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Thread: Heading for a perfect storm?

  1. #1
    ASL and YLUL wealdbrook's Avatar
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    Heading for a perfect storm?

    We have always had leaders joining who have little if any Scouting experience - we welcome them.

    We now have a assessment scheme for leaders which looks at lots of skills, many of which are around "management" and so new leaders can often, if they are inclined, get them ticked off based on outside experience.

    I am now beginning to see a lot of leaders who do not have any basic Scouting practical skills and do not have the skills to actually deliver the programme (from planning to teaching to behaviour to games to ....) but they could probably get their wood badges without. Since they do not have the basics they are developing a generation of Scouts with many less traditional skills than before - more of a youth club - and we have discussed here the challenges of navigation skills, pioneering, etc.

    I am concerned that those with Scouting knowledge and skills will be put off by the administrative burden of the management styles TSA seems to be adopting more and more, and we will be left with a load of well meaning leaders who do not have the skills.

    I think I have said before that the adult training for section leaders should be much more practical, delivery focused with actual training to fill the gaps in experience. All the management guff, dealing with adults, international, etc. could be on going learning once you have got your wood badge.

    Am I being too pessimistic?
    John Alexander,
    ASL and Assistant Webmaster
    1st Weald Brook
    http://www.1stwealdbrook.org.uk
    ESL(YL) Brentwood District

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  3. #2
    Assistant Beaver Leader Keith's Avatar
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    We have a lad, think he's in his early 20s who's been referred to a few times as a "trainee leader" so I am assuming it's our way of giving him time to learn Scouting skills.
    Keith "Hawkeye"
    Assistant Beaver Scout Leader (Woodbadge)
    Ex Colony Assistant & DofE Helper
    1st Ingleby Barwick (St Francis) Scout Group

    Ex DofE Helper (Beavers), 1st Egglescliffe (St John's) Scout Group



    http://www.inglebybarwickscouts.org.uk

    WE NEED MORE ADULT VOLUNTEERS!
    Volunteer at 1st Ingleby Barwick Scout Group
    Assistant Section Leaders, Sectional Assistants, etc.


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    Senior Member johnmcmahon's Avatar
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    It's nothing new, John.

    Back in the 1970's I went from Queen Scout at the Venture Unit to ACSL.

    I was told I had to do training and, as a youngster, couldn't believe the absence of Scouting skills in the County Training team. Sure, they knew how to fill in forms but couldn't put up a Patrol tent or even tell us how to do it. Myself and another Venture Scout had to step forward and teach the group.

    We were supplied with bread dough and a biscuit tin. But the trainers didn't know how to light or maintain a fire.

    As for knots, compass / map skills, using and maintaining pressure stoves / lamps etc there was no chance. Even running games for that matter! Fortunately my own Leaders imparted these skills to me as a youth member and Patrol Leader. County Leader training certainly didn't.

  5. #4
    nele
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    We get a fair number of leaders in who don't have the traditional scouting skills, but also some who do. Luckily we have a core of people who have the skills and pass them on, so our new folk do learn.

    But with training being increasingly online it is becoming more of a problem and learning the paperwork seems to take a higher prioirty..

  6. #5
    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    Yes and no. If you look at it another way, the training is all the bits you probably wouldn't pick up naturally week to week. Whereas you can't run an activity club on the cheap if you have to get someone in every week, do you roll your sleeves up and learn how to light fires, or learn along with the cubs. Okay, I'm a lifer, but have still learnt all sorts of things since becoming a leader. None of it learnt on a training course, but so what?

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    Ian Wilkins
    Farnham District Explorer Scout Commissioner

    Jambowlree - World Scout Ten Pin Bowling Competition
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    Agree with the OP.

    The training is too focused on satisfying a bureaucratic aim that can be audited. TSA can turn round and say; look, we have this measurable training system in place. The training used to be a lot more memetic. Now, for various reasons (mostly a very centralised management system and that folk very often don't stay on from Scouts to become leaders), training is formulaic and generic in nature.

    Not sure what the answer is. What (for example) can one do about the number of people who now go to university?

