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Water guns OK for target shooting, not for firing at other Scouts

As summer — and pool weather! — lingers on the horizon, it’s a good time to remind you that BSA policies prohibit pointing simulated firearms at people.

Yes, that includes water guns.

The official source for this information: the 2015 Boy Scouts of America National Shooting Sports Manual, available as a PDF right here.

You’ll find the relevant sentence on page 99. It reads: “Water guns and rubber band guns must only be used to shoot at targets, and eye protection must be worn.”

Water balloons, meanwhile, have a size limit: “For water balloons, use small, biodegradable balloons, and fill them no larger than a ping pong ball.” (Page 100)

If you need more explanation, see page 61 of the Guide to Safe Scouting. The key paragraph reads:

“Pointing any type of firearm or simulated firearm at any individual is unauthorized. Scout units may plan or participate in paintball, laser tag or similar events where participants shoot at targets that are neither living nor human representations.”

Why the rule? A Scouter once told me this explanation I liked quite a bit: “A Scout is kind. What part of pointing a firearm [simulated or otherwise] at someone is kind?”

True point.

Other unauthorized activities, weaponry and ammunition

The National Shooting Sports Manual also mentions these other unauthorized activities. The list includes but is not limited to:

  • Flintlock rifles and flintlock shotguns
  • Reloading ammunition and using reloaded ammunition
  • Crossbows
  • Bottle rockets
  • Exploding targets of any kind
  • Short-barreled rifles or short-barreled shotguns
  • Destructive devices or other regulated items such as grenades
  • Firearms included in the National Firearms Act
  • Cannons (Their use is limited to council camp ceremonies only and must follow the BSA’s guidelines for cannon use.)
  • Ballistas
  • Boomerangs
  • Blow guns
  • Anvil shooting
  • Ninja weapons such as stars, spikes, and torpedoes, and activities such as shovel throwing
  • Spears
  • Spear guns
  • Potato guns

A list of activities that are approved

Of course, there are far more activities a Scout can do in the program than those he cannot. He just needs to consult the age guidelines that you can view here.

Here are just a few of these high-adrenaline activities a young man or young woman enjoys in Scouting:

  • Fire Building
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Map and Compass
  • Mountain Boarding
  • Mountaineering
  • Orienteering
  • Pioneering
  • Rope Bridges/Pioneering Towers
  • Survival Training
  • Winter Camping
  • Flag Football
  • Ice Hockey
  • Ice Skating
  • Skiing/Snowboarding
  • Sledding/Tubing
  • Soccer
  • Street Hockey
  • Search and Rescue Missions
  • Ski Touring
  • All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV)
  • Dirt Bikes
  • Driving Derbies
  • Personal Watercraft (PWC)
  • Snowmobiles
  • .22 Rifle
  • Air Rifle (pellet guns)
  • Archery
  • BB Guns
  • Large-Bore Rifles
  • Muzzleloaders
  • Pistols
  • Shotguns
  • Slingshots
  • Belaying
  • Bouldering
  • Caving
  • Climbing
  • Advanced Climbing
  • Rock Climbing
  • Lead Climbing
  • Rappeling
  • Snow and Ice Climbing
  • Canopy Tours
  • Zip Lines
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Motorboating
  • Rafting
  • Rowing
  • Sailboarding
  • Sailing
  • Snorkeling
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Tubing (floating in an inner tube)
  • Tow Sports (including waterskiing, wakeboarding, kneeboarding, and tubing)

 

 

511 Comments on Water guns OK for target shooting, not for firing at other Scouts

  1. What a load of politically correct crap. What’s the point of super-soakers if you don’t shoot them at others to get wet and cool off on a hot day? And water balloons no bigger than a ping-pong ball? Have you ever been hit by a water balloon that isn’t big enough to explode? It hurts more than one that is properly filled. This is such a load of BSA garbage!!!!

    • Scott Wilson // May 19, 2015 at 11:09 pm // Reply

      I was a den chief for my brothers cub scout group ~ A scout that helps a den mother ~ Her husband made them shields out of cardboard & maces from socks ~ & then I had to take on 9 kids ~ They always lost & this is total bs ~ I have always supported boys & girls scouts ~ No more ~

      • Scott Wilson // May 19, 2015 at 11:21 pm // Reply

        And just to add some reflection ~ I was in a bowling alley as an adult when a young man came up to me & asked if I was so & so’s brother. I looked at him kinda weird & said yes ~ He just wanted to thank me for all I did for him. They used to have parents night < didn't have much to do with the kids. I would take them in the back. Spend a few minutes teaching them a skit from one of my camp-out's & we would go put on a show for the adults. It is not what you teach them / it's how you teach them !

    • This is exactly why my son has not, and never will, join BSA. Its a shame, having spent several years as a boy and young adult, I know the positive impact that it USED to have on young men. Now, you’re raising a bunch of soft cowards. For shame.

