What is HOBY?

Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) is a non-profit organization committed to inspiring and developing our global community of youth and volunteers to a life dedicated to leadership, service, and innovation. Founded in Los Angeles, California in 1958 by actor Hugh O’Brian, HOBY programs provide youth selected by their schools to participate in unique leadership training, service-learning and motivation-building experiences. HOBY also provides adults with opportunities to make a significant impact on the lives of youth by volunteering. Over 4,000 committed HOBY volunteers plan and execute the programs each year, serving both at the local HOBY affiliate level and on HOBY’s Board of Trustees. Due to the selfless efforts of volunteers and the contributions of generous donors, nearly 9,000 students participate in HOBY programs annually. Today, over 375,000 proud alumni make HOBY stronger than ever. HOBY alumni are leaders in their schools and communities, throughout the United States and the world, making a difference for others through service.

What is the purpose of the state leadership seminar?

The seminar supports the primary objectives of Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership: motivate and empower individuals to make a positive difference within our global society through understanding and action based on effective and compassionate leadership; to interface these potential leaders with recognized leaders in business, industry, government, science, education, and the professions through give and take workshops; to stimulate opportunities for these young people to demonstrate their leadership abilities when they return home for betterment of community and country.

How are students selected to attend a HOBY Leadership Seminar?

Each October, the National Association of Secondary School Principals sends nomination materials to all 22,500 public and private high schools in the United States. Each school selects an outstanding sophomore, based on their leadership potential, to represent their school at their state seminar. Since only one student is selected, it is an honor to be recognized as a leader among peers.

What do students receive by attending their state leadership seminar?

Known as HOBY’s flagship program, the Leadership Seminar is designed for seminar attendees, or HOBY Ambassadors as they are called, to recognize their leadership talents and apply them in becoming effective, ethical leaders in their home, schools, workplace and community. The high level of energy, encouragement and motivation as well as the interaction with peers, panelists and volunteers are important elements in nurturing the students’ future leadership roles. In addition, students participate in hands-on leadership activities and meet state leaders in such as areas as business, government, education, media and the non-profit sector. Ambassadors will also participate in a service learning community project. Throughout the seminar, students build new friendships and networks for the future.

What are the benefits after attending a HOBY Leadership Seminar?

Many Ambassadors return home with a new vitality, a greater sense of purpose, and a new set of resources that they can use to make their schools and communities better places in which to live. With this new enthusiasm, HOBY Ambassadors can create a ripple effect of social responsibility in their communities. Ambassadors are asked to become part of HOBY’s commitment to the “President’s Summit for America’s Future”. By undertaking a community service project(s) involving at least 100 hours, they have the opportunity to join 8,000 other HOBY Ambassadors in making a difference in your school, community, place of worship, or other “environment”. Alumni can continue their involvement by attending Alumni functions, volunteering for the annual leadership seminar, or teaching at a one-day Community Leadership Workshop (CLeW) held in local communities. HOBY seminar attendance can be added to resumes and college applications. Alumni are eligible to receive Ambassador Leadership Scholarships from various colleges and universities to help fund higher education through graduate school.

Who pays for the seminar?

It costs $395 per student to put on this Seminar. In most instances, the school covers all or at least a part of the registration fee; sometimes this fee is paid by the parent. The all-volunteer Virginia committee raises the state seminar expenses for room & board, copies & postage, and program supplies (approximately $65,000) from generous sponsorships from the private sector, service organizations, and individuals. Women’s Clubs, Jaycees, Kiwanis, and Optimists financially sponsor individual schools to the seminar.

What kind of supervision is provided at the leadership seminar?

The seminar is chaperoned by qualified adult male and female facilitators who stay at the facility 24 hours a day. Most facilitators were HOBY Ambassadors and now volunteer their time. Groups of 10-12 Ambassadors are organized into small teams led by an adult facilitator. Recent HOBY Alumni are assigned as assistants or in the Operations Office.

If necessary, how may I contact HOBY during the Seminar weekend?

Parents, friends, and family members are discouraged from calling students during the seminar due to the disruption caused to panels and activities.  Students are required to leave cell phones in the dorm during all seminar activities. In case of an emergency during the seminar, your parent/guardian may contact our seminar operations center. No outside guests are allowed in or around the seminar facility except for the closing ceremony.

What transportation arrangements have been made?

You are responsible for your transportation to and from the seminar.  Please include all details of your itinerary on the enclosed Participant Confirmation Form. Bus and train service are via Staunton (about 30 minutes away).  Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport is about 20 minutes from the campus.  Taxis are readily available from these locations to JMU. If other schools in your area are sending a student you may be able to make your own car pool arrangements.

What are the accommodations like?

