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  • Are there too many Training Courses?

    So this topic really just hit me over the weekend, and I wanted to share my thoughts, and see what others feel.

    Years ago, when I was just a young scout, my father attended a single course (I think it was called Scoutmaster Basic)...a course which ran over 2-3 weekends and I think one-two weeknights, and was for new adult leaders. He's an Eagle Scout (like me) and so while it was a good refresher...he's admitted he didn't really learn much. Looking back, I honestly get the feeling this class was similar to the modern Woodbadge.. although there was a formal Woodbadge course at the time.

    In the modern military, we have a problem with continually adding training classes, causing personnel to be continually pulled from their real work, to either attend or complete redundant training classes which often cover the same material. In some cases, two and three times a year. I'm starting to feel this same problem has crept into the BSA. I look at the modern training classes we as adult leaders must attend... and I'm wondering:

    1) Does anyone else think we should combine some of these classes? I understand there are specific requirements for each group of scouting, but do we really need to attend BALOO, then WEBLOT/OWL, then IOLT, and so on. Each class seems to have basically numerous versions of the same information, so I ask: Why can't there just be a single course, which meets all of the requirements? What if I just attend Woodbadge...would that then cover all of these other classes? (council answer to this question is actually No, I would still need to attend the various classes) When I attended BALOO, the WEBLOT class was there, working with us. So were the IOLT folks. Now I find out... in my new council...OWL is only a single day class. So...what's the real difference between what I did, and what your asking me to do next? Again...I'm willing to attend a class...but just don't see the point in 3-4 classes to be 'trained' on basically the same stuff.

    2) Does anyone else feel like we're getting a little 'training' happy in the BSA? Again...I'm all about safety and making sure our leaders know what they are doing...but do we really need to have "Angler Training" before folks can teach fishing skills? Scout Leader Basic Course....which is going to offer the same classes as the on-line training, but will soon be required in order to be "Trained." (because those of us who did the on-line training for the last 10 yeas or so apparently aren't considered trained now) Outdoor First Aid...because it's different from indoor First Aid. (I'll admit there are some differences here....but perhaps you are starting to see my point)
    Look folks, I've been fishing since I was 5...I'm pretty sure I got the basics least enough to train local Cub Scouts...and I've probably got enough real basics for any Boy Scouts too. Yes, I admit freely I don't know everything, and yes, I'm always willing to learn something new. However, NO, I don't have another full Saturday (and another $30-50) to be certified to teach skills I've been doing for 30+ years.
    As a parent with multiple children, and a Scout time is valuable to me. I promise...I have a life outside of work and the BSA....even if it may not seem like it.

    3) So: Why can't we at least "Test Out" or "prove our experience" to gain these important 'certifications?' Again, the classes I'm talking about aren't like Red Cross CPR Trainer or NRA Range Safety Officer classes I'm talking about. It's the growing number of BSA approved, BSA required classes, which seem to be designed to validate a leaders abilities. I feel like we're being questioned on our abilities, and so the National Answer is...create a course, force people to attend, and then they can teach the youth....but don't let them teach anything without first attending our classes.

    4) Does anyone else feel like the requirement to attend these classes is almost being used as a fundraiser or perhaps a justification for each council? Justification for what, I can only begin to imagine, but it just seems like it's being forced on us, and the requirements are growing each year.

    Honestly looking for other folks thoughts.

  • #2
    For those that start spending significant amounts of time over many years the required training will become a burden. Many of these courses do overlap to the point that the only additional information for the next course might fill only one page or less of new material. other than additional bsa provided forms. Combined with the national level courses as philmont, and other national bases, ncs, the online courses, and the council run mandatory courses your probably getting really close to 100 total. Then of course there are council run courses to teach something specific like their particular climbing wall, or boat area, or similar which isnt at all transferable at least on an acceptance level anywhere else.

    I do remember from my iols course several of the participants stated they learned absolutely nothing new (many were long time scouts/scouters) but we really had no real choice on whether or not to take that course. it was required. Testing out is an option in theory but finding a person in council who has that authority and then finding the time to go over everything with them to prove you know it will likely be more of burden than just sitting though a wasteful weekend.

