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Posts posted by dScouter15

  1. While I think that this situation warrants further action by your troop's adult leaders, I think that bringing in the drug sniffing dogs is not the way to go. If we assume that the scout in question is in fact planning on bringing some illegal substances with him on this trip, I would be surprised if he were to pack it in a pack to be left at a meeting site like you're planning. I don't know why you think pot is "too bulky" to be carried on one's person, but I can assure you that considerable quantities of pretty much any drug can be concealed on one's person (I won't go into examples for the obvious reasons). If I were you, I'd move away from the thinking that you can catch the scout "red handed" with drugs on his person or in his property before departing for a high adventure outing. The only ways to do that reliably - drug-sniffing dogs, pat-downs, strip searches, etc - all lie well outside of the scope of what are considered necessary and prudent measures to be performed by a volunteer leader such as yourself.


    Because you feel this "anonymous tip" is credible, I agree that you have some responsibility to address and manage the situation. Where do the kid's parents stand on this? Would you be able to work with them to reach a solution?


    What kind of high adventure outing is this? Is there a good chance that the kid will have an opportunity to administer the drugs unobserved, and also remain under the influence with no one noticing?


    If you feel strongly that this kid is infact abusing drugs, you can go directly to actual law enforcement with your concerns. They may or may not be able to address the situation based off the information you provide, but they may be able to offer some advice for how to manage it on your end.


    I guess if it were me, I'd take the following approach in the short term: Send out a short memo to all scouts going on the trip, and their parents. The memo would discuss general health and safety information related to your outing - eg, the need to have updated and accurate medical forms on file, procedures in place in the event of medical emergencies, level of current health and fitness required to safely complete the activities scheduled on the outing, etc. Also include a statement saying something to the effect of:


    "We would like to remind all scouts and adult leaders that our troop has a zero-tolerance policy regarding drug and alcohol use on troop outings. Drug use is dangerous, illegal, and contrary to the values promoted by the BSA and by our troop. Any scout found with tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs, or believed to be under the influence of any of the above, will be immediately dismissed from the outing, and reported to law enforcement if appropriate."


    Require the memo to be signed by both the scout and his parent, and returned to the SM prior to the trip. If you feel it beneficial, you can also arrange an SM conference with the scout you're worried about prior to the trip. Explain that you're concerned about his behavior recently, emphasize your zero tolerance policy on drugs, and then turn the conversation over to him.


    In the long term, keep an eye on the scout you're concerned about, and be prepared to follow up with the scout's parents if your suspicions of drug use become built on something more credible than an anonymous tip. Many of the suggestions about bringing law enforcement speakers to troop meetings, or demonstrations of drug sniffing dogs are also very good.


    Generally, move away from trying to be an undercover sleuth, or you run a good chance of getting yourself into trouble. Do what you can do in your capacity as an adult leader in the Boy Scout unit (Twocubdad offered some excellent advice), and refer anything else to the appropriate authorities if that becomes necessary.(This message has been edited by dScouter15)

  2. Hi - I've been involved with my council's NYLT program for 10 years now. Before 2004 or so, the NYLT program was called "Junior Leader Training Conference" or JLTC. Our council ran the new NYLT program for the first time in 2005. Both program were very similar - week long, resident camp setting, with leadership skills sessions and other activities.


    However, there were differences between JLTC and the new NYLT courses. The JLTC course was basically divided into "leadership sessions" and "scout skills sessions." The leadership sessions were very theoretical, and did not always obviously relate directly to Scouting. To see what I mean, just consider the titles of the sessions - "Knowing and Using the Resources of the Group," "Understanding the Needs and Characteristics of the Group," etc. The scout skills sessions tended to be very good - but were not *directly* tied to the leadership sessions.


    When the new NYLT course came out, it represented a great improvement (in my opinion) in the way the course was delivered. There was much more continuity and connection between the different leadership sessions. There are now a few overriding themes throughout the week that all activities tie into in some way. Also, the leadership skill sessions are coordinated with the scout skills training in a more direct way. The course is also structured in such a way that scouts are able to immediately apply new leadership and outdoor skills.


    The new course also made use of technology in what I think is an effective way. Multimedia slides, pictures and videos are used in conducting the leadership skills sessions. GPS devices are introduced both as vehicles for developing effective teaching and training skills, and for use in the outpost camp activity.


    Management lectures? Yes, leadership and management are inter-related, and this thread has discussed the similarities and differences between the two. The content delivered at an NYLT course is most definitely is applicable outside of the Scouting context, and could be applied to business settings. I don't think that there's anything wrong with that - leadership is leadership, whether its occurring at a Scout camp, on a job site, in a conference room, on a sports field, or anywhere else. However, if your Scouts were coming home from NYLT thinking that the course was *entirely* devoted to management, I would have concerns about the quality of that council's program.


    So, I guess I'm surprised that your scout's responded better to the older course rather than the new one. Without trying to cast "blame" on anyone, maybe there are problems with your council's youth or adult staff enthusiasm or knowledge. Although all NYLT courses use a common syllabus, each council's course takes on its own unique identity, and maybe your course's traditions, etc, are harming the delivery of the course. Whatever the reason, its a shame that your scout's are getting the most out of what should be a very valuable experience.


