- Adult Leadership
- Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
- Drug, Alcohol, and Tobacco Use and Abuse
- Emergency Service
- Fuels and Fire Prevention
- First Aid
- Guns and Firearms
- Sports and Activities
- The Sweet 16 of BSA Safety
- Cave Exploring
- Judo, Tai Chi, and Aikido
- BSA Bike Safety Guidelines
- Skating Guidelines
- Project COPE
- Climbing and Rappelling
- Horsemanship Program Guidelines
- Unauthorized and Restricted Activities
- Medical Information
- Serious or Fatal Injuries or Illnesses
- Trail Safety
- Winter Sports Activities
- Special Precautions
- Youth Protection and Child Abuse
The general policy of Scouting is to train boys 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.
As an aid in the continuing effort to protect participants in Scout activity, the BSA National Health & Safety Committee and the Council Services Division of the BSA National Office have developed the "Sweet 16" of BSA safety procedures for physical activity. These 16 points, which embody good judgment and common sense, are applicable to all activities.
- 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/her ability to lead and to 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 activity (e.g. scuba) may require professional evaluation in addition to 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 activity 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 that knows where you are and what you are doing in any outdoor or strenuous activity.
- 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 participant and the activity and to include appropriate safety and program features. The supervisor should also check equipment to determine that it is in good condition for the activity and is 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 a PFD properly worn by each participant; bikers, horseback riders, and whitewater kayakers need helmets for certain activity; skaters may need protective gear; and all need to be dressed for warmth and utility depending on the circumstances.
- Safety Procedures and Policies. For most activities there are common sense procedures and standards that can greatly reduce the risk. These should be known and appreciated by all participants, and the supervisor must assure compliance.
- Skill Level Limits. There is a minimum skill level requirement for every activity and the supervisor must identify and recognize this minimum skill level and be sure that none are put at risk by attempting activity beyond their ability. A good example of skill levels in Scouting is the venerable "swim test" which defines conditions for safe swimming based on individual ability.
- Weather Check. The risk factors in many outdoor activities vary substantially with weather conditions. These variables and the appropriate response 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 emergency response or a change of plan.
- 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 contingencies.
- Permit and Notices. BSA tour permits, council office registration, government or landowners 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 the 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 CPR-trained person (preferably an adult) be part of the leadership for any BSA program. Such a resource should be available for strenuous outdoor activity.
- Discipline. No supervisor is effective if he cannot control the activity and the individual participants. Youth must respect their leader and follow his direction.
In addition to these general rules, safety concerns in certain BSA activities, including most of the aquatics programs, have been specifically addressed in more detailed guidelines. All leaders should review and comply with such guidelines in the respective activities.
In view of the hazardous nature of some caves and a need for expert leadership and adequate training and equipment for safe cave exploration, the following minimum safety principles are established:
- Cave exploring, other than simple novice activities, should be limited, as is the case with mountaineering and scuba diving, to high-school-age youth, Venturers, and older Scouts only.
- Scout troops and Venturing crews that include caving in their programs, whether for one trip or many, must be under the leadership of a responsible adult who is with the group. He/she must be qualified through training and experience in cave exploring and know established practices of safety, conservation, and cave courtesy.
- Leader and group together 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.
Primary reference: A supplement to this policy statement, prepared by the National Speleological Society, contains detailed information and instructions in three areas: cave safety, cave conservation, and courtesy to cave owners. It is available upon request from the Health and Safety Service (at the national office). Additional reference: Fieldbook.
If Scouts or 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.
The following guidelines and procedures apply to all BSA unit, council, and national program activity involving bicycling.
- Qualified supervision. All unit, district, council, and national-event activity must be supervised by a mature and conscientious adult over 21 years of age who understands and knowingly accepts responsibility for the safety of the 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.
- Physical fitness. Biking is strenuous. Long treks and hill climbing should not be attempted without training and preparation. For Scout activity, all participants 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 individuals' health conditions. Should any participant have a significant health problem, the adult leader should require proof that the participant has been examined by a physician.
- Helmets and clothing. All cyclists must wear a properly sized and fitted helmet approved and stickered by either the Snell Memorial Foundation or the American National Standards Institute. On cool days, cyclists should dress in layers so they can adjust clothing to avoid chilling or overheating. When skies are clear, cyclists should cover up for protection from the sun.
- Buddying 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 a turn. In competitive activity where the buddy system cannot be applied practically, all activity must be directly observed by the adult supervisor. (Scouts should be taught that biking with a buddy is best. When biking alone, apart from Scout activities, Scouts should be encouraged to tell someone their route, schedule, and destination before departing.)
