This Guide to Safe Scouting reproduced from
the National BSA - www.bsa.scouting.org
Viking Council BSA recommends that each
adult volunteer have their own hardcopy of this document for their use in
service to youth of their units.
- Adult Leadership
- Leadership Requirements for Trips and Outings
- Aquatics Safety
- Who Can Instruct Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat Training?
- Safe Swim Defense
- Classification of Swimming Ability
- Pool and Surf Swimming
- Safety Afloat
- Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)
- Water Clarity
- BSA Lifeguard
- Diving and Elevated Entry
- Scuba (Venturers and older Scouts only)
- Policy on Asthma/Reactive Airwave Disease
- Snorkeling, BSA
- Whitewater Safety Code
- Age Guidelines
- Family Camping
- Wilderness Camping
- Trail Safety
- Beware of Lightning
- Pure Drinking Water
- BSA Property Smart
- Rabies Prevention
- Drug, Alcohol, and Tobacco Use and Abuse
- Emergency Preparedness
- Reporting Deaths or Serious Injury
- Emergency Phone Number List
- First Aid
- First-Aid Kits
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
- Protection Considerations for Bloodborne Pathogens
- Fuels and Fire Prevention
- Chemical Fuels
- Guidelines for Safely Using Chemical Stoves and Lanterns
- Flammability Warning
- Guns and Firearms
- Cub Scout Standards
- Boy Scout Standards
- Handguns (Venturers only)
- Muzzle Loaders
- Sports and Activities
- The Sweet 16 of BSA Safety
- Cave Exploring
- Judo, Tai Chi, and Aikido
- Climbing and Rappelling
- Unauthorized and Restricted Activities
- Carbon Tetrachloride
- Rope Monkey Bridges
- Parade Floats and Hayrides
- Unit Fund-raisers
- Tractor Safety
- Bike Safety
- Skating Guidelines
- Meeting Room
- Motor Vehicles
- Unit Camping
- Medical Information
- Life-Threatening Communicable Diseases
- Sun Safety
- Religious Beliefs and Medical Care
- Campers, Trailers, and Trucks
- Tour Permits
- Commercial Driver's License Compliance
- Winter Activities
- Winter Camping Safety
- Winter Sports Safety
- Youth Protection and Child Abuse
Each Cub Scout den and Webelos Scout den and each chartered Cub Scout pack,
Boy Scout troop, Varsity Scout team, and Venturing crew shall have one citizen of
the United States, 21 years of age or older, who shall be registered and serve as
the unit or den leader. A unit leader may not serve simultaneously in any other
position within the same unit. The head of the chartered organization or chartered
organization representative and the local council must approve the registration of
the unit or den leader on the appropriate form.
Primary reference: Rules and Regulations of the Boy Scouts of
- Two-deep leadership:
Two registered adult leaders, or one adult and a parent of a participating
Scout, one of whom must be at least 21 years of age or older, are required for
all trips or outings. There are a few instances, such as patrol activities, when
no adult leadership is required. Coed overnight activities require male and female
adult leaders, both of whom must be 21 years of age or older.
- During transportation to and from planned Scout outings,
A common departure site and a daily destination point are a must. If you cannot
provide two adults for each vehicle, the minimum required is one adult and two
or more youth members - never one on one.
- Meet for departure at a designated area.
- Prearrange a schedule for periodic checkpoint stops as a group.
- Plan a daily destination point.
- Safety rule of four:
No fewer than four individuals (always with the minimum of two adults) go on any
backcountry expedition or campout. If an accident occurs, one person stays
with the injured, and two go for help. Additional adult leadership requirements
must reflect an awareness of such factors as size and skill level of the group,
anticipated environmental conditions, and overall degree of challenge.
- Male and female leaders require separate sleeping facilities. Married couples
may share the same quarters if appropriate facilities are available.
- Male and female youth participants will not share the same sleeping facility.
- When staying in tents, no youth will stay in the tent of an adult other than his
or her parent or guardian.
- If separate shower and latrine facilities are not available, separate times for
male and female use should be scheduled and posted for showers. The buddy system
should be used for latrines by having one person wait outside the entrance, or
provide Occupied and Unoccupied signs and/or inside door latches.
- Two-deep adult leadership is required for flying activities. For basic
orientation flights, the adult licensed pilot in control of the aircraft is
sufficient for the flight while two-deep leadership is maintained on the
Who Can Instruct Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat Training?
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
Most accidents in aquatics activities are caused by the lack of adult
supervision and discipline. Almost every accidental drowning can be attributed to the
violation of one or more safe swim defenses.
Before a BSA group may engage in swimming activities of any kind, a minimum of one adult
leader must complete Safe Swim Defense training, have a commitment card (No. 34243) with
them, and agree to use the eight defenses in this plan.
One of the best opportunities
for Safe Swim Defense training is in summer camp. The eight defenses are:
- 1. Qualified Supervision
- All swimming activity must be supervised by a mature and conscientious
adult age 21 or older who understands and knowingly accepts responsibility
for the well-being and safety of youth members in his or her care, who is
experienced in the water and confident of his or her ability to respond in
the event of an emergency, and who is trained in and committed to compliance
with the eight points of BSA Safe Swim Defense. (It is strongly recommended
that all units have at least one adult or older youth member currently
trained as a BSA Lifeguard to assist in the planning and conduct of all
- 2. Physical Fitness
- Require evidence of fitness for swimming activity with a complete health
history from physician, parent, or legal guardian. The adult supervisor
should adjust all supervision, discipline, and protection to anticipate any
potential risks associated with individual health conditions. In the event
of any significant health conditions, the unit leader should require proof
of an examination by a physician.
Those with physical disabilities can
enjoy and benefit from aquatics if the disabilities are known and necessary
precautions are taken.
- 3. Safe Area
- When swimming in areas not regularly maintained and used for swimming activity,
have lifeguards and swimmers systematically examine the bottom of the swimming
area to determine varying depths, deep holes, rocks, and stumps. Mark off
the area for three groups: not more than 31/2 feet deep for nonswimmers; from
shallow water to just over the head for beginners; deep water not more than 12
feet for swimmers. A participant should not be permitted to swim in an area
where he cannot readily recover and maintain his footing, or cannot maintain his
position on the water, because of swimming ability or water flow. When setting up
a safe swimming area in natural waters, use poles stuck in the bottom, or plastic
bottles, balloons, or sticks attached to rock anchors with twine for boundary
markers. Enclose nonswimmer and beginner areas with buoy lines (twine and floats)
between markers. Mark the outer bounds of the swimmer area with floats. Be sure
that clear-water depth is at least 7 feet before allowing anyone to dive into
the water. Diving is prohibited from any height more than 40 inches above the
water surface; feet-first entry is prohibited from more than 60 inches above
the water. For any entry from more than 18 inches above the water surface,
clear-water depth must be 10 to 12 feet. Only surface swimming is permitted in
turbid water. Swimming is not permitted in water over 12 feet deep, in turbid
water where poor visibility and depth would interfere with emergency recognition
or prompt rescue, or in whitewater, unless all participants wear appropriate
personal flotation devices and the supervisor determines that swimming with
personal flotation equipment is safe under the circumstances.
- 4. Lifeguards on Duty
- Swim only where there are lifeguards on duty. For unit swims in areas where
lifeguards are not provided by others, the supervisor should designate two
capable swimmers as lifeguards. Station them ashore, equipped with a lifeline
(a 100-foot length of 3/4-inch nylon cord). In an emergency, one carries out the
line; the other feeds it out from shore, then pulls in his partner and the person
being helped. In addition, if a boat is available, have two people, preferably
capable swimmers, take it out - one rowing and the other equipped with a 10-foot
pole or extra oar. Provide one guard for every 10 people in the water, and adjust
the number and positioning of guards as needed to protect the particular area and
- 5. Lookout
- Station a lookout on the shore where it is possible to see and hear everything in
all areas. The lookout may be the adult in charge of the swim and may give the
- 6. Ability Groups
- Divide into three ability groups: Nonswimmers, beginners, and swimmers. Keep each
group in its own area. Nonswimmers have not passed a swimming test. Beginners must
pass this test: jump feetfirst into water over the head in depth, level off, swim
25 feet on the surface. Stop, turn sharply, resume swimming as before and return
to the starting place. Swimmers pass this test: jump feet-first into water over
the head in depth. Level off and swim 75 yards in a strong manner using one or
more of the following strokes: sidestroke, breaststroke, trudgen, or crawl; then
swim 25 yards using an easy resting backstroke. The 100 yards must be swum
continuously and include at least one sharp turn. After completing the swim, rest
by floating. These classification tests should be renewed annually, preferably at
the beginning of the season.
- 7. Buddy System
- Pair every youth with another in the same ability group. Buddies check in
and out of the swimming area together. Emphasize that each buddy lifeguards his
buddy. Check everyone in the water about every 10 minutes, or as needed to keep
the buddies together. The adult in charge signals for a buddy check with a single
blast of a whistle or ring of a bell and a call of "Buddies!" The adult counts
slowly to 10 while buddies join and raise hands and remain still and silent.
Guards check all areas, count the pairs, and compare the total with the number
known to be in the water. Signal two blasts or bells to resume swimming. Signal
three blasts or bells for checkout.
- 8. Discipline
- Be sure everyone understands and agrees that swimming is allowed only with proper
supervision and use of the complete Safe Swim Defense. The applicable rules should
be presented and learned prior to the outing, and should be reviewed for all participants
at the water's edge just before the swimming activity begins. Scouts should respect
and follow all directions and rules of the adult supervisor. When people know the reason
for rules and procedures they are more likely to follow them. Be strict and fair, showing
The swimmer test demonstrates the minimum level of swimming ability required for
safe deep-water swimming. The various components of the test evaluate the several
skills essential to this minimum level of swimming ability:
Jump feetfirst into water over the head in depth, level off, and begin swimming.
Swim 75 yards in a strong manner using one or more of the following strokes:
sidestroke, breaststroke, trudgen, or crawl; then swim 25 yards using an easy,
resting backstroke. The 100 yards must be swum continuously and include at least
one sharp turn. After completing the swim, rest by floating.
The test administrator must objectively evaluate the individual performance of the test,
and in so doing should keep in mind the purpose of each test element.
"Jump feetfirst into water over the head in depth, level off, and begin
swimming. . . ."
The swimmer must be able to make an abrupt entry into deep
water and begin swimming without any aids. Walking in from shallow water, easing
in from the edge or down a ladder, pushing off from side or bottom, or gaining
forward momentum by diving do not satisfy this requirement.
". . . Swim 75 yards in a strong manner using one or more of the following
strokes: sidestroke, breaststroke, trudgen, or crawl; . . ."
The swimmer must
be able to cover distance with a strong, confident stroke. The 75 yards must not
be the outer limit of the swimmer's ability; completion of the distance should
give evidence of sufficient stamina to avoid undue risks. Dog-paddling and strokes
repeatedly interrupted and restarted are not sufficient; underwater swimming is
not permitted. The itemized strokes are inclusive. Any strong side or breaststroke
or any strong overarm stroke (including the back crawl) is acceptable.
". . . swim 25 yards using an easy, resting backstroke . . ."
must indicate the ability to execute a restful, free-breathing backstroke that
can be used to avoid exhaustion during swimming activity. This element of the
test necessarily follows the more strenuous swimming activity to show that the
swimmer is, in fact, able to use the backstroke as a relief from exertion. The
change of stroke must be accomplished in deep water without any push-off or other
aid. Any variation of the elementary may suffice if it clearly provides opportunity
for the swimmer to rest and regain wind.
". . . The 100 yards must be swum continuously and include at least one
sharp turn. . . ."
The total distance is to be covered without rest stops. The
sharp turn simply demonstrates the swimmer's ability to reverse direction in deep
water without assistance or push-off from side or bottom.
". . . After completing the swim, rest by floating."
This critically important
component of the test evaluates the swimmer's ability to maintain in the water
indefinitely even though exhausted or otherwise unable to continue swimming. Treading
water or swimming in place will further tire the swimmer and are therefore unacceptable.
The duration of the float test is not significant, except that it must be long enough
for the test administrator to determine that the swimmer is, in fact, resting and
could likely continue to do so for a prolonged time. The drownproofing technique
may be sufficient if clearly restful, but it is not preferred. If the test is
completed except for the floating requirement, the swimmer may be retested on the
floating only (after instruction) provided that the test administrator is confident
that the swimmer can initiate the float when exhausted.
Reference: Swimming and Lifesaving merit badge pamphlets
Jump feetfirst into water over the head in depth, level off, swim 25
feet on the surface, stop, turn sharply, resume swimming as before, and
return to starting place.
The entry and turn serve the same purpose as in the swimmer test. The
swimming can be done with any stroke, but no underwater swimming is permitted.
The stop assures that the swimmer can regain a stroke if it is interrupted.
The test demonstrates that the beginning swimmer is ready to learn deepwater
skills and has the minimum ability required for safe swimming in a confined
area in which shallow water, sides, or other support is less than 25 feet
from any point in the water.
The Safe Swim Defense applies to swimming at the beach, private or public pool, wilderness
pond, stream, lake, or anywhere Scouts swim. Here are some additional points for the pool and
Pool - If the swimming activity is in a public facility where others are using the pool at
the same time, and the pool operator provides guard personnel, there may be no need for additional
designation of Scout lifeguards and lookout.
