Why Training?

You might ask yourself why you need training… Perhaps you have both the Arrow of Light and Eagle awards, and figure that would qualify you as being pretty knowledgeable about Scouting, and you may well be right. Or maybe you just figure that you can’t afford the time to go to yet another Scouting function.

Both of those points may be valid to some extent, but please take a moment to consider these few things:

  • Things change. Even someone that earned their Eagle just a few short years ago is likely to be unaware of changes, minor to major, that are impacting Scouts today. There’s a good chance that something that directly impacts your Scouting unit is different from what you may be accustomed to.
  • While we all have decisions to make regarding how we spend our time, especially these days, few things could be considered more important than knowing how to get things done, and done the correct way, when dealing with our youth. Often, training that is offered by the BSA not only positively impacts your units, but your home and family as well. Can you think of a better way to spend your time?
  • Many types of training are required for leaders in order for their youth to participate in a variety of activities. For instance, even if you have earned Scouting’s highest award, it will not be enough to get through the gates with your unit at many activities. This is for both the protection of our youth, and for your own.
  • Unfortunately, there seems to always be “stories” of the right way and the wrong way to do things. What better way to find our what the story really is than to keep abreast of the latest training offerings from the BSA. For instance, do you know for sure what the minimum and recommended adult-youth ratios are for camping with your unit?
  • Just as policies change, so does technology. If you attend training, you’re likely to not only hear about but see the latest things to come down the pike and be used by Scouts and Scouters. From camping equipment to online facilities, we do our best to keep up with what’s going on in the real world. And if we miss something in a course, we’re very likely to hear about it during class – and if you’re there, you’ll hear it too!
  • Don’t shortchange our youth. Many of our Scouts work very hard to earn their accomplishments, and they should be proud of doing so. But they need for you to be there for them as well – being a trained leader is one of the best ways that you can help them.

OK, So What Training Is Out There?

The Boy Scouts of America has a diverse catalog of training available for its Scouts and Scouters. From Fast Start to the most specific courses, these are designed to make it easier for you to “Do Your Best” when working with members of our units.

Fast Start training gives you the assistance you need to get started on the right foot. You should try to get this training done as soon as you take your position, and we try to make it as easy as possible for you to do so – Cub Scouters can even take their Fast Start online! From there, the next step is to take the specific training required for your position; normally, the first step in this is to take the New Leader Essentials course. Once that is completed, the specific training you need is offered in a variety of courses.

Once you’ve completed those courses, many others are available, depending on your unit and its level within Scouting. For a quick look at what’s out there, be sure to take a look at the Training Home page, scrolling to the unit level(s) you are involved with.

What Is A 'Trained' Leader?

In the upper left of our Training pages, as well as on many leaders’ uniforms, you’ve probably noticed the Trained patch. This signifies that the person wearing it has completed the minimum training required for the positional badge they wear on their uniform. This training consists of the Fast Start for their unit level, as well as the New Leader Essentials and Leader-specific training for that position. Our goal on the Training Committee is to see that patch worn by every Scouter in the district, but don’t stop there!

Youth Protection???

Youth Protection training is a short, informative session that avails the leader of essential information regarding the treatment and protection of youth. This training, consisting of the viewing of a video along with discussions of its contents, is designed to protect both the youth in our charge and our leadership. We strongly encourage each leader, at every level, to participate in this training. Further, it is required for several Scouting-related activities.

Youth Protection offers certification that lasts for two years from the date of the training. GreatBear District traditionally offers Youth Protection training at least once a year at a Roundtable, and often offers it more often with supplemental classes offered at other venues. While the training is good for two years, we encourage leaders to “refresh” themselves annually.

How Do I Register For A Course?

GreatBear Distict offers the ability to register online for most, if not all, of our courses (we also occasionally offer online registration for other folks as well as a convenience for our visitors). Doing so allows us to better track who is taking what course, as well as giving us the opportunity to email you with important information about those courses, such as location changes, what you need to bring, etc. This online registration is available by going to the Training Home page and scrolling to the schedule, then clicking on Click Here To Register. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be taken to an online registration form that you will complete then submit to us. Many of our courses require a nominal fee to cover materials or other items provided during the course (some, for instance, include food or other necessities). We do not provide for online payment (nor are we likely to in the foreseeable future…), so these fees must be paid separately. We request that you send these fees separately, perhaps through the mail (or, if time allows, at an event such as Roundtable). Fees for many of the courses may also be paid at the course (normally, this excludes fees for events that include meals, etc.; we request that any fee in excess of $4.00 be submitted prior to the course registration cut-off date). When you enroll online, you will be sent a confirmation of that enrollment so you know we got it (and for your own records).

We also frequently provide paper forms at events such as Roundtable. You can also use these (or print the form on the site) and mail them, together with your payment, to the District Training Committee. While we prefer online registration, we recognize that many people do not have the capability to do so.

