Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Are You a Trained Leader? (part one)

Scouting is an odd calling. In most callings you tend to bring your existing skills and knowledge, then you read the Handbook, add prayer, and go! But Scouting is quite different. I think that many adults are called to Scouting because of their attitude and personality. Many of them have very little in the way of skills and knowledge of how to run a Scout Troop, even if they are accomplished outdoorsmen.

Perhaps that's why of all the callings I can think of, Scouting is the only one that has an extensive, and ongoing training program. In June 2012, President Beck of the General YM Presidency said, "Training is essential to understanding Scouting and feeling confident that we can implement the program. Training motivates us to succeed because as we develop a degree of mastery, we gain confidence that we really can be successful Scout leaders."

So what does it take to be a 'Trained leader'? Let's take a look at how the BSA characterizes training:

1. Youth Protection (YP) - this training is required as part of the registration process for ALL adults involved in Scouting. YP training expires every two years. During rechartering, if your YP training has expired you'll have to take it again. It's a 40 minute online course. Easy-peasy.

2. Leader Specific Training (LST) - is what many people call 'Basic Training' and is classroom based instruction on the basics of your assignment. It varies in length, from about 4 hours for Cub Leaders up to about 8 hours for Boy Scout Leaders, with Varsity and Venturing leaders somewhere in between. LST is the first half of required training for non-Cub adult leaders.

3. Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills - is the second half of required training for non-Cub adult leaders. It is a working demonstration of how the Patrol Method works, and also provides instruction on how to teach outdoor skills to Scouts. Knowing how to start fires, etc is a small part of this course. Even if you are a Special Forces Survival instructor, you still need to attend. Intro to Outdoor Leader Skills is an overnight camp experience. Note - in the Utah National Parks Council, this course is commonly referred to as 'NorthStar'. Other councils may have other nicknames.

You can find dates for these training on your Council or District website.


  1. The funny thing to me, is that people may do the above 3 trainings, get their patch, and be able to say that they are trained, however, by attending the first day of school can a student say he's passed the class(es)? Can an employee show up the first week and say that he runs the company? It takes ongoing training for the training to be effective. I see too many Scout advisers begrudgingly go to the training, half asleep, not wanting to be there, distracted by their phones, etc., and at the end of the day they think that they have checked 'training' off of the list of things to do. Until that mindset is changed, I feel sorry for their Troop, Team, or Crew.

    1. GIFFY, excellent point. Training is an ongoing process, and it's never complete, except for Jedi. I did a write-up about ongoing training on my own blog, advocating, "Make it your New-Year's resolution to be trained beyond the minimum standard."