Jump to content

New training courses and mandates

Recommended Posts

I took my council's Trainers Development Course recently and was both pleasantly and unpleasantly surprised by some of the changes in training. First, I'm very happy with how National has implemented some of the courses as computer based training that can easily be done at your own convenience. Second, some of the new courses look very good. I can think of several of our committee members who will feel much more comfortable with things like the Board of Review training.


On to the gripes (of course there are gripes ...)


1. I was apparently overseas and therefore not involved in Scouting when National transitioned from Scoutmaster Fundamentals to New Leader Essentials and Scoutmaster Specific training. I had been unable to locate guidance anywhere online to tell me how SMF translated to the new training. The council briefer on the new training curriculum was trying to say I should WANT to be trained with the most current info -- really, I love doing one-match fires with the boys but why do I have to demonstrate my ability to do knots, cook over a fire, perform First Aid requirements through the First Class requirements, etc. again and again?


2. The new "mandatory" training courses includes Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills, "the required outdoor training for all Scoutmasters, assistant Scoutmasters, and Varsity Scout coaches". Oh, come on! While I recognize there's always something new to learn (and am happy to do so), being REQUIRED to take yet another course on BASIC outdoor skills after learning, doing and TEACHING outdoor skills for 30 years is a bit annoying. Who at National dreams this stuff up and are they really that divorced from unit leadership?


3. This led me into a ... discussion ... with the training coordinator who repeated the mantra that we should WANT to be fully trained, that we wanted to give all boys 100% fully trained leaders. Nice philosophy, especially for larger units with a couple dozen active adults to cover all bases, but it doesn't work out well for smaller units in my experience. Every additional requirement will become another excuse for one of the other adults to not get involved, leaving the same 3-4 dedicated people doing everything. Honestly, I'd rather reach 4-5 times as many boys and have their parents involved at whatever level they feel comfortable with than burn out the few adults who can or will commit to all these new mandates.


We had another animated discussion about the TDC's view of a chartering organization's level of involvement in the unit (down to selecting unit leaders) but that's probably more appropriate for another forum. ;)


So ... am I a stick-in-the-mud, hopelessly out of touch -- or are there others who are as frustrated as I am with National's current mandates WRT training?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Do what I did: Just volunteer to staff all the courses that you need to be officially "re-Trained."


Be sure to carefully read the Patrol Method session of the Scoutmaster-specific training course outline (you will probably be the first Staffer in your Council who has). See if you find ANY mention of what was once known as the Patrol Method :-/




Link to post
Share on other sites





Myself, I am currently renewing my drivers license while out of state. It is a small hassle, getting a together few applications and documents in order and having them notarized. The applications are a controlled item that the state does not even place online, so I had to mail the license bureau, just to ask for the forms to begin the process. But at least the state is not telling me, I have return for a written test, drivers test and photo. I have some mandatory things I must do, but I do not have to complete every mandatory task that I did back when I was 16.


Of course, I cannot speak on behalf of the BSA, or your council; and much of what Ive experienced is second hand discussions with professionals; so I can only offer my opinion....


There are benefits of staying current. At a minimum the bi-annual refresher on the most current Youth Protection (which changes occasionally), and certain other safety courses which carry an expiration date.


Though, while the BSA advancement programs do go thru changes, they do not change that drastically.


I can appreciate the decision that has to be made. Sometimes attending BSA training is a sacrifice, sometimes it is not a problem for some parents with plenty of time. I can acknowledge, the dutiful parent with now younger children following their older Scouting sons; or better yet, the grandparents which were there throughout their sons making Eagle and now returning to the program again in Cub Scouting. Some of these Scouters were trained under previous curriculum, and then needs to sacrifice weekend after weekend, sacrifice another little league game, or sacrifice coaching soccer, or give up the family vacation, or even sometimes driving an hour or more round-trip to re-earn the "trained" strip. That is sometimes a lot to ask. (I do not have grandchildren yet, but I can just imagine a young committee chair telling me I have to go thru all the Cub Scout training again, and telling me it is mandatory to sit thru every session).


