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Thanks for the discussion, although it is slightly off track now. I saw one of my fellow Training Chairs from another District at the scout shop this morning, and she said that the new "draft policy" was discussed at the Commissioner's meeting as a "done deal". In this Council we have a high turnover of leaders due to military transfers. We are lucky to keep a leader for a year, due to deployments, much less their whole 3 year tour. We have a few SMs with 20-30 year tenure, but they are rare. The cub side is even worse. Most packs and dens change leadership every year. Our training stat hovers at around 30% and I don't know how possible it is to improve that, but we will be expected to do it anyhow.


As Dave said, it's apparently local option. I also appreciate Bob's input from National...but I find it interesting that so many Councils thought of the same idea this year independently. As far as CO's role being usurped, I think most don't care. As someone else said, most are not involved in selecting leaders...they just sign the form. If there is going to be mandatory training for anyone, they should start with the CORs. It will be interesting to see how many Units we lose at the end of the year because untrained leaders get dropped from the rolls.



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So how is this going to work? According to our council training committee, you will be give a 12-month grace period to complete training. After that, your re-registration will be refused at recharter. So you are dropped at re-charter, but a week later submit a new application. Do you start over with another 12-months? Or say they figure that out and deny your application. On what grounds? If you appeal the denial to national, what then?



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Or, to add to the question of TwoCubDad, suppose that, at reregistration, a person changes jobs. All the ASMs become MCs and all the MCs become ASMs. Presumably that starts another 12 months.


You can't legislate goodness.


Plus, I hope that your Council Training Committee is going to go out of its way to make training available when and where people want it. If they play the common game of "We want to run a perfect training Troop and we won't run it without thirty participants" and combine that with "We won't reregister you if you don't complete training" it could be very interesting and possibly very ugly.


The bottom line is that Scout Leaders will be denied the opportunity to continue to serve. It will be very interesting to see if the result is better or poorer Scouting.


However, it IS possible that if the culture in the council becomes "of course you go to training. If fact, we feel so strongly about it that if you don't go to training, you are saying that you don't want to continue as a leader." then the result will be a lot more trained, good leaders.

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Making leaders get "trained" would not be an issue if they really wanted to. How is this done? ,you ask. In a simular way that you get a boy to join the troop, MAKE IT FUN


If all the trained leader relayed the positive experience they had at training or as a result of it the untrained leader would be forming lines to get in on the adventure and the training commitees would have to worry "How can we possibly train all these leaders?" instead of how can we get some leader to take training.


When I started as a Cub leader, I asked one of the other leaders at one of my first roundtables were they got the neat neckerchef slide, when they told me I could only get one by going to Woodbadge ,that became a goal of mine it took 4 year but I got there and now I can't stop telling other leaders all the fun I had and I think one or two will be at the next one because of my word of mouth.


It's kind of like Bob says "If you have a quality program, the people will come"(not an exact quote)(This message has been edited by andrewcanoe)

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I was an instructor at Pow Wow this weekend and the subject of Cub Leader training came up. I wish I had Andrew's thoughts before the discussion. The overwhelming opinion was that the Leader Specific Training at all levels is essentially useless. For Cub Scout leaders, Pow Wow seems to be the premier training vehicle. Why? Because it's fun and relevant. People want training that they can turn around and apply. Most of our leader specific training is not. For Boy Scouting, the Outdoor Leader training is the only one that fits the bill. I wish we had something similar to Boy Scout leaders. (I guess we do, they're called Roundtables - but that's another thread).

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I was an instructor at Pow Wow this weekend and the subject of Cub Leader training came up. I wish I had Andrew's thoughts before the discussion. The overwhelming opinion was that the Leader Specific Training at all levels is essentially useless. For Cub Scout leaders, Pow Wow seems to be the premier training vehicle. Why? Because it's fun and relevant. People want training that they can turn around and apply. Most of our leader specific training is not. For Boy Scouting, the Outdoor Leader training is the only one that fits the bill. I wish we had something similar to Boy Scout leaders. (I guess we do, they're called Roundtables - but that's another thread).

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You are dead-on target, EagleinKY. Pow-Wow is by far the best training a Cub leader can attend. Unfortunately, it's considered supplemental training. Our council hasn't offered a real Pow-Wow in four years, but instead tacks a few Pow-Wow-like classes onto it's big Scouting University program in the fall. The courses are lightly attended, largely because at that time of year most people are taking NLE and position-specific training.


In my experience, most new Cub leaders WANT to go to training. Most are motivated by the need to know how to run a den meeting. "Holy smokes, what am I going to do with these eight kids Tuesday night?"


Yet when we get them to training, what do we do? We read mission statements to them. We talk about aims and methods. We explain the difference between Varsity Scouts and Venturers (which will apply to them and their Tigers in a short seven years). We build little paper bridges. All valuable, important stuff (well maybe not the bridges), but not what these folks are looking for. The position specific class get a little better. But we talk about Pack structure, job descriptions, and uniforms. Finally, as we close in on quitting time, we start to talk about running den meetings and the program level they registered for. But still, we don't answer their questions.


