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Boy Scout's Launch Disc Golf Training Module

Disc Golf in Support of Scouting:  Boy Scout Training Module - By Steve West, PDGA Youth Committee Chairman

The Boy Scouts now have a training module called "Disc Golf in Support of Scouting".  You can download it here:  If you want to teach disc golf to Scouting volunteers, this module will show you how to do it the Boy Scout way.

Don't wait until spring.  Scouts plan things months in advance.  If you volunteer now, you might be scheduled to actually do the training in three to nine months.  That will give you plenty of time to rehearse.

So, why do the Boy Scouts have training for disc golf?  Here's how it came about.

There was another training module called "Geocaching to Promote Scouting".  I thought disc golf was at least as relevant and set out to find out if a disc golf module was a possibility.  I found out that these training modules were the brainchild of Neil Lupton.  He ran week-long sessions at Philmont Training Center in New Mexico.  During these sessions the participants would collaborate to develop a training module.

I got myself invited and attended in June 2007.  The first challenge was to convince Neil and at least one other attendee that disc golf would be a good subject.  Fortunately, Ida Lively “ an attendee who had barely heard of disc golf “ could immediately see the appeal it would have for the boys.  When she volunteered to adopt the subject, we were cleared to develop it.

After learning what makes for a good training module ("takes less than an hour" is #1), we started working on it.  The module is targeted to anyone who volunteers with Scouts of any age.  The goal is to remove any barriers to getting Scouts out to the course.  The training covers how to play and teach disc golf, safety advice, how disc golf ties in to Scouting's mission, and some advice for those Eagle candidates who want to install a course.

The part that was most fun was taking the pictures.  Philmont Scout Ranch has had a disc golf course for years.  They told us it was too early in the spring to worry about rattlesnakes, so we found a camera, pulled some photogenic rangers out of kitchen duty, stopped by the trading post to pick up some discs, and everybody marched over to the course to pose for pictures on the first hole. 

After the photo session, we sorted pictures, edited text, and rearranged slides.  We had an indoor room to work in during the day, but at night we were cutting and pasting in our unheated canvas tents.  There is something incongruous about collaborating over a high-speed wireless connection while sitting on cots in WWII-era tents.

By the end of the week we had a nearly-complete training module with illustrated PowerPoint slides and everything.  We even did a live run-through to test it.  With just a few finishing touches and a review by the BSA, it could be uploaded.  Or so we thought.

Those "few finishing touches" took the rest of the year.  Along the way, I got even more help. 

Several members of the PDGA and the Disc Golf Course Designers Group reviewed and added to the training module.  Thanks to all of you.  The most noticeable improvement to the training module came out of the review by Suzette Simons.  She went over it with a fine-toothed comb and offered comments on every level “ from deleting an entire unneeded theme to pointing out little typos.

The "how to throw" pictures were taken at Tomahawk Scout Reservation while I was directing the installation of a disc golf course.  The staff was excited about it and volunteers were coming from all over camp to help.  They were more than willing to pose for pictures for the training module. 

I submitted the module to the BSA headquarters around the end of 2007.  They kept telling me "make it shorter".  It pained me to delete each perfect picture and essential phrase.  The most difficult change was taking out almost everything about how to design a course (except "Get a Designer!")  With each cut the training module actually became better. 

Apparently, it is short enough, because it is up on the BSA National Council website.  Look in the Boy Scouts section, under Supplemental Training.

By the way, this training module has no connection to the proposal for a Disc Sports merit badge.  Different people are in charge.  However, they may take notice if the disc golf training module becomes a very popular download.

So, what can you do with it?  First, go to

and download it “ either the PDF or the PPT file.  You'll see the training module has step-by-step instructions for teaching how to use disc golf in Scouting.  You can do the training indoors or at the course. 

If you are a Scout volunteer, find a place to give the training.  District Roundtables are the best bet.  Contact the Roundtable Commissioner.  Your Council probably offers a full-day training event (called Pow Wow or University of Scouting or some clever name).  These events are always looking for new subjects to get people to come back again.  Are you going to Scout camp this summer?  Arrange to give the training while the scouts are off earning merit badges.

If you aren't in Scouting and want to teach adult volunteers about disc golf, find your local council here:  Send an email to somebody with "Training" in their title (or the Scout Executive).  Tell them you are a disc golf expert who is willing to present this new training module to the adult volunteers. (If you know how to use a mini-marker disc, you're expert enough.)  They'll find ways to get you together with volunteers eager to learn about disc golf.  Contact them now, so they can fit you into their plans.