Guide to Safe Scouting

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Guide to Safe Scouting

First edition:
Latest edition:2011 (Printed bi-annually.)
PDF version
HTML version
Quarterly updates
BSA Supply Number:34416



The purpose of the Guide to Safe Scouting is to prepare adult leaders to conduct Scouting activities in a safe and prudent manner. The policies and guidelines have been established because of the real need to protect members from known hazards that have been identified through 90-plus years of experience. Limitations on certain activities should not be viewed as stumbling blocks; rather, policies and guidelines are best described as stepping-stones toward safe and enjoyable adventures.

All volunteers participating in official Scouting activities should become familiar with the Guide to Safe Scouting.

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.

— 2011 Guide to Safe Scouting Available]

Viewing the online Guide

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


  • 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.
  • Aquatics Safety Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat training can be given by any person authorized by the council, including a BSA Aquatics resource person, a unit leader with aquatics skill, or any other person with aquatics knowledge or experience whom the local council has approved.
  • Camping Guidelines for Safe Camping, Trail Safety, Hazardous Weather, Health issues and other camping related issues.
  • Drug, Alcohol, and Tobacco 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.
  • Emergency Preparedness Perhaps the most critical test of your preparedness will be in time of emergency. Developing and rehearsing an emergency action plan will add precious time needed for response to a crisis. This is true on a day hike, overnight or longer troop camp, and all other activities.
  • First Aid First aid is the first help or immediate care given someone who has suddenly sickened or been hurt in an accident. First-aid training continues through the program of the Boy Scouts of America as concrete evidence that we are prepared to help others in need.
  • Guns and Firearms The Boy Scouts of America adheres to its longstanding policy of teaching its youth and adult members the safe, responsible, intelligent handling, care, and use of firearms, airguns, and BB guns in planned, carefully managed, and supervised programs.
  • Transportation Established public carriers—trains, buses, and commercial airlines—are the safest and most comfortable way for groups to travel. Chartered buses usually are the most economical transportation for groups of 20 or more.
  • Winter Activities There is magic to camping in winter. It is one of the most advanced and challenging of outdoor adventures
  • BSA Bike SSafety Guidelines Guidelines and procedures apply to all BSA unit, council, and national program activities involving bicycling.


Scouting $$$ Pay Liability Claims

The BSA general liability program is not just insurance. In fact, insurance plays a very small part. Our greatest efforts are spent on safety and injury prevention.

BSA self-funds the first million dollars of each liability claim. This means that almost all money spent on a liability claim is Scouting money, not insurance money.

Accident and sickness insurance pays regardless of fault as long as the accident occurred during an official Scouting activity and the unit or council has purchased the coverage.

The BSA Ready & Prepared Award

The Boy Scouts of America's Ready & Prepared Award encourages and rewards Boy Scout troops, Varsity Scout teams, 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. Focus areas include:

Related awards

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

See also

G2SS Revision History

Quarterly changes are made to the on-line version. Every two years, a new printed version is available.

March 2011

UPDATE! (03/04/11) – A new version (2011 Edition) of the Guide to Safe Scouting is now available.
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. > Scouting Safely > Health and Safety Alerts > 2011 Guide to Safe Scouting Available
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