yesterday, and he is so good, Gets good grades in school, always in some club, and is always on a sport at school. I wanted to do something to reward him, he wants to go into medical field thought this would be fun for him to, stay at Columbia University for a week now I don’t know.
    Has anyone attended this one in particular?

  • CAgirl

    I attended two Lead America conferences through the Presidential Youth Leadership Conference in D.C. at the Inauguration of G. W. Bush and the Democratic National Convention in Boston. I am currently a senior in college now, and I still look back fondly on these two experiences. The Lead America programs that everyone else attended must of been completely different then the two I attended. I have to say that those memories have stayed with me today, and still impress many today as well. I shook hands with John Kerry and stood within ten feet of George Bush, and also met countless celebrities and representatives at the DNC. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget, and I would recommend anyone these two programs. I have about two more months until I graduate and am currently applying for jobs in the political realm I have put down that I attended these programs on my resume and have received great responses. The Lead America programs are great experiences and have given me lifelong memories.

  • Heyguys

    I just got one of these letters right now and I was all excited until my friend said it might be a scam and I looked it up and now I saw all of this. thanks everyone. 🙂

  • Mom

    Has anyone attended the CSI:Forensic Science program at Johns Hopkins University? How was it?

  • Dannygirl

    wow,when i looked this up before i signed up, I saw nothing, now thats all i see. anyway i got references from kids that went and they loved it. my co-workers daughter went to one similar and said it was life changing.
    I will let you know how it goes, she is going this summer.
    maybe the particular camp you selected was not good. the responses I got where strickly from the camp that my daughter is going to

  • unsure

    I recieved a letter not so long ago and was very excited on going until I came across this site.
    If I do plan on attending, I want to go to the one in China. Is this a good idea? Has anyone gone to this leadership confrence before? I need an answer fast! THANKS:)

  • Seriously

    These people are in all honesty desperate for your hard earned dollars. In an economy like this who can spend the exorbitant amounts of money they’re asking for. And please parents don’t be so completely gullible; its clear that many of you are proud of your children but this business is clearly a scam. In no way does a 10 day conference constitute several hundreds of dollars.
    Think about it for all you know all the positive reviews on this site could be coming from a low level person in their association who has been tasked with spreading false information. How would you ever know if these positive reviews weren’t being written by workers of this company. Purely being a scam doesn’t mean this trip wouldn’t be enjoyable, but in no way is it going to be educational. And remember college admissions officers are extremely smart, they’re aware of these schemes and putting record of one of these trips on a resume would probably hurt more than help you.

  • mjjj

    I just got nominated for this and the application is due by Monday. Should I go? There are so many mixed reviews, but if this looks good for colleges i feel like i should attend, as long as financial aid is supplied. We are really tight on money right now, and i would really like some honest feedback about this program.

  • Hey there

    Yeah, I agree with comment #49. Has anyone been to ANY of the CSI: Forensic Science ? Please tell me about your experiences!! Thank you!

  • hayley

    Omg. I was going to sign up for this thing to go to australia/new zealand. i was so excited. After i read all of these comments i know now that you really can’t trust people. You probably could go there for the 6 grand they were asking, by yourself and have much more of a great time.

  • Arby Bee

    I’m happy I found this info. However, I am wondering why the Better Business Bureau says there are only 5 complaints in 36 months:
    LeadAmerica resolved 4 by “Agreeing to perform according to their contract” and 1 “Unassigned”.

    If you all filed your complaints, perhaps more people would be aware of the dissatisfaction.

  • KID

    listen, my friend told me she had a great time and learned so much. She went on field trips, made new friends and learned so much. Now I am going this summer and can’t waittt

  • KID

    has anyone done the media journalism

  • KID

    also my cousin did this and said he had a greaT TIME AND WOULD DO IT again in a heart beat

  • Kia Turner

    For some background info on me, I attended the Lead America Law and Trial Advocacy program last year (2008) in Boston, and honestly it was the best time of my life. Every single one of the people that I met there were extremely intellectual, and had well developed political and social opinions. Over the short time of ten days, I learned so much. We conducted a mock trial on the second to last day, and even though my team ended up loosing, I don’t think I have ever learned that much. The Team Leaders (TL’s) were great, and taught us a lot about Law and life in general. Also, one of the greatest life lessons that I have learned so far was taught to me at Lead America. We had a guest speaker come in from Harvard Law, and one of the things that he said when he was talking about responsibility was about being independent. He basically told us that we can’t rely on our parents to do things for us, and if kids get themselves stuck into sticky situations that they shouldn’t let, or ask, their parents to bail them out. He used a football analogy, and I really remember that. I have tried really hard to put that lesson to use my freshman year (this year) and my parents have noticed that I am a lot more independent and responsible.
    On top of all of the things that I learned there, I met some awesome friends that I still talk to almost a year later. These are people that I will never forget and I bonded so closely with them in only ten days. They were people that were a lot like me, all of them with great goals and ambitions for their lives, and they all wanted to get into great colleges like I do. It is a lot different from my home town, were counselors get excited if someone is accepted into the local community college. For me, it was almost a preview into college, something I am looking forward to.
    As to off campus trips, I had a great time, we went to quincy market and feneuil(spell?) hall, and John Adams Courthouse, and the Mougley, and Harvard Square, and I had a ball during all of them. We also went on the freedom trail and we were allowed a lot of freedom as long as we were in groups of four.
    There was a dance at the college, (Bentley University) and there was also a talent show, and they were both really fun, especially if you have fun kids in your group.
    Honestly, if there is a kid that is really ambitious and has high goals, then they really need to find a way to pay for this trip. It is such a great experience, and though my family doesn’t have a lot of money, I found ways to pay for my trip, and I am going back this summer to New York for the Global Business and Entreprenuership conference, and I am so excited. If some people have had bad experiences than, I am sorry but my experience was out of this world.
    If you get the opportunity- find a way to go! (Its worth all of it and more)

