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BrianScout

Horrible Training from District

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Hello,

 

Ive been hanging about the forums for a long time, but never signed up or posted. I do have a question now that I need to get an outside perspective on and Im hoping that you all can give me that perspective. Sorry this is sooooo long

 

Im in my fifth year as an ASM in the Troop with my older son - younger son is second year Webelos in the Pack where I used to be older Sons Den Leader. I went through all the Youth Protection, Fast Start, New Leader Essentials, SM Leader Specific, and Outdoor training 5 years ago for my position as ASM. We have a couple of newer ASMs who are not trained, so this year I offered to go with anyone wanting to get the training. Having done this training before, I knew what to expect, the 2 others that went with me did not.

 

We went through the YPT & Fast Start with no problems. Then, 6 weeks ago on a Saturday, we were scheduled for 2 hours of New Leaders Essentials in the morning and 7-8 hours of SM Specific training from mid-morning to evening.

 

New Leaders Essentials:

Lead by our District Training Chairperson - She started by apologizing for not knowing the Boy Scout side of things and her entire talk was regarding Cub Scout specific things; she had no training materials other than how a Cub Pack was run. That was great for those who were there for the Cub Scout specific training, but gave no overview of any other program. We went from there into separate rooms for our respective Leader Specific training.

 

SM Specific Training:

The person doing our Training said that he had not done the training for about 4 years and just got called two nights before to see if he could cover as they did not yet have a trainer lined up. He showed us some pre-meeting games for the first half hour and then went into showing the training video. He went through 3 clip made some comments and dismissed us to go find some lunch; which he requested that we bring back to eat there. While eating, he showed the rest of the training video clips with a little disscussion and announced that we were basically done and dismissed us. We completed this training in about 2 hours; whereas the syllabus said it should be about 7 hours (last time I took it, it was 2 sessions at 3-4 hours per session).

 

Outdoor Training:

Was this past weekend, I was told when we signed up that we would be called so wed know what to bring, what time to meet, and how much the cost would be. I called twice to make sure that they had my contact information correct and was assured that I was on the list and wed be contacted. When I had received no call by the Monday prior to the event, I called the Council office again. They were surprised that I had not been contacted and said that I should contact the Training Chairperson from another District. I contacted him and he told me to contact another person who was our Acting Scoutmaster for the training. When I finally got to talk to him on Tuesday, he basically told me the cost and that I should bring my personal gear. I asked him what personal gear would be necessary, and he said clothes, sleeping bag, and tent. I asked if cooking gear, rain flys (rain was in the forecast) lanterns, and such would be provided. He said that he was not sure what would be provided and that hed have to get back to me. I asked about meals (knowing that we are supposed to plan, buy and bring food), and he said, Yes, thats a good point. Why dont you act as patrol leader of you and these 4 others? Make sure that you contact them, tell them what to bring, the cost, and figure out a menu and who will buy and bring the food. Fortunately, he included the other two from my Troop, but the other two (that I didnt know) were difficult to contact and ended up not helping with anything. So, the other two from my Troop and I planned the meals and shared the duty of shopping. We purchased enough food for the 5 in our Patrol and waited for a call to let us know if there would be anything else needed. Thursday evening I called our Scoutmaster back to find out if he had learned what equipment would be provided and what we needed to provide. He called back Friday morning and said that there would be nothing provided, bring whatever you need. Since the forecast was for constant, steady rain, we figured that we needed some type of rain shelter. We would need stove(s), cooking gear, cleaning stations and such. We were further advised that no vehicles or trailers would be allowed in the campsite. One of the other guys and I took off work early to gather the remaining stuff. When we arrived at Council with my Van loaded with stuff we asked at the check-in building if we couldnt at least drive part way in (on the graveled part of the road). We were chastised and ridiculed in front of everyone in the building for not knowing how to pack for an outing and that hopefully wed learn something about how to do it. My response to this gentleman was that normally wed have our Troop trailer with us in the campsite and that we did not find out that there would be no provided equipment for this training until earlier that day. We just walked out of the building and began carrying our equipment back to the site. By 8:00 pm all 5 of my Patrol was present and had their tents set up. There were 5 others who only had been contacted with the time and cost of the event; they had no food or cook gear. In the morning 6 more people showed up who were called Friday night when they did not show up. Since they had not gotten a call previously, they thought the event had been cancelled either due to the weather or due to lack of participants. They showed up Saturday morning without any gear at all and did not plan to spend the night that night. Of the 10 people who were there Friday night, only the 3 of us from my Troop had planned to stay through Sunday Morning. So at Lunch, I told the Scoutmaster that only the three of us were planning to stay Saturday night. At 3:30pm, he asked the whole group of 16 people; "Who plans to stay out here tonight?". Only three hands went up, he became agitated, handed out the card indicating that we were trained, and told everyone to just pack up and go home now.

