Handing a Boy Scout a badge of office doesn’t automatically make him a good leader.
He needs to be trained. He needs to take the Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops, or ILST.
This training course is conducted in three modules — each 60 to 90 minutes. You can teach all three modules on a single Saturday afternoon or spread the course over three separate sessions. Or, best of all, you can make an ILST weekend out of it.
Upon completion of ILST, the Scout is qualified to wear the “Trained” emblem on his uniform.
ILST is the first step in the continuum of youth leadership training. It’s a prerequisite for advanced leadership courses, including National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) and the National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience (NAYLE).
The bottom line: junior leaders need and deserve ILST, and it’s the responsibility of the Scoutmaster, assistant Scoutmasters and troop committee chairperson to make sure it happens.
Here’s everything you need to know about ILST.
ILST is split into three modules, each taking 60 to 90 minutes to complete. There are additional, optional games and challenges to enhance the leadership lessons and fun.
- Module One: Troop Organization includes a description of each leadership position in the troop, including roles and responsibilities, troop organization, and introductions to vision and servant leadership.
- Module Two: Tools of the Trade covers some core skill sets to help the Scout lead, including communicating, planning and teaching.
- Module Three: Leadership and Teamwork incorporates additional leadership tools for the Scout, including discussions of teams and team characteristics, the stages of team development and leadership, inclusion/using your team, ethics and values of a leader, and a more in-depth review of vision.
You can conduct it in one of three ways:
- Over three different days, one module at a time, perhaps before a regular troop meeting that incorporates some of the optional games.
- In one session. If this single-day format is used, you should include several breaks.
- Over a weekend with meals, camping or other activities interspersed between the modules.
When to conduct ILST
ILST should be conducted soon after Scouts begin their term of office. If there will be a delay of more than a few weeks between the start of the new term and the ILST course, the Scoutmaster should conduct a brief leaders’ orientation right after the election of new Scout leaders.
This training is most constructive when attended by six or more Scouts. If the troop is small and does not have enough Scout leaders for an effective session, work with the troop committee to identify other troops in the area with whom you can organize a cluster-training event.
Who takes ILST
ILST is for every Scout in the troop who holds a leadership position, including all elected positions and any appointed positions at the discretion of the senior patrol leader.
In some troops, this might mean the course is for every Scout.
One group it’s not for is adults. Adults take position-specific training courses and Wood Badge — both better suited to their role.
But adults absolutely have a part in teaching ILST. Speaking of …
Who teaches ILST
It is the Scoutmaster’s privilege and responsibility to organize and lead ILST.
The Scoutmaster may want or need to involve other trained adult leaders — and previously trained Scouts.
Scouting is designed to be as youth-led as possible, but don’t forget that the Scoutmaster does have a role to play.
Scouts who have already taken ILST, including the senior patrol leader, can be involved to teach less-experienced Scouts. One of the best ways to learn is by teaching, after all.
How to conduct ILST
Find the latest guide as a PDF here. It contains everything you need to conduct ILST.
What about Venturers?
I didn’t forget about greenshirts! ILSC, the Introduction to Leadership Skills for Crews, can be found at this link.
What about Sea Scouts?
Ahoy! ILSS, the Introduction to Leadership Skills for Ships, can be found here.