The buddy system is critically important, however, even in a public pool. Remember, even in
a crowd, you are alone without protection if no one is attentive to your circumstances.
The rule that people swim only in water suited to their ability and with others of similar
ability applies in a pool environment. Most public pools divide shallow and deep water, and
this may be sufficient for defining appropriate swimming areas. If not, the supervisor should
clearly indicate to the participating Scouts the appropriate areas of the public facility.
Although such procedures add a margin of safety, their use may not always be practical when
the swim activity is conducted at a public facility where non-Scouts are present. A responsible
adult supervisor, who understands his or her responsibility and the elements of safety, can
exercise discretion regarding certain procedures while maintaining safety.
Surf - The surf swimming environment of wave action, currents, tides, undertow,
and sea pests like stinging jellyfish requires precautions for safe swimming that aren't
necessary in other environments. A swimmer's physical condition is very important and should
enable the swimmer to recover footing in waves, swim vigorously for at least five minutes
without becoming exhausted, and remain calm and in control when faced with unexpected
Designated swimming areas are marked by flags or pennants that are easily seen. Beginners
and nonswimmers are positioned inshore from the standing lifeguards equipped with reach poles.
Better swimmers are permitted seaward of the lifeguard but must remain shoreward of anchored
marker buoys. The lifeguard-to-swimmer ratio should always be 1-to-10, with a rescue team
stationed at the beach area and supplied with a rescue tube or torpedo buoy.
Safety Afloat has been developed to promote boating and boating safety and to set standards
for safe unit activity afloat. Before a BSA group may engage in an excursion, expedition,
or trip on the water (canoe, raft, sailboat, motorboat, rowboat, tube, or other craft), adult
leaders for such activity must complete Safety Afloat Training, No. 34159A, have a commitment
card, No. 34242A, with them, and be dedicated to full compliance with all nine points of
- 1. Qualified Supervision
All activity afloat must be supervised by a mature and conscientious
adult age 21 or older who understands and knowingly accepts responsibility
for the well-being and safety of the children in his or her care, who is
experienced and qualified in the particular watercraft skills and equipment
involved in the activity, and who is committed to compliance with the nine
points of BSA Safety Afloat. One such supervisor is required for each 10
people, with a minimum of two adults for any one group. At least one
supervisor must be age 21 or older, and the remaining supervisors must
be age 18 or older. All supervisors must complete BSA Safety Afloat and
Safe Swim Defense training and rescue training for the type of watercraft
to be used in the activity, and at least one must be trained in CPR. It
is strongly recommended that all units have at least one adult or older
youth member currently trained as a BSA Lifeguard to assist in the
planning and conducting of all activity afloat.
For Cub Scouts:
The ratio of adult supervisors to participants is one to five.
- 2. Physical Fitness
- All persons must present evidence of fitness assured by a complete health
history from physician, parent, or legal guardian. The adult supervisor
should adjust all supervision, discipline, and protection to anticipate any
potential risks associated with individual health conditions. In the event of
any significant health conditions, the adult leader should require proof of
an examination by a physician.
Those with physical disabilities can enjoy
and benefit from aquatics if the disabilities are known and necessary
- 3. Swimming Ability
- A person who has not been classified as a "swimmer" may ride as a passenger
in a rowboat or motorboat with an adult "swimmer" or in a canoe, raft, or
sailboat with an adult certified as a lifeguard or a lifesaver by a recognized
agency. In all other circumstances, the person must be a swimmer to participate
in an activity afloat. "Swimmers" must pass this test:
Jump feetfirst into water over the head in depth, level off,
and begin swimming. Swim 75 yards in a strong manner using one
or more of the following strokes: sidestroke, breaststroke, trudgen, or crawl; then swim 25 yards using an easy, resting
backstroke. The 100 yards must be swum continuously and include
at least one sharp turn. After completing the swim, rest by
This qualification test should be renewed annually.
- 4. Personal Flotation Equipment
- Properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices
must be worn by all persons engaged in activity on the open water (rowing,
canoeing, sailing, boardsailing, motorboating, waterskiing, rafting, tubing,
kayaking, and surfboarding). Type II and III PFDs are recommended.
- 5. Buddy System
- All activity afloat must adhere to the principles of the buddy system.
The buddy system assures that for every person involved in aquatics activity,
at least one other person is always aware of his or her situation and prepared
to lend assistance immediately when needed. Not only does every individual have
a buddy, but every craft should have a ''buddy boat'' when on the water.
- 6. Skill Proficiency
- All participants in activity afloat must be trained and experienced in
watercraft handling skills, safety, and emergency procedures. (a) For unit
activity on white water, all participants must complete special training by
a BSA Aquatics Instructor or qualified whitewater specialist. (b) Powerboat
operators must be able to meet requirements for the Motorboating merit badge
or equivalent. (c) Except for whitewater and powerboat operation as noted
above, either a minimum of three hours' training and supervised practice or
meeting requirements for "basic handling tests" is required for all float
trips or open-water excursions using unpowered craft.
For Cub Scouts:
Canoeing and rafting for Cub Scouts (including Webelos Scouts) is to be limited
to council/district events on flat water ponds or controlled lake areas free of
powerboats and sailboats. Prior to recreational canoeing, Cub Scouts are to be
instructed in basic handling skills and safety practices.
- 7. Planning
- Float Plan. Know exactly where the unit will put in, where the
unit will pull out, and precisely what course will be followed. Determine
all stopover points in advance. Estimate travel time with ample margins
to avoid traveling under time pressures. Obtain accurate and current maps
and information on the waterway to be traveled, and discuss the course with
others who have made the trip under similar seasonal conditions. (Preferably,
an adult member of the group should run the course before the unit trip.)
- Local Rules. Determine which state and local laws or regulations are
applicable. If private property is to be used or crossed, obtain written
permission from the owners. All such rules must be strictly observed.
- Notification. The float plan must be filed with the parents of
participants and a member of the unit committee. For any activity using
canoes on running water, the float plan must be filed with the local council
service center. Notify appropriate authorities, such as Coast Guard, state
police, or park personnel, when their jurisdiction is involved. When the
unit returns from this activity, persons given the float plan should be
- Weather. Check the weather forecast just before setting out, know
and understand the seasonal weather pattern for the region, and keep an
alert "weather eye." Imminent rough weather should bring all ashore
- Contingencies. Planning must anticipate possible emergencies or other
circumstances that could force a change in the original plan. Identify and
consider all such circumstances in advance so that appropriate contingency
plans can be developed.
For Cub Scouts: Cub Scout canoeing and rafting does not include "trips"
or "expeditions" and is not to be conducted on running water (i.e., rivers or
streams); therefore, some procedures are inapplicable. Suitable weather
requires clear skies, no appreciable wind, and warm air and water.
- 8. Equipment
All equipment must be suited to the craft, to the water conditions, and to the
individual; must be in good repair; and must satisfy all state and U.S. Coast Guard
requirements. To the extent possible, carry spare equipment. On long trips or
when spare equipment is not available, carry repair materials. Have appropriate
rescue equipment available for immediate use.
- 9. Discipline
- All participants should know, understand, and respect the rules and procedures for
safe unit activity afloat. The applicable rules should be presented and learned prior
to the outing, and should be reviewed for all participants at the water's edge just
before the activity begins. When Scouts know and understand the reasons for the rules,
they will observe them. When fairly and impartially applied, rules do not interfere
with the fun. Rules for safety, plus common sense and good judgment, keep the fun
rom being interrupted by tragedy.
Note: For cruising vessels (excluding rowboats, canoes, kayaks, and rafts, but
including sailboats and powerboats longer than 20 feet) used in adult-supervised unit
activities by a chartered Venturing crew or Sea Scout ship specializing in watercraft
operations or used in adult-supervised program activity in connection with any
high-adventure program or other activity under the direct control of the National
Council, the standards and procedures in a forthcoming Sea Scout manual may be
substituted for the "Safety Afloat" standards.
Properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices
(PFDs) must be
worn by all persons engaged in activity on the open water (rowing, canoeing, sailing,
boardsailing, motorboating, waterskiing, rafting, tubing, and kayaking).
Only U.S. Coast Guard-approved equipment (types I, II, or III) is acceptable for use
in Scouting aquatics. Ski belts are not acceptable. Scouts and unit leaders should learn
which type is appropriate for each specific circumstance and how to wear and check for
Swimming activity in turbid water should be limited to surface swimming. Turbid
water exists when a 12-inch white disk at the depth of 3 feet is not visible from above
the surface of the water. Underwater swimming, headfirst entry (except for racing dives),
and board diving are not permitted in turbid water. Supervised instruction in lifesaving
skills and surface diving may be conducted in confined areas of turbid water not exceeding
8 feet in depth and free of bottom hazards.
Snorkeling and scuba skills are taught
and practiced only in clear water. Clear water exists when a 12-inch disk at a depth of 8
feet is visible from above the surface of the water.
BSA Lifeguard training has been established to provide units (packs, troops, teams,
and posts) with qualified individuals within their own membership to give knowledgeable
supervision for activities on or in the water. The first standard in the Safe Swim
Defense and Safety Afloat guidelines establishes a need for qualified supervision. An
adult currently trained as a BSA Lifeguard or an adult leader assisted by a Scout holding
BSA Lifeguard training meets this requirement. To enroll in the BSA Lifeguard course, you
must be at least 14 years of age or have completed the eighth grade. The latest requirements
for BSA Lifeguard training are included on the application form, No. 34435. Every unit
leader is encouraged to become trained or to be certain that at least one youth or adult
member of the unit has such training.
Swimming areas should be large enough to avoid crowding (minimum of 40 square feet per
swimmer). Note the following in accordance with Safe Swim Defense rules. Mark off the
area for three groups: not more than 3.5 feet deep for nonswimmers; from shallow water
to just over the head for beginners; deep water not more than 12 feet for swimmers.
"Diving" refers to any water entry where the feet are not making first contact
with the water. "Elevated entry" refers to any water entry from a height more than 18
inches above the water. According to BSA Safety Afloat standards, no diving or swimming
activity of any kind is done in water with a depth greater than 12 feet.
entry must be feetfirst where the water has less than 7 feet of unobstructed depth. A
leaping entry is recommended where water is at or above head level; a step-down or
jump-down entry from a sitting position is recommended for shallower water.
diving is permitted in water with less than 7 feet of unobstructed depth. Diving is
permitted in clear water over 7 feet deep from a dock, pier, or platform that is no
more than 18 inches above the water surface. For elevated entry from 18 inches high
but less than 40 inches above the water surface, clear and unobstructed water depth
must be at least 9 feet. The water must be clear enough to enable supervisory and
guard personnel to see the diver at the deepest part of the plunge.
is permitted only from boards, mounted on a fixed (not floating) platform or deck, no
more than 40 inches (approximately 1 meter) above the water surface. Clear water depth
below the board should be 9 to 12 feet. A guard or supervisor should be positioned where
the diver can be seen at all times beneath the surface. There should be no other surface
or underwater activity or obstruction for at least 15 feet on either side of the board
and 25 feet in front of the board. Diving should always be done straight ahead from the
board, never to the sides.
Any elevated entry from a height greater than 40 inches
must be feetfirst and only from a fixed platform or solid footing no more than 60 inches
above the water surface. Clear water depth should be 10 to 12 feet. Other protective
measures and distances are the same as for board diving.
Any person possessing, displaying, or using scuba equipment in connection with
any Scouting-related activity must be currently certified by the National Association
of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) or the Professional Association of Diving Instructors
(PADI). These two agencies are recognized by the Boy Scouts of America for scuba
training and instruction. Alternatively, if PADI or NAUI training and instruction is
not available, certification may be accepted from other agencies that comply with
Recreational Scuba Training Council (RSTC) guidelines, provided that such acceptance
has been expressly approved by the BSA local council in consultation with the BSA
national Health and Safety Service.
Scuba programs may be a part of Boy Scout
or Venturing activities for participants who are 14 years of age or older. Persons
meeting the age requirement and properly certified may participate in group dives
under the supervision of a responsible adult who is currently certified as a dive
master, assistant instructor, or any higher rating from NAUI or PADI. Student divers
must be under the supervision of a currently certified NAUI or PADI instructor. No
exceptions to the BSA age requirement are permitted, and any NAUI or PADI age
requirements for those 14 and older shall be followed in all Scout-related activities.
A 14-year-old participant with a junior diver certification may dive only when
accompanied by a buddy who is a certified open-water diver at least 18 years
Because of lack of frequency of diving by most sports divers, it is important
that any certified divers be screened and evaluated by a certified diving instructor
before participating in BSA-related activities. The skills to be evaluated include
- Use of buoyancy control device
- Giant stride entry
- Removal and replacement of weight belt
- Neutral buoyancy
- Snorkel to regulator exchange
- Removal and replacement of scuba unit under the water
- Face mask removal, replacement, and clearing
- Emergency swimming ascent
- Alternate air source ascent
- Predive safety drill
- Five-point ascent and descent
- Deepwater exits
- Simulation of surface procedures
Persons with symptomatic or active asthma/reactive airway disease (commonly
known as RAD) should not be allowed to scuba dive. This would include, at a minimum,
Persons with asymptomatic asthma/RAD who wish to scuba dive should be referred
to a pulmonary medical specialist who is also knowledgeable about diving medicine
for a complete medical examination, including exercise and bronchial challenge testing.
