Kodiak Challenge

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Kodiak Challenge

Kodiak Challenge Trek Medal
Created:2001 (as Nature of Leadership)
Last updated:
Level:Boy Scouts, Venturers, Sea Scouts

The Kodiak Challenge is a week-long (5 days minimum) leadership trek designed to be an adventure that pushes the boundaries of every participant—one that encourages youth to try new things that may be out of their comfort zone. It is an experience—but one that has its underpinnings in the application of the leadership skills they learned in the Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops (ILST), Crews (ILSC), or Ships (ILSS), National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT), and/or National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience (NAYLE). It is, as is all of Scouting, an adventure with a purpose.

The Kodiak Challenge can be done on a unit, district, or council level. Approval is needed by the council training chair or his or her designee. Multiple councils can get together to conduct an area course (the area training director’s approval is required).

Kodiak is not classroom delivery of leadership skills. Instead, it is conducted as part of a trek.


A Kodiak Trek

A Kodiak trek is an expedition, a road trip, an adventure, a visit to another country, a whitewater rafting trip, a cross-state bicycle adventure, running a sports week for special-needs youth—anything that helps push the participants out of their personal comfort zone for the sake of adventure and learning.

A trek is an adventure that pushes boundaries. Not all troops or crews go on high-adventure outings, and Kodiak need not be a high adventure to be a great experience. A natural setting is always a plus, but the key is adventure. For some units, it may be more challenging to do a week-long city tour than a backpacking trip similar to other trips in the past. Do what works for your unit, but do something that is truly a challenge to each participant.

Kodiak is not about the trek; it is about leadership skills. During the Kodiak trek, BSA leadership skills are the framework to help the participants live out their adventure—and grow from this. Each day there is an activity to showcase one or more of the BSA leadership skills previously taught in the unit Introduction to Leadership Skills course and at NYLT and NAYLE. In addition, each trek will have numerous times where leadership skills are essential for success. For example, all treks begin with planning, and all groups must communicate effectively about expectations and shared tasks.

Taking part in a Kodiak adventure gives participants an opportunity to practice the following leadership skills on their trek:

  • Creating a Shared Vision of Success
  • Planning
  • Communication
  • The Stages of Team Development
  • Inclusiveness
  • Values and Ethical Decision Making
  • Servant Leadership (Includes Leadership Styles)


In 2001, the Nature of Leadership curriculum started off as the next level leadership course for Venturers, but done in a high adventure environment. in 2004, Nature of Leadership became the umbrella program for three Venturing leadership training courses (Venturing Leadership Skills Course (VLSC) (replaced in 2014 by ILSC), Kodiak, and Kodiak X). Kodiak was the new name for the original Nature of Leadership course.

In approximately 2011, Kodiak was opened up to Boy Scouts, Venturers, and Sea Scouts.

Basic Course Requirements

  • All Kodiak treks must use and follow the current official Kodiak syllabus.
  • The council training chair must approve courses at least three months prior to the trek.
  • Courses must be financially self-sustaining.
  • There is no maximum course size, but each team should be no larger than eight and no smaller than five for each pair of Kodiak guides. Fewer than five in a team is challenging and not enough to do exercises.
  • The time in advance of the course is critical. Depending on the need to secure wilderness area permits, the lead time for delivering a course may be as great as six to 10 months for some delivery models. This time before the trek itself will provide the participants time to develop their vision of success and plan for the implementation of their trek.
  • At least five days is required to do the course. The course may be delivered either during a single five-day span or over two three-day weekends. If a two weekend style course is offered, no more than two weekends should separate the two weekends, as time away from the process will cause a loss of continuity.

Participant Requirements

Participants must be at least 14 years old and have completed the eighth grade. In addition, they must have completed the Introduction to Leadership Skills course for their unit type. NYLT is highly recommended, and NAYLE experience is a plus, as a better understanding of the leadership skills before the trek enhances the experiential learning process during the trek itself.

Related training

Advanced training

Youth (including Venturers and Sea Scouts under 21 years old)

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