I just got back from the first and second week of a Sunday-friendly Wood Badge course where I served as the senior patrol leader. Wood Badge has a magic all its own that inspires adults to lengthen their stride and achieve excellence in Scouting. It is the local council’s “top of the ladder” in training.
Participating in Wood Badge made me think how important training is in delivering on the promise of Scouting. When we deliver the promise of Scouting, we help each young man to learn how to make moral and ethical decisions, to practice leadership skills, and to gain self-confidence.
I have always found training with Scouters to be fun, and it has always made a difference in the delivery of the program to the boys. How a boy feels about the Church has a great deal to do with what he experiences in Church settings. As the eleven-year-old (EYO) Scout leader, you have an impact on how the boy sees and feels about the Church in the program you deliver and how you respect and treat him has an impact on how he sees and feels about the Church. To that boy, you represent the Church, and you represent Scouting. Being a trained leader allows you to be perceived as someone who meets the same high standards that are required of the boy when he says, “On my honor, I’ll do my best . . .” When we raise our hand to the square with them we are making the commitment to do our best for them. The more we know, the more we improve our skills, the better program we will have for the boys.
The Boy Scouts of America has made it easier for the EYO Scout leader to get the required training they need. At MyScouting.org and through E-Learning, you can take Youth Protection Training, Fast Start Training Boy Scouts, and supplemental training such as Hazardous Weather, Safe Swim Defense, and Safety Afloat.
Other training that is essential to your position is Scoutmaster Position-Specific Training (for Scoutmasters and assistant Scoutmasters) and Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills (IOLS). At leader position-specific training you will learn practical ways to instill the eight methods of Scouting into your EYO Scout meetings.
At IOLS, you will receive a hands-on program that gives adult leaders the practical outdoor skills they need to lead Scouts in the out-of-doors. Imagine having firsthand knowledge of: setting up a campsite, pitching a tent, hiking, outdoor cooking—all the skills necessary to see the outdoor program of the Boy Scouts of America come to life.
Most of all, you will learn how to train your Scouts. EYO Scout leaders do not just present program, they teach and develop leadership in the Scouts of the EYO Scout patrol. We need to teach Scouts to communicate effectively, how to be an effective teacher, how to control the group, how to plan, how to represent the group, and sharing leadership through techniques such as telling, persuading, delegating, consulting, and joining.
The 2012 BSA’s Guide to Leader Training (511-028) puts it this way:
A trained leader is knowledgeable and more confident in the role being performed. Trained leaders exhibit a knowledge and confidence that is picked up by people around them. Trained leaders impact the quality of programs, leader tenure, youth tenure, and a whole lot more. A trained leader is better prepared to make the Scouting program all it can be!
As we prepare youth to become priesthood holders and work and serve in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they feel connected to the Church because of the experience we deliver. We deliver powerful programs when we have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to do so. Strengthen your programs by attending as many BSA training courses as you can.
-Stan Stolpe has served in multiple Scouting positions at the unit, district, council, regional, and national levels in the U.S. and overseas. His current positions include district roundtable commissioner, district Cub Scout training chairman, and assistant Scoutmaster for a new Scout troop. He resides in Alexandria, Virginia, serving in the Mount Vernon Virginia Stake. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.