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Why do LDS Scouts get lost/killed more often?

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  • #31
    3 will not happen simply because there is no cause for it to happen.


    • #32
      The only problem I see is coming from the leaders. The leaders are there to lead. They are also there to make sure the rules are followed. Each incident could have been prevented had the leaders done their job. Unfortunatly there is nothing that can be done by the BSA to force leaders to comply as leadership is solely the responsiblity of the CO. The CO needs to step up and tell these leaders they are not there to be a buddy to the boys and throw the rule book to the wind. It is up to them to insure that rules are followed and boys are kept safe whether they like it or not.
      No safety harness . . . no climb
      Not physically able . . . No acitivity
      No Buddy . . . No going
      Throwing logs in a river . . . just plain no.

      I don't know how many boys I sent back to den leaders with a spare den chief at day camp when they were caught without their buddy, I lost count but I didn't lose a scout. If we leaders don't enforce the rules the boys sure won't do it for us.


      • #33
        I would like to believe that BSA won't take any action to pressure the LDS Church but stranger things have happened. On other stances over the past 15 years, however, BSA has lost far more than 12% of it's membership and certainly more than 12% of it's private funding.

        I just hope that it doesn't take a national scandal on the news about this problem to make us in the church do something about it.


        • #34
          Here is more about the boy that was knocked into the Yellowstone River this weekend.

          I've seen another site that has less detail but says the search is being scaled back.


          • #35
            It shouldn't take a national headline to make any Charter Organization or unit committee to take their responsibility lightly. The mere fact that parents have entrusted you with their own children should be enough to make any reasonable person take action.

            No unit can risk using poorly selected, untrained, or irresponsible adult leadership. Not everyone who can figure out how to put a uniform shirt on right side out should be allowed to be a scout leader.

            I do not disagree with the BSA's membership restrictions as to who they deny membership to, but I admit that I have found myself on a few occassions totally dumbfounded by who charter organizations allow in.


            • #36
              Le Voyageur makes some very valid points, LDS scout leaders are appointed by the church leaders, they are not volunteers and the appointment is usually short term, a year for most so there is not a lot of incentive for these guys to go to all the training. The suggestion to allow LDS units to encourage those who would like to volunteer rather than being forced into it as a call to serve the church would be a good start.
              Remember the main focus of boy scouting in the LDS church is to prepare the young men to go on their mission at 18, so scouting in LDS units is not quite the same structure as regular scout units. I respect the LDS using scouting as their youth program, and I would hope that they would use more of the BSA program structure than most of them do, and that would help decrease the number of accidents in these units.


              • #37

                Welcome fellow Washingtonian!

                In my experience, most of the LDS Scout leaders serve about 2 years. My father, brothers, and I have served much longer by choice. Unfortunately, many LDS Scouters never complete training while others jump ahead and complete Woodbadge even before being trained for their actual positions. I know, I know...

                One correction. We do sort of blend religion & Scouting as you mention but LDS boys are called to serve a mission at 19 -- not 18. We don't use Scouting to train the missionaries either as they are trained in a completely different program after they have accepted their calling. This was done for decades in Provo just off the BYU campus but is now expanding worldwide.


                • #38
                  It's difficult to know without detailed information, of course, but if it is true that there is a significant difference in the number of boys injured or killed in the LDS units relative to the other Scouting units, that would seem to be something to look into. It's easy to fall back on the "usual suspects" of "generic" poor leaders and poor training, but if the problem is isolated to the LDS units, then you have to look at what might be different in the LDS units and determine if that might be a factor. It could be that there is some nuance in the running of the LDS units that is causing them to be more prone to the poor leader and poor training problem. I'm not saying that there is, just pointing out the possibility. In order to know for sure, a detailed analysis of every death/injury in an LDS unit would have to be done, and then compared to the general Scout population. For example, I've read here that LDS units are broken down by age to match other functions in the LDS church. If that is true, then in the units supporting younger Scouts, it's possible that you could have a lack of experience, both from older Scouts, and from experienced leaders, that could result in those Scouts being led into riskier situations. It's just as possible that those younger units aren't allowed on riskier trips, of course.

                  Regards some other comments on possible outcomes, it's highly unlikely that BSA would welcome the idea of LDS units breaking off to form their own organization. I have read that the reason the LDS units were allowed to vary the structure of the program to meet their church needs was because the BSA didn't want to lose 400,000 Scouts and the funding that went along with it. If that's true, I just don't see BSA saying, "you know, this just isn't working out, so we think it'd be best if you went your own way".


                  • #39
                    I think training is the answer. Whenever a council, district, or unit has an accident they should do and evaluation of the accident, decide the cause and take steps to prevent the accident from happening in the future. If there is a chronic problem within a CO, then BSA should step in and make strong recommendations. If LDS leaders are pressed into service, then they can be pressed into receiving the proper trainning needed to fulfill their services successfully.


                    • #40
                      "In my experience, most of the LDS Scout leaders serve about 2 years."

                      It seems to me that this alone would constitute a very substantial difference between LDS units and most other units. If this is typical, it means that even leaders with training don't have very much experience--and if they turn over all the time, they're not working with more experienced leaders, either.