      • As a current den leader for my son’s den – I’d say that if you saw a decline in the manliness of the scouts your boy was in – then I’d have to blame you for not participating and making it what you remember it to be. I remember it one way too – and make sure I do what I can to make it the same way for my boy. I see no decline or wussification as you all think but hey – what do I know…I’m just a dad who actually puts time into his son’s future unlike what I suspect most of you are doing. Instead of complaining about it – do something about it…attend a meeting or hey – genius – be an actual leader and drive your community! The only wusses I see are the wimps on this site complaining that a purely volunteer program is making their son a wuss when really – it’s your lack of involvement that’s doing it. Stop making or looking for excuses when the answer is much simpler and probably right in front of your mirror.

        • I agree completely I am an eagle scout and now a den leader for my own son. I am a deputy sheriff as well. Wussification doesn’t happen in my den or pack. I see a lot of great parents willing to step up and help too. The ones that complain about things or leave never cared enough to step up. If you think my scouts are a wuss maybe they will change your mind at some point in their life when they react to a situation, where everyone else is panicking, and step in and save a life or be a leader like scouts has trained them to do. All the while you and your kid sit there a difference watch not k owing what to do or get saved by one of my scouts. Get involved if you don’t like what you see then fix it!

        • Erik Hanson // May 23, 2015 at 10:38 pm //

          100% Agree! I, too, was disappointed with the direction Scouting and its leadership was taking, so I took my son and began volunteering at my local Trail Life troop. It’s been better than ever!

      • Den Leader // May 21, 2015 at 10:31 am // Reply

        To echo a comment from a Scouter who posts here. All Scouting is Local. Just be cause National is putting out ridiculous rules, doesn’t mean that the unit level leaders are listening to them. If my Scouts want to have a squirt gun fight I will let them. I don’t know any of the people at National but if I had to guess, none of them have conducted a Den meeting in a long time or ever.

    • As a 25 year vet of BSA, I thought I had seen it all. When I turn on Fox News to hear that BSA has a policy against water guns, I thought maybe it was April 1. It wasn’t. Our national leadership (Brock, Gates, Tico, etc.) need to inject a dose of reality into the policy writers. Dollar-store water guns? More safe than swimming. More safe than building fires. A real pleasure on 98 degree days like the ones we have here. Please, please BSA, stop feeding new material to the anti-BSA detractors in America. Man up, say “we goofed on that one”, and let’s get back to letting kids be kids. Stop taking away water guns while relating merit badges to the “zombie apocalypse”. Live in the real world for a change, please.

    • This is what happens when women are too much involved in something geared for boys. This is total BS. And, I will not follow these rules if we have a water gun fight.

      • Tom Linton // May 20, 2015 at 2:50 pm // Reply

        Please let us know which females were involved in this decision by BSA.

        • Alex Streets // May 20, 2015 at 6:10 pm //

          I know women who are far more tough than you. I am confident of this because they don’t state such prejudice bs behind the mask of their keyboards. This is not a new rule. This rule has been in place for a very long time, since before women were even allowed in Scouting. Most units (and honestly camps) just overlook this rule. Oh, and to clue you in, nerf gun fights are also not allowed. (Oh the horror….)
          Way to assure me and everyone that reads your comment that you are certainly not raising gentlemen.

        • Tom Linton // May 20, 2015 at 10:06 pm //

          The comments about females are rude, crude, and unScoutly.

          However, the rule in question was passed over twenty-five years AFTER the first female became a Scoutmaster in 1988.

        • chilebeanz // May 21, 2015 at 5:43 am //

          Really? Where’s the “kindness” here, Boy Scout?

      • I’m a woman who owns a gun and has run a cub scout pack. You know why the women are in there? Because the MEN make themselves scarce, especially in the Cub Scouts! If men stepped up, we wouldn’t have to take the pack! And if we didn’t, there wouldn’t be any cub scout packs around here. So DON’T you say anything sbout the women being in scouting. We are the reason these d@mn packs are staying afloat!
        Do NOT even blame this on women! Its the d@mn liberal, rainbow-flag, liberal tree-huggers. You better fact-check your bigoted comments, sunshine. Most of us want these kids to be in scouts for the boyhood opportunities! And because YOU guys don’t want to step up, WE have stepped in. YOU’RE WELCOME.

        • Tom Linton // May 20, 2015 at 6:26 pm //

          You tell ’em !! Good for you.

        • I’ll be frank, Dana: If you want to see men involved with Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts, you’ll need to insist that rules like this need to be tossed. QUICKLY!
          When last I tried volunteering with a Boy Scout troop, I decided I’d had enough with rules that could only be aimed at satisfying a stingy lawyer.

          Shawn’s comments may not be entirely fair, but given the degree of bigotry that I’ve seen from many of your sisters these past 20 years, I think you’ve aimed your angst in the wrong direction.

          If you wish for boys to have decent boyhood opportunities, you’ll need to oust those “d@mn, liberal, rainbow-flag, liberal treehuggers” you’ve just blasted.
          I’ve already tried dealing with them and learned that my input was not welcome. At all.

          I’m sorry, but I’ll not waste my time on this nonsense.