- Keeping right. Cyclists should ride with the flow of traffic, as far to the right as possible. They should avoid curbs, storm drains, soft or loose gravel on shoulders, and other hazards.
- Being smart. Cyclists should obey all traffic laws, signs, signals, and street markings. They should ride only one to a bike, and should not ride after dark. They should not attempt stunts-trick riding is only for professionals using special equipment. Even when cyclists think they have the right-of-way, they should yield to motor vehicles. No cyclist should ever hitch a ride on another vehicle.
- Turns and intersections. Before turning, cyclists should look left, right, back, and ahead. They should stop and look in all directions when entering a street from a driveway, parking area, sidewalk, or alley. All turns must be signalled using universal hand signs. Cyclists should walk their bikes through or across busy intersections.
- Riding the right bike. Cyclists should ride only bikes that fit their size. The bike should allow for keeping feet flat on the ground while the cyclist is on the seat. The handgrips should be no higher than the shoulders or lower than the seat.
- Accessories. Every bike needs a horn or bell and reflectors (front, back, and sides). Items should be carried only in baskets, or saddlebags, or on a rear carrier rack. A bike- or helmet- mounted mirror is recommended for those who must ride in traffic. For long trips, a bike-mounted container for drinking water is recommended.
- Maintenance. Bikes must be kept clean and maintained-especially the brakes and drive chain.
- Racing right. Street racing is dangerous. Racing should take place only 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 the starting and finishing points.
- Planning. Both the route and timing of bike trips should be planned to avoid heavy traffic and hazardous conditions. Biking is unsafe on wet pavement and on windy days. Plans should include hourly (at least) rest stops and a maximum of approximately six hours of time on the bike per day.
- 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 the risk of falls and collisions. Recent data shows that injuries are largely the result 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 practice safety and courtesy and should obey all local or rink rules.
- BSA skating activities at any level shall be supervised by an adult at least 21 years of age who is experienced in the use of skates and skateboards, willing to accept responsibility conscientiously for the safety of all participants, and committed to compliance with BSA safety guidelines and local laws.
- In-line skating, hockey, racing, and similar activities are to be held only in areas free of pedestrian or vehicular traffic and hazardous fixed objects. No skating activity is authorized on streets that have not been blocked from 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 as 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 ANSI standards, padded gloves, wrist supports, and elbow, knee, and hip 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 any 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 reason for rules and procedures, they are more likely to follow them. Supervisors should be strict and fair, showing no favoritism.
Project COPE stands for "Challenging Outdoor Personal Encounters." It consists of group initiative games and low-course and high-course activities. Some of the activities involve a group challenge, while others test individual skills and agility Participants climb, swing, balance, jump, rappel, and think of solutions to a variety of challenges.
Safety of participants, leaders, and staff is imperative. It is not sufficient to simply be "concerned" about safety. That concern must be augmented by a director and staff members who are knowledgeable, personally skilled in the activities, effective as teachers, and constantly vigilant to safety procedures and participant needs. Qualifications and characteristics of prospective staff need to be carefully screened. A cadre of staff is important so that continuance of the program is not dependent on one or two people.
The standards that have been developed for Project COPE activities are stringent to ensure that the experience is both safe and successful.
Primary Reference: Project COPE.
Standards have been prepared with the able assistance of highly qualified rock-climbing authorities. It is important to distinguish between rock climbing (ascending or traversing a steep rock face) and rappelling (descending with a controlled slide down a rope).
Boy Scouts of America stresses the importance of safety when conducting rock climbing and rapelling programs and the proper maintenance of equipment and facilities. Participants should comply with the eight points of Climb On Safely:
- Qualified supervision
- Qualified instructors
- Physical fitness
- Safe area
- Environmental Conditions
Reference: Topping Out: A BSA Climbing/Rappelling Manual, No.3207, and Climb On Safely, No 3206.
Horsemanship activities in Scouting include merit badge activities, arena rides and multiday trips (including treks and cavalcades), and Cub Scout familiarization rides.
Each sponsoring council should take care to design age- and activity-appropriate procedures and guidelines for each particular equine activity. It is not possible or appropriate to dictate each aspect of every program.
Requirements must also be met if the horseback riding program is provided by or at an off-site facility. The council must enter a contractual agreement as outlined in the resident camp standards. If a horsemanship riding program is conducted, each of the following guidelines is recommended.
