Minimum training for overnight campouts? Wrong question.

What would you do if a Scout came to you and asked this: What’s the minimum amount of work required to become an Eagle Scout?

You’d probably tell him he’s asking the wrong question. You’d sit him down and explain that he should strive to go beyond the 21 merit badges and other “minimum” requirements to get the most out of Scouting. He’ll be better off for it.

That concept came to mind when I received the following email from an active Scouter in New York. We’ll call him Commissioner Bob. Bob was at a district unit commissioner’s meeting when the subject of campouts and training came up.

Bob writes:

What is the minimum training and criteria required for adult leadership on a Boy Scout overnight campout?

We all agreed that there would need to be at least two “adults” (two-deep leadership), with one adult leader (man or woman) who would need to be 21 years of age or older and the other adult would need to be at least 18 years of age.

Our questions and discussion revolved around the following:

  1. Do both adults need to be registered with BSA (not necessarily with the unit)?
  2. Obviously registered adults need to have completed YPT, but if the other adult does not need to be registered, should they be YPT trained?
  3. Should at least one adult have completed direct-contact leader training for SM/SA, which includes IOLS?
  4. Does one adult need to have current First Aid training (RTE or WFA)?

First, here’s my two cents.

I understand that not every unit has an abundance of leaders willing or able to go on campouts.

Sending the minimum number of Youth Protection-trained adults along on a campout is better for our Scouts and Venturers than canceling that campout altogether. Let’s not punish the Scouts because parents are pulled in a million directions these days — work, family, etc.

However, in an ideal world, leaders wouldn’t ask Commissioner Bob about the minimum training requirements. They’d ask what training they need to enhance Scouting for the young men and young women in the program.

Just like we want to push young people to exceed — not just meet — minimum requirements in Scouting and in school, we should hold ourselves and fellow leaders to the same standard.

I hope this isn’t coming across as preachy. I know you have less and less free time these days. But I can tell you that whatever time you invest in Scout training — a few hours online at home, a Saturday at your council’s headquarters, a weekend at a local council camp, a week at Philmont — will result in a better experience for your Scouts and Venturers.

But there are minimum requirements, right?

OK, so you want to exceed those minimum training requirements? Great! It would help to know exactly what it is you’re exceeding, right?

So here’s a partial answer obtained by consulting BSA experts Peter Self, Richard Bourlon and Michael Johnson.

Every adult should be Youth Protection trained

The first requirement is simple: Everyone should complete Youth Protection training. It’s so important that the BSA won’t let you join as an adult member without it. And you have to renew your training every two years if you want to remain a member.

So to answer Bob’s question No. 2, at least one adult on the trip must be Youth Protection trained, but all adults going on the trip really should be. Unlike other BSA training courses, Youth Protection training doesn’t require you to be a registered member or have a member ID to take it. Anyone can log on, take it and print out his or her training certificate.

You must have at least two adults 

Two registered adult leaders, or one registered leader and a parent of a participating Scout or other adult, one of whom must be 21 years of age or older, are required for all trips and outings. Learn more in the Guide to Safe Scouting (leadership for trips and outing section).

So to answer Bob’s question No. 1, no, only one adult must be a registered adult leader. (But, again, both must be Youth Protection trained.)

You must have leaders trained for the activity

It’s impossible to make a blanket statement about minimum training requirements because so much depends on the activity your unit is doing. Training such as Safety Afloat, Safe Swim Defense and Climb On Safely might be needed, depending on your unit’s plans for the trip. For more, check out the Tour and Activity Planning FAQs.

The “Trained” patch should be a badge of honor 

While the BSA doesn’t require leaders to complete Leader Specific Training or the Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills (IOLS), they must do so to earn the Trained Leader strip. Leaders with that patch have shown they’re willing to put in the time required to offer life-changing experiences to Scouts and Venturers.

So to answer Bob’s question Nos. 3 and 4, no other training is required. But that’s the wrong question. A better question might be: What training will help me improve my unit?

Where do I learn more about training?

Go here. It’s worth your time. The old saying is true: “Every Scout and Venturer deserves a trained leader.”

Thanks for all you do for Scouting — and for allowing me to stand on my virtual soapbox today.

Do you have any training tips?

How do you encourage your fellow leaders to get trained?

About Bryan Wendell 2891 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.