Several years ago, a friend and neighbor asked me to be on “Timberline” staff with him. I had been to Wood Badge, but was not sure what Timberline was. Turns out Timberline is one of the greatest Scouting programs offered to the youth in our Council.
Timberline, or National Youth Leader Training (NYLT) as it is called by the national Boy Scouts, in its simplest terms is leadership training for young men (and young women, there is at least one co-ed course that I know of). I often hear people say that Timberline is Wood Badge for youth.
Young men and women, typically between the ages of 12 and 14, can sign up for one of the approximately 40 courses sponsored by various districts, stakes or the council itself. They are divided up into patrols with other youth and taught leadership skills along with the patrol and troop method of scouting. These youth learn about setting and achieving their “Vision” (what future success looks like). They learn how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals, and what it takes to carry out their plans. They learn how to teach and lead others using the E.D.G.E method. Each of them is reminded that the scout oath and law should be part of who they are, their character, not just something they can recite at will.
As a side note of simple math, each course can accommodate approximately 40 participants. That means that only about 1,600 youth are able to attend Timberline each year. Not very many compared to the 80,000 plus youth we have in our council.
Anyway, the course we just completed had 28 youth participants, 19 youth staff, and 5 adult staff. We held our course at the Perl Training Center on the Mountain Dell Scout Reservation near Mt. Pleasant. At the end of the course all of the participants without fail asked what they can do to be on staff. And therein lies the real magic of Timberline.
The real magic of Timberline is what it does for the youth that become staff and actually plan, train for, and then execute the course. As Scouting was always intended, Timberline is youth led. Those 19 youth staff started back in January meeting at least once a month until they were performing at a high level and totally nailed our course! Talk about a great accomplishment! Those 19 young men divided the participants up into patrols, taught them all the lessons and fed them both physically and spiritually for an entire week. The participants wanted to be like those youth staff.
So, therein also lies a challenge! At about 18 to 20 youth staff our course is maxed out. We will have 2 or 3 that drop off, mostly since they have graduated high school and are heading out on missions. We will get 10 to 15 applications to be on staff next year for 2 to 3 open staff positions. What a challenge to have to choose 3 staff from a group of 28 awesome participants that would be made even better young by having the opportunity to serve on staff.
I love serving our youth, and I especially love doing it through our Timberline program. If you have young men 12 to 14 years old, I highly recommend they attend a Timberline (click here to register).
If you have interest in helping us continue to grow the number of Timberline courses so we can serve more youth and provide more opportunities for youth staff to run a course, please reach out and let us know. The council can put you in touch with the right people, or you can contact me with questions.