- Equine instructor certification and equivalent experience in group riding
activity should be given significant consideration in selection.
- The horsemanship director/head wrangler is at least 21 years of age and has experience and background in instructing horsemanship skills to groups.
- The horsemanship director/head wrangler has personal horsemanship ability which corresponds to the program and possesses adequate training and experience in stable management and equine care.
- The assistant horsemanship director/assistant head wrangler is at least 18 and sets an example for Scouts with regard to dress, conduct, and horsemanship.
- Assistant wranglers are at least 16 and set an example for Scouts with regard to dress, conduct, and horsemanship
- Wranglers are trained in instructional methods and teaching techniques and are able to lead Scouts in horsemanship activities.
- A paid professional with year-round responsibility for horses and horse programs shall make recommendations in hiring the horsemanship director/head wrangler. The head wrangler and professional or professional-technical council employee should have input and make effective recommendations concerning staff selection and equine program issues.
- Riding areas are safe and convenient for riders to handle horses before, during, and after riding.
- Concise rules are clearly posted in the stable area.
- Riding areas are free of hazards including but not limited to water troughs, wire, or other similar obstructions.
- The horse corral and horsemanship activity area have adequate fresh water available and are located away from the central camp facilities and/or campsites.
- Proper facilities and fenced areas are available for the care, feeding, and stabling of horses.
- The area provides adequate shelter and storage facili ties for equipment.
- Fencing is kept in good repair.
- The area is maintained free of accumulated manure.
- If trail rides are provided:
- Wranglers receive trail orientation.
- Trails are inspected and maintained regularly
- Trail rides are conducted in single file at a walk with sufficient space between horses to guard against kicking.
- Minimum impact procedures are applied in all situations. Wranglers are properly trained for minimum impact trail riding and camping procedures.
- Bridges, if any, have sufficient support and strength for horses.
- Necessary permits are obtained if public land is used; if private property is used, the owner's permission is obtained in writing.
- Riders are under the direct supervision and control of a wrangler at all times, whether mounted or dismounted.
- Wranglers have a comprehensive knowledge of individual horses in the program and are able to judge their suitability for various riders.
- Riders are assigned to horses with consideration for the rider's age, riding experience, and ability
- Trail riding groups may not exceed 12 riders per wrangler with a minimum of two wranglers on every trail ride.
- Before being allowed to ride on a trail, all riders are instructed in principles of horse control.
- All horses are ridden by staff prior to use by Scouts. Horses are properly classed for the activity. Records on each horse are kept and contain a photograph of the animal, the name of the animal, a brief description of the animal's general and behavioral characteristics, and the class of rider (beginner, intermediate, and advanced) suitable for the horse. The head wrangler has authority to select and reject horses based on behavior, personality, and soundness.
- Accidents and significant incidents will be logged and reported in accordance with resident camp standards.
- Consideration is given to effective emergency communications strategies, with direct communications whenever possible.
- The quality and condition of equipment used in the horsemanship program is appropriate for its intended use, sized correctly to the rider, fitted correctly to the horse, and properly maintained.
- Riders should wear safe and suitable attire for the activity
- Long pants and shirt should be required for trail rides.
- Stirrup covers are highly recommended. If stirrup covers are not used, shoes or boots shall be worn which provide protection from the foot becoming wedged into the stirrup; e.g., riding boots are preferred and lug-soled hiking boots discouraged.
- Riders are required to wear protective headgear that meets or exceeds Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) or the former National Pony Club certification.
- The rider's clothing, equipment, and tack are inspected immediately before riding.
- Camps and facilities shall provide for the healthful, humane treatment of animals in accordance with industry standards.
- Specific instructions for the ongoing care, feeding, and maintenance of horses are in writing. Adequate arrangements for veterinary care and shoeing of horses exist.
- Horses are properly fed and watered.
- Salt and other supplemental minerals are regularly provided as needed.
- Each horse has suitable tack, properly adjusted and properly fitted.
- Injuries and ailments are treated immediately by qualified staff or a veterinarian as needed.
- Sick or injured horses are not used.
- The camp director is familiar with the limitations and potential problems of a riding program. The camp director places foremost consideration on safety of the riders and the general welfare of the animals.
- Camping program goals include safe practices in riding and handling horses, and overall staff awareness of responsibility to the animals and the environment.
- The camp has a comprehensive written policy regarding the use of the horses and the riding area, including use by camp staff.
- A person trained in standard first aid, American Red Cross, or any equivalent level training course by any recognized agency is present during all horsemanship activities.