    Perhaps consider visiting your council's course next time it is offered, and evaluate its quality first-hand. Also, consider sending your scout's to a neighboring council's course if you are unhappy with your council's.

  3. I'm a bit confused by this hypothetical situation. Some things to consider:


    - What kind of "drugs?" I'd be surprised if, while on a high-adventure trek, a scout would have adequate privacy to administer most illegal drugs, and not be observed "under the influence." What kind of trek is this?


    - Why would the scout in question pack illegal drugs in his pack and leave them at the meeting place overnight? Why not just keep them on his person?


    - How credible is this anonymous tip? Are your own observations of the scout's behavior consistent with this anonymous tip?


    - How would you have access to drug sniffing dogs? Are you trained in how to work with the dogs, and interpret their behavior?


    - What would you do if the dogs found something? Are you sure the results from your search would be legally admissible in court?


    So, no, I'd strongly encourage you not to follow through with this plan. There are other, effective, less extreme measures that can be used to informally investigate suspected drug use, and other more appropriate channels to follow if necessary.

  4. In regards to the thread that this is spun from, I've been contemplating the role of "the law" in Scouting.


    As Beavah and I both alluded to in the other thread, it seems like Scouters have a tendency to refer to various "state laws" and such, with little regard as to whether such a law actually exists, and how it (doesn't) apply to the situation being discussed. I would agree with Beavah that a lot of Scouters like to come across as sounding knowledgeable and authoritative, and spouting off legal "mumbo jumbo" is a good way to create that impression. A technique I've been using when I've encountered such "mumbo jumbo" is to simply ask the person to provide me with some sort of reference to the actual law, so that I can review it. As far as I know, all of our laws are written down somewhere, and most seem to be searchable on the Internet. So, if "state law" prohibits me as an adult leader from storing a scout's medication in the health lodge at camp, just point me to the section of the written law that prohibits that. Ironically, this seems to be the same technique that many experienced Scouters use on these forms when confronted with a BSA "Urban Myth." But then, on another thread, these same Scouters will propagate "urban myths" pertaining to medications and medical care, or some other topic only incidentally related to Scouting.


    But, I think that there's a couple valid perspectives on this issue. To start with, a core belief of our Scouting program is that "A Scout is Obedient." We teach Scouts that we obey our communities laws. If we disagree with a law, we work to change it in a respectful and responsible manner, we don't just ignore it. We should be teaching this by setting the example. For this reason, I get a little frustrated when people adopt the attitude that they can ignore legitimate rules, laws and regulations because they "know better." People often justify their actions by saying its "common sense," or that its unlikely that anyone would prosecute them for it. A couple questions, then: Do we typically obey the law out of fear of punishment? Or do we typically obey the law because its the right thing to do, and because we believe that obeying the law will help keep our communities safer, happier and healthier? To those who believe that common sense is superior to the law, I would remind them of all of the examples we see of Scouters who believe that their "common sense approach" to the uniform method, to the patrol method, to youth protection, etc, is superior to the BSA guidelines. How often do we criticize these leaders, and defend the BSA policies as ultimately being the better practices, even though the reasons for the policies might not be immediately obvious, or might be more "work" to comply with?


    On the other hand, its often pretty easy to understand why this group holds these views. Its easy to become cynical and sceptical of our country's legal system when one reads about some of the ridiculous laws on the books, and ludicrous outcomes from trials and court proceedings. (Especially when one mostly hears about such things through the filter of a sensational news media, or through stories heard 2nd- 3rd- or 4th- hand, which have themselves become urban legends.) Perhaps there are occasions when common sense should trump the law, when following the letter of the law would actually jeopardize safety, or represent a truly exorbitant about of extra, unnecessary work for those involved. How, then, do we reconcile this view with what I've discussed above?


    However, there's also a sizeable portion of Scouters who do make an effort to comply with every applicable rule, regulation and law. This group probably has some variety of motivations - a desire to do the right thing, a fear of punishment, a fear of jeopardizing health and safety, or just a desire to "dot the I's and cross the T's." Unfortunately, this group of Scouters often becomes an eager, gullible audience for the first group I discussed, who seem enjoy citing laws with may or may not actually exist. People then get all worked up worrying about HIPPA and whether they're allowed to look at what allergy medication little Johnny's taking at scout camp. I think the intentions of this group are good, but its clear that its not always the most practical approach.


    So, I know this has been a long, philosophical post, and I hope I didn't put anyone to sleep. I guess my question is - what's the best way to balance the above factors? Is there anything that the BSA or a local council could be doing to provide more guidance and support for volunteer leaders struggling with these questions?

  5. It sounds like a good setup you have going with your Tenderfoot and Webelos programs. Have you considered approaching other troops in your area and cooperating on such a program? It sounds like your program is pushing the limits of your troop's resources, and continuing to grow in popularity! One other thing you could consider is operating such an event at a district level, in cooperation with several troops. You would essentially be running a camporee at this point. While the politics and red tape at the district and council levels can be aggravating, you might find you appreciate the additional available resources (in terms of personnel, advertising, facility, equipment, etc). Just a thought.