        • chilebeanz // May 21, 2015 at 5:39 am //

          I am a mother of 3 adult men, and former den mother for my oldest son’s Cub Scout troop. Now his son is a brand new Boy Scout after completing his Cub and Webelo years. I see the dirty smear of the progressive movement here, and I agree with Dana – don’t blame women; blame those leftist wussifying men and women who want to emasculate the entire male population. Real women want real men. I am a real gun owner who once gave my grandson a “wet vacation” full of swimming pools and lakes and water parks and lots water guns for a real boy who is the epitome of healthy Scouting boyhood. I did it because he wanted to learn to swim well, but he was afraid of the water. That was ended completely, and now he loves the water, as he should. He learned to shoot a BB gun and to use a bow and arrows extremely well via Cub Scout camp, but you don’t want him to have a water gun to play with his friends? Isn’t that hypocrisy to the extreme? You’re being just plain nuts! I want this issue reversed, period. I may just give the boy a water cannon for his birthday. And I would darn sure encourage him to shoot me with it. It isn’t an act of unkindness at all. It’s called “play”. Because of it he may become one of our hero police officers or a decorated soldier who protects us. Let him be a real boy and not a girly-boy.

        • James Burke // June 4, 2015 at 12:24 am //

          As a man whose run a cub scout pack for years, your comment is flat out insulting and pretty offensive. Many of the the leaders in our pack are men. I stepped up and did the job, Wood Badge, all the training, spent hundreds of my own money on the pack and den over the years, and you say I and the men in our pack aren’t not doing enough?

          It’s not Scouting for me to say this, but you can take your comment and go to the devil.

      • If there were enough men to run the programs, the women might not have to step up and fill the gaps. BSA would fall apart without its women volunteers, who have been part of the program for decades. And believe me, we do our best to keep it fun and active and real. Third generation scout/scouter here, with fourth-generation scout children of each gender.

      • Not pointing a firearm or knife at another person goes back as far as 1966 so far as we have found. Since my Wood Badge in 1976 was among the first with women in Boy Scouting you’ll have to come up with a different excuse. Sorry.

        • A squirt gun is not a firearm.

      • Excuse me, Shawn, for being one of the women who is “too much involved” in something geared for boys. However, I am actually so involved in my son’s Boy Scout Troop because I actually enjoy doing many of the activities that the scouts do: rifle & shotgun shooting, archery, skiing, biking, tubing, water gun/balloon/ or nerf gun battles (if were to be allowed). I find nothing unkind about pointing/firing a water gun at a friend who is uncomfortable in the warmer weather of summer. I must admit that I don’t know the facts about the level of involvement of one gender over another at the level of BSA where the water gun rule originated or ended up being made final.
        I, as a mom, am very dismayed at the pervasive regulation of activities so-called geared to boys that have been forbidden in many other situations (school settings).
        Don’t put all the blame on women. We are not all the same. Get involved and make a difference 🙂

    • I thought this was a joke! Just shows Boy Scouts Council is a joke!

    • From the comments here, this is just another example of how the National office decides on pc policy without listening to common sense. Squirt guns considered as firearms? Come on, gimme a break!

    • Since I can’t find a reply button to actually post a comment, I’ll have to do it here. There was a comment ably the liberal shitbags who have fucked up America and are now showing colors in BSA. this isn’t a new tactic, women have been involved in scouting for decades (my mother back in early 80’s to say the least). My father, 30 years strong. Both nixed the program when my father, a retired firefighter was Todd his parametric experience and fire fighting skills didn’t meet the guidelines of scouting anymore. My sister was a DE for a couple years, we battled her and what her plans were to get boys into scouting.

      Honestly, we need to get these hardcore, strong willed, no nonsense scouters back into leadership! Remember why scouting was even created by Gen Powell! He was tired of seeing his guy diminish while during the fighting of the great war and created this program to get the up and coming young men “prepared” to live in the worst of times. “Be Prepared” has more than just a motto in the meaning

      • This may be a site targeted at Adults but it is still a SCOUT blog where often BSA Youth would be reading. The one thing we should ALL agree on is that there should be a minimum decorum for posting here. (Whatever your opinions are, there should be a “Scouting Way” to post it.) I would hope that the moderator here would remove innappropriate posts?

      • Tom Linton // May 23, 2015 at 9:49 pm // Reply

        Substantively correct, but you need to wash out your mouth with soap. Or is this a false flag post intended to damage criticism of the rule?

    • Every time these ridiculous new or existing rules are revealed or made public, it causes me to fall back on my all-time favorite leadership quote, from “Dunk’s Almanac”: “The ‘Book’ is a damn fine crutch for the limited, unimaginative leader.” The BSA as an organization continues to strive for mediocrity, to make a herd of lambs out of potential young lions. It’s a very sad ending (and the end of the BSA is coming) to what was once the premier youth character- and leader-building organization in the world. Thankfully, there are still some older lions out there who will continue, as long as they are able, to cultivate, train and engage the young lions this country will need.

      • This rule, which isn’t about squirt guns but about scouts not pointing, even jest, anything that could be misconstrued as a knife or firearm at another person. They did not do this just now, it’s been a rule for decades.