  • Bashn

    Most everything I have to say has been said. This program is a scam. I went to their engineering and robotics conference last year. It was a joke. I learned nothing. It was a bad experience. Don’t waste your money.

  • KID

    Its me again,
    I am going to the Media Journalism camp in about 20 days and can’t wait. I’m going with my friend who is going for her second year. This is my first. Last year, she said she had a great time and learned a lot. I will make a video commentary on what I am doing at the camp and put it on Youtube. There, you will actually get to see what the camp is like up front. Then you can really make up your minds

  • KID

    Also, i forget who said this but they said” I spent hours looking for the regerstration, but if you go on your lead America website it tells you where it is and it gives you a link to the map of a campus so that was your fault, not lead America’s fault.

  • KID

    sorry i forgot to ends the quotes in my last message

  • IGotALetterToo

    When i got the letter from them, i was so happy ! I thought i was special, and an outstanding student, but it was all just a scam. I was prepare to waste my parents money, beacuase i mainly wanted the college credit. Thankfully,before going, my parents asked the college councelor at my school if he knew what teacher may have selected me for this ” amazing opportunity”. Well, he did a little research, and sent me a dissapointing e-mail, informing me that no one picked me, and that actually the whole thing was a scam. I was really sad, and i felt like an idiot because i got so excited for it, but it ended up being some wrip off. I must say, that anyone who goes, should at least research it, before putting a big dent in their parents bank account. For those of you that are reading these coments and still going to the camp, wow. Ha ha , because why would peoplpe lie about this being a scam ? If it wasn’t a scam, would horrible students be selected for this ” amazing ” camp ? I don’t think so.
    I hope you make the right decision…

  • just saying.

    I had a friend who was at LeadAmerica and she texted me and a bunch of my friends asking for our addresses for a “awesome leadership thing”. I can only assume that asking their participants to text their friends for personal information is just one of the reasons why receiving an invite means absolutely nothing. If you’re looking for a summer program that REALLY is beneficial, try the John’s Hopkins CTY program. It’s three grand and three weeks, but totally worth it. You spend about six hours a day in a classroom with a college professor. I enrolled in a writing class there, and I learned more in those three weeks about writing than I have so far in high school. you do have to test in by achieving a certain score on the SAT or ACT, so going is actually an honor, not just the work of a 16 year old’s texting plan.

  • Freaking out and extremely nervouse

    I just typed in lead America and googled it when all of tese things about it being a total Scam. My theater conference is next week July 13 at forham university. At my school I’m friends with pretty much everyone. I admit it is made up of 60 girls so it’s not very hard to know everybody but still, for me being afraid of meating new people that’s pretty good. This is supposed to be a life changing experience but when you see on the internet the testomonials of some of the alumni it kinda makes me wonder what I’ve gotten myself into. I just need someone to reasure me that I’m not making a huge mistake.

  • KID

    Freaking out and extremly nervouse, its okay i did the media journalism one there was the acting session with us and i had so much fun. I a;so went to fordam and i made so many friends and learned a lot. I made friends from the acting one and they all said they liked it. you see brawdway shows and a lot of other fun stuff. Tell me ur room number cuz we mite have the same room. O and go in the lounge w/ the ping pong table on the fourth lounge. Thats where a lot of funny stuff happened. Its rite by the elevators. I hope you have fun cuz i did.

  • Another Mom

    You/your kids only live once. If you can afford to pay for this program. Do it.
    If it’s a mistake, then it will prevent larger mistakes in the future as your kids will learn to be skeptical. If it turns out to be a great experience, then i don’t need to explain. Remember, the experience is in the eyes of the beholder and his/her attitude.

  • Julia

    I went in the beginning of the Summer. I enjoyed it but I do have to admit, we weren’t allowed on our own that much. When we visited Union Station, we ate downstairs at the food court. Some of the girls I met saw an awesome tshirt that we all wanted so we all went upstairs to buy them. My TL called me on my cell phone telling us to come back downstairs, she told us to sit down because we were in a lot of trouble. she said that no one told us we could go upstairs, but no one told us we couldn’t. I think kids should get that advantage because we are kids and we don’t know any better. Luckily, in the end it was ok and no one was in trouble but if you go, ask your TL if its ok to go somewhere, even if its the bathroom! Some of the speeches were really boring but one was really awesome. I would definitely go back next Summer.

