In my eyes the troop guides represent the heart and the soul of any NYLT course. During staff development the focus is usually on the Senior Patrol Leader (SPL) and the Scoutmaster due to course planning and rehearsal. Once the course begins the SPLs, spend more of their time, as they should, behind the scenes. From registration to the closing ceremony, participants in the course work continuously with their troop guide looking for both education and guidance. In some forms the troop guide represents a safety net for the participants; someone that they can always use as a resource during the course. It is up to the troop guide to establish both a fun and safe learning environment for their patrol.
Reflecting now on my experience serving as an NYLT SPL I firmly know that the secret to a successful course lies in the trust and confidence the SPL has in his troop guides. It is impossible for the SPL to monitor every patrol throughout the day so he relies on his troop guides to execute the program in a professional and timely manner. This idea is not exclusive to NYLT as it traces back to the era of Lord Baden Powell himself. In 1920 he compiled a series of notes, many about the patrol method, in Aids to Scoutmasters. “The Patrol is the unit of Scouting always, whether for work or for play, for discipline or for duty. An invaluable step in character training is to put responsibility on to the individual. This is immediately gained in appointing a Patrol Leader to responsible command of his Patrol. It is up to him to take hold of and to develop the qualities of each boy in his Patrol.” NYLT troop guides all accept this responsibility giving knowledge and leadership to their patrol. They humbly emulate Baden Powell’s beliefs by representing a model patrol leader the first day, and then by stepping aside to allow others to take the lead. The troop guide is the most visible position that teaches leadership by doing. This makes them an excellent example to the participants of Be, Know, and Do and more importantly how to incorporate EDGE™ in one’s leadership style.
Other positions have their own significant roles and purposes, but it is unique to the troop guide to act as a mentor to participants. When participants see your troop guides as the epitome of what they would like to be as a leader, you know that your course has been extremely successful. It is a way of showing that participants recognize much more than the skill presentations given to them throughout the course. They should notice that the troop guides not only teach the course but also how to apply the course’s meaning in one’s life. For this reason, troop guides are invaluable to any course.