New Learning Experiences

The BSA has always put a high value on people—both employees and volunteers. Our training methods have evolved to take advantage of new technologies and techniques. We are continuing to evolve to move beyond training in the traditional sense and create “learning experiences” that will prepare our employees and volunteers at every level to succeed now and in the future.

Please take a moment to tell me about the training and development challenges you face in your council. What solutions have you found to overcome them? What courses and features would you like to see offered in Scouting University? I’d like to hear your thoughts … please use the comments feature to share your ideas.

(If you are having trouble viewing this video or hearing the audio portion, it also is available on YouTube via the Internal Communications Team’s channel.)

24 thoughts on “New Learning Experiences

  1. Wayne,
    I believe our greatest need in training/learning is how to convince mothers that Scouting is not just another activity but is imperative in the development of their child.

  2. I am a registrar. I enter advancements, training and do Eagles for five districts. I have been trained as a registrar, but have had absolutely no training on the other aspects of my responsibilities. I would really like to learn more about them.

    As far as the professional training for the professional staff I know nothing here either. Would be nice to know what they know as far as membership is concerned. The guys that are Senior DEs, still have little clue about starting a new unit. By now this should be old hat for them. I try to help them out as much as I can. Some of them just don’t seem to pick up or understand.

  3. …And Staff…. Thank you. So much has changed in the last 10 years that I’m beginning to feel like a dinosauer. I’m like you, started with film strips, overhead projectors, and videos.
    But often, as a staff member, I feel frustrated trying to help volunteers when I don’t know what the systems looks like from their perspective. ScoutNet from my side of the desk is often not at all like what the volunteer sees. National has done a great job with the training module for Internet Advancement. All aspects of Scouting needs a step by step training module similar to Internet Advancement training.
    I look forward to seeing more training available at the support staff level. (we are the doers of the council)

    • Good point. I have experienced the same fustration. The MyScouting tools that are being developed should change this.

  4. I for one would like to see training courses on computers and networking. i took a nationally offered basic network set up / server admin but that was using windows xp and server 2003. I also would appreciate classes on modern web design and implementation including languages (like php, pearl, jquery, coldfusion), database technologies and software to use / design with.

  5. It’s great to see that we are making changes. I’ve been an employee of a local council for 2 years and did not come in as a DE. I was brought in from the profit world with 15+ years of sales experience into a finance function. Regrettably, I have avoided becoming a commissioned professional because I was told the 2-week commitment for PDL1 was heavily DE focused. While I see a benefit in getting overview on the role of a DE, a 2-week deep dive on their job, not mine, did not feel like a good investment of my time. I grew to view PDL1 as a necessary evil to professional growth at the BSA. Now that the time investment has been shortened, I’ll be taking the plunge into the new and improved PDL1.

    As we evolve as an organization and bring in folks from the outside with specialized skills, like me, perhaps some of the online components can focus on honing job-specific knowledge and skills. I would add that an overview of historical, program and organizational nuances that are unique to the BSA would be very helpful in getting external hires up to speed. Volunteers can make one feel uncomfortable without a baseline knowledge of Scouting, the language of Scouting and little history. For those of us that didn’t grow up with Scouting, (because I’m not a boy and my generation of Latinos didn’t really embrace it when I was little) the learning curve is a painful road that can be shortened with a little training.

    The work we do is important and we should be equipped to do the best job we can possibly do from the very beginning of our professional engagement with the BSA. I’m happy to hear that you want my input. I hope it is helpful.

  6. Working in a very rural area with leaders, many of which work two jobs, we still need the hands on training and literature to put in their hands! Don’t forget about us. Last week we had six packs represented for 29 adults learning how to deliver the YEAR A program in areas where parental support is very low. The leaders really enjoyed the gathering and sharing and fellowship. Myself and two other volunteers cooked pumpkin pancakes and sausage for the group. They were very appreciative and went home prepared! (And happy in their association with Scouting)!

    • Another good point. To further support your point, if I remember the stastisitcs correctly, according to the 2010 census approximatley 30% of Americans either do not have internet access at home or they only have dialup. Even if we wanted to go completely digital, our society is not there yet.

