Boy Scout leaders can now get trained anywhere at any time

It’s midnight, you’re in pajamas and you’re sitting on the couch scrolling Facebook on your tablet.

Sounds like the perfect time to get trained.

With the launch of Scouting U’s eLearning content for Boy Scout leaders, Scouters now can get trained on their own schedule — anywhere, any time.

The courses are conveniently organized by role — Scoutmaster, assistant Scoutmaster, Varsity coach, assistant Varsity coach, leader of 11-year-old Scouts, troop/team committee chairman, troop/team committee member and merit badge counselor — meaning you’ll know exactly which training courses you need to be “Trained.”

Modules range from five to 15 minutes in length. They’re designed to be completed at your own pace — all at once or one at a time.

The modules are grouped into three learning plans:

  • Complete before the first meeting
  • Complete within the first 30 days in your volunteer role
  • Complete to become “position trained”

The modules stay put once you’re done, so you can return to review any section at any time.

Ready to get started? Log in to and click on “BSA Learn Center.”

Read on for more details.

What training must I complete to be ‘Trained’?

Want to wear that Trained patch? This chart gives you an overview of the eLearning modules you should complete.

Unit leaders and assistant unit leaders, you’ll need to complete:

  • The required eLearning modules for your role
  • The Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills (IOLS) face-to-face course

Committee chairmen/chairwomen and committee members, you’ll need to complete:

  • The required eLearning modules for your role

Merit badge counselors, you’ll need to complete:

  • The required eLearning modules for your role

What about Youth Protection training?

That’s the one training that every leader in every program must complete. Good news: it’s now mobile-device compatible.

Log in to to get Youth Protection trained today.

How were these eLearning courses created?

A team of Boy Scout program experts and experienced volunteers wanted to provide a high-quality learning experience while creating an additional training option for leaders and volunteers who need to complete their position-specific training requirements for the Boy Scout program.

What if I don’t want to take the training online?

Learners who prefer to complete their courses in a face-to-face classroom environment can find course dates by contacting their local district or council.


  1. Correct me if I am wrong or the training requirements have recently changed, but I believe that the chart referenced in this article is incorrect. This article gives the impression that if SM & SA complete the online training, they are trained. For Scoutmasters (SM) and Assistant Scoutmasters (SA), Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills is a required training course that they must complete in order to wear the “Trained” Patch.

      • Yes in the article it may state that they also have to go to IOLS, but the document referenced is the document that is now posted on the Official BSA Training Website ( Six months from now if someone wants to look up the requirements are they going to go to the official site or search the web for past blogs on the subject?

    • I don’t care how much book training you get . There is NO substitute for getting down in the dirt hands training with other scouters that know how to do it. It is the only way to really learn the material and see how it’s done.

  2. I really, really, wish you would fire your web designers who tell BSA they need to consume screen real-estate on obscenely large graphics and images that have nothing to do with what most scouters are looking for. (E.g., most scouters are not going to be fist-bumping boys on a rock climb.)

    In plain text appearing at the top of page 1, can we PLEASE have a plain text outline:
    – Training
    — By position
    — By program
    — By learning plan
    — By the course number.
    etc …

    A user clicks on those and the outline expands accordingly.
    Or have a big old table that sorts and filters by those categories.

    In other words, start with the guts. Spare us the fluff.

      • I agree with the first poster…there’s too much fluff and it’s hard to get at the meat of the issues. I find the BSA sites flashy, and hard to navigate. I wish they would concentrate on those (I have designed quite a few websites including business and personal ones). They’re leaving it up to the Marketing company they hired and not the real people.

        I also wish National would work with real scouters (instead of Employee Scouters) to come up with some of the stuff. It seems that they aren’t in the real world at times.

        • In our council, more than half of the “employee Scouters” are Eagle Scouts. I guess they aren’t real Scouters.

      • Rick, I like what you wrote. Know why? It wasn’t cluttered with a screen full of pixels that obfuscated what you really wanted of me. 😉

    • I’d like less white border on each side and list of ads and other articles and bigger space for the actual article itself

    • I’ll tell you what — we’ll add that to and link to the training modules. Give us a couple weeks. I’ll try to post back here after that’s complete. Half the point behind is that is organized in a byzantine manner and half the time, even with Google, I can’t find what I’m looking for.

