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Eagledad

What is the future of Training?

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I was reading the post from scouter on another discussion saying that Scouts deserve trained adults leaders. I am sure that is completely true, what scouts deserve are confidence adult leaders. When I became a scout leader in 1992, training wasn't required like today. If we went great, but if you didn't nobody came after us. Training back then basically gave additional guidelines to get leaders started. Looking back, I can see the program at the national level relied heavily on experienced scouters in the unit getting new scouters up to speed.  

After years of being trained, leading training, writing training courses and counseling scout leaders, I believe Scouts deserve confident leaders, not necessarily trained leaders. A confident leader has some direction and training doesn't always provide the confidence of direction. Without direction, adult leaders flail around. 

Over the years I learned exactly how to get a concerned, slightly scared new out-of-the-box den leader up to speed for their first den meeting. And that was pretty much giving them just enough information to get through their first meeting. More than that didn't seem to help the confidence level of new leaders. In fact too much information added to the anxiety.  I eventually used that philosophy for the scouts in our PLC as well. New leaders come into their job looking into a dark cave. I trained Scoutmasters that all any person needs to make that first step into the dark is some light to keep from running into the walls of that cave. The light (confidence) gives the blind just enough vision to step forward. As they gain expereince, the gain more confidence to go farther into the darkness.  

Den leaders are easy because we just sat down and looked at their Den Leaders guide and went step by step. We talked a little about what boys the cub age like and how to settle them down (if they need settling down) when they get excited. 

Same thing with our Troop, we went from a 2 day JLT course after each PLC election to a 2 hour course of getting ready for the first meeting. We figured out what each member of the PLC needed to get through their first meeting and first camp out. Just the very basics and just enough to build the confidence to make a first step.  

Not that all the training we adults have to take isn't good training, but I learned that the training courses don't necessarily give adults what they need to be confident leaders. And what they really need are the very basic skills for that first time because the first time is 90 percent of everything they need to know, whatever their responsibilities.

I believe the BSA is more challenged today than ever in training adults because there are fewer experienced adults in each unit than before. And, with the recent program changes, there will likely be more units without experienced adult leaders. I believe the program at a national level is going to have to rethink how to get the new adult leaders up to speed just like they did in 2000. And, the unit programs might need some changes as a result. I can't say what that will be, but I see a much different dynamic for adult leaders today than in 1992. 

I hope this forum can be a place where we can help get new scouters up to speed. I'm not sure past experiences of training are going to suffice with todays program, so maybe this can be a think tank for the future program.

Barry

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I have found that training is OK up to a point.  I have been doing Scout Leader training since 1999, from fundamentals through Wood badge.  Formal training can give you an understanding of the form of the organization, rules of the BSA, and familiarity of the scouting program.  But when a man takes up the role of adult leadership, the training does not offer much.  The leader really needs to read extensively ask advice of more experienced leaders in the district.  And he needs to heed the lessons of experience.

When I became a Scout leader, and later a Scoutmaster, I had been to the Leader Specific training of the day, Woodbadge, and other classes done by the district.  But I also read the Scoutmaster Handbook, then the Patrol Leader Handbook, SPL handbook, and began to research how scouting was done in the past.  I found the writings of William Hillcourt, and books by British Scouters about camping, the Patrol Method, and youth development.  From these I got some insights into the purpose of Scouting and the goals these men were trying to achieve.  I did not get these valuable insights from the District level training.

The early Scout Leaders seemed to have an experimental frame of mind when they built their programs.  Baden-Powell was always trying new things to build a program, with the attitude that says, "Lets try this and see what it does."  Hillcourt became scoutmaster of a troop in New Jersey where he tried stuff out to see if it benefited his scouts.  I did not get any sense from the scout training that this kind of experimenting was even allowed.  (Well, in Woodbadge we made additions to the uniform on the patrol level.  Uniform Daniel Boone hats or bird feather decorations, and stuff like that.)  

I think Scouting is more organic than what I saw in the training I took.  The idea is to do all kinds of things and see what works.  I am trained, but I am also experienced.

