Outdoor Skill Instruction, A Great Course!
- From: Michael Pagelkopf writes:
> I would like to hear from any trainer that has experience doingI was Course Chair for our Council's first IOLS course, which took place
> [the new] OLS during the winter months. Specfically what
> modifications did you make.
November 2-4. Modifications that we made, and changes we will make next
1) CHECK-IN. Next time I will announce check-in as 6:00 PM, rather than
the "6:00-7:00 PM" example. Not a single participant arrived before 7:10.
2) CAMPSITE SELECTION: The Instructor separated the Patrols as far as
possible. This session was done by Patrol in the field as they arrived.
Set up was done in the rain, but since most of the Patrols had met previous
to the course, there was not a lot of confusion, although it took from 7:10
- 9:00 PM. The Instructor also held a brief discussion indoors, following
3) EXPLAIN THE PATROL METHOD: As Course Chair I took the role of Senior
Patrol Leader and expanded these opening remarks to a talk about the
significance of William Hillcourt bringing the Patrol Method to the BSA.
For this I used Nelson Block's essay on Hillcourt from "Two Lives of a
Hero" and contrasted it with BSA theory previous to Hillcourt's arrival,
Before the "modernization" of Scouting in the 1960s, the combination of
Patrol Method and Outdoor Skills Instruction was once the very heart of
Wood Badge. The potential emotional impact of this powerful combination on
adult participants should not be overlooked.
4) CRACKER BARREL: We added a small PLC Meeting toward the end of the
cracker barrels, in which I handed out schedules to the Patrol Leaders with
the session times left blank. We then discussed the next-day's events. We
decided that the hour allowed for Breakfast was unrealistic. The Patrol
Leaders moved wake-up to 6:00 AM, since most of them were accustomed to
waking at this time anyway. Patrol Leaders were also asked at this time to
produce one skit and one song for the next evening's Campfire.
5) FLAG CEREMONY: We also moved the Opening Flag Ceremony to Saturday
morning. There seems to be increased interest in this aspect of Scouting
now. The participants suggested and organized their own Flag Lowering
Ceremony Saturday afternoon. This session might be more efficient if you
have a large number of flags for flag-folding practice.
6) SATURDAY DINNER AT CAMPSITES: We ditched this completely and scheduled
an additional Dutch Oven Cooking Instruction Session during this period to
cover requirements for First Class Cooking by Patrols. Two participants
from each Patrol were led through the preparation of Dutch Oven Chicken Pot
Pie, as the rest of the Patrol Members watched. You will need outdoor
lighting for this. This additional session was VERY POPULAR!
7) INDIVIDUAL COACHING: This was held indoors, due to weather. Additional
Knot-Tying coaching was requested by a number of participants, and was very
popular. Woods Tools would have been too, but darkness and full bellies
discouraged this from occurring outdoors despite having plenty of lanterns.
8) CAMPFIRE PROGRAM: We used a half to 3/4 hour of the Coaching period for
an indoor session on Campfire Program building, with some additional time
for practice of the skits and songs. We then walked to the Campfire Area
and practiced the "Fire Site Preparation and Building" skills from the
morning's session to build a campfire from rain-soaked wood. The raw
electric energy of this session surprised both participants and staffers
alike, with some of the seasoned staff remarking that it was perhaps the
most enthusiastic adult training campfire they had ever witnessed.
9) INTERFAITH WORSHIP: We moved this to Saturday Evening, between the
indoor and outdoor Campfire Program sessions. This was conducted by a
seasoned "Four-Beader," who also served as the remote "Scoutmaster" figure
for the weekend. Ron Wagner is also the author of the two-volume "Cooking
With a Dutch Oven" cookbook that we provided to each participant and used
for our second cooking session. The Scouts' Own service included songs
like "America the Beautiful" and "God Bless America" as well as a skit (or
"stunt") in which the voice of God keeps interrupting a Scout who is
attempting to mechanically recite a prayer without really thinking about
what he is saying. The educational value of "serious" skits or "stunts"
with a message are probably over-looked these days. I don't have this
particular dialogue scanned yet, but traditional ember-glow "message"
material can be found at:
10) SUNDAY BREAKFAST: Wake-up was at 6:00 AM, and we started the sessions
at about 8:00 AM, rather than the scheduled 8:30.
11) PACKING & HIKING TECHNIQUES: We expanded this to a 1 3/4 hour session
which included an introduction to High Adventure backpacking techniques in
addition to the Tenderfoot and 2nd Class requirements. This was BY FAR the
single most popular session as judged by the Course Evaluation forms.
12) MAP & COMPASS: This was my session, which I expanded to two hours to
include actual Map & Compass work. I enlarged a USGS map of the camp to a
8 1/2 X 11" size and pasted an enlarged Magnetic North arrow in the lower
corner from which the participants drew their own meridians, see:
Each Patrol then had its own "Orienteering Course" using cabins as
check-points. Each participant was responsible for one leg of his Patrol's
13) CLOSING ASSEMBLY: This was held at 12:00. Staff cleaned and packed
during the morning sessions. We skipped the lunch.
14) BREAK CAMP: Patrols broke camp AFTER the Closing Assembly. The camp
was deserted by 1:00 PM. I was the last to leave.
15) COURSE EVALUATION: We scheduled 15 Minutes for this prior to the
a) According to the provided Form, the most "Valued" and "Enjoyed" sessions
(in order of their popularity), were: 1) Hiking/Gear/Backpacking 2)
Map/Compass 3) with Dutch Oven Cooking and Knots (yes, knots) tied for
b) Despite the strictly "Hands On" nature of the course, a number of
participants suggested even MORE "Hands On" time and "less sitting". We
had tried to make room for the Saturday Flag Session by cutting the length
of the Woods Tools session with the intention of encouraging additional
time during the Saturday evening Coaching session. This didn't happen and
it was noticed and specifically mentioned by a number of participants as an
example of more Hands On time needed.
c) We allowed the registration of one Patrol of participants who did not
previously complete the three preceding Boy Scouting training sessions. I
think from this Patrol we had one Course Evaluation form saying that they
did not receive enough "advance information" about "what to bring, what to
expect, purpose of course, etc."
d) Many participants mentioned the lack of "free time" and the need for
more lengthy bathroom breaks. However, I do not intend to add "free time"
to the next course.
16) PERSONAL RECORD: These are the Tenderfoot - First Class "Sign-Off
Sheets" from the back of the IOLS Course Outline Book. We provided each
participant with a copy on Friday night, and made sure that they kept them
current. I collected them with the other feed-back forms. These may seem
silly to some, but they were a great reminder to the very diverse training
staff members that the purpose of the course centered on the outdoor skills
needed for Advancement. I also think that they helped the participants
focus their questions. I will use them again.
17) SELF-EVALUATION: We also used this form and asked the participants to
hand them in with their Course Evaluation Forms. These were far more
specific than any other feedback in indicating what specific Tenderfoot -
First Class Skills were not covered as well as others.
Given the above changes, Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills is a
surprisingly great addition to BSA training! It was a significantly
positive experience not only for the participants, but for the Training
Staff as well!
Yours in Scouting,
The Inquiry Net: