Youth Leadership Training Continuum

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Training Summary

This supplemental training module is designed for Scout leaders and parents who want to understand the youth leadership training continuum. It addresses the content of the three levels of the youth leadership training continuum, what the boys and girls learn from each, and how adults can help ensure that youths have every opportunity to become truly great leaders.

Time Required

60 minutes

Target Audience

This training is for all Scouts BSA leaders, committee members, unit commissioners, and parents.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this lesson, participants will be able to

  1. Describe the relationship between all three elements of the youth leadership training continuum.
  2. Understand each of the concepts in the Toolbox of Leadership Skills.
  3. Assist youth in achieving the level of training and practical experience that they need to be effective leaders.

Training Format

Small-group discussion or lecture, personal coaching, or self-study

Training Resources

  • Patrol Leader Handbook, No. 32502
  • Senior Patrol Leader Handbook, No. 32501
  • Scoutmaster Handbook, No. 33009
  • Troop Leadership Training, No. 34306A
  • Troop Leadership Training position description cards, No. 30521
  • National Youth Leadership Training, No. 34490
  • NYLT memory tip cards, No. 32254
  • Stages of Team Development chart, No. 32256
  • Communicating Well DVD, No. AV-02DVD20, No. 605606

The Youth Leadership Training Continuum: A Guide for Scout Leaders and Parents

Introduction and Overview: What is the Youth Leadership Training Continuum?

  • TLT—Troop Leadership Training (conducted at the troop level)
  • NYLT—National Youth Leadership Training (conducted at the council level)
  • NAYLE—National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience (conducted at the national level)


For a chart summarizing the highlights of these courses, click here. This chart lists frequently asked questions and provides a brief overview of each course. It allows the reader to compare and contrast the basic ideas among the three trainings. It is beneficial to read this module to understand the interrelated nature of all three courses and to more fully absorb the explanation of the leadership skills contained within each course. Better yet—read each course syllabus.

The vision of the Boy Scouts of America is to be the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training.

We strive to fulfill the following objectives:

  • Offer young people responsible fun and adventure.
  • Instill in young people lifetime values and develop in them ethical character as expressed in the Scout Oath and Law.
  • Train young people in citizenship, service, and leadership.
  • Serve America’s communities and families through a quality, values-based program.

The youth leadership training continuum (YLTC) plays a vital role in accomplishing this vision. It is designed to be the premier youth training currently available to our nation’s youth. The YLTC course material is drawn from the best of the best of leadership courses offered in a wide variety of settings, including those taught to corporate executives. The youth who master the leadership skills offered in the BSA courses will have a great advantage that will give them a lifelong ability for success in Scouting, in their careers, in their churches, and in their personal and family lives.

The youth leader training courses are built around the slogan Be-Know-Do, which serves as the building blocks for all three courses.

“Be” encompasses many of the values of Scouting. The course modules focus on ethical decision making as well as how a Scout can and must put the team’s needs before his or her own needs. The courses are designed to motivate the Scouts to follow a life of helping others succeed based on the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Law. Youth members are taught to strive to be servant leaders—a term that encompasses the concept of others-first leadership. The youths learn to care about others and to help them succeed.

“Know” describes the information that Scouts needs to successfully fill their leadership position. This includes not only the nuts and bolts of the position and its expectations, but what they need to know about their team and themselves in addition to the skills of teaching and leading. The Know skills include such topics as learning about others so that he or she knows the needs of his or her team members. A patrol leader who seeks to serve knows his or her patrol members well enough to help them succeed.

“Do” provides the youths with a vast set of skills to be effective in his or her position by employing the skills in the leadership skills toolbox. These how-to skills include communication, problem solving, planning, and resolving conflict. How do they create a vision, goals, and plans to effectively get a task done well? How can they use the Start, Stop, Continue method for assessing progress and delivering feedback in a nonthreatening and highly effective manner? How do they determine the stage of their team’s development so as to most properly use the Leading EDGE(TM) to guide their progress? How do they resolve conflict and communicate effectively? These are the skills that are taught in the youth leadership training continuum.

The youths are encouraged to practice their new skills after their training. Reminders of what they were taught are well-captured in the memory tips card, which lists the toolbox of leadership skills.


The memory tips card is a great resource for adults as well, for use in both their Scouting roles and at home or work. Adults should get feedback from the youths who attend the training about their experience and have the youths explain how they can best use their new skills, including an explanation of the leadership tools. This reinforces the lessons for the youths and allows them to share their new knowledge with their parents and adult leaders. Adults need to encourage the youths to use their skills in the troop environment and in their day-to-day lives so that they will improve and eventually master the skills that they learned.

