This training course is an absolute must for BSA youth

The Scouts BSA program is designed to bring out leadership qualities in youth, and Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops (ILST) is one of the best tools out there to do just that.

“Your patrol leaders, your quartermaster, your scribe … usually, this is the first time they’ve done something like this,” says Scouts BSA national program chair Angelique Minett, “and this helps them understand their roles and learn how to be good leaders.”

Minett was kind enough to delve into this topic in our most recent episode of #TroopTalkLive. You can watch our entire discussion below, or read on for more details.

What is ILST?

Scouts BSA troops (along with Venturing crews and Sea Scout ships) are designed to be led by youth and guided by adults. But Scouts BSA members aren’t born knowing how to do the duties required by, say, historians, librarians, troop guides and den chiefs, not to mention assistant senior patrol leaders and senior patrol leaders.

“We want to give them the skills to succeed,” Minett says. “Scouting is a learning lab for leadership and for learning these skills, so this is one of the tools that we use to help make sure that they know what they’re supposed to be doing.”

Additionally, completion of ILST is a prerequisite for Scouts to participate in the more advanced leadership courses National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) and the National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience (NAYLE).

In addition to the Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops course, there’s also an Introduction to Leadership Skills for Crews (ILSC) and Introduction to Leadership Skills for Ships (ILSS).

Click here for more information on all the training the BSA offers to its youth members.

ILST is mean to be conducted at the unit level

ILST is run in partnership by the Scoutmaster and senior patrol leader. The SPL, of course, will have already taken the course, making them the perfect youth to help present the course to their fellow youth.

“As more Scouts are learning, we’re bringing on other older Scouts to help facilitate more learning,” Minett says. “If a youth has received it as training after a couple times, they can start to teach some of that content, because that’s how we learn really well — by teaching others.”

How long does ILST take?

There are three modules of ILST, and each one takes 60-90 minutes. So, it is possible to power through an entire course in one day.

However, many troops have found success teaching each module at a separate meeting.

You can also conduct the course over a weekend-long campout, which ensures you’ll have extra time for questions and discussions as the need arises.

The course also includes games which, yes, are actually very fun, so it might be helpful to have plenty of extra time to let the youth enjoy those.

Can a youth take ILST multiple times?

Yes! Not only can they, but they should! The course is designed to be offered once per year, or more often if needed.

Repetition is how we learn things, and youth who take the course multiple times are usually better equipped when it’s their turn to help lead the course for other youth.

What if my troop (or crew or ship) has never conducted ILST?

That’s OK! You have to start somewhere.

The ILST syllabus contains everything you need to run the training for your unit.

Click here for the Venturing crew syllabus, and here for the Sea Scout syllabus.

“It’s OK to ask for help,” Minett says. “Your council training chair or your district training chair or even another Scoutmaster who has run it before with their unit would be happy to help you understand what needs to be done so that you can run it with your unit.”


About Aaron Derr 448 Articles
Aaron Derr is the senior editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines, and also a former Cubmaster and Scouts BSA volunteer.