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Junior Leader Training -- White Stag Leadership Development

National Junior Leader Training
Origins in White Stag

The junior leader training program currently mandated by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America grew out of the White Stag program during the 1960s and 1970s.Until the White Stag model was adopted, the junior leader training program was focused on improving boy leaders' wood skills.

With the active interest and support of the Monterey Bay Area Council executive staff and board, Bela continually improved his experimental program. In 1963 Maury Tripp and Fran Peterson were working closely with Bela. They also served on the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America and brought the White Stag program to their attention. In November, 1963, John Larson of the National Council's Research Service observed the program's annual Indaba at the Presidio of Monterey. Impressed with what he witnessed, he recommended that the national office conduct a detailed analysis of the White Stag program.

They liked what they saw, and initiated a process that would result in adapting the White Stag program (minus its name and spirit and traditions) as the official Junior Leader Training program nationwide. (They also adapted the program for the adult Wood Badge program.)

Bela wrote his Masters Thesis on the subject of leadership, and published it in shortened form for the Monterey Bay Area Council. Maury Tripp, who played a key role in spreading the word about about White Stag early on, spoke at 53rd Annual Meeting of the National Council of the Boy Scouts Of Americain 1963 about Development of Leadership in Boy Leaders of Boys.

In November, 1963, John Larson of the National Council's Research Service observed the program's annual Indaba at the Presidio of Monterey. Impressed with what he witnessed, he recommended that the national office conduct a detailed analysis of the White Stag program.

National Council Begins Study and Testing

During a thorough study, they interviewed participants, parents, and leaders. They distributed questionnaires to program participants, reviewed the White Stag literature, and observed the program in action. They also conducted a statistical analysis of troops taking part in White Stag and compared them to non-participating units. In December 1965, Chief Scout Executive Joseph Brunton received the "White Stag Report". It stated that offering leadership development to youth was a unique opportunity for Scouting to provide a practical benefit to youth and would add substantial support to Scouting's character development goals. It recommended that Wood Badge should be used to experiment with the leadership development principles of White Stag.

Some individuals on the national staff resisted the idea of changing the focus of Wood Badge from training leaders in Scout craft to leadership skills. Among them was Bill Hillcourt, who had been the first United States Wood Badge Course Director in 1948. Although he had officially retired on August 1, 1965, his opinion was still sought after and respected.

Larson later reported, "He fought us all the way... He had a vested interest in what had been and resisted every change. I just told him to settle down, everything was going to be all right." Hillcourt presented an alternative to Larson's plan to incorporate leadership into Wood Badge. Chief Scout Brunton asked Larson to look at Hilcourt's plan, and Larson reported back that it was the same stuff, just reordered and rewritten. Larson's plan for Wood Badge was approved and he moved ahead to begin testing the proposed changes.

In February 1966, Brunton appointed seven men to a National task force to lead the effort: Robert L. Calvert, head of the BSA Education Division, was chair of the committee composed of A. Warren Holm, John Larson, William E. Lawrence, Ben H. Love, Kenneth Wells, and Joseph W. Wyckoff. Their plan identified Wood Badge and senior patrol leader training as the best opportunities for providing leadership education within the BSA. Their report recommended that the National Council develop an experimental Wood Badge program  as soon as possible to be tested at Schiff Scout Reservation, to be followed by further testing in selected local councils.

The report supported continued experimentation, and John Larson was appointed director of leadership development and charged with continuing to support the experiment. The pilot-testing and experimentation continued for three more years, and an experimental junior leader training program was begun in 1969.

In May, 1969, founder Béla H. Bánáthy wrote “World Scouting Reference Papers, No. 1: Leadership Development" for the Boy Scouts World Bureau in Geneva, Switzerland.

In 1971, experimental courses were held at Schiff Scout Reservation in New Jersey, Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, at five test councils, and in every national region excepting Region 8. In 1974, after nearly a decade of research, testing, and experimentation, the official Troop Leader Development Staff Guide was published, incorporating the leadership competencies of White Stag became the official program in the United States. It credited White Stag with its origins:

Several Scouters from the Monterey bay Area Council...designed a junior leadership training experience using some of the competencies or skills of was known as the "White Stag" program.

This program came to the attention of the Boy Scouts of America through a member of the national Scouting committee [F. Maurice Tripp]. As a result of several conferences, it was felt there were grounds for the Research Service to take a closer look at this White Stag program to determine the value of this approach to adult and boy leader growth.

...The first experience was conducted at the Schiff Scout Reservation in June 1967. using the Wood Badge as a vehicle to transmit this information and concept to participants...

By 1969 it was determined to expand leadership development to junior leader training...

More Recent Modifications

From 1990 to 1993, the Junior Leader Training Conference program received an intensive review. The competency Manager of Learning was diluted and renamed Effective Teaching, major changes were made to Setting the Example, Controlling the Group, and a significant amount of the new material focused on suggested questions for reflections.

In 2003-4, the National Council once again undertook revising both Wood Badge and Junior Leader Training. A task force of senior, experienced JLT leaders from across the nation was convened, including Steve Cardinalli of the Monterey Bay Area Council and the White Stag program in Monterey. The resulting program was initially revised to include principles of Situational leadership theory, required the Boy Scouts to pay royalties for each Scouter attending. This was then modified to describe how groups change and evolve using generic, non-trademarked language free of royalties. The program emphasized the stages of team development based on the principles described by Bruce Tuckman in 1965 as forming-storming-norming-performing.

The current program differs markedly from today's White Stag program because the leadership competencies have been diluted and replaced with generic concepts of group formation and leadership.


Historical Background of Leadership Development: Troop Leader Development, 1974
The Four Founders of White Stag
Report on a Leadership Development Experiment by Béla H. Bánáthy