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NYLT Helps Scouts Develop Their Own Leadership Style

January 24, 2018

Register For NYLT


Scouting is famous for acronyms. Spend just five minutes talking with a Scouter and you’ll likely hear things like OA, DE, YPT, IOLS, Jambo- okay, not technically an acronym but Scout-speak nonetheless.

As summer approaches, there’s another acronym that becomes more common- NYLT, or National Youth Leadership Training. This week-long training course helps Scouts and Venturers grow and improve their leadership skills. It’s highly touted in the Scouting world as one of the best leadership courses for youth, and it occurs every summer in the Greater St. Louis Area Council.

“In my eyes, Scouts get a couple different things out of the course,” said Patrick Siemonsma, an NYLT graduate and member of Troop and Crew 52. “They get to see a model troop in action: how to set up a meeting, run a troop, set up the different jobs and everything along those lines. They get to see how a good Scout program works.

“We throw them into a patrol with people they don’t know and they must do something with that the entire week. They must grow as a patrol and come up with their individual identity, and that shapes Scouts into leaders. They get to develop their own leadership style in that way.”

Those who know Patrick today might be surprised to learn that the outgoing 17-year-old used to be a quiet and reserved kid.

“Before NYLT, Patrick was kind of a shy, quiet guy,” said Patrick’s dad, Doug. “He earned merit badges and went camping, but he was never much of a leader. He was just getting through it. He knew being an Eagle Scout was important, but he never really understood the leadership part of it.”

Patrick graduated from NYLT in 2013. During his course, he was elected permanent patrol leader for a patrol that was eventually chosen as the overall top patrol at the end of the week. Since that time, he has also been a senior patrol leader for his home unit, Troop 52, chartered to Wolf Branch District 113 Parent Teacher Committee, and earned the honor of Eagle Scout of the Year in the former Lewis & Clark Council.

“What separates NYLT from other places is it sets such a strong foundation for your leadership style on how you cultivate it,” said Patrick. “That’s not to say other leadership courses don’t do that, but to me, NYLT is unique in that it really kind of tailors to everybody. Participants get out of it what they put in.”

Though Doug never took NYLT as a Scout, or Junior Youth Leadership Training as it was called back then, he’s a firm believer in encouraging youth to attend this premier course.

“I had no clue NYLT would have such an impact on Patrick,” Doug revealed. “It was a life-changing event for him. It’s potentially a life-changing event for any kid.”

Patrick’s Scouting experiences also helped Doug realize something important about himself.

“When I get to be too much of a parent, Patrick reminds me to give him some space. I was trying too hard to make him successful, and I needed to let him be successful on his own. The Scouting program allows for that if you just let your kid do it.”

What are the qualifications to attend NYLT?

To attend NYLT, a Scout or Venturer must be:

  • A registered member of the BSA who has attended long-term Boy Scout camp for a minimum of two years
  • First Class rank or higher
  • At least 12 years old
  • A member of a troop whose Scoutmaster has completed the adult Boy Scout Leader Basic Training Course
  • A current or prospective youth leader approved by the Scoutmaster or Crew Advisor

Venturing participants must meet all of the above but the First Class rank requirement.