                      • #41
                        One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet, is that since the BSA programs are part of the LDS boy youth ministry, there probably is a lot more LDS boys in scouts that wouldn't be in scouts if they weren't LDS. By that, I mean there will probably be more boys per unit capita who would rather be doing something else instead of scouting. What the impact, if any, this may have on safety I really don't want to speculate on.



                        • #42
                          I am in a heavely LDS district. The one thing that has always bothered me it the "calling"
                          The being told by the Bishop that you will be a scout leader for 2 years. Many times these leaders don't even have boys in scouting. So there isn't that emotional connection with the boys, it is simply their next "job". IMHO the ideal situtation is when the leader starts with the boys early on and stays with them through out their scouting life. I was blessed in that my parents started my GS troop in 2nd grade with 17 girls. Those same 17 girls graduated from high school together with my parents still as their leaders. Mother graduated her last troop of girls from high school at age 70. But there was always that emotional committement.
                          Currently our District Advancement is LDS. He has no kids and knows he will serve in this position for 2 years. He is a nice guy but isn't doing a great job. For one he doesn't really understand the program. And there isn't that connection with scouting that makes it a part of your heart and soul. This is just another assigned job.


                          • #43
                            One of the common laments of Roundtable commissioners I know is that LDS leaders generally won't show up at RT. Whether RT attendance by itself reduces mishaps is a link I can't make, and it may a leap of logic to extend indifference toward RT to indifference toward other training, safety rules, practices, etc. I'm not sure it can be quantified. Moreover, I don't need a training course to grasp the basics -- which, if you look at most mishaps, the basics if applied would have prevented the mishap. Read and follow the GTSS, and you'll stay out of the paper.

                            I know that most LDS leaders are short-term appointees, but everybody's new at some point. Should we designate everyone as a "probie" their first two years, and require that they have a silverback with them at all times while on outings? I don't think that unit leader tenure is a cause of these mishaps either, although it may be a minor contributing factor. One way to drill down to it is to look at unit leader tenure for a cross-section of mishaps, and see if it was a factor, regardless of CO...

                            Here's one thing that I think does have an adverse impact on LDS units, but it's an impact they're obviously aware of and accept when put in context with their priesthood training. That is, the relative absence of older, bigger, experienced, trained Scouts to mentor, coach, and shepherd the younger Scouts. Unless you're in the enlightened Stake that makes a conscious effort to combine their small units on outings so they get that type of dynamic, you'll often have groups composed entirely of 1st/2nd year Scouts, on the slippery slope (sometimes literally) toward a mishap, and no 16-year old 6-footer to call the "knock-it-off". Now, combine that with inexperienced, undertrained leaders, and rugged territory, and the next thing you know, we're reading about ourselves on MSNBC.

                            In my military experience, every mishap is investigated, causes are determined, contributing factors are isolated, and corrective measures are identified to prevent recurrence. Mishaps and their trends are analyzed to the nth degree, cross-talk between geographic commands ensures that lessons learned are widely shared, and safety offices send out magazines, newsletters, and other products to help leaders focus their efforts. Moreover, if mishap trends call for changes in culture, organization, equipment, or training, it's directed, done, and checked to make sure it happened.

                            Well, if BSA does anything like that, I'd never know it. I have no earthly idea how many safety mishaps there were last year in my District or Council. I'm sure there was at least one, but don't know when or where, or what the circumstances were. For example, we could have a dozen Scouts injured in falls on night hikes on a particular trail last year, and our unit could be planning a hike on the same trail. There's no process I'm aware of to make us aware of the mishap rate, and caution us to be off the trail by dusk. That's just one example; there's a thousand more we could think of. If anyone's aware of such a process, I'd love to know how to tap into it.

                            I know a lot of LDS Scouters, the vast majority of whom I have a lot of respect for and count among my friends. None I know deliberately go out to get their boys hurt, and would be just as surprised as we are to learn that LDS units have higher, perhaps significantly higher, mishap rates than traditional units. In fact, if this is true and can be quanitified, I'm confident the LDS Scouters I know would be at the front of the hue and cry to fix whatever needed fixing.



                            • #44
                              There is certainly enough anticdodal evidence that there is a problem that a study should be done to either prove or disprove the idea that LDS Scouts get lost and killed more. The stories posted above and below show a gross lack of adult supervision and a disregard of the g2ss.