  6. Hi - Just wondering if anyone is interested in sharing their troop's traditions for closing a campfire. I believe that the close of a campfire has the potential to be a spiritual, memorable and inspirational moment, if the right focus is applied.


    My troop has developed a tradition of singing Scout Vespers, and praying the "May the Great Master..." prayer. Each scout is invited to spend as long as they wish in silent contemplation and reflection in front of the dying fire, and then retiring to their tents for the night.


    What traditions, if any, has your troop developed?

  7. Unfortunately, this also recently happened to a neighboring troop. Other area troops were able to donate some equipment, and we also lent some equipment to the troop on a per-campout basis.


    Like others suggested, avoid parking the trailer in an open parking lot. If you don't have a volunteer leader with enough space to keep it at his/her home, consider approaching local businesses or industries with secured yards. For several years my troop was able to keep the trailer in a section of a locked lumber yard at no cost. In return our scouts would do a trash cleanup of the yard once a year. Of course, this meant that the trailer was only accessible on weekdays during business hours, but it seemed to be worth the tradeoff due to the security.


    Unfortunately, I also have to recommend this due to another possibility, even worse than theft: arson. A handful of troop trailers in our area have been affected by this over the years. If its stolen, at least there's a shot of getting it back. If its burned to the ground, you're pretty much out of luck.

  8. Ed - HIPAA more accurately applies to the health *insurance* field, but you are right that it has limited applicability to the BSA. I wonder why people keep bringing it up?


    scouts-a-lot - Perhaps it would be worthwhile to speak directly with your council professional staff for advice. If you still can't get a concrete answer from anyone, I'd recommend holding a meeting with the parents of the scout in question, your SM and CC, and any other concerned adult leader whose responsibilities may reasonably include assisting this scout while camping. Let all parties raise concerns and suggestions, and hopefully reach an agreement that allows the scout to fully participate in the troop's program. If there is a reliable adult leader who is comfortable with ensuring that the scout is taking his medication, and the scouts' family is comfortable with that arrangement, that may be the way to go. However, keep in mind that while its always desirable to keep every scout involved in the program, it is more important to guarantee their health and safety.


    And I certainly wasn't intending to be offensive, and I apologize if I came off that way. I am, however, trying to emphasize that, when it comes to medication, health care, and other people's kids, the stakes are *really* high - both from a medical and a legal perspective. That's why I'm encouraging you to speak directly with the scouts' parents, and professionals in the field. I guess my perspective is that this issue is not so much a scouting issue, but a medical and policy issue, and should be treated as such. Like I said, this forum is usually a wealth of valuable information, and a great resource for volunteer scouters. However, speaking as a health care professional, with some degree of first-hand familiarity with both the medical and legal sides of the issue, I have to conclude that this forum is just not a good resource for accurate medical/legal advice.


    (This message has been edited by dScouter15)

  9. Seems like this topic comes up about once a month or so...


    Personally, I feel that the suggestion in the G2SS does not adequately address today's hyper-medicated society, where a huge percentage of the scouting population takes a variety of medications, that can be very sensitive to missed doses, over doses, etc.


    The strategy I've adopted while serving as the medical officer at a council level week long youth training course was to keep all meds stored in the health lodge, and develop a master list of the names of scouts who need to take meds, and the time they should take them. Meds are placed into a ziploc bag with the scout's name on it, and stored in a lock box in the health lodge, which is also temperature/humidity controlled. When a scout arrives to take his meds, I simply hand him the ziploc bag with his name on it, ask him to confirm that his own medication is in the bag, and then he takes the appropriate medication. I check his name off of my master list - that way I can see at a glance whose taken their medication, and who has missed it. This is handy should a scout ever need to be transported to the hospital, as I can show with relative certainty which medications the scout has taken (or not taken) recently.


    And, to answer all of the obvious questions: rescue meds are to be kept on the scout's person at all times. Also, I am more than willing to make special accommodations on a case-by-case basis if the scout or his parents are not comfortable with our baseline policy.


    Granted, this is a policy I've developed for a council level week long training program, but I believe it is easily adaptable to a unit level program. Also, I am a paramedic, and have had this policy approved by our council professional staff as well as the physician liaison who works with our council's camp programs.


    Typically in a thread like this there are several comments warning you about "state laws" which address the "administration" of medication. Speaking as a health care professional myself, I would encourage you to review any legal concerns directly with your council professional staff. If your unit is fortunate enough to have access to either a lawyer or a medical provider familiar with the laws in your area, I would recommend speaking with them to clarify any legal issues that may affect the way your troop handles medication. With no disrespect intended towards the well-meaning, experienced Scouters who raise such concerns and advice on this forum... the majority of us here simply do not have expertise in the medical-legal area to address such a complicated issue, and can unintentionally contribute to the spreading of those inaccurate "urban myths" we all despise so much. In short, while there are some excellent resources available through this forum, my experience has shown that medical/legal advice is not one of them ;-)

  10. I've been reading the Scouter.com forums for a few years now, and actively participate off and on. I notice that there are a handful of topics that come up again and again - for example,


    - converting a troop from "adult run" to "youth run"

    - making good use of the patrol method

    - discipline issues (appropriateness of, suspension/expulsion, etc)

    - how to handle misbehaving adults


    A long time hobby of mine has been computer programming, and I also frequent numerous computer-related message boards, often to seek help on some computer programming problem or question. An approach that most of these forums take is to maintain a collection of "frequently asked questions" documents, targeted at new users. Using this system, a new user can quickly find a collection of resources on common questions and problems without needing to invest time in typing in a post on a message board and waiting for responses. At the same time, redundant traffic on the message board is reduced, which makes browsing and searching easier.


