Qualified, Trained Leaders

trainednewWe often talk about having all of our adult leaders trained.  When we speak of training we are talking about the basics.  Has the adult completed Youth Protection?  Attended their Basic Course for the specific position?  And according to the Boy Scouts of America, that’s pretty much a trained leader.
You are qualified to be an adult that delivers the promise of Scouting.  Really.
Ok, now… everyone just take off your Scouting hat and put on your parent hat.  Now you know nothing about Scouting except that your son wants to be a Scout.  You know that Scouting is a great organization that reinforced those character traits that you are teaching at home and he and his friends enjoy going camping once a month.  But who is this “Trained” leader?  What qualifies him to take your son out into the woods?
A couple videos?  An online training session and a “suitable for framing” print out certificate?
That’s it.
Oh, but maybe the leader has been to Wood Badge.  So he knows the Boy Scout Program and is able to teach and reach his goals.  He communicates well, but what of the skills he needs to take my kid into the woods.
My point here is this.  In a world in which we bubble wrap our kids.  We don’t let them stay out after dark, they can’t climb trees, drink from a garden hose, or in some cases even push a lawn mower.. we drop off our sons to people we don’t really know, they hop into their trucks and vans and drive away for a weekend in the woods.
Say that out loud and it is a bit creepy.
We trust that they know what they are doing with our kids.  We hope to see smiles on their faces and that they are in one piece when they arrive back at the meeting hall.
Trust.  That is what we have in our leaders.  But it’s 2014 so what has he done to be trusted.  What skills does he have to gain my trust.  Who is this guy taking my kid into the woods?
I am a big fan of Boy Scout Training and take it a step further.  I am on our district training team and teach the Scoutmaster basic course.  I am a Wood Badge staffer and love to teach leadership.
So knowing what I know, I know that the Boy Scout minimum training is not enough to build that trust.  But the leader that goes the extra mile and gets more training, now that’s the guy I want.
Not to toot my horn, or the horns our leaders in my Troop, but we respect that trust and that is why we all go the extra mile.
In our Troop, all the Assistant Scoutmasters are Wood Badge trained.
We have Certified Climbing instructors.
We have Certified Wilderness First Aid First Responders.
We have Wilderness First aid trained leaders.
COPE instructors
White water rafting guides
Leave No Trace master trainers
Kayak guides
Cold Weather camping experts
Backpacking experts
Pioneering instructors
Leadership trainers
Everyone is CPR/AED trained
Everyone has done the supplemental training for Trek Safe, Safe Swim defense, Safety Afloat, and Climb Safely.
I know that I am missing something, the point is that we go out of our way to be over trained.
This is where the trust of the parents is gained and maintained.
It is an important part of protecting our youth and delivering the very best program to them.
So who is your Scout leader?  Do you trust him or her with your son in the woods?
Have a Great Scouting Day!


  1. Jerry, I couldn’t agree more. I’m transitioning into our Troop Training Chair position, and I’m looking at various ways to develop and maintain a mindset within the adult leadership that we should always be training, always be learning, and always honing our craft. I’m curious as to whether you find that this “going the extra mile” is primarily something that a leader brings to the unit (nature), something that the unit brings to the leader (nurture), or some combination of the two. Or, to put the question another way, do you find that the adults that volunteer for leadership positions already have that “going the extra mile” mentality, or that the culture of the unit inspires a new (or existing) leader to go that extra mile?



  2. Not only is initial training important, but taking refresher courses is important as well. I took Wood Badge in 2001, now incredibly 13 years ago. I am afraid that if I did not do something to keep current, then I would lose a lot of the training. I know that Roundtable is supposed to be like a continuing education for scouters, but in my district they don’t do it very well. They lump cub scout leaders and Boy Scout leaders together and mainly talk about cub scout issues. It is not well attended. I have gone back and taken the Scoutmaster Specific course several times, gleaning insight from the different instructors for the course. Some are quite good, and some are horrid. Most adults in my council do not understand the patrol method nor the merit badge program. I definitely think the BSA could do something to provide continuing instruction to Scouters. Perhaps requiring further instruction if the last class was more than five years past.

    So Jerry, What do you suggest as a standard level of training for your average scoutmaster, assistant, and actively participating committee member. It is all to often a hit and miss approach we take.


  3. I am truly impressed and jealous by the level of training your SM/ASMs have. I am the Scoutmaster for my troop. I’ve done all the basic training (YP, IOLS, BSLST), all the online courses available, CPR/AED, First Aid, WFA, I’m enrolled in PowderHorn for August and LNT Trainer for June. I’ll complete my last Wood Badge goal in a few days. I am a huge believer in training (obviously). One of my Wood Badge goals was to get my ASMs fully trained (YP, BSLST, IOLS). It was like pulling teeth. I’ve had adults tell me they don’t need training it’s dumb and they “have been doing this for years, training is a waste of time; I know this stuff.”

    How do you convince a bunch of long time ASMs that they do need training; that the scouts deserve trained leaders? That the troop will benefit when they get trained? And, that they don’t know it all?


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