- Basic first aid kits are kept at the riding area and taken by wranglers on each trail ride.
- A complete first aid kit for humans is taken on all rides. A first aid and tack repair kit for horses are taken on all rides off the camp property.
Here are some questions to ask when interviewing a potential contractor/outfitter for the council's horse riding program. (Prototypical answers are provided in parentheses.)
Qualifications and Training
- Are the instructors certified by the Horsemanship Safety Association or the Camp Horsemanship Association? (Ideally, they are certified.) What is their experience or training? What are the qualifications of the riding instructors?
- If the instructors are not certified, who trains them? What are their qualifications?
- What is each instructor's experience as a riding instructor? (The head instructor should have several years of experience in taking youth on horse rides and in caring for horses.)
- Are riding instructors trained in CPR by any recognized community agency and American Red Cross standard first aid or National Safety Council Level 11 first aid or the equivalent?
- Have the instructors conducted rides for youth who have never ridden a horse?
Supervision and Safety
- What measures are taken by the contractor to ensure safety on horse rides? (It is hoped the contractor will name supervision, matching horse to the rider's ability, following the rules, and maintaining discipline.)
- How many riders will one instructor supervise? (Ideally, no more than 10.)
- What rules have been established for the conduct of rides? Will the rules be posted and will they be clearly explained to participants prior to riding?
- What is the maximum pace that instructors allow for horse rides-a walk, trot, cantor, or gallop? (Beware of anything more than a trot.)
- Where does the contractor obtain the horses provided? Are the horses ridden often and evaluated by the contractor to determine their suitability for the intended program?
- Are riders assigned to certain horses? How are those assignments made? (The contractor should have assessed the gentleness of each horse, and the instructors should match horses to participants according to their ability)
- What does the contractor do to prevent accidents resulting from a foot entrapment? (They should provide cowboy boots or place foot covers over the front of the stirrups to prevent the foot from slipping through.)
- How often does the contractor have instructors check the tightness of the cinch? (Ideally, before the ride, when the riders mount, and during the ride.)
- What accidents and injuries have occurred on rides using the contractor's horses and instructors? Does the contractor keep records of incidents, accidents, or injuries? What has the contractor done to prevent a recurrence of these accidents?
- What equipment does the contractor provide for horse rides? How is that equipment repaired and maintained? Is there a schedule for inspecting and repairing tack?
- Does the contractor provide helmets for riders? (Must meet resident camp standards, see 9 under Safety Procedures and Equipment.)
- Does the contractor have extra tack (halters, bridles, reins, saddles, cinches, etc.) to replace items that are damaged or worn? (Ideally, he does.)
- What are participants instructed to do during inclement weather such as a thunderstorm? Does the contractor provide slickers?
- Does the contractor have liability insurance in the amount of $1 million naming the council as an additional insured? Has the contractor presented you with a copy of the insurance policy?
- Has the contractor signed a hold harmless agreement that agrees to exempt the council from liability for injuries, accidents, or fatalities?
- Have written instructions been given to the contractor for the procedures to be followed should an accident occur? (Use procedures as outlined in the pink folder No. 19-147, Report of Fatal or serious Injury or Illness.)
The following activities have been declared as 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 which teach kicks, punches or lethal blows - not including judo, tai-chi, and aikido - are unauthorized activities.
- Chainsaws and mechanical log splitters may be authorized for use only by trained individuals who are 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.
- The policy of the Boy Scouts of America is to prohibit 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.
- Councils may not authorize any group acting for or on behalf of its members, units, or districts to sell fireworks as a fundraising or money-earning activity.
- Bungee jumping (also referred to as shock cord jumping) is an unauthorized activity.
- Flying in hang gliders, ultralights, experimental-class aircraft, and hot-air balloons; 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 prohibited.
- The activity commonly referred to as "War Games" - where individuals shoot paint dye at one another - is an unauthorized activity.
- While hunting safety is part of program curriculum, hunting is not a Cub Scout or Boy Scout activity. (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 that conduct hunting trips or special adult hunting expeditions, providing 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 is not required prior to obtaining a hunting license, successful completion of the respective state voluntary program is required before participating in the activity.
- Motorized personal watercraft, such as "jet-skis," are not part of the BSA Aquatics program. It is strongly recommended that the use of such craft not be permitted in or near Aquatics program areas.
- Except for law enforcement officers required to carry firearms within their jurisdiction, and circumstances within the scope of the BSA hunting policy statement, firearms shall not be brought along on camping, hiking, backpacking, or Scouting activities other than those specifically planned for target shooting under the supervision of a certified firearms instructor.
