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Extended training for scoutmasters

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I'm not sure how to spin off a new thread, but this comes the from UK training thread.


One of my pet peeves is scoutmaster training. It's very basic, which is great for newbies, but considering that scoutmaster is one of the most important positions in the BSA, shouldn't there be a lot more opportunity to improve? Why not have training for "turning an adult led troop into a boy led troop" with case studies on what really works with a concrete set of tasks that will likely succeed? Or training for working with scouts at different ages, or different abilities, or how to motivate scouts? The training that exists may cover these things but it's usually so vague as to be worthless.


I took woodbadge and was disappointed. Not that the skills weren't useful, but that the skills weren't specific to the problems I need to deal with. One example is the storming ... performing thing with all the arrows. I asked the guy teaching it what to do when you have BBs instead of arrows (arrows are people moving that need to all move in the same direction, BBs are people that don't move). With scouts the bigger issues is getting the scouts moving more than getting them all to agree to move in the same direction.


If a troop has the culture then the training that exists is fine, but if a troop doesn't, then the scoutmaster needs a lot more help than what is provided. Eventually people learn but it takes too much time, time that people have less of. Now I have an answer to the BB problem but I'd sure like to help someone else with the same problem I know they're running into.


Taking all the knowledge on this website and boiling them down to a book or series of lessons would be a huge resource for a lot of scouters.


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Two words:

Round Table


You should be able to go to your RT commish and ask for an evening where someon talks about "low motivation scouts". Maybe a panel discussion with three SMs who've experienced and overcome the problem.


These forums have helped me a lot. That's why I bother with them, but there are certainly gaps. It would take a very skilled author to sift through the new and unique offerings from these discussions.


There is no way that WB could covers all this. And some of us have limited patience for books!

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My understanding is that National is standardizing UoS courses, and that is one of the topics.


The problem I have discovered is even if you train the leaders correctly, teaching them what PM is and trying to drill it into their brains, they still might ignore you.

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I dont' think what you're looking for will ever be found an a training course. What you are looking for is found by experience.


I absolutely agree that running someone through an 8 hour class and expecting them to be the sage Scoutmasters we're looking for is silly. But for new units, that's often how it works. Supplemental courses and to a much lesser extent Roundtable are just part of the OJT, as far as I'm concerned. You'll learn much more on a weekend campout than you will at a Roundtable.


I have zero training or experience as a commissioner, but from what I see from the outside I wish there were commissioners who specialized in things like building new units or rescuing failing one, just as there are those now who specialize in running Roundtable (and I know there's talk of moving RTCs to the training staff). I'd like to see the New Unit Commissioner (or even a New Unit Leader Commissioner) take on the role mentoring that unit leader one-on-one and very intensively for a period of time. They need to roll up their sleeves and get into the meat of helping to run the unit and slowly back away as the "real" leaders get the hang of it. No different than what we ask of our Troop Guides working with a New Scout Patrol.


I know commissioners are trained NOT to engage in this level of involvement in a unit, but that philosophy needs to change. I think Seattle has been doing this sort of work helping failing Cub Scout packs with a great deal of success.


Sorry if I'm hijacking the thread. Don't really intend to move this to a discussion of commissioners.


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I put 30 years into scouting and although I came into the program with extensive outdoor and leadership skills/training, being a student and teacher at the same time was important. About 3/4ths of the skills I have picked up over the years was from interaction between other skilled people rather than classroom or structured learning opportunities.


I attend outdoor seminars just for fun and continually spend time out-of-doors honing my outdoor skills. As I get older, knowing the knowledge I have acquired over the years has extended my opportunities to get out of the house that I would have otherwise had to give up due to age. I can't handle my 17' canoe in whitewater as well as I used to, but my 13' kayak works just fine, etc. Short day excursions on the Appalachian Trail have replaced extended backpacking treks. Yes, I get out, just not as ruggedly as I used to.


For training, I would invite outside speakers into U of Scouting and have mini-seminars set up for RT. There's a lot of information out there that SM's could benefit from that aren't in the resource pool of SM's in the council already. Many of our U of Scouting topics are great for the greenhorn SM's, but the instructors generally are from the same group of scouters that may in fact find it quite interesting to learn something new from yet another source. Lodge may in fact have BSA plastered all over the 12" Dutch ovens in the store, but I'm thinking there are more non-scouters buying them than scouters. I'm thinking that in this area of extended training for SM's, the BSA is rather myopic.



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Part of your question was answered at Wood Badge. In dealing with change, (that's what you're talking about) there will be people that will move with you, people that will resist and then come around, and some that won't move at all. These get left behind. If your BB's won't move, leave them. Their loss, and your gain.


The training is there, but as JBlake says, experience is the best teacher. It'll be great if you could find an old scoutmaster to serve as your mentor.


All of the training that is available out there is good stuff. Take it all, and soak it all up. You'll use what you need to and discard or forget the rest.


Develop friends in other units. Go to camporees and invite other leaders over for coffee. Pick their brains, find out what they do that works.