If a previous trained scouting parent is just sitting on the couch for the weekend, I'd have no problem shaming them. But if it is truly a sacrifice they would have to make; I don't see the need to be retrained in Outdoor Leadership Skills, if they have already attended SMF years earlier.


If it convenient to attend and to remain current, I would ask "Why wouldn't you?" But if a Scouter were previously trained, (except for the nationally stated expirations YPT, Safety Afloat, Safe Swim Defense and etc), I don't see why they should necessarily sacrifice any other program to be re-"trained". I would love to see them in training, but not begrudgedly.


Now saying that, HICO_Eagle commented on how Scoutmaster Fundamentals translates into Scoutmaster Specifics.


I would adhere to all safety training expiration dates. If you are planning a trip or excursion, those current training items are now mandatory on the local and national tour permits.


If you are confirming that your troop remains eligible for centennial quality awards, or to demonstrate high percentage of trained leaders in a unit. I would concur that your SMF "grandfathers" the current training, and your "trained" patch is valid. At least, I've been told that these program training are grandfathered.


As I have been told. The older training codes are still valid in Scoutnet. Just google "BSA training codes" and you can see the previous SMF part 1, part 2 and part 3 codes, also the codes for Wood Badge for Boy Scout Leaders and Cub Scout Trainer Wood Badge before the Wood Badge for the 21st Century. Again, I have also been told (although I have not seen) that Scoutnet will generate training statistics by district, and I understand that the database entry for SMF will suffice for a positive percentage. You may need to dialogue with your council's registrar and DE, to validate if this does hold true.


Just on this topic, it may be best to skip the District Training Chair and ask the Council Registrar. All councils maintain records, most every council has finally made the switch to Scoutnet. The Council Registrar is the database administrator for Scoutnet. But all your data will be held under your current Scout ID number, which is probably different than the Scout ID number you had when you attended SMF in another council. (Otherwise stating your pre-existing training is not document under your current Scout ID)


It sounds like you were trained in another district and council years earlier. Do you still have your training credentials (wallet cards)? Then I would present your older training to your council registrar.


At a minimum, I would expect your previous training to satisfy the mandatory program training requirements for the trained strip, and then you would only need to satisfy the mandatory renewals of the various safety courses.


Good Luck!


Scouting Forever and Venture On!



Link to post
Share on other sites

HICO, I hope you don't mind me calling you by your first name, I see you are from Colorado, it may be that skills and outdoor experience that you consider second nature does not translate to every one in the country. A few summer camps ago I was in the Troop's ax yard splitting wood because I enjoy it. In a short period of time, I had quite the audience, gallery even. All out side the ax yard of course. When I realized I was center of their interest, I asked why they were watching me. The reply? They had never seen anyone split wood before, I mean really split wood, swinging an ax and maing kindling and fire wood from tree trunks. It just doesnt happen in the suburbs, or Urbs even. I grew up swinging an ax for fire wood, many of my peers in the troop nevr touched an ax until they were adult scouters.


I can see having to have the manditory training, but then I can also see being able to "competency out" (hmm, a way to get around manditory training, only in scouts)

Link to post
Share on other sites



In my council, SMF is a grandfathered trainign course, so you are trained. if you ahev a copy of the District training pamphlet, whatever it is called, there should be a list of training codes and corresponding courses that are put into SCOUTNET. SMF is coded for SCOUTNET. If the current book deosn't have the code, ask the registrar. Trust me some of the old training, including youth training like Brownsea 22 and JLT, are coded for adult training records.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Question HICO, why did you take TDC?


It does not sound like you are in favor of Unit Leaders being trained.


Are you planning on volunteering to be on your District/Council Training Staff? Or did you take TDC just as an informational thing on your own?


BTW, while your council might do things differently, BSA National has NOT made Basic Training, consisting of This Is Scouting (NLE), Leader Position Specific, and Outdoor Training, MANDATORY, or REQUIRED.


