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Why is there a Guide to Safe Scouting?

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Well, Eagle1973 asked...


My $0.02: When the National Council got hit upside the head by its liability insurers on a policy review or lost a liability lawsuit, something hit the publication.


Scouters who are attorneys?

Professional Service folk?

Volunteers who are Safety professionals?


Your thoughts???

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"...The purpose of the Guide to Safe Scouting is to prepare members of the Boy Scouts of America to conduct Scouting activities in a safe and prudent manner. The policies and guidelines have been established because of the real need to protect members from known hazards that have been identified through 100 years of experience. Limitations on certain activities should not be viewed as stumbling blocks; rather, policies and guidelines are best described as stepping-stones toward safe and enjoyable adventures..."



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I don't know when the G2SS was first published under that name as a comprehensive compendium of safety policies. There have always been safety rules. The parts with which I am most familiar involving aquatics have been in place since I first went to summer camp in 1953. Those particular rules have evolved, but the idea of classifying participants by swimming ability and the buddy system have been around at least that long.


I like the idea of having all the rules in a single place(This message has been edited by eisely)

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I'd go ahead and say that the primary reason is to keep everyone safer. I'm sure that no one in the BSA wants to see kids get injured or hurt.


If the BSA gets sued, it's because someone got hurt or something of value got destroyed or you forced someone to spend a bunch of their money on something (fire-fighting, hiker search, etc). There is no way that's a good thing, regardless of whether or not the BSA gets sued.


Are some of the policies a bit extreme in their risk-aversion? Yes. It's been getting a little bit better recently, but there are still things that don't seem to be written with any common sense. However, except for the "unauthorized activities", BSA coverage is still in force even if you are negligent in following the guidelines. Therefore, I don't see how it's the lawyers who are forcing the creation of the document.


We humans design systems of operation, and refine them over time based on what works. Hence we have much safer airlines now, and we have much safer Scout swim areas, too, I'll bet. I have no objection to systems that are clearly in place to aid with safety.


The unauthorized activities might be due to liability, but then that also means it would also be due to increased chance of injury. How much risk is OK? In a few cases, the BSA has decided that certain risks are too much.


My biggest gripe is the inclusion of things that aren't safety related at all. Laser tag, for example, appears to be purely a political concern. But I guess the G2SS isn't really just about safety, it's about a few other topics too - like privacy, tobacco, immunization, insurance, etc. Gotta call it something, though.


There are lots of Scouters who are attorneys, and physicians, and safety professionals. And I have no doubt that they make some rules to try to avoid the last death. The book is intended to help us run safe events, though, and I'm fine with that. (I'll just reserve the right to use my own judgment on some of these things :-)

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Well, the average scouter probably has enough sense to not get hurt or hurt those in his charge....but you all know, that withouit G2SS...we wouldn't be able to tell that one mom or dad( and we all have on in our unit - don't deny it) NO when they tell you they shoot the shotgun all the time at home with no harm at all, and with more beer in their stomach than they had all day today at camp!


Think of Cousin Eddie from the "National Lampoon's Vacation" series.


G2SS does prevent the overzealous sue anybody for everything parents too, but I'd bet it's pretty much designed to stop the "Cousin Eddies " from killing our kids! :)

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Maybe I'm incredibly naive, but is it possible that its purpose is just to describe a set of best practices for safely conducting Scouting activities? Maybe we all read too much into the uncertain legal and liability boogeymen, and forget that the overall goal is to provide a safe and quality program, not to avoid liability. Honestly, I think that if the G2SS was truly designed to provide liability protection to everyone, it would be a lot less vague, and we wouldn't be seeing 10 threads a week on the differences between policy vs. suggestion, and "does this really apply to me?" type questions.


That's the way I look at it - its a resource that should be used with other resources to help promote safety during Scouting events. It doesn't cover every possible situation you may run into, and it certainly shouldn't be viewed as a gold standard to determine whether a given function is "safe" or not. However, it is an excellent tool that can be used to supplement common sense, training, event-specific planning, additional safety resources, etc.

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Well, I think it just generally goes along with the direction of society in general that we have to have a rule for everything to protect us from ourselves. Somewhere along the line society began to believe that we must take the risk out of life. And many of those who do take a risk, whether intentionally or without thinking it through, have been convinced that if something goes wrong it is someone elses fault and someone owes them something for taking that risk. There is no such thing in our society as an "accident" or natural consequences any more.


IMHO life is for living and that means accepting a certian amount of risk in everything we do. If something goes wrong I accept responsibility for my part in it, I pick myself up, dust myself off, and I move on without looking around to see who I can blame.