    Some of these courses above of course expire requiring retaking it online or some of the courses in person always in full.

    for those that seem to enjoy going to training there is the university of scouting which is composed a selection of possibly hundreds of different courses from with you probably can select 4 or so for the day. its likely all information you actually hear there could easily be learned from either reading these forums, your scout books, or from the other training courses you were required to attend already.

    If you actually intend a wildly diverse selection of activities at your troop/pack/crew level - hopefully your not serving in 2 or more of those levels. Your probably looking at 5-10 weekends a year every single year going to various training's. I am also including the red cross level training like cpr, first aid, wfa, lifeguard etc as all of these will also require retesting after a set number of years.


    • #3
      Part of it is necessary. Part of it is the corporate model that the word "trained" looks good. My company constantly adds to the six sigma/lean manufacturing training stuff we do every year. Most of the principles taught in this training are ignored in the real-life operation of the company. In fact, I would say it has done absolutely nothing to improve the way we do business and our profitability. We are in a slump and it's strange that since this big push for six sigma started about 5 years ago the only result that I have seen is, laid-off employees, reduced hours, and small wage increases that couldn't even come close to being a "cost-of-living" increase. The training is only as good as it's application. There are people in our company whose position is dependent on reinventing and repackaging the training. It's become a business unto itself. The same thing may be true of BSA.


      • #4
        So on the unit level....I don't need to be an NRA rangemaster, or a rappell master or dive certified. or whitewater certified.

        I need YPT, this is scouting, Scoutmaster specific all on line then IOLS. to be a scoutmaster.....Not unreasonable.t

        Now to put on programs, you need Safe Swim Defense, safety afloat, severe weather all available on line. The toughies are wilderness first aid which is two weekends and cpr...could be two nights.

        I believe we end a course on Unit behavior in the outdoors or Shared resource stewardship......and an Advanced Outdoor leadership skills. Want to leave the scout camp this course will permit you to take your troop backpacking or on a canoe trek.


        • Basementdweller
          Basementdweller commented
          Editing a comment
          Baloo and cub training.....Absolutely...

          How many pack leaders have never camped with a large group and have no clue..... You don't know what ya don't know.

          Woodbadge is a council fundraiser.

          How many times has a scout parent told you their boy is a great swimmer only to have them hauled out of the pool during the first lap of the swimming test? at least one per year since I have been a scout leader in my unit.

          The adults are the same way.....Oh we family camp, how hard can it be to take 40 folks into the woods for a weekend.
          Last edited by Basementdweller; 09-15-2013, 08:20 PM.

      • #5
        1- Yes. There is way too much time wasted on poor/redundant training. Examples abound throughout the threads on this board. (Why Woodbadge?)
        2- There are unqualified idiots claiming to be Jeremiah Johnson who are taking young boys into the woods en masse. (My favorite example is the Eagle Scout adult from Boston who got his group lost when they strayed from a ridgeline trail.) These idiots give the lawyers justification to require the training.

        Instead of trying to justify the 60% increase in dues with more training, I'd like to see BSA focus on better training.
        1- Teach the basic outdoor skills. Really. Passing a hatchet around a circle saying 'Thank you' does not teach you how to safely cut wood.
        2- Teach leaders how to teach boys. "You may run into this..." "Boys will sometimes do this, and here's a good way to respond..."
        3- Provide simplified access to games and fun ways to reinforce the scout skills during troop meetings. Where is the website that I can point my SPL to "Pick the game that you're going to use this week to improve rope skills, and let me know what help you need."? Many good ideas are out there, but you really have to dig through the weeds to find them.

        Acquire the skills, pass on the skills, practice.

        Too much effort is being wasted on avoiding liability and promoting high-minded concepts that the boys aren't interested in.


        • #6
          Quality Trainers delivering quality training is what is needed. It does not always happen. Outside of that, all trainings are needed to help provide a better program to the Youth.


          • #7
            Well I just spent my Saturday this past weekend in BALOO. A Saturday I'll never get back.
            My hats off to the instructors. They put their hearts into it and did their best to fill the day. There was some good info, and some not so good info. They tried to stay on track, but there were several times when the presentation drifted off to stuff that Cubs can't even do. The students kept pulling us back on track.
            I'm really hesitant to say this, but..... I've been camping nearly my whole life. I really don't need a lesson on ground cloths under a tent, but apparently there was at least one in my class that did.
            The thing is, just because I've been doing it my whole life doesn't mean that I don't make every one head move in the book..... but really....... I feel like it was a waste of a day.
            The issues of which the students really needed lessons on are BSA specific stuff like tour permits.... which resulted in a lively discussion but NOTHING but grey area was left.....
            I think the only real value I got was the campfire program discussion, and that only because the presenter was a great entertainer and it really carries over to running a pack meeting.
            The other funny thing .... approx. 7-1/2 hours of Outdoor Orientation.... and we didn't step a foot outside all day!