The only trainings REQUIRED by BSA are those listed on the Tour Permits. Also, in order to take Wood Badge you must be trained in your primary position. That's it.


If the reason you took TDC was so you could volunteer to be on Training Staff, some Districts/Councils require that you have actually taken the course before you are allowed to teach it. If you have a lot of prior experience, some will allow you to attend a training, while you are staffing a portion of it. It is up to the Training Chair.


Link to post
Share on other sites

BSA National has NOT made Basic Training, consisting of This Is Scouting (NLE), Leader Position Specific, and Outdoor Training, MANDATORY, or REQUIRED.


Yah, while this is technically true, National's push on the trainin' front has functionally caused a lot of councils to go the "mandatory" route. So while it's technically local option, as it needs to be, the changes to more mandatory stuff aren't really bein' generated locally.


I think encouragin' training is a fine thing, particularly if the training is done well. I think the way we encourage folks can and should demonstrate a bit more sensitivity and finesse than just slappin' a "required" label and a guilt trip on volunteers.




Link to post
Share on other sites

I find it hard to have adults deliver the promise of scouting when they don't know what the promise is.


When my son was very young, he played T-ball and I was an assistant coach. All Coaches, Assistant or head, had to attend a 8 hour rules session. OK, it wasn't all rules, a lot was organizatinal stuff, protective equipment, that sort of stuff. Required every year and no one complained. The same with soccer, the league had a one day "Coaches" Clinic, you wanted to coach, you were there.


Why would we entrust the best youth program the country has going with people who don't have the time to learn what the best youth program the country has is?



Link to post
Share on other sites

FWIW, Scoutmastership Fundamentals was replaced by the current courses in 2001 or so.


As noted, these courses are NOT mandatory. To be considered "Basic Trained" (needed to met quality goals for your unit) as a Boy Scout Leader, you must have completed NLE (now This is Scouting), position specific training, and Outdoor Leader Essentials. Basically they broke SMF into 3 courses.


It has always been that if you completed training to be considered basic trained for the position you hold and you kept that position, that was good FOREVER. So if you are a Boy Scout Leader and you completed SMF, you are still considered "Basic Trained". You only need to take new training if you take a new position.


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey folks, let's be careful about the "not mandatory."


Yes, NATIONAL does not have a mandate.


Increasingly, LOCAL COUNCILS are setting "conditions of recharter." CNYScouter, a regular here, has shared what his Council does (I think Hizzoner the Judge, nldscouter, is in that same Council).


My Council, this fall, will not accept a principal program officer (CM, SM, Varsity Coach, CA), on recharter if he/she is not fully trained at the Basic level for the position. The intent is over the next 3 years to push that mandate down to all direct contact leaders. Yes, our Exec Board and the CORs in annual meeting bought in.


I'll let others debate right/wrong/indifferent. I'm reporting a local reality.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep, that is exactly why I stipulated - "WHILE YOUR COUNCIL MIGHT DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY".


There ARE a number of councils out there that HAVE made basic training REQUIRED.


However, regardless of what they might do at some future time, CURRENTLY, basic training is NOT required for volunteers by BSA NATIONAL.



Link to post
Share on other sites

Semantics, SN, semantics. That's all it is.


All professionals are members of the BSA professional service. They may be specifically hired, fired and paid by local Councils, but they all report, at the end of the day, to Mr Mazzuca.


Very simply, there's a backdoor to a national standard of mandatory training. It's called pin the rose on the local council.


The effect, in those councils which have mandates, is the same. No training=no renewal of membership in the specified position.


I guess SE's are willing to lose units over this issue. Sooner or later, a unit is going to replace a key leader near recharter time, and he's not going to be trained.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I can see some people misunderstood what I was trying to say. I'm not against training, far from it, many of the adult leaders I see today don't have any background in Scouting and need some. However, what I AM against are mandates that are redundant or can be and frequently ARE counterproductive (IMHO) by driving away adults who would otherwise help with the program.


