Training makes the difference!

Hi! My name is Dana, and I am a Boy Scout mom!  I am many other things as well: camp staff, council volunteer, lunch lady, wife, but I am most proud to be a Boy Scout Mom!

I have been around the block a few dozen times when it comes to Cub Scout and Boy Scout training, and I believe every Scout needs and deserves a trained leader. 

When my oldest started out as a Tiger cub, there were eight tigers in the den and no den leader. So me being me, I volunteered to take on this exciting challenge. Of course once I said yes, I had no clue what I needed to do, how to do it, or even what was Tiger Cubs all about.  The committee chair said "the first thing you need to do is go to training." What? Training? Oh my!  I started out when training was done primarily in a class room setting.  I went to every training I could that had anything to do with Tigers. I met some amazing people, and I learned a lot. My Tiger Cubs were awesome and I had so much fun with them, I knew how to keep them safe, how to teach them and to guide the other parents in teaching the Cub Scout way. I attended pack trainings, roundtable trainings, council trainings and Pow Wow (now known as Program & Training Conference, or PTC).

I took every class I could that was relevant to the den or even if it was something that interested me. I remember one class I took titled “Tie Slide Extravaganza,” and we learned how to make a half a dozen different tie slides.  It was fun and exciting to be with people to share experiences and ideas with, and to give and receive advice. You could ask questions and ask for different approaches to issues, and felt like an important piece of the Cub Scout program.

I remember one lady who was taking a class with me and said she was having a tough time with one of the boys in her den and every time she would try and talk to his parents, they would dismiss it as “he’s a boy, that’s what boys do.” She encouraged them to participate, asked them stay, but instead they just dropped the boy off and left. After several months of this she was at her wit's end. She was thinking of stepping down and pulling her son from Scouts. After I heard her story, I was determined to help her solve the issue and keep her and her son involved. I had just taken a discipline class earlier that morning.  I encouraged her to talk with a couple instructors about it. I spent the rest of the day with her and we talked about our kids, our lives and our frustrations.  We kept in contact after this one day of training, talking and sharing resources so that she had tools and knowledge to help her with that boy and his parents. She continued in Scouts with her son, and we still keep in touch!

I continued being a den leader until my group crossed over to Boy Scouts. Then I was welcomed in to a whole new world of Boy Scouts. First thing they said in the parent meeting was, "if you want to help with the boys you’ll need to go through training." Yep, I knew it! But wait, what is this? I can take these classes on line. Sweet! I had no clue what Boy Scouts was about, so I got my computer and logged on to The first online course I took was Youth Protection - I already know this stuff inside and out, so I quickly cruised through it. I made a few mistakes, but I passed, typed in my name and printed out my certificate. 20 minutes of training on my computer and I still got to listen to my kids’ day and catch up on some TV. Life is great. Next I took Hazardous Weather, Safety afloat, Fast Start, and the Committee challenge. I am flying through these trainings. And I never had to leave the comfort of my home.  Even still, I had a few questions - so I asked my troop leaders, who sometimes seemed just as confused as I was.  OK, so are my questions just not that important because the online training didn’t cover them? If I were a completely brand new parent/leader I would be completely overwhelmed and a little frustrated.  It doesn’t really go into what the program is all about. Still I didn’t understand a lot of what was going on in the troop. I asked a lot of questions, which seemed to frustrate the Scoutmasters. But I muddled through the first year and I am continuing to help my boys. 

I missed getting together with other leaders at in-person trainings. I missed asking the instructor questions, I missed listening and absorbing the material. I missed share experiences and ideas with other leaders.  Online, I can’t ask for advice, or listen to stories. I enjoyed meeting others and feeling like an important piece to the program. 

I have experienced it both ways, classroom training and online training. As much as the online training is convenient, and far less time consuming then classroom training, it has taken the personalization of each class away, the walk thru and follow thru, that each instructor promised and the experiences that others brought to each classroom. I found that I missed out on answers to questions I or someone else might have had.  

I take the online classes just to say I did it, but when it is available I definately take the classroom sessions. The last training I attended was Wood Badge. This training and the people are invaluable. When it comes right down to it, I learned more there then I had in three years being a part of an active troop.

Every Scout deserves trained leadership. And even after the online training came about, the amount of trained leaders still is astronomically low. Why? We have made it free, convenient, and truly anyone can pass it.  I still believe we should have trainers travel to our many, many packs and troops once a year and offer the required and supplemental training as in-person sessions. That way we can guarantee our leaders are trained and getting their questions answered. 

Submitted by Dana Apling, proud mom of a Boy Scout - and a lot of other roles.

[ Editor Note:  If you're looking for an in-person training in your area, just head over to the council training calendar, and select the area of training that you need from the drop-down list. ]

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