I've been offering Red Cross CPR and First Aid training to scout groups for the past four years. I figured it would be a good way to improve my skills and knowledge, make outings safer, and save the units some money since other people were charging a lot
for the training.
The Wilderness First Aid Basics training has gradually gotten more 'popular' as the BSA has increased the requirements for it - both Philmont and Northern Tier now require a trained person in each crew. I expect Sea Base add the requirement for 2011 and The Summit will have the requirement. Even if the training is not required
, having trained or experienced people on your crews and campouts should be a goal in your unit. The cost of training is a poor excuse for taking youth into remote environments without sufficient safety coverage for the most likely problems.
The BSA and ARC (American Red Cross) have teamed up to create a new course - Read Here
- to replace WFAB. It's called Wilderness and Remote First Aid and looks like it will be fun and challenging.
This past weekend, I presented Wilderness First Aid for the 3rd time this year and will do it again in May and June. Every session has been packed full with a waitlist, usually 6 weeks before the session date. I figure it's mostly because I charge about half as much as others since it's not my 'real job'.
If you have a high adventure coming up this summer, it may be too late to get your required training. So, find out FAST what is required and how you can get it.
If you have a 2011 high adventure, it's not too early to start figuring out your training needs.
And, don't forget the Youth Protection, Safe Swim Defense, Safety Afloat, Climb On Safely, Trek Safely, and Hazardous Weather training which you should require all adults (and why not scouts?) to complete online through OLC.Scouting.org
before going camping.
Then, on Supplemental Training
page, there's about two dozen bits of BSA training that you might find useful.
It shouldn't be too hard to find a Scoutmaster Minute in this story from Idaho. I lived on the Salmon River for a few years as a little kid and this kind of spirit of taking care of yourself and not expecting a handout is what every scout, pioneer, explorer, and adventurer needs to survive.Death of Dugout Dick
newspaper article.YouTube of Dugout Dick
Besides, he looks a lot like most of us old guys after a week of summer camp. :-)
Since 2002, our troop has been gradually growing - from around 20 to 55 scouts. Throughout each year, some drop along the way, some age out, and then each spring we get an influx of new scouts. Pretty typical.
This year, 30 Webelos chose to join the troop - about double the average for the past few years. This has popped us up to 84 scouts.
Fortunately, I've been pushing to move from our cramped meeting area for awhile and we just got that to happen on March 1st. Now, we're overflowing this new, larger area already. :-)
Logistically, adding the new guys has gone very well:
- We have 3 new patrols - fortunately the dividing of new scouts worked out great. They came from 5 Packs.
- We have 3 Troop Guides - and these three are doing an amazing job!
- We have a 2nd Asst. SPL for the first time - just for the Troop Guides and NSPs.
- The Quartermaster created 3 new patrol boxes and got 9 tents assigned.
- I've done 26 scoutmaster conferences for Scout badges - just a couple hold-outs.
But, my feeling is that a troop over 40 or 50 is less healthy and should become two troops:
- The scoutmaster has less time per scout.
- The mob mentality pervades with anonymity allowing for more mischief and less participation.
- The SPL is required to devote more time than is healthy to his duties, negatively impacting school and other commitments.
- Too much structure and control is required to move the entire group along - much like turning a battleship versus a jet ski.
- Simple transportation and parking becomes a big deal.
Just this weekend, a patrol organized a "Bike Rally" campout for the troop. We had over 40 bikes congesting the 20 miles of trail at a local park. They did a great job of having patrols spaced 5 minutes apart so we weren't a huge mass, but I'm sure we disrupted the morning of quite a few people on the trail - much more than 20 bikes would have don.
I realize there are some very large troops that operate in a way that works for them. There are two troops using Troop Kit
that have over 100 scouts. I would love to visit them and see how they have scouts manage the troop.
In my case, I believe a smaller group offers more opportunity to the scouts and allows them a better chance at ongoing success with less stress and frustration. By this time next year I expect to have a plan to divide the troop into two units. Since we have age-based patrols and multiple patrols at most age levels, the actual division is pretty easy. Getting families and the troop committee to support the change will be the challenge. It may be that someone else will be comfortable supporting a group this large and will take over the scoutmaster position. We'll see.
Until then, we've got an exciting summer of hiking, backpacking, sailing, and camping starting up and 50 scouts going to summer camp. It's an exciting time!
I hit the ground running when we returned from spring break in Switzerland and haven't put any time into posting here.
(this is us by Lausanne, Switzerland with France on the far side of Lake Geneva)
But, there's lots to share:
- massive new group of scouts
- great campout
- OA ceremonies
- more Eagle scout projects and ceremonies
- training, training, training
- more merit badges
- sumemr camp prep
I'll get to those over the next few days. :-) But, right now, I have to get the YAMF (Yet Another Medical Form) onto the troop website. Yep, there's a new BSA medical form
- a great, fill-in-able PDF file that was created by the National BSA for consistency and simplicity. You can save your info and just update it next year. What a great idea! See FAQ page
for reasoning to make this new form - first one is to stop the confusion over the 20 plus different med forms being used across the country.
But, for some reason, our council has decided that official, national BSA form is not what they need so they've created YAMF
just for our council.
How's that for some complicated simplification?