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Just some random thoughts:


- Perhaps training should have an expiration date (like 5 years), a la CPR training. If you don't have a current card, you're not "TRAINED". Would apply to WB, SM specific, etc. This would ensure that the "old timers" stay current. Probably would not be a problem for Cubbers, since most don't stay in the program that long. BSA comes out with new training, new program changes, new uniforms on a periodic basis, and we all need to be updated with the new info. The downside is that BSA will have to bite the bullet and keep the training materials current, which they don't do very well now.


- If the Boy Scouting program is supposed to be "boy-led", why are we focusing all those training hours on adults? Shouldn't it be reversed? How many councils and districts still do JLTC in an organized, well-prepared manner with the same attention, fervor and enthusiasm that they put into a Wood Badge course? What is the "mountain-top" training experience for the average youth (who does not happen to be Lodge Chief)? Heck, if we're good enough at it, we could even look into getting academic credit for it.


- When I do training, one of the first things I tell them is "this is not your Father's BSA"...disarm the Eagles right off the bat (I am one), and let them know that we are all starting from the same point...learning the 2004 version of the BSA program.


- The BSA program will theoretically work well if everyone does their jobs as they are trained. If there is a weak link, the program will be weak. One of the biggest "broken links" in the program is the Commissioner Corps. Units are allowed to run amuck because there aren't enough Unit Commissioners and most of the ones we have don't do anything except strut around with a coffee cup. Hence, when one does show up, they are looked at as "the spy from Council." If problems are found with the way the unit leaders are operating, do they send a report to the CO? After all, it's "their program" and they are the ones who signed the charter, not the unit leaders. THey need to know that "their" unit leader selection process needs improvement.


- BSA charters the program to COs who agree to follow the BSA program. Who's out there training the COs and CORs so that they have a fighting chance of knowing what a "good" program is supposed to look like? How many CORs attend District Meetings and vote on District matters affecting "their" units, which is one of their primary responsibilities. Are we too quick to condemn "those stupid CORs who won't attend District meetings", or are we pointing the finger at those who are too anxious to get new units on the books without letting the COs know what is expected of them? How many CORs get a phone call saying "we missed you last night, is everything OK?", which is what we expect the youth leaders to do when a Scout doesn't show up?







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In a perfect scouting world, the CO recruits a COR and the CC. The CC recruits additional committee members and an SM. The SM recruits ASM's. The SM is responsible for running the program while the committee is responsible for supporting the program. Since the SM "works" for the CC who works for the CO, they can counsel him/her on whether or not they are running the program the BSA way.


Now, in the REAL world, the unit is usually made up of parents of the boys who are friends or become closely acquainted. They find it dificult to step on toes. Most people think the SM runs the troop. He administers the program and has the most direct contact with the boys. He is out front and visible. Most people are surprised to find out that the CC is actually the top dog in the structure....and even they have to answer to the COR and CO.


If you have an SM who is doing it their way, the CC is the one to call him on doing it the BSA way. If you have a CC who backs the SM doing it his own way, it might be time to find another troop.

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First, expecting the COR to be the critical path to a successful program is, well, ridiculous. The COR is not responsible for making the program run, and manufacturing a good meeting week after week. We the unit leaders are, and it is we the unit leaders that training focuses on.


As for the newbies vs. the old-timers; there is some merit in this concept. There is lot of wisdom and experience that spews from some of the old-timers. It you listen to them and apply some filters they can help a great deal. I would miss them at training. But yes, sometimes they are a bit out of step. The newbie would of course have to be not too new, and would have to have enough experience to answer the unrelated questions that always come up.




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Fuzzy Bear,

I at times think of the preacher who every Sunday gets up and gives a wonderful sermon, the congregation sit in the pews hanging on his every word, but as soon as they leave the church resort to their old sinful ways.

Many of the leaders we see at training are the new leaders, while we might convince them that the trusted and true ways work, they never get the chance to implement them when they get back to their home units.

I seen this happen with OJ, He came back from JLTC, full of the Patrol method. His Scoutmaster has some strange ideas about how this should work. His patrol method is not by the book and goes about half way?? Yes I know that sounds strange - But it is Strange!! For a few months OJ tried his best to change things and did make some headway.But then his term of office as SPL was over and he just gave up. This troop has lots of ASM's most have attended specific training, but under the present Scoutmaster they will never get the chance to put into practice what they may have picked up at training. The Scoutmaster has been around for a very long time, all three of his sons are Eagle Scouts and are now married, so I'm guessing that he has 15 -20 years in. He is Wood Badge trained and has led a Council Jamboree Troop twice. The troop is one of the largest in the District and the parents think very highly of him.

