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Ed I do believe that's FScouter's (and my) point. IOLS should not be our standard skills training course for adults because, let's be honest, while you'd likely get more hands-on experience in the typical OLS weekend course than in an 8-hour indoor variation, a weekend's worth of camping isn't sufficient to teach basic skills either.


As a parent, if I asked adult leaders in a troop what training or experience they had with fire building, knives, axes, or other outdoor skills and their answer was "hey don't worry, I spent a weekend at IOLS" then I might be pretty apprehensive about letting them take my kid anywhere.


We need a training course to help adults learn basic skills. Not all scouters come to boy scouting with those skills in hand, and from my observations, a few who may have learned those skills in their own youth scouting years, could use a refresher. We need IOLS to help those adults who have the basic skills understand what works and what doesn't when it comes to teaching adolescents in an outdoor laboratory, and how to make it both reasonably safe and fun in the process.



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I'd really like to sit down and have a chat with the people who come up with this stuff.

I'm not for mandatory training.

I'm all for training, but feel making it mandatory places an unnecessary burden on volunteers, many who struggle to do what they are doing.

Calling this indoor training an outdoor training?? Just goes beyond being daffy!!

Maybe calling it an introduction to outdoor leadership might be better?

I'm a little puzzled why the Professional Scouters are doing any of the Training's? If I were the Council Training Chair. I'd be a little upset and I'd be talking to the Council Vice President for program.

It could be that someone, somewhere thinks that a little bit of training is better than none? I can see that, but again calling it something that it isn't only cheapens what it should be.

Over the past few weeks here in the forum there has been a lot of talk about First Class Scout.

I'm very concerned that many of the Scouts who wear the patch and advance beyond First Class just don't have the skills.

My son is an Eagle Scout, his outdoor skills are really bad.

Sure, he has taken a lot of leadership skill courses both as a Boy Scout and as a OA member. A little while back he said he was thinking of joining a Troop as an ASM.

I asked him what he would do for the Troop? (The Troop is a Troop that he used to visit when he was on camp staff and they fed him. -He likes to eat!!) He is a good kid, he would be a good example for the Scouts in a Troop, but not having the skills needed would mean that he was just another name on the charter.

One problem that I have with our Patrol Based Training's (Even back in the days of the old WB course) is that in most Patrols there was always one "Super Scout". The guy or girl who had outdoor skills coming out of their ears. The less skilled Patrol members tended to either shy away or not be allowed to take an active role in what was going on. A lot of times returning home with maybe some idea of what needed to be done, but no idea of how to do it.

Very often at the Outdoor Training, I see people who have served as Cub Scouter's and are crossing over to a Troop. These people really have no idea of the skills, the really want to learn them and learn how to teach them, but they get pushed back while the "Super Scout" does all the work and shows everyone how good he is. From the outside looking in, it would seem that the Patrol is doing well, but in fact the goal of training all the leaders hasn't been reached.


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Introduction to Outdoor Leadership Skills is just what it says it is, an introduction, nothing more. To understand what it is supposed to be and how it is supposed to be done, one would need to read the actual course syllabus or have a training team that actually followed it.


The purpose of the course is to familiarize Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters (as part of their BASIC training) with the outdoor skill requirements for Tenderfoot to First Class ranks, no more and no less. It begins with a skills assessment and ends with a re-assessment to see if leaders improved their knowledge in areas where they were weakest.


The course is intended to consist of hands-on training and to model teaching methods that the Scout leaders can mimic back in the troops.


Here is the problem. There are over three hundred Councils and over a thousand Districts, each with their own locally selected volunteer trainers. The quality of the course you attend is directly related to the skills and abilities of the local volunteer training team, and the leadership of the Training Committee Chair.


As you can well imagine unless every single council and district chooses to follow the syllabus (and they dont) there will be (and is) a wide range in the quality of training throughout the country.


But you cannot expect the BSA to be able to control that. Training is in the hands of local volunteers, some of whom take part in this forum. If the local volunteer trainer does not follow the syllabus, or does not stay current with the training information then cannot blame the BSA (or the course), for the problem is in the skills and abilities of your LOCAL training staff.


So if this is an introductory course how do you and other leaders improve your skills and knowledge? The same way the scouts do, PRACTICE, READ, SEEK out individuals or groups with greater knowledge to teach you more information. The BSA provides for many supplementary training opportunities where intermediate and advanced skills should be taught and practiced. Troop meetings, Outings, Camporees, Show and Do, University of Scouting, Roundtables, are all teaching/learning opportunities for advanced skills, and are all the responsibility of LOCAL scouting volunteers. If you are not getting the training you desire then you need to look at your local scouting community for the solution. It is not the BSAs job to run your local activities.