Training needs to be a triage. Right now, we've got it backwards. New Leaders' Essentials was a good idea in theory -- that all Scoout leaders need one common class covering all the basics and principles of Scouting. I agree that is a wonder sentiment. But at what cost? At the Cub level, the cost was Cub Leader Basic Training. That means the the general Cub program nuts-and-bolts (Pack structure, uniforming, advancement) gets shoved in to the Position Specific courses. And ultimately, the real details leaders want -- the meeting ideas, the programs, the songs, skits and crafts -- get pushed off until another day.


Andrew, I'll agree with you in principle, but I don't necessarily think that making traing more fun or enjoyable is what folks are looking for. If you told me that Cub leader training was the most boring, insufferable eight hours I'll ever spend, but that at the end of the day I would have all the information, skills and knowledge I need to run a great program for my Scouts, I'd say sign me up. Above all, training needs to provide practical preparation for the job the leaders have volunteered to do. The current Cub leader training doesn't do that.


Maybe it's just me, but "it was really boring, but I learned a lot" is a much better endorsement than "we had a blast, but I don't know any more now than when I started." The two are not mutually exclusive. A good instructor should be able to make a class both fun and productive. But my first point, above, is that the way the classes are structured, even a good instructor has little chance of meeting the needs of a new leader.

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New Leaders Essentials was a good course. Unfortunately, my experience (last fall for Bears, this fall for Webelos) was that Cub Scout Leader Specific Training is anything but specific. It was just a general overview of the Cub Scouting program with one big group of 30 people each time with no breakouts by position at all. Bah! Yes, I provided feedback the first time, with no apparent affect. Since I am an ardent believer in "put-up-or-shut-up", I've offered to become a trainer - we'll see where that leads.

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When I said that training that was fun would bring more applicants , I thought it went without saying that any training should teach the skills needed.


Maybe a better improvement might be to ask what the leaders want to learn and make sure that gets in along with the other "not so fun" stuff. Bottom line if the leader doesn't think they are going to get what they need of the experience either in learning how everything fits together or how to have better run fun to go to meetings or even remembering how much fun this scouting stuff really is, they are not going to sign up and go.

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Most if not all the Cub Scouters that I have met at Cub Scout Training's have said that they have not only come away with clearer picture of what being a leader is about but they go on to say that it was fun. While we stick to the syllabus it is presented in an up beat way. We also add a lot of pizzazz, with the fun songs candy handouts and that sort of thing. Still none of these things are as good as having someone who knows what he or she is talking about and has a deep love and understanding of the program present it. While not everyone is capable of doing this. Good trainers are worth their weight in gold.

Our Council has never had a big problem getting Cub Scouters to training. The real callenge is the unit that has the Leader who has been there doing it all wrong for a coons age. He or she is running a program that may slightly resemble what might be taken for Scouting. He or she is scared to attend as they deep down know what they are doing isn't right and by not going can pretend that it's not there. To make matters worse even if some of the other leaders attend they never get the chance to try doing it right. Almost like the little kid that covers his eyes and says "I can't see you."


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CubsRgr8 -

Congratulations on becoming a trainer!

Cub Scout Leader Specific is a generic term for five separate Cub Scout trainings:

Tiger Cub Den Leader Specific

Den Leader Specific (for Wolf and Bear DL)

Webelos Den Leader Specific

Cubmaster Specific

Pack Committee Specific


Each of the five separate trainings is specific to the position. They are presented individually and none of them include discussion about any of the other positions. If they are presented (incorrectly) to all kinds of Cub leaders as a group, the specific nature of the training is lost. Maybe that's why you saw it as too much of a general overview.


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The wonderful comments by andrew, Eagle and Twocubdad outline precisely the dilemma faced by National developers of training materials. The material must be:


1) Clear so that the trainers can understand it and present what is intended

2) Targeted at what is intended

3) Cover the materials desired by the participants

4) Achieve the training objectives set by BSA Nationally and Locally

5) Fun for all concerned

6) Able to be presented to one person or to a large group

7) Not requiring inappropriate or too much preparation, resources, etc.

8) etc. etc.


So if you present what the participants really want (how to live through the next meeting :), then you may end up with great meetings which do not address and achieve the objectives of Scouting. On the other hand, if there is too much Scouting theory, etc. and too much heavy citizenship, religion, safety, Guide to Safe Scouting, finance, etc. then it can be deadly dull.


And there is a limit on how much training people will take and how many hours they will spend. They are basically "uncommitted" volunteers coming to training not only to learn stuff but also to decide whether the BSA is an organization for their more in depth involvement.


In previous generations of Wood Badge, there was a Leadership skill (I think representing the group) which talked about the balance between Keeping the Group together and Getting the job done. In later years, that was presented as a seesaw or balance but I think that was unfortunate. The earlier presentation, more complicated, was as a right angle chart. One could maximize either or both Keeping the Group together and Getting the job done.


Ideally, a good trainer running a good training can do both. The problem is that, as in many Scout activities, we need to ensure that the bottom 10% of trainers can still produce a completely acceptable product. The BSA can't rely on a training which requires super good trainers to put on.


