Archive for the ‘Training’ Category


Before there was the internet, dvd’s, or even vhs tapes, council and district training sessions used filmstrips to assist training adult leaders. I happen to own four filmstrips used by our council in the 1980′s. The council was going to throw them in the trash until I said I would take them. I am not really sure why I took them. I do not have a filmstrip projector, nor do I know of anyone who owns one, other than maybe the school. They have been stored with other old Scouting memorabilia in box in my basement.

When I decided to take a picture of them for this article it was the first time in years that they have even been out of the box. I was surprised to see that they are still in excellent condition. It almost makes me want to find a projector to view them again.

The four filmstrips that are part of my Scouting collection are:
How To Select A Scoutmaster.
Boy Scout Orientation.
Unit Organization.
How Much Is It Worth?
All four were created by the Boy Scouts of America Audiovisual Service. Unfortunately, I do not have the scripts or audio tapes that were used with them.

I am curious. How many of you remember using or seeing these filmstrips in training sessions of years gone by? Do you have any as part of your Scouting memorabilia collection?

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    Those of you who read this blog and follow me on Twitter (stevejb68) may have noticed that out troop has been having some rough times. Last month I sat down with the Boy Scouts during a troop meeting and discussed the future of the troop with them. We needed to make some changes. They seemed to be ready to do what needs to be done. Tonight was a night that really began to take us in that direction.

    Tonight’s troop meeting would be the first one in which the new senior patrol leader and his assistant would really take charge of the troop. They had been elected last month but last month’s meetings were a little chaotic and not planned well. This month’s had been planned by the new ASPL (the only Scout who attended the patrol leader council meeting) and were planned out very well.

    Even though I have been a scoutmaster for 29 years I have been finding myself being up in front of the boys too much during a troop meeting. Tonight would be different. I pulled my assistant scoutmaster off to the side when he arrived and explained that we are going to sit in back of the room tonight and let the boys run the meeting, something we should have always been doing but were not. I wanted to be behind the boys tonight, out of direct eyesight with them.

    The boys did pretty well. Oh, everyone was a bit late coming to the meeting. Yes, there was some goofing off and joking around but they did get much of the meeting’s agenda covered. I only stepped in front of the troop twice for short moments; once to ask a few questions about the menu and plans for the weekend outing at the end of the month followed by a quick uniform inspection, and at the end of the meeting to give announcements and a scoutmaster minute. All in all, it was a successful meeting.

    It will be interesting to see how things go during the next few meetings. Actually, for the next few months. I have decided to step back, like a scoutmaster should, and let the boys handle things. It is the best way for them to learn. Unfortunately, I have to re-learn a few things again. Or, may not so much re-learn as much as re-apply the things I already know.

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      I took the Boy Scouts of America’s Woodbadge training course for adult leaders in 1988. I was a member of the Bobwhite Patrol. I was the patrol’s historian so I took a lot of pictures over the three weekends.

      I finally found time to scan my Woodbadge photographs this summer. I recently posted them to an album on my Flickr account at this LINK. I wanted to post some of them to a Flickr Woodbadge photo group but I could not find any except for a couple course specific groups. Well, I thought, I guess I will have to start a group for us Woodbadgers that want to share our photos.

      If you have some photos that you would like to share then I invite you to join this new group on Flckr named Woodbadge Photos. You can find it at http://www.flickr.com/groups/woodbadge/

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         I did my Woodbadge course in the fall of 1988. Yes, that was long before the current “Woodbadge for the 21st Century”, but I have a feeling the core training is still pretty much the same. The course was held at Camp Stearns in central Minnesota. We camped out, cooked outdoors, and slept in tents. In fact, most of our training was held outdoors. We seldom found ourselves inside the Woodbadge Lodge.

        The staff kept us pretty busy between training and projects. One Saturday afternoon, each of the five patrols was assigned a pioneering project to build. The projects included a catapult, a ballistica, a swinging gateway, and an overhead gateway. My patrol, the Bobwhites, received the weather station project, which we found to be quite interesting.
        As the patrols arrived at the field to build their projects we discovered piles of rope and logs and a drawing of the completed project. No directions on how to build it, just a drawing of what it should look like when finished. We needed to figure out how to construct it ourselves.
        The weather station the Bobwhites were to build looked like a large diamond balanced on ropes about a foot off the ground.We guessed that the humidity and barometric pressure would tighten or loosen the tautness of the ropes, thus raising the diamond higher or lower. The closer it was to the ground, the greater the chance of rain. If it rested higher it was probably meant that we would have great weather.
        The Bobwhites had a good time building their project, as did all the patrols. I like pioneering and knots so I was helping out the patrol members who were not as proficient with square and diagonal lashings. Raising, balancing, and tying the diamond onto the cross ropes proved to be a fun challenge. We hung a little strip of cloth to the top to show wind direction. One of our patrol members came up with another small embellishment for the project.
        The scoutmaster and a few other staff members inspected each of the projects. When they saw a stone hanging from the end of a rope on our project their curiosity lead to ask what it was for. “It is a weather rock”, we replied. We placed a sign next to it that explained: If the rock is wet it must be raining. It the rock it swinging it must be windy. If the rock is warm and dry the sun must be shining.
        All five pioneering projects turned out very well. There was even a competition between the ballistica and the catapult to see which would throw a projectile the furthest. Yep, we all had some fun that afternoon.
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          The Friday that I had been both dreading and excited about had arrived. It was time to go to the first weekend of Woodbadge training at Camp Stearns in central Minnesota. I was dreading it because I did not know if I would know anyone in attendance other than Paul, the culprit who signed me up for the training. I am pretty shy and it takes me a while to warm up to new people. But I was also excited because this was Woodbadge, the ultimate Scout leader training course.