  • Diane

    Hi! My husband just dropped my son off this morning at the Confernece in New York City. “Leadership University” My son will be a Junior in High School in September. He has never been away from home to a camp of any kind before but, he is excited. He called me and told me the dorms were not that clean and I laughed. I think he expected it to be like home. I am sure this will be a life changing expierience for him and I for one am happy that they keep these kids under wraps. New York City is not the safest place in the world. Also, I am sure Lead America Staff just wants to keep the kids safe. My son has been on many trips to many places and is a very responsible young man so it is most likley that he will be getting whater there is to be gotten out of this program if there is anything to be gotten out of it. I will keep You updated throughout the week.

    P.S. Leaders wake up early
    Leaders are Responsible
    Leaders listen

    A Leader doeas not mean you are free to do whatever you please. Going to a leadership program does not mean you are a grown up and you are capable of being the kind of leader this program is trying to teach you to be.

    I really think that alot of these negative posts may be from kids that are misinformed to what the definition of a “Leader” really is!


  • jen

    Look at Lead America Facebook page and you will get an idea of how wonderful the Lead America programs are….Everything that has been written is totally positive and just look at all of the pictures of the kids…they all look happy. So for anyone that had a horrible time, maybe you should look at yourself. Life is all about making choices and sometimes those choices include taking it upon yourself to enjoy life and try to find the positive in all of your experiences.

  • Diane

    Hi! This is from my #71 post

    My son’s first day went well. He met a lot of nice kids and he really liked his roomate. Unfortunately the friends he had met and his roomate were not in his group.
    He was very upset that first night and thought he was going to have a terrible time. I even tried to talk to the counselors to see if he could get his schedule changed but they would not budge! I was very upset when I went to bed that night. The next night my son called us and said he had an O.K. day because he was in classes all day but he did learn alot and it was getting much better. The third night we told him we were going to come to the closing ceromonies and they said you could take your child home late that night.This was Monday the 27th and it was his 16th birthday! My son called us the night before and said he wanted to stay until Tuesday the last day!
    He was having a great time and had met so many new friends and he didn’t want to leave! I guess all of my bickering to the counselor was unwarented. Now I feel like a dope! The counselors were 100% correct!!!
    They know what they are doing and they know how to run a succesful program. My husband picked my son up and he was so upset that he had to leave his new friends. I for one would definatly recommend this program. This was my son’s first real time away from home by himself. I felt that he was safe, cared for and learned alot. Lead America.org
    you have my vote!!! Thanks A Million!!!

  • Former TL

    Allow me to put my two cents in: While I was never a student at Lead America, I was a team leader for two years. I worked with the diplomacy program in 2006 and the intelligence defence and national security program in 2007, both with high schoolers exclusively. I have also gone to and worked at two other more traditional summer camps as well as being a student at Presidential Classroom, a program in some ways similar and different in others to Lead America. With regard to youth programs, I have seen a lot, from both sides of the clipboard so to speak. To address some of the allegations made here let me first say that yes, Lead America is a pretty blatant pyramid scheme. They rely on many of their customers being referred by past participants both by word of mouth and what amount to “forced nominations.” Toward the end of the program, all of the students are in one of the lecture halls and receive nomination forms and they are required to “nominate” at least three people they know. This is not enforced in anyway accept that there are three names with some form of contact info on each sheet. I remember one student actually nominated Adolf Hitler in one program. The staff saw this as somewhat humorous only in that the student resorted to such hyperbole, not to mention the fact that we all knew the particular student and we weren’t particularly surprised based on their attitude throughout the program. Onto the next allegation of being treated variably as if they are in a detention center, a goolag (sp?), or under the care of nazis; this is a simple case of perspective and lack of understanding of the realities of acting in loco parentis (in place of parents) for several hundred high school students. I have gone to and worked at traditional summer camps, and I can certainly tell you all that students at Lead America have far more freedom than even the counselors at those aforementioned camps (at least when on duty). If my memory serves me correctly there was no more and quite probably less freedom at Presidential Classroom. While I can’t speak for any of those on this board who have made the claim, most of the students who claimed it while actually at one of the conferences I was working at were generally involved in some kind of behavior contrary to the rules and were caught and appropriately. This kind of belief, as I mentioned before, is a result of kids (in most cases that is what they really are) not understanding the realities that people caring for large numbers of minors face, both from their insurers as well as legal authorities. The conferences I was with were hosted in Washington DC and Manhattan, NYC, NY. Both are major cities, and in both cases, you can easily walk just a few blocks in the wrong direction from a very safe area and end up in a very bad area. DC is specifically bad for this. I am not aware of any program for youths, summer or otherwise, that does not require those youths to stay in groups of some size and stay within very distinct boundaries. If something horrible happens, the staff must be able to quickly locate all of the students in what could quickly become a very frenzied environment, and students being alone or outside of very defined areas make that very close to impossible to ensure. I will grant that some students coming from big cities or who have spent time there might be better equiped to handle being alone in a large city than some staff members, but these are the exceptions, and the staff is still ultimately responsible for the safety and wellbeing of what the law of the land consider minors.