    I am wondering if scouter.com would benefit from such a system - perhaps in a Wiki format, so that a number of the forum's more knowledgeable members can collaborate and contribute. Like I said, I have a background in computer programming and web hosting, and would be willing to provide the hosting and setup the initial software to create such a service. Before I do that, I'm just wondering what kind of interest/feedback/advice the community has to offer.

  11. The Three Fires Council's Camp Big Timber is located near Elgin, IL, and offers both tent and cabin camping. Some of the cabin buildings have nice kitchen facilities, if that makes a difference at all. Plus, its located near the Metra train line, so you could all take the train down into the city if you want - fare is only a couple bucks a head.


    Camp web page: http://threefirescouncil.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=79&Itemid=106

  12. My troop has had good luck running a "sink a scout" dunk tank at either a town carnival or church picnic the past couple years. We generally make $700-$1000 after the cost of renting the tank. There's not much planning that goes into it, but here's some advice based on our experience:


    - Obviously you want a location on the "midway", but make sure its near a water supply. Also, allow a couple hours to fill the tank from a normal garden hose.

    - Close access to changing facilities is a plus, so scouts can change out of their wet clothes if they want - we've been able to arrange access either to the junior high school locker room, or restrooms in a church hall, depending on our venue.

    - There's a bit of risk - you probably won't be very successful if the weather's not good, as that will keep people from showing up to the fair


    That's about it really - very minimal time investment beforehand. We've had good luck running it as a patrol contest, where each patrol is assigned a time slot, and responsible for staffing the tank (with a victim and with money collectors/ball hander-outers, etc). The patrol that raises the most money during their time slot wins. Turns out a very effective advertising technique is when our scouts tell their non-scout friends when they're going to be on the "hot seat" - apparently teenager will have no problem paying a couple bucks to soak their friends.

  13. NE-IV-88-Beaver - I've not been made aware of any legal issues with this setup - could you point me towards the resources that led you to suspect potential legal trouble so that I can review them with my council staff and physician medical director?


    Of course, all "rescue" meds (epipens, inhalers, etc) would be kept on the scout's person at all times. I apologize for not clearly stating that. Again, I am a paramedic, and am quite familiar with why it is essential for these rescue meds to be immediately available to scouts with life-threatening allergies, asthma, etc - my apologies again for not making that clear in my post.


    In regards to the NYLT program specifically, I always tell both parents and scouts what our "baseline" policy is, but that I'm always willing to work with each individual scout to address any special needs or concerns. I've never had anyone ask me to keep their regularly scheduled prescription meds out of the health lodge. More than once I've had parents emphasize that I needed to "stay on top" of making sure the scout takes his meds correctly.


    Yes, at NYLT we do teach principles of leadership and personal responsibility. However, NYLT is intended to be a "safe haven" where scouts can make mistakes, and learn from them in a safe environment. I don't feel that we can safely allow 13 year old scouts to make mistakes with their medication. I think that using the word "demeaning" to refer to asking scouts to pick up their medication from the health lodge is a bit hyperbolic. I would disagree that "self reliance" is a trait we teach in NYLT. I agree that in an ideal world any scout selected to go to NYLT would have the maturity and responsibility to correctly handle their own medication. But, here in the real world, we have seen time and time again that this is not the case, and I am not willing to jeopardize a scout's safety to make a point.


    There are also a few "unique" factors that apply to NYLT, that would not apply to unit-level camping, which I initially felt were off-topic for this thread, but seem have been called into question. At NYLT, we work with scouts from dozens of troops across the council, most of whom are not known personally to the course staff. At a unit level, the adult leaders typically have a fairly decent understanding and measurement of each scout's personal level of maturity and responsibility, and have a good idea of which scouts can be trusted to take their own meds, and which scouts might need to supervision or reminders. At NYLT, we don't have that kind of knowledge, so we've have to develop this one-size-fits-all approach. Furthermore, we have A LOT (last year roughly 30-40%) of scouts of mood stabilizers, anti-ADD drugs, antidepressants, etc. With some of these drugs, it is quite important that doses not be missed, and repeated missed doses could lead to serious problems. On more than one occasion, I've had scouts who seriously believed that their antidepressant drugs were for "allergies." In previous years, we have had some problems with scouts taking incorrect medication, missing doses, etc, when the meds were in their own care. On at least one occasion, this resulted in a moderate medical emergency.


    Another factor we deal with is that scouts are tenting with another scout who they most likely do not know. This leads to concerns about a scout mistakenly or intentionally taking another scout's medication.