 

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1 hour ago, allangr1024 said:

The early Scout Leaders seemed to have an experimental frame of mind when they built their programs.  Baden-Powell was always trying new things to build a program, with the attitude that says, "Lets try this and see what it does."  Hillcourt became scoutmaster of a troop in New Jersey where he tried stuff out to see if it benefited his scouts.  I did not get any sense from the scout training that this kind of experimenting was even allowed.  (Well, in Woodbadge we made additions to the uniform on the patrol level.  Uniform Daniel Boone hats or bird feather decorations, and stuff like that.)  

I think Scouting is more organic than what I saw in the training I took.  The idea is to do all kinds of things and see what works.  I am trained, but I am also experienced.

My observations are very much the same, which is refreshing.

The experience I brought with me from my youth is the "experimental" frame of mind that you are talking about. That is simply the way our troop ran the patrol method. As an example, we completely changed our Tiger program from the format given by National. We were loosing 80% of our Tigers, so we identified what they didn't like and change those parts of the program. Our drop rate was less than 10 percent after the changes.  We changed our Webelos hats from the BSA issue to the military camo booney hats. They were much more durable for outdoors and covered the head better in the different weather environments. They were also very cool looking as well and one big reason the younger dens couldn't wait to get in Webelos. My sons and I are still wearing those hats.

Adding to the experimenting part, our troop program pushed the edge of G2SS in areas like shooting sports and water sports. We tended to act first and ask questions later because we didn't know better. But I think where we excelled with experimenting was changing the program to fit our goals of building character and leaders using a boy run patrol method. We tried six different new scout programs before we settled on one that we felt gave the new scouts the most growth under boy run philosophy. If we didn't see the program producing growth, then we change that part of the program. And generally the change gave the scouts more authority and independence in their activities. For example, the adults camp site is typically a separate camp site at summer camp.

Troops should be dynamic in their design because the culture matures as the scouts grow. If the adults don't change with the scouts maturity, then the older scouts get bored.

I used a different term for experimenting in training, but the challenge for adults in building a quality program is understanding they can change the program to improve quality, and also seeing when the program needs to change to improve quality. I'm harping on the obvious again, but those are big challenges with adults who have never experienced scouting as a youth. Which is why the program may have to change to meet the needs of these adults. Can an adult give the space and freedom to a youth that they have never experienced themselves? Or maybe the better question is how do we train future scout leaders to give their scouts the space and freedom they may have never experienced in their youth?

I developed a class for that very theme called Removing adults fears that get in the way of scout growth. But, I found adults were skeptical in that class even 20 years ago.  It is certainly a challenge.

Barry

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4 hours ago, Eagledad said:

what they need to be confident leaders are the very basic skills for that first time because the first time is 90 percent of everything they need to know,

Eagledad: you nailed it.  Inexperienced new leaders would profit immensely from a quick, non-threatening way for them to learn the basic T-2-1 skills.  YPT, troop dynamics, boy-led, and patrol method are all subtleties that can be learned after new leaders are comfortable with the basic skills.  There are enough old codgers that can teach the basics and make it fun.  There are plenty of young whippersnapper Scouts that could kindly teach a course of T-2-1 and not make new leaders feel like idiots.

PLEASE avoid the Wood Badge mentality "We know more than you and are hence better than you until you take our super-secret initiation course in order to be as good as us."  New leaders need confidence that stems from real knowledge of what they want their boys to master.

But I disagree with one of your basic premises: confidence without competence is a doomed mindset.  I'm sure that all of us have known / worked with / tolerated a clueless bumbler who felt very good about his ability, but in reality couldn't distinguish his arse from a hole in the ground.  Boys see through the facade.  If you can't tie a sheepbend, start a fire, identify 10 trees, or hike 20 miles; you have no standing to test the Boys.

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3 minutes ago, JoeBob said:

But I disagree with one of your basic premises: confidence without competence is a doomed mindset.  I'm sure that all of us have known / worked with / tolerated a clueless bumbler who felt very good about his ability, but in reality couldn't distinguish his arse from a hole in the ground.  Boys see through the facade.  If you can't tie a sheepbend, start a fire, identify 10 trees, or hike 20 miles; you have no standing to test the Boys.

Hmm, 10 trees? 

You are right, but I'm speaking for the very beginners. And mainly the ones who are like deer in the headlights. Training I've learned is either too much or too little. I believe courses titled: "First day of Den Leader", First Pack meeting", "First Day of a campout", First day of.....",  would be better classes because while they are very basic in direction, they provide enough skills to get them through the first day. As I said, this worked very well with our PLC, especially the Patrol Leaders. Get through the first meeting, or first camp out, and it's down hill from there. 

