The Federal Emergency Management Agency has begun working with the Boy Scouts of America in a new program to prepare youth for a preparedness role to help communities across the country be more resilient and prepared should the need arise.
This has been facilitate in some BSA troops nationwide and there is a movement to bring it to the local Walton County area. Arlene Magoo, with the Spirit of Adventure Scout Council in Massachusetts, has worked with her local Scout leaders, the state Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to work within the Council. She has been advising local CERT (Citizen Emergency Response Team) member John Alderman, who has been attempting to bring the program to local Scout troops in Walton County.
“I have been in CERT for 11 years and I immediately saw back then it would be good for Scouts because it is in their DNA and Scouts would be naturals after going through the program. Since Scouts meet every week, and remain a close nit group, they would be able to perform in a CERT situation,” Alderman said. “In WWII, scouts would take care of people when the men went to war.”
Magoo said, in Massachusetts, the Spirit of Adventure Scout Council provides opportunities to boys and girls in 77 cities and towns including Boston that has a population of 678,647.
“In 2021, the Council created a mission to help communities build on the Scout motto “Be Prepared”. They partnered with local Scout leaders, the State EMA, and FEMA to offer three preparedness programs to Scout troops. The programs are ‘Ready Cub,’ ‘Student Tools for Emergency Planning, STEP,’ ‘Student Tools for Emergency Planning’ | Ready.gov and ‘Community Emergency Response Team, CERT; Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) | FEMA.gov.,” Magoo said.
She outlined plans that a local group can do to implement a similar local program.
1. Align Scouts with partners in preparedness such as the local/county emergency manager, State emergency management agency and FEMA.
2. Scout leaders and teens would participate in the Hybrid Basic CERT program. The program is taught in two parts and allows students to learn at their own pace.
3. Leaders and Scouts that complete the 2-part hybrid CERT training can remain in their Troops or join local CERT teams if their town/city has one. CERTS participate in a variety of community events to assist in managing events as the local emergency organization needs. This includes light search activities, crowd organizing and others.
Alderman said he has hit obstacles because Scouts cannot participate in search and rescue. However, he believes that learning the basis of Search and Rescue through the program would prepare them as adults to be in a leadership role or significantly contributing members of such organizations.
“CERT has difficulties with membership because people don’t meet every week like Scouts do and they are not typically as close nit a group as the Scouts are,” Alderman said. “But the training they get as youths in the Scout / CERT program would prepare them to be leaders when they become adults.”
Magoo said local Scout Troops would benefit by all three of the programs offered through the Spirit of Adventure Scout Council by clearly demonstrating to the Scout their relationship to local emergency management organizations and their local community. It also offers scholarship opportunities through such organizations as the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) as well as others.
“CERT helps the Teen Scout understand how leadership works in an emergency and helps them be a partner when it’s needed the most. CERT is a nationally recognized program by FEMA and Emergency management across the globe. CERT teaches leadership and opens the opportunities that can be found in a career of emergency management,” Magoo said, adding other benefits to the community with a joint Scout / CERT program like the Spirit of Adventure Scout Council offers, such as:
- Scouts become a visible, positive community asset.
- CERT training can inspire youth to explore careers in local and State emergency management.
- CERT members augment and support professional emergency managers in their communities and help save tax dollars when use effectively. (Example: Scouts set up and manage a cooling or warming shelter while professional EMA manage the disaster or situation that caused the need.)
- Youth will learn the same organizing techniques as their local EM leaders regarding the importance of the Incident Command System, ICS.
She said members of the local community can learn more about it through the local CERT as well as at FEMA.gov
“The first part is the Hybrid Basic CERT lecture series can be found there through Online Courses | School of Medicine | University of Utah Health. At the end of the on-line course students will receive a certificate of lecture completion. A copy of the certificate is given to the CERT training coordinator who will offer the student an opportunity to attend the Hybrid CERT, Hands on Skills training day. Those who attend this full day, in person class will be considered CERT trained,” Magoo said. “I love the work we do with the next generation of preparedness partners.”
Alderman had the idea when he went to a National CERT conference in San Diego in 2018 and he saw the benefit to it. He is happy to see that other areas have jumped on it and would love to see a response from the Atlanta area or NE Georgia area troops. He is hoping that now that it can be done online through the University of Utah Medical School there will be a more enthusiastic response.
To that end, FEMA is putting on an online Zoom meeting on Monday explaining the program entitled Utilizing Youth in Preparedness with the Spirit of Adventure. Details are given below:
Utilizing Youth in Preparedness with Spirit of Adventure:
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) provides the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training which helps young people be “Prepared. For Life. ®” The Scouting organization is composed of more than 1 million youth members between the ages of 5 and 21 and more than 628,000 volunteers in local councils throughout the United States and its territories. Since its inception in 1910, more than 130 million young men and women have participated in the BSA’s youth programs. More than 35 million adult volunteers have helped carry out the BSA’s mission. We invite you to join us November, 20th from Noon to 1:00 PM to learn more about how you can partner with BSA to make your community more resilient and prepared. The program will feature speakers from FEMA and Spirit of Adventure and will cover programs including. Prepare with Pedro, Ready Cubs! Ready Scout and Teen CERT. We hope to see you there!