Guide to Safe Scouting

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Guide to Safe Scouting

First edition:
Latest edition:May 2018
PDF version
HTML version
Paper version
BSA Supply Number:34416
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G2SS

Contents

Preface

All participants in official Scouting activities should become familiar with the Guide to Safe Scouting and applicable program literature or manuals, and be aware of state or local government regulations that supersede Boy Scouts of America practices, policies, and guidelines. The Guide to Safe Scouting is an overview of Scouting policies and procedures gleaned from a variety of sources. For some items, the policy statements are complete. For others, unit leaders are expected to review the additional reference material cited prior to conducting such activities.

In situations not specifically covered in this guide, activity planners should evaluate the risk or potential risk of harm, and respond with action plans based on common sense, community standards, the Boy Scout motto, and safety policies and practices commonly prescribed for the activity by experienced providers and practitioners. Perhaps this quote by Sir Robert Baden-Powell from his 1914 book Quick Training for War is appropriate to include here:

"... The books lay down definite principles and examples which serve to guide the leaders when applying their common sense to the situation before them. No two situations are ever precisely the same, and it is therefore impossible to lay down exact rules that should guide in every case, but a man who carries precedents and principles in his head has no difficulty in applying their teaching in supreme moments of sudden emergency ..."

Guide to Safe Scouting (2018)

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The Guide to Safe Scouting is available in the following formats:

Content

The Table of Contents for the May 2018 version of the guide is listed below along with links to the online (HTML) version of the guide.

I. Youth Protection & Adult Leadership The Boy Scouts of America has adopted a number of policies aimed at eliminating opportunities for abuse within the Scouting program. These policies focus on leadership selection and on placing barriers to abuse within the program.
II. Aquatics Safety Topics: Resource Material, Aquatics Leadership Training Programs, Responsibilities of Supervisory Personnel, Safe Swim Defense, BSA Aquatics Play Structure Policy, Classification of Swimming Ability, Distance and Competitive Swimming in Open Water, Snorkeling in Open Water, BSA Scuba Policy, Safety Afloat, Tow Sports
III. Camping Topics: Age Guidelines, Family Camping, Cub Scout Overnight Opportunities, Scouts BSA Camping, Venturing Camping, Sea Scout Camping, Trek Safely, and Lightning Risk Reduction.
IV. Alcohol, Tobacco, and Drug Use and Abuse The Boy Scouts of America prohibits the use of alcoholic beverages and controlled substances at encampments or activities on property owned and/or operated by the Boy Scouts of America, or at any activity involving participation of youth members.
V. Medical Information and First Aid Topics: Personal Health and the Annual Health and Medical Record, Medication Use in Scouting, Immunizations, Local Council Membership/Participation Guidelines Regarding Life-Threatening Protection Consideration for Blood and Bodily Fluids (Universal Precautions) Communicable Diseases, and First Aid and CPR Training
VI. Chemical Fuels and Equipment Guidelines for how to safely store, handle, and use chemical fuels and equipment.
VII. Activity Planning and Risk Assessment Topics: Policy Regarding Prohibited and Unauthorized Activities, Unauthorized and Restricted Activities, Activity Planning and Risk Assessment, and the Sweet 16 of BSA Safety.
VIII. Sports and Activities Topics: Shooting Sports, Caving, Canyoneering, Climbing and Rappelling, Project COPE Activities, Slacklining, Knives, Parade Floats and Hayrides, Unit Fund-raisers, Bike Safety, Skating Safety, and Horsemanship Activities.
IX. Insurance Topics: Comprehensive General Liability Insurance, Automobile Liability Insurance, Chartered Organizations for Scouting Units, Accident and Sickness Coverage, Coverage for Non-Owned Boats Used in Scouting Activities, and Unauthorized and Restricted Activities.
X. Transportation Topics: Automobiles, SUVs, and Vans, Campers, Trailers, and Trucks, Buses, Commercial Driver’s License Compliance, and For-Hire Motor Carriers of Passengers (Charter Buses).
XI. Winter Activities Topics: Winter Camping Safety and Winter Sports Safety.
XII. Animal and Insect Hazards Topics: Hantavirus, Rabies Prevention, Lyme Disease, and Mosquito-Borne Illnesses.
XIII. Incident Reporting Incident Reviews.
Appendix Includes: Motor Vehicle and Driver Checklist, Meeting Place Inspection Checklist, Flying Plan Checklist, Unit Money-Earning Application, Incident Reporting Tool, Near Miss Reporting Tool, Youth Protection/Membership Infraction Incident Information Form, Service Project Planning Guidelines, Age Guidelines for Tool Use and Work at Elevations or Excavations, Campout Safety Checklist, and Event Safety Checklist.

