By Stewart Schow
Apr 20, 2017

Varsity Scout Leaders Day Book: Day 25, Safety Certification

Task: Commit yourself to find out about certification training and other updated training for Scout leaders at the council.

Safety of the youth of scouting is one of the main work of Adult Leaders.  In his statement “BSA’s Commitment to Safety” Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh said:

“We want you to know that the safety of our youth, volunteers, staff, and employees is an important part of the Scouting experience. Youth develop traits of citizenship, character, fitness, and leadership during age-appropriate events when challenged to move beyond their normal comfort level, and discover their abilities. This is appropriate when risks are identified and mitigated.

The Scouting program, as contained in our handbooks and literature, integrates many safety features. However, no policy or procedure will replace the review and vigilance of trusted adults and leaders at the point of program execution.

Commit yourself to creating a safe and healthy environment by:

  • Knowing and executing the BSA program as contained in our publications
  • Planning tours, activities, and events with vigilance using the tools provided
  • Setting the example for safe behavior and equipment use during program
  • Engaging and educating all participants in discussions about hazards and risks
  • Reporting incidents in a timely manner

Thank you for being part of the Scouting movement and creating an exciting and safe experience for every participant.”

I want you to understand that when Michael says “Planning tours, activities, and events with vigilance for safety” it is safety for all participants and is of major concern.  When he says, “Setting the example of safe behavior and equipment use during the program,” we need to know what is safe and how to use the activity equipment right so that it does not become a major safety issue that we need to keep addressing during the activity.  And lastly when he says we need to “engage and educate all participants in discussions about hazards and risks,” it is important that we as leaders understand the risks and hazards of the activities we are taking the youth on.

The best way we can learn the hazards and risks is to take training that are available for activities that contain hazards and risks.  The Boy Scouts has prepared a variety of training that provide certificates of completion for adults.  Some of these courses have expiration dates associated with them.  This makes continued involvement in training an important part of Scouter supplemental training.  Thus making it important to our youth and ourselves.

Among the training that is important for safe scouting are:

  • Safe Swim Defense is online training required before conducting swimming activities. It teaches the eights principles that you must follow when you take your Scouts swimming. (Take the course at this link: Safe Swim Defense Course [see login instruction in pull quote above].)
  • Safety Afloat  has been developed to promote boating and boating safety and to set standards for safe unit activity afloat. You must complete this training and follow the principles in any activity involving boats. (Take the course at this link: Safey Afloat Course [see login instructiona below].)
  • Climb On Safely  – procedure for organizing BSA climbing/rappelling activities at a natural site or a specifically designed facility such as a climbing wall or tower.
  • Trek Safely
  • Planning and Preparing for Hazardous Weather  As summer months come around, this is a pretty big deal in Utah and other parts of the intermountain west. The Council requires this training for all Scout leaders before arrival at camp. You should also access Weather Smart News, Links, and Resources  to “know before you go.”
  • Cave Safely, Cave Softly  – Learn before you go.  Caving can be an exciting unit activity, but requires knowledge and preparation.  This guide can help.
  • Canyoneering Safely  – Another exciting adventure for units prepared with the right knowledge and equipment.  This guide will help in that preparation and keep Scouts and leaders safe.
See the my.Scouting Window below:

Click on image to enlarge

Create a login for a My.Scouting.org account. You’ll receive an email notification with your account information, including a member ID/reference number. From the My.Scouting.org portal, click Home then My Dashboard. The My Training page displays training options. Training is automatically updated in BSA’s system.

This is where one can take this training on line and see when they expire and then can be retaken. Other training Certification that are need for Varsity Scouting activities include.

Wilderness First AidThis course is recommended for all backcountry treks and BSA requires at least one person (two preferred) per unit to be WFA-certified for certain high-adventure camp and backcountry experiences such as Philmont. In the course, you will learn about new practices that go well beyond what Scouting leaders may already know as “first aid.” Wilderness First Aid training helps you cope with medical emergencies in the wild and, perhaps more importantly, to be a more effective manager in any crisis.

Standard First Aid Training: includes CPR and AED use is given by councils in the United States.

Sports Shooting Training requires training and documentation by The National Rifle Association as a currently certified basic instructor or coach for the specific discipline where instruction is taking place (rifle, muzzle loading rifle, shotgun, muzzle loading shotgun, pistol, or muzzle loading pistol) or the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association as a current instructor or NRA instructor for muzzle loading rifle, muzzle loading shotgun, or muzzle loading pistol. Additional information for shooting activities is available at Shooting Sports 

Leaders with Certifications make safe Scouting happen, but it is important to know what certifications are available and how to obtain them in the council that you reside. 

Other Resources

Safety and Health at LDS.org.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an updated safety-related website  with three four-minute videos. The videos address real risks faced by anyone who uses the outdoors as a classroom. They cover lightning safety, drowsy driving, and being physically prepared in a different approach than most safety videos.

Have a great summer enjoying the outing in Scouting safely.
What certifications do I need to take?


This weekly blog series will help any new Varsity Scout leader get well trained in 90 days using this unique program that serves Teacher-aged young men:

MOnth one

Week 1 Week 2
Week 3  Week 4

Stewart Schow
Author: Stewart Schow  | Utah National Parks Council Education Committee. Varsity Scout Subject Matter Expert

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