Summary of the Youth Leadership Training Continuum Courses

The youth leadership training continuum is divided into three courses: The first course is Troop Leadership Training (TLT), which is designed to be run frequently in a troop setting. The Scoutmaster and senior patrol leader will conduct this three-hour training whenever there are new Scouts or there has been a shift in leadership positions within the patrol or the troop.

The second course is the council-level, weeklong National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) and is often held at a council camp. This course is an in-depth training covering a wide variety of leadership ideas and skills. It simulates a month in the life of a troop and uses fun and hands-on learning sessions to teach the concepts in the toolbox of leadership skills. The Scouts hone their understanding of service-based leadership as they undertake a patrol quest for the meaning of leadership.

The National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience (NAYLE) is an exciting new program that helps young men enhance their leadership skills in the Philmont backcountry. Scouts will expand upon the team building and ethical decision making skills learned in NYLT. NAYLE uses elements of Philmont Ranger training as well as advanced search-and-rescue skills to teach leadership, teamwork, and the lessons of selfless service. NAYLE offers Scouts an unforgettable backcountry wilderness experience where they live leadership and teamwork, using the core elements of NYLT to make their leadership skills intuitive.

What Is Troop Leadership Training (TLT)?

TLT is the leadership training given primarily by the Scoutmaster and the senior patrol leader to all the youth leaders in their troop. ALL Boy Scout troops should conduct the TLT course with every leadership shift—whether it is when the youth get a new troop position or a patrol leadership role, or even when they welcome a new patrol member. The course has three one-hour modules that can be presented as individual one-hour sessions or as a combined three-hour block. These sessions are as follows:

1. Introduction to Troop Leadership—This is conducted within a week of a Scout assuming a new leadership role and focuses on what a new leader must know. The Scoutmaster conducts this session for the senior patrol leader and new Scouts. He may then choose other Scouts or adults to help train the other troop leaders.

Part one of the training has the following flow:


  • The Scoutmaster begins by discussing the principles of the youth-led troop.
  • The senior patrol leader then follows with an explanation of the power of a youth-led patrol.
  • The Scoutmaster will then go though the troop organization chart so that the youths see where they fit in the structure of their specific troop. Examples of these organizational charts are found in the Scoutmaster Handbook.
  • The Scoutmaster and the senior patrol leader go over each of the positions in detail and introduce the position description cards.
  • The senior patrol leader concludes with a description of the National Honor Patrol Award requirements.

2. How to Fulfill Your Position—The second TLT module focuses on how to fulfill the responsibility of the position and is presented by the Scoutmaster and the senior patrol leader. They may be assisted by assistant Scoutmasters or NYLT-trained Scouts.

This module begins to use leadership tools such as Creating a Vision of Success, the Teaching EDGE(TM) model, and the Start, Stop, Continue method of assessing progress. These tools are summarized below in the section describing the NYLT course.

The Scoutmaster and senior patrol leader begin by describing their own vision of success, which they have written before the training session to ensure that the two visions are aligned and that each paints a vivid picture of future success for the troop.

The Scoutmaster, senior patrol leader, and the troop then work to ensure that all members share in this vision, so that they are excited about making it come to life. Creating Future Success will encompass:

  • VISION—What success looks like—a picture
  • GOALS—What needs to be done to reach what the group calls success
  • PLANNING—How the group will execute its goals

The Scoutmaster, an assistant Scoutmaster, or a youth who has experience with NYLT will then lead the discussion on Teaching EDGE(TM). This is a simple four-step process used for teaching any skill.

  • Explain—The trainer explains how something is done.
  • Demonstrate—The trainer demonstrates while explaining again.
  • Guide—The learner tries the skill while the trainer guides him or her through it.
  • Enable—The learner works on his or her own under the eye of the trainer.

After the Teaching EDGE(TM) discussion, the senior patrol leader or an assistant Scoutmaster will ask the troop how they are doing. They will use the process called Start, Stop, Continue:

  • What should we start doing that we are not currently doing?
  • What do we stop doing that is not working?
  • What should we continue doing that is working well and helps us succeed?

Lastly, the Scouts are assigned to get to know the team they are responsible for leading. During this session, the Scoutmaster is getting to know more about his or her troop leaders and should take this assignment to heart as well. This concludes the second module of the training.

3. What Is Expected of Me—The third module is the do—what the youth must do to be effective in his or her position. It is led primarily by the Scoutmaster.