G2SS Revision History

2018 Updates

May 2018
I. Youth Protection and Adult Leadership Revised Scouting’s Barriers to Abuse.
II. Aquatics Safety Revised the BSA Aquatics Play Structure Policy and Classification of Swimming Ability sections.
III. Camping Updated all of the camping content and deleted the Treating Drinking Water section.
V. Medical Information and First Aid Deleted Protection Consideration for Blood and Bodily Fluids (Universal Precautions) section.
VII. Activity Planning and Risk Assessment Moved the Activity Planning and Risk Assessment, The Sweet 16 of BSA Safety, and the Unauthorized and Restricted Activities sections that were in the Shooting Sports chapter to this chapter and renamed it.
VIII. Sports and Activities Moved the content of the Shooting Sports chapter to sections within this chapter, and moved the Activity Planning and Risk Assessment, The Sweet 16 of BSA Safety, and the Unauthorized and Restricted Activities sections to a new chapter: VII. Activity Planning and Risk Assessment.
XIII. Incident Reporting Updated chapter.
Appendix Added the Incident Reporting Tool and Near Miss Reporting Tool and updated the Youth Protection/Membership/Infraction Incident Information Form.

2017 Updates

March 2017
Updated throughout to remove references to tour and activity plan.
VIII. Sports and Activities The entire chapter was updated and a Canyoneering section was added.
May 2017
IX. Insurance Updated the Coverage for Non-Owned Boats Used in Scouting Activities and the Accident and Sickness Coverage sections.
Appendix Updated the Motor Vehicle and Driver, Flying Plan, and Campout Safety checklists.

2016 Updates

July 2016
V. Medical Information and First Aid: A section called Medication Use in Scouting was added to this chapter.
VIII. Sports and Activities: Information on orb activities was added to the Unauthorized and Restricted Activities section.
Inspections: The entire Inspections chapter was deleted.
IX. Insurance: The entire Insurance chapter was updated.
X. Transportation: The section on automobiles, SUVs, and vans was updated for consistency with new insurance requirements.
XIII. Incident Reporting: Information was added about the BSA’s new series of Incident Review sheets.
December 2016
Front Matter: Scouter Code of Conduct added.
II. Aquatics Safety: The Safety Afloat section was updated.
IV. Alcohol, Tobacco, and Drugs: The entire chapter was updated and renamed.
IX. Insurance: The Automobile Liability Insurance section was updated.
X. Transportation: The Automobiles, SUVs, and Vans section was updated.

2015 Updates

April 2015
II. Aquatics Safety: The Safety Afloat section was updated to clarify Cub Scout participation in pack and den events.
VIII. Sports and Activities: The Climbing and Rappelling, and COPE Activities sections were each revised and expanded throughout.
XI. Transportation: Additions to this chapter include the future policy on using 15-passenger vans and guidelines on safe driving.

2013 Updates

March 2013
The BSA’s Commitment to Safety: This safety statement from the national Key 3 was added to page ii, before the preface.
VII. Shooting Sports: New section refers to the BSA National Shooting Sports Manual for policies on all shooting sports activities.
Age-Appropriate Guidelines for Scouting Activities (Insert): Pocketknives (in Tools section) can be used by Bear Cub Scouts only, not Wolf and Bears Cub Scouts as previously indicated in second box.
May 2013
VII. Shooting Sports: The BSA’s longstanding policy on firearms was added.
Appendix: In the Age Guidelines for Tool Use and Work at Elevations or Excavations document, the maximum height for pioneering projects was changed from 5 feet to 6 feet on the third page.

