Youth Leadership

Home of the Leaders in Training (LIT) and Quest Programs!

Since 1982, the Leaders in Training (LIT) program has been providing youth with the opportunity to learn and develop leadership skills, all while giving back to the community through volunteer work. 

The program offers participants basic training in areas such as customer service, public speaking and strategies for working with children (behaviour management, leading games and crafts). Our goal is to provide a supportive and supervised environment for young people to learn and try out these skills as they discover more about themselves and their community. 

Once a participant has completed LIT, they are eligible for our Quest program, which is “level 2” of LIT. Quest participants take on additional leadership responsibilities with training the LIT’s and acting as role models for the new participants.

Check out our Frequently Asked Questions (below) for more information. Still have a question once you've read everything? Give us a shout at

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Leaders in Training (LIT)?

Leaders in Training is a leadership development program for teens in Nanaimo. It consists of two main elements – leadership training and volunteering.

What is Quest?

Quest is the second level of Leaders in Training. To become a Quest, you must successfully complete the Leaders in Training program.

What is the difference between Leaders in Training and Quest?

Leaders in Training covers the basics of being a youth leader in the community. Participants attend orientation and training sessions that introduce concepts like professionalism, confidentiality, and leadership, before learning hands-on skills like face painting, balloon animals, and leading crafts and games. Quest participants, having already completed the Leaders in Training program, receive a refresher on these concepts and skills, but also play a role in training the LIT’s. Quest participants are expected to take on additional duties at their volunteer placements, act as role models and peer mentors for the LIT’s, and complete additional training, workshops, and volunteer placements as part of their program. Quest participants also get first choice of volunteer placements each season.

What happened to the 3 "streams" of Quest? (Formerly "Quest – Community", "Quest – Aquatics" and "Quest – Arenas"?)

We've simply streamlined the registration process. But not to worry! If you're interested in specializing your Quest experience, you sure can. Once you've registered for Quest, participants can choose to focus their training and volunteer placements in either a community setting, arena setting or aquatic setting. Just let the Program Leader know and they will help you get started. Here's a quick breakdown of what you can expect if you're specializing:

  • "Community Specialists" will focus their volunteer placements on general community programs and events (ie: Canada Day celebrations and summer day camps).
  • "Arena Specialists" receive an extra skate leader training session and will focus their volunteering at the rink. Placement examples include: skating, hockey, or figure skating lessons, and events that happen in the arenas (ie: Winter Wonderland).
  • "Aquatic Specialists" receive an extra swim leader training session and will focus their volunteering at the pools. Placement examples include: assisting with swimming lessons and events at the pools or Westwood Lake.

Can I jump straight to Quest if I know I want to specialize at the pool or the rink?

Unfortunately, no. Everyone must go through the LIT program first to learn the basics.

As a Leader in Training, can I still volunteer in the pools or at the arena if that’s my area of interest?

You bet! Quest who are specializing in Arenas or Aquatics will have first choice of those placements as they are required to volunteer in those program areas, but if there are still volunteer opportunities available after they sign up, LIT participants are welcome to volunteer at swimming or skating events.

How do I sign up to be an LIT or Quest?

Registration for the Leaders in Training and Quest programs is through Parks and Recreation. You can sign up online (, over the phone (250-756-5200) or in person at one of our community centres. These programs are extremely popular, so we strongly recommend registering early!

How many hours do I need to volunteer to complete the LIT or Quest program?

Program completion is no longer based on accumulating a set number of hours. Instead, participants must complete all requirements on the “Passport to Leadership” document. The requirements vary from program to program, but generally consist of volunteering at a variety of programs/events and completing all training and workshops. For more details on the Passport to Leadership, we encourage you to talk to the Program Leader and/or attend our Parent Information Night.

What happens if I don’t finish the Passport to Leadership requirements?

First off – don’t stress! It happens. If you can’t finish the Passport to Leadership requirements, you will still receive a participation certificate that lists the number of hours you did volunteer. However, you won’t be eligible to register for Quest (as you have not successfully completed the LIT program). But feel free to give LIT another try next season!

Can I carry the Passport to Leadership requirements that I have finished forward to the next season to complete?

Sorry, no. Each program has a separate start and end date, and you must finish all requirements within your “season” to successfully complete the program. (Summer season runs end of June to end of August and the Fall/Winter season runs from the end of October to the end of March.)

Who is the Program Leader?

The Program Leader is hired to oversee the LIT and Quest program every season. Typically they are a university student studying in a related field of work (recreation, education, or child and youth care), though occasionally they might be a recent graduate. Their role is to oversee the program from start to finish, including training the participants, coordinating volunteer placements, creating certificates, and writing reports. As you can imagine, these folks are organized go-getters, and serve as fantastic role models for the participants. Many even got their start as a Leader in Training themselves!

What is the time commitment like for LIT or Quest?

