I got a voice mail and an email from the Scoutmaster of our troop. I thought maybe there was an opening for adult leaders for the Philmont trek. No that was a couple of weeks ago. Maybe they had nominated me for the Silver Buffalo award and he was calling to let me know. Nope, not that either. What he was calling about was- it was time to take another trip down Youth Protection Training lane.
For years we struggled with scheduling YPT classes at the district level. We got help from folks at the council, but there always seemed to be people who could not make the meetings or did not attend. Training proper staff and having them available was also a problem. With the onset of the BSA On-line YPT class, those problems were relieved. Personally, I thought the classes we taught were more complete and more focused, but they took much longer and you could not take one any time you wanted to.
So I logged onto the YPT website and found that you do not have to be a member of the BSA to take the YPT training. In fact some non-Scout programs only accept the BSA YPT class as acceptable adult training. The following is an excerpt from the Longhorn Council Youth Protection Training Guidelines:” In order to meet the requirements of the Texas Youth Camp Law, all adults (18 and older) attending these camps – even if they are substituting for part of a single day - are required to complete the BSA Online YPT course (within 2 years of attending camp) and bring a photocopy of their cards with them to give to the Camp Director.
The BSA Online Youth Protection Training Course is the only BSA course approved by the State of Texas. Camp Directors cannot accept YPT cards from in-person YPT classes.”
There is also no universal guideline for how many adults on an outing need to be “Youth Protection” trained. In many cases there needs to be a minimum of 2 adults and at least one needs to be trained. In some cases the requirement is for all adults to be YPT trained. It is also required that at least on adult be 21 years old or older. In coed environments there must be at least one male and one female leader who is 21 years old or older. At least one leader must be a BSA member.
The primary reason for establishing and following these YPT guidelines is to try and keep our young men safe. It is a different world from the one I grew up in as a Scout. I remember teaching splices for Pioneering merit badge in my staff tent at summer camp. No one thought anything about it. We could easily have done it elsewhere- it was just convenient for everyone. One-on-one training can still occur, it just needs to be done in an open environment.
The second reason to follow the YPT guidelines is to help protect you, the adult leader. By following the 2-deep leadership guidelines you will not get in a position where a boy accuses you of something you did not do. Trying to prove you did not do something is very difficult. In Scouting, if you are accused of improper behavior you are considered “guilty” until you can prove otherwise. You will be out of Scouting until the issue is resolved. Even though you are a volunteer who has offered to help teach, train and instruct our kids, you have to prove your innocence. As an adult, take charge. Follow the guidelines. Do not let yourself get in s situation where the unthinkable can happen.
This YPT stuff might sound overbearing but it is not. It is common sense guidelines established to protect our kids. As I said, my in-tent Pioneering training could just as easily been done in an open environment. Understand the guidelines and adapt. Scouting is still the greatest organization for youth today.