Developing Youth Leaders Conference

By Chuck Coutteau

Training is an integral part of the Order of the Arrow’s program. Whether is it a National Leadership Seminar put on by a region, a Lodge Leadership Development Program put on by a local lodge or topic specific training at a national event, the OA strives to provide informative and innovative training opportunities. The Order of the Arrow’s national training subcommittee has recently been working on a new adult adviser training called the Developing Youth Leadership Conference or DYLC for short. At the last national committee meeting in April, it was approved to replace the existing adviser training, the National Lodge Adviser Training Seminar (NLATS), starting in January of 2017. The Developing Youth Leadership Conference was first offered in pieces at the 2015 NOAC and a second round version was presented to section advisers who attended the 2015 National Planning Meeting in Dallas. This brand new course was piloted in its entirety in April in North Carolina, in June at the Philmont Training Center and will also be offered Nov. 18-20 in Lake Tahoe, CA. 
The Developing Youth Leadership Conference was designed to build upon the ideas learned at the National Leadership Seminar and give advisers valuable skills to help mentor young people. By using familiar terminology and digging deeper into practices taught at NLS, advisers can be better prepared to develop the youth leader with whom they advise. To put this idea in motion, national committee member Bud Harrelson assembled a group of younger Arrowmen in the summer of 2014 to discuss their experiences as a youth in the Order of the Arrow. They delved into what types of relationships they had with adult advisers during their tenure as youth leaders, and what their advisers did or did not do to support their leadership development. Their task was to design an advanced adult leader training course that was grounded in the latest research on youth development, coaching, and leadership. 

Harrelson said he and his group hoped to re-think how adult leaders are trained in the OA. The team had two main goals.

“First, to provide every youth officer with a trained adult that understands the needs of young people and how to purposefully develop leadership skills in young people,” he said. “And second, to grow adult leaders’ understanding of coaching strategies and skills taught in the National Leadership Seminar so that young people have a local support network as they apply the leadership skills learned in NLS while completing the NLS contract.”
Corey Curtiss, a member of the Noquet Lodge of the Great Lakes Field Service Council, attended the April course. “This was the most unique, intense and relevant training I have ever attended focusing on the youth-adult partnership in our organization,” Curtiss said. “It taught us about the concrete tools in our toolbox for developing every youth we serve.” This new course not only helps explain the adviser’s role in the leadership development process in the Order of the Arrow but also provides concrete strategies to help young men achieve their goals. The Developing Youth Leadership Conference was developed by young people, for the ultimate benefit of young people, and is presented by adults ages 18-35.

Ask your lodge or section adviser about the next opportunity to take this phenomenal new course!

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