This is a tough one to answer as every participant will have a unique experience, based on which programs/events they choose to volunteer at. As a rough estimate, to fully complete the program we anticipate participants will volunteer around 60 hours. Of course, some teens find they love volunteering and do lots more than that. (We’ve had volunteers contribute over 300 hours in the summer!) It all depends on which placements they choose and how much time they are willing to spend.

Do I have to be available every day of the summer? What about our family camping trips?

No, participants do not have to be available every day of the summer (or every weekend in the Fall/Winter) to participate. Besides the training and orientation dates at the start of the program (which are very important to attend), participants will build their own volunteering schedules based on their interest and availability, and within the structure of the Passport to Leadership. Need a week off in July to visit grandma and grandpa? No problem, just don’t sign up for anything that week!

Why do you offer the LIT University classes twice in the summer?

In June, we offer each LIT University “course” twice to accommodate the huge number of participants we have, and to offer some flexibility for busy schedules. You only need to attend one date of each “course” (4 sessions, total). Simply choose the date that fits best with your schedule. In the Fall/Winter session, each course is only offered once as our group is much smaller.

What happens if I cannot make one of the training dates?

The first step to success with Leaders in Training or Quest is to attend training. Please make every effort to attend the orientation session.  As it is the first session, participants will get a chance to meet each other, participate in some icebreaker activities, and learn about their Program Leader. More importantly, the orientation session covers the core items in our manual about policies and conduct, as well as explaining how the volunteering portion of their season (and the Passport to Leadership) works. We have a bit more flexibility with the LIT University sessions. Of course, it’s ideal to be there in-person, but if you absolutely can’t make one of the “101” sessions, please let us know. If you cannot make multiple dates of the training program, it might be best to forgo registering and instead wait for the next season of LIT.

What is Placement Sign Up Night?

Placement Sign Up Night is when the LIT and Quest participants will choose their volunteer opportunities for the season. During the summer season, this night is CRITICAL to attend as many placements and specific dates are in high demand. During the fall/winter, there is often more flexibility for Placement Sign Up Night, though we still recommend you do your best to attend on the scheduled date. In both seasons, Quest participants get first choice of volunteer placements.

What if my child cannot attend Placement Sign Up Night?

If you can’t make it to Placement Sign Up night, please provide a list of your top three choices for each Passport to Leadership category to the Program Leader. (A form will be provided for you.) The Program Leader (or an assistant) will try to get you into the placements you are hoping for, though we do give priority to participants who attend the event. Keep in mind that we have over 100 participants in the summer, so we strongly recommend you attend the event yourself. Placements can and will fill up quickly.

Can parents attend Placement Sign Up night to help their teen select placements?

Nope. Unfortunately, we’ve had enough issues with this in the past that we no longer allow parents into Placement Sign Up Night. However, parents are welcome to wait in the lobby in case their child has questions throughout the sign-up time.  

But what if they pick a placement when we are away? Or double book themselves?!

We address this on two fronts. First, we provide a copy of all available placements to the LIT and Quest participants a few days ahead of time. Along with the placement list comes a planning document. We encourage families to work together at home to pick 3-4 suitable placement options for each Passport to Leadership category. That way, your teen is prepared to choose placements that work with your family’s schedule, even if their first choice is no longer available. Second, if they do accidentally double book themselves (or pick the wrong week)…that’s what our Program Leader is for! Simply send an email to the leader and he or she will help you pick an alternate placement. (Nothing is set in stone!) We totally get that this is a big task for teens, but its also a valuable learning opportunity. We want to help them get it right, even if that means juggling things here and there. 

Are there enough placements for everyone?
Yes! The LIT & Quest program has been running successfully for more than 30 years and as a result our volunteers are in high demand! If for some reason you should not get your desired placements there are more to choose from (…and sometimes, trying something different is where you experience the most growth!). New placements also come up throughout the season, so keep an eye on your emails for more opportunities.

Are LIT & Quests supervised at all placements?
Yes. LITs & Quests are supervised during all Parks and Recreation training, workshops, fun nights, programs and community involvement placements. Sometimes this is by the Program Leader, and other times it is by our camp leaders or other department staff. Additionally, part of our agreement with external groups (ie: non-City of Nanaimo placement applicants) is to provide supervision of the youth volunteers at those placements. Groups agree to have a supervisor available to the LIT & Quest participants at all times.

What types of placements might my teen volunteer at?

It depends a bit on the season. During the summer, there are lots and lots of summer day camp and playground programs to volunteer at. With the kids out of school, our community is buzzing with things to keep them busy, and these make up the core of the LIT/Quest experience. Camps may be very general (and do a bit of everything), or they could be very specialized (like a basketball or music camp). There are also lots of events and festivals around Nanaimo in the summer, and they often request LIT and Quest volunteers. In the past, our community partners have included the VIEx, the Silly Boat Regatta, and the Marine Festival. During the Fall/Winter season, events are at the core of the LIT/Quest experience. Volunteer opportunities have been available at the Santa fly-in event, New Year’s Eve Finale, the Maple Sugar Festival and more! There are also a few camp experiences available during winter and spring breaks, as well as after school programs for kids. Please note that these are simply examples of the types of placements we have offered in the past. Actual placements depend on requests we receive from the community each year, and therefore choices may vary each season.

