Scouter E.K. is frustrated because too many Scout volunteers skip basic leader training. How, she asks, can more adults be encouraged to attend training courses that will make them more effective Scout leaders?
Analyze your training and remove all excuses for not attending.
Are courses held at a convenient location for everyone in your district? Could a course be offered multiple times throughout the year? Does training always have to be done on a weekend? Do you promote training early enough for leaders to make plans? Is training fun, and do leaders see the value in attending?
Once a consistent training program has been developed, word of mouth can be your best friend.
New leaders — and current leaders in new roles — are tracked by our council. We make phone calls to let them know about future training opportunities. During those calls, we offer to register them for specific courses or tell them how they can register on our Scout council’s Web site.
We offer adult training at summer camp. While the Scouts are doing merit badge work, the leaders can attend training courses. This eliminates the reluctance of leaders who don’t want to take time away from his or her family for training.
Fort Wayne, Ind.
Our district offers an all-day course that includes New Leader Essentials, Youth Protection training, Cub Scout Leader Specific training, and a Risk Zone orientation. This gets leaders off to a good start and earns them the Trained Leader emblem. (With the revised definition of a “trained” leader in Cub Scouting, volunteers will also need to have completed Fast Start training for their position in order to earn that emblem.)
Our training brochures list specific course benefits and illustrate how a unit’s youth will gain by having a trained leader. These brochures (as opposed to one-page fliers) are professionally designed and persuade volunteers that the courses are of high quality.
We rarely cancel courses, regardless of how many people register to attend. This lets leaders know we are dependable. After a course is completed, participants receive follow-up e-mails or postcards that highlight additional training opportunities.
Cub Scout Training Coordinator J.N.D.
Coon Rapids, Minn.
A personal invitation issued in a phone call or in person gets the most participants to attend training. Instruction that meets leaders’ needs fosters positive attitudes and a continued interest in training. As these leaders progress in Scouting, they will encourage their colleagues to attend quality training.
Some districts will challenge each other in a council to see how many leaders they can train in a single year. This can also work on a unit-to-unit basis.
Pack Trainer J.A.
Work with your district executive to get names and contact information for new leaders as soon as they register. Send them a “Welcome to Scouting” packet that explains why training is so important. Include training schedules, course instructor contacts, and registration forms. When leaders realize the value of training versus the time spent, they may start a training revival in their unit!
When you promote training to new leaders, you must have energy! If an announcement or flier isn’t captivating and interesting, why would people expect the training event to be any different?
Think of training as a product you sell. First, you have to make people want it. Then, you have to make it worth their investment.
The best place to get ideas for making training a success in your district or council is at the Philmont Training Center. You’ll get fantastic suggestions on improving your delivery of Scouting’s training continuum.
Don’t focus on just one course. Make sure Fast Start training is effectively presented. This will encourage leaders to continue with basic leader training. Also, be sure to emphasize the supplemental training opportunities such as monthly roundtables.
Every Scout deserves a trained leader. If a unit leader doesn’t make training a requirement for new volunteers, the commissioner staff should intervene.
The commissioner should encourage training during unit visits and committee meetings. He can explain the value that a trained leader provides to the unit. He can also point out how trained leaders help the unit earn the Centennial Quality Unit Award.
Web Exclusive Responses
The following responses do not appear in the print edition …
We emphasize that every Scout deserves a trained leader and that leaders will have a great time at training. Trainers and course directors promote training at every roundtable or district event, which creates a buzz that seems contagious.
Training must be interesting and worth a unit leader’s time and effort. New leaders come into Scouting with a variety of valuable skills. Our training must build upon these skills and focus on how these individuals can best to do their jobs in Scouting.
Let volunteers know that training is fun and an important foundation for their leadership position.
Explain it like this: “You wouldn’t want your doctor to perform surgery without training. You wouldn’t want your mechanic to work on your car without training. You wouldn’t want another leader to lead, guide, and shape the life of your son without training.
“Training will show you how to maximize your time and avoid spending hours figuring out what to do.”
Assistant District Commissioner J.R.
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