    • My annoyance stems from BSA’s new, strict, national redefinition of a gun safety rule that’s been in their manual (without such a restrictive reinterpretation) for years. ALL children are exposed to water guns, it’s a normal childhood toy & experience. No research supports that water guns are a gateway to violence, or that children can not differentiate squirt guns/ super soakers from hand guns, or that water fights are culturally toxic/ unsafe/ cruel. One purpose of scouting is to instill a life code of morale, intelligent, successful decision-making. Why redefine rules to promote behavior no person follows or sees a need for outside of the scouting bubble? Why force one judgement regarding a rather silly, unimportant item that is probably best judged at a unit level?

    • Bryan, please confirm that this 2015 update to the Shooting Sports Manual does not ban water balloon fights nor decree that water balloon fights have to be conducted with balloons filled no larger than the size of a ping pong ball. This is the wide spread myth that has resulted from this article with many camps removing their traditional water balloon fight and folks not including them in programming.

      I have done extensive research and from all I can tell after reading every single BSA Policy and guidance document that would apply and even going so far as to re-read the BSA Charter and Bylaws and the use of water balloons with catapults and other misc. devices (such as balloon launchers) and the rules for using them as ammunition with these devices is the only place a BSA document addresses water balloon use.

      If I am wrong, please correct me. If I am write, please issue a new article clarifying that water balloons fights are not banned by the BSA. We took a big hit in the press over this and many summer events are missing their water balloon fights because of this.

      Can you please settle this issue in your forum?

  2. Actually been to camp where a part of the program was a water balloon “war” at the end of camp. Everyone had a great time & enjoyed the competition. Sure some of the guys were a little over the top, but it was all good clean fun!

  3. So…what’s the point? I agree with Dave. This is another attempt to make sure everyone is “ok”. Just ban them out right if this is the path you are going to take because this policy sets scouts up for failure each and every time.

    • This has been a concept in scouting that we have tracked back as far as 1966 and may be older. A scout does not point a knife or firearm at another person. That the shooting sports manual made it easy to find is unrelated, they pulled from the last 30 years of BSA rules without changing any of them.

  4. Gary Holeiwnski // May 6, 2015 at 8:13 am // Reply

    This makes BSA look ridiculous and has little if any impact on safety.

  5. Kurt Williams // May 6, 2015 at 8:13 am // Reply

    We reloaded and used shotgun shells at Philmont in 2009. Is that still “unauthorized” ?

    • Scouterjim // May 6, 2015 at 9:26 am // Reply

      Philmont like other high adventure bases have there own rules and regulations.

      • Tom Linton // May 6, 2015 at 9:27 am // Reply

        If the rule were rational, why would it not apply at Philmont?

    • Philmont has high adventure camp rules they must meet. The standards are for what would be called an experiential high adventure activity.

      Your local council camps have their own set of rules to follow, the camp standards written and followed by your regular summer camp, cub resident camp, or day camp. Their rules are in something called camp program and properties or something similar (we just call them cp&p).

      Your unit has a third set of rules in guide to safe scouting. You follow those with your unit. Some things, such as the shooting sports manual apply to multiple levels.

      People really need to read BSA materials.

  6. Let me also say I understand rules and while I wouldn’t use words as strong as some, it doesn’t really make sense. Our guys regularly play capture the flag & man-hunt. While they may not be mocking shooting a gun, they are doing a lot of similar war-type strategy planning, which would include a lot of stuff BSA would say they shouldn’t do. At some point you gotta let’em be boys!

    • Scouterjim // May 6, 2015 at 9:27 am // Reply

      Youth there are boys and girls in scouting now

      • Tanner Waterbury // May 19, 2015 at 4:49 pm // Reply

        Are you REALLY pulling the gender neutral card right now? There are BOY Scouts and GIRL Scouts. There is no organization called the Youth Scouts of America. God forbid that ever happens! Get your political correctness out of our scouts!

        • I think Scouterjim was referring to the female members of the BSA (Youth) as we do have Venturer’s and Explorers that are female as well as male. It’s not a policital correctness attempt, but a correction of terms based on our actual membership policy

        • jay vankirk // May 20, 2015 at 12:38 pm //

          Venturing has been around a long time, and Sea Scouts even longer. Both are coed. Both are Boy Scouts of America.

          Banning squirt guns and other fun and/or challenging activities is the kind of idiotic thinking which drive our kids to drugs and a host of other undesirable, if not self-destructive behaviors. It is eroding the self-respect of Scouts everywhere. And the same morons that make these rules are asking, “Gee, why are our numbers dropping?” They’re dropping because of stupid, over-protective rules and sissy leaders.

          I would rather see a kid injured or dead because he or she was having a ball doing something dangerous than to find that kid overdosed, dying from an STD or any number of other things he or she may encounter because Scouting was no longer interesting or fun at its most basic level. High adventure will never replace a squirt gun battle, snowball fight, or British Bulldog. Argue all you want… that’s just the truth of youth.

  7. T. Scarborough // May 6, 2015 at 8:16 am // Reply

    This only encourages people to ignore the GtSS and yet more proof of how out of touch National is. Sigh.