    Sebastian - I've also heard the concern that a scout who needs the medication may not be able to self-administer it. My solution to that concern was to request that the scout keep the EpiPen in a designated place on their person - either in a pocket, in a "fanny pack," or whatever the scout feels comfortable with. That way, if the scout is unable to administer his own meds, me or another adult leader will know where to look for the epipen to assist him. (Of course, if anaphylactic shock has progressed to the point where a patient is not conscious enough to administer an epi-pen, the epi-pen probably won't do much good at that point - but that illustrates the necessity of keeping it close by, so that it can used ASAP after the onset of symptoms). I definitely think that the preferred situation should be for the scout to keep his epi-pen on hand at all times.


    (This message has been edited by dScouter15)

  14. I'm a paramedic, and for a few years now have volunteered as the "medical officer" for my council's week long NYLT program. The method I've used for medication handling is to instruct all participants to bring their medication to camp in the original bottle, and to bring only the amount needed for camp. At the start of the week, we do our "medical checks", where I briefly meet privately with the scout, his parent and one other member of the course adult staff. We review the medical form, and significant medical conditions/special needs/etc, as well as medications. I confirm that time of day that the scout needs to take each of his medications, and ensure that myself, the scout and his parents are all in common understanding of his expectations while camping with us. I then place the medication in a zip-loc bag clearly labelled with the scout's name. The bag is placed in a filing cabinet in the health lodge alphabetically by the scout's name. At the conclusion of check in, I make a master list for each day that lists each scout's expected medication needs. For instance, I'd have a "Monday" page, with columns for "morning," "dinner" and "bedtime" with the scout's name and needed medications listed under each column - eg "Joe Smith - Loratadine". The scouts are responsible for coming to the health lodge at the appropriate time. When they arrive, I pull out their bag of medication, confirm that I have the correct name on the bag, and the correct names on the medication bottles inside the bag. I then give it to the scout, and I instruct him to verify that its his name on the bag and the pill bottles. He then takes his medication, and I cross his name off my master list and initial it with the time he took the medication.


    I think this setup works well for a number of reasons - first, all medication is stored in a temperature/humidity controlled environment, that only I and the course director have access to; so all medication is secure, and cannot easily get lost in a tent, damaged by rain, etc. Secondly, I'm not actually administering medication - I just verify that I'm giving the scout his own bag of medication, and its up to him to take them. Additionally, the list I keep allows me to make sure that each scout is taking his medication on time. I only need to look and see if there's any names not crossed off my list to see who I need to track down to take their meds. In the event of a medical emergency, I can notify EMS and hospital staff as to the what meds the scout took, and what time he took them.


    I understand that this setup is for a council-wide event, but I would recommend modelling you're troop's procedures on it. Designate an adult who will confidentially determine the needs of each scout in attendance, and be responsible for ensuring that the scout takes his meds on time. The scout is still responsible for administering his own meds, but the adult leader still is able to remind the scout if necessary.


    Disclaimer: This procedure has been approved for me by our council's professional staff and physician liaison, you're council's guidelines and state laws may differ.

  15. jeff-o - I've had campouts like that - where you learn that it can rain, non-stop, for at least 72 hours. For our troop, anyway, we've found that type of weather occurs most frequently when the SM picks the date for the campout ;-)


    wingnut - in warmer weather, I'd recommend a "rainy weather obstacle course". Some of our older scouts came up with one on a campout afflicted by an afternoon rain storm. They basically just raided the troop trailer for some spare equipment which could get wet, and came up with something off the tops of their heads. They had stuff like a balance beam made from pioneering poles raised a couple inches above a deep puddle, some extra PVC pipe layed horizontally varying distances over the ground (supported by poles, milk crates, whatever) that scouts would have to either jump over or crawl under, some kind of blindfolded course thing where patrols would have to guide a blindfolded patrol member around a set of obstacles. They had one or two other obstacles setup - I don't remember exactly what they are, but you get the idea, and its probably all stuff that can be made from spare equipment you already have on hand.


    jblake - we do make an effort to follow our program as planned, but at the same time, I'm very much in favor of adapting to the circumstances to maintain health, safety and enjoyment. For example, if we're planning on doing a short hike on a camping trip, but there's a couple hours of heavy rain in the forecast, we might attempt to schedule the hike to avoid the worst of the rain, and instead drop in an alternate activity while its raining. While we make every effort to continue our activities regardless of rain, we've just found through experience that being a little flexible with our schedule and activities has helped improve morale on wet weather camping trips. Look at it this way - if you've scheduled a campout with an afternoon of intense physical activities, but arrived to find that its 110 degrees in the shade, wouldn't you consider postponing the heavy physical activities to the evening, when the weather has cooled, rather than risking heat related illnesses? I think to some extent, its necessary to consider the weather when deciding what activities to do while camping, for both reasons of comfort, and safety.(This message has been edited by dScouter15)

  16. Hi - With spring and summer camping season getting ramped up, I thought I might share our troop's solution to how to effectively handle rainy weather on camp outs. Up until a couple years ago, our troop had a problem when rain would occur on camping trips - scouts would tend to congregate under the dining fly and sulk until the rain storm ended, or hang out in their tents and play cards/electronics/whatever. This clearly made for poor morale on camping trips.


