Chief Pontiac Programs, Credential Hike Program, Great Lakes Council, BSA

Program - CPT Credential Hike Rules

The guiding philosophies of the Chief Pontiac Trail are the Wilderness Creed and the BSA Outdoor Code. Together they codify respect for the wilderness as a shared resource. Make them your guiding rules while on the Trail:

Wilderness Creed
Take nothing but pictures;
Leave nothing but footprints;
Kill nothing but time.
BSA Outdoor Code
Be clean in your outdoor habits;
Be careful with fire;
Be considerate of others;
Be conservation minded.

In other words, "Camping without a trace" is the back country ethic now endorsed by the BSA and the CPT Committee. Common sense is still the best rule and safety must be the first consideration in all planning. The following rules are listed as reminders, or to clarify specific situations. They summarize the information in this manual in six (6) categories:


Click here to go directly to a Summary of Forms
  1. Credential Hike Definitions and Requirements
    1. All CPT Trek Guide Maps.
  2. Park Rules
  3. Leadership/ Supervision, Crew Requirements
  4. Safety
  5. Low Impact Camping
  6. Tips for Successful Outings
  1. Credential Hike Definitions and Requirements

    1. Applicant definitions and requirements
      1. Throughout this manual reference is made to "hikers", and to "participants". A hiker is a person applying for and attempting to earn the credential medal. Participants are other persons in the crew who are NOT attempting to earn the credential medal. Participants may apply for and be awarded the PIONEER patch to recognize participation on the trek.
      2. The term "crew" refers to a group of hikers as listed on their roster form.
        1. A crew must have a minimum of two youth hikers and two adult hikers.
          (See Leadership Supervision, Crew Requirements)
        2. A crew may have a combined maximum size of twelve individuals.
        3. A unit (troop, crew, or lodge) may register multiple crews.
        4. Each crew must submit a separate roster form listing each individual.
        5. Each individual must hike with their assigned crew.
      3. Youth "participants" must be physically and mentally fit and a registered Scout, or Explorer member of the BSA, otherwise at least 11 years of age. (Webelos Scouts may NOT participate in the Credential Hike Program.)
      4. BSA youth "Hikers" must be First Class rank or above; all other youth must be at least 13 years of age and meet the equivalent of BSA First Class rank requirements in relevant skill areas.
      5. Written permission specific to the Credential Hike must be obtained for each minor, whether participant or hiker, and carried by the responsible adult leader during the Trek and any transportation to or from the Trek site. Permission slips should include authorization to seek emergency medical treatment and include any allergies, known drug reactions, current medications or other complicating factors.
    2. First-time hiker’s essay requirements
      1. Each Hiker must submit two copies of an essay of at least 300 words on the life of Chief Pontiac and his accomplishments. Essays for O-A Treks shall be on an Indian culture/history topic related to the namesake tribe of the sponsoring OA Lodge as determined by the Lodge subject to CPT approval.
      2. Essays are to be handwritten in ink, typed or computer generated (no pencil).
      3. Essays must have:
        1. Header including:
          1. Scout or Scouter's Name
          2. Troop / Crew / Lodge and number
          3. Council and District names
          4. Age at time of trek
          5. Rank or Adult Position within the Troop/Crew/Lodge
          6. Date of trek
        2. Bibliography with three sources
        3. (Note: Wikipedia is not an acceptable source of information.)