  7. I appreciate all the input from above. It is really eye opening as to how professionals view the BSA. I work with a Senior District Executive of the highest commitment of whom I admire greatly for his devotion to the BSA. No one works that long or hard for a “profession”. It is for a passion for service to youth. Lucy- You are so right in that “boots on the ground” cannot be substituted for by “volts in the air”. Eyeball to eyeball trumps eyeball to screen every time. Eyeball to screen is a tool if you can’t get that (and I am not saying you always or even most of the time can.). It is NOT a substitute. It really is a sad state of affairs when we all just concede that we don’t have enough leadership and think its Ok to sub a recording. Margaret- You need to spend a half hour (an average, if you can get on at all) trying to log onto Scouting.org to log in a Unit Visit to REALLY appreciate how awful the system looks to us out here. Is ANYONE saying we need more of that? Maybe catch-up on your true bandwidth needs before putting something ELSE out there might help? How about Scout.org being able to communicate with Windows Explorer 10 (only works with 9 as of yesterday) might also be a start (or at least TELL US THAT’S WHAT WORKS?)? Patrick- I agree with your statement on BSA as a way of life, not just an “activity”. The BSA needs a long and difficult public relations repair. No one knows what we stand for. How does one explain the use of the word “never” and 18 months later there is a major change in membership requirements? So much bad information is around concerning the BSA, how do we fault just the mom’s out there? Poll the “average” volunteer as to the recent membership changes and see how many answers you get.

  8. this is a Zig Ziglar quote:

    “The only thing worse than training (people) and losing them is to not train them and keep them.”

  9. The most useful training I have received was a pilot program my previous Council did with the Sandler Sales System. My ability to be successful as an Executive improved 10 fold through careful study and practice using this system. I have seen no other tool that better prepares executives for success and after having learned the system I can’t imagine how a person can be successful in this career without it. Through the skills gained with Sandler I recently was able to, in one day, personally recruit over 15 new volunteers into District level positions. I would have never seen such success without the training. In addition the system taught me how to recruit volunteers in such a way that they willingly accept full ownership of the position and responsibilities. This type of success better helps our organization be volunteer run and professionally guided. It is my recommendation that other executives be given this same training opportunity.

  10. From the volunteer side of training, I think we need to rely less on an event-based mode of training.
    –Instead of ILST (which few troops seem to use), why not develop a series of modules, along the lines of the new Program Features, each of which would focus on one youth leadership skill. Each leadership feature could Include a multitude of ways that each leadership skill could be presented by the unit leader throughout the scout year, eg, a Scoutmaster minute, a campfire story, an opening ceremony, a poster, a Youtube video, a game or activity, an interfaith devotional message, series of SMART goals, etc.
    –Find a better way to use adult leader roundtables to strengthen units. I recall there was a Roundtable Task force formed in 2011, but what was the outcome of that effort?

  11. I would love to see information on the Hornaday Awards – if you would like assistance with this topic, I would be glad to help you with it – especially pointing out (1) that an Eagle Project can also be a Hornaday Project – if it is under one of the eight Hornaday categories and (2) the troop can also earn a Hornaday Unit Award for each project – if 60% of the scouts participate.

  12. Training is only one component. With that, we must profess that recieving training in person from an experienced and capable trainer/mentor is preferable than anything they do online. The bigger picture is “onboarding”. We must devote more of our energy and talent into bringing new members/leaders into our culture. We have a short period of time to make this good impression. We believe that we must COMIT to our volunteers. Connect to our local resources, Onboard each leader within their first 3 months of joining, Mentor each new leader until they are comfortable with their job, Inspire them early and often about the great outcomes Scouting provides our youth and finally to train them in the skills and attitudes that will help them become competent and dedicated program delivery vessels. It is more than one thing. Our challenge is to provide these opportunities in concert within a calculated period of time.

  13. A big need in our council is Chartered Organization Representative (COR) training. Every unit everywhere has a COR that we want to be properly trained. The BSA does not offer COR training online (for good reasons). And we want the training more centralized than other BSA training, since we want CORs to understand the important role they should be playing in the district and council. But also, CORs often have very different schedules than other Scout leaders. So for these reasons, I think COR training should be considered for this medium.

  14. I think Mr. Bouldin has a wonderful idea — way back in the “old days”, us young Scouts got to read short Boy’s Life columns by Greenbar Bill, and we could pick up small nuggets of wisdom that way. In fact, I would practically die and go to heaven if the BSA were just to reprint a collection of his columns in paperback form!

