Recently, the Boy Scouts of America updated (overhauled, really) its youth protection training and related requirements, which I wrote about here.
Among the changes is the new requirement that adults staying at a long-term Scouting event, such as summer camp, must be registered with the BSA if they attend the event for more than 72 hours (three nights). The time need not be consecutive, which means the 72 hours is reached if the adult camps, say, two nights at the beginning of the week and returns for the last night of summer camp.
I’ve been hearing, though, that some camps and councils are tightening the requirement, reducing the 72 hours or eliminating the trigger point altogether. The camp that my troop attends, Camp Rotary of the Michigan Crossroads Council, has the following policy:
The BSA now requires that ALL adults who wish to overnight as part of their camp stay MUST be a registered member of the BSA! Any adults who wish to stay on Camp Rotary property overnight, that cannot show proper registration with the BSA, must leave the property-no refund!
While the National Council has not made that proclamation (the national standard is still 72 hours), local councils – and even units – are free to make more stringent requirements in the area of youth protection and safety. (This is the one instance where a unit or council can make requirements that are more restrictive than national policy requires.)
Having a more restrictive policy can be beneficial for several reasons. For one, adults who are registered are required to have taken Youth Protection Training before their application is processed. They are also run through the criminal background check system that the BSA uses to screen volunteers. Another reason may be that it is difficult for camps to determine just who is staying 72 hours, and it forces them to track down and expel any adults who have overstayed their welcome.
The thing to watch for, though, is that often these policies are not easy to find out about. The Camp Rotary policy is mentioned on page 56 of the Leader’s Guide, which could take some people by surprise if they haven’t read all the way through the guidebook. And the guides can be tricky to find. By my count, it took clicks through seven different pages on the council website in order to arrive at the Leader Guide for Camp Rotary, so one has to be persistent and creative in finding the necessary information.
Be aware of any local or state requirements unique to your camp. Michigan, for example, requires that all adults be cleared by the central registry operated by the Michigan Department of Health. While this is a one-time process and there is no charge, the clearance letter can take a couple weeks to arrive.
If your troop’s adults are planning to attend summer camp with the troop this year, please make sure that they have the proper registration and clearances well in advance. Double check your council’s requirements, and ask your unit-serving executive, camp director or unit commissioner if you are unsure about anything. You don’t want to be surprised upon arrival and find you have to send an adult home.
Update: Rick Wallner, one of our council’s Campmasters, confirmed the registration requirement and reminded me that adults also need to have their health forms in order. Parts A and B are needed for all adults, and the physical exam by a doctor is needed for those staying over 72 hours.