In order for the Scouting program to grow and fulfill it mission- “…preparing [Scouts] to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes…”- the program needs dedicated volunteers. These volunteers serve as leaders, mentors, teachers and role models. They work closely with our youth on all levels. It is our responsibility to make sure that these adults meet the high standards we ask our Scouts to strive to attain.
When I grew up as a Scout there was no “two deep leadership,” much of the instruction was one on one. I remember spending a lot of time at camp in the tent of my pioneering merit badge counselor learning how to splice a rope. For the handicraft merit badges much of the time was spent in the counselors shop learning to make a metal pitcher or to tool a belt. We didn’t have merit badge colleges or troop merit badge classes. Lots of us found counselors and earned merit badges on our own. Maybe the times have changed.
There is a new Adult Application form that has recently been published and is now available in your Scout offices and Scout stores. On the front page a highlighted block in red upper case characters states that as part of the application an adult is giving authorization for a criminal background check. Inside the application is the background check authorization form that must be signed and submitted with the adult application. The application is then reviewed and approved by the unit committee chairman, the Charter Organization Representative and the council executive.
Once approved as an adult leader each person needs to attend or take an online Youth Protection training class that is structured for the program in which the adult is involved. Youth issues for Cubs are different for those of Scouts. Venture crews offer the problems of older teenagers and co-ed crews. Starting January 1, 2009 BSA is requiring the Youth Protection course be retaken every two years.
Why does Scouting go to all this trouble? Protection of youth is paramount to the organization. We used to talk about Scouting providing a “safe haven.” But it became clear that there is no reference method or background check that is perfect. So the checks are made and policies such as “two deep leadership,” the buddy system, no one-on-one contact, etc. have been put in place.
Scouting offers a unique opportunity to learn how to lead, to learn to accept responsibility, to learn to gain self-confidence and to learn the meaning of service all while having a good time. It is imperative that we keep this learning environment safe.