We interrupt the summer camp discussion to talk a bit about the new Cub program, Fast Tracks, that goes into effect nationally this fall, and specifically to talk about the training that leaders can expect to receive.
The program works, simply put. At last week’s Roundtable I had a chance to talk with several den leaders who have been using the program for a couple years now (we were one of the test Councils). They said it made leading a den a lot easier because everything is laid out – more so than Program Helps – and the boys did advance, both sooner and at a higher rate. (When I was a Den Leader many years ago, it was frustrating to see boys unable to advance because they hadn’t completed the required achievements.)
The revised Cub position-specific training syllabus has just been released by National. It’s a bit more compact than the current syllabus which was only released two years ago after many delays. It’s just as full of information, though. The course is still organized into three parts: Introduction to Cub Scouting, which covers the nuts & bolts; How We Have Fun, which is really about program planning, funding, the outdoor program, and youth protection; and the position-specific breakouts. All three Den Leader breakouts, Tiger Cub, Wolf/Bear, and Webelos, are now lumped into one session, starting with a segment with the things common to all den functions, then going into each one in detail for that position. It’s structured so the three specific den segments can be presented serially by one discussion leader, or separately, as needed by the group (and as dictated by available trainers).
Dropping the videos in the last revision proved to be a good thing (though it was a nice break for the trainers), relying instead on training staffers relating their own experience along with the syllabus points. A slide presentation accompanies the material, outlining key points that the trainers expand upon as the session progresses. (Unlike the multi-format DVD accompanying the 2008 version, the disc provided with the new syllabus is a CD-ROM with the presentations only available as Microsoft Powerpoint files. A program such as the free OpenOffice.org office suite will read the files, and can save them as a much more compact PDF, so you don’t need to have a Powerpoint-capable display program available.)
One of the major differences we have had with National over the syllabus is the time alloted for the course. The first two segments are supposed to be presented in 90 minutes, but we rarely finish in under two hours, not so much because the trainers go off on tangents (which does happen) but because they are passing along valuable information from personal experience and answering questions along the way. As a result, we usually allocate three and a half to four hours for the course which is supposed to take three, and frequently have to gloss over some topics in order to get the trainees out in a reasonable time. Of course, we never refuse to stick around afterwards and answer any questions the students have.
While it’s not a major shift in training, it is different enough that if a leader hasn’t taken Cub leader specific training since 2008, it would be a good idea to return for a refresher, particularly on the new Fast Tracks program. Even the Webelos den program changes a bit to follow the new Webelos Leader Guide, so Webelos leaders should definitely attend. Remember, starting next year, all Cubmasters must be Trained in order to recharter in 2012, and all direct leaders (Den Leaders and assistants, and assistant Cubmasters) must be Trained the following year. (Some councils, including ours, are a year ahead of that schedule.) Now would be a great time to make sure all your leaders are trained!