 

Now for my rant and questions:

Im fairly upset at having spent time and money on training that is so ill prepared and that ended up cut down to about a third of what its supposed to be. I know these people are volunteers, but my goodness I cannot understand this level of incompetence.

 

Am I wrong to expect better?

 

As a volunteer should I expect to be criticized/insulted when I show up for a Training event like this?

 

I am embarrassed at having asked my fellow ASMs from my Troop to attend this mess. I really hoped for better.

 

Thanks for your thoughts on this,

Brian

 

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You should expect better. Unfortunately, it's all done by volunteers which means a couple of things. Some folks don't take it seriously and think that they can wing it. Sometimes things just fall through the cracks. Looks like both happened to you.

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Just as a good unit program is dependent on the people selected to lead it, so are your District's programs.

 

You should give some specific and honest feedback to your District Chairperson. Let him or her know of your dissatisfaction in the quality of service being offered to the unit. The most effective way would be to also have your CR at the district meeting to voice concern.

 

Just as youth deserved trained leaders, leaders deserve good training. As you know from your previous experience the problem you encountered was caused by unprepared trainers and poor training skills. You need and deserve better service from your council and district.

 

 

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And Councils wonder why people won't go to training...sheesh.

 

I would copy your post into an email to the Council Training Committee Chair and Council and District Commissioners. And be prepared to serve on the Training Committee! (that's what happened to me!)

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Brian,

Sounds like a truly sad experience. As you had already been through this training, I feel worse for the rest of those scouters who were there to learn something new. As a district trainer, I would be horified to hear of a training like this in our district (or council)!

 

As disasterous as the OLS was, my first concern would be New Leader Essentials. This is a video facilitated training. A monkey could addequately conduct this progam. And if a District Training Chair is admitedly inexperienced with the Boy Scout program, then how can she coordinate Boy Scout training?

 

I would certainly seek out the District Chair and discuss this. Proper and quality training is the cornerstone of our districts program. Without good training there cannot be good, safe program, which results in poor reputation, bad recruiting and struggling units.

 

Not to rope you into anything, but maybe you should consider making yourself available to coordinate the OLS training, and make a stand to recruit other good trainers and organize a good course. That doesn't change your (or the other participants') experience, but stepping in and raising the bar can do alot to prevent this from being the next classes exposure to this material. And though that is a standard answer, it does have some merit.

 

 

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Thanks for the responses.

 

I have thought about how I'd handle setting up such training events like these and have thought about trying to help our District Training Committee. I tend to be the person who wants everything to be just right and so I over prepare and then I over prepare some more. When I'm responsible for something I want to give the best that I possibly can and in the process I tend to drive other people crazy (just ask my wife).

 

I'm afraid that things may be so broken, that it would take more than one person to fix it. I've talked to people who are on the District Training Committee and they don't see anything that needs to be fixed, yet I've heard reports from other Units about similar training results. They view people like me as just complainers. The truth of the matter is that most people (students) at the Training event viewed it as a success because they got to go home early and still got their "Trained" patch.

 

I'm afraid that most, trainers and trainees alike, are content with herding the cattle (trainees) though the gate and branding them "Trained".

 

Brian

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crazy idea so bear with me.

Since you are trained in the basics, have you done WB21C yet? if not, 'git r done," make contact with others that are willing to help solve problems, and make training a ticket item. We've had soem problems with the district fallign intot he same pattern, withthe same peopel doign the same things, basically for the past 10 years. We were suffereing. We got a bunch of Wbers who are getting things done. Are they making mistakes, sure, btu it's a learnign experience for all and the kids are getting into the programs they comeup with.

