The NYLT Leadership Academy’s Heritage
There is a long heritage in the Boy Scouts of America of providing what the NYLT Leadership Academy does today. The academy brings together from around the country youth leaders who have been selected to staff their local council’s NYLT program. They become better presenters or instructors, share ideas, discuss how to solve course problems, and they become a skilled corps of instructors to benefit their home councils.
Tens of thousands of Scouts and Explorers attended the national programs during the years, 1952 – 1975, at Schiff Scout Reservation, then the National Training Center, Mendham, NJ, and at Philmont Scout Ranch, the national high adventure base and training center, Cimarron, NM. The programs were called National Junior Leader Instructor Training Camps and were developed in response to a call from the field for guidance in the planning of district and council training programs in the late 1940s when the country was returning to normality after World War II. To begin, an initial Junior Leader Training Troop was gathered at Philmont Scout Ranch, Cimarron, NM, in 1949. Twenty-five well-chosen Junior Leaders from twenty-four councils (sixteen states) participated in a forty-day intensive program. The following year, “The junior leader’s training course was developed to give intensive training in Scouting skills and techniques to select Explorers.” The results of these pilot programs led in 1952 to the opening of Instructor Training Camps “to aid in the development of a corps” of instructors. In that first year, 1952, participation at Philmont Scout Ranch was 270 and at Schiff Scout Reservation for 436.” At Schiff participants that year constituted 16 troops, and their program lasted for twelve days. These programs continued for over two decades and grew in participation. In the peak membership years, there were more than a thousand annually at Schiff and five hundred at Philmont. Those who were trained had signed a commitment to return to their council and provide training programs there. These trained instructors provided a valuable resource for council programs that trained youth leaders, extended their tenure, and improved their units.
In 1972 at Philmont a new leadership competency-based training was piloted and was rolled out at both Schiff and Philmont in 1973 with the name, “National Troop Leader Development.” It was a shorter program only seven days instead of twelve and taught eleven leadership competencies. The local council course was first called, “Troop Leader Development” but was later renamed “Junior Leader Training.” The national train the trainer stopped being offered for a few years, but those who knew the benefit of a national program revived it as a Philmont Training Center program in the 1990’s to again provided a corps of youth trainers to run council courses; these NJLTC courses ran until 2005. During that time a task force wrote and introduced the National Youth Leader Training program which became the program these NJ youth trainers staffed in their councils.
The National Training Committee then created a new advanced course, National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience, NAYLE, and that became the new youth leader program offered by the Philmont Training Center replacing the train the trainer program. NAYLE is a course that provides a NYLT trained individual with advanced challenges. NAYLE is a good course for further individual development but does not offer the train the trainer experience.
To continue in the Instructor Training tradition, a group of past leaders of the Philmont NJLTC programs created a new instructor program for those who are selected to teach NYLT, and the NYLT Leadership Academy was begun in 2006. It was held at Yards Creek Scout Camp in Blairstown, NJ with two courses annually under the name of the Youth Staff Development Course offered as a Northeast Region course. In 2010 it moved to near Washington, DC and adopted the new name, NYLT Leadership Academy and the program has grown.
NAYLE has also grown. It was originally offered only at Philmont. To expand it, pilot course were offered by each of the regions in 2012. Then in 2014 the expansion of NAYLE was instead implemented at each of the High Adventure Bases. Philmont, the Florida Sea Base, Northern Tier, and the Summit provide NAYLE courses annually.
With both courses thriving and meeting different purposes, the NYLT Leadership Academy joined NAYLE as a national program in 2013. More participants from other regions began attending. Leaders from other regions became involved with the idea of offering the course in other locations. In 2015, a Saint Louis, MO course location was begun, and the following year, two courses were held near Washington, DC, one near Saint Louis, MO and one in Los Angeles, CA. Currently, those four courses in those three locations are the annual opportunities to attend the NYLT Leadership Academy which keeps the long ITC heritage going for the youth of today.