    • Scouterjim // May 6, 2015 at 9:29 am // Reply

      Just FYI that has been on the books for several years need to do some reading up on things

      • Speaking of books……and to slightly modify the conversation……has anyone looked at the cover of the most recent (2105) BSA Shooting Sports Manual? I find it very ironic that the cover of this BSA manual is adorned with a picture of Cubs shooting BB guns without the mandatory BSA presence of an adult for each shooter to charge the BB gun and hand it back to the shooter; that both shotgun shooters appear to have their finger on the triggers (vice “high”), the adult shotgun instructor does not appear to be wearing hearing protection, Cub Scout BB gun shooters are wearing eye protection (chem goggles) which do not meet impact resistance standards. I realize we do not live in a perfect world, but the BSA should focus more on the fundamentals of safe shooting vice letting the attorneys run the range.

        • Summit Scouter // May 6, 2015 at 10:59 am //

          I’m not familiar with the rule to have an adult to charge the gun. The description of the “Basic Shooting Activity” describes having the boys charge the gun. Each camp or range could have specific rules.

          I’ve not interpreted pairing an adult and youth to mean a dedicated coach per youth. One coach can be paired with multiple youth but it is great to have a 1:1 ratio. Again, each camp or range can have specific rules.

        • 1:1 for BBs? That’s a new one on me.

        • um, OK,
          First where neither the shotgun instructor nor the student have readily apparent Ear Prod, they are probably both wearing plugs, unless this is a stance exercise, in which can ear pro is not needed.

          There is NO Mandatory presence of an adult in the way you describe, the Parent is simple there to ‘Coach’ the youth while shooting, which they may be doing out of frame of the shot. Your “charge the BB gun and hand it back” is an extremely dangerous practices and should not be followed on any range, as it more often than not breaks the first rule.

          The Young man (blue Ear Pro) does not have his finger on the trigger although it does appear the you lady does, but the instructor is actively working with the student so this can be a ball and dummy exercise so you just don’t know, but i’ll give you that one.

          You have no idea the actual rating on googles by looking at low res pictures, lenses could be ‘+’ rated and

        • ScouterMomOf3 // May 20, 2015 at 6:37 pm //

          The rule for BB guns is 8:1 unless it’s Tigers at a council event/camp. With Tigers, it’s always 1:1.

        • That rule about one on one for bb shooting does not exist. It is HELPFUL to have an adult help with the fine motor things but some boys can do it themselves. I have not looked at the eye wear and could not attest to whether or not they meet the standards BSA expects.

      • Tom Linton // May 6, 2015 at 9:47 am // Reply

        Or we hoped it was a nightmare.

  8. Gary_USMC // May 6, 2015 at 8:17 am // Reply

    Sometimes I just have to laugh out loud at how idiotic some things in our society have become. We can’t squirt each other with water guns because it is a “simulated” gun. I can’t believe BSA is so worried about the PC police that it has a policy like this.

    • Scouterjim // May 6, 2015 at 9:31 am // Reply

      You can think what you may but do it and someone gets hurt and BSA will not back you try it and see

      • Tom Linton // May 6, 2015 at 9:50 am // Reply

        One may admire someone who attempts to defend the indefensible.

        • Gary_USMC // May 6, 2015 at 2:41 pm //

          Oh yes Scouterjim….in my 53 years of life I have seen SOOOOO many squirt gun injuries. Please…don’t even try to defend this.

      • Hurt? Please be citing credible sources of data that list injuries sustained when squirt guns are involved.

        • I remember that one time we loaded the super soakers with battery acid… oh wait…. no we didn’t. “HURT” in a water gun fight? What did you do, hit him over the head with it???

      • This is unenforceable. Kids especially the younger ones and the mid teens ones will do this. If you do run around like some Nazi trying to stop this you will loose the older boys, and put so much curiosity into the younger ones that you will actually increase shooting sports related injuries.

        And as for the BSA ‘Backing me’ i’m not holding my breath. I’ve had several situations over the years, at camps, events, and other things, where i went to council and was at best ignored, at worst told it was my problem to fix. This is why i carry my owner personal insurance for both firearms and archery events through the NRA and USAA.

        but i guess your right i’ll be screwed since a water pistol, IS NOT A FIREARM!!!!

      • Joe Scoutmaster // May 20, 2015 at 1:42 pm // Reply

        Ok so why the policy on laser tag? Youre taking your troop to an insured facility for an organized activity. Why can they only shoot inanimate objects instead of each other like everyone else playing the game?

    • Yes, BSA was so worried about the “PC police” that this rule was written. So far we have tracked it back to 1966, where it us explained a scout should not point any firearm or knife at another human being, even in jest. So the PC police not her us soooo much we wrote the rule before anyone had made to the term.

  9. Gary_USMC // May 6, 2015 at 8:18 am // Reply

    Oh AND they have to wear eye protection when shooting squirt guns!! ROFL!!!! IT”S WATER!!!

    • Scouterjim // May 6, 2015 at 9:33 am // Reply

      Yes you do guess you treat BB guns as toys right

      • Tom Linton // May 6, 2015 at 9:51 am // Reply

        Classic straw-man argument. He said nothing about BB guns.

      • no, but we don’t make them wear ear protection while using a BB gun.

      • Gary_USMC // May 6, 2015 at 2:44 pm // Reply

        Jim I am not even sure why I am responding to you again as it appears you are just trolling here but where did I say ANYTHING about BB guns? Please try to keep up. And yes as a matter of fact when I grew up BB guns were toys. I had a .22 rifle when I was about 11 or 12 that I took out and shot all the time. A BB gun was a joke. But that has nothing to do with this conversation. We are talking about WATER GUNS JIM.

