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Issue 211 – April 1, 2010

Dear Andy,

I’m a Sea Scout leader, and it was with great excitement that I heard that National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) will now be open to females. For years, there have been all these great opportunities in Scouting, but because they only accepted boys, I didn’t feel that I could send any of my ship’s female members, even though some of my best youth leaders have been girls.

But now I’m wondering if my female youth will find themselves out of place in the new course. Leadership training is great, but if everything is phrased in Boy Scout terms I’m afraid that my girls will be turned off to the whole thing.

Also, I’ve seen references made to the need for outdoor skills. Just how serious is the need for advanced camping skills? Are we talking the ability to pitch a tent and heat up a can of beans, or are we talking about orienteering at night through dense woods along the edge of a cliff? What exactly is needed here? (Name & Council Withheld)

Yes, NYLT is very rigorous. Not only is the knowledge of how to pitch and ditch a tent required, but your distaff Sea Scouts will need to know how to construct monkey bridges from cat hair macramé, use twigs and branches to build smoke shifters, master the use of left-handed monkey wrenches, and, in the area of camp cooking, design bacon stretchers from wire coat-hangers. In addition, knowledge of reverse compass orientation (now more politically correctly called Asiantation) will be necessary, including how to distinguish between compasses that register magnetic North compared to those that register true North. Plus, there will be the usual in-camp hygienic requirements for changing pants daily: Mary changes with Beth, Beth with Tiffany, Tiffany with Jessica, and so forth.

For more details, be sure to go to

Thanks for asking – You’ve made my day!

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In all seriousness, don’t sweat it. Maybe buy a Boy Scout Handbook, and share a few pages, but this is no biggie— honest! What IS important is to understand the idea of The Patrol Method–that is, small groups working together for a common purpose and all pulling in the same direction. Just like on board a seagoing vessel!

Happy Scouting!



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(April 1, 2010 – Copyright © Andy McCommish 2010)

Letters to AskAndy may be published at the discretion of the columnist and the editor. If you prefer to have your name or affiliation withheld from publication, please advise in your letter..


About AskAndy

Andy is a Board Member of the U.S. Scouting Service Project, Inc.

Andy has just received notification by his council Scout Executive that he is to be recognized as a National Distinguished Eagle Scout. He is currently serving as a Unit Commissioner and his council's International Representative. He has previously served in a number of other Scouting roles including Assistant Council Commissioner, Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Den Leader, and--as a Scout--Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader, and Junior Assistant Scoutmaster. His awards include: Kashafa Iraqi Scouting Service Award, Distinguished Commissioner, Doctor of Commissioner Science, International Scouter Award, District Award of Merit (2), Scoutmaster Award of Merit, Scouter's Key (3), Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award, Cliff Dochterman Rotarian Scouter Award, James E. West Fellow (2), Wood Badge & Sea Badge, and Eagle Scout & Explorer Silver Award.

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