            I was thinking as I sat there, that I'll probably be sitting through much of the same stuff yet again soon when I go through the WELOT/OWLS/IOLS and other training evolutions..... so Yes Basement, I think there's too much overlap.
            They could in my opinion offer a class much like this BALOO except maybe even more thorough for leaders that have never camped.....
            Then offer another maybe 1-2 hour course on just the tour permits and other BSA specific "rules" that could apply across the board to all levels of leadership for anyone that feels comfortable camping. Shoot, make it 3 hours and throw in a CPR recertification!


            • perdidochas
              perdidochas commented
              Editing a comment
              I found the best training I had been to as a Scout leader was Webelos OWL training--conducted outdoors, and by a man with a lot of Boy Scout experience (not just Webelo). BALOO was basically just about the rules for family camping. Wasn't a bad course, but it was on the dry side. IOLS was a joke to me, but it was because I had a background in all the topics covered. I learned a little about LNT and Backpacking that I didn't know. Helped teach the other students in IOLS about knots (but as I had already been a WDL for two years, I pretty much knew them well).

          • #8
            There are too many basically identical training courses (at least for Cubs/Webelos), IOLS/OWLS/Baloo, etc. In addition to too many quite frequently the "trainers" give out incorrect information, every single in person training I have ever been in has gotten YPT wrong for example. And Baloo this weekend was a waste, I'm pretty sure blw2 and I were in the same class, though I have no idea who he/she is. And if I have to deal with "tin soldiers" at another outdoor cooking event I might snap.


            • #9
              I agree with the stuff said: overlap, waste of time at times; I took 3 YPT. Not that cubs, scouts and venturers are THAT different that it couldnt be rolled into one.
              But seeing the long history with the lawsuits I guess one has to understand that. Totally agree its not good we spend so much time on not being sued.
              If they let former scouts skip some basic training because it is assumed that they know, you'll get a scoutmaster lost on a ridgeline trail (good one!).

              I try to see it positive: thanks to the online training there is a bunch I can do on my own time, and going out to the adult trainings is more about networking with other leaders for me.
              Of course here and there we will learn something new like taking a boot sock and a condom to make a makeshift canteen,
              and having trained adults in a fire making competition as if they where tenderfoot can actually be funny ...

              But in general I enjoyed all of TACs trainings I went to:
              met lots of cool people and learned things as well (just sometimes things not on the curriculum LOL).
              The folks that do the training and their motivation make the difference.
              Now I probably shouldnt post this LOL but my IOLS was 3 days/2nights and requirment was only 1 night outside
              so the other night we spent sleeping on the couches inside the Green Beret bar.
              Now US Army Special Forces dont usually teach IOLS and there only is a spoof adult beverage drinking merit badge ... ;-)
              And I was told "We trained you just enough to make you dangerous" at BSALT ... ROFL

              One big dislike: when I was in BSA I was booked for Woodbadge, I had everything to go there but didnt make (400+miles to camp).
              Then with NZS I started all over again from the very beginning (and I gave them copies of all my training cards etc).

              Oh well - here we go again ...


              • #10
                I guess I don't ever think there can be too much training. Some of it's good, some's redundant, others have poor trainers, but when all is said and done, something always rubs off.

                I have had all the training from Cubbing through Venturing and Woodbadge. I'm also a trained commissioner. But although I don't use all the training in my current position, all of it has been helpful. I guess If I'm hiring someone to do a job for me, if one candidate has an 8th grade education, and another a doctorate, it may make a bit of difference somewhere along the way as to the quality and type of job being done for me. It's a judgment call, but I would tend to be a bit biased with having too much education than not enough.



                • jblake47
                  jblake47 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Sqyire21, We don't disagree. I totally understand your dilemma of multiple classes teaching the same thing. The curriculum of the BSA definitely needs to be drawn together under one roof. The Cub people don't talk to the Webelos people and neither talk to Boy Scouting and the Venturing people aren't talking at all to anyone. To a certain extent this might in fact be a good thing.