        4. Author’s signature
        5. Page numbers on every page
        6. Two Copies
      4. The Trek Leader shall complete a CPT Essay Checklist for each essay submitted to indicate that it has been reviewed. Refer to the CPT Essay Requirements for more information.
      5. The leader must submit all essays together, along with the Unit's completed CPT Roster Form, at least six weeks in advance of the trek date.
    3. Trek descriptions and requirements
      1. There are three types of Credential Hikes
        1. Hiking Trek
          1. This trek requires hiking the specified trail over two (2) days, starting at either end and with an overnight camp as defined in its Trek Guide.
          2. This trek is over 16 miles long.
          3. Treks may be scheduled after the first week in March through to the start of the November hunting season as defined by the trek calendar established for each year.
            1. All CPT Trek Guide Maps.
        2. Canoe Trek
          1. This trek requires hiking and canoeing the specified trail over two days, starting at either end and with an overnight camp as defined in its trek guide.
          2. This trek is approximately 6 miles of the trail and canoe the Huron River between Proud Lake SRA and Kensington Metropark.
          3. Your crew must make arrangements for canoes with one of the canoe liveries in the area.
          4. Your crew bears the cost for canoe rentals and related costs.
          5. Canoe treks may only be scheduled from mid-April to mid-October as defined by the trek calendar established for each year.
            1. All CPT Trek Guide Maps
        3. Winter Camping Trek
          1. The Winter Camping Trek requires hiking the specified trail over two days with an overnight camp as defined in its trek guide.
          2. This trek has a route of just less than nine miles.
          3. There is a temperature requirement of a high of 44 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and the overnight temperatures must be below 32.
          4. If your crew has plans for a winter trek and the weather does not provide these conditions, you may try to reschedule your trek and hope for better winter weather, or do a hiking trek instead. The trek calendar may be full and rescheduling a winter trek may not be possible.
          5. Winter treks may be scheduled from the first full week in January through the first week in March as defined by the trek calendar established for each year
            1. All CPT Trek Guide Maps
        4. Order of the Arrow Trek
          1. O-A treks must be approved by the applicable O-A lodge and signed off by the O-A Lodge Chief to verify that all members on the trek are in "good standing" with the lodge. It is intended that only O-A members attend an O-A trek. This could involve O-A members from several troops to a maximum of twelve total for the crew.
      2. Each Crew must be self-supporting for the entire duration of the Trek.
        1. Hikers may not receive outside assistance.
        2. All provisions must be packed prior to starting your trek. No food or beverages may be acquired in any way along the trail.
        3. Additional water may only be obtained from pumps in campgrounds (recommended) or collected and treated with filtering equipment carried by the crew. Exception: Water in large containers may be stored in vehicles for winter treks only. This is intended as a safeguard in case the pump at the campsite is frozen.
        4. No motor vehicle, pack animal or other transport assistance of equipment, food or personal gear is permitted during the Trek;
        5. All fuel used for cooking must be carried; do NOT gather firewood; firewood placed at destination campsites CANNOT be used for cooking or cleaning; Exception: woodburning pack stoves may be used.
      3. BSA units must hike in appropriate uniforms, such as the activities uniform. Other units are encouraged to hike in uniform if their program includes one. However, all participants must be dressed appropriately for the season and daily weather conditions. Scout T-shirts, shorts and hiking boots would be suitable for warm weather events, for instance, while long underwear and wool pants and shirts with rain gear might be needed for early spring or late fall hikes; winter hikes require special equipment and skills.
    4. Post-trek requirements
      1. Each Hiker must submit two copies of a report of at least 250 words on their trek experience and sketch a map of the route taken.
      2. Reports are to be handwritten in ink, typed or computer generated.
      3. Maps may be sketched while on the Trek and may be in pencil, if legible, or recopied in ink (preferred) on 8 1/2 x 11 paper.
      4. Reports must have:
        1. Header including:
          1. Scout or Scouter's Name
          2. Troop / Crew / Lodge and number
          3. Council and District names
          4. Age at time of trek step off (both youth and adult)
          5. Rank or Adult Position within the Troop/Crew/Lodge
          6. Trek Number and Type (H/C/W)
          7. Your CPT Credential Serial Number (if previously assigned) or “New”
        2. Author’s signature
        3. Page number on every page
      5. Map must show:
        1. Header including:
          1. Scout or Scouter's Name
          2. Troop/Crew/Lodge and number
          3. Council and District names
          4. Age at step-off date of trek
          5. Rank or Adult Position within the Troop/Crew/Lodge
          6. Trek Number and Type (H/C/W)
          7. Your CPT Credential Serial Number (if previously assigned) or “New”
        2. Trek path
        3. Land marks (major road crossings, camps, dams, water, etc.)
        4. Compass points (N, S, E, & W)
        5. Author’s signature
      6. The Trek Leader shall complete a CPT Trek Report Checklist for each report submitted to indicate that it has been reviewed. Refer to the CPT Trek Report Requirements for more information.
      7. Individually put together each hiker’s signed "Official Map Credential" form, report, and map.
      8. Then submit as a group along with the completed "Pre-Award Trek Summary Report" that will be email to the trek leader after the trek is completed.
      9. All paperwork must be submitted within 6 weeks of completing your Credential Hike and at least 3 weeks prior to any Court of Honor or awards ceremony.
      10. Failure to present the complete package to your CPT guide by the 6 week deadline will result in your trek not being considered as a Credential Event, and as a result the awards will not be presented at any future date.
    5. Trek awards descriptions and requirements
      1. Each participant that has complied with the essay, trek report and hiking requirements will be awarded a serialized credential medal, trek patch and numbered arrowhead pin. Repeat trek hikers will receive a new arrowhead pin with the appropriate number. These awards are for both youth and adult hikers that meet the credential hike requirements.
      2. The color of the arrowhead pin awarded is specific to the type trek completed
        1. A gray arrowhead pin for completing the hiking trek.
        2. A blue arrowhead pin for completing the canoeing trek.
        3. A white arrowhead pin for completing the winter camping trek.
        4. The arrowhead pin awarded will also have a number indicating the number of times the hiker has completed the particular trek type.
      3. Chief Pontiac Trail Credential Hike Medals will be awarded at a Court of Honor or other awards ceremony to all hikers who successfully complete all of the above requirements and are in compliance with the remainder of the rules. Contact the CPT Committee to make arrangements for the presentation.
      4. Participants who are unable to complete the trek due to injury, illness or other reason may hike again at a later date (with their unit or another one). Essays of first-time hikers will be returned to them with an approval signature and a note indicating that it can be resubmitted. This essay must be resubmitted, with the note still attached, as part of the hiker’s next submission. Approved essays resubmitted without the required note will be rejected.
      5. Credential hikers that perform a CPT approved 6 hour service project will receive a CPT Service patch.
      6. Circle the Fire patches
        1. Credential hikers that have earned at least one of each type of Credential Hike award and a service patch will be awarded a “Circle the Fire” patch.
        2. The first patch earned, regardless of age, will be the Standard Circle the Fire patch for non O-A treks or an O-A Circle the Fire patch as applicable.
        3. A Black Circle the Fire patch can be awarded to any adult that has first earned the brown Circle the Fire patch and has repeated a second circle while age 40 or above. All three repeat treks must have been completed while 40+ age. Overall the hiker must earn each trek type award twice and perform 12 hours of service.
        4. A Silver Circle the Fire patch can be awarded to any adult that has first earned a standard and Black Circle the Fire patches, and has repeated a third circle while age 50 or above. All three treks must have been complete while 50+ age. Overall the hiker must earn each trek type award three times and perform 18 hours of service.
      7. The cost for all awards, except Service patches, are as defined on the Roster form. The burden of costs is the responsibility of the unit or individual. Service patches are presented at no cost. Registration fees are non-refundable and may not be transferred to a future reservation..

