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Nighttime Thunderstorm During Campout - Shelter in Place or Evacuate?


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27 minutes ago, elitts said:

So the question becomes, what level of risk is acceptable for scouts.  Clearly, the BSA thinks being in a tent during a storm is generally an acceptable risk, even if it's not the "safest possible" way to weather a storm; otherwise Philmont and Northern Tier wouldn't still be operating. 

I have no problem with risks taken for those on backpacking treks into the wilderness. Learning about how to survive the elements is part of the experience. However, participants generally sign a liability waiver for the extra risk.

So if I was given a two hour notice that a thunderstorm with heavy rain will impact my scouts' campsite, then do I tell them sheltering in tents is just fine, because the BSA is "okay" with it? (Actually the scout handbook says that scouts should look for shelter if they see lightning, hear thunder, or see dark clouds approaching. The handbook specifically says the outdoors is not safe during lightning storms...even in tents pg 287 under camping.) If I get surprised by the weather, it is usually, because I was not paying attention to the weather. 

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Maybe you switch to a location where you can get weather radar. I think you'd earlier compared lightning deaths to things like biking, dog bites, etc. One difference with lightning is the possibility

The only correct choice would be go to the bath house as this is the only substantial building present. (Any Close hard top cars would be good also Open shelters look inviting but offer no l

The only surprise by the weather in Western PA is when it is unnervingly calm for more than 18 hours straight. Those bright sunny days with little breeze give me the willies.

16 minutes ago, Owls_are_cool said:

I have no problem with risks taken for those on backpacking treks into the wilderness. Learning about how to survive the elements is part of the experience. However, participants generally sign a liability waiver for the extra risk.

I only brought up the HA bases because they are directly controlled by the BSA.  Plenty of troops go on weekend backpacking and canoe trips (with the BSA's encouragement) into the wilderness (or at least semi-wilderness) and there's no extra liability waiver for those, that's just "going camping".

16 minutes ago, Owls_are_cool said:

So if I was given a two hour notice that a thunderstorm with heavy rain will impact my scouts' campsite, then do I tell them sheltering in tents is just fine, because the BSA is "okay" with it? (Actually the scout handbook says that scouts should look for shelter if they see lightning, hear thunder, or see dark clouds approaching. The handbook specifically says the outdoors is not safe during lightning storms...even in tents pg 287 under camping.) If I get surprised by the weather, it is usually, because I was not paying attention to the weather. 

Absolutely.  You tell them "Well, we don't have a structure nearby we can go into, so lets double-check our rain-flys, make sure everything is tied down and then hunker down in our tents."    You certainly shouldn't be saying "OK, I need you all to call your parents to come pick you up, the camp-out is cancelled because there's going to be a storm in 2 hours."  (not unless the storm is predicted to last for the next 16 hours or something)

Yes, a storm can be dangerous.  So are fires, axes, hatchets, knives, biking down a 55mph road and virtually every other "adventure" type activity scouts do.  But we don't stop doing those things because there is some risk.

As far as getting surprised by the weather, well.. I live on the West side of Michigan and the weather here is somewhat more capricious than in some other parts of the country.  If we were going to change plans because of the risk of a storm, we'd never be able plan a camp-out. 

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The only surprise by the weather in Western PA is when it is unnervingly calm for more than 18 hours straight. Those bright sunny days with little breeze give me the willies.

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On 4/13/2021 at 9:31 AM, qwazse said:

The only surprise by the weather in Western PA is when it is unnervingly calm for more than 18 hours straight. Those bright sunny days with little breeze give me the willies.

Yeah, you spend the entire time waiting for the proverbial "other shoe" to drop.

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