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    In a way I think it's worse than that. We're seeing fewer adults with outdoor skills. But we're also seeing scouts with less experience at solving problems, dealing with people and any experience with planning. It just seems that parents, in their quest to cram in more and more experiences for their kids, are not giving their kids opportunity to figure these things out on their own. When I was a kid we'd get bored, come up with a plan, get into trouble, and then have to figure out how to get out of trouble. All sorts of wonderful lessons our parents didn't know about.

    Scouting can help with these things but the adults need to understand how and that's what's missing.

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    a quiver full of barbs merryweather's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wealdbrook View Post
    I think I have said before that the adult training for section leaders should be much more practical, delivery focused with actual training to fill the gaps in experience. All the management guff, dealing with adults, international, etc. could be on going learning once you have got your wood badge.

    Am I being too pessimistic?
    no your concerns, raised once more, are shared by many others.

    i few practical skills training sessions in scouting that i enjoyed, principally because there were so few!

    the balance of leader training is wrong. scouting needs an intro leader skill set, much like getting started, to get going; an elementary skill set which every leader is mandated to acquire which does the basic job of training to design,plan, run a section programme so a bit on programmes and more on practical skills supplemented with the first aid and a little behaviour management. and that's the mandatory stuff. the rest all on going learning. and if you opt to do the rest, over time, at your pace, you get a wood badge.

    but we definitely need more practical skills now!

    my old district talked about doing more adult skills training events but it was just talk.

    i believe i was probably one of the best skilled people in the district in my practical skill of handling a mop and bucket and dealing with puddles. i was prepared to run training for others. never asked.

    i believe they have now started with some of this additional training - additional to the practical skills modules 18 and 38.

    too late.

    TM
    Last edited by merryweather; 18-07-2017 at 06:47 AM. Reason: do i need a moshi to tell me which way up is my map?
    retired 21 March 2017

  11. #9
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    Our county do an annual "Skills and Chills" camp. A weekend, from scouts up through leaders invited. Mostly it's leaders. It's a good way of getting the "passing on skills" module ticked off. But I've learnt a hell of a lot on the one or two I've managed to make it to.

  12. #10
    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    Or is this just another version of Cicero's "all kids are useless and feckless wastrels" (I paraphrase)? I.e. we look at what they are now, but don't remember what we were like then.
    Ian Wilkins
    Farnham District Explorer Scout Commissioner

    Jambowlree - World Scout Ten Pin Bowling Competition
    All sections, all countries, runs December 2016 - May 2017
    http://www.jambowlree.org

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    Fundamentally our training system needs to address two main issues.

    One is to give leaders the practical skills they need to safely and confidently deliver the Scouting programme in a reasonably balanced and exciting way. The other which is pretty boring and mundane but equally necessary is to fulfil the requirement to have quality standards in place that hopefully minimise accidents and incidents (because people have adequate training) but also help manage liabilities if/when something goes wrong. Both of these objectives need to be delivered in tension with the requirement to respect the fact that leaders are giving up their free time to run Scouting so the additional "demands" on their time need to be minimised.

    Taking the second of those requirements first, there is no point having a really really comprehensive system of training which if completed gives leaders the total skillset they need for any situation they might ever face, if the reality is that its so daunting that we have a series of leaders going through the system on short term rotation doing none of it. If get a parent in as a leader because Jonny is in Beavers and he's happy to help out whilst Jonny is in Beavers, he might look at our current training regime, look at the three year timeout, realise that Jonny will have moved on from Beavers in 2 years time and so he can get to that point without doing any training. There isn't much incentive to do any training at all because he doesn't have to and he's unlikely to finish it in the time that he knows at this point he wants to volunteer. That might even turn full circle - he gets to the end of his two years with Jonny in Beavers, he realises that he's been enjoying it, but that he hasn't done much/any training and he's now only got 12 months to get it finished. Obviously a sensible TA/LTM would operate the extension if asked, but they might not be asked - the parent may just decide to leave anyway.

