State of Scout Training 2019

Webinar image courtesy of geralt @pixbay

NEW: Webinar Training for 2019

Challenger district is conducting the first in the nation trials of a new technology to enable us to provide much better training for our scouters. Our work here will hopefully pave the way to enhance training at the council and national levels.

What is Webinar Training?

  • Blending the convenience of online courses with the interaction, personalization, and mentoring of a live in-person training event.
  • Take the online class from anywhere
    • Follow along with the instructor and view what they are doing from your computer or smartphone.
    • No computer, no problem – call into any session using just your telephone.
      • For the best training experience, we recommend participating in the session with an internet enabled device running an updated web browser so you can “chat” with participants and view the presentation materials.
  • No travel required (for instructor or students).
    • Remote technology means that even if you are out of the area during the course, you can still participate.
  • Recorded sessions so you can go back, review, and ask questions after the event.
    • If you miss the session, you can make up the training reviewing the recording online.
      • Not available for all training courses, some require active participation during session for credit.
  • Easy to use tools, scheduling, and online access availability means:
    • MORE Frequent training events
    • LESS online technology struggles
    • SMALLER course sizes for personalized mentoring
    • TAILORED classes means quicker training events, and faster pathways to your “TRAINED” patch

Look for webinar opportunities on our Facebook page as we work through the trial phase and onto full implementation in late 2019. Please note, this will not replace the online training available at, nor will it replace in person training events. These will continue as they have before. What this new technology will enable us to do is deliver instructor led courses online to augment all our current training opportunities.

  • Notes
    • This is a trial so expect some technical hiccups along the way.
    • Please provide feedback on ease of use, quality (audio and video).
      • During the training while the instructor is talking all participants will be MUTED.
      • You can still type in the chat box with your questions during the presentation for the instructor to answer.
      • The instructor will provide discussion sections where you will be UNMUTED so you may chat, discuss, and ask questions.
        • During the trial, every session we will start with these instructions for everyone.
        • Especially important (because different) when on phone vs PC/smartphone.
        • Once live we will eventually have a training video/instructions you will need to learn on your own before the training.
      • The instructor can and will mute excessive background noise – however, this takes time away from discussion and the training so please respect the “Mute when not talking rule”


History image courtesy of Comfreak @pixbay

History of Training in Scouting

Current Offerings

Current training options for Scouts BSA include both an Online training option, and an in person instructor lead training course. No training is perfect, and both have their upsides and downsides. However, the current offerings have some existing gaps that our new Webinar initiative is seeking to overcome.

Online image courtesy geralt @pixbay

Online Training

Online training is the current default and preferred delivery mechanism for the vast majority of training – including the full suite of position specific training online is a SCORM (content standard used for creating standardized e-learning modules) based training system and has enabled Scouts BSA to deliver on demand training for all their leaders from the convenience of their own home (or even their car on their smartphone), at their own schedule and pace.


  • Convenient: Courses are able to be taken from any location that has internet access, and your training records are automatically synced. You have the ability to pause the training and resume when required, and can track your progress across the curriculum online.
  • Accessible: The only thing required to access the training material is an updated web browser (on computer or smartphone) from a computer that has internet access. There are many modules that are offered in both English and Spanish, and all required position specific training (excluding outdoor skills) are offered.
  • Available: (With the exception of planned maintenance downtime) the training courses are available online 24×7. Trouble sleeping, access a training module at 3 in the morning and get credit for taking the course. Since all position specific training courses have been created, all training modules are ready for you to enjoy (loose use of the word).
  • Reviewable: Because the modules are pre-recorded, you have the ability to pause, rewind, and review everything in the module. If the instructor is talking too fast, or you missed something because your cat ran across your computer, you can back up and see what you missed. Additionally, after completing the course, you can go back and review the contents at any time to refresh anything you need more work on.


  • Technical glitches: Some longer videos (YPT) take a while to load, and because SCORM wasn’t set up correctly, if you watch 44 minutes out of the 45 minute video and it crashes or the page refreshes, you have to start all over again. If you don’t have internet, or don’t have a computer/smartphone, many of the courses are inaccessible and require borrowing equipment or access (library) to take. In addition technical support is limited (not to mention login issues), and browser compatibility issues arise early and often. In addition, site outages for maintenance occur, and at times of peak usage, many of the courses become too slow to take and/or crash. And if you are stuck with “slow speed” internet access, your experience is way less than optimal.
  • No Questions Allowed: If you have questions about the material, who do you ask? Do you even remember the questions after the training is over? Because the material is coming at you fast and furious you may miss something or not think to write down the question when it pops into your head – and once that train has left the station, it’s usually pretty hard to remember what you needed to ask.
  • Comprehensiveness: To cram all the topics that they think most individuals in that role need, they saturate the training with a ton of information. You end up with a rushed presentation covering too many topics and still taking 5h to complete.
  • Relevance and Timeliness: Not all components of the training lessons are applicable for every trainee, the training talks about mixed packs and separate dens, what happens if you are so small that you don’t even have dens? Who can you ask – and will you remember to ask it after 5 hours of lessons?. In addition, with pace of changes, information can quickly become outdated, and the need to create new courses over and over again (see the new YPT refresh not even 15 days since the previous).
Training image courtesy of skeeze @pixbay

In Person Training

In person training is available for many courses, and some training courses are ONLY available through an in person setting. These training sessions are instructor led, and enable both course personalization, as well as in person mentoring for the training offered. Because of resource constraints (instructor availability, location, schedules), the frequency of these training events is low (vs. on demand anytime for online), and some of the more intensive in person courses (such as Fundamentals of Training, EDGE, etc…) are only offered a few times every year and only in one or two locations throughout the council or region.