    Onto the Academics: In my experience, with these kinds of summer programs, Lead America differs from Presidential Classroom, in that the emphasis is less on hearing famous/pseudo-famous people speak and more on the simulation and leadership activities. The first summer I worked at Lead America, I thought the leadership activities were a complete crock and a waste of time. They are hokey and in many cases oversimplified. However, the second year I worked for them, I gained a better understanding of those activities, and appreciated the fact that, if approached properly, the vast majority of those activities do illustrate important leadership qualities. In my opinion, the simulation can be either excellent, or useless, depending on its execution. I was not a fan of the Kosovo simulation because there was no real way for the students to impact the course of the simulation since it was held almost exclusively to the actual course of historical events. This was interesting the first session, but after that it got repetitive. Granted, I, unlike the students, went through it more than once. The Intelligence, Defense, and National Security simulation, on the other hand was excellent. It was a somewhat plausible situation based on conceivable, though unlikely, circumstances so there was nothing holding the simulation to a specific course. The way the students wanted to go drove the simulation and their successes made things easier and their mistakes led to a more challenging situation. As a staff member, my personal favorite parts of this simulation were two events, one halfway through the program and one at the end, where the team leaders acted as either members of the press or members of congress on a congressional oversight committee and asked the students to justify their actions throughout the simulation. While at times these events could become adversarial, they were never malicious and so the stress they caused was a great learning experience. The simulation can tend to be dominated by a few people within a given team who happen to be more aggressive/confident, however, if a given student has a good attitude, and something to contribute, they can become an integral part in the way the team approaches the simulation from the particular group they are representing. The best groups tend to be those where the vast majority of the group are actively participating and not resigning themselves to the corner of the room to socialize or sulk. While ideally, the Team Leader will be able to recognize those students who want to participate but feel overshadowed, the reality is that we are not omniscient or mind-readers or even able to see everything happening in a large room all at once. In some cases it comes down to the student needing to figure out how to insert themselves into the discussion, and if they have something to offer, defend their point, and that virtually always leads to them becoming a contributing member of the team. This might be an intimidating proposition for some, but it is a valuable lesson to learn that will serve them very well throughout their academic careers and the rest of their lives. If they find themselves unable to do it for themselves and the Team leader doesn’t immediately jump to their aid for whatever reason, they should take it upon themselves to ask the team leader for help. Whether the simulation is one of the most rewarding experiences of the summer or one of the biggest wastes of time depends almost entirely on how the student approaches it (or does not) much as the high school and subsequently college experiences.

    The lectures, as I mentioned earlier are not necessarily what they are billed as by the promotional material. I can’t speak for the other programs, but the ones that I worked with generally only had a few “movers and shakers” from the “field,” while most of the lectures were delivered by professors. The professors are generally pretty good, though I did have a near angry outburst from myself when one professor stated, as if stating a fact, that Saddam Hussein never used WMD, um hello? he gassed the Kurds with nerve gas. In spite of this, you get the same mix of abilities in lecturers that you can expect in college. Some are absolutely amazing; some are abysmal, and most are pretty good. Powerpoints are used extensively as they are in most classrooms, boardrooms, and presentations of all kinds. Again you get the same mix of skills: some commit murder by powerpoint, some really know what they’re doing, and most can get the job done pretty well. This next bit applies to all of the lectures but especially those delivered by professors: the lectures are intended for a mass audience from the age group present. There will be some that due to an impressive intellect or lots of study and reading on a topic who will be well-beyond the lecture and might be bored. There will be others over whose heads the lecture goes and they will be either bored, confused, or they might rise to the occasion, take notes, listen, ask questions for clarification and get something out of it. However, the lecture is generally right on target for the majority of students. The lectures are like any other, as well as the rest of the program, you get out of it what you put into it. If you listen attentively, ask questions, and remain engaged, you will learn. As a rising junior and senior in college, I still walked away from most lectures have learned something. Parents: not to say that your son or daughter isn’t brilliant, but if they claim that they couldn’t learn anything from a college professor while they are still in high school, they couldn’t have been paying attention, whether due to lack of interest or arrogance, a lecture is still a lecture, and to learn from it you must actively listen. As a side note, many on this board have mentioned lecturers who talk about nothing more than why their school is great; these are not lectures. These are info sessions conducted by the college hosting the conference. They are stipulated by the contract between the college and Lead America. Not having been a party to the negotiation of those contracts, I don’t know if they were demanded by the colleges outright or if it was an offer made by Lead America to defray the cost of using the college’s facilities.

    As far as the costs involved, first thing to realize is the Lead America is a business and they are out to make a profit. However, this does not mean that the program you pay for is a scam, just because the people who put it on seek to gain a profit. Students, by the nature of their lack of experience with such things generally don’t appreciate the cost of things that they (based on their comments on this board) seem to take for granted. I have seen a lot of comments about activities which “cost no money” however, the simple use of a lecture hall is not free. I am not aware of the specific costs, but every facility used, every dorm room slept in, every meal (sub-par though it may be but hey its college cafeteria food) costs money. When students think its free to hear a lecture, the lecturer gets paid. When students think that seeing the monument in DC is free, the busses are certainly far from free. All of the staff also need to be paid, from those the students meet to those whose names they never even hear. The uniforms, communications equipment, and presentation materials the team leaders are issued must be paid for. I am not saying that these programs are cheap. i think that $2500 or $3000 dollars for ten days plus travel arrangements and spending money is pretty steep. Granted the base price of the seven week, sleepaway camp I went to for six years and worked at for two, where the living arrangements are far less impressive costs in excess of $10,000 before any additional fees, some of which are mandatory. I am not saying that it is cheap, but it is not too far removed from other options for youth summer programs available. Also, please don’t be swayed toward this program because of the college credit offered. It is not accepted at many schools, and where it is it is basically useless. One of the most distasteful things I ever had to do as a staff member was try to get parents to spend extra money for one extra credit; DON’T DO IT.