  3. Regarding the new training, I think there is *so* much that can be learned in SMS that you can’t learn online….questions that pop up in your head that you want answers to, spontaneous stories from others about their situations, things that you haven’t thought of that another person has gone through. A face-to-face SMS class is invaluable!

    • Got trained as SM while in pajamas? there is something wrong in this picture.
      It’s like got driver license online, no driving needed. The OLS is designed to let you experience as the boys, how you get trained without patrol method or light a fire? (many trained adults don’t know how to use white gas stove)

    • I don’t know, when I was brand new and went to training I had no idea what questions to ask. After some (hard) experience I went to roundtable and asked those questions. The initial scoutmaster training was like drinking from a firehose. It was good to get exposed to it all so that it could sink in with the repetition at roundtable, but that initial exposure most definitely could have happened in an online course. And when I think of scout leaders who never get trained at all because they can’t take several week nights and and a weekend off (they are already spending time with the scouts on those spare nights and weekends) for training, this sounds like a great solution.

      • Come now, Bryan. All Scouting training must be done over an 8-hour minimum class in knee-high green socks, red wool coats, and campaign hats.

  4. This is not clear.

    Currently, to be on the Committee and Trained, you have to complete Troop Committee Challenge(TCC), an on-line course.

    For Scoutmaster or Assistant Scoutmaster, you have to complete Scoutmaster Specific (SMS) and Introduction to Outdoor Leadership Skills (IOLS), both hands on, and IOLS involving camping overnight.

    Now these courses don’t seem to be in the curriculum leading to the trained patch. Every Scout deserves a trained leader, but these new requirements and offering have now produced confused ones…or am I missing something here.

    To be sure, a committee member can do his job without ever going out doors. But wouldn’t you want a SM or ASM to actually have had some experience outdoors before he takes a bunch of boys into the woods?

    • The chart only gives the eLearning modules needed. Read the paragraph below tat to see that IOLS Is still required and it is only available face-to-face.

      • It is great that Bryan has posted that IOLS is needed also, but that chart is going to get passed around with incomplete information. 🙁

  5. It would be in the best interest of all if BSA made all it’s websites mobile friendly. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) should be available for all.

  6. I think most of the readers missed the part where IOLS is still a face-to-face training. Can not do what that course teaches online.

    • Absolutely agree that everything should be mobile friendly. The only Internet we have is what we get on our phones. It is such a hassle to do anything boyscouts related online. The long drive into town, unreliable/slow free WiFi. Very frustrating!

    • See it in Bryan’s post. But the document that will be passed around and used more than Bryan’s post, and can be seen as THE OFFICIAL DOCUMENT by any guardhouse lawyers out there, does not state IOLS is needed to be trained. As a commissioner and former training chair, that’s a problem.

  7. Several folks have mentioned that SMS face to face is a valuable experience, well worth your time. As an trainer. I agree. As a Scoutmaster, I know that the questions and answers in the class are always helpful. (There are NO stupid questions… 🙂 ) As a District Training Chair, I want you to get the training however you can, and if you can only do it on line, well okay then.

    I like some fluff, but I think the training can be more user friendly.

    Byran did list near the end of the article what you needed to complete to be considered position trained. For SM/ASM you still need IOLS, and either the online or classroom SMS.

    My two cents. I do not want to do away with classroom training, but when I schedule a training, publish it for weeks on end,, assemble a team and only have 3 people show for Job Specific (any flavor) it gets extremely old…

    • I agree…it is frustrating when there are more trainers in the room than participants! Face to face is very valuable for the networking it provides, but I understand those that would rather get their training at midnight cause that is when they have the time.

      • Andrea, I second your comments, especially the final clause!

        Since the introduction of the on-line Cub Scout Training (Classroom format), this HAS NOT INCREASED the percentage nor the number of TRAINED Cub Scout Leaders PERIOD.

        To add any other such Leader Training to the on-line format is an injustice to both the Trainer and learner.

        I do not have the answer why leaders do not avail themselves of these opportunities, under both format. I have noticed in recent years the average Leader DOES NOT CARE about training, except for the mandatory YPT.