Any determination of fitness for diving must be made on the basis of such examination
and specific testing.
- Is currently taking medication for asthma/RAD
- Has received treatment for bronchospasm in the past five years
- Has exercise induced bronchospasm
- Has cold-induced bronchospasm
The Snorkeling, BSA, requirements have been developed to introduce Scout-age children to
the special skills, equipment, and safety precautions associated with snorkeling; to encourage
the development of aquatics skills that promote fitness and recreation; and to provide a solid
foundation of skills and knowledge for those who later will participate in more advanced
Any trained BSA Aquatics Instructor may serve as a counselor. A person recognized and
certified as a snorkeling instructor by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors
(PADI), the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI), or the Young Men's
Christian Association (YMCA) also qualifies as a Snorkeling, BSA, counselor.
Instructions must be conducted in clear, confined water with a maximum depth of 12 feet.
A swimming pool is recommended. All requirements must be completed as stated on the
application form. The counselor may not omit, vary, or add requirements. The requirements
are presented in the order in which they should be taught to the Scout. The completed
application should be submitted to the local council service center by the counselor or
Safe waterskiing starts with safe equipment; a thorough knowledge of techniques;
competent instruction; an efficient, careful towboat operator; and a conscientious
observer. A life jacket is a must for all water-skiers. Skis should be in good shape
and free from sharp or protruding edges. The boat operator should be driving solely
for the benefit, satisfaction, and safety of the skier. The boat and skier should
stay away from docks, swimmers, boaters, people who are fishing, and other objects.
The Water-Skier's Safety Code and Boat Driver's Safety Code are found in the
Waterskiing merit badge pamphlet. These are guidelines to be followed by
all those involved in the sport of waterskiing.
Reference: Waterskiing merit badge pamphlet
The BSA boardsailing program has been developed to introduce Scout-age children to
basic boardsailing skills, equipment, and safety precautions, to encourage development
of skills that promote fitness and safe aquatics recreation, and to lay a skill and
knowledge foundation for those who will later participate in more advanced and demanding
activities on the water.
Any person recognized and certified as an instructor by
Windsurfer International or the U.S. Board Sailing Association may serve as a counselor
for the Boardsailing Award with the approval of the local council service center. Any
person trained and experienced in boardsailing skills and safety may serve as a counselor
for this award in a Scout summer camp program under the direction and supervision of a
currently trained BSA Aquatics Instructor.
Instruction in recreational activity
must be conducted according to the BSA guidelines for boardsailing. The Boardsailing
Award is now available for inclusion in Scouting programs.
Reference: Boardsailing BSA Award Application, No. 19-935
The American Whitewater Affiliation (AWA) Safety Code includes ten recommendations
for river safety:
- Be a competent swimmer.
- Wear a PFD.
- Keep your canoe or raft under control, always!
- Be aware of river hazards and avoid them.
- Boating alone is not recommended; preferred minimum is three to a craft.
- Be suitably equipped.
- Wear shoes (tennis shoes or special canoeing shoes are best).
- Tie your glasses on.
- Carry a knife and waterproof matches (also compass and map).
- Don't wear bulky clothing that will waterlog.
- Wear a crash helmet where upsets are likely.
- Carry an extra paddle and canoe-repair tape.
- Open canoes should have bow and stern lines (painters) securely
attached. Use at least 15 feet of 1/4- or 3/8-inh rope. Secure
them to the canoe so that they are readily available but will not
entangle feet and legs in case of a spill.
- Swim on your back in fast water, keeping your feet and legs downstream
and high. Keep watching ahead.
- When you start to spill, keep the upstream gunwale high.
- If you do spill, hang on to your canoe and get to the upstream end.
(Note: If you are heading into rough rapids and quick rescue is not
expected, or if water is numbing cold, then swim for shore or a rock
where you can climb out of the water.)
- When you are with a group:
- Organize the group to even out canoeing ability
- Keep the group compact for mutual support.
- Don't crowd rapids! Let each canoe complete the run before
the next canoe enters.
- Each canoe is responsible for the canoe immediately behind it.
The Boy Scouts of America has established the following guidelines for its members'
participation in camping activities:
- Overnight camping by second- and third-grade Cub Scout dens or Cub Scout packs
(other than at an approved local council resident camping facility) is not
approved, and certificates of liability insurance will not be provided by the
Boy Scouts of America.
- Cub Scouts (second- and third-graders) and Webelos Scouts (fourth- and fifth-graders)
may participate in a resident overnight camping program covering at least two nights
and operating under certified leadership in an established Scout camp operated by
the council during the normal camping season.
A Webelos Scout may participate in
overnight den camping when supervised by his mother or father. If a parent cannot
attend, arrangements must be made by the boy's family for another youth's parent
(but not the Webelos leader) or another adult relative or friend to be a substitute
at the campout. No parent should be responsible for more than one boy other than
his or her own.
It is essential that each Webelos Scout be under the supervision
of an adult. Joint Webelos den-troop campouts are encouraged for dens of fifth-grade
Webelos Scouts with their parents to strengthen ties between the pack and troop. Den
leaders, pack leaders, and parents are expected to accompany the boys on approved
Tiger Cubs are limited to boy-parent excursions or program-managed family
camping designed for the entire family.
Family camping: an outdoor camping experience, other than resident camping, that
involves Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, or Venturing program elements in overnight settings
with two or more family members, including at least one BSA member of that family. Parents
are responsible for the supervision of their children, and Youth Protection guidelines
- Recreational family camping
- Recreational family camping: when Scouting families camp as a family unit outside of
an organized program. It is a nonstructured camping experience, but is conducted within
a Scouting framework on local council-owned or -managed property. Local councils
may have family camping grounds available for rental at reasonable rates. Other resources
may include equipment, information, and training.
- Program-managed family camping
- The local council or unit provides all of the elements of the outdoor experience on
one or more days, with major program areas staffed. Many times this includes food
service, housing, and complete program schedule. Cub Scout unit family programs must
have local council approval. These events must be held on council-owned or -managed
property or, at the local council's option, in council-approved city, county, state,
or federal parks.
Model A: typically a weekend experience for the Scout member
and an adult member of his family. Examples: dad-and-lad, mom-and-me, and
Model B: an outdoor experience of one or more days at a set
or -managed camping location where the Scout's entire family is encouraged to
- All Scouts registered in Boy Scout troops are eligible to participate in troop
or patrol overnight campouts, camporees, and resident camps.
- Boy Scouts and Varsity Scouts 12 through 17 are eligible to participate in
national jamborees. Boy Scouts and Varsity Scouts 13 through 17 are also
eligible to participate in world jamborees and high-adventure programs.
- All youth registered in Venturing are eligible to participate in crew,
district, council, and national Venturing activities. Venturers are eligible
to participate in national high-adventure programs, and on a limited basis,
world jamborees. Venturers are eligible to participate in Boy Scout Resident
Camp if registered and attending with a troop.
If a well-meaning leader brings along a child who does not meet these age guidelines,
disservice is done to the unit because of distractions often caused by younger children.
A disservice is done to the child, who is not trained to participate in such an activity
and who, as a nonmember of the group, may be ignored by the older campers.
Anything can happen in the wild outdoors, and you should take measures designed to prevent
accidents and injuries from occurring. Ask the question: "What would happen if ________ occurred?"
Once you have identified possible problems, devise a plan to minimize the risks and to manage
a crisis if one occurs. Involve the entire crew in this process so that everyone becomes aware
of potential dangers and how to avoid them.
Obviously, the best way to stay safe in the
wilderness is to not get into trouble in the first place. This requires planning, leadership,
and good judgment. To help be prepared for the challenges of a wilderness trek and camping
experience, read Passport to High Adventure, No. 4310.
Alertness and care in all that is done on the trail and performing within the group's
known capabilities are among the best preventive measures against accidents. Most common
outdoor injuries are blisters, cuts, sprains, strains, bruises, and fractures. Hikers also
may become lost or get caught in storms, and they often panic as a result. Avoidable tragedies
may occur if campers and leaders lack the skills and knowledge to deal with the problems
encountered. Leaders must alert youth members to the dangers of unusual environment with
proper instructions on fire safety, orienteering, and safe travel.
instruct those in their groups to stay together on well-established trails, avoid
loose rocks (especially on descent), and avoid dangerous ledges, cliffs, and areas where
a fall might occur. Accidents can occur when hikers kick and roll boulders down steep hills.
Wilderness trails have no caution signs for loose rocks, nor do they have guardrails on
It is strongly recommended that at least one person in the group be currently
certified in first aid through the American Red Cross or any recognized agency.
safety is a matter of common sense. The response of individual members of a group in doing
the right thing is important. When they understand the reason for rules of safety, they obey
them more willingly.
The Boy Scouts of America has an abundance of literature related
to proper procedures and guidelines for a group on a trail.
References: Boy Scout Handbook; Backpacking, Camping, and Hiking merit
badge pamphlets; Cub Scout Leader Book; Scoutmaster Handbook; Fieldbook
The summits of mountains, crests of ridges, slopes above timberline, and large meadows
are extremely hazardous places to be during lightning storms. If you are caught in such an
exposed place, quickly descend to a lower elevation, away from the direction of the
approaching storm, and squat down, keeping your head low. A dense forest located in a
depression provides the best protection. Avoid taking shelter under isolated trees or
trees much taller than adjacent trees. Stay away from water, metal objects, and other
substances that will conduct electricity long distances.
By squatting with your feet
close together, you have minimal contact with the ground, thus reducing danger from ground
currents. If the threat of lightning strikes is great, your group should not huddle together
but spread out at least 15 feet apart. If one member of your group is jolted, the rest of
you can tend to him. Whenever lightning is nearby, take off backpacks with either external
or internal metal frames. In tents, stay at least a few inches from metal tent poles.
Lightning Safety Rules
- Stay away from open doors and windows, fireplaces, radiators, stoves, metal pipes,
sinks, and plug-in electrical appliances.
- Don't use hair dryers, electric toothbrushes, or electric razors.
- Don't use the telephone; lightning may strike telephone wires outside.
- Don't take laundry off the clothesline.
- Don't work on fences, telephone lines, power lines, pipelines, or structural
- Don't handle flammable materials in open containers.
- Don't use metal objects, such as fishing rods and golf clubs. Golfers wearing
cleated shoes are particularly good lightning rods.
- Stop tractor work, especially when the tractor is pulling metal equipment, and
dismount. Tractors and other implements in metallic contact with the ground are
often struck by lightning.
- Get out of the water and off small boats.
- Stay in the car if you are traveling. Automobiles offer excellent lightning protection.
- When no shelter is available, avoid the highest object in the area. If only
isolated trees are nearby, the best protection is to crouch in the open, keeping
twice as far away from isolated trees as the trees are high.
- Avoid hilltops, open spaces, wire fences, metal clotheslines, exposed sheds, and
any electrically conducted elevated objects.
A constant supply of pure drinking water is essential. Serious illness can result from
drinking unpurified water. Protect your health. Don't take a chance on using water that you
are not sure of. Thermos jugs, plastic water containers, and canteens are all satisfactory
for carrying water. Be sure water is dispensed into each person's own drinking cup.
Treatment of Questionable Water
In addition to having a bad odor or taste, water from questionable sources may be
contaminated by microorganisms, such as Giardia, that can cause a variety of diseases.
All water of uncertain purity should be purified before use. Don't take a chance on
using water that you are not sure of. To purify water, follow these steps:
In addition to common household bleach, several other types of chemical means to disinfect
water are available, such as iodine tables, iodide crystals, and halazone tablets. All of
these are acceptable, but some people have an allergic reaction to iodine products. Follow
the instructions on the package for proper use.
- Filter the water to remove as many solids as possible.
- Bring it to a rolling boil and boil it for a full minute.
- Let it cool at least 30 minutes.
- Add eight drops of liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of cool
water. (Use common household bleach; 5.25 percent sodium
hypochlorite should be the only active ingredient; there
should not be any added soap or fragrances). Water must be
cool or chlorine will dissipate and be rendered useless.
- Let the water stand 30 minutes.
- If it smells of chlorine, you can use it. If it does not smell
of chlorine, add eight more drops of bleach and let it stand
another 30 minutes. Smell it again. You can use it if it smells
of chlorine. If it doesn't, discard it and find another water
- The only accepted measurement of chlorine (or water treatment
agents) is the drop. A drop is specifically measurable. Other
measures such as "capful" or "scant teaspoon" are not uniformly
measurable and should not be used.
To treat cold water you must lengthen
the contact (sitting) time depending on the water temperature to destroy Giardia that
may be present. Very cold water may take as long as four times the normal contact time.
Several types of water purification filters are available at camp stores. The Boy Scouts
of America recommends that if you use a water filter, you also chemically treat and/or boil
the water and carry extra filter cartridges and spare parts. Among the best water filters
are PUR, MSR, Katadyn, First Need, and Sweet Water.
Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Venturers are often privileged to use the land and property of
others for hiking, camping, and other activities. This privilege carries important
responsibilities regarding care, courtesy and cleanliness.
Carelessness is regrettable
and must be avoided at all times. On the other hand, deliberate vandalism is a criminal act
and is forbidden. Every Scout and Scouter has an obligation to do his or her best to care
for and protect every property that he or she visits.
