Polaris, named after the Northern Star, was a Junior Leader Training program created by the Crescent Bay Area Council training committee. It was designed to replace the previous programs know as JLT and JLIT. According to the Council's official announcement in the June, 1965, Round-Up newsletter, the program was three years in the making and tailored to the Pacific Region. The initial goal of Polaris was to provide basic teaching instruction for boys and adults who will be involved in the training of troop junior leaders. Unique to this goal was that Polaris was not about training junior leaders. Instead, it was about training the people who would train the junior leaders. Primarily, the training program was directed towards woodcraft skills rather than toward troop policies and operation.
As first explained by Mike Hiehle, Polaris had four phases: Polaris senior instructor training; Polaris instructor training to be held at Camp Wolverton; Polaris District conferences to be held at Camp Josepho and junior leader training in troops. Polaris was soon to become known by the number of stars associated with the phases.
Polaris One Star - This level was for the District events held at Camp Josepho. Troops sent junior leaders (patrol leaders and senior patrol leaders) from their ranks for the one star training weekend. After successfully completing the One Star weekend, scouts were encouraged to return to their troops and train the the scouts in their patrols. (phase four in Mike Hiehle's original plan). A dark brown Key Patch, also know as a Training Award, was then awarded to the scout for wear under his Polaris shoulder patch.
Polaris One Star for Adults - The Camp Josepho weekends also provided a training program for the adult troop leaders. This program was not a substitute for "Basic Leader Training", also know as Troop 258, which ran concurrently with the Polaris program. Polaris Adult leaders who successfully met the requirements for training of other junior leaders within their troops,were awarded a red Key Patch (also known as a Service Medalion) to wear beneath their Polaris shoulder patch. Polaris One Star adults could serve as staff for future Polaris One Star weekends but this was their only training level in Polaris, all additional levels being exclusively for youth.
Polaris Two Star - The second level of Polaris training was held one week each summer at Camp Wolverton. Boys who had successfully completed Polaris One Star were eligible to attend two star training. Called "trainees", these scouts were divided into patrols which were then organized into troops. The troops were named after stars.
The names used were always from the same group: Altair, Deneb, Vega, Castor and Sirius. The first three names were the most commonly used.
Camps were in three different areas of Wolverton: Bear Haven (across Wolverton Creek); The Meadows (across Wolverton Road); and Deer Hollow (an area west of the Lodge). Patrols prepared their own meals and were joined by Polaris staff for lunch and dinner. Trainees were given old JLT neckerchiefs known as work neckerchiefs to wear around camp for the week. Graduates of Polaris Two Star received new Polaris neckerchiefs and were encouraged to serve as junior staff at future Polaris One Star weekends held at Camp Josepho.
Polaris Three Star - The third level of Polaris was "invitation only" for top Polaris Two Star scouts. "Try outs" were held at Camp Josepho. If chosen, the next step was attendance at a special one-week, mid summer encampment outside of Crescent Bay Council summer camps. Once completed, the Polaris Three Star graduate was then expected to serve as junior staff at the Polaris Two Star week at Camp Wolverton where he would receive his Polaris staff jacket and an orange Key patch.
Polaris Four Star - The four star level appears to have been reserved for the adult leadership that directed and ran the various events in conjunction with the youth leadership. It is believed that there may have been a few youths, specially trained to serve as staff for Polaris Three Star, that were awarded the Four Star level. The majority of the adult leadership for the Polaris programs were members of the Council training committee and Wood Badge recipients that had organized and directed JLT, the predecessor of Polaris.
Torch Training - Referred to as an "experimental program", Torch was final level of training for boys, developed around 1971. It was available only to hand-picked Polaris Three Star recipients that stood out during their staffing responsibilities at Polaris Two Star encampments. Torch training involved six to seven evening classes conducted at the Council office followed by a special weekend at Camp Josepho. Course topics included staff responsibilities, counseling, evaluation and critique. Torch trained leaders received the torch segment and a special white neckerchief.
Polaris Keys - Initially called Training Awards for youth and Service Medallions for adults, the Keys signified an additional component to the Polaris Training. Once trained, junior leaders were supposed to go back to their troops and train the other junior leaders and scouts in their patrols. Following Polaris One and Two Star, completion of additional training requirements resulted in the awarding of a round key patch to be worn beneath the black Polaris shoulder patch. Another key was available to Polaris Three Star junior leaders for completing a week at Camp Wolverton as Polaris Two Star staff. Adults also had keys, the first awarded for completing the post-one star training within the troop and the second, for serving as adult staff at a Polaris training.
Many hundreds of scouts and scouters went through Polaris training in Crescent Bay and Great Western Councils. The program was incorporated into the new Council and eventually changed form around 1975. For a brief time it was called Polaris Troop Leader Training and then the program disappeared.
(Thanks to Frank Glick and Bill Topkis for their help in writing this page)