        Too many Councils are too afraid to drop direct contact leaders who fail to complete their prescribed Position specific training for the loss of leaders, potential Units, and the income generated therein.

        As a District/Council Trainer, I see the “trained Untrained:” Stats each month. My District Training Chair and I are both baffled why leaders will not attend training, take advantage of training offered elsewhere in our Council or even neighboring councils.

  8. They need to put a note on the chart that tells people that IOLS face to face is still required. I can already see the arguments were going to have telling people they’re not trained. The chart says *In addition to the learning plans above, Youth Protection training is required for all BSA registered volunteers.- why cant it also point out that IOLS Face to Face is required for Position Trained as well. Thanks!

  9. What? No virtual IOLS? Wiki Knife and Axe? Virtual Fire safety? Animal and plant ID without the threat of Poison Ivy? And I thought the BSA was in the 21st century….

    Just kidding. I have been of the opinion that the BSA had been trying to “dumb down” the face to face classes. Am I wrong? Is it good to have the facts and “bear necessities” on line, but the real meat in person?
    The newbie nascent SM and ASM needs the old timers’ attitude and comraderie. one NEEDS the in person training. Virtual coffee and donuts just ain’t the same as the real thing.

  10. Although the world is moving to the internet, there are things that do not translate well. A person at work learns from the internet because he has to to maintain his skills and his job to feed his family. A volunteer will not get .fired if they do not do the training. (motivation) and if they run the video without being engaged they will not get much out of it. I firmly believe that the early cub training programs need to be in a classroom setting. Engagement, meeting others in the same job, sharing and the knowledge that there is a district leadership and programming that needs the help in putting on the programs. The lack of personal engagement due to the internet has exacerbated the problem of leadership beyond the unit level.

    • Well said Mark! I did Cub leader training long ago(pre-internet) and had large crowds because I Keep it Simple & Made it Fun. “KISMIF”

  11. I think there are at least two flaws in the concept of on line training.

    First, there is no face to face contact. Ther is no way for the trainee to ask questions on subjects that may or may not have a direct bearing on the material presented there is no way to expand a subject to cover issues not directely presented in the presentation. It is all well and good to tell the trainee the scope of the position and the inherent duties, but there is no way to personalize the training to the audience and the concerns and experience level of all the viewer of the training. training is a hand crafted product and and not one size fits all. There is more to training than merely viewing a slide presentation and listing to a few general remarks. All the “juice” has been squeezed out of the training!

    Second, there is a problem in getting untrained leaders to actually take the on-line training! As an example since the introduction of the on-line YPT course, the percentage of Leaders with a current YPT has dropped. The same has happened to many of the position training programs. Where there were at least 80% of a units leadership were fully trained ( expected because of new leaders in the unit) now it is around 60%.

    As a unit commissioner, I hear the excuse that they just don’t have time to sit at their computer or I will get to it next week. This happens time after time. Our district used to have “contact teams” that would go to units on a meeting night or other agreeable time and train untrained leaders. We also had district training offered twice a year on a Saturday and twice a year on two week nights to insure all leaders could arrange to attend training. With the advent of on-line training these have gone away. Threatening units that they will not be allowed to recharter is an empty threat, no council can tolerate the loss in unit numbers.

    Please excuse the the length of this “rant” but these issues really need to be considered.

    • Do you seriously think these issues have not been considered? Why do you think posting an issue about your district in this space is going to help? Talk to your district key 3.

  12. Finally! Thank you for putting this online! Yeah, yeah, it’s not Ideal or Perfect, but it’s way better than no training at all.

  13. As a cub scout leader, I have done both face to face and e-learning. If you are just going through the motions, neither will truly engage you. For me, unless it is truly hands on, BALOO OR OWLS, it goes in and just sits in the brain until 3 years later a situation comes up and you can apply it. It will be there in the brain no matter which way I study. For me again, active in both a pack and a Troop, finding that Sat free for training is difficult. The course may be in the works for months but our troop camping plans are pretty much finalized when we do are yearly planning meeting in May. If the district announces training in Nov for March and it clashes with camping, I go camping.. Sorry for my rant but e-learning fits better fir me. By the way, I am 60, not a fresh collage grad.