    • Have you been shot in the eye by a SuperSoaker? Some have a force of well over 100 PSI… you want me to blast your eye with some “harmless” water?

      • Please cite a source for your information. I can not find any store bought models that tout 100PSI. The only water products I could find were homemade water cannons like the supercannon II that used pistons to achieve the 100psi fire hose effect. It comes with warnings that it is not intended for water wars and was more of a science experiment

  10. So does running under a sprinkler simulate artillery fire? I suppose a slip and slide invokes trench warfare. Way overboard on the rules here. Taking the fun out of the game.

    • I grew up during the dawn of the Super Soaker and at 37 years of age have yet to know anyone injuried by a water gun. Of course people are amazing and will find a way to hurt themselves with anything but by and large water guns are harmless.

      • Well, I did stub my toe on one that was lying around one time. But, I guess that’s different.

  11. Yes, let’s carry every policy to the absurd extreme. That will certainly help scouts shed that geeky image.

  12. You know, generally I’m in agreement with a lot on this blog, but don’t you all think we may be taking things a little too far here? Look, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for banning paintballs, and projectiles… I could even understand banning high-pressure super soaker type guns like you have in the picture as those can actually injure people, but low pressure water guns don’t have a record of injuring people.

    So by extension, saying that water guns are banned, does that mean water balloons are as well? Is splashing each other in the lake? I really think we need to challenge some of the logic on this one. Youth like to get each other wet, and often it is very much done with everyone’s consent, and is 100% harmless. Look at the young boy in the photo for a moment… What is he doing? He’s smiling, and having a good time there. Isn’t a Scout supposed to be cheerful? Aren’t we aspriring to have a program built on fun activities?
    I think when we lose touch with what our prospective members think and enjoy, we lose the ability to offer an attractive competitor for their time…

    • Gary Holeiwnski // May 6, 2015 at 8:23 am // Reply

      This has nothing to do with logic – we are given no statistics to back up this ban.
      It’s been shown that soccer, basketball, etc. have a higher incidence of injury than things BSA currently bans.

      • Good point… I wonder, when are the official issue BSA Kid Gloves coming out, I’ll need several pairs. 🙂

      • This has nothing to do with injury or accident rates. It has to do with teaching Scouts not to shoot other people.

        • Or maybe we are teaching our kids to go join the Boys Club, or Campfire or Royal Rangers, or Trail Life, or other groups that are just not so worried about idiotic things.

        • Gary_USMC // May 6, 2015 at 3:04 pm //

          Indeed. I have a coworker that is a leader in Royal Rangers that tells me all the time about all the times their boys do at cub scout age that our boys can’t do at boy scout age. Heck girl scouts can do zip lining and stuff at a very young age…but our boys can’t. Makes no sense unless we are trying to make our boys more wimpy. I am not going to do that to my sons for sure.

        • Tom Linton // May 6, 2015 at 10:41 am //

          How are you and ‘scouterjim” going to solve your dispute? He says it’s all about liability and you say its about morality. Would you allow that both motivations drive this new emphasis?

          Next: “The axe and field plastic surgery in the LNT era,”

        • Kristen // May 6, 2015 at 11:30 pm //

          Actually, ziplining and similar activities in Girl Scouting are governed by council rules rather than national … so in some areas girls can and in others they can’t. I don’t think we’d get approval for our troop to go (mostly Cub ages). And there are a lot of things GS doesn’t allow that BSA does. Both organizations are kind of hit-or-miss on these things. (And no doubt all those other organizations are too; we just don’t hear about it as much.)

          My daughter has been ziplining though … her grandma took her, and they had a blast. Not sure I’d want the responsibility as a troop leader or pack leader, but as a parent, I was glad she got to go … and that it wasn’t ME up there! 🙂

        • “With a squirtgun, a finger gun, or a full-auto assault ‘tart.”

          You’re ridiculous, Dave. We have laws about “shooting people”, Dave, and they don’t generally include “with a squirt gun”. You know why? Because they’re TOYS that squirt WATER, not “guns”, and the children using them are children, not felons.

        • Maybe we could do that by teaching them not to shoot people with actual guns like has been working pretty well for the last few centuries, instead of taking it absurd extremes like banning very safe children’s games?

        • Forbidding someone to do a thing does not teach them anything.

          Think about Witl’n chip or Totin Chip, “My knife is a tool not a toy” , well last time i checked a squirt gun is a toy!

  13. I get BSA’s anaphylaxis to the possibility of being sued and as a Rifle and Shotgun Instructor I fully support “Pointing any type of firearm or simulated firearm at any individual is unauthorized.” But having squirt guns apply to this defies all levels of common sense. This summer millions of kids will be squirting each other with squirt guns and nobody is going to get hurt.

    The “A Scout is Kind” argument is a flimsy one at best. That argument could be applied to all manner of activities that aren’t prohibited and it’s up to us as Scouters to make sure that the participants in all activities follow the Scout Law and have fun.

