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History of Polaris

          Polaris was initiated in the summer of 1965 as a replacement for JLT (Junior Leader Training) and JLIT (Junior Leader Instructor Training). Named after the Northern Star, Polaris was selected because it connotes atrue direction to be followed, a quality expected of a leader. Council training vice chairman, Mike Hiehle, was the driving force in the development of Polaris. Clell Piper was the first coordinator. At the start, the One Star, Two Star and Three Star names had not yet been applied to the different levels of the new program. Spring of 1965 started off as a continuation of the popular Junior Leader Training. Just as in each year since 1957, troops nominated one junior leader for the special JLT event which took place April 10, 1965, at Camp Josepho. From this group totaling 93 scouts, 27 junior leaders were selected to attend the Polaris Senior Instructor Training (later to be known as Polaris Three Star) to be held at the Region XII Shaver Lake Training Center , July 18-25. This week at camp replaced the Council's annual two-week trip to Philmont Scout Ranch. Twenty-two of the selected junior leaders successfully completed the Shaver Lake training.

Round-Up Photo
September 1965

          The remaining 71 junior leaders who completed the April 1965,  JLT event at Camp Josepho, attended the annual week-long encampment at Camp Wolverton in August. The 1965 Wolverton training was called Polaris Instructor Training (later to be known as Polaris Two Star). This group, along with the Shaver Lake  graduates became the first instructors to "assure the Districts of having adequate personnel to conduct outstanding Polaris conferences" in the fall. Two-day District events, (not yet known as Polaris One Star) were scheduled between September and November.
          In September of 1965, Mike Hiehle announced that that the Polaris program would have two new insignia. The first would be a shoulder patch with a Polaris Star on midnight blue. This may have been the original thought but by the time the patch was produced at the end of September, they were on black. The second would be a patch to wear under the shoulder patch, originally known as the Polaris Service Medallion, for completion of training back in the troop. It wasn't until 1966 that the levels of Polaris became know by their number of stars and service medallions became known as Keys.

Polaris One Star Encampments
The Districts organized their own weekend trainings each Fall.
Camp Josepho was the favorite location.
Circle B Scout Ranch was also used on different occasions.

Polaris Two Star Encampments
One week-long training was held annually at Camp Wolverton.
The encampment took place after the last regular camper session, usually in August.

Polaris Three Star Encampments




Reg. XII Training Center
Shaver Lake, CA
Sequoia Council

Circle B Scout Ranch Southern Sierras
Old Baldy Council

Circle B Scout Ranch
Southern Sierras Old Baldy Council

Camp Mataguey Santa Ysabel, CA San Diego Co. Council

Camp Mataguey Santa Ysabel, CA San Diego Co. Council

Camp Mataguey Santa Ysabel, CA San Diego Co. Council

Camp Ahwahnee
Green Valley Lake, CA North Orange Council


Camp Ahwahnee Green Valley Lake, CA North Orange Council

Holt Scout Ranch Yucaipa, CA San Gabriel Valley

Camp Whitsett Sequoia Natl. Forest
Great Western Council


*1972 - Transition Year
1973-75 -Great Western

          A special fourth year of training in Polaris called Staff Leadership Training was announced in September 1966. The first Polaris Three Star junior leaders picked for the training were Greg Spinner, Mark Rosenthal, Vic Marmon and Chuck Goldstein. This training was conducted by Council Wood Badge men. It is believed these four trained leaders became the first youth staff of Polaris Three Star. What is not clear is whether or not Polaris Staff Leadership training was also Polaris Four Star and later- Torch Training which started around 1970.
         Polaris and all of its component levels was incorporated into Great Western Council after the merger in 1972. For a brief time it was called  Polaris Troop Leader Training.  Crescent Bay Council Scout Executive, Schiller Colberg was very committed to Polaris and the junior leader training programs that were developed during his tenure. When he became Scout Executive of Great Western Council following the merger in 1972, Polaris continued in the new Council. It appears that efforts were made to involve scouts and leaders from the old San Fernando Valley side but it never fully caught on. Perhaps that was because there were limited or no opportunities for them to be included in running the program.  All of the adult and junior leader staff for Polaris were former Crescent Bay Council scouts and scouters who had either been directing the program since the 1960's or were junior leaders who had worked their way up from JLT or Polaris One Star and had ascended to positions of Senior staff at all levels. 
          Schiller Colberg retired in 1976. The new Scout Executive did not share the same enthusiasm for Polaris and the program disappeared.

Polaris Song

Oh I'm a hayseed
My hair is seaweed
and my ears are made of leather
and the flop in windy weather
Gosh oh hemlock
I'm tough as a pineknot
For I'm a member of (course name such as) Polaris Two-star.
Polaris Two-Star (Shouted as loud as possible)

(Thanks to Frank Glick and Bill Topkis for their help in writing this page)

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