    On a final note, every program, product and company has detractors and people who had a bad experience. Bear in mind that there may be a few dozen people here that have had a less than stellar experience to the point that they are here complaining about it. Last I heard, two years ago, over 11,000 students had been through Lead America programs, and I would estimate that that number is closer to 15,000 now after two summers with an ever increasing offering of programs. When put in contrast with those numbers, a few dozen which we can assume to be representative of maybe a couple hundred students is not a very large number. The vast majority of students do have a great experience and do learn a good deal. In this less than stellar economy we are now in, it is up to you parents to decide if this program is worth the money. I hope I have helped to provide a point of view that I have yet to see on these boards, one that has seen a variety of youth summer programs, has been both a participant/camper/student as well as a staff member. For those of you who are particularly interested I am currently 23 years old, and I graduated University of Delaware with an Honors Degree with Distinction in International Relations in May 2008.

  • Former TL

    Oh, I forgot to mention: Salamone. He is quite the piece of work. He is an excellent business man as evidenced by his fantastic wardrobe, custom-made shirts, and generally the Lead America empire he built from scratch. He makes an excellent first impression to most students and staff with his speach. It is full of mostly valid lessons with stories to go along with them. However the more times you hear it the more you realize that it’s the exact same speach just in a different order each time. There is one particular story about a young girl with terminal cancer who attended a program and both years that I worked at Lead America, she apparently died the previous December. The more times you hear him speak, the more you realize that he is a life-size parody of a motivational speaker with a great business savvy. That being said, he is a pretty nice person who I enjoyed having a few drinks with at a pool party hosted by a former diplomat freind of his in between sessions. If I’ve shattered an illusion, I am sorry, but I wanted to give my completely honest opinion about Lead America and he is certainly a big part of it.

  • Law & Trial Advocacy

    I attended the LeadAmerica Law & Trial Advocacy program last summer. Honestly, I think it depends on which program you attend, so if you’re interested in finding out about LeadAmerica, focus on the program you’re planning to attend. We were repeatedly told that LeadLaw was the best program that LeadAmerica offered – and I truly did learn as much as I expected to. I’m not sure if it was “insider information” or anything special, but I definitely did learn the fundamentals of Criminal Law and trial advocacy. However, I was determined to learn. We had four or five hour-long lectures a day, and I payed attention to every word. I know many people slept through the first lecture, and were texting or on Facebook throughout the other ones. If these are the type of people that are complaining, then it’s in no way justified. I do admit that the guest speakers weren’t outstanding, but they were decent. There were a couple of college professors and deans of law schools, others included an Iowa congressman, practicing lawyers, and a recent law school graduate (I think he was friends with one of the TLs), and my favorite lecture was by an international lawyer who shared his experiences with the UN and touched on the ethics of torture.

    However, I do agree that LeadAmerica was poorly organized. I’m looking at my schedule right now, and I can see lectures crossed out and arrows pointing to different times. I remember one time when our guest speaker didn’t show up, so instead we did a massive group activity that seemed more fit for elementary school children. On our first field trip, things didn’t go as planned and we had to skip going to the Pentagon City Mall. Another day when we were supposed to meet our senators, the buses were over three hours late and some people missed their appointments with their senators.

    As for the field trips in general, they were typically what tourists would do. I loved visiting the Hill. During our hours of free time, I visited the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, and the Capitol; I stopped for lunch and had meetings with both my senators. When we visited the monuments, it’s true that I didn’t get to hit every one that I wanted because of the time limit, but I think people fail to realize how much we have to get done in 10 days. This camp isn’t a sightseeing tour; the main focus is to learn what needed to be learned. Also, I think if I had planned it better instead of just walking around aimlessly, I would have been able to see everything on my list.

    Two things that nobody else mentioned – the silly songs and the dress code. I do acknowledge that LeadAmerica fails to treat its students as adults, mostly because of the songs we have to sing. I think their goal was to wake us up before lecture, but they made us sing these ridiculous songs that you would find in a kindergarten room. Sadly, I still remember the lyrics, if anyone is interested. The most awkward thing about this is that we would be singing these songs in professional jackets and slacks. I had to buy a whole new wardrobe for LeadAmerica. I don’t regret doing so, because it’s good to have professional clothes, but I just wanted to make people aware.

    The leadership building was a toss-up. Most of the games were cliche, such as the human knot and the trusting exercise (where you fall and the person behind you catches you). Some of the leadership material was valuable, but I wouldn’t recommend going to a conference solely focused on leadership – I couldn’t imagine how horrible it would be doing that all day. Our main project was presenting a trial, and I spent an incredible amount of time prepping for that. Like I said before, it depends on the student. Many just blew it off, but I did all my homework to the best of my ability and stayed up past midnight writing an re-writing my opening argument.