Yes, I know that I'm technically grandfathered for NLE (or TIS) and SM Specifics because I had SMF but there's nothing definite about that listed online -- and honestly, however they want to repackage the training, there hasn't been anything new on building a one-match fire in many many decades. First Aid treatments change but I find I actually keep on top of those changes better than the FA merit badge does which means I have to teach the BSA book method and then supplement it. When we change Tech Orders in the military there are change pages or summaries so you can quickly determine what the changes are and whether refresher or update training would be advisable.


The quote on Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills comes directly from the BSA online training site -- it's "required ... for all Scoutmasters, assistant Scoutmasters, and Varsity Scout coaches." Not recommended, REQUIRED. That was the statement in TDC that REALLY set me off. I took TDC specifically because I had the time to do so and I'm always seeking to improve my own skills but I have found very few of the BSA courses to be terribly productive for someone who has already spent considerable time in the program.


Even when I took SMF, the only part I found productive was discussing different approaches to troop programs with other troop leaders -- and I got far more by having the same discussions with other scoutmasters during morning coffee minutes at summer camp. I'm not saying I'm God's gift to Scouting but with 30+ years as a Scout and Scouter, can't I at least just take a competency exam so I can apply that time to my Scouts instead of a redundant training class?


Don't get me wrong, I think all of the training should be offered and a lot of it listed as "recommended" -- but IMHO National needs to think very long and hard before they label a course mandatory or required and virtually everything that IS mandatory or required should have a means to do a check ride or place out of it.

Link to post
Share on other sites


Welcome to the "Been There, Done That, Got The Patch Club" :) I know how you feel, trust me I know how you feel, 'cause i'm in the club too.


One of the problems with training records is that at one time they were not a priority, so some councils would list it, others didn't. Some of us oldtimers are having headaches right now b/c of that. Some of us,me included, don't have all the certificates of some of our training for whatever ever reasons: moves, being out of the movement for a spell, or in my case Hurricane Katrina. I'm fortunate in that I'm a former pro and there are some folks in the council office who know me and what I've done, so I've been able to get my records updated in Scoutnet, but there are still errors. Heck I couldn't get my Training Award Knot yesterday b/c it was not listed on my training report.


A few ideas to get around the paperwork.


1) talk to your training folks and see if they have ways of fixing the problem. I know I created a form that listed all training courses that SCOUTNET listed and gave those out to the leaders to fill out and submit to council. It was on the honor system, but I knew most of the old timers from my time as a DE, so I knew some of their training history. Registrar accepted that and my records are mostly up to date now. Gotta fix that Training Award problem though.


2) Better still, be a trainer! That way you keep current with the info AND you are insuring that leaders get the training and knowledge the scouts deserve. When I did my form, I left a space for notes, usually for staff members who staffed a course, i.e. WBers staffing WB21C and the PTC staff I have in the district.


Good luck

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sigh. This is so similar to what is happening in our local Girl Scout council.


In order for a troop leader to take her girls anywhere overnight, she now has to complete:


online orientation, 1.5 hours

fast start coaching session 1.5 hours

Leadership Essentials (which teaches essentially nothing about leadership)3 hours


Field Trips and Tours 1.5 hours (in order to go anywhere)

Girls Cook In (I am not kidding.)1.5 hours (in order to make a freaking sandwich.)

Girls Sleep In 2 hours (in order to fall asleep. Indoors.)


THEN, if they want to sleep in a tent and cook outside:

Girls Cook Out 3.5 hours (apparently required even to make a sandwich outdoors.)

Girls Sleep Out 4 hours (in order to fall asleep, outside of 4 walls and a roof.)


I can hardly wait for the day when leaders will be required to take a three hour training called Girls Sit In Chairs before being allowed to take the Girls Sit and/or Lay upon the Ground. To be followed by Girls Move About Slowly Indoors before taking Girls Move About Slowly Out of Doors.


I'm spending an hour at council today to have the new training plan explained to me. I wish them luck.


There's got to be a point at which folks will wake up and say enough is enough.


Anne, who cooks and sleeps and has her being, indoors and out, (and trains others to do likewise) in Mpls

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...