                              Two more stories:

                              On Friday, August 6, 2004 , Martin Lind, age 14, took a 40-foot tumbling fall while hiking in Zion National Park . The boy suffered numerous but not life threatening injuries. He is from Orem , Utah , and was hiking with a Boy Scout Troop. At 11:30 a.m. a national park owl researcher working in the Left Fork of North Creek, also known as "The Subway," contacted the Boy Scout group just as Lind fell. She immediately radioed park dispatch and the search and rescue team was mobilized. A park medic was flown by helicopter to within a half-mile and was on scene by 2:00 p.m. This section of the canyon is 300 feet deep. The safest way to raise Lind to the top was by using a technique called a "reeve." A 450 foot rope was stretched taut across the top of the canyon. From that, a park ranger was lowered the 300 feet to the patient, who was then raised to the top and pulled to the edge of the canyon. He was then carried to the helicopter and flown to a waiting ambulance at 7:00 p.m. and transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George. Over twenty people were involved in the rescue. The three group leaders had traveled the Subway in the past; however, the seven Scouts in the group were spread out ahead of them. Being unfamiliar with the route, they made a wrong turn at a critical junction and descended into the canyon down a steep slope. About 40 feet from the bottom, Lind tumbled to the canyon floor. "The Subway" is a narrow canyon in the Kolob Terrace section of the park that has become a popular canyoneering route in recent years. It is a strenuous 9 mile hike requiring extensive route finding and technical rope skills. It also requires swimming through several pools of cold, debris-filled water. Permits are required for hiking most canyons in Zion National Park . Canyoneering requires the proper equipment, advanced planning, technical skills, and good judgment.


                              Three Boy Scouts on a troop outing tossed a 190 million-year-old set of dinosaur tracks into a reservoir last week, prompting a park ranger to call on Scout leaders to do a better job of teaching environmental ethics. Curt Sinclear, the park ranger who saw the boys vandalizing the rocks at Red Fleet State Park in eastern Utah, said Friday he was "angry , sad and disappointed that the Boy Scout's environmental message is getting lost." "What are they teaching these kids?" said Sinclear , who was a Boy Scout as a youth. "To me this is a double blow, because we've lost something irreparable and these were Boy Scouts that should have been supervised." Kay Godfrey, information officer for Great Salt Lake Council of the Boy Scouts of America, said the Scouts take responsibility for the incident and may review their policies to avoid vandalism in the future. Virginia Harrington/Vernal Express (AP) * STATE PARK *RANGER Mike Murray points to a partial dinosaur print that is the only remaining track of a three-point track severely damaged by Boy Scouts at Red Fleet State Park near Vernal, Utah, July 20. According to officials, three Boy Scouts dug out chunks of the 190 million-year-old set of dinosaur tracks and threw the rocks into a reservoir, irreparably damaging the prehistoric find. "This reflects a disregard for the principles that Scouting promotes," Godfrey said. "It ought to be a warning to our leaders to always be aware of their surroundings and conscious of the conduct of our youth." Sinclear said he witnessed last Thursday's destruction, seeing the. splashes in the water caused by the two boys throwing the prehistoric rocks at floating buoys. One of the 15-year-old boys, whose name is not being released, put his fingers into cracks in the dinosaur tracks and pried them apart. Two other boys threw the chunks, while a fourth boy stood near-by, according to Sinclear. More than 120,000 visitors every year marvel at the site near Vernal where about 300 dinosaur tracks are preserved in beds of sandstone. The tracks are about a foot long and 8 inches wide, according to Jim Kirkland, the state's paleontologist. At least three tracks were destroyed. Although there are other Dilophosaurus "track ways," or more than three tracks made by the same dinosaur, these were among the best, Kirkland said. The tracks, which appear to have three toes, some with claws extended, were caused by meat-eating dinosaurs that came to an oasis to drink. The prints help scientists learn about the way dinosaurs move and their inclination to herd. By ripping up the slabs, the boys left two scars, each about 6 inches deep, on the ground near the water. One was about 3 feet by 2 feet, the other just over a foot long, The dinosaur tracks are normally available for the public to look at and walk on. Kirkland said that is unlikely to change. Officials said it may be possible to find some of the thrown pieces. However, much of the rock was broken and would be difficult to put together again, Sinclear said. The boys were unsupervised on the shore because their troop leader took other boys for a ride in a boat. The group had been hiking and water-skiing in the area. Three of the boys claimed they did not know they were destroying dinosaur prints when they ripped up the slabs. The fourth boy, who did not participate, said he knew what was being destroyed and that's why he didn't join in. Kirkland said a descriptive sign about the tracks had been vandalized and was not visible. He said the signs may have helped reinforce the importance of the tracks. Sinclear filed a juvenile citation against the three boys. He said the boys and the Scout leader should be punished with community service and fines. Federal, state and local agencies are discussing jurisdiction. The boy's names have not been released, nor has the Boy Scout troop number. There are about 150,000 Boy Scouts in Utah.


                              • #45
                                Getting back to concerned's original question: are LDS Scout's injuries out of proportion? It would require a study that allowed for the various contributing factors, otherwise, its all anecdotal. It is possible that on a risk-adjusted basis, the accident rate is equal to other types of units.

                                Factors: Leader training has been pretty well worked over in this thread. Geography -- Utah is different, less forgiving. If most troops tend to go on outings within a few hours drive of their home base, then by definition, Utah and other western states' troops are operating in less forgiving locations.

                                What is the accident rate by council? Within council, what is the accident rate by LDS unit vs. non-LDS unit? Do LDS units tend to make "riskier" outings? The definition of risk is up for grabs. A trip into a canyon led by very experienced, trained leaders who have made the trip before, could be less risky than a trip to a county park on a river led by the untrained.