At the beginning of this module, each Scout is given a card with the responsibilities of his or her new position. The Scoutmaster reviews each of the responsibilities with him or her.

The Scoutmaster then leads a discussion of how to be an effective leader who helps each member of his or her team succeed, explaining that their role is not to simply tell people what to do, but to care about their team and help them succeed. This leads into a discussion of servant leadership, or others-first leadership, with the group.

The Scouts learn to create a vision of success for the troop as well as to define goals for how to get there. They define this vision for themselves for their new leadership position and write it on the leadership position card.

The Scoutmaster ends the training with personal coaching of each new leader, helping the new leaders set the goals to achieve their vision of success.

What will the Scouts learn?

At the end of Troop Leadership Training, all of the troop leaders will understand what is expected from them in their new leadership position. They will better understand the roles of each member of the leadership team (at the patrol and troop levels) and will learn to work toward a common vision of future success. They will learn that putting others first as a leadership style builds a strong and effective team.

How can we use this training to support our unit’s program in a troop setting?

TLT training is the cornerstone of a youth’s leadership experience. He or she will learn what is expected of him or her and how he or she can contribute to the success of both his or her patrol and the troop, while at the same time strengthening his or her own abilities to lead effectively. It will lead the troop to a true youth-led capability.

How can I help the Scout become the best leader he or she can be?

Encourage your Scouts to attend the troop’s TLT whenever it is offered. As a troop leader, continue coaching and mentoring, using the tools of SSC and EDGE(TM) to hone the Scout’s leadership abilities. As a parent, it is vital that you understand the role your son plays in running an effective youth-led troop as well as his or her desire to empower the rest of his or her team so that they may have a shared success.

What Is National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT)?

The NYLT course simulates a month in the life of a troop. It is a six-day course, usually held at a council camp or other outdoor setting. It reinforces and expands upon Be-Know-Do leadership. Scouts learn a number of leadership skills and concepts summarized on the memory tips card. The youth learn about the stages of team development and how to match the most appropriate leadership style with the developmental stage of the individual or team. The course has many challenges for the youths, including its culmination where they undergo a quest for the meaning of leadership, which they then present to the entire NYLT troop.

The NYLT course has Eight Key Elements

1. A Month in the Life of a Troop

NYLT is a six-day course where the Scouts live and work in an outdoor setting as part of a patrol within the NYLT troop. They experience the simulation of a month in the life of a troop, complete with patrol leaders’ council meetings and planning for the big monthly outing (the outpost overnight trip at the end of the course). They use the patrol method throughout the course and rotate leadership positions so that each can experience different roles. There is an immediate application of learning in a variety of structured and fun events.

The first days of the course equal three weeks of a troop, including troop and patrol leaders’ council meetings, and a wide range of activities and games such as a campwide geocache game and a session on realistic first aid. They learn to set a vision, with goals and plans, and use this process to plan for the big troop event, which gives them a chance to test their plans. They experience learning through action at its best.

Each patrol is also given a challenge to create a shared vision of success. They use this shared vision throughout the course to help achieve all they can as a patrol. Each patrol works on the quest for the meaning of leadership and, at the end of the course, presents their understanding of this and other concepts they have learned throughout the week as a skit, song, or something they build—the possibilities are endless.

2. Four Stages of Team Development

All teams (and individuals) go through development stages when facing any new task or project. They begin as highly enthusiastic but relatively low-skilled team members. As they begin to realize the task may be harder than they thought, and that their skills may need some work, their enthusiasm dips. Soon, however, they begin to gain some expertise in the skill, and their confidence begins to grow. Finally, they get it, and are a highly capable and enthusiastic team.

Team Stages

Development Phases

Leadership Behavior
Best for This Stage


High Enthusiasm, Low Skills



Low Enthusiasm, Low Skills



Rising Enthusiasm, Growing Skills



High Enthusiasm, High Skills


3. Leadership Requires Vision, Goals, and Plans

The boys and girls are shown several video clips with the theme of Finding Your Vision/Creating a Future. They learn that “if you can see it, you can be it.” Each Scout develops his or her personal vision for what future success looks like.

4. Toolbox of Leadership Skills

Each skill is summarized on the memory tips card as follows:

  1. Vision—Goals—Planning: Creating Future Success

    The participants learn the process of creating a powerful vision, and then building goals and plans to accomplish that vision.

  2. SMART Goals—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely

    This method of setting goals keeps them tight and focused, and thus ensures that the goals can be accomplished by the youth and the patrol.

