Hey! Cub Scout leaders, have you been fully trained? I believe that training is key to being a good Cub Scout leader. I’m not just talking about just doing the bare minimum to be able to wear that “trained” patch That’s a great start but I’m talking about getting any and all training you can. That first question is actually a trick question because no one can answer “Yes” to that. You are never fully trained because there is always more training. Let me explain why I believe that training can be the Key to Success as a Cub Scout leader (or any scout leader).
When I was first asked to be the Cubmaster for my pack (back in 2003) my initial response was “Me? (imagine that asked with a nervous giggle) Are you sure? I don’t know how to be a Cubmaster.” I guess that wasn’t entirely true. I had 2 boys in the program at the time (1 in Webelos and 1 Wolf) and I had attended pack meetings with them regularly. I also grew up with 5 brothers and my Dad was Cubmaster for a number of years. So, I had a pretty good understanding of the basics I guess but… it was still kinda scary. It reminded me of how nervous I was that very first time I drove myself to church, someplace I went often, but with Mom or Dad driving. It’s easy to be a Cub Scout Mom, to be the one in the back seat, just along for the ride, not paying much attention to all the details. It sure felt different to be asked to be the one in charge. Raise your hand if you remember that feeling.
So, the first thing I did was drive up to the Scout Office (It was in Provo then, remember that tiny little place?) where I bought myself a Scout shirt and a copy of the Cub Scout Leader Book. I was told there was a meeting for leaders called “Roundtable” and so I went to that. (To be honest, I was told by the outgoing Cubmaster that I didn’t need to attend Roundtable but I wanted to see for myself what this meeting was all about.) Roundtable was great! Here I got to actually talk face to face with other Cubmasters and Cub Scout leaders. I had started reading the Cub Scout Leader Book (self training) so I knew the official “How-tos” of Cub Scouting but attending roundtable gave me other real live, live in my same town, leaders to ask questions, and get ideas from. At roundtable they made some announcements about other training coming soon—Cub Scout Leader Pow Wow and Leader-Specific (usually called Basic Training then). I went to the Cub Scout Leader Pow Wow with a den leader from our pack. What a great training. A whole day of classes and I got to pick which ones interested me. It was awesome! And about a month later my district held their “Cub Scout Leader Basic Training” so I went to that too. That was SO helpful! I felt like those instructors knew it all. I actually attended “Basic Training” again just about a year later. Why? Because I figured I had SO much to learn the first time that I wanted to see what I still didn’t quite understand or what I could do better by going back to the basics again. I have actually taken the online version a number of times as well. I have never missed a Cub Leader Pow Wow and I rarely miss roundtable. Why? There are 2 basic reasons that I love to attend training – for the information and the other people.
Information = confidence and ability. The more I learned, the more confident I felt in my ability to be a Cubmaster. It also helped me know how to give the boys the program as it was designed to be. I was not just doing things because that’s the way they had been done before but because that’s the way they should be done. It was all a bit overwhelming at first but I picked one thing I felt we needed to improve on and started there. Once that thing was pretty well established we added another, and another. I’ll tell you, the first thing I focused on was getting a fully functioning committee. As I read the Cub Scout leader book and attended Basic training I learned that this was not really supposed to be a “one-woman” job, as it had been done for years in our pack. If I had not taken the time to attend trainings I may not have even known that I didn’t have to do it all myself, so I would have tried, burned out quickly and would probably not be a Cub Scout leader still today. Who knows. But because I continued to collect knowledge through training, both my confidence and ability increased (They call that “The will to do” and “the skill to do”).
The training that really really helped me understand the Cub Scout program the best was Akela’s Council —The best Cub Scout leader training anywhere! I had been a cubmaster for 4 years by the time I attended AC23 but it truly changed my whole attitude towards myself and the Cub Scout program. It would take a whole other post to list all the things I have gained from Akela’s Council.
Other people = sharing of ideas and scouting spirit. I have met some amazing people and heard some fabulous ideas from people I have met at roundtable, Pow Wows, Akela’s Council (my very favorite Cub Scout Leader Training) and the other trainings I have attended over the years. And the spirit of Scouting rubs off as you associate with other enthusiastic leaders. I know some people view roundtable as just “one more meeting” they have been asked to attend. Why not look at it as one more monthly opportunity to make a difference in your pack or possibly someone else’s? Roundtable works best when there are leaders there of every kind – new and experienced as well as old and young. Asking and answering questions, sharing ideas, getting to know other leaders, motivation, inspiration and fun! That’s what roundtable is all about. When I go with the right attitude there is always something valuable at roundtable. It may come from one of the instructors or it may come from the leader I sit next to. I’ve also made friends and received some great training at Commissioner College. And because of Akela’s Council I have friends in almost every district in our Council as well as a few in other states. This past summer I had the opportunity to attend some training at the Philmont Training Center in New Mexico where I met other Cub Scout leaders from all across the country. I definitely learned some new things about Cub Scouting just from talking to leaders outside of Utah.
It’s very likely that each of us knows a really great Cub Scout leader who, for one reason or another, has not been to or received the official BSA Cub Scout trainings. However a great untrained leader is rare. That’s not to say that going to training will automatically make you a great leader but getting the proper training for your position can make being a Cub Scout leader SO much easier! Training not only increases your knowledge and understanding of the Cub Scout program but it also makes you a more confident leader.
Remember, attending a live group training (like roundtable) also gives you a chance to ask questions, share ideas and meet some new people who can become friends and resources to you. I know that sometimes it’s hard to find the time to attend training but when you do… it’s worth it. Cub Scout leaders also have lots of trainings available online at myscouting.org. Lots more than just the Youth Protection Training you probably created your account for… check it out!While the online trainings may not have the same advantages of a live group training it can still be very beneficial and of course… it’s still better than no training at all.
With a new Cub Scout Adventure program coming next summer, I have been asked a number of times… “Will I need to get re-trained?” I think what they are really asking is “Do I need to take Leader Position-Specific Training again?” To which the basic answer is… No. You don’t “have to” but then again—you can. And to that I add “Why not?” There is no such thing as too much training; in fact, I’m sure I will never be fully trained.
Author: Annaleis Smith, Council Cub Scout Chair.