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NJCubScouter

A "plug" for the Guide to Safe Scouting

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Maybe this is stating the obvious, maybe it isn't. I want to personally recommend that every leader read and occasionally re-read the Guide to Safe Scouting, and to tell you how doing so just saved me a significant amount of time and effort, not to mention preventing a Webelos den from going on a disapproved and potentially unsafe trip.

 

Last week my son's Webelos den leader handed out the schedule of den activities she had prepared for the year. The schedule says that on June 22 (at which point my son will have crossed over, but anyway)there will be a "white water raft trip." Now, to some people that would set off the "common sense" alarm and to some people it wouldn't. I am going to find out whether any of the parents questioned it, my suspicion is that nobody has (actually my suspicion is that none of the parents have even glanced at the schedule beyond the next month or so, but that is another issue.) I can see how someone relying solely on common sense might not raise an eyebrow, after all, these boys will at that point be less than a year from crossover and some of them will be nearly 11, I am sure most of them are good swimmers and might even have done some boating on rivers with their families.

 

Fortunately I did not have to go through any of that, because I have read the Guide to Safe Scouting. I don't have it memorized and wouldn't expect anyone to do so, but I think just reading it once gives you enough of a sense of what will be an issue, so that when the "alarm" goes off in your head, you can look up the specifics. (It is online at http://www.scouting.org/pubs/gss/)

 

When I saw "white water" I immediately remembered that there are specific restrictions on boating activities for Cub Scouts, though I was not positive whether the same restrictions applied to Webelos or exactly what the restrictions are. I looked it up and sure enough, boating activities by Cub Scouts (including Webelos) must not only be held at a council/district event but they must be on "flat water." So "white water rafting" is definitely out. It's not even a matter of interpretation. I e-mailed the quotation to the Cubmaster (whose son is also in this den), and he is going to break the news to the den leader.

 

Now, it is quite possible that the trip would be quashed anyway. When the den leader sent the tour permit to council, hopefully they would reject it, but you can never count on a person sitting in an office to read and notice everything they should. (Plus the Cubmaster told me that the den leader "doesn't believe in tour permits," which I have to admit provoked an unprintable remark from me, and we agreed that the den leader's "belief" is hereby changed, whether she likes it or not. (My son just joined this den after his old one collapsed, so I had not been aware of this situation.)

 

But the point of all this is that now I do not have to go through any argument or discussion about why such a trip might be a good or bad idea, safe or unsafe, or whatever. I just have to quote the book. It's right there in black and white, and in bold print no less. And it made it much easier that I did not have to hunt around for the right publication, because I already knew where it was. And you don't even have to get a physical copy of the guide or pay the 2 or 3 dollars it probably costs in the Scout shop, because it is online. It's well worth the time spent reading it before an issue ever comes up.

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NJ,

Excellent point. And hopefully the council will catch this & turn down the permit. However, it sort of sounds like even if they do, the trip might go on.

 

The G2SS is really common sense. I keep a copy with me at all times (well not at work but all other times) and I have referred my Scouts to it when they want to do something like paintball. The other implication is the Troop/Pack insurance won't cover these kind of activities!

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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I have found that the hard copies of the G2SS available in most scout services centers may be out of date. I recommend going to the BSA web site and downloading and printing one from that source. It is somewhat cheaper, more time consuming, but also more likely to be current.

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Thanks for the reminder. Our District Training committee has made it a point to refer to G2SS in every training course and unit leaders are instructed to review G2SS prior to calendar planning. Training, training, training.

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Amen to training. It's appalling how many well-meaning volunteers will spend way more than their hour a week on Scouting, but won't invest 90 minutes in New Leader Essentials training. Keeping Scouting Safe is one of the presentations, and while it doesn't result in memorization of the GTSS, one should leave NLE knowing that any activity warrants a GTSS review.

 

In addition to the .pdf version from BSA, the U.S. Scouting Service Project has one that's downloadable to a Palm OS PDA. No excuse for not knowing the rules.

 

A personal annoyance for me, who carries the GTSS all the time, and believes in permits, etc., is that when other leaders don't and you're forced to remind them of the requirements, you can be perceived as overly evangelical, strident, and bureaucratic. For example, I was the "wet blanket" who snuffed out plans for paintball and go-kart racing at separate troop activities, and won't permit liquid charcoal starter, and convinced cub leadership to change their plans for a pool-party roundup when SSD obviously wasn't a part of the planning. Oh well, somebody has to carry the torch (yes, I have a Firem'n chit!).

