Scouts Canada emphasises the importance of training for its Scouters. This is done ``in the belief that training can help [Scouters] develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills required to be effective in their work in the organisation'' (Scouts Canada 2000a:69). Participation in training should mean that Scouters have a higher level of knowledge about Scouting and this should lead to higher levels of retention. There are two levels of basic Scouter training: Woodbadge Part I and Woodbadge Part II. There are also various skills courses and courses for trainers. This study limited itself to examining Woodbadge courses.
In the questionnaire, Scouters were asked, ``What are the elements or parts of the Scout Method, also called Scout Practices?''. Of the 30 Scouters who completed questionnaires, 19 left this spot blank or wrote that they didn't know. Four wrote something that was completely wrong. Six wrote something that included a reference of some sort to at least one of the elements of the Scout Method. One wrote a nearly complete list of the elements, but wrote that they had looked them up. In essence, none of the Scouters had formal knowledge of the Scout Method, despite the fact that it is the fundamental tool box of the Scout program. Given that only five of these Scouts had no training, it seems that training has failed to teach formal knowledge of the Scout Method. This does not in itself mean that training has not been a benefit for these Scouters, but it does suggest an avenue for improvement of training courses. I recall from my own Woodbadge training that the Scout Method was mentioned briefly at the beginning of the course and not touched again. Training could be designed such that the Scout Method is mentioned throughout the course. The training would then allow Scouters to come to a good understanding of how the Method is most effectively used.
Having said that, does training lead to better retention? Troops were grouped by what level of training had been achieved by the Scouter with the most training in a given troop. In two troops, no Scouters had any training. In 10 troops, Scouters had no more than Woodbadge Part I. In the remaining four, at least one Scouter had Woodbadge Part II. The average rate of retention in the groups shows no significant pattern (see Table 3.15). Indeed, inexplicably, the two troops with no training had perfect retention. This result suggests that training may fail to increase retention, though a significant pattern may emerge in a larger sample.
In Scouting, there is a certain amount of reverence accorded to older, more experienced Scouters. Do more experienced Scouters tend to run programs which have higher rates of retention? The number of years experience of the most experienced Scouter in each troop in the sample was compared with its rate of retention. The relationship is laid out in Table 3.16. The only clear pattern is the happy face in the upper-left corner of the graph. These results lend no support to the hypothesis that experience leads to better retention. I suppose that experience can lead one to have refined one's program, leading to greater retention. Experience can also lead to one become entrenched running a program in a way that results in low levels of retention. It is important to note that in no troop was the greatest amount of Scouter experience less than three years. Experience may make a difference at very low levels of experience, but is then overtaken by other factors.