How are the workshops different from training? Do we have to do both?

Our training program covers the key points/skills needed to work in a leadership position with kids in our community. As such, the training program remains much the same from year to year, to ensure everyone has learned the basics. The workshops offer a chance for the participants to customize their personal development a bit more. We offer a variety of workshops throughout each season, and participants can choose the sessions that interest them the most. Examples of past topics include: Toastmasters, Working with People with Diverse Abilities, Self Esteem, and Bystander CPR. And yes – you do need to attend workshops as well as training (both are components of the Passport to Leadership).

How many participants are in the LIT/Quest program?

In the summer, we typically have 110-120 youth participating in the program. During the fall, we average 20-30 participants.

How much does the Leaders in Training and Quest program cost?  What do I get with my fee?

The Leaders in Training and Quest programs cost $139*.  The fee includes the LIT/Quest orientation session, 4 LIT University sessions, workshops and fun nights throughout the season, the volunteer placement opportunities, and a t-shirt. Occasionally, there may be an additional fee if we have the opportunity to provide extra-special training (ie: first aid certification), though these are always optional. (*Fee is subject to change each season; please see the current Activity Guide for the most up-to-date information.)

Can I purchase and additional LIT/Quest t-shirt?
Yes (if available). Participants will need to wear their LIT or Quest shirt to every placement they volunteer at, so many participants opt to get a second shirt. Please contact the Program Leader for more information.

I have already been volunteering before I signed up as an LIT or Quest. Can this count towards my Passport to Leadership requirements?
Unfortunately, we are only able to accept hours accumulated by participants during the program season. Any volunteer hours completed before or after the program start and end dates cannot be counted.

What if I want to set up my own volunteer opportunity? Can this count towards my Passport to Leadership requirements?
If you have a specific volunteer opportunity in mind, please set up a meeting with the Program Leader to discuss it. While this is sometimes possible, we do require any organization that hosts LITs & Quests to follow our guidelines around supervision and the type of volunteer work the participants can do. This is for your safety.

Does the LIT/Quest program count for high school credit?

No. LIT and Quest do not count as class credits for high school. However, most participants can use the volunteer hours they accumulate as part of their graduation requirements. If this is a key outcome for you, we strongly recommend you check with your child’s guidance counselor to confirm that our certificate/program will meet their criteria.

What if I am unable to attend my placement?
If you are unable to attend your placement please contact your Program Leader right away. They will be able to notify the placement of your absence. Keep in mind that if you miss a placement, you may need to complete an additional placement in order to meet Passport to Leadership requirements.

How can I contact the Program Leader?

The Program Leader will be in touch with all participants (via email) around the last week of May (Summer) or first week of October (Fall/Winter). Please ensure you have an up-to-date email address on your account! He or she will then provide you with their contact details. Haven’t heard from us but need to ask a question right away? Please email, but note that this is not the most effective way to reach the Program Leader once the program is underway.

How can I request Leaders in Training or Quest volunteers for my event?

Please email and we will send you a request form.

Quest at Treefrog Camp  


Here's what participants had to say:

"I had a lot of fun volunteering; it opened my eyes to how great it is to do things for others"

"I got to meet a bunch of new people and do what I love...Volunteer!"

"I’m glad I had this experience this summer and I think it helped me in many ways. On way is by boosting my confidence"

"I had a great time. I’LL BE BACK"

Here's what parents had to say:

"Thank-you for this fantastic program. I really think the community benefits from it – in addition to the great things it does for the kids"

"Thank-you for a great experience. Our daughter really built confidence and developed concrete skills over the summer. Looking forward to Quest next year"

"My child was horrified that I registered her. Told grampa I had signed her life away. Made a big mopey drama show around the house that was driving me nuts. But then the independence and the success and meeting other people she liked became life changing"

Random Acts of Kindness Day

Leaders in Training Program Philosophy

Park, Recreation & Environment believes that young adults should have the opportunity to develop leaderships skills in programs that will benefit their selves and their community. 

The Leaders-In-Training program endeavors to develop tangible leadership and program skills and should:

  • Develop self confidence and nurture self-esteem
  • Offer challenges at a rate appropriate to each individual’s developmental rate
  • Operate in a caring and safe environment
  • Allow progressively increase levels of responsibility and success
  • Be aware of and responsive to individual needs and abilities
  • Provide a mentor who is supportive and provides guidance
  • Be experimental in nature

Want to have the LIT & Quest Team at your program or event?  Submit a request form:


Current LIT & Quest

Need a new form or passport? Download it below:

quest girls-web


Last updated: June 29, 2023

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