    One of our more outstanding youth leaders was SPL about two years ago. We had come back from a particularly rough camp out where the program was severely hampered by wet weather. The following weekend, our troop operated its annual Dunk Tank fund raiser, at the picnic for our CO's church, and the weather was unusually cold. Our SPL noticed that the scouts were cold and wet while being dropped into the dunk tank, but were still having a blast, and weren't complaining at all. This same group of scouts was miserable the previous weekend when we had a couple of hours of rain on a camping trip. The SPL shared his observation with myself and some of the adult leaders, and we asked him to work with the PLC to develop ways to improve the way the troop operates on rainy camp outs. Here's the approach that the PLC, with guidance from adult leaders came up with:


    - Training, Planning and Preparation:

    We devoted some skills instruction time to preparing scouts specifically for coping with rain while camping and hiking. This instruction included selecting appropriate clothing, boots and rain gear; packing a backpack to keep things dry, and selecting tent sites and setup to keep things dry.


    We also recommended that scouts bring at least one "extra" complete change of clothes - shirt/pants/socks/underwear/sweatshirt, so that if the scout gets wet, he'd be able to change into dry, comfortable clothes. We also strongly recommend bringing a small towel, and a spare pair of old shoes that can be worn either specially for wet weather, or if hiking books get wet.


    - While Out Camping

    The primary rule is to "keep moving" - unless the weather is severe, we do our best to have some activity for scouts to participate in. If everyone is active, they won't have time to sulk about the weather. If we're hiking, we change into rain gear and keep on walking, providing the weather is not severe.


    If we're at "base camp," we do our best to keep our originally scheduled program running as much as possible. In light rain, we'll change into rain gear, and try to continue with the program. If that's not possible, we'll improvise with some alternate activities. In light rain, we've had a patrol fire building contest, where patrol's have to locate dry tinder and kindling, and get a good sized fire going despite the rain.


    For heavier rain storms, we've developed some special wet weather activities. We'd gather the troop under the rain fly, and take stock of the situation. If the SPL and SM determine that the scheduled program cannot continue, we ask the PLC to develop some alternate activities. In warm weather, we'd confirm that each scout brought an extra change of dry clothes, and is not currently wearing any "uniform" parts. If this is the case, we'd ask that scouts leave their rain gear, shoes and socks under the dining fly where they'd remain dry, and then play troop-wide or interpatrol informal sporting events - football, soccer, "steal the bacon," and capture the flag are some favorites.


    We've also had more organized activities - if pioneering material is available, try a patrol water balloon catapult building contest. Once some of the older scouts devised a "rainstorm obstacle course," using some spare equipment from the troop trailer, complete with a plastic tarp acting as a water slide.


    Again, before doing "rain games," we do verify that scouts have dry clothes to change into, and that the weather is warm enough for it to be safe.


    If the weather is too cold, or the storm too severe for the above activities to be safe, we do activities under the troop dining fly. We've setup improv advancement sessions for younger scouts, and given older scout patrols time for patrol planning, or merit badge work with counselors who are present on the camping trip.


    Regardless, we stressed with the SPL, PLC and older scout patrols to try to maintain a positive attitude even during bad weather, as we hope that the optimism will spread to the younger scouts.


    Overall, we emphasize good preparation for wet weather camping, so that scouts can stay safely and comfortably warm and dry during and/or after rain. At campouts, we stress continuing some kind of program in all bust the most severe weather, even if we have to improvise and deviate from our pre-planned program. So far we've had very good success with this approach, and noticed much better morale and enjoyment even through poor weather. In fact, some of our scouts have said that our improv "rain games" have been the most fun parts of their scouting experiences.


    I know many of you who frequent these forums are already well-adept at handling less than perfect weather, but I hope that some found these suggestions useful. I'd also be interested to hear reactions to our strategy, and how other troop's address the issue.

  17. HIPPA stands for the "Health Insurance Privacy and Portability Act" -- It mainly has to do with accessibility and portability of health care coverage when loosing/changing jobs, setting up unique identification numbers for health care providers, and protecting against insurance fraud. Only a small section of the law refers to privacy, and that section refers only to the insurance industry, and health care providers that engage in specific types of electronic transactions. This last category generally refers to procedures for securing electronic storage and transmission of health care information.


    So, unless your troop is electronically billing health insurance companies for some reason, it seems clear that HIPPA does not apply in any way to the day-to-day operations of your troop, which is probably why the BSA hasn't offered any training on the subject - there's nothing to train about, it doesn't apply to you.


    I work in the health care field, in areas that are both covered and not covered by HIPPA laws. A point that I'd like to emphasize is that "privacy" and "HIPPA" are not the same thing. For instance, for a while I was working with a volunteer EMS squad, that did not bill for any services rendered, and did not store any electronic health information about our patients. Even though we were not regulated by HIPPA, we still to patient privacy seriously, in terms of physically securing our paper patient care reports, not releasing names or identifying information about our patients, etc.


    So, even though HIPPA is not really relevant to your BSA unit, I'm glad to see that you're thinking about the privacy of your unit's scouts and scouters. I would encourage that your unit adopt its own "privacy policy" type guidelines. For example, this might be a starting point:


    1) BSA Medical Record forms will be kept in a secure area, only accessible to specific adult leaders tasked with that responsibility, and other health care providers in emergency situations.