 

KS

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As an adjucnt to the Guide are National's standards for High Adventure activities which white water rafting falls under. Scouts must be 13 as of 1 Jan of the year the activity takes place...my advice to unit leaders and parents of cubbies, as well as the 12 and under scouts is to stop pushing them into activities that they are not ready for....

 

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I looked in my books, I see no reference to age, 13 by 1 Jan except at national bases that set a minimum age. I would like to know what rule your looking at

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nldscout

 

BSA National Standards for Council High Adventure and Specialty Programs ar very specific as to age.

 

To quote directly from the Standards, and referring to Standard M3 (M means manditory with no exceptions).

 

"Every participant must be a registered Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, or Venturer and must have attained the age of 13 or have completed the seventh grade by January 1 of the year he or she will participate. Programs requiring greater physical strain, mental stress or higher levels of skills are limited to older Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, and Venturers. Experience levels and preadventure training are considered in determining age standards higher than the minimum."

 

This information should be available at your council, and is part of the unit leader's training for Climb on Safety, as well as Trek Leader....

 

 

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I picked up a copy of this yesterday at the Scout store. It is the 2002 print edition.

 

Did a little bedtime reading last night---oh my, it was scary. By that I mean that it was scary of all the violations I have seen by packs and troops in the last few years! Yikes!

 

I did notice that it is VERY clear what is a guideline and what is a RULE or POLICY. The rules and policies are in bold print. Everything else is guidelines.

 

I know our pack has ignored the rules about Aquatics Safety and Camping a few times. And it only takes ONE time for there to be an accident and a big problem.

 

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Let me point out another section of this book -- First aid.

 

When on a campout do you know where the first aid kit is?

 

Does your unit have one?

 

Do you have it at events like fundraisers (yard sales, car washes, etc.)? Cookouts? Day Outings?

 

Also, do you have a copy of the Class I medical forms with you at all times? Do you know how to contact the family if the boy is knocked out cold at a meeting?

 

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Sctmom,

 

I would like to add to your comments concerning medical forms. These forms should be with the unit at all times for every event they attend...

 

Class 1's for scouts, and scouters under the age of 40

 

Class 3's for scouters over the age of 40; or for all scouts and scouters taking part in high adventure acitvities.

 

But, be careful when reviewing med forms..I've seen them with not only with omitted, or incomplete information, but also those that have been forged and altered....

 

 

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Follow up, last night I was at a leaders meeting and was talking afterwards with the Cubmaster and one of the leaders of that den (not the one who planned the trip.) After the Cubmaster and I explained what the G2SS says about Cubs and boating, the den leader says "gee, maybe we shouldn't have gone paddleboating last year," and the Cubmaster says "no, I guess not." Now if it had ended there, it would be one thing, because "paddleboating" does not automatically evoke the same safety concerns as "white water rafting," and so you live and learn.

 

But then the two of them got into a discussion of whether we really need to follow the rules all the time or not. These are guys with businesses or responsible jobs, and one of them is saying, "What are the chances of something going wrong in paddleboating, the boys have life jackets." And I'm thinking, gee, I don't know, what are the chances of you losing this nice house that we're sitting in because you lost a 1-in-a-million bet and got sued by some dead boy's parents, and the maker of the defective life jacket was out of business, and the BSA's insurance wouldn't cover you because you didn't follow the rules, and it was excluded from your homeowner's policy? Who's sorry now? But I didn't say that, because it didn't seem like it was going to make a difference. All I know is that neither my son or I are going on any trip that does not follow the rules, and that no den in my pack is going "white water rafting" while my name is still on the roster.

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I know in the past our pack has had Tigers camping at pack overnighters, dens camping on their own (including the Tiger den), swimming with NO mention of Safe Swim Defense or following of any of the rules in G2SS.

 

Read the headlines sometimes and you will see those 1 in a million chances do happen, and they happen to people like you and me. Read Bob White's message under Training.

 

Our council is not even offering Baloo training. I will be at Basic Training in a few weeks and plan on asking about that. (no, I did NOT just volunteer to teach it!)

 

 

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I follow the BSA G2SS for Scouting events. It's their rules and I follow them as such. However, outside of Scouting, I can see myself not following some of their rules or suggestions.

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