In the BSA, the youth leaders are encouraged to expand their skills and be trained on how to work with their peers in a constructive way. The BSA has put into place a program called National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) that is the premier training program for the youth served by the BSA.
NYLT is a week long program that scouts attend in a camping environment. Participants are put into patrols of eight people that do not previously know each other. From here they work together to successfully camp for the week while learning leadership skills and putting them into practice. Scouts attend presentations, put on by their peers, such as Developing Your Team, The Teaching and Leading EDGE, Preparing Your Plans, SMART Goals, and Seeing the Vision, to name just some of them. At the end of the week the participants take part in an outpost camp, with very little staff supervision so that they can put their skills into practice without direction from the staff. NYLT is a great training experience for those who participate in it.
When I went through NYLT I was preparing to become the senior patrol leader of my home scout troop. There I learned much and was very excited to put into practice what I learned. I brought all kinds of things back to my troop, including making a vision statement for it for the first time in its history. Using the principles taught at NYLT I lead my troop to a very successful youth run troop for the next year. I was also thrilled to be invited back to NYLT to staff the next year.
NYLT staff is an elite group of participants that are asked back to put on the program. There are 5 adult staff members and around 20 youth staffers to serve about 80 participants. The premise of being a staff member is servant leadership. To lead by example, to model the skills taught at NYLT.
Being invited to return to NYLT as staff was a wonderful opportunity and I loved being given the chance. Upon returning to Fred C. Anderson, the home of Northern Star Council’s Grey Wolf NYLT, I felt I had arrived back home. The process of staffing is intricate but well worth it. For a one week course I met with my peers four different times for a weekend and we bonded, progressed and planned. My first two years on staff I was an Instructor, teaching skills to larger groups and guiding participants as a whole. I presented on “The Teaching EDGE” and “Developing Your Team.” My third year I became the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader of Instructors, running the Instructor Corps guiding them as they guide the participants. As a senior staff member I was a role model, not only for the participants, but the other staff as well, and I presented to the whole troop a presentation on “SMART Goals.” My final year of of NYLT staffing was quite a gift as I was asked back to aid in a last minute staffing need, knowing my ability and my passion for NYLT, the youth staff member in charge, the senior patrol leader, asked me to fill in a recently vacated Troop Guide spot. I jumped at the chance to again be part of this wonderful program and to share it with others. As a Troop Guide I got to work directly with a patrol of 8 participants and present to them on “Solving Problems” and “Conflict Resolution.” Seeing the participants struggle, grow, and learn directly, as their Troop Guide, was a whole new level of experience and I am glad to have had it. Also, I served as an unofficial senior staff member to be a role model to the other staff members. NYLT staffing was a gift and I hope to do it again someday as an adult.