Baloo's Bugle

August 2007 Cub Scout Roundtable Issue

Volume 14, Issue 1
September 2007 Theme

Theme: Cub Scout Express
Webelos: Citizen & Communicator
Tiger Cub


Training Revisited

Bill Smith, the Roundtable Guy

This month’s column adds onto last month’s column where Cronk’s Club was introduced to Baloo Readers.  This column is aimed at district workers, especially trainers and Commissioners. Pack trainers will find it interesting as well.

Last month at the National Meeting in Atlanta, there was a lot of attention being paid to retaining the Cub Scouts we recruit. Check last month’s Training Tip to read about some of these efforts

This is not anything new. Years ago, each of the boys’ books listed the number that was printed each year. There were always many more Wolf Books than Bear Books printed and more Bear Books than Webelos Books. It was obvious then that we were losing about half our members each year. We always seemed to count the boys we recruited but hardly ever noticed those who quit. It’s good to know that people now care.

We do lose a lot and now it seems that there are moves afoot to do something about it.

Boys quit Cub Scouting because they don’t like the meetings, or because there are no meetings.

When they leave, they are telling us that their pack and den leadership failed somehow.

Two main reasons for failed leaders and dull programs were offered.  Both had had to do with training. Either the leaders were not trained or their training was flawed. I can easily support both reasons. In most districts I have seen, many leaders – sometimes most – were never trained. Webelos den leaders especially miss out on training.

Over the years Cub Scout leader training has vacillated between long sessions over several weeks to short one day affairs. They were all rather dull and often filled with a mixed bag of audio visuals that typically were long on cute and short on useful information.

The good news is that people are now
working hard to fix things.

I was pleasantly surprised at the National Meeting to learn the plans for new training that is scheduled for later this year. There is a good team working on improving. It will be up to every council and district worker to quickly get on board and to make the changes succeed.

Why are so many of our leaders untrained? A lot stems from the practice of pressuring parents into leadership jobs with unrealistic promises and job descriptions. It’s only going to take and hour a week! We often do a poor job of recruiting leaders and often fail to recruit the best. Selling training must be part and parcel of recruiting leaders.

We don’t sell training very well. Commissioners should make trained leaders their highest priorities. Each Unit Commissioner should have an accurate and up-to-date picture of the training status of each unit served and work hard to improve it. Roundtables are excellent places to promote training.

The folks that lead our dens and packs are busy people. Their time is valuable and we must make our training worth their time and effort if we want them to attend.  If, in addition to all the time spent preparing and holding pack or den meetings, you are expected to attend long training sessions and Roundtables, then those extras had better be good. For many leaders that also may require arranging or purchasing child care. Training isn’t cheap.

The cost of untrained leaders is even higher. It is measured by the frustrations of volunteers who watch dens disintegrate and families pull out despite all their efforts and grief. This cost is borne by disappointed boys who were promised so much when they joined but never experienced the fun and adventure we advertise. Also the cost is paid with the reputation of Scouting when we make these empty promises knowing all the time that we lack the resources to keep them.

We also have to make our training available when and where it fits the schedules and life styles of the leaders who need training. District training teams need the strength and flexibility to make training available when any leader needs it.

Training must be there at the drop of a hat.

Our present training is lackluster and just plain dull. There’s no reason for it. Pow Wows and Universities of Scouting (often staffed by those same trainers) are often fun and exciting. The new training scheduled for later this year promises to be more interactive with lots of learn-by-doing stuff.

We need to send our leaders back to their packs and dens knowing how to make their meetings boy friendly. We must teach our leaders to do their primary jobs: leading with enthusiasm and flair.


One of the keys to building stronger training teams is the Trainer Development Conference. This is typically a Council run event. All district training team members, pack/troop trainers, Roundtable staff, and commissioner trainers should attend. Two vital concepts in the present conference are:

• How adults learn. Adults learn differently than children do. Adults come to training sessions with fixed agendas and goals. They also come with diverse skills and experience. If we fail to recognize these characteristics when we train our leaders, then our training fails. If our training fails, so too the unit programs will fail. Training must be interactive so that the training staff learn and then meets the needs of the leaders being trained.

• How to put the "PIZZAZZ" into whatever you do! If our training is dull, then their packs and den programs will be dull too. Selling fun and pizzazz to those cool, urbane adults requires a bit of skill. Some folks balk at first and need a bit of convincing that fun is essential and that they are capable of surviving a few games and stunts.

The Trainer Development Conference incorporates numerous contemporary training techniques and emphasizes the importance of experiential learning, or "learning by doing." The training sessions not only demonstrate good training methods, but give participants an opportunity to interact and practice what they have learned.  Monmouth Council


ü  How Adults Learn, J. R. Kidd, Association Press.

ü  Adult Education, G. G. Darkenwald, S. B Merriam. Harper & Row.

ü  Cronk’s Club – Cub Scout Leader Training Challenge, Sioux Council
Also, be sure to visit Bill’s website

to finds more ideas on everything Cub Scouting.

Have any Comments and messages for Bill
just click right here!

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