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  2. Park Rules

    1. Observe and obey all park rules, regulations and ranger instructions; obtain all required permits and pay all required fees.
      1. Obtain all required permits and pay all required fees.
      2. Reserving a trek date does NOT reserve your campsite or canoes.
      3. All campsite reservations, canoe reservations, and related fees are solely the responsibility of each crew.
  3. Leadership Supervision, Crew Requirements

    1. Crews must meet the leadership policy of the BSA
      1. Trips and outings must have two-deep leadership. Two registered adult leaders or one registered adult leader and a parent of a participant, one of whom must be 21 years or older, are required for all trips or outings.
      2. Non-BSA organizations must meet the BSA leadership policy as stated above, and may have additional leadership requirements.
      3. The responsible adult leader must have valid written permission specific to the Trek for each and every minor participant in his/her possession at all times during the outing, including medical insurance information; a release for emergency medical treatment notarized within the last six months is highly recommended.
      4. Under no circumstances may any crew undertake any trail activity without the necessary leaders present. Leaders must not leave their group except to deal with emergency situations, in which case one leader should remain with the group or the entire group should pull out. Failure to provide the required leadership could result in the Credential Medals not being awarded.
      5. BSA crews must secure local or national Tour Permits as required.
    2. The minimum size of a crew is four hikers
      1. Each registered crew must include two adults as described above and a minimum of two youth Hikers (not participants) up to a maximum of twelve total including non-credential participants. Larger groups should split into multiple crews with staggered departure times. The Philmont Scout Ranch rule of 7 to 12 members per crew is an excellent guideline.
      2. Park regulations on youth/adult ratio for youth groups must be observed. CPT recommends a maximum 50% ratio of adults.

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  4. Safety

    1. The adult hike leader of each crew should carry a written copy of the name, phone number and location of the nearest medical facilities. For most CPT activities the nearest facilities will be in Milford, Michigan with the nearest full service emergency center at:
      Huron Valley Hospital
      1601 East Commerce Rd. (between Sleeth and Commerce roads)
    2. Each crew must have at least one person trained in First Aid, such as the First Aid Merit Badge, First Aider or Red Cross training. Each crew should carry an adequate first aid kit in addition to individual first aid items. With the elimination of the First Aid Merit Badge requirement for the BSA First Class rank, crews will need at least one Scout that is Star or above, unless one of the leaders has specific first aid training.
    3. Sheath knives and hand axes are not recommended. Scout/Swiss Army style and lock back style knives are all you will ever need.
    4. In the event of an injury, one person can stay with the injured party while two others go for help, ensuring that help is obtained, NO EXCEPTIONS.
    5. Hikes must be planned to avoid travel during marginal twilight or after dark.
    6. It is very common to come upon horses and riders while hiking. Hikers should stand together and a ways off of the trail at the first site of horses. While waiting for the horses to pass maintain eye contact and speak softly to them. This is because horses are easily "spooked" by a backpacker’s brightly colored pack and equipment. Once the horses have passed you may resume your hike.
    7. BSA crews must employ the Safe Swim Defense program whenever scouts are in or near the water.
    8. Each hiker must wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) and appropriate footwear during all canoeing operations and water activities other than swimming in approved beach areas.
    9. There is a recommended maximum of two persons to a canoe plus gear.
    10. BSA crews must file a Unit Float Plan for any boating activity. Crews must have one or more members trained in water safety and rescue/lifesaving.
    11. Never enter the water with your pack on and the waist belt and chest strap hooked. You must be able to shed your pack quickly when crossing water.
    12. Take extra precautions when hiking during hunting seasons as portions of the DNR properties are open to public hunting. Know the open areas and seasons. Dress in blaze orange, sing or make other distinctly human noise while on the trail (contrary to the normal trail courtesy) or avoid the areas open to hunting.
    13. Crews sustaining injuries or illnesses while on their Trek must report the situation to their organization and to the CPT Committee at the earliest possible convenience. The CPT Committee wants the Trail experience to be a safe one, and needs to know quickly of any hazardous conditions so they can be communicated to park officials and other crews, avoided and eventually corrected.
    14. Failure to file plans and follow safety procedures may result in the Credential Hike Medal or other recognition items not being awarded.