    2) Identifying information about scouts and scouters will be released only to the council and the Chartered Organization, as is required for registration purposes. Release of personal information for other reasons must be approved by the scouter or scout's parent.

    3) Adult leaders will refrain for sharing or discussing any personal information they encounter, unless necessary to maintain health and safety.


    Keep it short and sweet. It doesn't have to be full of "legal-ese," but should give adult leaders a sense of what is expected of them when dealing with personal information about scouts and scouters.

  18. "If-" by Rudyard Kipling


    If you can keep your head when all about you

    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

    But make allowance for their doubting too;

    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

    Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,

    Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,

    And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;


    If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;

    If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;

    If you can meet with triumph and disaster

    And treat those two imposters just the same;

    If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken

    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

    Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,

    And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;


    If you can make one heap of all your winnings

    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

    And lose, and start again at your beginnings

    And never breath a word about your loss;

    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

    To serve your turn long after they are gone,

    And so hold on when there is nothing in you

    Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";


    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

    Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;

    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;

    If all men count with you, but none too much;

    If you can fill the unforgiving minute

    With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -

    Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,

    And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

  19. For those of you who poo-poo (I love that word) the legal side of things - the biggest stumbling block I'm having to understanding your point of view is that, to me, I realize that certain things are illegal for a reason. As a medical professional, I understand the dangers inherent in preforming certain procedures, or administering certain medications. I also realize why the law requires a certain level of medical training, education and proof of competency before allowing a person to perform certain procedures.


    I read posts where the moral of the story seems to be that untrained scouters should be able to give whatever meds, or do whatever procedures they feel comfortable doing, because it probably won't have any bad consequences, and, besides, we can't worry about getting sued, can we? To me, and please correct me if I'm wrong, people seem to ignore their lack of necessary medical education by making light of the perceived ridiculousness of the legal system. That attitude seems to ignore two very real problems - first, that you do need to have training and education, and be recognized by some authority, to be able to administer meds or perform certain procedures. I don't say this due to any legal requirement, but because I feel that our scouts deserve the best medical care possible, and sometimes that may mean that scouters need to recognize the limits of their competencies, and only perform the treatments that know how and are authorized to perform, while focusing on getting the ill/injured scout to professional medical care. Second, I recognize that there is, in fact, a very real legal danger that can come from exceeding your scope of care. God forbid, if you, as a scouter, exceeded your scope of care, and provided some treatment that was, in fact, inappropriate, resulting in a more serious illness or injury, or even death, the legal system is able to deal with you very harshly. I'm not saying that you will be sued, or that the system is reasonable, but the fact is that certain things are illegal. I will say, though, that certain things are illegal for a reason, and I personally would have very little sympathy for a scouter who caused harm to another individual because he or she failed to realize the medical and legal limitations on his or her ability to provide medical care.


    Also, we teach our scouts that a Scout Is Obedient to his country's laws. We teach our scouts that if we feel that these laws are wrong, we work to get them changed in a responsible manner - we don't ignore them. And when I read something like, "Even though I have no medical education, I don't have a problem giving another person's kid a tylenol. I doubt anything bad will happen, and it really would be silly if I got sued...", I kind of hit a stumbling block in my ability to understand exactly how we justify these things.


    This isn't just some hypothetical discussion of uniform policies, attendance policies, policies on policies, etc - in these cases, we are presuming to take a child's health care into our hands. There are very real medical and legal consequences to these actions, consequences that I feel should be so easily dismissed as they have been in this discussion and related discussions on this forum. I'd look forward to continue this discussion.


    And remember, it really is about the kids.

  20. Ed - you do realize that sometimes, when somebody gets sued, its because they actually did something they weren't supposed to?


    In all of my posts pertaining to this topic, I've tried to focus on the medical side, rather than the legal side, as that's where my relative "expertise" lies. But, there is a lot of overlap...


    For starters, I believe this thread was focusing on OTC meds. Personally, Ed, I feel you're correct on the minimal risk regarding the administration (depending on how we define "administration" of Rx meds to scouts who have that Rx. OTC meds are something completely different. Even though I am a paramedic, I do not have the training required to administer a number of common OTC meds. I'd like to think that I have enough common sense, and enough medical experience that I've "picked up on" to know when its OK to give a tylenol or tums. However, I am not qualified to administer these medications, so I will not - both because I am not legally allowed to, but also because I am aware of the limits of my education and training on this topic. Its not just about not getting sued - its actually about our scouts' health! As I do not have the training necessary to administer OTC meds, I have no idea whether a given med might be good or bad for a given scout. And, because I care about the scout's health, I will not jeopardize it just because I "think" I know what I'm doing.


    Also, I think Bob makes an excellent point in his comment about scouters not being qualified to be doctors just because they are scouters. (I'll let Bob explain to Ed how he completely misinterpreted that point) - but its a good point. First aid training is exactly that - aid given first. NOT health care. Think about your first aid training - doesn't the majority of it concern treating "trauma" type injuries - blisters, burns, broken bones, sprains, etc? Isn't calling 911 and/or getting the victim to definitive health care providers a major component of first aid training? Where in your first aid training did it discuss physiology, pharmacology and chemistry - you need to have at least a general understanding of all of these topics before you should even think about giving any medication to anybody without a physicians instruction.