All youth and leaders should
follow these guidelines:
Every group that plans to use a site must obtain permission from the owner
before entering the land. The best plan is for one or two of the leaders to
visit the owner several weeks before the trip to get permission; if this is
not possible, the owner should be contacted by letter or telephone.
there is any uncertainty about permission (for instance, permission has been
granted in the past, but you received no response to your recent request),
check in when you arrive for the trip. In this case, one or two members of
the group should find the owner while other members wait. Don't assume that
permission is automatic and begin unloading equipment. If you find that the
owner is not available and you don't have prior permission, you must go
Many camp and activity sites, such as those found in state parks, national
forests, and national parks, are owned by government entities or municipalities.
Many of these have strict access policies and/or permits that need to be secured
in advance. Be sure to follow the rules, which can be explained by a property
official or ranger.
Ask where it will be convenient to park cars. Don't block traffic lanes and driveways.
Never write, mark, or paint on walls, ceilings, rocks, or structures. Occasionally,
it may be necessary to mark a confusing trail or road. For this purpose, carry small
signs with arrows drawn on them. Place the markers in suitable locations as the group
enters, and collect them on the way out. Don't cut live branches or trees.
You might need to cross someone's property to reach a campsite or activity area.
Obtain permission to do so, and remember that a landowner's income might depend
on his or her crops and livestock. Don't climb fences that might break under your
weight. Always leave gates exactly as you found them. Open gates can result in
extensive loss to the owner.
Don't tease or chase livestock. Take special care not to startle flocks of poultry.
Disregard for the owner's animals can result in injury to you and/or the animals.
Be conscious of any actions that will disturb or inconvenience the owner. Keep noise
to a minimum, especially late at night. Pick up trash, even that left by previous
visitors. Don't build a fire except in cleared fire sites and with the owner's
permission. It's best to use a backpacking stove. Fires must be completely out
before you leave the area.
Don't leave behind any trace of your visit. Leave every natural thing and manmade
structure exactly as it was before you entered, and remove everything you brought
to the site. Put trash in suitable containers, such as plastic bags, and then take
all trash home; never dump it on the ground.
If it is not too late at night, stop as you leave to tell the owner that you are
leaving. If it is late, write a note. Remember that the owner's schedule might
not be the same as yours. If the home is dark, regardless of the hour, don't
disturb the owner. In either case, thank the owner when you leave. Send a follow-up
letter that includes, if possible, pictures taken in the area.
When obtaining permission to enter a property, never underestimate the length of
time you might spend there. If you specify an exit time to the owner, leave at
that time. You can plan longer trips for the future. Missing an exit time could
cause unnecessary concern or inconvenience for the owner.
When planning camps and activities, don't frequent the same well-known sites.
Heavy traffic causes damage and puts a strain on owner relations (commercial
or public sites excepted). In the backcountry, limit camping at one location
to no more than three days to help preserve the natural environment.
All Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venturers, and leaders should demonstrate their
interest in the property of others and their appreciation by participating
in or organizing an occasional cleanup to remove trash and repair damage
left by thoughtless visitors, as well as to remove writing on walls and
rocks. With the owner's permission, you might even carry out conservation
projects such as erosion control or wildlife habitat improvement. This makes
an excellent group project and teaches conservation of and respect for the
natural environment and property of others.
Often, people forget that camps,
trails, and activity sites belong to the landowner and that they must depend
on his or her goodwill. In recent years, use of natural areas has increased
tremendously. Owners of popular sites are besieged by people seeking entrance,
and the result has been that many owners are becoming alienated. The rudeness
and thoughtlessness of a few people can cause property owners to exclude
everyone from a site.
The above rules boil down to a simple statement: Use
common sense and treat the owner as you would like to be treated. If outdoor
activity is to continue in this country, everyone must do all they can to make
themselves welcome at each site they visit.
Hantavirus is a deadly virus that was first recognized as a unique health hazard in
1993. Outbreaks have been principally limited to the Four Corners region of Arizona,
New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. There are four different strains of hantavirus, and
cases have been reported in 26 different states. The virus is most active when the
temperature is between 45 and 72 degrees (F).
Hantavirus is spread through the
urine and feces of infected rodents. It is an airborne virus. A person is infected by
breathing in particles released into the air when infected rodents, their nests, or
their droppings are disturbed. This can happen when a person is handling rodents,
disturbing rodent nests or burrows, cleaning buildings where rodents have made a home,
or working outdoors. The virus will die quickly when exposed to sunlight.
of hantavirus include fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal
pain, and a dry, nonproductive cough. If you suspect that someone has been infected,
consult a physician immediately.
Rabies has become increasingly prevalent in the United States in recent years, with more
than 7,000 animals, most of which are wild, found to have the disease each year, according
to statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This viral
infection is often found in bats, foxes, raccoons, and skunks. Rabies can be transmitted by
warm-blooded animals, including domestic dogs and cats.
Although rabies in humans is
rare in the United States, the CDC reports that more than 22,000 people in this country
require vaccination each year after being exposed to rabid or potentially rabid animals.
States with the highest number of reported cases include New York, New Jersey, Connecticut,
New Mexico, Texas, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Maryland,
and parts of northern California.
Scout leaders can help prevent exposures by reminding
Scouts to steer clear of wild animals and domestic animals that they don't know. If someone
is scratched or bitten by a potentially rabid animal, Scout leaders should
Notify local animal control office, police department, or board of health.
- Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water
- Call a doctor or a hospital emergency room
- Get a description of the animal
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.
Adult leaders should support the attitude that young adults are better off
without tobacco and may not allow the use of tobacco products at any BSA
activity involving youth participants.
All Scouting functions, meetings, and activities should be conducted on a
smoke-free basis, with smoking areas located away from all participants.
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. A plan should include:
Skilled planners "live" the experience in advance by thinking their way through every
detail of an activity or event. This practice helps eliminate surprises. If an emergency
occurs, panic is replaced by self-confident quickness.
- The person in charge
- Action to be taken
- People and agencies to notify
- Location of law enforcement
- Fire and health facilities
- Evacuation procedures
Whenever an emergency occurs in which a person needs medical care beyond simple first
aid (for example, going to a medical clinic or emergency room at a hospital), leaders
should immediately notify the parent or next of kin. In case of a missing Scout or a
fatality, notify the council Scout executive after notifying local authorities and
emergency medical services.
Prepare an emergency phone number list, like the one below, for out-of-town trips.
This list and an ample supply of coins should be kept with your first-aid kit.
Adult leaders are responsible for informing their council Scout executive or designee,
as soon as possible, of a death or serious injury or illness. A serious injury or illness
is defined as:
Leaders should be prepared to give specific facts of:
- Any period of unconsciousness;
- Any hospital inpatient admission; or
- Any surgical intervention other than suturing of the skin or setting of simple
Prompt and accurate reporting to the news media is most important. The local council
has a crisis communications plan, and the Scout Executive will designate one spokesperson
in order to avoid conflicting reports. Parents or next of kin will be informed by personal
contact before any release is made to the public.
- Name of subject, age; name and complete address of
parent(s) or next of kin.
- Date, time of day.
- Location and community.
- Nature of illness or accident.
- If known, e.g., swimming, boating, hiking.
Nonserious injuries need not be reported. It is recommended that a report be prepared
regarding each such incident and maintained by the unit for future reference.
- Location of trip or expedition
- Location of nearest town(s), city(ies), or phone(s)
- Name and phone number of nearest doctor, hospital, or medical facility
- Name and phone number of nearest county sheriff's department
- Name and phone number of nearest state or federal park station
- Phone number of Highway Patrol
- Phone number of BSA local council service center:
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.
It is important that one person in each touring
group be trained in the principles of first aid, know how and when to put this
knowledge to the best use, and thoroughly understand the limitations of this
It is strongly recommended that adult leaders in Scouting avail
themselves of CPR and first-aid training by the American Red Cross or any recognized
agency to be aware of the latest techniques and procedures. However, some of the
first-aid techniques found in BSA literature are not the same as those professed
by the American Red Cross. Frequently, modifications depend on the Scout's age -
this could be a factor in the Scout's judgment and physical dexterity.
A first-aid kit well stocked with the basic essentials is indispensable. Choose
one sturdy and lightweight, yet large enough to hold the contents so that they are
readily visible and so that any one item may be taken out without unpacking the whole
kit. Keep a list of contents readily available for easy refilling. Keep the kit in a
convenient location. Make one person responsible for keeping the kit filled and
available when needed. Quantities of suggested items for your first-aid kit depend on
the size of your group and local conditions.
Suggested First-Aid Kit Contents
- Bar of soap
- 2-inch roller bandage
- 1-inch roller bandage
- 1-inch adhesive
- 3-by-3-inch sterile pads
- Triangular bandage
- Assorted gauze pads
- Adhesive strips
- Clinical oral thermometer
- Sunburn lotion
- Lip salve
- Poison-ivy lotion
- Small flashlight (with extra
batteries and bulb)
- Absorbent cotton
- Water purification tablets (iodine)
- Safety pins
- Paper cups
- Foot powder
- Instant ice packs
Because of the possibility of exposure to communicable diseases, first-aid kits should
include latex or vinyl gloves, plastic goggles or other eye protection, and
antiseptic to be used when giving first aid to bleeding victims, as protection
against possible exposure. Mouth barrier devices should be available for use with
This specialized skill to endeavor to revive victims of cardiac arrest (no
breathing-no pulse) may be taught to Boy Scouts and Venturers by an instructor
currently trained by the American Red Cross or American Heart Association.
Teaching this skill to Cub Scouts is not recommended.
related to CPR are found in the Boy Scout Handbook and the First Aid
merit badge pamphlet (rescue breathing, choking, and steps to take for CPR).
Many people are concerned about the rapid spread of HIV (the AIDS virus) and
try to avoid exposing themselves to this hazard. Health professionals and amateur
first-aiders like those of us in Scouting may find ourselves faced with special
concerns in this regard. Therefore, we must know how to act and how to instruct
the youth we lead. Try to maintain the BSA's tradition of rendering first aid to
those in need. Recognize that often the victims we treat with first aid are friends
and family members whose health we are familiar with. Therefore, in such cases,
except when we know they have infectious diseases, we should not hesitate to
The Boy Scouts of America Recommends
Treat all blood as if it were contaminated with bloodborne viruses. Do not use
bare hands to stop bleeding; always use a protective barrier. Always wash exposed
skin area with hot water and soap immediately after treating the victim. The following
equipment is to be included in all first-aid kits and used when rendering first aid
to those in need:
Individuals (medicine, fire rescue, and law enforcement Venturing crew members;
volunteer first-aiders at camporees, Scouting shows, and similar events) who
might have been exposed to another's blood and body fluids should know the
- Latex or vinyl gloves, to be used when stopping bleeding or dressing wounds
- A mouth-barrier device for rendering rescue breathing or CPR
- Plastic goggles or other eye protection to prevent a victim's blood from
getting into the rescuer's eyes in the event of serious arterial bleeding
- Antiseptic, for sterilizing or cleaning exposed skin area, particularly if
there is no soap or water available.
- The chartered organization and its leaders should always explain and make clear
the possible degree of exposure to blood or body fluids as a result of Scouting
- As a precaution, adult volunteers or youth members should consider a hepatitis
B vaccination. The cost of the shots will not be borne by BSA, nor is the
chartered organization required to underwrite the cost.
- The chartered organization may arrange to have shots given at a reduced rate or
free of charge.
- If vaccination is recommended, any adult volunteers and youth members who decline
the shots, either at full cost to them or at a reduced rate, or free, should sign
a refusal waiver that should be retained by the council for five years.
Near-drowning is a term used to describe a fatality that occurs several hours after
resuscitation or revival of a drowning victim. Near-drowning accidents are usually
witnessed and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is delivered at the scene. Lung
rupture can occur during the submersion or consequent to the resuscitation efforts.
Pneumonia is a later complication in the injured lung. To ensure that water-accident
victims do not become near-drownings, they need to be admitted to a hospital with a
respiratory intensive care unit and monitored for at least 24 hours to watch for
complications. The hypothermic victim requires special attention.
Knowledgeable adult supervision must be provided when Scouts are involved in the
storage of chemical fuels, the handling of chemical fuels in the filling of stoves
or lanterns, or the lighting of chemical fuels. The use of liquid fuels for starting
any type of fire is prohibited.
- Use compressed- or liquid-gas stoves or lanterns only with knowledgeable
adult supervision and in Scout facilities only where and when permitted.
- Operate and maintain according to manufacturer's instructions included
with the stove or lantern.
- Both gasoline and kerosene shall be kept in well-marked, approved containers
(never in a glass container) and stored in a ventilated, locked box at a safe
distance (a minimum of 20 feet) from buildings and tents. Keep all chemical
fuel containers away from hot stoves and campfires, and store below 100
- Let hot stoves and lanterns cool before changing cylinders of compressed
gases or refilling from containers of liquid gas.
- Refill liquid-gas stoves and lanterns a safe distance from any flames,
including other stoves, campfires, and personal smoking substances. A
commercial camp stove fuel should be used for safety and performance.
Pour through a filter funnel. Recap both the device and the fuel container
- Never fuel a stove, heater, or lantern inside a cabin; always do this
outdoors. Do not operate a stove or lantern in an unventilated structure.
Provide at least two ventilation openings, one high and one low, to provide
oxygen and exhaust for lethal gases. Never fuel, ignite, or operate a stove,
heater, or lantern in a tent.