2012 Updates

January 2012
I. Youth Protection and Adult Leadership:
Mandatory Report of Child Abuse: Clause in first sentence deleted
How does the BSA help prevent child abuse in Scouting?: Changes throughout
Leadership Selection: Change to last sentence in section
Scouting’s Barriers to Abuse: Section title change from Barriers to Abuse Within Scouting; Changes throughout
Frequently Asked Questions: What should I do if a child tells me that he has been sexually abused?; Insert clause "and the authorities"; New copy for last sentence
II. Aquatics Safety: Safe Swim Defense: New copy added at end of first paragraph
III. Camping:
Venturing Camping: Venturing members can participate in the national jamboree
VIII. Sports and Activities:
Climbing and Rappelling: Change "should" to "must;" "guidelines" to "requirements"
Unauthorized and Restricted Activities: Changes in wording for Nos. 8 and 9
Age-appropriate Guidelines for Scouting Activities (Insert):
Vehicles: Under "Dirt Bikes," insert "Venturers Only" into the chart under "Older Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venturers"
Camping: Under “Jamboree,” delete “Boy Scouts Only;” insert solid black rules in the chart under "Boy Scouts" and "Older Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venturers"
Aircraft: Insert category "Hot Air Balloons (tethered only)" and a solid black rule across each of the age levels in the chart
Appendix:
Unit Money-Earning Application: Addition of second page of the application
September 2012
I. Youth Protection and Adult Leadership: Change wording of "Mandatory Report of Child Abuse" to "Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse"
V. Medical Information and First Aid: Under "Immunizations," add "Meningococcal" to the listing; Under “Protection Consideration for Blood and Bodily Fluids (Universal Precautions);” delete “arterial” from “serious arterial bleeding” in the third bulleted item; delete "sterilize or" from "for use in sterilizing or cleaning" in the fourth bulleted item
VIII. Sports and Activities: Added new section "Slacklining," before "Unauthorized and Restricted Activities"
XI. Transportation: Under "Automobiles," added new paragraph on the commercial general liability policy information that includes bolded information, Scouting youth (under age 18) are not insured under the Boy Scouts of America commercial general liability policy
XIII. Animal and Insect Hazards: West Nile Virus: Updated web address at end of last paragraph
XIV. Incident Reporting: Added new section
Appendix
Tour Plan: Replaced by Tour and Activity Plan
Flying Plan Application: Replaced with updated Flying Plan
Added "Incident Descriptions and Reporting Instructions"
Added "Incident Definitions", "Service Project Planning Guidelines", and "Age Guidelines for Tool Use and Work at Elevations and Excavations"
Age-Appropriate Guidelines for Scouting Activities (Insert)
Vehicles: Add All-Terrain Vehicles and Personal Watercraft approved only for council-approved activities
Shooting: Pistols approved for Venturers only; exception made for authorized pilot programs operated by a council under a formal memorandum of understanding
Aquatics: Tubing (floating in an inner tube) approved for Webelos Scouts for council/district flat water events

2011 Updates

March 2011
In the past, the Guide to Safe Scouting has been a unit leader’s guide for activities. This new version addresses other activities at the council and district levels. While some of the literature provides guidance for district and council activities, the primary focus is for unit leaders conducting unit activities.

Miscellaneous

The BSA Ready & Prepared Award

The BSA Ready & Prepared Award encourages and rewards Boy Scout troops and Venturing crews that incorporate safe practices while enjoying challenging activities. While working to earn the award, units emphasize risk management as a way to help reduce fatalities and serious injury.

Related awards

Aquatic-related awards
Emergency Preparedness-related awards
Outdoor-related awards

See also

External links

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