One of the most unique and valuable experiences in Scouting is attending a National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT). This six-day long intensive course teaches scouts essential skills for leading others and keeping their troop organized. I would know because I’ve gone to NYLT, myself!
PS. This article was written by Eagle Scout, Kevin A, and edited by Cole 🙂
What do scouts do at NYLT? The National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) is a 6-day long program where scouts learn leadership, communication, planning, problem-solving, teamwork, and also participate in fun outdoor challenges. At the program’s end, a scout will be equipped with the skills necessary to be a great leader in their troop and community.
Whether you’ll be attending a National Youth Leadership Training in the near future, or are just interested in learning more about it, this article is for you! In it, we’ll be going over what to expect throughout a week at NYLT (no huge spoilers though 😉 ). Afterward, I’ll even give you some insider tips so that you can get the most out of your experience!
So, are you ready to learn a ton about the National Youth Leadership Training? Great! Without further ado, let’s begin our journey of learning what NYLT really is!
What is NYLT?
NYLT is a week-long leadership training program that’s run by your local Scouting council. In practically every state, you’ll find an NYLT offered for ambitious scouts at least once each year. While all councils follow a similar NYLT curriculum, each National Youth Leadership Training will be unique in its own way!
To really understand what NYLT is about, I think it’ll be best to see it for yourself. However, while I can’t take you there right now, I’ve found a close second — checking out this informative video (3:35)! The following clip provides a great visual description of what NYLT is all about:
Looks awesome, right? Well spoilers: It is! Keep reading, because later in this article I’ll be going into a lot more detail on what exactly you’ll be doing during a National Youth Leadership Training. Remember, a good scout is prepared, and I intend to make you extra-prepared to have an awesome time at NYLT! 🙂
Requirements for Attending a National Youth Leadership Training
If you’re thinking about attending NYLT, or just want to learn more about it, be warned that there are a few requirements you’ll need to meet to be eligible to go. On the plus side, these requirements are pretty easy to satisfy and can be done quickly if you put your mind to it!
To be eligible to attend a National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT), a scout must:
- Be registered as a member of a Scouting Unit
- Have current BSA Health and Medical Records (Forms A, B, and C)
- Be at least 13 years old
- Have attained the Scouting rank of First Class
- Have completed/attended the “Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops”
- Be recommended by their Unit Leader
For most scouts hoping to attend NYLT, the most difficult part will be finishing the requirements for First Class. While there are many requirements between being a new scout and being a First Class scout, it’s actually very possible to climb your first three ranks of Scouting within 1 or 2 years!
For help with ranking up, you should definitely check out our ScoutSmarts articles on How to Advance Quickly in Scouting, and our Ultimate Rank Advancement Timeline if you want to attend NYLT as soon as possible!
So, now that you understand how to get into NYLT, it’s time to learn more about the exciting things that actually happen there! While I won’t spoil the fun surprise activities, in the following sections I’ll give you a complete rundown of everything that’ll be helpful to know before attending NYLT! 🙂
What Scouts Learn at NYLT
While I mentioned earlier that each National Youth Leadership Training will be unique in its own way, there are definitely some principles that all NYLTs follow. The main elements that are kept the same at all National Youth Leadership Trainings are the NYLT motto, program goals, and activities.
The NYLT Motto: BE. KNOW. DO.
“Be. Know. Do.” is the central theme and motto behind NYLT. This idea comes from the goals of NYLT, which are to teach scouts what a leader must Be, what a leader must Know, and what a leader must Do. What does being, knowing, and doing look like in practice?
- Be: A scout learns about what a leader must be by paying dutiful attention to the leaders around them, and by learning about what it takes to be a good leader.
- Know: A scout learns about what a leader must know by viewing ways that other leaders practice their leadership, analyzing their choices, and by asking them good questions, when needed.
- Do: A scout learns about what a leader must do by practicing leadership at all times and leading by example. Being a leader is more than a position, it’s a way of life that must be acted upon!
To really drive these points home, all of the learning that’s done during the NYLT program will be interactive. Even during presentations, scouts will be challenged to participate by answering questions and discussing their opinions amongst their peers!
The NYLT Purpose: A Month of Scouting in 6 Days
To teach solid, actionable leadership skills to its attendees, the average National Youth Leadership Training will aim to condense a month’s worth of Scouting experiences into 6 days. There are a ton of things that go on in that week, with the ultimate goal of the program being to provide scouts with the skills necessary to be excellent leaders in their troops and communities.
A National Youth Leadership Training is the perfect opportunity to experience firsthand how proper leadership meetings are run. In fact, there are so many awesome things you’ll be taught, that I’d highly suggest taking good notes and bringing the best knowledge you’ve learned back to your troop!
Additionally, when a scout arrives at the NYLT campsite, they’ll be placed into new troops and patrols. This means that you’ll be surrounded by new people, even if you did show up with your troop buddies. In these patrols of no more than 8 scouts, you’ll be assigned a staff member (an older scout) to act as your “Troop Guide” and group mentor.
During the week, the new troops will be holding normal functions such as PLC meetings and flag ceremonies, along with plenty of other fun team-building activities (more on this later!). But, NYLT isn’t just some boring leadership seminar. In the next section, I’ll tell you exactly how awesome the NYLT atmosphere is!
The NYLT Atmosphere: Teamwork Fueled by Scout Spirit
Get ready to be part of a tight-knit team for 6 days straight! Almost every activity that you’ll be doing at NYLT will be centered around using teamwork to accomplish a goal. This might include activities such as:
- Working on Lashing Construction Projects
- Setting up Campsites
- Building Campfires
- Team Orienteering
- Singing? 😛
Basically, if there’s any activity that will require more than one person to complete (and even for some 1-person activities), you’ll most likely be working as a team to get it done! In the background, the NYLT staff will do their best to ensure an action-packed, supportive atmosphere.