- Place the stove on a level, secure surface before operating. On snow, place
insulated support under the stove to prevent melting and tipping.
- Periodically check fittings on compressed-gas stoves and on pressurized
liquid-gas stoves for leakage, using soap solution before lighting.
- To avoid possible fires, locate gas tanks, stoves, etc., below any tents
since heavy leakage of gas will flow downhill the same as water.
- When lighting a stove, keep fuel containers and extra cannisters well away.
Do not hover over the stove when lighting it. Keep your head and body to one
side. Open the stove valve quickly for two full turns and light carefully,
with head, fingers, and hands to the side of the burner. Then adjust down.
- Do not leave a lighted stove or lantern unattended.
- Do not overload the stovetop with heavy pots or large frying pans. If pots
over 2 quarts are necessary, set up a separate grill with legs to hold the
pot, and place the stove under the grill.
- Bring empty fuel containers home for disposal. Do not place in or near fires.
Empty fuel containers will explode if heated and should never be put in
fireplaces or with burnable trash.
No tent material is completely fireproof. It can burn when exposed to continued, intense
heat or fire. The most important safeguard is to keep flames away from canvas materials. For
this reason, the following safety precautions are emphasized:
- Only flashlights and electric lanterns are permitted in tents. No
flames in tents is a rule that must be enforced.
- Never use liquid-fuel stoves, heaters, lanterns, lighted candles,
matches, and other flame sources in or near tents.
- Do not pitch tents near an open fire.
- Do not use flammable chemicals near tents - charcoal lighter or spray
cans of paint, bug killer, or repellent.
- Be careful when using electricity and lighting in tents.
- Always extinguish cooking campfires promptly.
- Obey all fire laws, ordinances, and regulations.
If fire breaks out, it must be quickly and properly suppressed. To do this, you must
know the three classes of fires and how to combat them:
- Class A
- Fires that involve normally combustible materials such as paper,
wood, fabrics, rubber, and many plastics. These fires can be quenched with water
or insulated with tri-class (ABC) chemical or foam extinguishers.
- Class B
- Fires that involve gasoline, oil, grease, tars, paints, lacquers,
or flammable gases. The oxygen that supports this type of fire must be cut off
by tri-class (ABC), regular dry chemical, foam, or carbon dioxide (CO2)
extinguishers. Water is dangerous, as it spreads the fire.
- Class C
- Electrical fires involving heated wire and arcing. These fires
must be suppressed with tri-class (ABC) dry chemicals or CO2 - never water, which
is a conductor.
Fires in any one class may involve materials of other classes, so more than one type
of extinguisher should be available. Because of the danger of lethal fumes, carbon
tetrachloride (CCl4) extinguishers must not be used. Dispose of these extinguishers as
recommended by fire officials.
Extinguishers should normally be mounted near a doorway and approximately at shoulder
In a camp setting, the unit leader is responsible for training Scouts in fire prevention,
fire detection and reporting, and fire fighting. All youth members and adult leaders should
have unit fireguard plan training.
Reference: Unit Fireguard, No. 33691
The Boy Scouts of America prohibits the securing, use, and display of fireworks in
conjunction with programs and activities except where the fireworks display is conducted
under the auspices of a certified or licensed fireworks control expert.
Local councils may not authorize any group or chartered unit activity for or on
behalf of its members, units, or district to sell fireworks as a fund-raising or
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.
Except for law enforcement officers required to carry firearms within their
jurisdiction, firearms shall not be brought on camping, hiking, backpacking, or
other Scouting activities except those specifically planned for target shooting
under the supervision of a certified BSA or National Rifle Association firearms
Gun-shooting sports are not an approved part of the Cub Scout program except at a
council-approved Cub Scout day camp, Cub Scout resident camp, or Cub Scout family camp.
At camp, Cub Scouts may have an opportunity to take part in a BB-gun (rifle) safety and
marksmanship program under the direction of a certified BB-gun range officer.
Cub Scouts are not permitted to use any other type of handgun or firearm.
Boy Scouts are permitted to fire .22-caliber bolt-action, single-shot rifles, air
rifles, shotguns, and muzzle-loading long guns under the direction of a certified instructor,
21 years of age or older, within the standards outlined in current Scouting literature and
bulletins. BSA policy does not permit the use of handguns in the Boy Scouting program.
The following guidelines relate to the use of handguns within the program of the Boy Scouts
- Handgun use is limited to the Venturing program only.
- All training and shooting activities must be under the supervision
of an NRA-certified instructor or the firearms instructor of a local,
state, or federal agency.
- All participants must complete a basic pistol marksmanship course
prior to range firing. The NRA basic pistol marksmanship course (or
equivalent training course) conducted by a law enforcement agency, a
civilian gun club, or a U.S. military department is acceptable.
- With the approval of the local council, handgun shooting may be
conducted on BSA camp ranges, provided the shooting is done under
the auspices of an NRA-certified instructor or firearms instructor
of a local, state, or federal agency.
- Care must be taken to comply with federal, state, and local laws.
The following standards are established for shotguns to be used by Boy Scouts,
Varsity Scouts, or Venturers:
- It is recommended that either 20-, 16-, or 12-gauge semiautomatic
shotguns be used. Gas operated shotguns are recommended.
- Ammunition containing No. 8 shot or smaller is recommended on
ranges with a protected down range of 600 feet. Additional down
range distance of 150 feet (total 750) is required for No. 6 shot
size. Shot larger than No. 6 is not to be used.
- Shooting safety glasses and ear protectors must be worn on
- All training and shooting activities must be supervised by a
currently NRA-certified shotgun instructor or coach who is 21
years of age or older.
Primary reference: Camp Program and Property Management (Shooting Sports, Section V)
The following standards for muzzle-loading long guns are to be used by members of
- Muzzle-loading rifles must be recently manufactured, percussion only.
BSA recommends those that are .45- or .50-caliber. Rifles made from kits
must be checked by an expert gunsmith.
- Recommended loads of .FFFg blackpowder are not to exceed 1 grain per
caliber. One-half of this amount is frequently sufficient for target
- Shooting safety glasses and ear protectors must be worn.
- All training and shooting activities must be supervised by a currently
certified NRA/NMLRA muzzle-loading rifle instructor who is at least 21
years of age.
- Each pupil must have one instructor or adult coach under instructor
supervision when loading and firing.
Primary reference: Camp Program and Property Management (Shooting Sports, Section V)
The following standards are established for rifle use in Scouting activities:
- Breech-loading rifles will be single-shot, bolt-action of the .22-caliber
rim-fire type only. They may be chambered for the .22-short or .22-long rifle,
but not for the .22-WRF rifle (which uses a more powerful cartridge). Air
rifles are also permitted.
- Semiautomatic rifles will not be permitted.
- Repeating rifles having a tubular magazine will not be permitted.
- Repeating rifles having a removable clip-type magazine will be permitted
but must be used as single-loaders.
- All rifles used in BSA shooting sports shall have a trigger pull in excess
of 3 pounds, and shall be tested with a 3-pound weight or scale at least once
a week while in use. If the trigger mechanism is activated by the 3-pound pull,
the rifle should be immediately removed from service.
- Shooting safety glasses and ear protectors must be worn on the range.
- All training and shooting activities must be supervised by a currently
NRA-certified rifle instructor or coach who is 21 years of age or older.
These 16 safety points, which embody good judgment and common sense, are applicable to
- Qualified Supervision. Every BSA activity should be supervised by
a conscientious adult who understands and knowingly accepts responsibility for
the well-being and safety of the children and youth in his or her care. The
supervisor should be sufficiently trained, experienced, and skilled in the
activity to be confident of his or her ability to lead and teach the necessary
skills and to respond effectively in the event of an emergency. Field knowledge
of all applicable BSA standards and a commitment to implement and follow BSA
policy and procedures are essential parts of the supervisor's qualifications.
- Physical Fitness. For youth participants in any potentially strenuous
activity, the supervisor should receive a complete health history from a health-care
professional, parent, or guardian. Adult participants and youth involved in
higher-risk activities (e.g., scuba diving) may have to undergo professional
evaluation in addition to completing the health history. The supervisor should
adjust all supervision, discipline, and protection to anticipate potential risks
associated with individual health conditions. Neither youth nor adults should
participate in activities for which they are unfit. To do so would place both
the individual and others at risk.
- Buddy System. The long history of the "buddy system" in Scouting has
shown that it is always best to have at least one other person with you and aware
at all times of your circumstances and what you are doing in any outdoor or
- Safe Area or Course. A key part of the supervisors' responsibility is
to know the area or course for the activity and to determine that it is well-suited
and free of hazards.
- Equipment Selection and Maintenance. Most activity requires some
specialized equipment. The equipment should be selected to suit the participants
and the activity and to include appropriate safety and program features. The
supervisor should also check equipment to determine whether it is in good condition
for the activity and make sure it is kept properly maintained while in use.
- Personal Safety Equipment. The supervisor must assure that every
participant has and uses the appropriate personal safety equipment. For example,
activity afloat requires that each participant properly wear a personal flotation
device (PFD); bikers, horseback riders, and whitewater kayakers need helmets for
certain activities; skaters need protective gear; and all need to be dressed for
warmth and utility as the circumstances require.
- Safety Procedures and Policies. For most activities, common-sense
procedures and standards can greatly reduce any risk. These should be known
and appreciated by all participants, and the supervisor must assure compliance.
- Skill Level Limits. Every activity has a minimum skill level, and
the supervisor must identify and recognize this level and be sure that
participants are not put at risk by attempting any activity beyond their
abilities. A good example of skill levels in Scouting is the swim test,
which defines conditions for safe swimming on the basis of individual
- Weather Check. The risks of many outdoor activities vary
substantially with weather conditions. Potential weather hazards and
the appropriate responses should be understood and anticipated.
- Planning. Safe activity follows a plan that has been
conscientiously developed by the experienced supervisor or other
competent source. Good planning minimizes risks and also anticipates
contingencies that may require an emergency response or a change of
- Communications. The supervisor needs to be able to communicate
effectively with participants as needed during the activity. Emergency
communications also need to be considered in advance for any foreseeable
- Permits and Notices. BSA tour permits, council office registration,
government or landowner authorization, and any similar formalities are the
supervisor's responsibility when such are required. Appropriate notification
should be directed to parents, enforcement authorities, landowners, and others
as needed, before and after the activity.
- First-Aid Resources. The supervisor should determine what first-aid
supplies to include among the activity equipment. The level of first-aid training
and skill appropriate for the activity should also be considered. An extended
trek over remote terrain obviously may require more first-aid resources and
capabilities than an afternoon activity in a local community. Whatever is
determined to be needed should be available.
- Applicable Laws. BSA safety policies generally parallel or go beyond
legal mandates, but the supervisor should confirm and assure compliance with all
applicable regulations or statutes.
- CPR Resource. Any strenuous activity or remote trek could present a
cardiac emergency. Aquatic programs may involve cardiopulmonary emergencies. BSA
strongly recommends that a person (preferably an adult) trained in cardiopulmonary
resuscitation (CPR) be part of the leadership for any BSA program. This person
should be available for strenuous outdoor activity.
- Discipline. No supervisor is effective if he or she cannot control the
activity and individual participants. Youth must respect their leaders and follow
The general policy of Scouting is to train youth to do safely the many things
they normally do, such as swimming and boating; handling firearms, knives, and axes;
riding bicycles; and hiking and camping. Scouting's disapproval or restriction of
hazardous sports and activities is a positive policy to keep fun in the program and
to develop sound judgment through experience. It is consistent with our principle of
safety through skill on the part of leaders and youth.
These minimum safety requirements apply:
References: Venture activity pamphlet, Caving, No. 33446A, and Ranger
Guidebook, No. 3128
- Cave exploring, other than simple novice activities, should be limited
to Scouts and Venturers 14 years of age or older.
- Group leaders qualify through training and experience in cave exploring and
through knowing established practices of safety, conservation, and cave courtesy.
- Leader and group must understand and agree to follow the basic practices and
policies of caving approved by the National Speleological Society and the Boy
Scouts of America.
If Scouts and Venturers practice defensive judo, Tai Chi, or aikido, it should be done
with proper mats and with qualified instructors related to YMCAs, colleges, or athletic
clubs whose objectives and coaching methods are compatible with the principles of the Boy
Scouts of America.
- 1. Qualified Supervision
- All climbing and rappelling must be supervised by a mature, conscientious adult at
least 21 years of age who understands the risks inherent to these activities. This
person knowingly accepts responsibility for the well-being and safety of the youth
in his or her care. This adult supervisor is trained in and committed to compliance
with the eight points of the Boy Scouts of America's Climb On Safely procedure. One
additional adult who is at least 18 years of age must also accompany the unit. Units
with more than 10 youths in the same climbing/rappelling session must have an
additional adult leader at least 18 years of age for each 10 additional youth
participants. In other words, a group of 11 to 20 youths requires at least three
adult leaders; a group of 21 to 30 youths would require four adult leaders, and
The adult supervisor is responsible for ensuring that someone in the group
is currently certified in American Red Cross Standard First Aid and CPR (a 6.5-hour
course). In addition, the two-hour module "First Aid - When Help Is Delayed" is
required. A course of equivalent length and content from another nationally recognized
organization can be substituted. A higher level of certification such as emergency
medical technician (EMT), licensed practical nurse (LPN), registered nurse (RN), and
licensed health-care practitioner is also acceptable. The ARC's Emergency Response,
a 43.5-hour course that includes CPR, is highly recommended.
