Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. At Youth Frontiers, we’re working to build a better tomorrow by inspiring young people to live lives of character.
Girl dancing at a Courage Retreat for seventh graders

young person’s character shapes their destiny and impacts their community. Research shows that students with high social-emotional learning and character skills perform better academically and take responsibility for the culture of their school. Character traits are built and enhanced by experiences throughout our lifetimes.


Part of our mission at Youth Frontiers is to reach kids at critical ages to provide them with dynamic experiences that enhance self-awareness, empathy and connectedness.

Our mission


Youth Frontiers’ mission is to provide experiences that inspire character, civility and community. We offer student retreats focused on timeless values like kindness, courage and respect. Youth Frontiers also offers programming for educators, parents and community leaders to support the adults at the forefront of turning today’s youth into tomorrow’s leaders.

Learn about our programs
Joe Cavanaugh speaking to students on a microphone

In 1987, Joe Cavanaugh met a student named Diane who told him about being treated unkindly at school. She said, “There are these kids who make fun of me every day. Can you do anything to stop them?” This question was the catalyst that inspired Joe to launch Youth Frontiers. He wanted to build school communities where every person is treated with dignity and respect. Today, in all Youth Frontiers programs, we tell students that they – as well as the people in their communities – matter. We show them that there is power behind their actions.

Youth Frontiers exists to inspire character and build community. In community, we hold one another accountable for behaviors and we stand up for one another. When we are connected and feel a sense of belonging, we treat people better. We treat ourselves better.

Heard on retreat from a ninth-grade Respect Retreat participant:

“I’ve been disrespected in the past. So much so that I believed that I didn’t deserve respect. That stops today. I can’t let the fear of being judged hold me back anymore. I am worthy of respect.”
Kids dancing on a Kindness Retreat