We also have a almost new troop, only four or five years old, the guys who started this had no idea what they were getting themselves into, so they went to training and took everything back. I have overheard people say that they are doing things by the book because they were too dumb to do it any other way!!

I have no idea why people like OJ's Scoutmaster opt to do things their own way? Maybe they tried doing it by the book and it didn't work for them? I just don't know.

Just like the preacher, trainers will keep on spreading the good news, maybe some of it will fall in the ears of the people who are too dumb to do it any other way.


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I attended a Boy Scout training session a while back. There were three trainers. The first half hour or so was done with one group, and was informal.


Then one trainer took all the committee people into another room to do Troop Committee Challenge, and the other two stayed to start on SM specific. The two did a pretty good job, and for the most part their styles complimented each other. This kept things more interesting than having two nearly identical trainers or one solo trainer would have.


The one problem was question and answer. There were a lot of problems adjusting to the idea that a units way wasn't the BSA way, or that the way it was 30 years ago isn't still the way, or someone just hadn't had enough exposure to be able to conceptualize what they were talking about.


The worst was when they tried to explain the differences between Exploring, Sea Scouts, Learning for Life, Venturing Crews, Varsity Teams, and Venture Patrols. This took about a half hour to straighten out, and I really think I was the only person in the room who really was confident they knew what those things were (and I am including the trainers, they weren't quite with it on that one).


Over all it was a good training, but I really felt like it was pretty basic, and that people were coming in not really prepared to learn the material that was supposed to be presented.


Oh, as to the know it all Eagles, count me as one. I am sure I come off that way, though really I do understand just how little I know and how few experiences I have had. The difference is, that what I learned as a youth is still mostly the same as the current program, and I have been continuously involved. The problem is any leader that learned an older version of the program well enough to feel comfortable with it, then left the program and is coming back expecting to pick up where they left off without anything having changed.

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I may sometimes come off as a know-it-all. I don't mean too. Besides being an Eagle, I've been involved with scouting for over 30 years (over 20 registered). My dad has over 30 years and my mom close to 20 (both Silver Beavers). Brother's an Eagle as well. When you've been so involved with something, it's hard to not know "an" answer to a question. The challenge, of course, is knowing the right one. I must admit, I've learned more this past 18 months than during just about any portion of my scouting career.

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The synopsis from this thread.

3 posters thinks the training program needs to be changed, but they do not agree on what the changes should be.

2 posters think that the trainers are the problem.

2 posters say no changes needed.

1 poster says the BSA needs to cutback on training.

2 posters think eagle scouts causes training problems.


The discussion about who should be doing training, if anyone thinks that the wood badgers are going to let a non wood badge person do the training, I think you would be stepping on some toes with this one!


In closing I would like to say, look for the next spin off!

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We have many non WBers that are trainers and they do a great job. The people who do WB probably have more time available to things like training. So, yes you might see more WB trained Scouters as trainers, but we certainly have no culture of preventing those who have not done WB from becoming trainers. As I look at our training events, from Commissioner College, BS Leader Training, PowWow, WLOT, BALOO, and on and on most of our trainers are not WBers.


Dan, your problems may stem from a clic like environment rather than issues with the BSA training programs.


One of the great challenges to BSA training is vast range of abilitys that new leaders come into the program with. We come from all walks of life. Some are very educated and worldly with a robust portfolio of life experience. Others have less education, and a life style that has kept them very much unaware of the world around them. Then there are those who have experience as a child in organizations like BSA while others do not. Some are open minded, and some are stubborn. Some are eager to implement the program as taught; some just never get it. Some are team players and interact well with other adults, some are just the opposite. Some are so inhibited that they wont ever go to training.


My point here is that training will never be one size fits all. Some will say that its too shallow, some will say thats its too intense.


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There are good ideas here and I want to thank you all for your answers, even though this is not my thread. In the last few months as I started in this District, the DC gave me two units to Commission. I don't have much time, so he gave me a 'minimal' assignment. I called the CM and later the SM and spoke with them individually. I then briefly visited a couple of their meetings to bring them information. Each had never seen a Commissioner, nor knew what to expect.