    BSA has been accused of wrapping our kids in bubble wrap and this kind of nonsense just goes to support that perception.

    • This has nothing to do with people getting hurt by squirt guns. It has to do with teaching Scouts not to shoot at other people.

      • You really think squirt guns are a gateway for teaching scouts to shoot at people?

      • No, this just gives credence to the older boys that have started referring it as Bull S… of America.
        And people wonder why retention is down. It is basic economics.

        • Not a Wimp // May 19, 2015 at 6:56 pm //

          God help them if they join the Army … after a life of training as Scouts.

      • “This has nothing to do with people getting hurt by squirt guns. It has to do with teaching Scouts not to shoot at other people.”

        I sincerely hope you’re not a scout leader.

  14. In total disclosure, I should state up front that as a NRA Rifle/Shotgun Instructor and Range Safety Officer that my opinion is obviously a little biased. Even so, I agree with “Dave’s” comment that these particular policy segments are a little too extreme – especially the “super soaker” policy. I understand the concept behind following the 12 Points but this is just over the top. The “super soaker” far exceeds the concept, practice and intent of its stated purpose and plainly fails application of common sense. I, for one, welcome that the chill from a “super soaker” spray from another canoe when paddling on a hot day.

  15. Gary_USMC — you hit it right on the head when using the word Society. If you are in Kindergarten and you point a “finger-gun” (that’s just thumb and finger folks) at someone on the playground you get MANDATORY suspension in most school districts and in some it is MUCH WORSE. We, of course, have to watch out for all of those Militant 1st graders coming out of Kindergarten! Unfortunately, BSA lives under a bigger public microscope of avoiding looking like an ORGANIZED youth militant organization.

    • Hmm . . . there’s something suspiciously organized-looking about shooting water guns at targets. That’s just me, though. Lol.

    • You know, when I was a kid, those finger guns saved me and my friends from a lot of imaginary bad guys. Sometimes we’d play “Cowboys and Indians” (Which I know isn’t politically correct these days.) and we’d have glorious shootouts on the playground. Mostly it was just us yelling “Bang” and playing dead mimicking what we saw on the Saturday afternoon westerns like Tex Ritter…

      Oh, that’s right… Movie Cowboy Tex Ritter rode with the Boy Scouts back in 1937, he even showed off his “Silver Beaver badge” to the Scouts… That just won’t do… he had REAL six-guns! We better get the powers that be take that Silver Beaver back!

      • I know. Right? I don’t remember the finger guns being the same as a gang attack? I know it is EASIER for an organization to draw the line at an OBJECTIVE Policy like “No Guns pointed, etc.” than it is to lay out and defend a SUBJECTIVE policy determining when there are and are not exceptions. It would be nice if we could have an open and friendly conversation about such Sunjective policies. Our Scouts could learn from this as well.

        At minimum, I agree that “Personal Water Dispersal Systems” are a lot of fun and not over the line for Scouting (in my head). I personally think there is no need to change the rules for “Lassr Tag Battles” though. So, again, subjective opinion and conversation.

        Either way though, conversation and opinion should be civil, scout-like, and at the end of the day, we should teach our Scouts that we won’t always agree with the Rules but we should always respectfully follow them while using positive approaches to try to affect change.

  16. why have common sense when you can just make blanket policies to play the CYA game? I thought we were supposed to be teaching boys right and wrong, and how to use their judgement. And yes, this is why people ignore the GtSS…Ive stated many times that if we followed it to the letter we would have to cancel half the activities/campouts we do, and the rich traditions our unit has would disappear.

  17. It’s like the paintball nonsense. The BSA took accident rates for morons that didn’t wear eye protection then extrapolated that to all Scouts. 300+ eye injuries? Ridiculous.

    If BB guns and archery weren’t already part of the BSA culture, they’d never get approved in today’s Scouting culture, never mind that archery, BB guns, and paintball have lower accident rates than golf.

    • I agree with you Bart………and you may want to note that with implementation of the new Cub Scout Program and elimination of the Sports and Academics Program two aspects that are not included in the new program. Guess which two?

      • Gary_USMC // May 6, 2015 at 9:02 am // Reply

        I think the paint ball ban is wrong too. There should be an age limit on it perhaps but to totally ban it from BSA is wrong. Lots of boys do it around here in the Kansas City.

        • Andrew // May 6, 2015 at 9:31 am //

          To attract kids to the program, we have do things kids want to do. It’s that simple.

          If I didn’t know better, I would think members of the National Board are intentionally sabotaging the organization as a whole. The local volunteers take us one step ahead and all the National policies take us two steps back.

        • Debating Subjective Topics such as activities like Laser Tag and/or Paint Ball (using humans as targets) is fine (and should be welcome as long as it’s done in a Scoutlike manner).

          Stating that we’ll lose membership to other youth organizations simply because the BSA disallows these *2* activities does not hold any water as an argument. First off, there are hundreds (likely thousands) of BSA approved activities to fill out a Scout’s schedule. I think we, as adult leaders, would be doing ourselves a disservice to say we are incapable of making a successful scouting program using those thousands of options. Second off, what organizations are we losing the scouts to because of this policy??? (The baseball teams, soccer teams, lacrosse teams that do laser tag at their practices? The YMCA that integrates paint ball into the swimming program? The CYO or other religious organizations that highlight their programs with laser tag and paint ball “capture the flag”? If a group of friends would like to go do laser tag or paint ball together they do not need to wear scout uniforms to do so. Just go do it like the groups of friends that happen to know each other from the baseball team they all play on.)