    In conclusion, I enjoyed LeadAmerica. It wasn’t as spectacular as they hype it up to be, but I don’t regret my decision. I became accustomed to college life before even entering it, such as waiting in line to shower and attending five lectures a day. I think LeadAmerica is best for people who don’t have much knowledge of the field and just want to test it out, like me. It’s also really important to make sure you get information on the conference you are attending, as I said before. Most of the people who went to the Law conference were satisfied, but I hear many negative things about the Robotics one.

    I still have my schedule and all of my course materials, so if anyone would like any more specific information on the Leadership program (which is the same for all CSLC programs) or the Law & Trial Advocacy, feel free to email me at staybeautiful13@yahoo.com

  • Kristine

    I’m currently in my second year of college and attending Lead America helped me determine what I want to do with the rest of my life. Because of LA, I’m now double majoring in Journalism and Political Science.

    I attended Lead America for Diplomacy and International Relations and I had a blast. We started off in Washington DC and then spent the second half in New York City. The accommodations were impeccable. We stayed in a dorm building at Columbia University that felt actually more like a trendy New York apartment (marble staircases & all).

    I learned a lot about international affairs. In fact, that’s the summer I learned about the genocide in Darfur and when I returned to school for my senior year I ended up running a charity event for Darfur.

    I made friends all across the country who I still very much talk to. Some of them actually go to the same University as I do, and I meet up with them occasionaly.

    Yes, they have Nazi-like regulations and rules but thats to prevent kids from:
    a) Getting run over in the street.
    b) Getting kidnapped
    c) Catching STDs or Getting pregnant
    Okay, the last one is an exaggeration, but you would not BELIEVE how many kids tried to take the opportunity to hook up with one another after curfew. Lead America is a professional setting. My parents didn’t pay all that money for me to make-out boys. They paid so that I could learn something. Which I did.

    I don’t know what you guys are talking about, but I managed to get college credit…
    I’m not saying I don’t believe you guys, but in my case it all worked out.

    My Complaints
    1) Yeah, I’ll say it. Its pretty pricey. But considering the accommodations I got, the places I got into, and the fact that I got college credit, I’d say it balanced out.
    2) The whole “selected cause of academic achievement” is total bullshit. There were still a bunch of idiots, slackers, kids looking for a hookup, and ignorant opinionated assholes who attended the organization. But you know what, that’s life! You’re gunna meet people like that every where!

    My advice to parents:
    Don’t send your kids here if they’re just gunna screw around. Cause THEY’RE the ones who are going to have a miserable time. I had an excellent time because all I wanted was to learn about Diplomacy and International Affairs. I put hard work into the activities and challenges set before me. And I left knowing myself a little better, and with more confidence in my skills as well as new skills to take home with me.

  • Great Program

    My son attended the National Security program a few years ago and loved the experience of living in a dorm, visiting many national sites and found the speakers gave him an edge on choosing a major for college. The program IS thought highly by college admissions counselors especially if the child listened to the seminars and used this in their college admission essay as having a broader view of the world! It is not summer camp, but rather an opportunity to meet other well spoken kids with goals. Well run and the “counselors” really work hard to keep an eye on the kids and schedules. A positive experience. If your child is lazy and negative, they will do better in Disney for another vacation.

  • Undecided

    I still confused…I have to make up my decision in a matter of hours and I still don’t know what to do 🙁 Any suggestions?

  • Alex

    LeadAmerica was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I learned a lot, and made friendships that will last a lifetime. Definitely worth it, and not a scam.

  • Another TL

    As another former TL I would like to second the comments of the first TL whom spoke. They were pretty accurate. It will be a good experience if the staff actually cares, and the person whom originally makes the program does a good job. In summary, weigh the options carefully, and the jury is still out if it is a scam in my mind.

    P.S. The number of shills that are clearly PR people for the company on this board are disgusting. I’m looking at you Alex

  • Yanaj

    Look, I just got one of these letters, as well. I am very smart, get excellent grades, and am interested in medicine. However, the comments on this blog have completely convinced me that this is a waste of time and money. If you want to attend a truly awesome conference, join a HOSA club at your school… Their state/national conferences are awesome. A million times less expensive, and certainly more fun.

  • Marsha

    I just got the letter also, and I am considering it. I just need to know how expensive it really is.

  • OldTL

    Well…. I was a counselor for LeadAmerica while I was a senior in college. Back about 4-5 years ago – it was supposed to be about life lessons and being in a college environment and for many of the students… some of the seminars were “boring.” However, many were soo excited once they saw the simulations that I would say 80% were truly glad they went. Many cried it was for babies and they didn’t feel fulfilled… but how many programs truly offer so many advantages from travel and sight seeing to hearing from some of the nations top speakers and leaders in their trade. And to think that only being there for a few days led to a college credit or two. Being able to just have a few credits for a few days would be one reason for me to go – think about it. Do a college course for an entire semester and not do well and have to retake it or have a few extra credits from a seminar you can fall back on. Easy credits are always nice. You always have those few credits youre supposed to take to fill for your interests. N, they don’t count to your major, but they will enhance the extras allowing you to take 1 course you like instead.

