In addition to the program-oriented courses offered through MyScouting.org completing these six online training courses are a worthwhile way for any Scouter to improve their safety IQ.
As a young Scoutmaster I felt a lot of these things were limitations, but now I don’t see these safety practices as restrictive. Quite to the contrary I feel more empowered and confident that I can help my Scouts plan and supervise potentially risky activities.
I think that the particular value in completing all six of these online training courses is building a solid awareness of managing risk that is kind of a second nature. You learn to recognize and mitigate risk without missing a beat. Instead of curtailing activities this ‘sixth sense’ opens up more possibilities.
The Boy Scouts of America places the greatest importance on creating the most secure environment possible for our youth members. To maintain such an environment, the BSA developed numerous procedural and leadership selection policies and provides parents and leaders with resources for the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and Venturing programs.
Safe Swim Defense
All swimming activities in Scouting are required to follow the eight basic principles known collectively as the Safe Swim Defense plan. A unit that follows the plan can expect a safe, enjoyable aquatic experience. Safe Swim Defense is required for BSA tour permits.
All boating activities in Scouting are required to follow the nine basic principles of Safety Afloat. With an emphasis on accident prevention through proper preparation and skills, a unit that follows Safety Afloat can expect a safe, enjoyable activity. Safety Afloat is required for BSA tour permits for any trip afloat.
Climb On Safely
Climb On Safely covers eight key safety points about climbing and rappelling and is required training for at least one adult leader on any type of Scouting outing that involves climbing or rappelling.
“Trek Safely” covers seven key safety points about trekking and is recommended for adult leaders organizing any type of trek.
Hazardous Weather training must be completed prior to requesting a tour permit from the BSA. The module presents safety precautions for eight different types of weather, as well as planning, preparation, and traditional weather signs.
1) I know computer based learning (CBL) is the way to go now. But there are areas of the country where internet is not as readily accessible. Best example I can give is the place where I tried to do YPT online, and it took 4 hours to download the program b/c internet connectivity is not the best.
2)There are some courses where CBL is just not practicle. Best example is Intro to Outdoor Leader Skills (IOLS). And I admit, it has been a while since I took Climb on Safely and Trek Safety, but if mememory serves both Walter and TWGlass is correct in that the basics of the topics, which is what is really needed for new folks, is best presented in a class with experienced folks running the class. The CBL modules are good for refresher or recertifications.
3)In my opinion, the current BSHB does not offer the basic outdoor information needed for new Boy Scouts and leaders. When I last taught IOLS, I reviewed the latest BSHB for teaching the course and was sorely disappointed. I ended up creating my own pamphlet based upon older BSHBs, Field Books, websites, and the outdoor skills sections of older training syllabi.
4) In my honest opinion, we are now seeing the fruits of the 1972 Improved Scouting Program, as well as a societal change to a more urban society. I am seeing parents and leaders who were scouts in the early to mid 1970s with little to no outdoor experience or skills. That has affected troops because they are not putting the “OUTING in ScOUTING” as “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt would say. And the Scouts are bored and or leaving.
As for new parents with no Scouting experience, unless you get one with prior military experience or have a outdoor sportsman background, they need major help. I do not know who pays attention more when I work with Tigers and Wolves on preparing for the council’s family camp out: the Cub Scouts or their parents.
Clarke Green says
I’d have to disagree with many of your conclusions, the units I work with have robust outdoor programs, skilled youth leadership who know their stuff. The Adults I work with are engaged, interested and dedicated folks who learn readily and apply what they learn (none of them ex-military or outdoor sportsmen). Perhaps it’s a matter of perspective and attitude?
The common complaints that things have changed fundamentally somehow from the ideal past are a fairly constant theme in Scouting. Thankfully, Scouting is not about what used to happen way back when, it’s about what’s going to happen next.
Walter Underwood says
Though I’m recommending Trek Safely, I really wish it was a better course. I’m a trainer for adult courses, but I just don’t see a way to do Trek Safely well as it is currently designed.
The material is so high-level that it can only be applied if you already know how to do it. For example, the ten essentials are not even in the syllabus. And if you try to give specifics, 40 minutes is just not long enough.
I’m not quite sure how to fix it, but one idea is sets of material for different parts of the US. Leave No Trace has pamphlets for different areas, Sierras, Pacific Coast, the Southeast, and so on (http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/TeachingLeaveNoTrace/061_resource.aspx). Focused material could be a quick course, with the understanding that you’d study up for treks in other regions.
Scouts UK have a nice fact sheet for hiking with far more detail than Trek Safely, but only about twice as many words. That could be another model. The UK is much more organized about qualifications for trek leadership.
The other courses range from good to excellent. BSA YP training was the model for the training at the World Scout Jamboree.
Clarke Green says
I haven’t seen any training that I thought was quite good enough to be the last word on the subject (which is good for me, because otherwise I’d have little to write about!). I think they hit the basics and, more importantly perhaps, get you thinking that there’s a lot you don’t know.
Dave Levinter (@SoCalDaveL) says
I’m proud to say (as a leader in both Cub Scouts & Boy Scouts) that I’m current on all 6 courses listed above.
Agreed. (But in person courses are even better!)
Cub Leaders shouldn’t feel pressured to take Climb On Safety and Trek Safety in that Cubs aren’t allowed to do those activities. When they become Boy Scout leaders and parents, yes, take them.
Online is the way to go now. No more Monday night sessions in some sweltering church basement listening to some old guy drone on about no longer applicable BSA rules. I would not have half the trained leaders I have if live was the only option. I tell they to put the kids to bed, put on their PJs, pour a beer or chardonnay and do the courses. Of the 14 uniformed leaders in my cub pack, 5 have all of these. All the parents in our pack and troop must take YPT. Neither their boys nor they can come camping without them taking it.
As a trainer, we find that the in person course are much better for leaders since they can interact with more experienced leaders ahd have an opportunity to ask questions. The problem with the online training is that when you ask people questions about the information, they can be clueless, that’s because sitting at home, drinking your beer, you can easily be distracted,
Live courses are better, yes, but, with the exception of YPT, our council has not run live versions of these particular courses in years. Further, many leaders get training not because they want to, but because they have to. I have found most of the latter, come back from training clueless, regardless of its format.
Walter Underwood says
Webelos hike and camp, so Cub leaders need to know and follow the Trek Safely principles.
True that they hike and camp, but the Treking module isn’t geared to them and includes many things Cub Leaders will never take Webelos on. This is why I said “shouldn’t feel pressured”.
The internet defines “trek” as a long, arduous journey. Trekking is not a Cub nor Webelos activity in the BSA.
Walter Underwood says
Everything in Trek Safely is there to avoid having people dead or injured on an outing. “They are Webelos” isn’t much of a defense against dehydration, lightning, or hypothermia.
Yes, Trek Safely is official for more backcountry or extended treks, but for first aid purposes, “backcountry” is 30 minutes from a road.