Why Training?

Why Training?

Every week this newsletter contains links about training opportunities. The Journey to Excellence scorecard looks at trained leadership. Scouter awards include a training requirement. Why the emphasis on training? These are kids, we are adults, we can figure it out as we go along. Can we really?

Think about how long you spent in school. Your diploma prepared you for the job market. But did you need something more to enter the job market? Did you have to take a licensing exam or apply for credentials? In today’s world you probably did. But your education didn’t stop there. There are few professions where your education stops with your diploma or degree. Continued training is probably required to maintain your credentials-whether it is formal courses or in-service training. Why should Scouting be different?

Scouting is not different.  First, Youth Protection Training is required to become a registered leader. That is a basic requirement for all volunteers in Scouting-there is no position exempt from the youth protection training requirement. The BSA’s policy is clear and straight forward:

  • Youth Protection training is required for all BSA registered volunteers.
  • Youth Protection training must be taken every two years. If a volunteer does not meet the BSA’s Youth Protection training requirement at the time of recharter, the volunteer will not be reregistered.

Scouting in the United States has existed since 1910. What was appropriate for adult leadership then isn’t necessarily appropriate now. Nor would today’s parents and youth put up with a half a meeting devoted to close order drill lead by a World War Two veteran Scoutmaster that might have occurred in the 1950s or 1960s. If you seen the movie “Follow Me Boys,” did you laugh at how Lem led the troop?

Today’s training will vary by position. Youth facing leaders, such as den leaders, assistant cubmasters, cubmasters, assistant scoutmasters, scoutmasters and advisors, take different training than unit committee members. Yet all that training enables those leaders to understand their role and the roles of other leaders in the unit. Merit badge counsellors have a training specific to that role as do commissioners. Even our scouting professionals undergo training. Training exists because scouting is a unique environment and one course does not fit everyone. For a Cubmaster running a pack meeting is quite different from running a family campout and that campout is different from a Webelos campout in which youth function as a patrol.

In Northern Trail District we are blessed with an abundance of leaders. For example, we have 167 Assistant Scoutmasters registered in the district, but only 35 (21%) are fully trained. Or unit committee members—there are there are 409 individuals registered in that position, but 318 (78%) are not trained. Overall, the level of training in Northern Trail is dismal as the following chart shows:

To be fair, people may fill multiple roles in scouting, and may be trained in one position but not another. But over 70 per cent of the leadership positions are held by scouters who have not completed training for that position.

Why training? It’s easy to say, “Every Scout deserves a trained leader.” But as leaders we set the example. As leaders we:

  •  Want every scout to complete rank advancement requirements.
  •  Want our scouts to learn to lead and be responsible.
  •  Want to set an example for our scouts.

If that is what we want, we should be the example. That is why we train. 

Hank Voegtle
Assistant District Commissioner
Northern Trail District