Becoming a Scout leader can sound daunting. But even if you don’t have a Scouting background, anyone can be a great leader - as long as they start with good intentions, dedication, and a commitment to taking the basic training programs offered by the Boy Scouts. The training programs of the Boy Scouts of America provides leaders with all the basic tools needed to be successful in their leadership position, along with continual opportunities to refine their skills, as they become more comfortable in delivering a quality Boy Scout program.
Even if you’ve got a lot of experience in Scouting, it’s important to become fully trained. Over time, programs change a little bit as new ideas are explored. It’s important to stay on top of it, to ensure you’re offering the most up to date program for your youth!
Furthermore, training is easy. To get started, every registered adult needs to complete Youth Protection Training. This is a short training that teaches adults how the BSA creates barriers to child abuse in its programs, and is required for any adult that’s registering with the Boy Scouts. It can be completed online through the BSA’s my.Scouting site, and must be renewed regularly. For Cub Scout leaders, all of your basic training can be completed online as well. Boy Scout leaders can get started with Youth Protection online, but will need to complete their position-specific training in person through their local council. The same thing goes for Venturing and Sea Scout leaders.
Additional information on most of the training below can be found on the adult training page on the BSA’s website.
In order to be considered fully trained, Cub Scout leaders must complete Youth Protection training, as well as position-specific training (e.g. Den Leader or Cubmaster training). The position-specific training is broken into a few courses, one of which is required right away, another within the first 30 days, and another in the weeks after that.
Boy Scout leaders also need to complete Youth Protection training online, along with the in-person courses called Scoutmaster Basic Training and Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills. Both of these are offered through your local council. Troop Committee Members must complete Youth Protection training and the Troop Committee Challenge, both of which can be completed online.
Scoutmaster Basic Training provides troop leadership with the information and tools they need to lead successful Boy Scout troops.
Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills (IOLS): teaches leaders how to work as patrols, providing hands-on training in practical outdoor skills they need to lead Scouts in the outdoors.
Venturing leaders need to complete Youth Protection training online, along with an in-person courses called Venturing Leader Specific Training. This course is offered through your local council.
Venturing Leader Specific Training provides crew leadership with the information and tools they need to lead successful Crew.
Sea Scout leaders need to complete Youth Protection training online, along with an in-person courses called Sea Scout Adult Leader Basic Training. This course is offered through your local council.
Sea Scout Adult Leader Basic Training provides the nuts and bolts of organizing, running, and growing the Sea Scout program.
Beyond Basic Training
Why stop with just the basics? The Boy Scouts of America offers a wide variety of additional courses, some of which are required for certain activities that you may want to do with your youth.
First of all, every registered adult is invited to participate in a monthly meeting and training called Roundtable. It’s offered through your district (sub-section of your council), and provides you with an opportunity to stay updated on everything that’s going on in the council, to meet and network with other leaders, and to receive periodic trainings on a wide variety of topics.
Don’t forget that our first responsibility as adult leaders is to keep the youth safe. The BSA offers a wide variety of safety trainings online, including things such as Hazardous Weather training, Safe Swim Defense, Safety Afloat, Climb on Safely, and Trek Safely. Be sure to look into local and national policies related to climbing, backpacking, swimming, boating, and other potentially dangerous activities to ensure you’ve got all the right training before setting out on your outing.
There’s also a required training course if you want to take Cub Scouts camping. For Cub Scouts, at least one leader on the outing needs to have completed BALOO (Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Opportunity). In this course, the BSA's Cub Scout level camping policies will be taught, along with the necessary tools to help units carry out a successful camping experience. And there’s another outdoor course that’s highly recommended for Webelos leaders, called Outdoor Leader Skills for Webelos Leaders (OLSWL). OLSWL is designed to help leaders enhance the outdoor program for the Webelos Scouts in their den by teaching some basic outdoor skills, as well as skills needed to complete many of the Webelos activity badges.
Finally, ask your local council if they’ll be offering a University of Scouting at any point in the near future. University of Scouting is a one-day supplemental training offered to allow leaders to enhance and improve the program quality that they deliver, and to have a positive impact on youth. There’s no set curriculum, and course will vary from one council to another. It’s designed so that leaders can choose from a wide variety of classes to ensure they’re getting the information they want out of it.
If you’re interested in training courses related to diversity and inclusion in Scouting, we recommend that you reach out to Scouts for Equality. Scouts for Equality is a non-profit organization formed in 2012 with the purpose of eliminating discrimination from the Boy Scouts of America. They currently offer three training courses, listed below. If you’re interested in the training for your unit or council, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Creating Welcoming Environments for all BSA Members
In July of 2015, the Boy Scouts of America ended its national ban on openly gay adult volunteers. This policy was largely ignored in some units and councils, but with the national policy change we're now able to discuss this topic more openly. What impact does that have on our day to day Scouting experiences? How can we ensure we're providing a safe environment for all Scouts? How does knowing someone more fully positively contribute to the richness of the Scouting experience? Are there any new considerations for facility privacy? Join us for an introductory discussion on these topics and more.
Discussion Forum on Youth and the Coming Out Process
Join a discussion panel for an interaction forum on the topic of youth who come out to their fellow Scouts and Scouters. There's a chance you'll never experience this directly, but there's also a chance that you will. We should "Be Prepared" in this regard just as we are in all other aspects of Scouting. What should a youth know if they decide to come out in Scouting? What should you know about how to respond? All this and more will be discussed.
"Youth Protection Plus" - Anti-Bullying Training
What is bullying? What isn't? Where do we draw the line between "kids being kids" and behaviors that are intentionally hurtful? How do we prevent bullying from happening? How should we react to it when it does happen? What about cyberbullying? This interactive training seeks to answer all those questions, and more. You'll leave with an in-depth understanding of bullying and the skills you need to create an anti-bullying culture in your unit.
But wait, there’s more! For those leaders who really enjoy getting the most they can out of the Scouting program, the BSA offers a few advanced training courses for adults.
Wood Badge courses aim to make Scouters better leaders by teaching advanced leadership skills, and by creating a bond and commitment to the Scouting movement. Courses typically take about a week, or are held over the course of two weekends, and include both classroom and practical outdoors-based training. This is followed by a Wood Badge ticket, also known as the project phase. By "working the ticket", participants put their newly gained experience into practice to attain ticket goals aiding the Scouting movement.
The Trainer’s EDGE is the BSA’s “train the trainer” program which is required for adults who wish to become trainers for Wood Badge (after having taken the course) or for NYLT (National Youth Leadership Training, discussed on the Youth Training page).
Seabadge is a Sea Scout leader-specific advanced training designed to improve the understanding of leadership, management, and motivation among selected experienced Sea Scout adult volunteer leaders. The training provides management, leadership, and presentation skills and tools to leaders so that they may use them in their day-to-day Sea Scout activities. It consists of a comprehensive weekend of training and instruction followed by a set of goals to be completed by the participant which serve to improve their Sea Scout program at home.
Powder Horn is a course designed to teach older Scouts, Venturers, and adult leaders (both Boy Scout and Venturing) to safely conduct high-adventure activities. The course provides an introduction to the resources needed to successfully lead youth through a program of outdoor adventure and is based upon giving participants an exposure to some high-adventure activities.
For more information on advanced training courses, contact your local council to determine whether any of them are offered in your area.