  14. So, this Blog, and in the Learn Center, implies that Varsity Leaders and Committee members should take the Boy Scout training- Scoutmaster or Troop Committee Training, respectively. This doesn’t seem to match the requirements posted on the site, and doesn’t seem to make sense. While there are many common elements between Boy Scout Troops and Varsity Teams, there are many differences- because they are different programs! Does doing Boy Scout Leader Training now equate to Varsity Training? What covers the differences between the programs? Or is that in the modules, and I just haven’t gotten far enough into them to get to that part?

  15. I’ve hear that with any on-line training if new modules are added a person appears as “not trained”. So if I do all modules in each of the lesson plans and print my certificate today (and my training record shows I’m trained), and the BSA decides to add another module in some lesson plan at some time then my training records show I am not trained because I haven’t completed this new module….. Please clear this up for me.

    Also when will the “new” BALOO be released? I understand there is an on-line part and then a practical part.

  16. Since training modules became available on line, I’ve taken YPT and Venturing YPT a couple of times…until last year, when for unexplained reasons I was not allowed to log on. Now that my local council has determined that National’s standard of every two years is not good enough, it appears that I will have to travel to a council office annually to renew my Venturing YPT. Related to this, I was on the committee of a Scout troop where the SM’s total “training” was vía internet–including IOLS(?)–he was a disaster: Quote, “This is going to be a boy-run troop, and they will run it as I tell them.”

  17. I like both online and face to face based training. A lot of those who are coming into the Adult positions are millennials and are more accustomed to ONLINE based everything. In order to get those who are signing up for positions, this is only natural and needed.

    If the online training gets that person “trained” they will know more and have more questions. Which leads to getting to know the program a lot better. The IOLS in-person and in-tents training will provide the face to face training and networking that they need.

    As to Varsity Training, from what I understand that is still an in-person based training.

  18. When is this “team of Boy Scout program experts and experienced volunteers” going to start looking at modern methods of web design? The site is still not mobile ready. The training modules still use flash technology which has been all but shunned from the web for newer more friendly HTML standards. The site itself is built on something that loads slow and in many opinions is bloatware. Get it together BSA.

  19. I just wish that face to face trainings wouldn’t cost so much to attend. Why are volunteers being nickled and dimed to have the privilege of leading? I like to go to Scouting University and such, and thankfully our Pack will pay for leaders to go, but our troop has never offered to pay for leader training, and I’m sure that there is not always the funds for all to do so.

    • Like above training organizer mentioned, to plan SMS or IOLS course takes quite an effort ( volunteers’ time) — and it did cost money, the place rent, the material…. The course fee is well worth for what participant get in return.

      It’s also good idea and common practice unit committee reimburse for adult “got trained”.

  20. Let me add another stick to the smoldering fire…

    a. at one time in the not-to-distant past, All Troop Leaders took the same Training course which included a classroom and OUTDOORS portions. This way, SM’s and MC’s got the same message on how the Troop was organized, youth led, Outdoor program, etc.

    Somewhere in the past 30 years, we have arrived to the separated, diluted training syllabi which confuses even the most seasoned leader.

    I strongly encourage all Troop Leaders to take ALL AVAILABLE training, especially Intro to Outdoor Leader Skills so the average Committee member understands what the Scout experiences..

    b. the bigger question is: how to get ALL Leaders to attend/complete Basic Leader training prescribed for their REGISTERED Position? I am baffled here

    c. As for the new Cub Scout Training, no comment here..

    d. IOLS & BALOO are not the same course. If anything, each Outdoor Course addresses as specific age group and the age-appropriate activities therein.

    IMMHO – the current IOLS has removed the importance or role play for the participants working as a PATROL, not a loosely assembled mass of Leaders. (That was a big branch
    added to the fire…)…

    The Bottom line is: how to get Leader to ATTEND and PARTICIPATE in training whenever and wherever it is offered??

    • Calvin, Bryan’s April 1st post would be : Youth Protection training NO LONGER REQUIRED… That’s stirring the pot and smoldering fire….

  21. Just finished staffing the classroom session of training for unit leaders and assistants, including two young men who aged out of my Troop. I haven’t had the chance to talk with them about their experiences. One of these is involved in anime, his girl friend is a committee chair for the next convention, and he still showed up. Outdoor session is the first weekend in May.

