Scouting safety is important enough that the guideposts we must follow are continuously reviewed and updated. The Boy Scouts of America maintains the latest version of the Guide to Safe Scouting online and provides a new printed version every year or so.
This year’s Guide includes several changes and updates. Some, as usual, are cosmetic or represent wording changes and clarifications. Others revise sections or an entire chapter.
Here’s a summary:
- Scouts BSA: With the change in the program name from Boy Scouts to Scouts BSA, editorial changes have been made to revise the wording. Wherever there were references to Boy Scouts or Boy Scouting, they now refer to Scouts BSA. In other areas, references to Scouts have been replaced with youth instead. And any mention of the Boy Scout Handbook now lists the Scouts BSA Handbook instead.
- Adult supervision: There’s no change to the requirement that a female registered leader must be present when female youth members are participating in Scouting activities, but the wording on age has been clarified to specify 21 years of age or over rather than just over 21.
- Tenting: Previously, it was advised that youth sharing tents be no more than two years apart in age. Now, the word should has been changed to must, making it a requirement.
- Webelos camping: Wording outlining parental supervision of Webelos Scouts on overnight den campouts was removed. Existing language stipulating that Webelos Den Leaders and parents are expected to accompany the youth on overnight trips is still in effect.
- Campout site approval form: The URL for the downloadable version is included in the text along with the BSA bin number.
- References to online resources have changed in many instances, and the new publication reflects the current URL of those forms and documents.
- The chapter on Animal and Insect Hazards was rewritten in its entirety. Previously, the chapter covered four major hazards: hantavirus, rabies, Lyme disease, and mosquito-borne illnesses. The new chapter has more general advice on being aware of all such hazards (not just those listed specifically), being prepared to encounter them, and a list of resources found online from the US Centers for Disease Control on mosquito, tick, wildlife, rodent, and rabies hazards. These are likely more comprehensive and current than what could be published in the Guide.
- Incident reporting: There is now a URL for the online incident reporting form, and it’s listed in the Guide.
- Event safety checklist: The multi-page, multi-purpose checklist has been entirely revised. The new form has check boxes for the various areas and items, and is organized in a more logical manner to help facilitate event planning. Many new areas of concern have been added.
A side-by-side comparison of the previous (2018) and current Guide is available online.
Every Scouter is expected to be familiar with what’s in the Guide to Safe Scouting as a way of keeping youth safe while in our care. Bookmark or download the latest version, or purchase a copy at your Scout Shop, and keep it nearby any time you’re with our youth.