In addition to team activities, at NYLT, a sense of camaraderie is built through chants and songs. Whether you’re marching to your campsite or sitting around a table at the mess hall, you’ll be singing and chanting along with your fellow scouts (trust me, it’s a lot more fun than it sounds!).
While all that singing may seem a bit odd at first, over time you’ll get more and more into it once you see everyone giving it their all to belch out a tune! Now that you know how lively your days at NYLT will be, it’s time to take a deeper dive into the daily schedule of a National Youth Leadership Training attendee!
A Day in the Life of an NYLT Attendee
From dawn to dusk (and even beyond dusk!), your day at NYLT will be jam-packed with many different types of fun events and activities. Don’t just take my word for it though! Here’s an actual example schedule of what a day at NYLT will probably look like (sourced from the official NYLT syllabus):
As you can see, you’ll be waking up before 6:30 am and going to bed at 10 pm, which is over 12 hours of constant activity! Of course, you’ll have some time to rest, eat, and decompress, but you’ll also be learning a ton of new skills and solving problems with your team, which might get a little exhausting. I’d recommend bringing comfortable sleep gear and extra snacks to stay energized! 😉
Now that you have a general idea of a typical day in the NYLT life, it’s time to learn how the individual activities are orchestrated. Let’s take a look at how the NYLT syllabus describes one of the most important events you’ll be doing during the week: Developing your Team.
Developing Your Team
Here are the learning objectives for this activity:
- See that a team is a group of people working toward the same goals and vision.
- Describe the phases that any team will experience as members move toward achieving a goal or learning a new skill.
- Discuss how knowledge of the four phases can enhance the ability to lead a team.
- Understand the importance of celebrating success when a team reaches a point when it must disband or when its membership will change significantly
Theory of Team Development
The development of a team is said to occur in four stages:
- Forming: High enthusiasm/low skills
- This is the first stage that teams go through when they are formed. New relationships are being figured out, and everyone is trying to get an idea of how the group can mesh together. Spirits are high due to the novelty of the new team
- Storming: Low enthusiasm/low skills
- The second stage is the toughest, as the newly formed team has lost most of its motivation and might be seeing more conflicts due to their inexperience with working with one another. Arguments and confusions will often happen during this stage.
- Norming: Rising enthusiasm/growing skills
- Norming is when the group starts to identify its strengths and weaknesses. The team starts to show great improvements in their abilities to work as a cohesive team.
- Performing: High enthusiasm/high skills
- Performing is the final stage where the team has been together for a while so they know the ins and outs of working together. Team members have confidence that the team can accomplish the goal set for them. Performing is the stage where motivation and skills are optimized the most and productivity is at its highest.
These stages occur in almost every team, so it’s important to be able to identify what stage your group is currently experiencing. Scouts who attend NYLT will be taught to recognize these stages, as they’ll be going through them in real-time after being placed in their new patrols.
NYLT Questions on Team Development to Promote Critical Thinking
- Forming: Think of a sports team.
- At the beginning of the season when the team is new, is motivation high or low?
- Are the team’s skills more honed or less honed?
- Storming: Think back to the sports team.
- If the team starts losing games, will the team be happier or more frustrated?
- Do you think arguments will start happening more often due to these frustrations?
- Norming: Think about your newly-created patrol at NYLT.
- Did you notice your patrol starting to either actively or passively learn from one another?
- How did this change transfer to success in team-based activities?
- Performing: Think about an orchestra.
- After many months of practice, the orchestra has smoothed out its differences, have had many practice rehearsals, and is now producing beautiful music.
- Do you think the orchestra is now on to the performing stage?
- What makes you think that they have proceeded past the three previous stages based on the description that’s been given?
Clearly, there’s a ton of planning and thought that goes into making the events at NYLT such valuable leadership experiences. There’s no way I could cover everything in this one article but, by this point, you should have a solid idea of what NYLT is all about!
If you’ll be attending a National Youth Leadership Training sometime soon, I’d highly recommend talking to one of your troop’s older scouts, or a Scoutmaster, and asking them about their experiences with NYLT. Since every NYLT is different, this will be the best way to get accurate information for your area!
The team development activity I describe here is only a small portion of the larger activity detailed in the NYLT syllabus. For a lot more info on what exactly goes on during National Youth Leadership Trainings (428 pages worth, to be exact), you can check out the official NYLT guide. However, I thought I’d save you a bit of time by making a concise, easy to read article. 😉
As the Scout motto teaches us, you should always Be Prepared. Great work reading this article and preparing for the NYLT program! Even though the schedule is packed and the requirements are a bit tough to meet, I believe that NYLT is a fantastic way to build your leadership skills (and it’s a ton of fun, too).
By the way, if you’re looking into the National Youth Leadership Training program, you’re probably wanting to become a better leader. To do that, you’ll definitely want to read my article on The 5 Most Common Leadership Mistakes In Scouting.
Almost everyone makes at least one of these mistakes, and it can really hold them back as a leader. To learn what the mistakes are, as well as how to fix them, check out the article here!
With that, thanks for reaching the end of the article! Also, if you’ll be attending NYLT, be sure to check out the ScoutSmarts Ultimate Camp Packing List, as you’ll definitely want to bring some of these awesome goodies along for your weeklong camp! Hope to see you here again soon and, until next time, best of luck on your Scouting journey.