    Many questions and answers that would have been impossible on-line.

  22. The website has crazily variable load times. I have three Chrome profiles on my computer here and it loaded in one in a few seconds, one took a full minute to load, and the other is still loading. No, this isn’t a problem with being on the same computer — cookies, etc., are all segregated with different profiles. It’s like running in incognito mode or deleting the browser and reinstalling.

  23. I personally love the online modules for the stuff that can be done online the SM training i recently took most of it could have been done in half the time online. The outdoor stuff yes must really do, but the paperwork modules in the class especially the half hour we spent on blue cards (I am a merit badge counselor) was a waste of my time. get trained go to round tables and share experiences ideas.

    web based training is better than no training.

  24. If every Scout deserves a trained leader, why aren’t Patrol Leader and Senior Patrol Leader training classes offered online?

  25. In terms of outdoor training and recognition, there’s this really great tool called trail to First Class. We would do well to require every adult leader who had not done so as a youth to earn it by demonstrating their skills to a seasoned ASM or JASM in their troop (or, if they are leading a pack or very young troop, earn it from youth in another troop).

    It’s fine if they never get an oval patch for it, but it seems to me that everyone would enjoy the program so much more if the boys saw their adults making an effort to get trained. Then, the in-person training could be more “meaty”, covering things of more advanced interest to folks throughout the district.

    Every scout deserves a 1st Class adult.

    • When IOLS allowed a “challenge” or “test out” for those with the outdoors skills and know how already, usually those adults with a Scouting background as a youth, we called it “Are You Smarter Than A First Class Scout” and had some fun with it. Only a handful of Scouters took it, mostly those who aged out of the program.

    • Tim, Thank you for posting this updated file link.

      However, I strongly suggest BALOO be added to the Cub Scout Leader positions: CM, CA, DL, DA, WL, WA etc) under the column (Other Requirements” with the new emphasis on the Cub Scout Outdoor program.

      Whenever the newly, updated BALOO & OWLS syllabi is released, this will complete the entire package.

  26. How will the scoutmaster online training show up on our full training record is my main question. The courses from the online University do not seem to populate on training validation so how can council or a unit trainer look at the full record of what someone has completed with this new training format especially when some councils want things done a certain way. Will the certificates be our only proof we’ve done something.

    I also wish the iols face to face training was highlighted more than it was to insure everyone understood you had to do that in face to face setting.

  27. A few of comments on the training.
    1. At the end of each session the trainee is left hanging, need a link that sends them back to the starting spot for the next session, or to the I want to rest and pick up later spot. If its there I did not see/understand/ etc.
    2. I for one would like a link that places the training on Full Screen, this without cutting off part of screen. (Goes for all of the training course.)
    3. Does not always register the completion of a session.
    4. Agree with the comments on Position Trained, and the ambiguous reference to Introduction to Outdoor Leader skills (IOLS). This needs immediate fixing. Lets not leave new Scouters with misconceptions, What we see is what we believe to be true.
    nuff said?
    Dale B

  28. Agree with a number of the comments – It should be pointed out clearly that IOLS and SMS is needed face-to-face. Also, the website is user surly 9that is NOT user friendly) in that you have to guess how to get back to the next mini-course.

    From an analysis of the required courses, SM/ASM training and CC/CM training are except for 1 course, the same curriculum, albeit in a slightly different order and levels. The differences are SM/ASM training has SCO_418 – OUTDOOR ETHICS FOR BOY SCOUTING and CC/CM training has SCO_530 – JOURNEY TO EXCELLENCE.

    Additionally, there are typos is some of the courses (one where a note to insert text wasn’t completely replaced), the ones where you have to place steps in order are not predictable when you try to move one wrongly placed, and the one where you have to connect positions to functions very tempermental when you get it wrong. My browser [firefox] went down and when I came back it, it gave me a 38% on the questions I didn’t have a chance to take, and though it said “completed”, it would only give me an 80% on that section of courses (committee – first 30 days). I had to retake the course, fast forwarding to get to the test, before I could get 100%.

    If this was contracted out, then I think you need some warranty work. If they “did their best”, then they need to do better.

