You have been asked to take on one of the greatest, most challenging roles in Scouting; you are a new Scoutmaster. What next? Get trained! Here’s the steps;
Be prepared for training by being teachable.
A new Scoutmaster may have a strong, determined personality. While this is desirable in some respects it can also make us less than receptive to training. You may have a number of preconceived ideas of the work of Scouting that may or may not help your Scouts achieve the aims of Scouting. Determine now that you will approach training with an open, attentive mind and a willing attitude.
Training is conducted by volunteer Scouters like yourself. They may be well prepared, stick to the actual training plan and they may not. I am a trainer myself and I know that the temptation to substitute one’s opinion for the training materials is strong. It’s important that you develop a sense of what is well intentioned advice and what is actual policy and procedure, what is one person’s way of looking at the world and what is Scouting. You’ll learn more about how to do this in tomorrow’s post but one important way to do this is to-
It may be several years since you have kept a notebook or taken classes but you’ll soon get back in the swing of things. As you go through training you’ll have plenty of questions and there will be plenty you’ll want to remember – keep notes and refer to them often. If you hear something that sounds like opinion, note it down and research the question so you have the right information.
Here’s the elements that make you a trained leader and some thoughts about each:
Youth Protection – You may never have had any training in the subject before. It’s likely you’ll do this on line and it won’t take long. This may actually be the most important training module in Scouting because it has the most potential to dramatically effect someone’s life. Learning how to recognize and report abuse is kind of like learning CPR; you may never use it but if you do it may save someone’s life.
This is Scouting – Another online course
that is an introduction to the programs of the Boy Scouts of America; this basic information is important to understanding your place in the grand scheme of things.
Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster Specific – An in-depth look at the way troops and patrols function, what a Scoutmaster needs to be, know and do, the outdoor program and much more. There’s a lot of practical knowledge gained from this course. You’ll want to have the Scoutmaster’s handbook and a Scout handbook for reference as you do this course.
Introduction to Outdoor Leadership Skills – One purpose of this course is practical experience as a member of a patrol. Getting an overview of skills used in the outdoors is useful, but it’s the patrol experience that is most important. Some trainers, in my experience at least, have opted out of the patrol aspects of the course and emphasize the skills. I think it is invaluable that you experience what your Scouts will be doing in their patrols in a very practical fashion. None of the skills are terribly complex or difficult.
Once you have completed these courses you are considered trained as a Scoutmaster. But there’s more!
Woodbadge – First off I have not attended any Woodbadge training myself and this, undoubtedly, colors my perception of it. You’ll hear a great deal about Woodbadge training and be encouraged to participate. My opinion (and it is just my opinion) is based on the results I observe. Woodbadge seems to be more focused on the personal development of the participant. I am not saying this is bad by any means and opinion will differ widely. Woodbadge is heavily promoted and it demands a big commitment of time. I’d measure it against the direct potential to benefit to your Scouts and see what you think.
Supplemental Training –
There are a number of supplemental training opportunities. For Scoutmaster’s I recommend you take all of teh activity based training modules online:
- Safe Swim Defense
- Safety Afloat
- Weather Hazards
- Trek Safely
- Climb on Safely
Each of these shares common elements of the Sweet Sixteen of BSA Safety – something you should have at your fingertips from now on.