  3. Planning and Problem Solving Tool—What, How, When, Who

    Setting priorities, assigning tasks, deciding how to actually carry out a plan are simplified for the youth with this easy-to-follow planning guide.

  4. Assessment Tool—SSC—Start, Stop, Continue

    SSC provides a nonthreatening and highly effective tool to assess progress of a team and/or an individual. By looking for new things to try, stopping actions that are not effective, and ending on a “what are we doing well” note, this tool keeps projects (and behavior) on track.

  5. Teaching EDGE(TM)—Explain, Demonstrate, Guide, Enable

    The Teaching EDGE(TM) tool is a simple four-step process used for teaching any skill.

  6. Explain – The trainer explains how something is done.
  7. Demonstrate – The trainer demonstrates while explaining again.
  8. Guide – The learner tries the skill while the trainer guides him or her through it.
  9. Enable – The learner works on his or her own under the eye of the trainer.
  10. Leading EDGE(TM)—Matching the leader’s behavior is to the team’s stage

    As described above, all teams (and individuals) go through stages when facing any new task or project. The Scouts learn to diagnose the stage that their team is in and then use the most effective leadership style for that stage.

    Leadership behavior depends on the group:

  11. Explain – when the group is in the FORMING phase.
  12. demonstrate – when the group is in the STORMING phase.
  13. Guide – when the group is in the NORMING phase.
  14. Enable – when the group is in the PERFORMING phase.
  15. Valuing People—ROPE—Reach out, Organize, Practice, Experience

    Recognizing diversity allows the youth to learn to appreciate the differences and leverage the strengths of all of the team’s members.

  16. Conflict Resolution Tool—EAR—Express, Address, Resolve

    No one likes conflict, and yet all of us face conflict at some point in our lives. Learning to effectively resolve conflict is a lifelong skill that many people are not very good at. NYLT teaches youths how to listen to all sides, address each party’s concerns, and then work to effectively resolve the conflict.

  17. Ethical Decisions—Right vs. Wrong, Right vs. Right, Trivial

    We face ethical decisions every day. Some are easy to resolve, clearly right or wrong. The NYLT course goes a step further, teaching the participants how to use the Scout Oath and Law to make ethical decisions in situations where there seem to be multiple right answers.

  18. Communication—MaSeR—Message, Sender, Receiver

    Communication is essential to all, yet so often we fail at it. Why? We teach the participants the steps of effective two-way communication so that misunderstandings are avoided and real communication occurs. As with all of the other tools, this is a skill that will provide lifelong value.

5. Consistent Leadership Modeling

The adults and staff of the NYLT courses are wonderful role models who continuously set the example using the NYLT skills for the participants. They work hard to ensure that they use effective communication skills, model EDGE(TM) throughout the course, share their own visions with the troop, and demonstrate servant leadership throughout the week. They create a rich learning environment that focuses on the Scouts so that each participant comes away from the course with a full learning experience.

6. Scout Oath and Law

The course is always centered around the Scout Oath and Law and all of the values of the Scouting program.

7. Have Fun!

This course is a blast! The boys and girls are constantly busy with so many fun activities that they are always doing something new and exciting. The best part is that they are learning all of the leadership skills while having a great time.

A summary of the course schedule can be viewed by clicking here.

8. Traditions

Many of the traditions of past Junior Leader Training courses can continue. The Scoutmaster and the staff simply need to be sure that they are aligned with the spirit of the new NYLT skills and philosophy.

What will the Scouts learn?

The Scouts come away from their NYLT experience with exposure to the best of the best of leadership techniques. They have learned so many invaluable skills about how create a vision of success, how to set goals and make plans, how to listen and solve problems, and how to teach and lead. Most of all, they learn the bigger picture of how to put the needs of others first in order to be a truly great leader. They learn to use the Scout Oath and Law to make hard decisions and to remain true to Scouting’s values.

How can they use this to support our Unit’s program in a Troop Setting?

The applications to a home troop are immediate and obvious. The Scout comes home from NYLT with a new toolbox of skills at his or her disposal. He or she has lived the patrol method and has spent the week thinking about his or her own quest for the meaning of leadership. He or she will provide great value to the troop with his or her ability to coach and mentor the other Scouts, using the Leading and Teaching EDGE(TM). In addition, while at NYLT the Scout has made a commitment to take on a challenge to better his or her home troop. He or she needs to share his or her challenge with the troop’s leaders upon returning from training and enlist their aid in evaluating his or her effort.