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Buffalo Skipper,

 

I wanted to point out that even though the NLE is video facilitated, the Training Chair elected not to use the video, because she only brought a laptop with no external speakers to show the video on. There were at least twice the number of people at the training than she expected and there was just no way to crowd everyone around one laptop with tiny speakers. Again, this goes to the whole "not taking time to be adequately prepared" theme.

 

Brian

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Brian,

 

Interestingly it is our District Training Chair who most often delivers NLE here also. He is a former Naval Flight officer and a PhD child psychologist. Great leader and a good friend. I cannot imagine him (or any other of our trainers) being unprepared for anything.

We had a position specific training here last month, in which our Webelos Leader Trainer no-showed (he was the former Training Chair, but it was all a miscommunication). We had double teamed most other courses, and one of the Cubmaster/committee trainers offered to step over and do Webelos Leader Training. He ran a great course, and now is always ready to serve as the backup. I read the training evaluations, and I do not think he ever told the participants that he was a last-minute backup, because the attendees though he did great and never mentioned it.

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Sounds like it might be a good time to call your district training chair and ask him/her if some help is needed. Some of us get involved to prevent bad experiences like yours.

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It sounds like the problem starts at the District Training Committee. I say this because it seems from your post the people who actually did the training were not qualified to do the training.

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BrianScout - How is the training in a different District or even in another Council in your area? I like training in your own area but what you know and learn is going to affect your Scouts. If its not good it maybe time to move on. Or do you have the time to take on training also?

 

 

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Apache Bob,

The "indoor" portion of the training that I described was my District. The "outdoor" portion last weekend, was put on by our Council's other District (we have only two districts). The outdoor training is typically a combined effort of the two Districts and consists not only of Scoutmaster Outdoor training but also Outdoor Webelos Leader training and BALOO on the same weekend.

 

For those who have mentioned becoming part of the Training Committee; I just don't know how that could happen. I have thought about it, but just don't have the time. Almost every weekend is full of Scouting stuff as it is; Boy Scout Leader and helping with Webelos Son's Den/Patrol meetings and activities. In a typical month, I'm lucky to have one free weekend to get things done around the house. I have a wife and daughter that I need to spend some time with as well.

 

The problem is that the people who care enough to be Trainers are probably just as busy. I've found in life that the people who are the volunteer coaches tend to be the people who will step up to help with Scouts. The problem is that they are also on the PTA, Room Moms at the school, Girl Scout leader, Sunday School Teacher, Youth Worker at Church and so on... It's the whole, "80% of the work is done by 20% of the people" thing. Too bad we couldn't get 50%, 60%, or more of the people to care enough to get the work done.

 

Brian

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Yah, your experience is sadly not that uncommon, BrianScout. As BobWhite suggests, it just depends on your district and council trainers and their level of skill and commitment.

 

In the deep dark days of BSA history back before there were lots of professionals in council offices, districts were really more like "local troops working together" than da top-down administrative thing they have become. If your district training team is dysfunctional and yeh don't have the time to rescue it, take Trainer's EDGE and then move the training "in house". Use your youth leaders to help train new adults. Run OLS for new adults on da same weekend as a troop campout, just in a separate campsite. Invite folks from local troops who need training.

 

If yeh encourage a couple other troops to do something similar, yeh can share the load amongst 3-4 good units without any problem, eh? Plus offer services to any new/small units that need help. In other words, your units can be the district without havin' to spend any time with da paper district.

 

Beavah

 

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Beavah's comment has a lot of merit.

 

Although our District Training tends to be on the dry side, it does get done and the logistical side is usually handled very well. It's offering enough opportunities to timely meet the demand that could be ramped up - but until I'm ready to give up another weekend I'll hold off on yelling too loudly about it.

 

Our Training committee tends to operate as she suggested - a group of volunteers who weren't satisfied who took it upon themselves to make it better. They do hold the appropriate offices at council but still work in their troops - but largely coordinate the activities of those trainers who are willing to step up and hold training for others.

 

Our University of Scouting -held last weekend - was a great example of how TO do things, the Trainers knew their material (at least in the courses I sat in), kept the classes moving and provided opportunities for "best practices" discussions from the attendees.

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