- All farm class tractors used by BSA members or employees in conjunction with any BSA activity or on BSA property must be equipped with seatbelts and roll over 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. The use of any farm class tractor not equipped with seat belts and roll-over 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 BSA 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.
- 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 unauthorized.
The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will conduct a Courtesy Marine Examination on any craft over 16 feet in length upon request. The officer will make an analysis of each vessel and advise you of any deficiencies within state or federal regulations.
References: Sea Scout Manual, Small-Boat Sailing merit badge pamphlet, Safe Boating Instructor's Guide, Advanced Seamanship Instructor's Guide.
See Precamp/Postcamp Inspection, under "Camping."
Essentially, three occasions in unit camping require inspection: (1) after camp is set up, (2) after camp is taken down, (3) periodically in between. Your main interest in these inspections is to ensure a livable camp and an unblemished site after you leave.
References: Camp Health and Safety and Scoutmaster Handbook.
Periodically, once or twice a year, the unit meeting place should be inspected for health and safety hazards. The Meeting Place Inspection Sheet is available.
References: Troop Committee Guidebook, Cub Scout Leader Book.
Motor vehicles transporting passengers or carrying equipment must be inspected and certified as being in good condition as to brakes, steering mechanism, lights, tires, etc. Motor vehicles owned or operated by councils or BSA camps must be inspected frequently.
References: Camp Health and Safety, Camp Program and Property Management (Managing the Council Outdoor Program, Section I) and Tours and Expeditions.
It is recommended that all members of the Boy Scouts of America have periodic medical evaluations by a physician. 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 own physical capabilities, the Boy Scouts of America has established minimum standards in providing medical information prior to participating in various activities. They are classified as follows:
Class l: 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. 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 easy reference.
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 thirty-six months by a physician licensed to practice medicine*. 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, Venturing olympics, and extended backpacking trips in remote areas. Medical information required includes current health history supported by a medical evaluation within the past twelve months performed by a physician licensed to practice medicine*. Form 34412A is to be used by youth for Class 3 activities. Adults over 40 will use this form for Class 2 and Class 3 activities. See form No. 34414, Personal Health and Medical Record, for more information.
*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 are strongly recommended before participating in activities conducted by the Boy Scouts of America:
1. Tetanus and diptheria toxoid (within the past ten years)
2. Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) since first birthday
3. 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 continue 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 following is the policy of the Boy Scouts of America regarding medical requirements:
- Medical examinations for camp attendance are required of all boys 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 if he desires, but no advancement requirement will be waived except as indicated.
- Requirement 1 for the Personal Fitness merit badge calls for examinations by a physician and a dentist with appropriate follow-up recommendations. This maybe 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 involved.
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.
All prescription drugs (including those needing refrigeration) are to be locked up. An exception may be made for a limited amount of medication to be carried by a camper, leader, or staff member for life-threatening conditions, including bee-sting or heart medication and inhalers, or for a limited amount of medication approved for use in a first aid kit.
All professional staff members should be aware of the steps to follow in case of a serious or fatal injury or illness of a member of the Boy Scouts of America (youth, volunteer, or professional), including nonmembers, when the incident occurs on a Scouting-owned or operated facility or at a Scouting event. These steps are clearly defined in Camp Health and Safety.
All volunteer Scouters need to be advised that whenever a serious or fatal injury or illness occurs during a unit activity, the council executive needs to be alerted as soon after the incident occurs as possible.
Prompt and accurate reporting to the news media is most important. Establish one spokesperson to news media to avoid conflicting reports. Parents or next of kin are informed by personal contacts before any release is made to the public.
After the ill or injured have been properly cared for, the council executive informs the regional director and director of Health and Safety Service at the national office of the pertinent facts surrounding the incident. A sample facsimile is outlined in the Accident Report Folder, No. 19-147. Copies of this folder and its content should be available at all times in the council headquarters. Contents of this folder include:
1 copy - "Procedure to Be Followed in the Event of Serious or Fatal Injury or Illness"
3 copies - "Preliminary Report of Fatal or Serious Injury or Illness"
3 copies - "Final Report of Fatal or Serious Injury or Illness"
1 copy - "Liberty Mutual Liability Accident Notice"
1 copy - "Emergency Public Relations"
1 copy - "Crisis Communications"
This folder and material should be retained in the council office.
Source: BSA Health and Safety Guide #33415B - 2000 Printing