United Church of Christ

Boy Scout Training - Youth

Photo: Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office/Flickr

The Boy Scout program is well known for its focus on teaching values and exploration of the outdoors. Yet people often overlook the many opportunities for youth leadership development, much of which comes in the form of formal BSA training programs available to youth.

Most of the courses below are only available to BSA members while they’re still youth participants, so we should be doing everything we can to encourage youth to take advantage of these opportunities while they have the chance.

Additional information on most of the training below can be found on the youth training page on the BSA’s website.

Youth who are members of a Boy Scout Troop should consider taking the following training.

  • Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops (ILST). The purpose of the ILST course is to teach Scouts with leadership positions about their new roles and how to most effectively reach success in that role. It is intended to help Boy Scouts in leadership positions within their troop understand their responsibilities and to equip them with organizational and leadership skills to fulfill those responsibilities. ILST is the first course in the series of leadership training offered to Boy Scouts and is a replacement for Troop Leadership Training. Completion of ILST is a prerequisite for Boy Scouts to participate in the more advanced leadership courses National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) and the National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience (NAYLE). It is also required to participate in a Kodiak Challenge Trek.

  • Den Chief Training. Boy Scouts wishing to become den chiefs should take this online course as part of their training to become a den chief. The training identifies den chief responsibilities and tasks, and describes the den chief's relationship to the adult den leaders and how that relates to the den chief's activities with the den.

Youth who are members of a Venturing Crew should consider taking these courses.

  • Venturing Crew Officers Orientation. This online training module is geared primarily to Venturing youth that are elected into positions as officers within their Venturing crew. This course is very useful for youth officers to fully understand their roles and responsibilities as it relates to Crew Officers Briefings and Seminars. This course will help the youth develop an annual plan of activities for the crew, as well as acquiring leadership and team-building skills.

  • Venturing Goal Setting & Time Management Training Module. This instructor-led course provides a fun, interactive learning experience in learning Time Management and takes about 3 ½ hours to complete. The presentation of this module can be split up to meet the needs of the crew.

  • Mentoring for Venturing. This instructor-led course provides an interactive learning experience on Mentoring and takes about 2 hours to complete. The presentation of this module can be split up to meet the needs of the crew.

Youth who are members of a Sea Scout Ship should consider taking this basic training.

  • Introduction to Leadership Skills for Ships (ILSS). ILSS is intended to help Sea Scouts in leadership positions within their ship understand their responsibilities and to equip them with organizational and leadership skills to fulfill those responsibilities. ILSS is a prerequisite for Sea Scouts to participate in the more advanced leadership courses (i.e., National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience (NAYLE) and the Kodiak Challenge).

Youth who are members of Boy Scout Troops, Venturing Crews, and Sea Scout Ships should consider taking National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT). It’s a national leadership training program which is offered in nearly every local council throughout the country. Note that other basic training listed above may be required as a prerequisite for this course.

  • National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT). NYLT is a youth training program designed to teach leadership skills and experience they can use in their units and at home. NYLT is a six-day course, and content is delivered in a troop and patrol outdoor setting. Through a wide range of activities, games, and adventures, participants will work and play together as they develop skills that will give them the confidence to be leaders in their unit and in their communities.

Keeping Youth Safe

On our Adult Training page, we share some information on the BSA’s Youth Protection training, which teaches adults how the BSA creates barriers to child abuse in its programs and is required for any adult that’s registering with the Boy Scouts. The BSA also offers a video-based Youth Protection training specifically designed for youth members, which is recommended to be completed on an annual basis. There are different age-appropriate versions for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venturers, and Sea Scouts. Contact your local council for more information on how to obtain copies of the appropriate videos and instructor syllabuses.

The Venturing and Sea Scout programs classify participants as youth until they turn 21. However, there are responsibilities that come along with the legal definition of being an adult at 18. This includes a requirement by the BSA for these youth to complete the BSA Youth Protection training required for adults. More information is available on our Adult Training page.

Advanced Training

The training courses listed above are just the beginning. The BSA offers a robust selection of advanced training courses for youth who are interested in getting all they can out of the Scouting program. The following courses are available for older Boy Scouts, Venturers, and Sea Scouts.

  • NYLT Leadership Academy. The NYLT Leadership Academy trains youth staff to be top-notch presenters, evaluators, and leaders of their councils’ NYLT courses. It is an intensive one-week course offered at select locations throughout the country.

  • National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience (NAYLE). NAYLE is an advanced program that enhances leadership skills and expands upon the team-building and ethical decision-making skills learned in NYLT. NAYLE emphasizes leadership, teamwork, and selfless service, and uses the core elements of NYLT to help youth internalize and strengthen these skills. It is available at all four BSA national high-adventure bases.

  • Powder Horn. Powder Horn is a hands-on resource management course designed to give teens and adult leaders the contacts and tools necessary to conduct an awesome high-adventure program in their troop, crew, or ship. Powder Horn is offered by local councils throughout the country.

  • Kodiak Challenge. The Kodiak Challenge is designed to be an adventure that pushes the boundaries of every participant - one that will encourage them to try new things that may be out of their comfort zone. It is an experience—but one that has its underpinnings in the application of the leadership skills learned in the other training courses above. Kodiak is offered by local councils throughout the country, and is not taught indoors or in a classroom; it is done completely outdoors using nature’s examples of leadership.

Order of the Arrow Training

The Order of the Arrow (OA) is an honor society within the Boy Scouts of America which recognizes Scouts and Scouters who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives. Although it’s open to adults of all genders, female Venturers and female Sea Scouts are still not able to participate. However, for those youth who become members, it offers some fantastic training programs and leadership opportunities. Each BSA council runs an OA Lodge, which covers the same geographic territory as the council. More information on the OA is available on their website. Some training opportunities that youth members of the OA should consider include the following.

  • Section Conclave. The section conclave is an annual weekend gathering of OA members held in various regions throughout the country. The purpose of the conclave is to offer youth and adult training sessions, meet new friends, and enjoy fun outdoor activities. Contact your local council for more information on when the next Section Conclave will be held.

  • National Leadership Seminar (NLS). The National Leadership Seminar (NLS) is the premier OA leadership training program. There are typically over a dozen of these courses offered each year, hosted at various camps and conference centers throughout the country. The seminar is a weekend event that takes participants through various training cells that range from communication to role plays to team development. The seminar is open to both youth and adults.

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