I guess I've grown a bit sceptical over the years, but I
absolutely shudder every time I hear about "combining" trainings in the
interests of "efficiency". My Council/District entered a phase, about
ten years ago now, when I was just getting into CS trainng, of cutting
here, triming there, combining somewhere else, in the belief that more
people would attend training if they were fewer and shorter. I gradually
came to the conclusion that (1) the folks who create BSA training
curricula are very skilled at accomodating subtle aspects of adult
learning characteristics in the courses, and (2) people were being
cheated out of critical components of the learning process when courses
were locally "streamlined". When I became Training Chair, I instituted a
return to offering the courses "by the book", and looked for other ways
to make them attractive enough that people would willingly attend. My
answer to the occasional complaint about repetition of material in
subsequent training courses is to smile and say, quite truthfully and
with conviction, that I never repeat a training without learning
something new about the subject from the people in the class.
One "combination" that I've used, and that seems to work quite
well, is the run the old OWL course concurrently with Den Chief Training.
They run on two unique and largely separate tracks throughout the day,
but share staff (just a matter of careful schedule planning and then
sticking to the schedule), and a few activities. I recruit a couple of
older Boy Scouts from the latest Junior Leader Training course, who
handle some of the Den Leader sessions and also some of the woods skills
sessions for OWL. The Webelos Den Leaders and Den Chiefs are together
during the day just enough that (1) the Den Chiefs get some practical
experience, often their first, at working cooperativelty with an adult,
and (2) a few Den Leader's eyes are opened to the positive values of
having a Den Chief to work with. I, too, eagerly await release of the
new version of OWL, to see how it will fit into our yearly training
plans. This combination does help a bit with the pressure on staffing,
but the point is that both courses still run as they were written, and
the combination enhances both trainings, rather than watering them down.
Re trainer pools, I can't say I've encountered much problem with
trainers getting "stale" in their courses, most appreciate the added
confort level of teaching material with which they are familiar. I do
try to keep a "staff pool" of about twice as many trainers as are needed
to run the scheduled courses, so as not to be short of trainers on a
given day. As to recruiting, my approach is that flattery will get you
everywhere! I try to identify folks from trainings, Roundtables, Day
Camps, unit visits as a Commissioner and the like that show an apptitude
appropriate to the trainings I have to staff. Then I "corner" them
individually, compliment them on what I've observed, and ask them to help
out. Ask for a specific task, with fixed objectives and clearly defined
limits, not a generic, open-ended plea for a life-long committment (that
comes later, after you've got them hooked!).
"I used to be a Buffalo"
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