    So in reality what we've actually got is a training system which tends to minimise training amongst those who arguably need it most - those who didn't start out with a direct personal desire to be in Scouting, who may as a result have less Scouting skills, but who with decent inspiring training experiences might actually be persuaded to stay on. That also means it fails on the liability limitation issue. I've said before, any barrister worth their salt representing a claimant against TSA could drive a coach and horses through their safety regime. "OK so you have this comprehensive training scheme - how many leaders actually complete it? Do they have to complete it before you leave them responsible for kids? In this instance were there any of the leaders present who'd completed the whole wood badge scheme". The likely truthful answers to those questions in court would at best be unhelpful to trying to suggest that TSA takes safety seriously via its training regime.

    What we actually need is a training scheme which draws people in. Sacrilege as it might be to meddle with the woodbadge concept, maybe we as adults need something more akin to the Chief Scout and Challenge badge system we have in sections. Sure if you want to keep the heritage alive you can award the beads at the end instead of the overall badge (or have that overall badge as a woodbadge award that goes on the uniform). That way you can do the bit we do now which TSA deems sufficient to make people safe as leaders (and my argument remains that if we are safe to leave with kids after those modules then ultimately that should be enough indefinitely with the caveat that line managers maybe have the ability to insist on specific training deemed necessary at periodic reviews). You then have a practical skills award - can you teach lighting a fire, putting up a patrol tent, etc, maybe a running a section award (designing programme, managing difficult behaviour, managing other volunteers) and so on. That way people feel drawn into training as something they are progressing through. Yes there will be those that just do their 3 basic modules, and leave it at that - but actually with a better closer system maybe involving GSL's as TA's, as other skills are identified, they can be marked off on the ground so that the awards are achieved in natural progression.

    That probably then helps deal with the first requirement and the issue raised here about practical skills. Maybe not.
    Does anyone know what's going on?

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    Mmm...

    I think the stuff about liability and POR needs to be done as quickly and as painlessly as possible.

    Then, they need to work on the absolute basics (this is how you put a tent up, tie a clove hitch and light a fire - knife axe and saw safety is probably a staple too.) They could also do something about dealing with kids. Nothing gets rid of a leader quicker than not knowing how to deal with the kids, the leader in question ends up doing it to themselves.

    Then, they need to demonstrate not what you'd do on a meeting night, but how to choose what you do, it ties in with dealing with kids... (I never know from week to the next what we may be doing, most of the ideas come from here, the internet or my head. The biggest challenge I find is deciding what is appropriate - given the circumstances you face...) This would take into consideration safety, suitability and all the rest (risk assessments etc)

    The actual nitty gritty of activities, you learn on the job.

    I think the OP was right, there is a propensity for leaders who stay on for a longer term to be more management orientated, more interested in the bureaucracy of scouting. Meanwhile, the leaders who like to go camping, light fires, do the outdoor stuff are put off by that same bureaucracy so leave more quickly.

    I'm sure all those rules existed years ago, but we managed to ignore them mostly. Nowadays, its far more in your face. TSA went corporate a long time ago and seem to favour standardised, branded scouting where everything is measured and quantified. There are those who rue the day Scouts adopted a workplace-like attitude to training and assessment.

  17. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    (this is how you put a tent up, tie a clove hitch and light a fire - knife axe and saw safety is probably a staple too.)
    For a scout leader... Most of that fits a Cub leader.... I don't think I've met a beaver leader who wouldn't be scared off by being told they need to learn those...

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    Quote Originally Posted by nevynxxx View Post
    For a scout leader... Most of that fits a Cub leader.... I don't think I've met a beaver leader who wouldn't be scared off by being told they need to learn those...
    I mean, it would need to be section-sensitive. When we did our L1/L2 thing back in the 17th century - we hived off dependent on what section we were leading. From memory, that occurred in the L2 bit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    I mean, it would need to be section-sensitive. When we did our L1/L2 thing back in the 17th century - we hived off dependent on what section we were leading. From memory, that occurred in the L2 bit.
    In theory, the current modules do the same. I've seen no evidence of this actually being the case though..... Yes, I was being a bit facetious....

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