  • Personalized: Because you are attending the course directly with the instructor, both you and them have the ability to personalize the course to your needs. In addition, material that is relevant to you and your position and unit can be incorporated into the training, ensuring that you get the most out of your training time.
  • Interactive: Not only will you be interacting with the instructor, but you will have the opportunity to interact with other scouters from your local area. This is a great chance to build your scouting network, and share ideas and tips that might not normally come up in the training material. You also have the opportunity to discuss the topics being trained, as well as ask questions during the training and get feedback along the way.
  • Low Technical Requirements: Although death by powerpoint tries to be avoided in scout training (so can involve some technology), the most you need for these events is usually a coffee mug, pen, and paper. One of the key features that online will never replace is the fact that these courses could be delivered in the middle of a hurricane, when all power is out, and no one has any internet access (or, as part of a week long hiking trip in the middle of nowhere).
  • Focused: Because these are directed and run by in person instructors, and the material is typically personalized for you, the material is going to be hyper-focused on your role and your issues. In addition, more experienced scouters who already understand most of the content can serve as additional resources during training – and because the instructor controls the pace, you can get through a lot more training, more relevant for what you are doing (skipping some of the other stuff), which means you can finish up your training faster.
    • Right now online training is around 5h for a full position trained, but you might be able to get the same training in person in only a half-day event.


  • Scheduling: Probably the biggest issue with in person training is the scheduling. You have to find trainers who have availability and then set dates based on when they will be around. Then you need to find a location, maybe resources (such as projectors, tools, etc…) and figure out when those will be available. Finally, the attendees schedules need to be reviewed. Many times training is scheduled, but it doesn’t work out for the trainees, so they keep on missing in-person training opportunities, and because the training is few and far between, training gets pushed further and further down – and when training does pop up, they have another scouting event at the same time. Even if the instructor and location are available, if no one shows up for the training, there is a huge time sink and waste of time and training cancellations.
    • Not to mention sudden schedule issues from the instructors or the resources that can shift the training at any time. Even with backups in place, sometimes things just all fall through.
  • Location: Because in-person training events are in-person an appropriate venue and location has to be located, secured, and scheduled. Sometimes this comes with a booking cost, and so many times training events get pushed out until the course will have a guaranteed number of participants. Increasing the rarity of the training, and reducing the ability for everyone to take the training. If the location is outdoors, and weather goes south, then training gets rarer and rarer.
  • Convenience: The one Saturday or Sunday you have free all year, and it’s the weekend chosen to have the LAST training you need – how fair is that? Or, the training you need is only available at council and offered once a year, all the way on the other side of the state – so not only do you have to give up your only free time all year, but you’ve got to spend a barrel of money on gas, spend time traveling, accomodations (if its really far), and if it gets canceled because whatever reason then you are out of luck. Sometimes the training is during the week and you need to take vacation time. Compound all of this with EVERYONE who is attending, staff, instructors, location facilitators, and the convenience of many of these events goes way, way down. And since many of these events have limited spaces, you have to plan and book months in advance, try registering at the last minute when you finally know your shift-schedule for that week…
  • Calendar Events: One of the dirty little secrets is that booking the event on the council calendar is a herculean effort involving a bunch of gnomes, carrier pigeons, and gold, lots and lots of gold. So to get an event on the calendar does take some time and effort. And if the event needs to change after the calendar event was created (documents added, text changed), well, let’s just hope that doesn’t happen. Obviously the solution here is to make this process more accessible and efficient, but we are stuck with what we are stuck with for the time being – which means, that if Troop XYZ wanted to have a trainer come give a course at their meeting on Monday (2 days from now), and wanted to open it up to other leaders in the area, the chance of getting it up and running on the council calendar in time to be meaningful is slim to none. Maybe if the meeting were in 3 weeks they’d have a better shot of getting the calendar event ready.
  • Cost: At a minimum there is the cost of traveling to and from the venue. Many venues charge for usage, so there is a cost associated there. If there are materials needed or used, there is a cost there. Many times we offer refreshments (sometimes even meals), there is a cost there. Some events require specialized trainers so add on additional cost there. Some training is certified by external organizations (CPR, Lifeguarding) so cost there. And none of this takes into account the volunteer hours (and donated resources) to put on the event. In a nutshell, in person training events cost money, whereas online training (aside from the hosting and production) only costs the time of the leader reviewing the course.
  • Limitations of Reviews: Most people don’t carry around a go-pro in their back pocket, nor have access to studio quality recording equipment (cameras, and more importantly microphones that cut out background noise). Which means, by and large, once the course is over, if you need to go back and review anything you are limited to any course materials and the notes you took (plus contacting the instructor or other participants). You can’t pause, rewind, and review the course because, by and large, there are no recordings of the courses. Which means if you were distracted or missed something the instructor said, you are out of luck, and your only recourse is typically to attend the course again (compounding all the issues over again).
Learning crossroads image courtesy of geralt @pixbay


Every scout deserves a trained leader, and Scouts BSA has been working for over 100 years in creating, updating, and keeping current their training so that we can deliver the best scouting program to the youth we serve. We already have two great ways to get trained, and with the new Webinar initiative this year we hope to close the gap on the last holdouts on training – enabling us to combine the convenience of online with the personalization of in person training.

Eventually, we hope that not only the fixed position specific training will be available, but special training events (such mini-semesters from University of Scouting), guest trainers (such as master instructors from Philmont giving leadership seminars), and enabling us to offer some of the rare in-person training events much more frequently and much more accessible (such as EDGE).