You can change the culture in your unit. Don't give out leadership positions until they are fully trained. Push training. Be an example of why they need to be trained. Recognize those leaders that have taken the time and expense to get trained.(This message has been edited by second class)

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The essence of Scouting is that living and surviving in the outdoors and wild country teaches lessons of character.


Rather than elaborate human relations training, I'd suggest that what Scoutmaster's need the most is competence and experience in leading outdoor adventures, when Boy Scouts can learn the essential lessons of Scouting by dealing with nature in it's raw forms.


To a large extent, Scouting should be a process of self discovery for boys and adults, I suggest.


The most profound experience in Scouting to me is usually when a boy becomes a Patrol Leader for the first time. Usually the boy has been following orders or taking directions from older Scouts for months, and he usually imagines what a great day it will be when he gets to order others around.


Usually that experience is a disappointment to the new Patrol Leader, who discovers that getting others to do what he wants is more complicated than he supposed.



A Scoutmaster usually needn't be around for that kind of self discovery to happen.

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Seattle is on the right track. Knowing and having the skills is not the same as knowing how to use them. I can have the biggest toolkit in the neighborhood and haven't a clue how to use the tools or even how to use them correctly.


One of the fallacies in scouting is that simply teaching the skills is all it takes. This holds true especially for boys because they don't have the maturity to "figure it out" on their own.


Nothing beats taking the tools and skills and figuring out what works FOR YOU, and what doesn't. In the hands of an 18 year old, an 17' canoe is a piece of cake, but at age 62, I have the knowledge, but my body tells me, it just isn't going to happen the way it used to, so I have to make adjustments. I can teach a young adult how to paddle a big canoe in whitewater, but I can no longer demonstrate it, and the student is going to have to get that canoe off the trailer, into the water and try it out for himself if it is ever going to be of any use to him. My job at my age now is: how do I teach and motivate him into that adventure even when I can no longer do it myself?


:) some skills I have will no longer be applicable, too. Just because I know Morse Code doesn't mean there is anyone out there that will understand what I am saying, so in an emergency, I teach my boys to build the biggest fire with the greenest wood they can find and then toss on all the pine bows they can find. The message is: some dang fool has started a fire and someone is going to come and find out why. Help is on the way!



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Second Class beat me to it.....


Find SMs you respect, and build bonds. Get together outside of formal scouting events. Leisurely breakfast at local diner on a Saturday morning, gleaning wisdom from seasoned scouters, will surpass anything you'll get in a classroom.


Bonus: you won't be subjected to powerpoint, or have to sing The Grand Old Duke of York. Unless you want to.

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I would love to go through the course that this thread is putting together. It would be specialized training for experienced SMs that deal with what advance topics that SMs want and need. Bringing Subject Matter Experts (and not just the friends of the guy who had to put the training course together) to teach. And follow up mentorship by experienced, knowledgeable, and qualified senior SMs. The question is can BSA put a program like that together?


Everything I've seen from BSA has been centered around taking the parent that has no experience in scouting and getting them to a level of confidence to be a scout leader. What MattR is looking for (and I do too) goes well beyond anything I've seen from BSA in recent years.


Yes, RT is a key, but only if the RT Commissioner knows that what the audience wants and he/she can deliver those lessons (maybe invite the SMEs to speak at RT?). Isn't there a thread on how RT is putting out bad info? Need to really get the RT commissioners to work it.


UoS also a plays a part, but again only if the instructor can deliver the lessons. Is BSA going to standardize the lessons. And also, if I had a choice between "Development of Boy Scouts by Age" or "Fun with Dutch Oven Cooking" hmmm which course to take. Some sort of recommended course track that SMs should follow and not just have them pick what sounds fun.


I like the commissioner being more hands on to mentor unit leaders, but only if the commissioner are qualified. How do you judge that?


Like I said, it would be great to have. I just wish there was a way to get it to National Training Staff to chew on.

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The problem is that WB21 was not designed to go into a certain program specifics, but give a scout leader, regardless of what program they were in, leadership/management skills. Even though WB21 uses the patrol method and focuses a lot on being a troop, it wasn't suppose to teach the participates how to be a SM.


If you focus on teach the things that MattR was looking for, you need to tack on another weekend. As is WB is packed enough and we were calling for a review of WB content since new stuff gets added in, but nothing gets taken out. That means the staff is pressed to teach more content in the same amount of time. While a lot of people say there is some downtime, it's purposely put in there for the participants to work on tickets, interact with others, and allow them time to think about what they're learning. You can't have them dring from the firehose all the time.


More and more, I'm starting to think University of Scouting (if done right) is the right venue for this "extended training for SMs." As an incentive, the requirements for Unit Leader Award of Merit, should be changed so leaders need to complete certain required courses at UoS that deal specifically with being a better SM, CM, etc. For those out there that say they've been a SM forever and don't need UoS classes, going there and participating could be the key link to start a mentorship with new SMs.


Again, a lot of this hinges on if national/councils can make this happen and I just don't see this rising to anyone's priority lists.

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roundtable isn't the answer....



Going month after month and covering the same subjects. Year after year.


Covering new boy scout gear for the 8th time in three years....


Honestly what subject can be adequately covered in an hour




I discussed and outdoor training Advanced course a couple of years ago.



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