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RememberSchiff

Texas Scout dies of heat stroke on backpack

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I just wish the news organizations would actually check out statements that their subjects make and verify or qualify them when they are incorrect.  I realize the father thinks it is a policy that there be 2 adults on any hike, but it's incorrect.  Yet every news organization is effectively letting that be reported as "the truth" by publishing his statements with no indication as to whether or not it's true.

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I just wish the news organizations would actually check out statements that their subjects make and verify or qualify them when they are incorrect.  I realize the father thinks it is a policy that there be 2 adults on any hike, but it's incorrect.  Yet every news organization is effectively letting that be reported as "the truth" by publishing his statements with no indication as to whether or not it's true.

 

His parents stated that they signed him up for an Intro to Backpacking Trek which is listed in the Buffalo Trail Scout Ranch High Adventure pamphlet.

http://buffalotrailbsa.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/BTSR-2015-High-Adventure-Booklet.pdf

 

On page 5, "Adult Leadership on Treks - all crews going on the trail must have adult leaders..."

Pages 6-9, detail the Introduction to Backpacking.

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His parents stated that they signed him up for an Intro to Backpacking Trek which is listed in the Buffalo Trail Scout Ranch High Adventure pamphlet.

http://buffalotrailbsa.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/BTSR-2015-High-Adventure-Booklet.pdf

 

On page 5, "Adult Leadership on Treks - all crews going on the trail must have adult leaders..."

Pages 6-9, detail the Introduction to Backpacking.

 

I realize that, but this wasn't a crew going out on the trail on a "Trek".  The scouts in the "Intro to Backpacking" were still in the "base camp" portion of the week.  They weren't out backpacking over-night, it was just a day-hike.  My troop's camp-outs all follow the "Two Deep Leadership" rule, but if one of our patrols wishes to take an hour or two day-hike, they are allowed to as long as they clear it with the SM first.  "Two Deep Leadership" has NEVER meant that all scouts will be accompanied by 2 adults at all times; it simply means that the over-all outing has at least 2 adults (one over 21).

 

So as far as I can tell, here are the relevant rules:

 

Two Deep Leadership:  Rule met because 2 adults were supervising at base camp;

Buddy System: Rule met because the scout wasn't out on a hike by himself;

No One on One contact: Rule met because there was an additional scout along with the 15-year old and the 18-year old.

 

The only real issues here that I can see is "Did they get approval from the ranking adult before commencing the hike" and "Should the ranking adult have approved the hike given the weather conditions?"

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I realize that, but this wasn't a crew going out on the trail on a "Trek".  The scouts in the "Intro to Backpacking" were still in the "base camp" portion of the week.  They weren't out backpacking over-night, it was just a day-hike.  My troop's camp-outs all follow the "Two Deep Leadership" rule, but if one of our patrols wishes to take an hour or two day-hike, they are allowed to as long as they clear it with the SM first.  "Two Deep Leadership" has NEVER meant that all scouts will be accompanied by 2 adults at all times; it simply means that the over-all outing has at least 2 adults (one over 21).

 

So as far as I can tell, here are the relevant rules:

 

Two Deep Leadership:  Rule met because 2 adults were supervising at base camp;

Buddy System: Rule met because the scout wasn't out on a hike by himself;

No One on One contact: Rule met because there was an additional scout along with the 15-year old and the 18-year old.

 

The only real issues here that I can see is "Did they get approval from the ranking adult before commencing the hike" and "Should the ranking adult have approved the hike given the weather conditions?"

Then they shouldn't put this in their Leader Guide: "Adult Leadership on Treks - all crews going on the trail must have adult leaders..."

 

They were "out on the trail" so they should have had two adults per their own guide.

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Then they shouldn't put this in their Leader Guide: "Adult Leadership on Treks - all crews going on the trail must have adult leaders..."

 

They were "out on the trail" so they should have had two adults per their own guide.

 

But this wasn't  "a Crew going out on the trail" in the context of a "Trek", it was 3 guys doing a non-programmatic day hike.  The "Trek" for the the Intro to Backpacking course didn't start until Wednesday.  Therefore the section of the brochure headed with "Adult Leadership on Treks" wasn't applicable.  If you can find me a section that discusses "Adult Leadership at Base Camp" you will have something to point to.

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A young man is dead. Parents, friends and family are grieving.

 

I realize there may be something to learn from a safety and program perspective, but it is not something that is going to be solved here.

 

On the outside change that his friends or family are reading these boards, perhaps we could dial it back a bit.

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But this wasn't  "a Crew going out on the trail" in the context of a "Trek", it was 3 guys doing a non-programmatic day hike.  The "Trek" for the the Intro to Backpacking course didn't start until Wednesday.  Therefore the section of the brochure headed with "Adult Leadership on Treks" wasn't applicable.  If you can find me a section that discusses "Adult Leadership at Base Camp" you will have something to point to.

 

Page 5: "ADULT LEADERSHIP ON TREKS All crews going on the trail must have adult leaders; one must be 21 years of age or older, the other 18 years of age or older. Coed Crews must have coed leadership."

 

The guide does not say that only if you go out on the trail in terms of a trek that adults need to be along. It is pretty clear. "All crews going on the trail must have adult leaders...," and in this context the "crew" was out on the trail. Period. That's pretty clear. You are the only one making a distinction between trek and base camp. The Leader Guide does not.

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@@HelpfulTracks, I do not propose to speak for any of the family. Grief like they are feeling has come all too close to our troop. In our experience, our affected family was glad that we all asked very hard questions, although in our case we could find nobody to fault. I would say that unless we here directly from the families involved, these discussions on how to deliver the program we promise don't qualify as "too much to soon." Some of us design backpacking programs for scouts and other young people. Hashing this out and garnering any lessons learned may very well forestall death.