  21. GaHillBilly - I agree with the gist of what you're saying. However, as I alluded to in the other thread, there is a bigger issue here than the legal and CYA issues. Take your pulse oximetry example - you're right, it is really simple, and works beautifully 90% of the time. But, do you know what your pulse-ox device is actually measuring? What external (environmental) conditions might alter the pulse-ox reading? When might a person have too little or NO oxygen in their blood, but still read 100% on the pulse-ox? Like giving a tylenol, if you distribute it to youth, you might never have a problem 99.9% of the time. But, it is that 0.1% of the time that we focus on in the emergency medicine. I guess, my point is, if you feel you want to be administering medications, or performing any medical procedure beyond basic first aid, you have a duty to get the necessary education to know how to perform those skills safely. Just because you think you know how to some something, and even if you haven't had a problem yet, doesn't mean you actually do. However, a number of training, education and certifications programs give you an opportunity to prove that you are competent to perform a given skill set.

  22. Beavah - as far as I know, it is illegal in every state to administer someone's prescription medication to another person. But, as you point out, you may not be prosecuted - but that doesn't mean its not illegal. I realize that when you're out in the woods facing a life or death situation, "you gotta do what you gotta do." And, as a healthcare provider myself, I wanted to give information as objectively as I can about what I understand of both the medical and legal aspects relating to this topic. I figure that the important thing is that we all know the objective information, and then can make our own decisions, and take responsibility for them. I'd imaging that this would be preferable to saying, "well, some guy called Beavah don't recon' anyone's gonna get hanged." Either way, that's not the point I was addressing.


    OGE - My final position is that we all should provide first aid and/or medical care up to our level of training - no more, no less. Certain people are trained to administer epi and other drugs - most of us are not.


    Please understand that I've been gearing my responses towards WildernessStudent's original question, which involved FRs carrying epi with them in their first aid kits, intending to administer it to youths without a prescription. This is not at all the same situation as whether to, in the heat of the moment, use someone else's epi pen on a potentially anaphylactic scout.


    The trend in legislation has moved sharply in favor of supportin' lay responder access to lifesaving meds. For example, way back in '99 the state of New York began making epi available to medically untrained (not even FR level) camp and school staff for emergency use. Naturally, they get trainin' on epi administration.


    So, if they're getting training, then they're not untrained, right? That's what I'm saying - FR training does not cover medication administration. An FR is no more qualified to administer epi than is a lay person. But, if anyone - lay person, FR, EMT, whatever - gets training to recognize what a drug like epi does, when it is indicated, when it is contraindicated, and how to properly assess a patient, administer the drug, and continue to care for the patient until definitive care is available - then by all means, get a doctor to write you a protocol and stock up your first aid kit with epi!


    And, I'd like to re-direct your attention to some other key words in that quote you provided:


    Qualified lay personnel in positions of responsibility for public safety (e.g.,lifeguards, park and forest rangers, scout leaders, paramedics, school and industrial nurses, teachers, camp counselors) should be educated in the appropriate use of epinephrine and should be authorized to administer epinephrine for suspected anaphylaxis in conjunction with arrangements for complete medical management of the reaction... Epinephrine for injection should be included in all emergency medical treatment kits.


    Again - getting the education and training is key. It doesn't matter who you are or where your going, but you should NOT be performing healthcare related tasks on other people, such as giving medication, unless you are adequately educated and prepared to treat a patient in this way. Its also worth noting that this is a recommendation, not law. Again, as a medical professional myself, I am very familiar with the screwed up medical-legal system in this country, but I cannot in good conscience advise someone to do something that is illegal - regardless of whether or not I feel it should be illegal.


    In summary, and I promise this is the last time I'm going to say this:


    1) If you're in the woods, facing a life and death situation, you got to do what you think is best. There may be consequences, but, at that point, its your call.


    2) There are regulations as to who may carry and administer certain medications, like epi. Persons not trained in their actions, uses, indications, contraindications, side effects, and related patient assessment and management should not and are not qualified to carry and administer these medications. First Responders fall into this category. That's not just my opinion - that's the law, and there are perfectly good medical and legal reasons for this, which I and others have already discussed at length.


    3) Trained personnel should, by all means, take whatever first aid and medical equipment they can into the field with them. Epi is a wonderful drug that may indeed save someone's life - but it needs to be administered by someone educated in its use, and by someone who is legally and medically authorized to carry and administer it.


    If we can all remember back to WildernessStudent's original question, she asked, as Wilderness First Responders, would her staff be qualified to carry Epi in their first aid kits to administer to others without a prescription. The simple, objective answer to this question is NO. However, if her staff decides to pursue more medical training, so that they can safely and appropriately carry and use epi, or any other drug for that matter, by all means, go for it!(This message has been edited by dScouter15)

  23. jblake - what do you want me to tell you? If you find yourself in that kind of situation, and you have someone else's EpiPen handy, you need to decide what to do. No one can tell you what you should or should not do in that situation. I can tell you that it would be illegal to do that. I can also tell you it might save someone's life. But, its still illegal. So that's a decision you need to make. However, this is a completely different question that what WildernessStudent asked when she started this thread.

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