Please note that, however you register, fees will be considered payable unless the registration is cancelled prior to the registration cut-off date. Exceptions may be made under extenuating circumstances, but please keep in mind that we incur certain expenses when preparing for many courses, such as the purchase of food or supplies, that are based on the course registrations.

Some events listed in the schedule do not require either registration or fees – you can normally assume that is the case for GreatBear District offerings when the online registration is not available for the course and/or no fees are noted. Such events include Youth Protection training or non-training events at Roundtables. For these you normally just show up and sign in when you enter.

What's With These Training Cards?

Upon completion of each training course (or course combination, such as New Leader Essentials and its partner leader-specific course), you will be issued a card signifying that completion. A card indicating, for example, that you have completed the training required of a leader is your proof that you may wear the Trained patch when wearing the badge of office indicated by the training card (but not for other offices you are not trained for; you could not wear the Trained patch with the Den Leader badge when your training card indicates completion of Cubmaster training, for example).

This card is meant to convey that you have completed the indicated training and is intended to be carried by you at all times, especially when with your unit. You may be asked to produce the card under specific circumstances, such as when entering a camp where BALOO or Youth Protection training is required. Failure to produce that card when asked may result in you, and perhaps your unit as a whole, being asked to leave the camp. Nobody is trying to be mean or difficult when this happens, merely attempting to provide our youth with the best leadership and protection we can offer them.

Please note that in the GreatBear District, our policy is to, whenever possible, give successful participants their cards immediately following a course’s completion. Only in circumstances where it is not physically possible to provide these cards will exceptions be made (such as actually running out of usable cards). Under those circumstances, we will notify those affected of the inability to provide a card immediately and make arrangements to deliver a card as soon as is practicable. On the other hand, if you have a problem where you cannot accept a card following your training, perhaps a need to leave the training before the cards are handed out (but, of course, after you have successfully completed the training), please inform a member of the training staff prior to the commencement of the course so that arrangements may be made beforehand.

What About Training Awards?

Lots of our leaders wear little patches on their shirts that resemble knots – you’ve probably seen them – and we’re proud of them for earning them. These patches signify that the leaders wearing them have earned the training award for their positions. We’d like to see everybody wear at least one of these as well, but you may not be sure how to get them…

For starters, you’ll need to earn one of those Trained patches. From there, much of it depends on your position as to what else is required. We have the tracking forms for this purpose available at the bottom of the Training Home page, but some of the requirements include tenure (which, again, varies depending on the position), supplemental training (typically including Youth Protection and Roundtable attendance), and various other requirements that match the position. If you have earned yours already, be sure and forward your completed and signed form to the Training Committee – if you haven’t earned yours yet, what better time to start than today?

How Can I Request A Course?

If you need specific training and it’s not listed in our schedule, you can always request that we add that course to the schedule.

First, be sure to check the “Training To Be Scheduled” area of the Training Home page to see if we already plan on offering the course. This section is here for courses that we plan to hold but have yet to find a “home” or have other issues preventing their scheduling at present.

You can also check with other districts to find out it they are offering the needed training already (you can always go somewhere else if you need training, just be sure that you let the training staff for that event know that you are from a different district and/or council so they can let us know you got the training).

You might also take into consideration that many of the courses may not be offered at the district level. Several courses, such as OWL, are generally offered at the council level, and others (for instance, Fast Start) are offered at the unit level or through self-study.

In any event, if you have any questions about training, you can always raise them at Roundtable. Furthermore, you can use the Feedback portion of the district site to forward your questions to us. Questions and comments, of course, do not need to be solely about scheduling – you can ask about awards or what is needed for a particular course – feedback can be for just about anything!

I Got Training Somewhere Else...

Happens all the time…

One way that this might happen is if you are transferring from another area. If this happens, we ask that you request the sending of your training information from your former district to ours. Doing so assures that we can have accurate, up-to-date records of your training, which can help to avoid unnecessary delays in processing awards or other needs. If you didn’t do so when you transferred, be sure to do it as soon as possible thereafter – we certainly want our records to be accurate, and we can’t guarantee that your former district will keep your records indefinitely (after all, you have left…).

Other times this might happen is if you see a course that you need being offered outside of GreatBear District. While we strive to offer everything that is needed for our Scouters, it doesn’t always happen, or our offering may conflict with your schedule. If you should participate in another district’s course, be sure the training staff at that course is aware of your circumstances – you should also send us a note to be sure we are aware of it. Doing so makes it more likely that we can update our records to reflect your participation in that course.

How Do I Get There?

We offer training at a variety of sites, some of which you might be unfamiliar with. Whenever possible, we try to include a map so you can more easily figure out how to get there. When this is not the case, you can use the Feedback form or send an email to the District Training Chair for further instructions on getting to the location.

While we will attempt to answer such questions right away, some of the courses are held at locations that we may also be unfamiliar with, such as when the offering is from council or another district. If the training you need directions for happens to fall into this category, it is normally faster if you use any provided email links or phone numbers that may be shown with that event…