All HOBY participants are housed in the Chandler Hall on the campus of James Madison University. The residence hall is composed of two wings, each with five floors. Most rooms are located on a corridor with community baths. Males and females are housed in separate wings of the building. Each student will be assigned to a room with another student of the same gender. You will need bring all your own bedding (sheets, pillows, or sleeping bag). The dorm beds are XL Twin beds. Please do not forget your towel(s)/washcloth(s), and toiletries. Everyone will receive nutritious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Your first meal with us will be lunch on Friday, June 1. On the Medical History Records Form, please indicate any special dietary considerations, including vegetarianism, and we will do our best to accommodate you.

What if I am unable to attend the seminar?

If circumstances arise that prevent you from attending the entire seminar, including overnight, we would like to give another student the opportunity to attend. Please return your registration forms to the person at your school who selected you, and follow up with a message to the Director of Ambassador Relations.

Where and when is the seminar held?

The seminar will take place at James Madison University (1621 Carrier Drive, Harrisonburg, Virginia 22801) Friday, May 31 - Sunday, June 2, 2018. See maps and other information about the site. When you arrive, please follow signs to park in Lot C12 located next to the Festival Conference and Student Center. Seminar participants may register any time after 9:00 a.m. but before 11:00 a.m. on May 31, 2018. The seminar will begin with Ambassador Orientation on June 2, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. and conclude with Closing Ceremonies on June 2 at 12:00 p.m. You must be present for the entire seminar, including overnight.  

Who may I contact should I have additional questions?

Additional questions or concerns should be directed to the Director of Ambassador Relations.

What happens if I have a conflict for that weekend?

Due to liability and fairness to all students, all participants must remain on site all weekend for the entire Seminar, which includes spending Friday and Saturday nights.  If you find that this prevents you from attending, please notify the Director of Ambassador Relations and your school counselor immediately so that an alternate may be selected to attend.

Where should I go when I arrive?

Please follow signs to park in Lot C12 located by the Festival Conference and Student Center. Once you have parked, please proceed to the Festival Conference and Student Center on the JMU campus. You will be able to see HOBY signs and members of our staff near the entrance. Once you check-in at Festival, you will given your room assignment, key, meal card, and be directed to your dorm room to drop off your bags, and then meet your facilitator and team members.

What kind of program is planned?

During your HOBY Leadership Seminar, many dynamic leaders—all volunteers from the fields of business, education, government, and other professions—will address aspects of our changing world and the challenges future leaders will confront. The program will not promote any specific political party, religion, or way of thinking; but is designed to develop critical thinking skills by actively involving participants in discussions and informal debate. During the seminar, you will be asked to undertake a community service project(s) involving at least 100 hours during the year following your seminar, to make a difference in your school, community, place of worship, or other environment where you see a need. The program also includes outstanding speakers, leadership activities, social events, and a special closing ceremony to which your parents are invited.

Will you feed me?

Everyone will receive nutritious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.  The dining hall offers a wide variety of choices in food so it can accommodate anyone’s special dietary requirements.  Your first meal will be lunch on Friday so it is important that you eat breakfast before you arrive on campus.

Will I need cash during the seminar?

Your housing, meals, and snacks will all be provided. However, there will be a HOBY Store open at various times throughout the seminar. If you would like to purchase HOBY items, you can do so at these times. Cash, checks, or credit cards are accepted.

What if I take medication while I am at the seminar?

Please provide information about your medication on the Medical History Records Form and bring the Physician Medication Verification Form with you to the seminar (documents are included in your registration forms). Make sure to read and comply with the Policy for Use of Medication During a HOBY Event.

What should I wear at the seminar?

  • Dress is casual and comfortable throughout the weekend; however, be respectful of the fact that we will have professional speakers visiting the Seminar.  You will be provided a HOBY t-shirt at the Seminar and will be asked to wear that t-shirt on Saturday.  We recommend jeans, slacks or shorts rather than skirts, as we are involved in some physical activities.  Dress for Sunday’s closing activities is “dress-up” or “Sunday best”.
  • The meeting areas and dorm rooms can be cool so it is a good idea to bring a sweater, sweat shirt or jacket for the weekend.  Also we will be walking outside so bringing a raincoat and/or umbrella is a good idea in case of rain. Shower shoes are recommended for the bathroom. Please also bring a pair of closed-toed shoes (i.e. tennis shoes).
The following attire is not permitted at any time: strapless/tube tops, tops with spaghetti straps, tank tops, bare-midriffs, exposure of undergarments, short shorts, mini skirts, clothing with profane or offensive language or graphics, torn clothing, or clothing with holes.

Can my parents attend on Sunday?

Your family is invited to attend our Parent's Reception preceding our Closing Ceremonies on Sunday, June 3. Closing ceremonies will be held at the Festival Conference & Student Center. The Parent’s Program will be held on campus prior to closing ceremonies. Additional information regarding the Parent’s Program will be sent at a later date.

What if my parents cannot attend the closing ceremony, where can they pick me up?

You can be picked up by 1:30 PM, at the Festival Conference and Student Center or the Potomac Dormitory.