To train or not to train…

As an extension of my prior post, here is some more detail on the dilemma I am facing regarding our district’s outdoor training scheduled for next weekend.  Earlier this year (January) the district training committee set out to have a weekend for the outdoor skills training for Boy Scout and Cub Scout leaders.  The plan was to have a “Training Extravaganza” weekend offering Webelos Den Leader specific training (Friday night),  Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Training- BALOO (Saturday) and Boy Scout & Webelos outdoor skills training- IOLS & WELOT respectively (Friday-Sunday) at one of our council camps.  Typically we hold this type of training in mid to late October.  The decision was made to this year hold the training in the spring to get leaders trained in advance of spring camping for Cub Scout Packs and to give Boy Scout leaders another opportunity to become fully trained, while still planning to run the October session as well.

There had been some promotion effort via email and Roundtable of all the training that was to be offered and things were seemingly going along well until I received the email I mentioned here.  Based on a headcount report from last Friday, the training chair felt there were not enough people signed up to hold the outdoor trainings (with the exception of BALOO) because the training uses the patrol method and group discussions and he felt if there were more trainers than participants, the training would be “ineffective.”  I asked him to provide me with a better understanding on his (and the committee’s) decision to cancel countering I was opposed to the decision based on the following:

  1. Every Scout deserves a trained leader.  We need to deliver the opportunity for those that want to be trained.
  2. We have previously cancelled training or combined training with another district at the last-minute and doing so again sets an unwanted precedent.
  3. The registration deadline is not until this Friday 3/25.
  4. Direct contact Boy Scout leaders need IOLS to be able to recharter.  (Units were to have a fully trained leader by re-charter in December 2010, but our council has provided a “grace period” until September to get leaders trained) 
  5. Second year Webelos leaders (if not previously trained) should not have to wait until the fall – if then to have the outdoor training.  Bear den leaders moving up would benefit more with training now to be prepared for the next school year.
  6. There are no other outdoor trainings on the calendar for the remainder of the year.  (The traditional October outdoor skills training is not yet posted) 
  7. Outside of Roundtable and the March Scouting Newsflash email (blasted to the district distribution list), I am not sure there was much other promotional effort made to get folks signed up.
  8. The Scouters lined up to present the training should be committed to being there, regardless of how many have registered up to this point.

In his reply to my inquiry, he stated he made a judgment call as the lack of interest shown less than two weeks before an entire weekend training is a pretty good indication that were not getting enough people out to properly do the event.  He also mentioned that another district was holding the IOLS and we’d encourage those registered for our district’s training to go to the other one.  That would care for the Boy Scout leaders but not the Webelos (and Bear) den leaders needing Webelos Outdoor training.  He claimed he did not know about the registration deadline.  I am still new to the District Vice Chair for Program position and not sure who had the final say in a matter such as this, but would think that as a courtesy (since training falls under the program umbrella) my input would have been sought out prior to making the final decision.

Regardless, my input was not sought and after a conference call this afternoon with the training chair and our DE advisor to program/training to talk through the decisions and resulting concerns, we were told in no uncertain terms, if we can get people to training, he would hold it.  When I asked him how his training committee would be working to get folks there he told us getting folks to training was not their concern, it is not his concern if Scoutmasters not fully trained had their charters dropped if they did not get to training.

After all that, I am sort of at a loss as to where we go from here.  There seem to be fundamental differences in how each person views their role in this situation.  I am sure there will be more to this that plays out over the next few days.  It’s days like these when it is apparent that the best interest of our scouts is not being taken into consideration.  That is very frustrating.  It’s days like these when the Scout Spirit tank drops and runs on fumes.


About jthoppe

Eagle Scout, Cub Dad (Former Pack Committee Chair, soon to be Tiger Den Leader, District Committee; enjoys TKD, softball and generally being outside.
This entry was posted in Cub Scouts, District Committee and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to To train or not to train…

  1. SM Phil says:

    Wow, tough spot. I think you’re right that any leader you can get will benefit from training and if the staff is committed it shouldn’t matter how many participants you have. I don’t understand why people don’t put more of an emphasis on training. Some of my best experiences in Scouting have been at training as I feel that much more charged up to deliver the promise of Scouting. You’re doing the right thing by trying to make sure it still happens, but some times the right thing is not the easiest thing. Just remember, the people coming to training are just like Scouts. Even if there’s only one there, what you do matters to that one person and you do your best to share your passion so they can pass it on. If you give up in hopes to only being able to affect the masses, you’ll miss the opportunity to affect the one person that matters. Chin up, you’re doing your part and we thank you for that.

    • jthoppe says:

      Thanks Phil…

      As an update, the lead trainer in charge of the weekend unfortunately agrees with the training chair (they were planning to co-lead the weekend and also have 7-8 other trainers for the various modules). I think the trainnig chair got to the other Scouter and “muddied the waters” before we could talk to him. If “top leadership” is not committed, I’m not sure how committed the other trainers might be at this point.

      Right now, I am pushing a boulder up a hill and not making headway. It seems the decision has been made and is all but final. It is hard to influence someone who had already made up their mind and fight against/make excuses for the other point of view. The only smidgen of a silver lining is there is another district doing IOLS same weekend, we (and I mean the training chair and his committee) could work to get our folks into that training. I’d even recommend including the Webelos leaders and provide WELOT cards since IOLS is the greatest common denominator of all the outdoor skills training. At least then the folks will still get trained.

  2. Chris says:

    This is the first time I’ve looked at the blog. I like it. Keep it up.

    I’m a little sad about this training news. Apparently, I’m one of the few to sign up for the WeLOT only to be told tonight at my pack committee meeting that it is cancelled (by a person reading this blog never the less). No one from council has said anything yet about it publicly that I know of. I saw our DEs tonight at my second scouting meeting of the night for Day Camp and ask about it. Told to go the Blue Jacket’s IOLS training but get this, it’s sold out/closed registration per the website so it’s not a option anyway.

    I wonder when they plan on informing me that I can’t train? I guess when I pull up on Friday night with my gear.

  3. scouteradam says:

    I just commented on the 45th day. I thought about this when I saw the tweets. While driving I thought of this. Why don’t you get people who wanted to do this and go camping. Get the trainers who where lined up and just find a campsite, meet up at the parking lot and go from there. In the parking lot people can go through their gear, clothes and food. Get it all worked out and go overnight. While hiking and camping talk about what to do and what NOT to do. It’s practical experince. Everyone gets out and learns. Just a thought.

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