United States Air Force Academy

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Outdoor Leadership Complex (OLC)

CCLD Outdoor Leadership Complex

The Experiential Based Learning (EBL) team manages all operations and program execution for the Outdoor Leadership Complex (OLC), fostering character and leadership development for both cadets and permanent party.

Our EBL programs work with teams in a challenging environment to build esprit de corps, drive response to mental and physical adversity, and stimulate insights into behaviors that support individual and team growth. We meet the teams where they are and help them get where they want to be both interpersonally and organizationally using a variety of activities and crucible experiences in grit, emotional intelligence, and critical thinking.



The Academy OLC was initially built in 1995 as a wood-based ropes course to serve as a unique outdoor leadership development area. As the facility grew, it was renamed the OLC to account for extended use beyond the ropes and challenge course structures.


The OLC consists of 12 acres of forest with various experiential leadership elements. It has six structured low elements focused on problem solving and three high element structures with additional challenges. The OLC also has open space, classrooms, and countless portable activities for use.

The most recent and notable addition to the OLC is the Leader Challenge Tower, an iconic, functional, and beautiful structure which became operational in June 2022. The Leader Challenge Tower provides three elements at 24 feet above ground level (AGL), three elements at 55 feet AGL, an at-height classroom, simulated free fall, and rappelling. As development of the Leader Challenge Tower expands, we anticipate a climbing wall reaching 76 feet, a zip line, and additional at-height challenges to be built into it.


Some of our key efforts include:

  • Customized team-development sessions
  • Cadet summer training programs
  • Integration of best practices across the Academy

Of note, from August 2021 through August 2022, the EBL team worked with 4,035 participants over 104 programs.