    As for the program, it has changed immensely from when I was there. They now teach college readiness and work hard to improve their programs and work alongside more universities. I think that a lot of parents sign up for it not knowing what they’re getting into – I think a lot of the employees sign up without knowing what they’re getting into. The fact remains they have to produce programs that can suit all arrays of students and their preparedness for college. I hated the little songs we sang – but it did two things…. 1. woke kids up – many were just interested in socializing or sleeping and were disrespectful to some amazing speakers we had come in. I was actually embarrassed by their behavior sometimes knowing they were about to head to college and those attending big universities would encounter these speeches daily. 2. One thing I think it truly did, however, was eliminate a “I’m cool” facade many students had. It let them know it was ok to be yourself and try to fit in because they were all doing it.

    Besides this… kids are kids. They truly want to be making friends and making fun memories not just sitting inside the lecture halls for 10 days. LeadAmerica gives the chance for kids to travel and see exciting landmarks while being in a controlled environment. There needs to be order to be able to control safety at these crowded engagements. The kids may feel like they’re babied… but when I caught some running off to start a 10 day relationship instead of enjoying their surroundings and seeing some great monuments… it defeats the purpose of being there and for the parents to send them there. However, how many chances do your kids get to work with medical patient simulators taught to real med students? Or act as if in a real terrorism crisis? or whatever simulation is of their interests.

    I met several students that went to my college and stayed in contact. They asked for advice on classes and who they should avoid or talk to or professors that would help out. I helped two get into programs they didn’t know existed – and for that knowledge alone, I know they appreciated attending LeadAmerica.

    It comes down to this. LeadAmerica has made vast improvements on their programming. They actually offer college credit. It offers kids a chance to live in the dorms of a university they might attend. It may just persuade a child to apply to that university. Is it a scam? No. Is it for everyone? Perhaps not. But its a great program for the student who knows they’re interested in seeing a specific university, sightseeing a new city/area, interested in learning from some professionals or making connections. I would ignore the marketing campaigns that say its the best ever and instead weigh out comments and choose for yourself if you’re a student or for your child if you’re a parent.

  • FutureAttorney

    I am currently a sophomore in high school and it is my ambition to attend law school one day and become an attorney. Thus far, I am doing everything possible to obtain that goal. I was invited to the Law and Trial program at Stanford for this summer. I’m really interested, but is it worth it? I would love to learn more about trial advocacy. I am an attorney on my school’s mock trial team and we have won state every year I have been on the team. Would attending this program be beneficial to me?

  • K

    If I plan to go to a college like Columbia or Yale, would they accept the credits that I will receive from this program (specifically the law and trial one)?

  • Tanisha

    I just got the letter of invitation saying that I was invited to go to the Law & Trial conference by LeadAmerica. I was wondering is this worth it? I’m not sure what I want to be when I graduate highschool (I’m a freshman) but a lawyer is one of my options. I may want to become a doctor but I want to view all my options. I want to know how did they select me and is it really prestigious??
    Thanks (:

  • jeff

    If you truly want to learn, I would say use a fraction of that tuition to purchase a few good books and read them. If you want to hear speches, buy some video of great leaders and speakers. Use the rest to take a free trip to whereever you want to go.

  • truth

    Forget this. Check out Amigos de las Americas- for a high school or college student interested in pursuing Spanish and further understanding cultural unity.

    It’s legitimate.

  • joycelyn

    – im in middle school and my teacher nominated me for lead america. a few weeks after she nominated me i got the package – letter thing and im just confused about the dress code. like, what type of stuff will they let us wear. and do we still have to wear slacks and blazers for ” casual wear”????? mabey im being stupid but, im straight up confused.

  • Rose

    Honestly, I was one of those enthusiastic about enrolling for one of the conferences, the Medicine and Healthcare Conference to be exact. However, now that I read all of these reviews, I must say that I absolutely do not want to waste my parents’ money. So, I will not be joining this conference/LeadAmerica. The two college credits are enticing, but I would rather use the tuition money for the actual college tuition for the college I will be attending in 2013. Thank you everyone for their positive and negative reviews!

  • Chrissie

    I plan to become a vet or some job in the medical field and I was really excited when I got the letter for the Medicine and Healthcare Conference. I thought it was real seeing as I have really good grades. I went on the website and found out the price was almost 3,000 for 8 days. I knew it wouldnt be cheap but that was waaay too much. Out of curiosity I wanted to look at some reviews and see what people learned and what it was like. I am soooo gratefull I found this website. I would have probably convinced my parents to let me go even though its soo expensive. I thought it would be much more like college and a lot less like a camp field trip (according to other reviews). I thought we would be allowed free reign during the field trips once we got to the location. The sad thing is they say this prepares you for college when they are babysitting you 24-7, that wont happen in college. I’m not saying to let us run wild and have no supervision or guidence but during my school field trip to DC we were allowed to go where we wanted. Once we got to a place theyd be like be back at 6 and we could do whatever we wanted like go eat and then see sites or never look at anything. Also I’m not a “party person”, I wouldn’t go and get drunk and stupid stuff like that etc. I would pay attention and learn but some freedom is also nice. Also I would excpect LEARNING! I don’t know about the medical program but people said the others werent great, but I would definitally expect plenty of dissections considering the amount people pay. THANKS for all the reviews!!!

