I had been anticipating attending Nation Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) for nearly a year and so when it was finally the 13th of August I was pumped, but also extremely nervous. I had no clue as to what to expect, I had never particapated in a camp run by the Boy Scout Association. When my family lived in Northern California, I attended a camp for two weeks based all on Norwegian Heritage, but NYLT was something different entirely, yet also the same.
The Patrol Method
Luckily, I knew Dustin, another member of my Venturing Crew, would also be attending. My mom and I carpooled with Dustin and his mom as the location of the camp was nearly five hours away from home. Unfortunately, we arrived later then we were meant to, meaning Dustin and I missed the orientation, however we were both glad to discover that we would be in the same patrol, the Scorpions.
With 46 participants in total staying at the camp, the staff needed to have a way of controlling the large crowd and help illustrate the workings of a patrol. Each patrol was assigned eight participants, not counting our two Patrol Guides (who were there to help us if needed). Luckily, one person assigned to our patrol didn’t show, this meant the Scorpions were able to have an extra portion of food for everyone to share throughout the week.
Cooking & Cleaning Duties
The first two days of camp were undoubtedly the most stressful for me. After having a relaxing summer of not doing much, I was unaccustomed to the amount of activities we had to do. Even though there was a fire ban over the Willamette Forest, each patrol was required to cook their own food. Cooking duty consistently fell to Dustin and I – mainly because we wanted to cook and were both watchful to make sure none of the food burned. The moment we let someone else from our patrol cook, they burned the noodles as they thought it would be a good idea to pour the entire package of noodles into the pot at once. This obivously didn’t work how they intended it to and the noodles spilled over the pot, completely missing the boiling water. The noodles went everywhere, spilling onto the table, the floor, into the crevices of the stove, and even into the small fire. We had to quickly turn the stove off and clean the mess up, but after that no one else, but Dustin and I, were allowed to cook.
Additionally, I often willingingly chose to partake in cleaning up after the meals, as I find cleaning stress relieving. As an introvert, I needed all the stress relief I could find, seeing as I was unable to have any alone time with the buddy system in place. Regardless of the fact that Dustin and I, along with Gabe did most of the work in our patrol, I had a spectacular time after the first two days passed.
Leadership Classes & Team Building
Throughout the camp, we attended a variety of speeches by the patrol guides all designed to help us become better leaders, which was the entire point of the camp. Even though we were constantly learning something new (I, myself, learning more than just things relating to leadership), there was also many fun games. Many of the games were meant to help strengthen the patrol as a team, yet they were always fun and enjoyable.
One of the games we played was where we had to all stand on one tarp and then flip it over with everyone still standing on it. It was a good thing that Gabe knew exactly what to do as I had no clue what to do, I was even confused on the format of the game. After we completed it the first time, we had to do it again, but not talk at all. The second time through was slightly more difficult, but not so much that it was impossible.
On Thursday afternoon, all the patrols departed to go on the Outbound. We were not allowed to bring tents, seeing that we were required to make a shelter out of tarp and rope and then stay the night in the tarp shelter. Fortunately, they did allow us to bring sleeping bags and pads. Ironically, Dustin and to some extant Gabs had it in their heads that it would be rather warm that night so they purposely did not pack their sleeping bag. Dustin even neglected to bring a jacket so all he had to sleep in was his t-shirt. In the end, I lent him my scarf and he later told me that it probably saved his life as he was accidentally pushed out of their shelter. In the morning, when the girls returned to the boy’s campsite, Gabe and Dustin were desperately trying to stay warm, their feet and arms having become numb. It was a rather amusing sight to see so I also lent them my shawl from Peru, which was made of Alpaca wool. In the end, Dustin, Gabe, Seneca, and I ended up cuddling for a good hour in order to stay warm.
At the end of camp, we had a campfire ceremony to celebrate, but because of the fire ban we had no fire so I dubbed it Camp-rock. As part of the ceremony all the patrols were required to perform a skit that each patrol had been working on throughout the week. The skits were designed to show the meaning of leadership or something else that we learned from camp. Several patrols took inspiration from skits well known by all the Boy Scouts, but the Scorpions decided it would be better to create an original skit. Our goal was to make sure that everyone in our patrol had a significant role to play in the skit.
Gabe was the narrator of a grand quest that six young scouts went on to find the great Cameron Willet (our patrol guide) to ask him the meaning of leadership. There were a variety of scenarios that these scouts went through to illustrate that they already had the beginning of leadership inside them: crossing a river, treating hypothermia, creating a shelter, tending to a scorpion sting, and encouraging fellow teammates. In the end, they found Cameron and told him of all they did to find him. Cameron informed them that based on their previous actions they had already found the meaning of leadership and that it was inside them all along.
At the end, my mom tells me that of all the skits performed that evening, she thought that the Scorpion’s skit was the best. I am still not sure if a portion of her decision was effected by the fact I was apart of it.
Another part of the ceremony was to exchange our patrol neckerchiefs for a special neckerchief only given to you after completing NYLT. Personally, that was one of the most exciting parts of the entire camp, namely because I love neckerchiefs and may have a slight obsession with them.
The ending of camp was bittersweet, having created new friends that I wanted to get to know even more. However, I was eager to return home, after spending an entire week in a location with dusty dirt that I am still brushing out of my hair. I’m looking forward to possibly staffing at NYLT next year.