          It did not take long to find a few people from my council that I knew once I arrived at Camp Stearns. I have known Bruce since my days as a Boy Scout. He worked on staff at the summer camp I attended, Parker Scout Reservation. I knew Jim through roundtable meetings and council family camp weekends. Jim was also known as Skunk because of the striped cap and coat he wore when camping, which we suspected was made from real skunk hides.
          John was also from the Central Minnesota Council and was the fourth member of our patrol. He was the scoutmaster of a troop in St. Cloud. The final members of our patrol were two female Scout leaders from the Viking Council, Mary and Marge. So, we had four men and two women in our group. We all got along great and formed a good, if somewhat mischievous, patrol.
          It was time to receive our patrol name. Would we get to be the agile Antelopes? Maybe the wise Owls? How about the mighty Bears? I liked the idea of being a high flying Eagle. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered we were to be the Bobwhite patrol. A bobwhite? A small game bird? Come on guys, get real. But the Bobwhites we were named, and the Bobwhites we would be.
          We actually had a lot of fun as the Bobwhite Patrol. We came up with a cool flag, created a nice sign for our camp, and came up with an awesome totem. Bruce even found some small yellow beaks for us to wear by the second weekend of training.
          “I used to be a Bobwhite, and a good old Bobwhite too. But now I’ve finished Bobwhiting, I don’t know what to do.” We are the Bobwhites. Beware!
          Watch for more stories about my Woodbadge training.
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            I was beginning to feel a little burned out after serving as the scoutmaster of Troop 68 for six years in the fall of 1987. I told Paul, a great Scouting friend of mine, how I was feeling about Scouting. He suggested that I attend a Woodbadge training course. Woodbadge would get me energized.

            I had heard about Woodbadge, that it is like the college course of Scout leader training, and that it is an excellent course to attend. I also knew that it would take place over three weekends and that there was a “nice” registration fee. Woodbadge would be something I would attend some other time.
            Paul caught up with me during a district function in the spring of 1988. “I registered you for the fall Woodbadge course,” he told me, and then gave me the dates of the three weekends. “Well gosh,” I thought, “that was nice of him.” Yes, I wanted to participate in a Woodbadge course but this was much sooner than I had planned. Oh well, I was registered now so I guess I may as well get it done and over with.
            I told the troop committee about it at the next meeting. They agreed to pay a portion of the cost for which I was very thankful. I also discovered that I would need another uniform shirt since I was not about to redo many of the patches on my current troop uniform. Luckily, I already had the official Scout pants, cap, and socks.
            As the first weekend approached I began to get a little nervous. I was attending the course in Viking Council, since our council was not conducting Woodbadge training. I knew Paul would be on the staff as the troop quartermaster but would I know anyone else? Who would be in my patrol? What would be my patrol name? Too many questions. Too much to be nervous about.
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              Last night, when I was checking out a few Scouting related blogs, I had a quick flashback to the early 1990′s. BuffaloEagle, at Lone Star Scouter, had posted a list of the eleven skills of leadership. Upon seeing them I was taken back to my Woodbadge training at Camp Stearns.

              The skills are:

              Buffalo Eagle wrote that these skills were discussed during a COPE course that he attended. I went through COPE nearly ten years ago, but I do not remember discussing these during the course. Maybe we did. I do not remember. I was having too much fun climbing things and riding the zip line.

              The Eleven Skills of Leadership. It has been awhile since I have thought about them. Maybe it is time to review them. Now, where did I put my Woodbadge notebook?

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                Roundtables need to meet a few requirements if you want Scout leaders to attend them. They need to be informative. They need to offer worthwhile training. They need to offer a wide variety of topics, not just the same old thing year after year. They need to offer something for the new leaders, and something for the experienced crowd. But most of all, they need to be fun!

                I have attended many good roundtables, and many boring ones. Any meeting that expects me to sit there for ninety minutes listening to a lecture is NOT a good meeting in my book. If that speaker is someone with a monotone voice that likes to drone on and on then I will be fidgeting in my seat.

                I know the national office publishes meeting suggestions for roundtables. I also know that not every roundtable staff uses them. Sometimes the national suggestions are not compatible with a district’s agenda. It does not matter if the staff uses the nation book or makes their own agendas, but they need to make the meetings worthwhile for adult leaders to take the time out of their own busy schedules. Otherwise do not expect people to show up to fill those chairs. Here are my suggestions for a decent roundtable.

                First of all, have an opening and a closing ceremony. Use different ones every month. Give the pack and troop leaders new ideas to take back to their units. Keep in mind that when you use and opening and closing ceremonies you “actually” bring the meeting to a start and an end just like a troop meeting.

                Try to offer at least two topics per monthly meeting, something for the new leaders and something for the old timers. You can either break the meeting into two halves, each half covering one topic, or break the group into two groups, one covering each topic. Be sure to invite speakers who are knowledgeable in the topic.

                Play a game part way through the meeting. Yeah, that is right. A game! Expecting men to sit there for ninety minutes is the equivalent of torture. A short ten minute game lets everyone get up, stretch, and burn a few calories. It clears the cobwebs that may have started to form in the mind. Keep the game simple and something that could be used during a troop or pack meeting with the boys. Remember, we are at the roundtable to learn things to take back to the troops. Oh, and make sure the game is fun!

                Before the closing ceremony spend a few minutes with any announcements. And do not forget to recognize any accomplishments achieved since the last roundtable. Yes, adults like to be recognized also, just like the boys, even if the recognition may be for something silly.

                There, now you have my recommendations for a good roundtable. After these three entries about roundtables you can look forward to a new topic next time.

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