The hard part for new troop with new adults are the scout skills. So, take them one at a time for immediate needs. Do the first three Troop meetings learning to set up tents, starting cooking stoves and building fires. That will get the troop to the first morning of their camp out where they spend the day learning to cook and kp; cooking lessons in the morning and kp after lunch. Let the scouts have a couple hours free time before they practice cooking for dinner. They practice building a fire for the troop campfire and then send the scouts to their patrol campsite to enjoy the moon and stars. Tell them they can start a patrol campfire if they want. Simple easy basic. Get up Sunday, practice cooking some eggs and doing KP from what was learned yesterday. Then a simple easy 5 minute Sunday service. Spend and hour on skills like two basic practical knots to hold up a dinning fly. Another hour of a fun capture the flag game, then practice breaking camp. Breaking camp is everyone's hardest skill of the weekend. That is where the adult practice patience. 

Every meeting and campout grows from there. If the scouts see the value of the skills they are learning simply by the hands on application, they will have fun and look forward to the next one. Once the meetings and camp outs become just skills teaching, then keeping them interested is more challenging. But, take one simple step at a time as the confidence grows.

I hate tree identification. Is that a left brain or right brain thing?

Barry

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I don't think new leader training is really the problem.  Yeah, we could improve the content somewhat.  But, we don't lose Scouts because a leader can't identify a tree :)

The training i think we need the most is the training to explain the fine details to the leaders.  I do really think leaders need to understand things like patrol method & boy led.  I'd like to agree that this could be done by other experienced scouters in the unit.  However, we see post after post here about how troops are not really embracing scout led or the patrol method.

My sense is that trying to tell someone who's been a Scouter for a 5-10 years that he's doing Scout led wrong is a losing battle.  So, I think the district trainers needs to get to the newer leaders and start building the foundation of why we do what we do.  They'll be Scoutmasters in 3-5 years (some even sooner).

My ideal plan training would look something like:

1) Quick intro training for new leaders like @Eagledad suggests.

2) In depth position training for each position.  Seperate ASM training from SM training.  

3) Mentoring program for new leaders.  Team experienced Scouters up with new Scouters.  New does not mean new to Scouting.  It means new to your role.

4) Ongoing specalty trainings for experienced Scouters.  i.e. "Implementnig the Patrol Method" for Scoutmasters.

5) Advanced trainings for those that really want them - stuff like Powder Horn or Wood Badge.

Edited by ParkMan
left out a key word

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46 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

My ideal plan training would look something like:

1) Quick intro training for new leaders like @Eagledad suggests.

2) In depth position training for each position.  Seperate ASM training from SM training.  

3) Mentoring program for new leaders.  Team experienced Scouters up with new Scouters.  New does not mean new to Scouting.  It means new to your role.

4) Ongoing specalty trainings for experienced Scouters.  i.e. "Implementnig the Patrol Method" for Scoutmasters.

5) Advanced trainings for those that really want them - stuff like Powder Horn or Wood Badge.

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how you get a two-beaded Would Badger scouting expert.  I see no T-2-1 basic Scout skills in Parkman' perfect training outline. 

 If a leader can't cut firewood, warn a boy about poison sumac, build a lean-to in a storm, splint a broken arm, or even pack a backpack; then that troop should probably stay in the city.  Indoors in the city.  You can learn basic first aid for paper cuts on the Bandaid box.

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3 hours ago, Eagledad said:

Hmm, 10 trees?      I hate tree identification. Is that a left brain or right brain thing?

I don't know about brains; I do know about trees.

My Scouting mentor was the districts' nature instructor.  He would get absolutely effervescent whenever we stumbled upon a new tree that he could teach us.  We picked Blueberries and made Sassafras tea together along the AT in every state.  

Here's a quick way to get boys interested in tree ID: tell them to pick a Sweet Gum leaf and crush it in their hand. (Show them the right tree...) {If you know what a Sweet Gum tree is...}  The fresh sap is very fragrant and distinctive.  They'll never forget it.  FWIW: Try to avoid Sweet Gum as firewood; it's almost impossible to split as the grain grows in a very convoluted pattern.

