If you had a magic wand, would you use it to make the Scouting program better and more fun for youth so they stayed in Scouting longer, so it had a larger impact on their lives? What if the same magic wand made leadership roles easier, more rewarding, and led to better retention among adult Scouters? Would using that magic wand be a top priority?

Well, such a magic wand does exist—in the form of the training programs for Scouts and Scouters.

Common sense tells us that training is important, and research shows the importance of trained leaders, both youth and adult. Trained leaders are knowledgeable and more confident in their roles. They positively impact the quality of programs, youth tenure, adult tenure, safety, and a whole lot more. Trained youth and adults are better prepared to make the Scouting program all it can be!

Step 1: Complete Youth Protection Training for adults

Youth Protection is so important to the Boy Scouts of America that an adult must complete the training before their application to join will be processed. Fortunately, YPT is offered online and takes around an hour to complete. Find out more about Youth Protection Training here.

Step 2: Complete basic and online training

Every new Scout and Scouter should complete the basic training courses which will introduce them to the Scouting program. Some of this will likely happen at a pack/troop/crew orientation meeting, but older youth (experienced Scouts BSA and Venturers) and adults should look into taking some of the BSA’s online courses as well. Safe Swim Defense, Safety Afloat, and Hazardous Weather Training are all highly recommended. Find out more about these trainings here.

Step 3: Complete position-specific training

Once Scouts and Scouters are familiar with the basics, it’s time to learn more details through position-specific training. Scouts BSA and Venturers both have unit-level leadership courses called Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops (ILST) or Crews (ILSC), which troops and crews should hold right after each new set of youth troop/crew officers is elected. Adults should take trainings such as Scoutmaster Specific Training, Crew Advisor Specific Training, Introduction to Outdoor Leadership Skills (IOLS), Pack/Troop/Crew Committee Challenge, etc.  Find out more about these trainings here.

Step 4: Complete advanced training

When Scouts and Scouters are ready to dive into more advanced leadership and team development, numerous training programs exist. For older Scouts BSA and Venturers, the council’s National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the inner workings of a troop or crew and acquire an extended leadership toolkit. Wood Badge is like NYLT for adults—both use the same terminology—but Wood Badge also helps adult Scouters grasp how the council works and positions them to help their youth leaders take ownership of their units.

University of Scouting is another opportunity for youth and adults to extend their knowledge of Scouting and learn about extra elements that can greatly enhance a unit’s program. For further training, National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience, the Philmont Training Center, and the Summit’s training center are all excellent places to gain further knowledge and insight into leadership and team development.