  15. Hi Wayne,
    We are still waiting to see the training module on integrating declared homosexual youth into the troop or crew. We are specifically looking for guidance on sleeping arrangements and the use of shower facilities; we still have gang showers at some of our camps. Are we looking at the expense of one man tents for the homosexual boys ? Is there a national program underway to modernize all BSA camps and require shower stalls ? National owes the volunteers policy and practice guidelines on this issue.
    Does “No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.” allow a troop to bar a homosexual youth based solely on an absence of updated program material identifying the accommodations that must be made for these youth being available from National ?
    January 1, 2014 is only 40 days away.
    Thanks.

    [I have allowed this comment, as it applies to training, but I will not approve further off-topic discussions of the BSA's membership policies on this thread. This site, in general, is intended to foster discussion amongst BSA employees, and this topic, in particular, focuses on training -- not on the membership policy, per se. -- John Churchill, BSA Internal Communications]

    • Funny how some people are always seeking ways to exclude rather than include. Single or multiple (more than 2 person) tents seem a simple solution. Cost of single tents prohibitive, change to 3-4 person tents. Showering….wearing swim trunks easily solves that one (given that most boys I know already do this). The idea that because national hasn’t provided you with a policy or guideline you can deny boys is a sad excuse for a Troop/Pack/Crew to prevent homosexual youth from participating. Rather then seek out reasons to deny them, use some common sense to develop a Troop policy that works for all youth – ie you don’t have to call your new policy the “Homosexual Youth Policy”, it can just be an all encompassing policy regardless of whether you have homosexual youth.

      [See above, re: off-topic discussions of the BSA's membership policies on this thread. -- John Churchill, BSA Internal Communications]

  16. From a volunteer view, as a Unit Commissioner and Scoutmaster, we would love to see more hands on trainings come back. For a new leader to sit at the computer and just read or listen, is not as helpful as being at a live training with other people to network with. Many people that I talk with tell me it makes more sense to them verbally rather than the online or reading manual training. They can’t ask a computer questions when they don’t understand.

  17. In the lower/non performing councils the training needs to be directed right at the Scout Executive to bring them out of the scouting era of the past. Business tactics of the age when some current Scout Executives were groomed, are ancient history and need to be eliminated.

    Training and leadership are about bringing out the best in your people (both volunteer and professional) and not continuing to do business as we “always” have.

    Council Boards need to be educated from the top leadership of scouting and not from the local flavor that (can be) tarnished.

    As for the new District Executives in the low performing councils, they are trained one way at the Professional Development Center and within a month (can be) destroyed by the caustic environment.

    My comments are certainly not reflective of the entire organization but even if only one council is destroying volunteers and professionals, that is one too many. The hurt inflicted by one bad council on a community or person can be equated to a personal attack on a youth. Both can have the effect of lasting a lifetime.

  18. I love this idea. When I worked for Disney, new employees were required to attend Disney University. Some of the best training I received was at Disney University and now I apply it with my current and past positions at the Boy Scouts. I love the idea of continued learning and training. I have even gone out and expanded my own education by pursuing a master’s degree and attending many trainings. My advanced education and training have been helpful for my occupation, but apparently are of no value to moving up in the BSA organization. Other organizations and businesses value further education and training but it seems we don’t. While an interesting and valuable innovation, how will Boy Scouts University help a person advance in the organization?

  19. As a volunteer, and Council Training Committee Chair, I agree that computers is not a cure all for what ails most training efforts. A combination of on-line and face to face delivery is probably the best approach, depending on the conditions in each Council.

    The problem with focusing on face-to-face training for small groups (1-5) is the lack of instructor resources on training committees to provide the training.

    One problem I see is more non-committed adult leaders than in the past and the “What’s in it for Me” attitude.

    The road to developing a successful Council training program is going to be bumpy and long. It is a multiple year effort. not something that will be accomplished overnight.

    One last comment — Councils/Districts need to recruit active/knowledgable/committed volunteers to staff the respective committees. Then let the committees move forward without interuptions from the professional staff that goes way beyond the “guidence and support” the volunteers are to receive from the professionals.

  20. It would be great to see a universal training for program aides. The demand has increased for a number of councils to serve youth in this manner, but there is no formal training for these members of our teams.

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