  • Ben

    As a student, I was interested when I received an email from a similar organization (although, I would venture to say, one more considerably more credible than Lead America), the National Youth Leadership Forum, which took the time to mail me a well organized application packet, with an example schedule (one quite impressive in my opinion.) I had some interest, but regardless of my financial situation, I personally do not think that any money would be spent in any helpful manner (I do, however, grant that it would most likely be an interesting experience.) I recently received a series of emails from Lead America, and that is by no means convincing of the “Academic Achievement” it speaks of. Sure, based on my research, The National Youth leadership Forum is definitely credible. Not extremely prestigious, but again, based on research, it appears offers are typically only granted to students of academic merit. I had hoped it would be a good addition on any college application, and the NYLF probably would be, but Lead America seems to be a half quality apple for twice the price.

    As a hopefully United States Naval Academy Midshipmen or West Point Cadet, I believe my summer (and money) would be considerably better spent working in the office of my local congressman.

    But if the money and the interest is there, and you have time to kill this summer, feel free to attend, but based on some reviews, do so at your own risk.

  • CuriousGeorge

    I recently got an email from Lead America telling me that I was invited to their conference. Overjoyed, I couldn’t believe I was invited – from reading the email I thought I was only a select few. The idea of a SCAM never crossed my mind because I go to one of the top private high schools in the country and did well on my PSATs, I though LeadAmerica reached me that way. Immediately I made my parents sign me up.

    But now, after googling “leadamerica”, I have found multiple websites that claim this is a scam and there are more “summer camps” quite similar. I don’t understand how leadamerica could be working with such great colleges but now offer all they claim to be. It is really upsetting for me, especially since my parents already made the deposit.

    There is still time to get a refund, but the penalty if $350. Is it worth it?

  • Mercedes

    I am thinking about the medical conference for my daughter. she is an excellent student and we both were excited to receive the letter from LeadAmerica inviting my daughter because of her achivements in school. Can any parent or child give me advice from the heart about this program. It seems like just anyone is invited and it’s not very exclusive…help please!

  • Madeleine

    I got an email probably around February and I was SO excited. Then I saw the tuition and for 7 days? FORGET IT. It was for the Theatre Arts and I just recently got more info in the mail. Really? There’s a reason I didn’t sign up! At the bottom it says “Your name was provided by the College Board Student Search Service. If you would prefer not to recieve further mailings, please email communications@lead-america.org.” Haha yea, someone obviously nominates you. NO! They get your name and “miraculously” know what you’re interested in through the stupid surveys they make you fill out at school. Total scam. My mom and I have been through enough of them to spot one from 1,000 miles away. Trust me, I can go to a program at my local and acredited university for less money and learn WAY more. I am a 4.2 weighted GPA student and have an ACT score to go wherever I choose. I’m a smart kid and I am not naive. Such a waste of time to me.

  • formerleadamerica

    Lead America was a fun class but not worth the money. Don’t bother for the credits or ever put it on a college application as the $7 for the transcript is a joke. Sorry I paid for my son to have the transcript or ever put it on his applications. Their site works poorly and they just scam you to pay it if you can’t upload and send an email then they dock the cost of that. One thing that I regret getting involved with.

  • Paid to answer parents concerns

    It goes something like this…..a parent,teacher or an alumni could have nominated you son/daughter Im sorry we don’t have the specifics here was there a program that you were interested in. Yada,Yada Yada The nominations process is a scam. Some students are nominated because they ask the teachers for names but if you have money your approved. I guess its a good idea to figure out what you want to do in life but why build it on a lie. If your a caring company it wouldn’t cost what it does……The owner thinks he slick but he is arrogant. He is rich off hard working parents who care about their kids….BE HONEST

  • Jen

    I just got “nominated” but i’m so glad I did not make the same mistake by enrolling. $3,000 for a “great social experience”? No thank you.


    i was just nominated by my counselor. She said that i exemplified all of an outstanding student’s achievements. I really want to go but 90 % of the reviews are bad. And i also live in Saudi Arabia so with the cost of the conference + the airline tickets ($7000) it is really expensive. should i go or not?

  • Ricklao

    I just registered my son and after reading all the comments, I dont know what to do. I am thinking about cancel his registrtation. Anyone know someone that participated and has good learning experience beside meeting new friends?

  • RealDad

    I could not get my deposit back even i call and cancel the registration afterfive days of my deposit. If anyone need more info on how bad experience i had with this SCAM group of people let me know.

  • Concerned Educator

    I received a Student nomination form in the mail at my school site. I have never herd of this company so I wanted to do research on them, and shortly came across this blog page. It seems like the scam potential is pretty high, especially since they bribe educators to put more names of students on the nomination form. 50 or more students, and they’ll send you a $50 dollar gift card. Parents be warned.

  • TWIT

    I beleive some of the local teachers may partnert with LEAD AMERICA for that $50 gift cards.