About this time of the year we hear a lot about training and getting all of the adults of the unit trained, at the same time most units are training the Youth leadership. I think this is interesting in that often times the training that an adult takes really does not set them up for a great training experience for the youth.
Here is what I what I am trying to say, simply put, youth training is about developing confidence in the youth leader to execute the annual plan. To help the Scout learn communication skills, problem solving, and develop an attitude of servant leadership.
The adult training continuum on the other hand teaches the basics of Scouting, where we came from, what a PLC is, what the methods are, and what our role is in achieving the aims of Scouting. But it does not teach us how to deal with young men, how to counsel, how to coach, and how to mentor them through the leadership process.
I had the opportunity to attend the Trainers EDGE training last year. What I consider, beyond Wood Badge, the best training I have been through in Scouting regarding working with youth. The reason I say that is the Trainers EDGE gets into the nuts and bolts of teaching, coaching, and mentoring our Scouting, especially those that you are working with in leadership roles. The other thing I like about the Trainers EDGE is that it mirrors both Wood Badge course for adults and the NYLT and NAYLES programs for the youth.
In the Trainers EDGE you get the practical exercise of moving through the different modes of both learning and teaching. This is important when working with your youth leaders. When you have a better understanding of how they learn and how different teaching styles get to the young men, then they are more confident in their skills and the youth leaders have less and less frustration when it comes to working with their patrols.
I had a discussion with a Scoutmaster during the summer about this and his concern was that younger Scouts would not be able to handle the responsibility or even have the aptitude to lead other Scouts. I contend that every Scout has the aptitude. They all have varying degrees of or levels of skill, but all can be taught. In so far as responsibility, well that they develop and it is a heck of a lot easier to do with a patrol of friends than in a class room or other social setting.
What this Scoutmaster was really telling me was that he was not confident in how to train youth leaders, and that is understandable. His understanding of what he signed up for as a Scoutmaster was to go camping and teach knots tying and the like. That is where many of us start, but soon the job of the Scoutmaster becomes much more than just knots and pitching tents… and that is where training comes in. But the BSA training is not enough, you as a Scoutmaster or anyone that works with youth need to go the extra mile, take additional training, seek out those that can develop your skills and prepare you to work with the Scouts.
Whether it is additional training for outdoor skills like CPR, Climbing, or Whitewater rafting, or training on leadership you owe it to the Scouts of your unit to go above and beyond the Boy Scouts of America’s training continuum.
Wood Badge is a great place to start, then start looking around. Local outfitters typically have classes on outdoor skills and outdoor leadership. The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) has a great catalog of training available. REI also has great opportunities in their Outdoor School. And there are many leadership development courses out there. The Disney Institute is a great resourse for leadership and management. I had the opportunity to attend the Disney Institutes leadership excellence course a few years ago, a real fine program that I am postitve has helped me as a coach, mentor, and teacher of Scouts.
Look locally, you will find great opportunities for you to improve yourself and in doing so, you will improve the unit you work with.
Have a Great Scouting Day!