A poster asked If ya don't know how to camp, how are you going to be able to teach it to someone else??" Easily, by understanding that they are not the only source of knowledge in the troop, and that they have a community full of resources to tap into that will share their knowledge with the scouts (this is covered in several BSA resources including the New Leader Essentials training, the first part of Basic Training for any scouter). Bring in local people with greater skills then you have and learn along with the scouts. It would be silly to think that if you were not proficient in every outdoor skill that you could not be an effective scoutmaster.


Rather than complain on the Internet (which will have no effect on your next training event), consider having a friendly, courteous, and helpful conversation with the scouting volunteers who are responsible for your LOCAL community Scouting program. Talking to the people who are actually responsible for the change you want is the best way to make a difference.


BW(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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BW, as always, your post is informed by your considerable experience.


I find the comments on skills training inetresting.


I asked about a "course" being put on by professional Scouters answerable in theory to the Executive Board but practically to the Scout Exective, not volunteers.


I wonder if a nine-hour, indoor course satisfies Scouting's definition of Introduction to Outdoor Leadership Skills. So I started this thread on that topic.


I cannot ask the BSA because it elects not to offer any regular channels of communication with Scouters. I have pushed past that on occasion, but thought I would see what might be learned here.


Our Counsel does have weekend courses staffed by volunteers. They are based on the official syllabus, although, as you doubtless know, the syllabus is a broad outline that leaves much to the staff. I have some decades of exposure to these courses. While the quality surely varies from course to course, they are seem valuable to the learners and receive, overall, positive feedback through a written, formalized, confidential process and through focus groups.


The "market" for the weekend courses is reduced by the "one day." Not only is the time commitment considerably less; the price is also lower - $20 vs. $30 (no food and reduced materials). The DE's, under pressure to meet the new mandate for "fully-trained" SM's, "push" the "one day" courses.


As suggested, I will attend one of these "one day" courses. I know that a couple of Scouters who were solicited as assistants at one of these courses were subsequently reported on formal documents as learners who had "completed" the same course.


BW, I certainly look forward to any comments you may wish to add on this topic.

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I could be wrong but a 9 hour 1 day OLS course would not be enough to teach enough necessary skills to be able to teach the Scouts in your unit. And I don't think a local council can require an adult be trained to be registered. I could be wrong there, too.


I am all for mandatory training. Complete the application, get it approved & cleared, go to the required training for your position & then start working with the unit.


Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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I can only repeat that training is the responsibility of the volunteers in your district and council. I can only guess that your professionals are doing it because your local volunteers have dropped the ball.


While I would personally rather see them not do the training then to do it incorrectly, I do not live in your community and so only your local scouters can correct this problem.


It is not a reflection on the BSA, or the course, or even your local professionals. If your local training committee was properly lead and staffed this situation would not exist.


It is unfortunate that the local volunteer Council/District training committee have allowed this situation to develop, but it can only be solved by the volunteers in your Council/District.


There is an old saying I am told among Scouting professionals that goes something like this, "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, when a volunteer doesn't a professional must."


Professionals are not trained to do the training, they are charged however with filling the gaps left by volunteers not getting the job done. This is a local volunteer problem that requires local volunteer solutions.


Talk to your local professional, they may have ideas on ways you can help.


Good luck,


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Most of the demand for IOLS comes from wood badge course directors informing SM and ASM that they are not trained for their position without it and in order to attend wood badge they must take it and from mandates as to training from councils. A solution would be to make the day course the introduction required for training and offer an optional advanced outdoor skills: weekend long plus additional mentoring beyond the course for the more active campers. Just a thought. Many are registered as ASM's that should be more properly registered as committee members and then would not need IOLS to be fully trained.

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BW, while you concede, as you must, that you lack the relevant facts, your comments nevertheless assume that there was a need that volunteer Scouters were failing to meet and that the SE had to set up one-day courses to correct a volunteer "doesn't."


That would only be possible if a one-day course legitimately meets the BSA requirement that a Scouter complete OLS in order to be recorded as completing the basic training suite.


Our training staffs have concluded, based on the official BSA syllabus, that a weekend course is required. Several are offered each year, as I noted above.


Now as to:

"There is an old saying I am told among Scouting professionals that goes something like this, 'Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, when a volunteer doesn't a professional must.'"


Interesting quote, that. It assumes that "a professional" CAN do what needs doing. Some can, and some, with the best will in the world, cannot. Thirty-seven professional Scouters have come and gone in the twenty-seven years I have Scouted in my current, home District. Some have been among the best Scouters, best people, and best friends with whom I have ever associated. Others were in place until better employment opportunities came around. A few could not be trusted to lead a panic in a yard of turkeys. One had no honor.


I note that you can "only guess" that any issue is the "fault" of volunteers. As to that, I only concede that volunteers, like myself, have limitations like professional Scouters. Because there are more of us we likely are more often at "fault."



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I had to check the dates on this thread to make sure I hadn't inadvertently resurrected another thread from ancient history.