    Not trying to be negative – but if I try to sell these courses to adults in our troop, I would not like them to be frustrated. I say this in the spirit of wanting ALL of our leaders to be trained as much as possible.

    While you are at it Bryan, can you have an article on the importance of all the outdoor leaders, as well as the committee taking the Safety courses. While they are basically common sense, common sense ain’t so common anymore!

  29. What about Troop Committee Challenge? This was the required training for the Troop Committee members. Like IOLS and SMS to complete training for SM/ASM, is this still training to be considered trained for Troop Committee. And while we can see that we’ve completed 100% of the training ( I took all 20 courses this weekend so that I could feel ready to comment), how is this communicated in a simple way to the Troop Training chair? Will all of this ScoutingU training be required for us to assert our leaders are trained on JTE.

    I feel that the courses are great, although somewhat repetitive. As I said in a previous comment, it is interesting that the SM and CM courses are the same except for one course. And I think that you, based on one of my earlier comments, as well as other comments, really need the IOLS course requirement highlighted.

    Good job, Bryan, in getting this info out to everyone. We appreciate all of your hard and dedicated work.

    These comments are not directed against you – they are indicating that the powers that be at National need to think through some of the possible unintended consequences of their decisions better – and not only in advancement and training policy, but overall.

    • You do realize the “powers that be” at national rely on volunteer committees, just like at every level of Scouting, for most of their input and ideas?

  30. Technical question here – My council has a combined, in-person course extending over two weekends that covers the former Scoutmaster/Assistant Scoutmaster Leader Specific course, as well as the Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills course. We report the two course numbers on an official training form so that the participants get the credit. For the next course, we’ll adjust our course to cover the revised content in these learning modules, but what number should we use for the “live” Scoutmaster Indoors training?

  31. Personally, as an Eagle Scout, I wished that there was a way to bypass the IOLS & BALOO outdoor training courses. Other than interacting with other leaders, I found it to be redundant and a waste of time.

    When I’m already dedicating “1 night a week” and AT LEAST one weekend a month, neither I nor my family appreciated having to spend more time away for a patch.

    • And, here, finally… we hear the voice of an actual next generation of volunteer for which the training is offered online.

      This is the real world, folks. You don’t have to like it, but quit blaming BSA for it. I think BSA could cure cancer tomorrow and you’d write three paragraphs in response complaining why they didn’t also colonize Mars.

  32. I think the on-line training is good for busy people. We can’t get most to in-person training for things like Safety Afloat, etc., so having this option makes sense. I don’t have a major problem with leader-specific training being offered this way (with the need to do the outdoor element as a hands-on experience). I say this because the last SM training I sat in on as an observer was a disaster. The trainer would get to a topic and say, “Well, we really don’t need to cover this,” or “We don’t do this in my Troop.” I had to repeatedly gently interject about why that training element is important. Thus, the on-line portion would at least be consistent.

  33. How does one teach the Troop Committee Challenge training to those Scouters that do not have a computer nor internet access? We still have some Scouter that need the classroom version of the committee training for Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts are the only one that does not currently have a classroom version even though they the classroom was just released just last year.

  34. Just tried to do a course through the app for iPad. The course failed to come up, throwing multiple errors.
    Simple html, or nothing.

  35. I think the online YPT is good training.

    But the new online Merit Badge Counselor Training is horrible. Takes FOREVER to download, and a lot of it is very boring for anybody who’s done anything in Boy Scouts. I’m the prime advocate for recruiting and organizing MBCs in our District and I don’t recommend it to anybody. We’ll keep doing classroom training until BSA replaces the current online training with sonething worthwhile.

  36. I am excited about the online training. My schedule does not allow me to make most training events but I would love to get the training. Some of us have to work 10-12 hr days.

  37. Leaders don’t get trained because there is no positive incentive to get trained, except a dinky little patch. It isn’t just about convenience. Scouting offers a fun, exciting culture of camaraderie, physical skills, and service _for adults_ who tap into it. Face to face training, especially outdoor training, is a powerful entry point into the Scouting culture. But until it is sold to adults as fun and _personally rewarding_ for them, attendance will continue to be anemic. Online training does not provide that same entry into Scouting’s larger world for adults.

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