Although I am sure it did not start out that way, it has become a repository for rules to eliminate any perceived risk and protect us from ourselves so we don't take any risks.


Stepping off of soapbox now.

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Personally, I find it interesting that in the last month, two Scouts in our troop have had accidents on outings, both required surgery (broken collarbone and ankle). Both were snowboarding.


One case was actually kind of funny, I think. Mom is on the troop committee and came in to our last meeting saying "I'm the worst mother in the world!". She went on to explain that her son had complained of ankle pain for a few days, she eventually called their pediatrician, who said that if the pain doesn't subside for another couple of days, then to go to an orthopedist (we actually have a former troop dad who has an orthopedic practice in town). Xrays showed the fracture.


I asked her if she repeatedly told her son to "suck it up", and while laughing about it, she said that she did.

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Yah, come on people, even I'm not this cynical, and I've had years of practice, eh? ;).


There's a G2SS for da same reason there's a Patrol Leader's Handbook. Lots of people thought it might be helpful for folks who are planning scout outings or activities. Especially for novices, it can be nice to have some basic information. Back in the day, to put it together, they just pulled stuff from a variety of different sources they thought might be helpful, eh?


What's been odd about da G2SS is that morphed over the years into some sort of uber-book in folks' eyes. I kinda see ACP&P goin' the same way. Irving may have started it with da whole "bold for policy" thing, but honestly, I think it's driven by nutty volunteers who keep pestering national for more and more rules and clarifications. If people paid as much attention to patrol method as they do to G2SS and Advancement, I reckon over time the Patrol Leader's Handbook would be pushed that way as well. :p. Remember, Irving is in the materials publishing business. They mostly produce what their customers seem to want.


All yeh need to do is read these forums to see how many people love bashin' each other over the head with rules quoted out of this, that, or da other book, and how many more are absolutely off-their-rocker paranoid about lawyers and lawsuits. We're da folks generatin' this stuff, because it seems like we want or need it.


My problem with it is that it's not doin' a lick for real safety for the kids, nor is it at all effective for protection in court. The net effect of the thing has been just to drive people batty. :) The new rewrite and change in tone is an improvement, movin' back toward da original purpose and away from the rulebook thing. Problem is it's just too big, and even with that da sections are just too cursory to be useful.


If Irving keeps wisin' up, I think they'll pick up on da LNT materials model, eh? (Yeh listening, Richard? ;)). If yeh look at LNT, they have the general training on core principles, then publish short individual supplements on LNT in deserts, LNT canoeing, LNT in rain forests, on and on. A short, general outing safety principles book / training with individual supplements for different types of activities would be a nice way to go, especially if yeh could do a just-in-time push of da supplement to trip planners. Maybe with the online Tour Plan. Check that you're doin' whitewater, get the whitewater pamphlet sort of thing.


In da end, though, the staff gets pushed to do what we all ask for, eh? If everybody keeps callin' up asking for rules for power tools, then they'll generate a whole raft of rules for power tools. If someone on da committee gets alarmed by one odd radio water-drinking contest fatality of a non-scout, then water drinking contests become unauthorized activities, even though a bit of that sort of hydration encouragement would have saved us lots of grief and probably a few lives. We get what we ask for.



(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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"...In situations not specifically covered in this guide, activity planners should evaluate the risk or potential risk of harm, and respond with action plans based on common sense, community standards, the Boy Scout motto, and safety policies and practices commonly prescribed for the activity by experienced providers and practitioners..."


Now Beavah there are some folks that instead of making comments just propose "copy edit ready material". ....It's much easier for folks to execute.....

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Suggested addition:


(Found this on UK site on caving grades)


Breakfast grading system:


GRADE 1 Easy breakfast with no real dangers or difficuties, eg Corn Flakes

GRADE 2 Easy breakfast with minor difficulties, eg Corn Flakes and toast

GRADE 3 Moderate breakfast with some difficulties but no real hazards;

eg porridge with black treacle, toast and peanut butter

GRADE 4 Difficult breakfast with considerable difficulties and/or

hazards requiring a certain amount of skill and/or stamina; eg

sausages, beans, fried bread, fried eggs.

GRADE 5 Severe breakfast with serious difficulties and/or hazards

requiring a considerable amount of skill and/or stamina; eg Scrambled

eggs, sardines on toast, tinned spaghetti, and fried instant mash.




Clearly Scouts should avoid Grade 4 or 5 until they are part of a Venture or High Adventure Crew. Grade 3 is restricted to age 14 or higher.

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