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Eagle76

Winter Awareness Training Requirement

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A big email debate has just begun in our troop. I will try to describe it briefly, and I would really appreciate input from this forum.

 

Our Council OA anually offers a Winter Awareness training course. Our troop requires Scouts and adults to attend this training course before being allowed to go snow camping. (I am trying to determine if we have a written policy, or if this has just been passed around by word of mouth until it gained the stature of law.) Some of our Scouts missed the course this past weekend because of illness or outside committments. Someone proposed that we conduct our own in-house training, using the OA syllabus. Our committee chair responded that this required committee approval.

 

My first question is, is this a subject for the committee, or is this something that falls under the jursidiction of the PLC with the SM and his ASM's? Second, what do other troops have in the way of such a policy?

 

Thanks.

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Our council offers two cold weather camping courses each, one for an evening that is for day outings and the other that is a full day for weekends. Council requires that any unit attending winter camping events take part in this. However, it is limited to two adults and two youth per unit that may attend. They are then expected to take what they've learned back to the unit and teach others. It's not only a good way to get cold weather camping training into many if not all units, but it also gives Scouts a chance to learn and then teach. If you've some Scouts who are now trained, perhaps this would be an acceptable alternative for your troop. Since this is a safety issue, the committee does have a right to make sure appropriate training is taken/available. They sign the local tour permit approving the trip and planning.

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The committee is responsible for making sure the program that is planned and carried out by the PLC and under the oversight of the SM, falls within safe scouting standards as well as their own "sanity check". In this case, I think it depends upon how harsh of conditions you guys have to deal with, and the caliber of training you are able to provide in the troop. In general, I think your plan would work, and I would support it.

 

So, yes the committee has a right to understand what you are doing. As long as reasonable precautions are being made and you are within the G2SS, I would think they should be okay.

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I don;t pretend to understand these "turf wars". I guess it is good the committee is involved to this extent, but if the boys get the training, why would they even think about holding them back?

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At the moment, there is no program planned by the PLC for the committee to review. The idea just arose (among adults) and was bounced around a little. The next step would be to suggest it to the PLC for discussion, but that doesn't happen until after the CC plans to have it discussed by the committee. (Next PLC is 12/14, next committee meeting is 12/12.)

 

Some of the objections so far:

- This would be making an exception to our policy, and we've never made exceptions before.

- Our older Scouts are not prepared or capable of providing this training

- This would be changing rules and regulations after the fact, thus setting a bad example

- Making exceptions to rules results in a lowering of standards

- The troop has more urgent issues to deal with now more deserving of our time and attention

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So, in other words, the "Standards" of the Troop are more critical than involving the boys in a campout? I don't see what could be so mysterious about snow camping that a 1st Class Scout that has had the training couldn't teach it. As for more urgent matters deserving time and attention, what?

 

Maybe the boys will luck out and you won't have any snow and everyone can participate.

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Hi Eagle76,

 

Sounds like participating in the training was an expectation, and that a few folks are just agitating for an exception that y'all don't want to give. If that's the case, just say "no."

 

Depending on where you live, winter camping can be a real high-load safety issue or not too big a deal. Up here in the Wisconsin / Minnesota area it can be pretty serious. Pre-trip experience definitely required.

 

Aside from that, I've never been fond of gettin' too rules-bound on dis stuff. We're running a kids' program, not a law firm. The old expectations should stay in place unless the PLC comes up with an alternate to be approved by the committee. Or, if it's just a kid or two and their skills are well known, it's OK for the SPL/SM who knows the camping conditions to make an intelligent exception.

 

 

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I just don't agree with these exceptions. The committee is fair to have expectations, but it is truly ok to re-evaluate the purpose of the policy and see if it's whats' in the best interests of the Scouts.(This message has been edited by bbng)

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I'll agree with Beavah that your location and the severity of your winters has a bearing on how much preparation and training might reasonably be needed for winter camping.

 

Around here, in Washington State, there is no specific training in winter camping by the district or council, and troops routinely plan winter camping trips deciding for themselves who is eligible to go.

 

In my view, around here the experience of the Scout is less important than the training and experience of the Scouts and adult leaders. I would take boys new to camping on winter camping trips provided the troop had the equipment and leadership to supervise and protect new/younger Scouts in winter camping situations.

 

You might look at the snowshoeing threaf I just started, which details having a tent set up with sleeping bags inside which is used as a warming tent --- one or more Scouts who are getting cold might be placed in the warming tent and provided with some cokkies and such until they had warmed up. We would probably have a fire going to help people keep warm, and be serving hot soup and/or a hot meal during the course of the day.

 

We would (I would) take particular care to supervise new/inexperienced Scouts to determine if they are cold or need help or coaching in how to stay warm and dry.

 

So at least around here, where mountain temperatures are commonly in the 20s, the problem is relatively easy to deal with. If temperatures got a lot colder, we'd have to exert more care to protect Scouts and adults.

 

Just a guess---

 

 

but I'm supposing that your district trraining is DESIGNED to be a train-the-trainer kind of situation, with the idea of spreading good ideas of winter camping practices, which paeticipants are expected to take back and apply to their units, as opposed to every Scout being expected to take the training before going winter camping.