A Scout is helpful:  855b13fde929c3d3f7b1b6080fa7b8c7.jpg

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47 minutes ago, JoeBob said:

If you can't tie a sheepbend

I certainly don't know how to tie a sheep bend. Is it like a hog bend (related to a hog tie). Maybe you're thinking of sheet bend? :)

Anyway, I really like the idea of "give them enough to get started" but a critical part is to include information on where to find more. Get them through their first meeting and if they're excited then show them where to easily find a bit more. I'm sorry, but the current handbooks that I've seen don't really help. While Hillcourt has some really great ideas (fun with a purpose really could be the basis of that first idea), expecting a new parent to dig through the hundreds of pages he wrote is not going to happen. People don't have time and if they don't know there could be more then they won't look. Rather, someone else can dig through them. It's like fire building or knots. The basics are good but here's where you can find more info on starting a fire in a rain forest or here is how to tie a woggle. Or something deeper about scouts leading the troop. The point is make a sequence of ideas, or a tree of ideas, that they can explore and quickly get results from. Not only that but give examples of how to have fun learning each skill and that would help immensely.

6 hours ago, Eagledad said:

I hope this forum can be a place where we can help get new scouters up to speed. I'm not sure past experiences of training are going to suffice with todays program, so maybe this can be a think tank for the future program.

A think tank has to produce something that's easily accessible. Just waiting for people to come and ask won't work. If it did we'd have thousands of scouters asking us questions about how to improve things rather than how to deal with an odd SM. So, start writing. If you write it they will come.

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10 minutes ago, JoeBob said:

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how you get a two-beaded Would Badger scouting expert.  I see no T-2-1 basic Scout skills in Parkman' perfect training outline. 

 If a leader can't cut firewood, warn a boy about poison sumac, build a lean-to in a storm, splint a broken arm, or even pack a backpack; then that troop should probably stay in the city.  Indoors in the city.  You can learn basic first aid for paper cuts on the Bandaid box.

Sigh...  

 

Scout skills would be covered in spades:

2) In depth position training for each position.  Seperate ASM training from SM training.  

In depth means in depth.  T-2-1 would certainly be covered

3) Mentoring program for new leaders.  Team experienced Scouters up with new Scouters.  New does not mean new to Scouting.  It means new to your role.

Hey Tom - you're a new ASM and have never been camping - why don't you come along on our troop's trip so we can walk you through things.

4) Ongoing specialty trainings for experienced Scouters.

Backpacking, winter camping, wilderness first aid, etc...  You know - specialty trainings.

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3 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

Seperate ASM training from SM training.

I'm assuming that you mean 'separate'.  But I don't understand what you'd want your SMs to know that you think wouldn't apply to an ASM?

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42 minutes ago, MattR said:

The basics are good but here's where you can find more info on starting a fire in a rain forest or here is how to tie a woggle. Or something deeper about scouts leading the troop. The point is make a sequence of ideas, or a tree of ideas, that they can explore and quickly get results from. Not only that but give examples of how to have fun learning each skill and that would help immensely.

 

40 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

4) Ongoing specialty trainings for experienced Scouters.

Backpacking, winter camping, wilderness first aid, etc...  You know - specialty trainings.

Are you not describing round table?

(Also University of Scouting, but UoS can be hit or miss depending on the instructor or starting level of the audience).

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Right.  Spelling error.

I'd like the ASM training to focus on the nuts and bolts of being an ASM.   Outdoor skills, advancement, working with youth, basic troop operations,  etc.

I'd like the SM trainging to start from there and build.  Working the SPL, guiding the scouts towards an exciting program, high adventure, making boy led work, developing older youth leaders, in depth patrol method, etc.

It's not that I don't want the ASMs to know this.  It's a recognition that 1) they probably don't need it at the same depth and 2) that being Scoutmaster brings new challenges. 

Of course, an ASM could certainly attend both.

 

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14 minutes ago, Saltface said:

 

Are you not describing round table?

(Also University of Scouting, but UoS can be hit or miss depending on the instructor or starting level of the audience).

I'm not partial to the format - I'd have no objection to either being the venue for the training. 

In terms of content, I was thinking of something more in depth than a 1 hour UoS course or a 30 minute Roundtable session.  

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