I spoke to them about a few things that I could do for them and if they wanted me to do anything immediately. Neither knew what to ask, probably from shock. (*What? A Commissioner!!) Later I spoke with the ADC about these two units and she told me that the reason I was appointed to those units was because they were entrenched with strong leadership and had been for the past few years and both were "intractable".


So, I have decided that it will just take time and many visits with each leader, the COR's, the CC's to get to know everybody well. I recognized that both of these strong leaders (CM and SM) have weak COR's and CC's. In both cases, the people in those positions were related to the leaders and disconnected from the unit.


One thing that I can take from here is to attempt to engage those that are weaker and willing to listen back into the BSA training. I can also take some of my own advice and be patient. BP said something like you can start a fire with wet (or green) wood but it just takes longer. I suppose this fire will just take more than three matches.


Merry Christmas,




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Dan, I hope you weren't counting me in the Eagle count. I don't think you were.


I think Foto's Case 1 vs. Case 2 assessment is pretty good. A lot of people who "haven't drank the coolaid yet", come to training and think we're some kind of weird cult. Explaining to them why we do these things before launching into it would be more effective, IMHO.


I don't have a good answer for the training problem. I think doing unit-level training is much more effective. That's what we've done this past year and it's been a big improvement. But, we've got some people (including me) who are capable of teaching. Some units may not be that fortunate. Also, if they are not teaching the right thing, then you've got bigger problems. The idea of mandating training sounds good, but we can all see problems with that as well.


Our council is doing a Scouting University next month. It's the first time they've done this (it's always just been a pow wow for Cubs). I'm looking forward to it. I hope it's well attended.

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I reread your listing of votes for changes in the WB training. I would like to clarify or define my writing and thinking style. I identify a problem and write about it from my perspective. What that means is that it has several limitations because I am thinking about specific instances and specific people from my past and present experiences. I also do not believe I have cornered all of the present Scouting literature and training as of this reading. That means I do not have "the answer". I might have one or two good answers but I am not a black and white, right or wrong, either/or type person. I realize many would like to see one good Book answer to resolve all situations but my experience here in this very Forum with several very good Answer People, both present and past, have demonstrated that many Scouting answers have depth and breadth. That indefinite kind of knowledge may leave some people with a feeling of insecurity but it does little more than stimulate me to think and look beyond.


I like to share and exchange ideas with other people. I expect others to not necessarily know the answers either or that we can necessarily come up with a correct answer. When a person says there is only one answer, I wonder about what has been said or if they will allow me to question their answer. I hope by writing and sharing (*back and forth exchanges) that we can arrive at better and different perspectives that we have not imagined before or would have arrived at on our own.


I want to clarify another point so that someone does not jump on it. Yes there are many answers that are black and white in Scouting and sometimes I miss those answers and need to be corrected. Sometimes I miss the easy Book answers because I have an out of date printing or a memory based on some past training or I am just wrong. So, I appreciate it when someone points out my limitations on answers that have limits.


I have learned to forgive myself and others right here in this Forum because of my own failings (*ask Eamonn). This was an unexpected Christmas gift that has been very meaningful to me. So, what I would like to say is that everyone that shares here is important to me and I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. I also hope that all of us have a Happy New Year by finding The Answer for us to remain here by this Campfire of Understanding.




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The "centralized training model", that is, everybody-goes-to-school, obviously doesn't work now, if it ever did. People don't have the time, or maybe the commitment, or both, to go to multiple training sessions at some distant location. Plus, as others have pointed out, the quality of the training is very inconsistent, depending on the trainer, and our unit-level Scouters know it.


Under the current model, people will get training when they think they need it, or when the perceived benefit will be worth the investment in time, trouble, $$, whatever. We can't change people's attitudes, that is, make them believe they need it. Most of us, frankly, don't think we need it -- comes from the same part of our brains that make us all think we're better-than-average drivers. By the same token, most unit-level leaders don't think the benefit is worth the investment, or we wouldn't be having this discussion, would we?


So, something has to change. Reminds me of something one of my old bosses told me: "If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got". The question is, what changes? I agree with those who argue for unit-level training. District or council-level trainers don't train everybody, they just train a unit-level trainer. Unit-level trainer trains other unit leaders. Why does this make sense?