 

Most Scout training is the train-the-trainer variety. The idea is that Scouts and adults will learn the art of whatever is being taught and then go back and train the rest of the troop in those skills. If that's the case, the Council OA is probably not expecting to train everyone who is going winter camping.

 

So my inclination would be to look at the intentions of the training: are they REALLY expecting that everyone going winter camping will take this training, or is it designed for boy and adult leaders?

 

If it's for leaders, then it's really a perversion of the training to expect every Scout to take it before going winter camping. Having the troop conduct it's own winter camping seminar would be just the kind of thing the training seminar would be designed to support. Indeed, requiring every scout to take the OA seminar would be the perversion of the training, since the training would be aiming at winter camping as a Scouting experience in which boys and adults would be expected to learn winter camping while doing it with their patrol and troop.

 

 

 

Seattle Pioneer

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It sounds to me like the troop Committee need to reevaluate its role in this troop. Just because its the way we have always done it does not make it correct. I wonder what will happen if the Troop Committee were to say that an exception could be made in this case but the PLC, when they met, decided that they felt the rules were important and that no exception should be made. This should be a PLC decision and the Troop Committee should then review that decision based on safety and practicality not past practice.

LongHaul

 

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Some resources for designing your own Troop winter camping training course can be found at "Okpik Online!" See:

 

http://www.inquiry.net/outdoor/winter

 

A list of useful "Hints" or "talking points" can be found in each of the following session categories by clicking that tab at the top of the above page:

 

[Winter Camp] [Activities & Recreation] [Food & Water] [Gear & Clothing] [Health & Safety] [sleep & Shelter] [snow & Ice] [Travel & Navigation]

 

Kudu

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I can understand the policy that those scouts wanting to go winter camping must have training first. I don't understand why it has to be this particular training.

 

I was a National High Adventure Base Okpik staff member back in 1986/87. Units came from all over New England to go winter camping in the Maine woods. Our "classroom" training took place Friday night - we could teach you everything you needed to know to camp in the winter in just three hours (of course, the rest of the weekend was also all about training opportunities - classroom to practical - the best kind of training in most instances)provided you already had the basic skills of camping down. Winter camping sounds scary, and there is more awareness that needs to take place, but the reality is its all about preparedness and knowing how to adapt your regular camping techniques to winter camping. Examples - how to dress, how to sleep well at night (hint - CHANGE YOUR SOCKS and wear a hat, how to keep your water bottle from freezing over night (use nalgene wide mouth bottles with good tops, take them into your sleeping bag with you) or even during the day (hang around neck under your jacket), how to light a camp stove and keep it lit, how to pitch a tent.

 

This training could be done in one hour sessions over the course of 3 troop meetings (and frankly, this is a better idea anyway - attention spans tend to wander after the first hour. Perhaps your troop could invite the OA in to your meetings prior to the camping trip - it would be a refresher for those that have already taken the course (and probably have forgotten most everything they learned anyway) and would give the others the training the committee requires.

 

Some other thoughts on the second post:

With the exception of G2SS (and advancement rules), policies should be flexible enough to make exceptions - heck, if your making exceptions, then the policy isn't a good policy in the first place - so change the policy. Even rules for advancement change - seemingly every year.

 

Changing rules and regulations that already exist by definition happens "after the fact" - its being changed because something has shown, after a fact, that its just not working, or is too strict so it interferes with the program, etc.

 

The two bullet points that really jump out as red flags are:

 

The older scouts aren't prepared or capable of doing the training - Is this true, and if so why? That statements seems to indicate that there is a more serious problem in the troop (though I'm thinking (hoping) its the opinion of one or two people and that the SM Corps might disagrees). The best way to prepare for and be capable of doing training of any kind is to prepare and do the training (learn by doing - or is that an outmoded concept now - I remember learning, and teaching, that concept in Patrol Leader Development training) - if this attitude holds sway, the youths will never be prepared and capable of doing the training because they won't be allowed to spread their wings and start doing some training. If the attitude is based on some truth, then your program should be examined to see if you are really meeting the needs of the boys.

 

Which leads to the troop having more pressing issues right now. What could possibly be more pressing for a scout troop than the program and delivering the program? Camping and other outdoor activities is an important part of the program - its one of the cornerstones of the program. This should rank right up there as one of the most important issues facing any troop - are we doing enough to deliver the program?

 

It'll would be interesting to see what decision is eventually made.

 

CalicoPenn

 

 

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Hmmm...

Are there any troop committees out there that require boys to attend Outdoor Leader Skills training before going camping? Anybody require Cubs to attend BALOO?

 

Anybody attend Outdoor Leader Skills, and use that training to teach boys? Of course. Winter Awareness training is no different. The boy training and preparation takes place at the troop meetings leading up to their event, presented by the trained adult leaders.

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Actually, after looking at the council website, it looks like the Winter Awareness Training is specificaly for the boys. The council also requires the training be taken in order to attend their Klondike Derby.

 

 

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