                  For example the Cub dad that moves into Webelos needs more training, but he's already Cub trained. That might be good for him, but not for the dad that held out until his boy was older and then took on DL for his Webelos boy. Where does he get Cub training? He has to go back and pick it up or can or should it be incorporated into the Webelos program? Then the Webelos boys go camping. Is that training all that is necessary for when dad moves on to Boy Scouts with his son? Or does he need to "add" more knowledge and what about the Dad who jumps into a leadership (ASM) when his boy goes into Boy Scouts? Does he need to go back and pick up the basics.

                  The problem I see is that everyone comes into these programs with either previous or no previous training. How does one sort that whole thing out? If you have had cubbing training, you need to do Webelos A program, but if you haven't had cub training, you do Webelos B program????

                  If this be the case, can you see the nightmare forming on the horizon by the time someone gets to Boy Scouts or beyond?

                  Now matter how you cut the pie, if one is going to err on the side of doing it right, it's better to have too much training than not enough. Is that duplication a waste of time? Probably, but along with sitting in on these classes listening to all the duplication, one might consider entering into the discussions and helping improve the presentation of some dry instructor who is reading from the syllabus!

                  We're agreeing on the same thing, but coming at it from different perspectives.


                • King Ding Dong
                  King Ding Dong commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I agree with everything jblake said and want to add one important point. The idea of having one "Super Training" class with BALOO/owl/IOLS all rolled up into to one ignores that fact that you are not going to get the new Tiger DL to invest two weekends in this course. He doesn't need the IOLS stuff for 5 more years and will have forgotten most if it by then. He also doesn't need the OWL stuff right now either.

                  I see a method to the madness in the current program. For most of the volunteer leaders "Once and Done" isn't going to cut it, just like it doesn't cut it for the Scouts. If you are confident you know it all, then call your District Training Chairperson and volunteer to help staff the course. I doubt they will refuse your help. Teaching others is one method we use with the Scouts to improve their skills.

                  I asked an 25 year Scouter friend about advanced IOLS and his response was the best way to get that knowledge was to join the District Training Staff. A bit self serving I agree, but there is a lot of truth in that approach.

                • Basementdweller
                  Basementdweller commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Oh know KDD are you talking about kudu's bain....EDGE.

                  Your friend is correct the best way to learn, and master the skill is to teach it. IOLS staff was a lot of fun, but demanding and a big commitment.

              • #11
                For my sins I have served as a District Training Chair. Council Training Chair. Been on a lot of Wood Badge courses -Boy Scout, Cub Scout and the 21st Century course serving as CD before I was put out to pasture.
                My feeling is that the problem isn't the number of courses.
                It's the quality of the trainers.
                As Training Chair. I really didn't see my job as organizing and putting on courses.
                Like many roles in Scouting my role was more about training trainers.
                So far all the "Train The Trainer" courses that the BSA has come up with fail to do the job.

                The best train the trainer course was the old Cub Scout Woodbadge Course.
                Which was all about adult leader training. - I never really thought about as being what at that time I seen as a WB course.

                We need to do everything we can to try and ensure that training course are all about the participants.
                Not about the course staff or them earning beads, knots or dingle dangles.
                The aim of the District and Council should be all about ensuring that the adult leaders are trained. Not about putting on courses.
                I'd much sooner wait till I had a trained staff before staging a course rather than having a course just because it was on a calendar.
                A good mantra for all trainers should be "I know what I'm talking about and I'm not going to waste your time.".
                That doesn't mean that there isn't time for fun or one on one instruction.

                District and Council Training Chairs can get by doing very little.
                But, they should be on the look out for people who can join the "Training Team."
                Where possible these people should not be active unit leaders. - These poor guys have more then enough on their plates to start with.

                The District Training Chair. Should work hand in hand with the District Commissioner, helping identify units that need a hand and might benefit from training and identify people who might be an asset to the District Training Team.

                I'll bet if training wasn't seen as a waste of time and was fun.
                More people would be willing to attend and those who do will come away wanting more.


                • #12
                  I guess I might agree re. the quality of trainers.... but a lot might be driven by inconsistencies in course content.
                  I was just reading this thread where I left off at my last post.....