How can they use this at home, school, or church?

All of these skills are applicable to every part of a Scout’s life. They will follow him or her to adulthood, enabling him or her to be the most effective leader—and follower—in any setting.

How can I help the Scout become the best leader he or she can be?

First of all, encourage every Scout in your troop to attend NYLT. Plan your troop calendar so that the dates do not conflict with your council’s course, and make it a priority for every Scout to experience the course. Parents, look at the calendar and plan your personal vacations so that you son is free to attend this course. Read the syllabus—this will help you fully understand the course!

The NYLT courses require a team large effort. Any help you can give to your council in helping to ensure proper staffing for the course will pay you back tenfold.

Conducting a National Youth Leadership Training course takes a great deal of planning, plenty of inspiration, and the enthusiastic participation of many dedicated people. The rewards for participants, staff, and the Scouting movement are tremendous.

What Is NAYLE?

The mission of National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience is to provide Scouts with a Philmont-based wilderness encounter that motivates them to follow a life of helping others succeed based on the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Law.

The Scouts experience such high-adventure activities as COPE, wilderness first aid, a high-level geocache hunt, conservation, Leave No Trace, and a search-and-rescue activity. This is complemented by learning the history and inspiration of the Philmont Scout Ranch as well as a personal journal that focuses on the Scout’s leadership skills.

Philmont leadership is committed to making NAYLE a very special experience. The Scouts live in a patrol setting at Rocky Mountain Scout Camp where they use their leadership skills to resolve exciting and challenging backcountry situations. The week concludes with a closing challenge for each Scout to build upon the legacy of Waite Phillips, the benefactor of the Philmont Scout Ranch.

What will the Scouts learn?

The lessons a Scout will take home from NAYLE include:

  • The skill, ability, and motivation to be a dynamic and effective leader gained through advanced, practical applications of NYLT skills
  • Innovative techniques to deliver NYLT skills to troops and council staffs
  • Nationwide resources including new ideas and contacts that can be gained only through Philmont’s unique environment
  • Personal written commitment designed to apply fresh skills and ideas to troops, districts, and councils
  • Life skills for now and the future

How can they use this to support our unit’s program in a troop, district, or council setting?

NAYLE is not just for NYLT staff! This course is designed for all troop leaders as well as those aspiring to district and council staff. The skills they learn will make them of much greater value for the troop as well as create the best possible camp or NYLT staff. The Scouts come home brimming with enthusiasm for the best in service-based leadership to their team, whatever that team may be.

How can they use this at home, school, or church?

Just as with NYLT, all of these skills are applicable in all walks of a Scout’s life.

How can I help the Scout become the best leader he or she can be?

Simple—give him or her the opportunity to attend NAYLE. Strong leaders are made, not born. Allow your Scout to make the most of himself or herself at NAYLE.

How Is the Youth Leadership Training Continuum Like Adult Training?

Historically, the Wood Badge course was patterned after the youth Junior Leader Training course. The adult training converted to more modern leadership techniques and skills in 2001, with the rollout of the Wood Badge for the 21st Century course. In 2004, NYLT followed suit, completely revamping its tone to encompass the newer “shared leadership” model that is proving to be so effective in team development and accomplishing visions, goals, and plans. The new course introduced the concepts of EDGE(TM) and the toolbox of leadership skills. In 2006, the circle was complete and now Wood Badge is fully aligned with the youth training, the Scoutmaster Handbook, and the Boy Scout Handbook.

Training Summary and Conclusion

The youth leadership training continuum provides the ultimate in leadership training for our boys and girls, on a par with materials presented to corporate board members. Through each stage of their Scouting experience, the youth learn and build upon skills that will make them the best possible leaders for their unit as well as further instill in them the values of the Scouting program.

While we have expectations of the Scouts who attend training, we need the support of the adults in these Scouts’ lives to get feedback about their experience and have the Scouts explain how they can best use their new skills. Adults need to encourage each trained Scout to use his or her skills in the troop environment and in his or her day-to-day life so that he or she will improve and eventually master the skills that he or she learned. And, while the skills he uses will greatly benefit others over time, it will also benefit him or her through the accomplishments of his or her efforts and the positive development of his or her character.

As the founder of Scouting, Lord Baden-Powell once noted, “Scouting is not an abstruse or difficult science: rather it is a jolly game if you take it in the right light. At the same time it is educative, and (like Mercy) it is apt to benefit him that giveth as well as him that receiveth.” (from the foreword of Aids to Scoutmastership).