settummanque, or blackeagle (blkeagle@DYNASTY.NET)
Mon, 14 Jul 1997 15:28:52 -0500
Jill Walsh asked:
>Why won't National make Basic Training mandatory? This should not be >an
option -- you want to be a leader, you get trained!
There's two basic reasons why the BSA presently doesn't make attendance at a
basic course mandatory: the smaller reason is the "disconnect" between
quality training (training done within the first 90 days of the new leader's
appointment) and "training to get by with" which most Councils do. "Quality
training" is training specific to the position, specifically to the District
involved, involving all District resources, and most importantly, within the
first three months of the leader's willingness to serve as a volunteer unit
The other reason is because the BSA is a volunteer organization. Leaders
serve for short, intermediate, and longer periods many times with little
motivation other than a desire to serve or perhaps a child or a friend is
involved. While we would all love to see everyone get trained, and there are
SOME Districts and Councils that accomphish this above-board and in a manner
that makes it enjoyable for participant and trainer.....the realism is that
training TAKES TIME....time away from the unit, time away from the family,
time away from other community and other committments. While we have a lot
of volunteers that understand that the key to success in this program is
training and coaching...and the sharing of that training and coaching with
others...we have a lot more that understand that it's yet ANOTHER night or
day and "why should I go?"
The *trick* is to make the training attractive; once there, make the
training relevant to the position that the person is holding; and giving the
participant as many resources as possible in order to make him or her feel
that "Hey...I CAN do this....and if I need help, I KNOW WHO to call about WHAT."
That's what makes participants come back as staffers, and what makes
staffers recommend others to participate. Break that cycle, and pretty
soon, all you have is people attending training because "it's on the
schedule" and soon after that, you don't have ANYONE attending the course!
>I have heard (and I'm not sure where) that a unit is no
>longer covered under insurance if their leaders are not trained within six
>months of registering. Is this true?
Nope. Not true at all. There IS a policy that says that the BSA's
liability insurance policies (at camp or otherwise) will NOT cover those
that have violated BSA health, safety, or youth protection policies (it's in
the Safe Guide to Scouting) that many Councils have interpreted as reading
"if you don't attend training, you're obiously not following the BSA's
health and safety policies and we won't protect you if you get into
trouble"....it does scare a lot of volunteers into attending at least the
Youth Protection program courses, but it turns off more people that it
helps...so a lot of folks don't talk about it. Check with your Council to
see what EXACTLY their insurance coverage will cover, because it varies from
local Council to local Council.
>As District Training Chairman, I would like our District to be 100% trained
>(I know, I live in a dream world!).
No, you're NOT living in a dream world, and 100% is a legit goal to set; as
long as you're willing to settle with 89-93 percent. There will be
somewhere between seven and eleven percent of your volunteer leadership that
will REFUSE or IGNORE training courses. In some Councils, they have
"grandfathered" those that have taken ANY training course in their
definition of "trained leader" instead of "those that have completed the
CURRENT basic course for their position within the past three years".
There are some things you can do to insure that you reach that 89-93 percent
*"Imiation is a sincere form of flattery"...make sure that ALL of your
trainers, your Commissioners' staff, and your professional staff members are
TRAINED FIRST. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will kill a training program
than some new Scouter finding out that the person that's been
assigned to coach his unit or to train him and others have no more
"training" than he or she has! Make sure that everyone that have attended
their basic courses wear their "TRAINED" strip and if earned, the Arrowhead
Honor. New Scouters look for such "indicia" as a person to lean
upon...it's like a large "question mark" for information on their sleeves!
*"Make the plan, spread the wealth, and tell the world".....you need to sit
down and MAKE A SPECIFIC PLAN AND GOALS....it's not enough to train "100
percent of the leaders" in the District. What does that mean, anyways??
How about "We're going to train ALL of the primary leaders in our District",
and then "define" "primary leaders": Cubmasters, Scoutmasters, Coaches,
Advisors, Skippers. Spread the wealth...your District has some untapped
resources; like that one Scoutmaster that has refused to be trained but has
some skills in getting kids to join his Troop. Invite him to teach others
some of his skills and you've found a new friend that *just might* show up
at the next Training course. You need to TELL THE WORLD and not just the
Scouting audience when the next training course is held and you might want
to ANNOUNCE AND CONGRADUATE those that attended the course publically. This
means that you'll have to put a photo in the newspaper or write a simple
press release with the names of all of the graduates. People LOVE to get
their names and photos in the paper, especially for a GOOD thing like
"assisting the youth of our community through their willingness to be
trained as Scouting leaders".