1. Scheduling -- based on and around unit calendar. Troop committee training in modules at committee meetings; outdoor specific training at unit campouts; no conflicts with unit outing and district training; and so on.


2. Practicality -- if we're training people to deliver a program, or support one, why not train in the environment they're working in, with the people they're working with for real?


3. Cost -- if training is inherent and incidental to what people are doing anyway, we don't incur extra costs. I don't need troop meeting plan handouts, if I can use our actual troop meeting plans.


I think the unit-level training model is proven in a variety of settings, including many our unit-level Scouters are already familiar with because they work in them day-to-day. It requires a revision of training materials so that trainers can break them into modules that fit unit-level Scouters' exposure opportunities. Also, and very important, on-line options for each module to fill part of the module training requirements. You know, "complete the online module, print or e-mail me the completion certificate, then we'll get the practical portion done for that module." Include these module-based training completions in ScoutNet records, too, just like we do for the Scouts.


Biggest problem with current training model is this: I look at a Scouter, I have no idea what he's qualified to do until I see him in action. We don't document anything in any consistent fashion. I had an ASM with a trained strip, never saw a Troop meeting plan because he was trained as a CS leader. I know, the strip should have come off when he moved up. But, this isn't a proper-uniforming thing, it's a what's-this-guy-qualified-to-do thing. Gimme a record like a Scout gives me a handbook, and I'm there.


The best way for that to happen is at the unit level; the same way we document Scout advancement...where it happens.





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I believe that the mobile module type training that you suggested is available for some of the training already. It is not as extensive as you wrote about but your idea is a worthy consideration.


The other part of your idea about using the actual unit elements to check against what should be done is an even better idea than the present method of discussing an element then never checking against anything.


One thought that is akin to what you are saying about adult training has to do with the Quality Unit. I have been in on several discussions with people when this idea of what a quality unit should be was being tossed around. There is little agreement on what is a quality unit. The Quality Unit requirements have nonetheless been decided on by somebody and written down. Then the unit is given the quality unit checklist and they are the ones that complete the sheet and they turn it in to the District for credit.


When people check their own progress, they tend to forgive or interpret loosely rather than being more rigid. Even when one element requests that a % be in attendance for so many nights of camping, a person that estimates such things will give an answer that generally puts their unit in the positive column. (Note: This is a generalization that may be easily disputed. I have witnessed this exercise with many units over a number of years and the outcome appears to be always the same. This is the reason that I can testify of this behavior but I still could be wrong.)


If we are talking about a Scout passing a requirement for a basic Progress award, then this action is similar in nature. If the book says to demonstrate and the Scout shows that he can actually do the request, then the instructor signs that requirement off. The Scout is thought of as being proficient and is not ever tested again. I personally feel that this method reduces the learning curve to a minimum and undermines long-term skill acquisition.


Overall, it is a philosophy that stresses looseness in meeting requirements or a type of learning methodology from the adult level to the Scout level that appears to be insufficient. It is hoped that through repetition of training and the use of those "learned" skills and the eventual reuse of those skills that learned acquisition will be achieved some time in the distant future. This may be the skill that Trainers and UC's are to learn from the existing program.






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As a brand new user to this forum, I'd like to say hello to all and to weigh in on this training discussion. I'm the District Training Chair for my district and there are several items that I have frustrations with as well. One of my biggest frustrations is that I seldom can get enough volunteers to assist in the training sessions that are orgainized months in advance. For all those out there that complain about the training not being good enough, or that it is "Childish" there are remarkably few that choose to participate and help make the program work. If more would step forward to help, the program would be a lot better.


I whole heartedly support the training program currently used by the BSA, yet I also long for the "old days" as well. I'm also frustrated with the volunteers that come in and say "That's not the way it was done in the old days", not because they are a pain, but because most of the time, they are right! There should be a mix of what was and the new program. The new NLE program has some great points and the videos are a lot better. The specific training classes, for the most part, accomplish what they are designed to do. We have, in the past, combined the Cub Specific training simply because they do overlap and because I can seldom find anyone to do the other courses! So, the one lady that does the training handles all of the classes and, yes, she does hand out a lot of stuff to remind the participants of their training. She is awesome and the participants have always left her classes inspired and looking forward to going back to their Dens and starting anew.