So, back to topic ...

 

The YPT portion of G2SS is not at issue here. I've said elsewhere that two unqualified adults on a patrol hike are worse than none. Because of injuries, I have removed myself from sections of hikes and arranged rendevous with contingents of youth and one or none adults at checkpoints or outposts that would minimize my miles hiked. But that was because, among the youth (or one adult) were seasoned backpackers with first aid skills. We had reviewed the plan in advance, including checking the weather and flood levels for potential hazards, adjusting if necessary.

 

Now, on my good days, I only have a clear understanding of the PA/WV envelope. In that context, reviewing the advanced forecast, I would not approve any hike in 105 degree temps for a seasoned patrol of EMT's. That is simply far outside our backpacking performance envelope. And it's not just me. Nobody I know - and that includes friends from the Arabian peninsula - could tell me how to prepare scouts to manage hiking under those conditions. (There are these Sudanese guys and gals in town, but they had to endure a level of crazy heat that they swear they would not wish on their worst enemies.)

If I called anyone and said, "There are these boys with this awesome hike plan, the only catch is this week's temps ..." They would tell me to strongly consider caving. So, for this scenario, zero scouts and zero adults is the correct combination that I would guarantee to parents. But what do I know? I was raised 10 miles north of the Mason-Dixon line ... almost almost heaven.

 

Maybe in TX there are scenarios where one can enjoyably hike newbies in 105 deg heat as long as a couple of key people are monitoring vitals. In that instance, if those two key people are 17 y.o. heat shock specialists, I'd count them as the "two adults" that the camp was promising. The point is, when I pick up that brochure, I want to be convinced that the best people for the worst conditions are my kid's trainers, that nobody would put my kid in an advanced situation when his beginner skills have not been given a year to gel, and that the camp director - filling in for the SM - will make no-go decisions when conditions exceed a patrol's performance envelope.

 

But then again, that's why I would never send my kid to camp to learn backpacking.

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@@qwazse you are right about not hiking in high temps. As my handle suggests I do a ton of backpacking and have taken several training classes. I've heard several times the importance of checking temps, heat index or wind chill temperatures as part of your preparation. I've also backpacked several times in high temperatures with that east coast high humidity. It's not enjoyable or safe. It's not easy to talk about something like this but maybe the lesson learned here is that it's okay to call off an activity if you think the weather is a factor. There's no shame in cancelling due to heat, cold, rain or snow. I think sometimes kids or adults feel that because they are scouts they shouldn't cancel an event.

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https://www.msn.com/en-gb/video/headlines/boy-scout%E2%80%99s-tragic-hiking-death/vi-AAsVHNz

 

During tv interview,  parents confirmed that Reid was working on Camping merit badge, requirement 9.2 Backpack for at least 4 miles. He had signed up for the introductory Green trail (300ft elevation gain), instead his group went on the more challenging Orange trail (6-7 miles, 1000ft elevation gain).

Edited by RememberSchiff
grammar

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9B is a tough requirement to get in the south. Few places are ever 1000ft higher than where you started. Snow Travel is rare and tough to find. That leaves biking, float trips and rappelling as the only events you can manage to accomplish 9B2. I suspect the leaders were trying to get him to do the 4 miles and do the 1000ft at the same time.

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I think it is reasonable for parents to expect that when they sign their boy up for an intro to backpacking course, with adult supervision, that their boy would not be taking any "non-program" hikes without adult supervision.

 

I am not an expert on backpacking, but I am an expert on swimming.  If a parent signed up their boy for my intro to swimming course, I wouldn't let him get anywhere near the water without an expert, adult swim instructor directly supervising him.

 

This is a question of expectations. The parents had a reasonable expectation that their son would be learning how to backpack under adult supervision.

Edited by David CO
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Whether BSA's rules were followed only impacts what evidence a jury or other fact-finder might hear.  If the rules were violated, the jury can consider that fact in deciding if the defendants were negligent.  Dead kid.  Settle.

 

A day hike is not a "trek" as defined in the G2SS or Trek Safely.  "Treks can include such high-adventure activities as backpacking, canoeing, caving, horse packing, kayaking, mountain biking, mountaineering, rafting, sailing, and skiing. While some treks are as short as overnight, others last a week or two."  

 

The group involved might not have been a "crew."  If a group goes to Philmont, some of them are not a "crew."  

 

The group was not prepared.  Whose responsibility was it to have them prepared?

 

I did a number of desert hikes and backpackers (used to be different activities) in the Mohave and high California deserts with no adults on the trail. (Stayed with cars at trail-head sometimes.)  The Scoutmaster thought we were prepared.  I guess we were.  The outings were well planned and planning centered on water.  In low humidity, if you have water you can easily stay cool.  Looks like the area involved is much more humid - average afternoon in July - 34% RH 

Edited by TAHAWK

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We once did a 5 miler in the 90's in Florida in sand. Whole Troop of 40 got lost but we all had the mandatory 2 Nalgenes of water. One boy, built like a weeble, overheated and we all donated the 2nd Nalgene of water to help cool him down. No shade. We, slowly, got back to camp for 2 more miles but it was 95 degrees by then. I think we might have lost him if not for the water.

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When I was doing Civil War reenacting, it was standard procedure that when someone went down in the horrendous heat, everyone was to dump their canteens on them.  There was plenty of water, but many of the younger bucks felt they could handle it and couldn't.  Only once in 15 years of the hobby did I have someone go down on me and he ended up in the hospital tent packed in ice.  He later admitted to me he wasn't following my directions on water consumption.  You can lead a horse to water, but.....

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