- 2. Qualified Instructors
- A qualified rock climbing/rappelling instructor who is at least 21 years of age must
supervise all BSA climbing/rappelling activities. The climbing/rappelling instructor
has successfully completed a minimum of 10 hours of climbing/rappelling instructor
training from a nationally or regionally recognized organization, a climbing school,
a college-level climbing/rappelling course, or is a qualified BSA climbing/rappelling
- 3. Physical Fitness
- Require evidence of fitness for the climbing/rappelling activity with at least a
current BSA Personal Health and Medical Record, class 1 - a complete health history
from a parent or legal guardian. The adult supervisor should adapt all supervision,
discipline, and precautions to anticipate any potential risks associated with
individual health conditions.
If a significant health condition is present, an
examination by a licensed health-care practitioner should be required by the adult
supervisor before permitting participation in climbing or rappelling. The adult
supervisor should inform the climbing/rappelling instructor about each participant's
- 4. Safe Area
- All BSA climbing/rappelling activities must be conducted using an established or
developed climbing/rappelling site or facility. A qualified climbing/rappelling
instructor should survey the site in advance of the activity to identify and
evaluate possible hazards and to determine whether the site is suitable for the
age, maturity, and skill level of the participants. The instructor should also
verify that the site is sufficient to safely and comfortably accommodate the
number of participants in the activity within the available time. An emergency
evacuation route must be identified in advance.
- 5. Equipment
- The climbing/rappelling instructor should verify that the proper equipment is
available for the size and ability level of participants. Helmets, rope, and
climbing hardware must be approved by the UIAA (Union Internationale des
Associations d'Alpinisme) and/or ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials).
All equipment must be acquired new or furnished by the instructor.
be kept on the use and stresses (the number of hard falls) on each item of equipment,
which must be specifically designed for climbing/rappelling. Outside providers should
be asked if they are aware of any stresses that have been put on their equipment. Any
rope or webbing that has been subjected to more than three hard falls or that is four
years old (whatever its use) must not be used. Refer to the Project COPE manual,
No. 34371, concerning records that must be kept and be made available even by outside
- 6. Planning
- When planning, remember the following:
It is suggested that at least one of the adult leaders has an electronic means of communication
in case of an emergency.
- Obtain written parental consent to participate in climbing/rappelling
activities for each participant.
- In the event of severe weather or other problem, share the climbing/rappelling
plan and an alternate with parents and the unit committee.
- Secure the necessary permits or written permission for using private or public lands.
- Enlist the help of a qualified climbing/rappelling instructor.
- Be sure the instructor has a topographic map for the area being used and obtains
a current weather report for the area before the group's departure.
- 7. Environmental Conditions
- The instructor assumes responsibility for monitoring potentially dangerous environmental
conditions that may include loose, crumbly rock; poisonous plants; wildlife; and inclement
weather. Use the buddy system to monitor concerns such as dehydration, hypothermia, and
an unusually high degree of fear or apprehension. The adult supervisor is responsible for
ensuring that the group leaves no trace of its presence at the site.
- 8. Discipline
- Each participant knows, understands, and respects the rules and procedures for safely
climbing and rappelling and has been oriented in Climb On Safely. All BSA members
should respect and follow all instructions and rules of the climbing instructor. The
applicable rules should be presented and learned prior to the outing and should be
reviewed for all participants before climbing or rappelling begins. When participants
know the reasons for rules and procedures, they are more likely to follow them. The
climbing instructor must be strict and fair, showing no favoritism.
The BSA limits
unit climbing to top roping. A separate belay safety rope with a separate anchor
system is used for all BSA unit rappelling activities. A UIAA- and/or ASTM-approved
climbing helmet must be worn during all BSA climbing/rappelling activities.
References: Climb On Safely, No. 3206, Outdoor Skills Instruction -
Climbing/Rappelling, No. 33036, and Venture activity pamphlet, Rock Climbing
and Rappelling, No. 33469
The following activities have been declared unauthorized and restricted by
the Boy Scouts of America:
- All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are banned from program use. ATVs are defined
as motorized recreational cycles with three or four large, soft tires,
designed for off-road use on a variety of terrains.
- Boxing, karate, and related martial arts - except judo, aikido, and Tai
Chi - are not authorized activities.
- Chainsaws and mechanical log splitters may be authorized for use only by
trained individuals over the age of 18, using proper protective gear in
accordance with local laws.
- Exploration of abandoned mines is an unauthorized activity.
- Varsity football teams and interscholastic or club football competition
and activities are unauthorized activities.
- Fireworks secured, used, or displayed in conjunction with program and
activities is unauthorized except where the fireworks display is conducted
under the auspices of a certified or licensed fireworks control expert.
- The selling of fireworks as a fund-raising or money-earning activity by
any group acting for or on behalf of members, units, or districts may not
be authorized by councils.
- Flying in hang gliders, ultralights, experimental class aircraft, or hot-air
balloons (whether or not they are tethered); parachuting; and flying in
aircraft as part of a search and rescue mission are unauthorized activities.
- Motorized go-carts and motorbike activities are unauthorized for Cub Scout
and Boy Scout programs. All motorized speed events, including motorcycles,
boats, drag racing, demolition derbies, and related events, are not authorized
activities for any program level.
- Participation in amateur or professional rodeo events and council or district
sponsorship of rodeos are not authorized.
- The activity commonly referred to as "War Game" - in which individuals shoot
paint or dye at one another - is an unauthorized activity.
- Hunting is not an authorized Cub Scout or Boy Scout activity, although hunting
safety is part of the program curriculum.
(The purpose of this policy is to
restrict chartered packs, troops, and teams from conducting hunting trips.
However, this policy does not restrict Venturing crews from conducting hunting
trips or special adult hunting expeditions provided that adequate safety
procedures are followed and that all participants have obtained necessary
permits and/or licenses from either state or federal agencies. While hunter
safety education might not be required prior to obtaining a hunting license,
successful completion of the respective state voluntary program is required
before participating in the activity.)Reference: Ranger Guidebook,
- Motorized personal watercraft, such as jet-skis, are not authorized for use
in Scouting aquatics, and their use should not be permitted in or near BSA
- Except for (1) law enforcement officers required to carry firearms within
their jurisdiction, and (2) circumstances within the scope of the BSA hunting
policy statement, firearms should not be in the possession of any person
engaged in camping, hiking, backpacking, or any other Scouting activity other
than those specifically planned for target shooting under the supervision of
a certified firearms instructor. (Among the purposes of this policy is to
prohibit adult leaders from bringing firearms on BSA camping and hiking
activities or to unit meetings.)
- Parasailing, or any activity in which a person is carried aloft by a parachute,
parasail, kite, or other device towed by a motorboat or by any other means, is
- All activities related to bungee cord jumping (sometimes called shock cord
jumping) are unauthorized.
Carbon tetrachloride must never be used in any way in the Scouting program.
Even in small quantities, this poison has proved to be so deadly that it must be ruled
out as a cleaning fluid, a fire extinguisher, a poison for insect killing, and a
watermark detector for stamp collecting.
A sharp pocketknife with a can opener on it is an invaluable backcountry tool. Keep
it clean, sharp, and handy. Avoid large sheath knives. They are heavy and awkward
to carry, and unnecessary for most camp chores except for cleaning fish. Since its
inception, Boy Scouting has relied heavily on an outdoor program to achieve its objectives.
This program meets more of the purposes of Scouting than any other single feature. We
believe we have a duty to instill in our members, youth and adult, the knowledge of how
to use, handle, and store legally owned knives with the highest concern for safety and
References: Boy Scout Handbook, Fieldbook, Bear Cub Scout Book, and Wolf
Cub Scout Book
When constructing monkey bridges, observe the following safety rules:
Always follow the steps for constructing monkey bridges outlined in the
Pioneering merit badge pamphlet.
Before beginning the project, inspect your rope, looking at both the inside
fibers and inner strands. Know the size and strength of the type of rope you
are using, and its safe working load.
Monkey bridges should not be constructed higher than 5 feet above flat-surfaced
ground nor longer than 40 feet. Initially, beginners should not span more than
Know the effect the knots will have in reducing rope strength and the proper
care that rope requires.
Rope, especially rope carrying a load, should be checked each day before using.
Rope carrying a load and left in place tends to become slack from fatigue and
will break under stress. Tighten rope as necessary to maintain the integrity
of the original construction.
Exercise special care when members of the public are allowed to use these monkey
bridges. Establish controls when monkey bridges are constructed outside the camp
environment. Station Scouts at each end to control access to the bridge. Allow
only one adult at a time on the bridge. Never allow unaccompanied children on
the bridge. Shut down the bridge when any repairs are being made and do not
reopen until the adult leader has approved the repairs.
Any activity on rope swings, monkey bridges, slide-for-life, or similar devices
that are located over water must comply with Safe Swim Defense.
Reference: Pioneering merit badge pamphlet
The BSA rule prohibiting the transportation of passengers in the backs of
trucks or on trailers may be tempered for parade floats or hayrides, provided
that the following points are strictly followed to prevent injuries:
Transportation to and from the parade or hayride site is not allowed
on the truck or trailer.
Those persons riding, whether seated or standing, must be able to hold
on to something stationary.
Legs should not hang over the side.
Flashing lights must illuminate a vehicle used for a hayride after dark,
or the vehicle must be followed by a vehicle with flashing lights.
Include these safety considerations when planning a unit fund-raiser:
Money-earning projects should be suited to the ages and abilities of youth participants.
Proper adult supervision should be provided.
Youth should engage in money-earning projects only in neighborhoods that are safe and
familiar and should use the buddy system.
Leaders must train youth members to never enter the home of a stranger and to know
whom to contact in case of an emergency.
Youth participants should be familiar with safe pedestrian practices and participate
during daylight hours only.
- Check local statutes regarding solicitation rules and permits.
- A Unit Fund-raising Permit must be obtained from the local council
All farm-class tractors used by BSA members or employees in conjunction
with any BSA activity or on BSA property must be equipped with seat belts
and rollover protection (rollbars, reinforced cab, or equivalent protection).
If the tractor does not have this equipment, refer to Occupational Safety
and Health Association (OSHA) regulations for interim compliance requirements.
As of January 1, 1993, the use of any farm-class tractor not equipped with
seat belts and rollover protection is unauthorized.
No BSA member or employee may operate a farm-class tractor in conjunction with
any BSA activity or on BSA property unless such member or employee is at least
18 years of age and has completed BSA National Camping School ranger certification,
or has been specifically trained in operations and safety procedures for tractors
and their attached implements by a currently certified ranger, and is directly
supervised by a currently certified ranger.
The following guidelines and procedures apply to all BSA units, councils, and national
program activities involving bicycling.
- 1. Qualified Supervision
- All unit, district, council, and national event
activities must be supervised by a mature and conscientious adult at least age 21
who understands and knowingly accepts responsibility for the safety of children in
his or her care, who is experienced with the skills and equipment involved in the
activity, and who is committed to compliance with these BSA safety guidelines.
- 2. Physical Fitness
- Biking is strenuous. Long treks and hill climbing
should not be attempted without training and preparation. For Scouting activities,
all participants must present evidence of fitness assured by a complete health
history from a physician, parent, or legal guardian. The adult supervisor should
adjust all supervision, discipline, and protection to anticipate any potential
risks associated with individual health conditions. In the event of any significant
health conditions, proof of an examination by a physician should be required by
the adult leader.
- 3. Helmets and Clothing
- All cyclists must wear a properly sized and
fitted helmet approved by either the Snell Memorial Foundation or the American
National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards. Layer your clothing for warmth
on cool days so you can avoid chilling or overheating. Cover up for sun protection
on clear days.
- 4. Buddy-Up
- When the program activity is a bicycle expedition or trek,
the buddy system must be used. When there is program activity emphasizing individual
performance skills, one buddy observes while the other takes his turn. In competitive
activity where the buddy concept cannot be practically applied, all activity must be
directly observed by the adult supervisor. (Youth members should be taught that
biking with a buddy is best. When biking alone, apart from Scouting activities,
youth members should be encouraged to tell someone their route, schedule, and
destination before departing.)
- 5. Keep Right
- Ride with the traffic flow, as far to the right as possible.
Avoid curbs, storm drains, soft or loose gravel on shoulders, and other hazards.
- 6. Be Smart
- Obey all traffic laws, signs, signals, and street markings.
Watch for changes in road conditions. Ride only one to a bike. Do not ride after
dark. No stunts - trick riding is only for professionals who use special equipment.
Yield to motor vehicles even if you think you have the right-of-way. Never hitch a
ride on another vehicle. Keep your head and ears open and do not wear headphones
- 7. Turns and Intersections
- Look left, right, back, and ahead before
turning. Stop and search all directions when entering a street from a driveway,
parking area, sidewalk, or an alley. Signal all turns using universal hand signals.
Walk your bike through or across busy intersections.
- 8. Right Bike
- Ride only a bike that fits you. Select a bike that permits
you to put both feet on the ground while sitting on the seat. The handgrips should
be no higher than your shoulder or lower than your seat.
- 9. Accessories
- Every bike needs a horn or bell and reflectors (front, back,
and sides). Items should be carried only in baskets, saddlebags, or on a rear carrier
rack. If you must ride in traffic, a bike- or helmet-mounted mirror is recommended.
