Everyone has heard the mantra about how “every boy deserves a trained leader”, yes? …and many of you reading this may automatically associate that phase with adults and Wood Badge, right?
Have you ever thought about that phrase applying to your youth leaders as well??
One of the most important jobs we have as Scoutmasters is to teach our youth leaders about their roles and responsibilities. If your scouts are anything like mine, the majority of them generally don’t have much (if any) experience with leading others nor have they ever held any kind of “official” leadership position before. So if a youth leader in scouting doesn’t know how to lead his troop and can’t exercise that skill with growing confidence and support, that is 100% our fault! More clearly, if we don’t make sure they are taught what to do and how to do it, we have FAILED in our primary responsibility as adult advisors in the scouting program.
The level of training I’m referring to here comes in many forms, both formal and informal.
Informally, your responsibility to mentor youth leaders should be ongoing at PLC meetings and during regular activities and campouts where various youth roles will be involved. As you think of the positions in scouting and how/when they might be engaged – Senior Patrol Leader, Troop Guide, Scribe, Chaplin, Quartermaster, Historian, etc – keep in mind that PLC meetings are not yours to conduct nor are scout-related activities yours to carry out. That is WHY you have a PLC and other youth leadership positions… so your job is only to show them how to do it and then get out of the way!
In a formal setting, you should conduct the Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops (ILST) training session for your troop no less than once a year. This official BSA course material is available for you to continue the process of transferring leadership knowledge and understanding. Whether you offer the class or someone else in your District/Council does, ILST is also a prerequisite for National Youth Leadership Training.
NYLT is a powerful leadership training resource created by the Boy Scouts of America for young men ages 13-17. It is a program designed to provide youth with leadership skills and experience.
The NYLT course centers around the concepts of what a leader must BE, what he must KNOW, and what he must DO. The key elements are taught with a clear focus on HOW. NYLT for youth is like Wood Badge for adults.
Leadership principles taught at NYLT include:
- Planning and problem-solving tools
- Setting SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely
- Assessment tool: start, stop, continue
- Teaching EDGE: Explain, Demonstrate, Guide, Enable
- Stages of team development: forming, storming, norming, performing
- Conflict resolution tools
- Making ethical choices
- Valuing people
For the same reasons we say every boy deserves a trained ADULT leader, every boy deserves a trained YOUTH leader too!