                  "perdidochas commented - BALOO was basically just about the rules for family camping."

                  It's clear that the agenda outlined for the class I took was very different than perdidochas' class.
                  See, my BALOO that I just attended was very little about the rules. It was more about basic camping tips and tricks....... and frankly a lot of noise about how to plan a trip, etc...
                  I would argue that just about the only thing that this BALOO course should have been about is about the rules.
                  ......How to fill out a tour permit, what can and can't be done by this age or that age.....etc.... that's the one common thing that a new scouter likely doesn't know


                  • #13
                    Now..... I'm asking myself, "should I attend the Leader Specific training slated for next weekend?"
                    I just found out that they aren't requiring any sort of RSVP or registration, so they really have no idea if it'll just be me as the only student, or all new Tiger Leaders, or one Cubmaster and the rest Den Leaders. Can't really be too "specific" in my estimation.
                    Still, it might be a good networking opportunity, and a chance to knock ideas around a bit.


                    • King Ding Dong
                      King Ding Dong commented
                      Editing a comment
                      The cub leader training in my district covers all positions. Most of us end up in at least a couple by the time its over. Either an all day saturday class or two enening classes. Maybe yours will have breakouts for each position.

                      I would go and ask all the fuzzy questions we banter about on this board and report back. Should provide some fun. (Summertime pack award, family camping, wolves and knives, DRP, complete uniform or none at all, hat indoors, den chiefs, how long past June 1 to earn rank and electives)

                  • #14
                    Training is a Cash Cow for Councils...WoodBadge almost $500. For What? I don't see what you get out of it. I rather go to a Powder Horn Training or National Camp School or Philmont. I can understand Training people who have never been in scouting before..But Really..Might as well say that I didn't Earn Eagle..I didn't earn all the Merit Badges..hiking, Camping, Cooking, Wilderness Survival, Rowing, Sailboating, Nature, First Aide, and all those Wilderness Campouts. I rather get certified in Climbing, or Aquatics, or Shooting Sports so I can run events not so I can wear a Patrol Patch as an Adult and special Beads. But if your not a BSA Training Lemmin then You don't fit in


                    • JoeBob
                      JoeBob commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I'm not so sure that councils make money on training. There are enough costs in food, staff, and facilities to offset the $500 ($250).

                      What the BSA does gain in having you buy into their training is more lemmings. If you accept 'servant leadership', you're a free BSA worker forever. It's your duty to serve the boys. And your free labor helps keep Pro salaries high.

                      Confession: I don't wear the knots that I could have earned as an adult. No Cubmaster, Den Leader, etc knots. I like to gauge people by their reaction to my almost nekkid uniform shirt, just Eagle.
                      Some folks at bigger scouting events stick their noses in the air, and sniff about how WouldBadge is their Eagle. Uh huh. Then I know what to expect from them.
                      Some folks work with you as a person, and it's always a pleasure to help them achieve good things for the boys.
                      I like surprising people, and I hate wasting my time on ID ten Ts.

                    • King Ding Dong
                      King Ding Dong commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Cash cow ? Not in my council $25 for IOLS ? They give us a binder with the Scoutmaster handbook and a bunch of PowerPoint notes. Um, that kind of profit isn't going to pay my sewer bill.

                      I can't speak to Wood badge, but if the feed me for 6 days, you might cover my water bill for a couple of weeks in July.
                      Last edited by King Ding Dong; 09-22-2013, 09:45 PM.

                  • #15
                    Originally posted by Sqyire21 View Post
                    do we really need to have "Angler Training" before folks can teach fishing skills?

                    Where else are you going to learn EDGE theory?

                    Wood Badge replaced Boy Scout skills with office management theory because, as Wood Badge Staffers like to remind each other, some of us spend our entire lives avoiding offices and the people who manage offices.

                    The problem is that word gets around, and outdoorsmen avoid Wood Badge now, so office theory must be introduced in the "specific" training courses.

                    In Scoutmaster-Specific training (the course that replaced the "Scoutmaster Fundamentals" course your dad took), the BSA's EDGE experts removed the Patrol Leader and any description of a working Patrol from the Patrol Method presentation, and replaced them with EDGE.

                    So, to better serve the outdoorsmen who avoid Wood Badge, Angler Training must likewise remove fishermen and any description of catching a fish, and replace them with EDGE.