However much I like the new NLE training etc, there are some things that need to be changed. This is why there is now a policy change recomendation being submitted to the Training office at National that outlines a new training outline with a mixture of old and new as well as the stipulation that a BSA leader, no matter the position, has to complete training every three years in order to be a leader in the BSA. This goes for EVERY leader in the BSA from the SE all the way down to the pack leader and committee members. This recomendation has been in the creation process for the last 14 months and has input from over 1500 troops, crews and dens from across the nation. It's been an exciting proposal to work on and I hope that it's carried through. Even if it's not, I'll still go on training those that want the training, encouraging those that are doubtful or that are fence sitters, and promoting the scouting spirit as much as I can within my small sphere of influence.

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I've intended to jump in this thread for a couple of days. Your post, ST, gives me a good opportunity to make my point. Unless there are SUBSTANTAL changes to the overall training program, I hope to goodness they don't adopt the three year rule. Here's why:


All BSA training courses are geared to the brand new volunteer with no experience in Scouting. And at one level that makes sense. For any particular position, it is probable that some of the people taking the course are newbies and the instruction needs to meet them at their level. But where does that leave the leader who has come up through the ranks with his son and is now training to be Cubmaster? Why does he need to sit through that infernal Pin the Badge on the Cub Scout game for a fourth or fifth time.


The current cirrculum focuses on new leader training to the exclusion of growing leaders. There is no 102 course, much less 200 or 300 level courses. This is especially true since the changes in the Woodbadge program. Where Woodbadge was once considered "advanced" Scouter training, now they are making the point that that is no longer the case. While the Woodbadge leadership training seems beneficial (I sure hope so, I'm registered to take it this spring), where does one learn the details of the program?


(Before anyone jumps in with the answer that Roundtable and other supplemental training is available, I'll say that our Roundtables have never provided any kind of useful training. The best we've ever gotten is a list of announcements and a couple craft ideas. But perhaps that's a local problem. Maybe other district's Roundtables are better run. Because of the way they are scheduled, our local Pow Wows don't do much good either. The are usually held the same day as the major training sessions. Especially with Cub leaders, most leaders who are tracking along with their sons need the next position specific course and can't take the Pow Wow electives.)


I have three ideas I think would help:


-- For Cub Scouts, I think they should go back to more of the old Cub Scout Leader Basic Training course for all Cub Leaders. The truely position-specific portions of the current course take less than an hour. Once a leader has the basic training they can add endorsements for each new position the take on.


-- Combine BALOO and Webelos Outdoor training into one course. If you move the info on the outdoor-oriented activity pins to the Webelos position-specific course, there's not much difference between the two. If you are qualified to take a 60-boy pack camping, why can't you take 6 Webelos out?


-- I think the Boy Scout Outdoor Skills course is a good one but would like to additional courses in the same manner. Maybe another course on advancement. How to conduct JTL could be a whole course. Perhaps one on administrative issues. But the point is the training process is cumulative, with one course building on the other. I can hear the training people out there saying "Geez, we can't get them to take one course, you want us to teach four more?" Well, yes. There will always be people who will only do the minimum but also those who want more training and information.


And most importantly, for both programs, create an annual program update course. I would envision an hour or so session that could be offered in the spring (after the training staff is throught with the bulk of the fall training) and highlight any changes in the program. Over the past three years every level of the Cub program has been revised with no new instruction or training for the leaders. (I, for one, still don't completely understand this Character Connection thing.)


This is the one way I can legitimately see a requirement for taking additional training every year or three. But if all they are doing is making me sit through the same introductory class again, that's a waste of time. How many folks out there are required to take continuing education for their jobs? Is it the same course every year, or is it new material? Sure, for some skills like CPR, you take the same training to maintain a certain level of proficiency. But most professional continuing ed courses present new material on changes in the profession. Many allow you to take specific courses on your area of expertise.


I'll second KoreaScouter's thoughts on making training more available to leaders. Almost everyone of our courses here are held on Saturdays. While that's fine for 90% of volunteers, what about the other 10%? Holding training at camporees and summer camp is a great idea. I was able to knock out Safe Swim/Safety Afloat, Trek On and Climb On at camp this summer. It's more difficult to pull off a Cub events since adults are usually responsible for direct supervision of the boys, but it would be great to try.

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