*"Kites are good examples"....I have another phrase for it, but I've stopped
using it because when I would say it at Commissioner Conferences, I would
*always* get this red-faced guy afterwards telling me "You're one dirty man,
you know that??" *laughter*
Like a kite, you need to run with the program, and get it going. Once you
get it going, and you know where you want to take training in your District,
you need to maintain it, even when there's a lot of other distractions
around you that's telling you "Don't worry about training...worry about SME"
or "Day Camp" or whatever. You're the TRAINING CHAIR, and you're
responsible for making sure that we get GOOD AND TIRED of hearing about
TRAINING COURSES, EVENTS, AND RECOGNITIONS. If you do make the kite fall,
you have to pull and get it back up and going....it's hard to do, especially
when you have lots of others out there that are in addition to being
training people , unit commssioners, unit leaders or committeemembers, and
merit badge counsellors. (For those interested, I'll share the other phrase
with you privately).
*"I love to be recognized....you do, too....so why don't you recognize
them?"..... Don't wait for someone to get their training award in the mail.
Don't wait for someone to have to buy their "Trained" strip. Don't wait for
someone to even attend Part TWO before you recognize them. DO IT NOW, DO IT
WITH DIGNITY AND DO IT.
There's a lot of volunteers that will NEVER go to another training event
because "I've went to the first one...don't they remember me??" Make it a
POINT to give EACH AND EVERY PERSON that attends a training session
SOMETHING. Give them a printed certificate. Give them a training card,
give them a cutted-out-and-folded training status card INITALLED and with
THEIR NAME ALREADY ON THE CARD. Give them incentives for coming to the
second, third, fourth part of the course.
Give them incentives for recommending others to attend the course. Give
them also the ability to tell you PERSONALLY how you and your training team
has done. We have a lot of formal recognition items, starting with the
Trained strip and working its way upward to the Scouters' Key Award. But
don't wait six months for the District's dinner to tell the world that we
have graduated 22 or nine or 4 new leaders; do it NOW and do it LOUDLY.
Tell it BY NAME, so that everyone will know out there that being trained is
something "to look forward to doing" and "worth spending the extra time in
>However, it's hard to convince people to go to training if you don't have
>a hammer to hold over their heads.
One of my favorite cartoon characters -- my personal favorite -- is Wile E.
Coyote of the Warner Brothers' "Road Runner and Coyote" fame. The Coyote is
after the Road Runner to eat him and will do whatever it takes to capture
the Road Runner. He'll strap on rockets. He'll use motorized roller
skates. He'll eat super-duper movement pills. He'll use a magnet and "bb"s
to get that Road Runner into his cooking pot.
He fails a lot. Painfully. Sometimes in ways that are just impossible.
But every time, he gets back up or unpeels himself, or after resting from
falling several hundred feet downward with a boulder on his chest....and
starts over. He thinks about it....he makes a plan. He calls Acme and
looks in the catalog for yet another "tool". He waits. He makes his move.
And in two cases, thanks to animator Chuck Jones, he actually DOES catch the
Volunteer Scouting, Jill, is a LOT like that Coyote-Road Runner cartoon.
We have a lot of Road Runners out there that we need to catch and get
trained, get them to take part in our District and Council's activities, and
to get them to be a part of the Scouting show. But they don't have time for
us...they're too busy running and doing what we "hired" them to do.
So we come up with ways to get them involved, and it catches some of them.
We just have to continue to come up with way to "catch" all of them.
Mandatory "You MUST DO THIS OR ELSE"s won't do it. We need ALL of the
volunteers for ALL of the youth we can get.
What makes the difference between "catching" the Road Runner and "letting
him go" is the amount of personal energy and ingenuity taken on the part of
the Coyotes. That TIME and IDEAS to make the training meet their needs as
well as the BSA's is what makes training an "event" and not just "something
I've been to a lot of Councils and Districts as part of their Commissioners'
Colleges or "Train-The-Trainer" events, and the biggest question that comes
out of it (other than "why isn't this stuff in a book somewhere"?)
is usually "How do make our plans a program feature?"
Hope that my ideas and discussion helps not just your District, Jill but
those many others out there that are considering "Acme plans" for their
training needs for the new program year!!
(c) 1997 Mike Walton ("no such thing as strong coffee,...") (502) 827-9201
(settummanque, the blackeagle) http://dynasty.net/users/blkeagle
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