The National Leadership Seminar (NLS) has been a long-time staple of honing the leadership skills of Arrowmen from across the nation since its first introduction in 1978. When first implemented, the program itself was created with the main focus that the lodge key three would attend at least once every three years. Since then, it has gone through several changes to broaden its scope and reach. In the past twenty years however, the program has remained vastly unchanged. This year is different.
The NLS program has been under review for the past two years by a select team of Arrowmen from across the country led by Jeff Bellechek and Jason Riley as the adviser. They have worked tirelessly meeting all over the country, looking at statistics, developing training cells, running pilot programs and now, starting this year, presenting the brand-new version of NLS. Many people have wondered what sort of changes might have been made to the NLS program. To answer this, one needs to look at the conceptual framework behind NLS.
The former NLS program mainly focused on the servant leadership model which teaches the idea that leaders should serve first. The new NLS program has gone from this model to now focusing on the adaptive leadership model. This model focuses on the leaders who have the group rise to the occasion to overcome the challenges that may be faced. This new program has a 100% different approach and 70% of the same desired outcomes than the previous program. The new courses are much more focused on the individual. The program avoids long sessions led by a single lecture-style presenter. Instead, table based crews allow the trainee to engage in the program by being more hands on.
Two themes will be presented to all participants during NLS. First, value face leadership. This is the idea that leaders should be focused on their actions. Second, a mindset of resiliency. The NLS program defines failure as “giving up when faced with a challenge” this is where the mindset of resiliency comes in. The program seeks for all participants to view the hurdles that they face in life not as failures but rather obstacles that can be conquered through perseverance and adaptivity.
When speaking to Sam Aronson, a team member heavily involved on the project, he said, “This new course will help you gain the tools to be able to deal with a variety of problems that you could encounter. You are given this brand-new, versatile toolkit at this course that can be applied to all aspects of life whether or not it is within Scouting”. As for the adult DYLC program, Sam said “the DYLC class has also been modernized so that you can understand what the current youth are being taught and are going through when they attend NLS. This way we make sure that all leadership within the OA are on the same page and that there is no disconnect with the overall goals that we all strive for”. When asked about what he thought about the new NLS program, Sam stated, “This is the best, most modern, most professional leadership course that the Boy Scouts have offered to date”.
Whether you are a thinking about becoming a first time participant of the program or questioning whether or not to go to NLS again, Sam said it best, “I have attended almost every NLS course held this year and each time I have seen these youth leaders form great friendships with Scouts they otherwise would have never met, meet and converse with the national officers and learn great tools that stick with them. The leaders that attend really get the opportunity to interact with a bunch of great people and learn a lot of new strategies, all while having fun doing it”.
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