Anyway, Welcome back BW. Your insights have been appreciated in the past.


Regarding the thread, I can only agree with, "This is what happens when someone makes up an arbitrary rule and then has to bend other things to fit the arbitrary rule." Without other insight to the situation, this would be my guess.


I know at this point if someone told me I couldn't participate because I didn't have some specific training course they thought I should have, that I didn't think I needed and would cost me time, $$ and another weekend away from the family, I'd probably find another organization to lend my volunteer time to. I suspect the pro ran into a minor mutiny among more experienced scouters and had to compromise.



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I am afraid you have misunderstood, my apologies for not being more clear.


You are correct it is doubtful that a one day program will meet the training goals of the BSA's syllabus. No the professionals should not have to be doing this course. Evidently the local volunteers are not fulfilling their responsibilities as a district Training committee and so the professionals are doing the best they can to get some training done.



This is a local problaem specific to the decisions of the local professions based on the lack of training being done by the local training committee.


Yes, you are correct. In the local community the quality of scouting rises or falls based on the skills and abilities of the local volunteers. Program is not the job of the professional. Local program is lead and delivered by local volunteers.


The professional staff is no more responsible for your Camporee program then they are for your next troop meeting.




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In the last year or so, with the benefit of people's comments here and spending more time doing district stuff and getting to know our district & council pro's, I've come to a similar conclusion as the one Bob White is espousing. The professionals step in when we volunteers don't step up. Sometimes the pro's do a better job than the volunteers would have. Sometimes the pro's need to be thanked or at least appreciated because even if they don't do a better job than the volunteers would have, at least they did the job and someone had to do it. Sometimes the pro's do a lousy job. But at the end of the day, it is an empowerment and knowledge issue. Once we recognize that this is our program (collectively), and once we understand that the pro's really ought not to be there to run it for us except as paper pushing administrators (meant in the nicest sense), then the volunteers can really do it for ourselves. But absent our input and time, effort, and ability, well we'll be stuck with whatever the pro's dream up. And a few pro's will get used to the idea that they run things, because that's what happens so much of the time.


So in that regard, although it is perhaps more demanding of us (in the big picture), I'm completely in agreement with Bob White that local problems must ultimately be solved by local volunteers.


Doesn't mean, though, that we can't share ideas, float strageties, have reality checks, and otherwise occasionally vent, here in this forum where things aren't local!



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No need to look outside our Council. Weekend courses are offered Spring and Fall - in competition with these one-day, $20.00 courses.


Let's see. I can go the weekend for $30 (includes food) or do the nine hours course and pay $20.


The weekend courses go begging for learners. The Fall, 2007 course was dropped (a first) when only four signed up.


Doesn't sound like a lack of training being done by the local training committee. Sounds like registered volunteers not taking advantage of the training being offered until they find out they have to have it to do something then whining to the council & the council trying to do what they can to accommodate the whiners. Instead, if the council would have told the whiners they need to attend the courses already offered, well! But then again, if training was required, we wouldn't be having this discussion.


Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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I agree with Lisabob's post through the line about "somebody had to".


I would disagree that it is "our program" collectively. It is "our responsibility and obligation" to deliver the "BSA program", at least that is what we agreed to do when we became adult leaders.


Collectively the Scoutmaster, assistant Scoutmasters and troop committee, and charter organization of a single unit are responsible for the quality of Scouting program that their specific unit recieves. But the Scouting program itself has survived generations of volunteers and professionals good and bad. It is not dependent on any individual or collective. It is not like a football someone owns where they can take it home to end the game.


The program in TAHAWK's council as an example, will suffer for a while because of lack of leadership on the training committee. But nature abhors a vaacuum, and in time, someone will accept the responsibility to get things back on track. How soon that happens depends on how long the scouters of that council are willing to accept the current conditions, and how badly they want to have good scouting. But I am confident that at some point it time they will rebound.


Professionals were not developed to be paperpushers for scouting even in the kindest terms. There are day to day serves and business functions that must be attended to to keep a corporation the size of a council or national program operating. It must work as we are the 2nd largest in the world in scouting membership and the most financially sound of any scouting program. We own and operate the most camps, and send people and resources around the world to help start and sustain scouting in foriegn programs.


All of this is primarily due to the professional structure of scouting that was initially designed and instituted by James West about 90 years ago.


The pros did not dream up stepping in to fill program gaps. They have little choice. The Council has a contract with the locl Charter organizations to provide specifci services through the Council committee. When the council committee (a volunteer committee who accepted their responsibilities of their own free will) does not live up to their obligations then someone has to.


If those committee members have not the ability or time, and do not intend to give the input or effort to do their job, then you are not being "stuck" with the pro. The pro is the one stuck, he or she now has to find volunteers who will perfom their responsibilities with greater dependablity.


There are responsibilities that belong to professionals, delivering the local program is not one of them.




(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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