Q&A: Requiring adult involvement, can Scouts go soaring?

questionmark_200This week, a couple questions from readers:

Requiring parents to register

Can a troop require that parents of Scouts register as adult members? Our troop insists that one parent of each Scout register as an assistant Scoutmaster or a troop committee member, and charges the adult registration fee as part of the Scout’s registration.

The BSA doesn’t really rule on this one way or the other, but leaves it up to the units to determine the need for adult leadership beyond the minimum requirements:

  • An Executive Officer, supported by a Chartered Organization Representative
  • A committee chair and two committee members
  • A unit leader (Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Venturing Adviser)
  • For Cub Scout packs, a den leader if there are Tigers, Wolves or Bears, and a Webelos den leader if there are Webelos Scouts

Operationally, most units will require additional adult members to serve in leadership or committee roles. It’s a good practice for any adult serving in a responsible role to register with the BSA – and essential for any adults working with youth – because doing so ensures that the chartered organization approves their involvement, requires completion of youth protection training, and allows the council to conduct a criminal background check.

However, registering lots of adults not having specific roles or responsibilities is not necessarily a good idea. Smaller units may need everyone to pitch in, but very large troops and packs don’t usually need everyone on the roster.

  • Assistant Scoutmasters should have specific assignments and should complete the same position-specific training as the Scoutmaster (some councils require this).
  • A pack should have a Cubmaster and an assistant Cubmaster, and one den leader plus an assistant for each den (dens should be kept to no more than about eight Scouts).
  • While pack committees can often get by with three or four members, troop committees need enough members to conduct boards of review in a timely manner.

Adults who wish to be registered members of the BSA but without specific responsibilities in the unit can register as a Unit Scouter Reserve.

If your troop really needs your help, you should pitch in, but a large troop with a policy of registering all its adults may be going overboard. Discuss your concerns with your committee chair, and offer your talents consistent with your abilities and time.

Soaring

Our patrol leaders’ council has asked to go to a local soaring club during a weekend campout later this year and ride in gliders. This seems like it would run afoul of the rules of safe Scouting. Is there any prohibition against soaring, or is it possible for a troop to do this?

At first glance it would seem that soaring might be just as much off-limits as jet skiing and bungee jumping, but flying in a sailplane is actually permitted – with lots of caveats:

  • The aircraft must be a conventional fixed-wing sailplane and an airworthiness certificate. Hang-gliders, experimental and light-sport aircraft, and parasails don’t qualify.
  • The pilot must be licensed with at least 250 hours of flight time, hold a current pilot’s medical certificate and be certified to carry passengers.
  • The flight must be continuous with no intermediate stops and travel less than 25 nautical miles from the departure airfield.
  • At least $1 million of aircraft liability insurance coverage is required.
  • Activity Consent permission forms must be obtained for all participants, signed by the parent or guardian. The specific BSA form must be used – troop-issued permission slips are not sufficient.
  • The troop must file a local tour plan as well as a flying plan with the local council at least two weeks in advance. The flying plan must list all pilots and include copies of the pilot and medical certificates as well as the airworthiness certificates for all aircraft. The flying plan must be signed by the committee chair or the chartered organization representative.

A local soaring club can be a good resource for arranging the outing. Many have hosted Scout groups and know what’s required. You should read the appropriate sections of the Guide to Safe Scouting and the flying plan form.

Don’t just take my word for it, though – look up the appropriate resources and contact your council if you are unsure about any of the requirements.


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