For long trips, a bike-mounted container for drinking water is recommended.
- 10. Maintenance
- Keep your bike clean and well-maintained - especially the
brakes and drive chain.
- 11. Race Right
- Open street racing is dangerous. Race only with supervision
on marked courses that have been set up to exclude other vehicle or pedestrian
traffic, to eliminate fall hazards and minimize collision risks, and to define
clearly "start" and "finish" points.
- 12. Planning
- Plan both the route and timing of bike trips to avoid heavy
traffic and hazardous conditions. Biking is unsafe on wet pavement and on windy days.
Plan for at least hourly rest stops and a maximum of approximately six hours on the
bike per day.
- 13. Discipline
- All participants should know, understand, and follow the
rules and procedures for safe biking, and all participants should conscientiously
and carefully follow all directions from the adult supervisor.
Skateboarding and roller-skating (including in-line skating) present safety concerns,
primarily risks of falls and collisions. Recent data show that injuries are largely the
results of collisions - especially with moving vehicles. These guidelines emphasize
prevention, and are meant to cover all BSA skating programs. Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts,
and Venturers should always practice safety and courtesy and obey all local or rink
BSA skating at any level shall be supervised by an adult at least 21
years of age, experienced in the use of skates and skateboards, willing
to conscientiously accept responsibility for the safety of all
participants, and committed to compliance with BSA safety guidelines
and local laws.
In-line skating, hockey, racing, or similar activities are to be held
only in areas free of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and hazardous
fixed objects. No skating activity is authorized on streets that have
not been blocked off to traffic.
Pathways and skating surfaces must be free of defects or features
unsuited to skating. Evaluation of the area by the supervisor should
precede any BSA activities.
Before permitting equipment to be used in a BSA activity, the supervisor
should determine that all skates and skateboards are well maintained and
in good repair consistent with the manufacturer's recommendations. Actual
maintenance and repair are the responsibility of the owner.
For all street or pavement skating activities, participants should wear
properly fitted helmets that meet American National Standards Institute
(ANSI) standards; padded gloves; wrist supports; and elbow and knee pads.
No street or pavement skating is authorized without helmets.
Skaters must NEVER "hitch a ride" on any vehicle.
Parents or legal guardians must be informed and must consent to youth
participation in a BSA skating activity.
The adult supervisor must be sure that all participants understand and
agree that skating is allowed only with proper supervision and in
compliance with the safety guidelines. Youth members should respect
and follow all directions and rules of the adult supervisor. When people
know the reasons for rules and procedures, they are more likely to follow
them. Supervisors should be strict and fair, showing no favoritism.
Periodically, once or twice a year, the unit meeting place should be inspected for
health and safety hazards. The Meeting Place Inspection checklist is included in the
Motor vehicles transporting passengers or carrying equipment should meet state inspection
standards, if applicable, or use the vehicle checklist included in the
appendix as a guide.
Essentially, three occasions in unit camping require inspection: (1) after camp is set up,
(2) after camp is taken down, and (3) periodically between. Your main interest in these
inspections is to ensure a safe, livable camp and an unblemished site after you leave.
Upon request, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will conduct a Courtesy Marine Examination
of any craft over 16 feet in length. The officer will analyze the vessel and advise you of
any deficiencies within state or federal regulations.
References: Handbook for Skippers and Safe Boating Instructor's Guide
It is recommended that all members of the Boy Scouts of America have periodic
medical evaluations by a licensed health-care practitioner.* In recent years, in
an effort to provide better care to those who may become ill or injured and to
provide youth members and adult leaders a better understanding of their physical
capabilities, the Boy Scouts of America established minimum standards for
providing medical information prior to participating in various activities.
They are classified as follows:
- Class 1:
- Includes any event that does not exceed 72 consecutive hours,
where the level of activity is similar to that normally expended at home or at school,
and where medical care is readily available. Examples: day camp, day hike, swimming party,
or an overnight camp. Medical information required is a current health history signed by
parents or guardian. The health history form currently found on the back of the BSA
individual applications or the Class I Personal Health and Medical Summary found on
page 3 of form No. 34414 (Personal Health and Medical Record) meets this requirement.
Den leaders, Scoutmasters, team coaches, and crew Advisors should review these and
become knowledgeable about the medical needs of the youth members in their unit. Forms
must be updated annually. They are filled out by participants and kept on file for
- Class 2:
- Includes any event that exceeds 72 consecutive hours, where the
level of activity is similar to that normally expended at home or at school, and where
medical care is readily available. Examples: resident camping, tour camping, and hiking
in relatively populated areas. Medical data required is an annual health history signed
by parents or guardian supported by a medical evaluation completed within the past 36
months by a licensed health-care practitioner. The Personal Health and Medical
Record - Class 2, No. 34414, is designed primarily for resident Cub Scout and Boy Scout
summer camp but could be used for any Class 2 activity. Youth members and adult
participants under 40 years of age use this form. (See Camp Health and Safety for
additional information on Class 2 application.)
- Class 3:
- Includes any event involving strenuous activity such as
backpacking, high altitude, extreme weather conditions, cold water, exposure,
fatigue, athletic competition, adventure challenge, or remote conditions where
readily available medical care cannot be assured. Examples: high-adventure
activities, jamborees, Wood Badge, and extended backpacking trips in remote
areas. Medical information required includes current health history supported
by a medical evaluation within the past 12 months performed by a licensed health-care
practitioner. Form 34412 is to be used by youth for Class 3 activities. Adults
over age 40 will use this form for Class 2 and Class 3 activities. See form No.
34414, Personal Health and Medical Record, for more information.
Philmont Scout Ranch and Florida Sea Base require the use of their special medical
form by all youth and adults because of the strenuous nature of the activities taking
It is recommended that unit leaders have a complete medical history
and permission slip for every participant attending each Scouting activity. The medical
history form and permission slip, in most cases, will allow emergency medical treatment
to a youth member in case of injury or illness when a parent or guardian cannot be
* Examinations conducted by licensed health-care practitioners, other than physicians,
will be recognized for BSA purposes in those states where such practitioners may perform
physical examinations within their legally prescribed scope of practice.
Verification of the following protections is strongly recommended before participation
in activities conducted by the Boy Scouts of America:
Tetanus and diphtheria toxoid within the past 10 years
Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) since first birthday
Trivalent oral polio vaccine (TOPV); four doses since birth
Local Scouting units and their chartered organizations traditionally determine
their own membership, absent any legal constraints. Accordingly, units and sponsoring
institutions should determine the feasibility or desirability of allowing youth or
adult members who have or are suspected of having a life-threatening communicable
disease to participate in Scouting activities. A youth member who is unable to
attend meetings may continue to pursue Scouting through the Lone Scout program.
The American Academy of Dermatology advises the following protection tips against
- Limit exposure to sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun's rays are the strongest.
- Generously apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 and
reapply every two hour when outdoors, even on cloudy days.
- Wear protective, tightly woven clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt and pants.
- Wear a 4-inch-wide broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protective lenses.
- Stay in the shade whenever possible.
- Avoid reflective surfaces, which can reflect up to 85 percent of the sun's
The following is the policy of the Boy Scouts of America regarding medical
- Medical examinations for camp attendance are required of all campers for
the protection of the entire camp group. The immunization requirement is
waived for persons with religious beliefs against immunization.
- All Scouts and Scout leaders need to learn first aid, not for their own
use, but for service to others who may require it. A Scout or leader may
ask to be excused from first-aid instruction, but no advancement requirement
will be waived except as indicated.
- Requirements 1 and 5 for the Personal Fitness merit badge call for examinations
by a physician and a dentist with appropriate follow-up recommendations. This
may be set aside on presentation of a certificate by the Scout's parents and a
proper church official that a definite violation of religious conviction is
The taking of prescription medication is the responsibility of the individual taking the
medication and/or that individual's parent or guardian. A Scout leader, after obtaining all
the necessary information, can agree to accept the responsibility of making sure a Scout
takes the necessary medication at the appropriate time, but BSA policy does not mandate nor
necessarily encourage the Scout leader to do so. Also, if your state laws are more limiting,
they must be followed.
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. It may be necessary
for small groups to travel in private automobiles; however, the use of chartered
equipment from established rail, bus, and airline companies is strongly recommended.
The advantages are many. These companies have excellent safety records because of
their periodic inspections and approved health and safety procedures.
References: Cub Scout Leader Book, Scoutmaster Handbook, Troop Committee Guidebook,
Exploring Reference Book, and Tours and Expeditions
ATTENTION BSA DRIVERS:|
DON'T ENTER THE RISK ZONE
BE AWARE OF KILLER FATIGUE.
It is essential that adequate, safe, and responsible transportation be used for all
Scouting activities. Because most accidents occur within a short distance from home,
safety precautions are necessary, even on short trips.
General guidelines are
Seat belts are required for all occupants.
All drivers must have a valid driver's license that has not
been suspended or revoked for any reason. If the vehicle to
be used is designed to carry more than 15 persons, including
the driver (more than 10 persons, including the driver, in
California), the driver must have a commercial driver's
An adult leader (at least 21 years of age) must be in charge
and accompany the group.
The driver must be currently licensed and at least 18 years of age.
Youth member exception: When traveling to an area, regional, or
national Boy Scout activity or any Venturing event under the
leadership of an adult (at least 21 years of age) tour leader, a
youth member at least 16 years of age may be a driver, subject
to the following conditions:
Passenger cars or station wagons may be used for transporting
passengers, but passengers should not ride on the rear deck of
Trucks may not be used for transporting passengers except in the cab.
All driving, except short trips, should be done in daylight.
All vehicles must be covered by automobile liability insurance with
limits that meet or exceed requirements of the state in which the
vehicle is licensed. It is recommended that coverage limits are at
least $50,000/$100,000/$50,000. Any vehicle designed to carry 10 or
more passengers is required to have limits of $100,000/$500,000/$100,000.
Do not exceed the speed limit.
Do not travel in convoy (see "Leadership Requirements
for Trips and Outings," No. 2).
Driving time is limited to a maximum of 10 hours and must be interrupted
by frequent rest, food, and recreation stops. If there is only one driver,
the driving time should be reduced and stops should be made more
- Six months' driving experience as a licensed driver (time on
a learner's permit or equivalent is not to be counted)
- No record of accidents or moving violations
- Parental permission granted to the leader, driver, and riders
Trucks are designed and constructed to transport materials and equipment, not people.
The beds of trucks or trailers must never be used for carrying passengers. Tour
permits will not be issued for any trip that involves carrying passengers in a truck
except in the cab. This includes vehicles converted for that use unless they are
licensed as buses and meet all requirements for buses.
Use caution in towing
trailers or campers, as a vehicle's performance, steering, and braking abilities will
be altered. Consider these safety tips:
- Get the correct trailer for the car and the correct hitch for the trailer.
Distribute and anchor the load.
- Allow extra time to brake. Changing lanes while braking can jackknife the
- Add safety equipment as dictated by common sense and state laws (mirrors,
lights, safety chains, brakes for heavy trailers, etc.).
- Park in designated areas.
A driver of a bus or any vehicle designed to carry more than 15 persons
(including driver) is required to have a commercial driver's license.
Possession of a license, however, does not mean that a person is capable of
driving a bus safely. It is essential that unit leaders and volunteers be
thoroughly familiar with the bus they will be driving, including knowing the
location of emergency exits and fire extinguishers and how to operate them. A
driver must be prepared to handle and brake a full bus, which weighs significantly
more than an empty bus. Other safety tips are:
The safety rules for automobiles apply to bus travel, with the exception of seat
belts. In special cases, chartered buses may travel more than nine hours a day.
On certain occasions, night travel by public carrier bus is appropriate - it
should be considered permissible when conditions are such that rest and sleep
for passengers are possible with a reasonable degree of comfort. However, night
travel on buses should not be planned for two successive nights.
- Regular and thorough maintenance program
- No more passengers than there are seating locations
- Luggage and equipment fastened securely to prevent being
thrown around in case of sudden stop
- Emergency exits clear of people or things
- Pretrip inspection of critical systems (signals, fuel, tires, windshield
wipers, horn, etc.)
Observe these safety guidelines for train travel:
- Don't lean out of windows or doors.
- When changing trains, don't cross railroad tracks without permission.
- Stay out of vestibules. Keep the railroad car door closed.
- In case of illness or accident, see a train official who can arrange
for medical help.
- On overnight trips, one leader should be on watch duty at all times.
In national parks and some other areas of the country, special boat and canoe
regulations are in force, and special boat permits are required for cruising or
recreation. Follow these safety precautions:
- All tour leaders must have current training in the BSA Safety Afloat
program (see Chapter II, "Aquatics Safety").
- U.S. Coast Guard recommends and BSA regulations require that an approved
USCG personal flotation device (PFD) be worn by each participant using
watercraft in an aquatics activity. Types II and III are recommended for
Scout activity afloat.
A capsized boat is never anticipated, so always
be prepared. Be sure each individual wears a PFD.
- Rowboats or canoes carrying passengers should not be towed behind
motorboats or sailboats.
- Use of canoes should be restricted to swimmers who have satisfactorily
demonstrated their ability in launching, landing, and paddling a canoe and
in handling a swamped canoe. Canoeists should be taught the proper procedure
for staying afloat if the canoe capsizes or is swamped.
