Marshall and others,
I've been Training Director for our District's OWL course for the past
five years, "consulted" with the TD when our first BALOO training was
being planned, and have been recently "promoted" to District CS Training
Chairman. Our training crew has struggled with the whole outdoor
training issue as well.
Two points made previously, regarding your small training staff/District,
bear repeating: first, that experienced Scouters, regardless of their
former/present positions, can fill out a very small core staff to pull
off an OWL course. Last year, when I ran OWL and Den Chief Training
concurrently, I even had a couple of older Scouts, fresh from the
week-long JLT course, teach the fire-building and knots sessions. Talk
about impressing the Web Den Leaders with the value of Den Chiefs!
Second, while experienced Web Den Leaders MAY be among those who could
hold down a session in an OWL Training, I offer a cautionary note
regarding leaders who "already know it all" without benefit of prior
formal training. Even experienced Boy Scout leaders sometimes need to be
reminded about the distinct rules of Webelos camping, and many
experienced adult outdoor types, while skilled in the own right, have not
thought through the process of presenting those skills at a fourth and
fifth grade level.
The larger issue of the overall outdoor training program is, in my mind,
a real mess. I sincerely hope that it's a work in progress, as has been
rumored previously on this list. The "party line" is that Baloo and OWL
are separate courses; that Baloo is intended for any pack leader who is
going to be in charge of planning and executing a pack family camping
outing. OWL is for Webelos Den leaders, to prepare them for boy-adult
Webelos Den camping. But the fact of the matter is that when they set
out to design the new Baloo training. someone walked over to the OWL
syllabus, grabbed a great fistful of papers, and plunked it down and
said, "There, we're nearly done. We'll just touch up the wording a bit
here and there, and have our Baloo Training." My distress with the
similarities between the two curricula is in the area of "customer
satisfaction". I don't EVER want to hear people coming out of my OWL
training saying, "Well, you all worked hard on that, buy why did you
waste so much of my time taking another day-long training that overlaps
so much with the Baloo Training I took two years ago?" That was
certainly being said by some of those who took our first Baloo course!
This is not going to be easy. One cannot assume that everyone taking OWL
has already had Baloo, but more and more will have done so as time goes
on. But the material for camping neophytes has to remain available in
OWL. My inclination, as I've thought through my responsibilities as CS
Training Chairman, is to hold a meeting of OWL and Baloo trainers (many
of the same people in both, of course), and explicitly PLAN into our
presentations the distinctions between the two courses. There ARE
differences between a Webelos Den campout and a Pack family camp --- but
we need to make sure that our trainings are consistently directed at the
appropriate level, and avoid "one script fits all" in all cases, both in
the "book learning" and the skills sessions. Because many of our Baloo
trainers are also OWL trainers, and ALL of our Baloo trainers are
graduates of an OWL course in the last five years, I suspect that WE were
responsible for much of the unwanted similarity between the two courses
during the initial run of Baloo.
Al "I used to be a Buffalo"
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