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  5. Low Impact Camping

    1. Crews must utilize low impact backpack camping techniques:
      1. Crews must not cut any live timber for shelter construction or other use.
      2. Crews should carry adequate shelter in the form of backpacking tents/tarps, sleeping bags and pads.
      3. Crews must check with the park to determine current policy pertaining to gathering and transporting in firewood. Crews should practice Leave No Trace principals.
      4. Crews should plan on using backpacking stoves and utensils to prepare and eat their meals. BSA Crews must meet BSA policy on the use of liquid fueled stoves. Because the CPT Trek is only a two-day-one-night outing, the use of small propane or butane type stoves is highly recommended except in very cold weather. Be sure to pack out your fuel canisters and dispose of them properly.
      5. No ground fires are permitted. Do not dig fire pits. Surface fire rings or elevated stoves may be used, if provided by the park.
      6. All fuel used for cooking must be carried in as part of the hike. However, crews wishing to use the park fire circles may bring in wood ahead of time if permitted by the park for their non-cooking uses. This is the only exception allowed to the self-support rule, which is intended to prevent the depletion of downed wood at the campsites.
  6. Tips for Successful Outings

    1. Equipment
      1. Segregate the items in your pack, double pack items like sleeping bags and clothes in waterproof plastic bags.
      2. Have adequate storm gear for wind/rain protection of yourself and your pack.
      3. Use waterproof float bags for all gear on Canoe Option Treks.
      4. Each Hiker must have a personal first aid kit and carry it where it can be reached quickly.
      5. Keep your water and trail snacks handy; take small sips of water often and avoid dehydration.
    2. Pack weight recommendations
      1. Youth Hikers should target a maximum pack weight of 25-30 pounds.
      2. It is recommended that hikers carry a pack weighing no more than 20% to 25% of their body weight.
    3. Helpful hints
      1. Break your crew into smaller teams of two, three or four for eating and sleeping. This allows hikers to share the weight of group and team items equally according to size, strength and ability.
      2. Be prepared for mosquitoes and flies at appropriate times of the year.
      3. BE PREPARED!

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  7. Summary of Forms and How to Use Them

  8. The following forms are used in the CPT Credential Hike Program:

    1. Credential Hike Leader's Checklist
      This form is a checklist version of the key points in this manual which can be used by the Hike Leader or Crew Chief to plan and control the CHP process for a particular crew or Unit.
    2. CPT Trek Roster Form
    3. Essay, Trek Report and Map Requirement Summary
    4. Pre Hike Essay Checklist
    5. Post Trek Report Checklist

    The following maps are available and may prove helpful:

    1. All CPT Trek Guide Maps.
    2. Highland Recreation Area DNR
    3. Highland SRA Chief Pontiac Trail CPTC
    4. Proud Lake Recreation Area DNR
    5. Proud Lake SRA Chief Pontiac Trail CPTC
    6. Island Lake Recreation Area DNR
    7. Kensington Metropark HCMA
    8. Huron River HCMA
    9. USGS 7.5' Quad series Highland, Ml USGS, Delta Maps, Oakland County
    10. USGS 7.5' Quad series Milford, MI USGS, Delta Maps, Oakland County
    11. USGS 7.5' Quad series Kent Lake, MI USGS, Delta Maps, Oakland County
    12. Highland Recreation Area Orienteering Map SMOC

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Home Home All refund requests must be made in writing prior to the event and submitted to one of the Great Lakes Council offices.
Refunds may be subject to an administrative fee and some fees are non-refundable. Details can be found under each activity sign-up page.