- Small boats, whether under sail or power, used for pleasure or ferry
purposes, must have a minimum capacity of 10 cubic feet per person.
Boats propelled by hand power - such as rowboats - and used for pleasure
purposes only must provide a minimum of 7 cubic feet per person. (Lifeboats
on passenger-carrying vessels propelled by power must comply with the
- Provision also should be made by all boats under sail or power for a
sufficient quantity or supply of oars and rowlocks or paddles to be used
in case of emergency. Fire-fighting equipment and lights must also be
- Bilges of gasoline-powered boats should be kept free from gasoline and
oil at all times. Thorough ventilation, either natural or by blower, is
necessary to dispel gasoline vapor.
- Motorized personal watercraft, such as jet-skis, are not authorized for
use in Scouting activities, and their use should not be permitted in or
near BSA program areas.
- To prevent ignition by static electricity during refueling, establish
complete metallic contact between the nozzle of the filling hose and the
tank opening or filling pipe, and maintain contact until gasoline has ceased
to flow. If a funnel is used, establish contact with the funnel and the
opening in the tank. All passengers should be ashore during refueling.
For regulations that govern cruises by private powerboat or sailboat, refer to
Motorboat Regulations, published by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Air travel is permitted as follows:
On any flight scheduled by a commercial airline.
The BSA Flight Permit, No. 23-672 (see sample in appendix),
is required for all BSA flying activities except for commercial flights.
The local council reviews and approves the flight permit just as it would a tour
permit. The Parent/Guardian Consent Form, No. 23-673 (see sample in
appendix), is also required. Units should attach
the signed consent forms to the BSA Flying Permit Application and keep a copy
of the signed consent forms in their files.
Flying in hang gliders, ultralights, experimental class aircraft, and hot-air
balloons (whether or not they are tethered); parachuting, and flying in aircraft
as part of a search and rescue mission are unauthorized activities.
Airplane travelers are cautioned about what they pack in their luggage. In
flight, variations in temperature and air pressure can cause some hazardous
materials to leak or ignite. Included in the category of hazardous materials
that should not be packed in luggage are matches or lighters; flammable
liquids and gases; signal flares and other explosives; bleaches, aerosols,
mercury, and solvents containing dangerous chemicals that can cause toxic
fumes and corrosion.
If a unit plans a trip within 500 miles of the home base, it is important that
the unit obtain a local tour permit. A national tour permit is required for trips in
excess of 500 miles from home or outside the continental United States. (See samples
of both in the appendix.)
Tour permits have become
recognized by national parks, military institutions, and other organizations as proof
that a unit activity has been well planned and organized and is under capable and
qualified leadership. These organizations may require the tour permit for entry.
Most short, in-town den trips of a few hours do not require a tour permit;
however, it is recommended that dens obtain permission slips from parents.
The following questions and answers may help you understand how Scouting drivers
fall into a category of private motor carriers that are subject to the commercial
driver's license (CDL) rules:
What is a "private motor carrier of passengers"?
A private motor carrier of passengers does not offer transportation services
for hire but (a) transports passengers in interstate (some state regulations
apply to intrastate) commerce, and (b) uses a vehicle designed to carry more
than 15 passengers, which includes the driver, or a vehicle that has a gross
vehicular weight greater than 10,000 pounds.
What are some examples of usage of a private motor carrier of passengers
Neither of these examples would be considered a private motor carrier of
passengers if the transportation were extended beyond Scouting participants
to the general public, because in that case it is considered transportation
for hire and is subject to federal motor carrier safety regulations.
What about Scouting use of school buses?
- Scouting units that use vehicles designed to carry more than 15
passengers, such as buses, is one example. The driver in this case
is often a volunteer driver of a "Scout bus" that is owned or leased.
This category is referred to as nonbusiness private motor carrier
of passengers and is probably the most frequent Scouting usage
subject to the rule.
- Councils that operate camps and include transportation fees in their
program are subject to the rule when using buses or other vehicles
designed to carry more than 15 passengers or that have a gross vehicular
weight of more than 10,000 pounds.
In most states, Scouting units or councils that contract with schools to use
buses fall into the for-hire category, and the school is subject to the federal
safety regulations. Since public school transportation vehicles are not subject
to CDL rules when transporting students, the school may not realize that the
for-hire regulations apply. The consequence could have a ruinous effect on a
planned Scouting activity.
How will the rule be enforced?
The primary enforcement activity of both categories, business and
is the driver/vehicle inspection. Inspections can be performed anywhere on the
road or at destination points such as parks, sporting complexes, etc. Only the
business category is subject to compliance reviews and record keeping, but if
serious safety problems are identified in either category of vehicle usage, the
operation of the vehicle is subject to being discontinued.
Are Scouting operations subject to the drug and alcohol testing portion of
As of January 1, 1996, all operators of vehicles who are required to have a
commercial driver's license are subject to drug and alcohol testing. There
are no exemptions for the nonbusiness private motor carrier of passengers
category, which includes Scouting volunteer drivers. Local councils should
establish guidelines for volunteer drivers based on the requirements of the
state where located.
How do Scouting officials obtain the Department of Transportation
identification number required for all vehicles that are subject to the CDL rule?
Form MCS-150 should be requested from the Federal Highway Administration
Office of Motor Carriers, in the council's state. The completed form would be
sent to the FHWA's office in Washington, D.C., where a DOT number will be
assigned. This number, as well as name, city, and state, should be displayed
on the side of the vehicle. An education and technical assistance (ETA) package
can be obtained from the local FHWA office.
There is magic to camping in winter. It is one of the most advanced and challenging of outdoor
adventures. Special considerations for winter camping include the following:
- Leadership - In no other camp is the type of leadership as important
as in the winter camp. It is vital that a leader be an experienced camper
with a strong character.
- Equipment - Do not attempt to camp unless completely outfitted. Even
if equipment for winter camp is more expensive than for summer camp, Scouts
must be adequately clothed, and leaders should ensure that blankets and other
equipment are of suitable quality and weight.
- Physical Condition - A physician's certificate as to physical ability
must be obtained by each Scout before preliminary training begins.
Tips for your next winter camping trip:
Use the buddy system for winter outings. Buddies can check each other for
frostbite, make sure no one becomes lost, and boost the morale of the entire group.
Plan to cover no more than 5 miles per day on a winter trek on snowshoes.
An experienced group can cover 10 to 12 miles on cross-country skis.
Always allow ample time to make camp in winter, especially if you plan to
build snow shelters.
Fatigue encourages accidents. Rest occasionally when building a snow shelter;
taking part in cross-country skiing or snowshoeing; or participating in other active
winter sports. Periodic rests also help avoid overheating.
Pulling a load over the snow on a sled or toboggan is generally easier than
carrying it in a backpack.
Snow is a terrific insulator. Snow shelters are much warmer than tents because
they retain heat and keep out the cold wind. If you have adequate time for building
snow shelters, you will spend a much more comfortable night sleeping in them than
in a tent.
Snow is the greatest thief in winter, swallowing up small dropped items. Tie or
tape a piece of brightly colored cord to small items so they can be seen in snow.
Some items, such as mittens, can be tied to larger items, such as a parka, to prevent
them from being dropped and lost.
Melting snow in a pot to get water may cause the pot to burn through or may scorch
the snow, giving the water a disagreeable taste. Prevent this by adding a cup or two of
water in the bottom of the pot before putting in the snow to melt.
Punch a hole in the top of your ice chisel and string a stout cord through it.
Before trying to chisel a hole in ice, anchor the cord to something large or too heavy
to be pulled through the hole so you will not lose your chisel in freezing water when
the ice is penetrated.
Always test the thickness of ice before venturing any distance from the shore. Ice
should be at least 3 inches thick for a small group; 4 inches of ice is safe for a crowd.
Since ice thickness can vary considerably, it is best to stay near the shoreline of large
Use alkaline batteries in flashlights. Standard batteries deteriorate quickly in
cold weather. Tape the switch of your flashlight in the "off" position until you are
ready to use it. This will prevent it from being turned on accidentally while in your
pack or on your sled.
Encourage everyone in your group to wear brightly colored outer clothing so that
each person will be more visible, especially during severe weather.
Small liquid-fuel stoves are much better for cooking in winter than fires, which
are difficult to build with wet wood. Gathering wood that is frozen to the ground also
can be difficult, if not impossible. A pressure/pump-type stove is essential in winter.
Always use a funnel to refuel a stove so you won't frostbite your fingers by
accidentally pouring fuel on them. Fuel evaporates at a high rate of speed and quickly
removes heat from anything it touches.
Place a stove or fire on a platform of logs or rocks so it will not melt through
Never light or use a stove inside a tent or snow shelter. A tent may catch fire,
and a snow shelter may help lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Neither of these
potential mishaps is worth the risk.
A windscreen is essential for using a stove in the winter. Even a slight breeze
will direct the heat away from its intended mark.
References: Okpik: Cold Weather Camping, Boy Scout Handbook, Scoutmaster Handbook,
and Camping Sparklers
Beyond camping, a number of cold-weather activities present challenges to the Scout and
leader, such as cross-country skiing, ice skating, sledding, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and
snowshoeing. Essential ingredients for fun include skill training and an awareness of the
hazards unique to these activities. Snow conditions, hazardous terrain, special clothing needs,
and emergency survival are important issues for a safe and successful experience.
Be sure your winter outdoor activity always follows these guidelines:
All winter activities must be supervised by mature and conscientious adults
(at least one of whom must be age 21 or older) who understand and knowingly
accept responsibility for the well-being and safety of the youth in their care,
who are experienced and qualified in the particular skills and equipment involved
in the activity, and who are committed to compliance with the seven points of BSA
Winter Sports Safety. Direct supervision should be maintained at all times by two
or more adults when Scouts are "in the field." The appropriate number of supervisors
will increase depending on the number of participants, the type of activity, and
Winter sports activities embody intrinsic hazards that vary from sport to sport.
Participants should be aware of the potential hazards of any winter sport before
engaging in it. Leaders should emphasize preventing accidents through adherence
to safety measures and proper technique.
Suitable clothing for the activity and environment should be worn at all times,
and equipment should include gloves and helmets when appropriate.
Winter sports activities often place greater demands on a participant's
cardiopulmonary system, and people with underlying medical conditions (especially
if the heart or lungs are involved) should not participate without medical
consultation and direction. For participants without underlying medical conditions,
the annual health history and physical examination by a licensed health-care
practitioner every three years are sufficient. The adult leader should be familiar
with the physical circumstances of each youth participant and make appropriate
adjustments in the activity or protection as warranted by individual health or
physical conditions. Adults participating in strenuous outdoor winter activity
should have an annual physical examination. It is recommended that the medical
assessment be performed by a licensed health-care practitioner knowledgeable of
the sport and the particular physical demands the activity will place on the
For winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding,
snowmobiling, etc. that utilize
specialized equipment, it is essential that all equipment fit and function properly.
When youth are engaging in downhill activities such as sledding, tobogganing, or
snow tubing, minimize the likelihood of collision with immobile obstacles. Use
only designated areas where rocks, tree stumps, and other potential obstacles
have been identified and marked, cleared away, shielded, or buffered in some way.
All participants should know, understand, and respect the rules and procedures
for safe winter activity. The applicable rules should be presented and learned
before the outing, and all participants should review them just before the
activity begins. When Scouts know and understand the reasons for the rules,
they will observe them. When fairly and impartially applied, rules do not
interfere with fun. Rules for safety, plus common sense and good judgment, keep
the fun from being interrupted by tragedy.
Because of the great concern the Boy Scouts of America has for the problem of
child abuse in our society, the Youth Protection program has been developed to
help safeguard both our youth and adult members. Published and videotaped materials
have been prepared to give professionals and volunteers information on the resources
available for educating our membership about child abuse - how to avoid it, how to
identify it, and how to deal with it. These materials and local council training
programs are designed to give parents and their children basic information that will
increase their awareness and sense of personal power to assist in their own
Unit leaders can learn more from these materials:
Youth Protection Training for Adult Leaders, No. AV-09V001A.
This is a comprehensive youth protection training program for all
BSA professionals and volunteers. This 1994 updated videotape and
supporting materials cover recognizing and reporting child abuse.
Youth Protection: Boy Scout and Cub Scout Leader Training Module,
No. AV-09V010. This is an abbreviated version of the 90-minute Youth
Protection Training course released in 1988, with materials specifically
tailored for leaders working with Cub Scout-age and Boy Scout-age youth.
A Time to Tell, No. AV-09V004. This award-winning youth protection
program dramatizes three abuse situations and what to do about them. It was
designed to be viewed by 11- to 14-year-old boys and can be used by non-Scout
groups and organizations.
It Happened to Me, No. AV-09V011. This training program has been
developed for the 6- to 9-year-old male audience. It is designed to educate
this age group, through five scenarios, on the issue of sexual abuse and the
"trickery" involved in luring young victims.
All persons responsible for youth safety must understand and appreciate Scouting's
position of zero tolerance for child abuse or victimization in any form. Unit
leaders should report any suspected abuse to the local council Scout executive.
All forms of hazing, initiations, ridicule, or inappropriate teasing are prohibited and should
not be allowed.
These pages are a volunteer effort to help
improve the communications within the Viking Council and Scouts in general. Please EMAIL
any suggestions, changes or ideas for making improvements to the Web Committee. Thanks for your input!