So this is part of the problem which can happen with material which comes out of National, not only in training, but in program also. Often, it contains only the meat and the material which must be presented. The assumption is made that good trainers and good leaders will be able to put on the bells and whistles, make it fun, add the cotton candy and have the training be a great experience.


But when trainers say "Gee, it isn't in the National manual, so we can't do it" or, for example, say that "Scoutmaster Position Specific Skills doesn't call for a training Troop and Patrols, so we can't do that" it's a misinterpretation. Nothing is saying that you can't do that if the size of the course, local conditions, preference of the trainers, etc. judge that most appropriate. However, in many cases, local trainers were stating that they could only hold a training once a year or even once every two years because they wanted their full training Troop. That is another misinterpretation.


We need to be the ones to make it fun and most importantly, to ensure that what needs to be done at the local level to make real, effective training happens is occurring. Fun is hard to package from National, particularly at the Boy Scout level.

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I got to thinking, I hope I haven't upset any one who trys their best but the only fun they can muster up is Fabric and weaving jokes:) The average trainer is not an entertainer so the "fun" must come from somewhere else maybe a skit between sessions or a drawing for grab bags of meeting programs. I guess I'm just lucky all the training I have recieved from Cubmaster basics to wood badge have been put on well and left me feeling like I wanted to get even more training.


The trainers out there deserve a lot of respect for what they do , some times because no one else will do it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, my council has now joined those who are doing what some say cannot be done.


Today I paid a visit to my council's web site and as the "lead story" was:


"A Special Message To All:

Executive Officers of Chartering Organizations

Chartered Organization Representatives

Committee Chairman

Unit Leaders"


It is a letter signed on behalf of the Council Executive Board and dated January 5, but I think it just hit the web site in the last couple days as I was on it over the weekend and didn't see this.


The heart of the letter is below, and it is a direct cut and paste though I did put in italics parts that I thought were especially interesting:


1) As of September 30, 2004, all new Cubmasters, Scoutmasters, Crew Leaders, Ship and Post Advisors, must complete Essentials and Specific Training prior to assuming the position. All Scoutmasters should complete Outdoor Leader Skills Training prior to assuming the position. If scheduling prevents that, then they must attend the next available course.

2) As of September 30, 2004, all other new leaders; Den Leaders and Assistants, Webelos Den Leaders and Assistants, Assistant Scoutmasters, Assistant Cubmasters, Assistant Crew Leaders and Assistant Ship / Post Advisors must be trained within 3 months of being recruited for their position.

3) All new units must have a fully trained team of required leaders in place before they can receive their charter.

4) As of the next recharter period, 2005, the unit must have a fully trained team of required leaders in place.


It also discusses "strategic goals" that have been adopted for the council training committee, which the above rules are intended to accomplish, the goals being these:


1) 95% of all Top Leaders will be fully trained by 2006. This includes: Cubmasters, Scoutmasters, Crew Leaders, Ship and Post Advisors.

2) 75% of all leaders, who are in contact with the youth, will be fully trained by 2006. This includes: Den Leaders and Assistants, Webelos Den Leaders and Assistants, Assistant Scoutmasters, Assistant Cubmasters, Assistant Crew Leaders and Assistant Ship / Post Advisors.

3) Beginning in 2006, every 5 years the Top Leaders will be required to attend a "Specific" update session to make their training current. The update will be determined by changes in B.S.A. policy or to the "Specific" Syllabus.


Although there has been some disagreement in this thread about what councils can and cannot do, I think that everything in this letter is consistent with what DS has said. These new rules are clearly being imposed by the council. There is no mention of national at all, including in the parts I cut out. Now, I have no doubt that the training committee looked around to see what other councils were doing, just as when my school board is considering adopting a new policy, we see what other boards in the area are doing. Sometimes we "follow" and sometimes we go off on our own, and sometimes a combination of the two. That is what the councils are probably doing, so the similarity in some of the new rules is not really a "coincidence," but it also does not necessarily signal some controlling force behind it all.


The more important point is that regardless of the origin of the rule, this is now the rule in my council. I think it will make for a better program overall. I do think they need to do one other thing, and that is to create a Troop Committee specific course that an individual can take, and add that position to the list. When I was becoming an MC I asked at council about training, and was told that the only thing available is Troop Committee Challenge which is done by a committee as a whole and not as individuals. I have suggested this to my CC and basically got a "We'll see." The result, for me, is that I am not "basic trained" in my position, and I don't like it, but at present there doesn't seem to be anything I can do to change it. (And as it happens, last night I attended a committee meeting, and I can tell you that we definitely need something to improve our meetings. I am going to raise this to the full committee next month.)

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Troop Committee Challenge training works best when the entire troop committee attends, but there is no reason why an individual should not attend. From the syllabus, "This training is best when delivered to all members of the troop committee at once; it should also include the Scoutmaster and, if possible, assistant Scoutmasters. It has been designed to meet the learning needs of all participants, no matter what their role." The district or council should be offering TCC at least a couple of times a year. Sign up for it and take as many committee members with you as you can.

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