      • Cubmaster // May 6, 2015 at 9:11 am // Reply

        Archery and BB Shooting are still part of the Cub Scout program (at district or council events, just like before), you just don’t earn a belt loop or pin for doing it.

        • Yes, they are. And in previous years those items were referenced in Cub Scout Manuals. Even though the programs remain at higher levels, there are “conveniently” omitted from the new Cub manuals. Who da’ thunk that?

  18. This is downright ridiculous. There’s a difference between “Safe” Scouting and absurdity.

    Besides, rules like these imply that we don’t want Scouts to get hurt *at all*, in which case we couldn’t develop leadership, character, or skills. And if we can’t develop those, what’s the point of Scouting?

    • Good point David… I’m going to buy stock in BSA Bubble Wrap today.

      • Dennis Ebersole // May 19, 2015 at 7:32 pm // Reply

        Don’t bother. If BSA keeps up the absurdity, there won’t be any boys left to buy it.

  19. Calvin Gray // May 6, 2015 at 8:30 am // Reply

    This is perhaps the most ridiculous guideline the BSA has introduced. I’m sure it will be ignored by sane leaders.

    • Required Name // May 6, 2015 at 9:23 am // Reply

      You and everyone may disagree with the G2SS and SSM, but ignore it at your peril.

      The G2SS and SSM are the terms of the liability insurance policy your rechartering fees purchase for your unit, and leaders also agree to follow the BSA rules and policies when they sign the leader application. Your chartered org also agrees, as a term of their charter, to follow BSA policies, including the SSM and G2SS. A “sane” leader ignoring the G2SS and SSM means they won’t be covered by BSA liability insurance, and it also opens your chartered org up to liability as well.

      It also means a leader isn’t trustworthy or honest if they agree to do one thing then ignore it.

      • To be more accurate, leaders agreed only to follow the Charter and Bylaws and Rules & Regulations of the BSA, which are specific documents. The adult application says nothing about the G2SS and SSM.

        To be more accurate, internal documents like the G2SS and SSM have nothing to do with insurance coverage, which is governed by something called an insurance contract.

        A trustworthy leader should be honest about these topics.

      • “You and everyone may disagree with the G2SS and SSM, but ignore it at your peril.”

        Where’s this poster’s “required name”? Those who are against this moronic policy have names, and the one defender does not? Really?

    • A Scout is obedient. A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobeying them.

      A good Scouter would follow the BSA’s rules and guidelines within the Scouting program and would not simply ignore the ones he personally thinks are “ridiculous.”

      • Tom Linton // May 6, 2015 at 10:48 am // Reply

        And BSA holds Dr. King up as an icon. Nobel Prize for Peace for leading a campaign of civil disobedience.

        Passing rules that are unsupported by popular opinion and unenforceable leads to a decline in respect for rules in general. See “Prohibition.”

        Emperor Frederick II said he preferred to rule a Catholic desert rather than allow religious dissent. He was the last Holy Roman Emperor. BSA needs the support of Scouters. Please, please, count. Do the math.

      • Yesterday's Scout // May 6, 2015 at 12:03 pm // Reply

        We march in lockstep. We do not think. We do not question, We do not reason. We only obey. Our Dear Leaders know what is best for us. They love us. They protect us. They guide us. We only do as we are told. We march in lockstep.

        • Tom Linton // May 6, 2015 at 12:57 pm //

          That is not clearly true so far as I can see.

          The most important method of Scouting is the Patrol method, and it is followed by a minority of troops from all one can tell. (I have done surveys in three councils and communicated with hundreds of Scouters all over the country.) This is the case despite very clear statements by BSA that the method, like the other methods, it is absolutely required:

          “[U]nless the patrol method is in operation, you don’t really have a Boy Scout troop.”
          BSA 2015.

          Of course, these clear statements are offset by articles in Scouting suggesting that the Patrol Method is optional, may be delayed for years, or exists as a range of volunteer choices and by BSA’s failure for years to clearly explain what makes up the Patrol Method — even in the late 2014 edition of the Scoutmaster-Specific syllabus. (It’s not even a goal that the participant understand – just, somehow, follow.)

          The troop with which I work has a totally untrained SM and troop committee. That is, in theory, not possible. Someone is ignoring the rules.

          BSA said in 2008 that the short sheath knife is the ideal camping knife and said in the GTSS starting in 2011 that we have an obligation to teach the proper use of all legally owned knives, which would include sheath knives in almost every place Scouts camp. Yet how many units and council camps have a zero tolerance rules for sheath knives? So “Do as you wish, not as we say.”

          Then we have Great New York Councils’ recent decision to defy BSA..

          I would agree that some mindlessly follow orders Look at the years that the official method of field dish-washing was dangerously unsafe. Yet that unsafe method was presented uncritically by volunteer staffs at IOLS for over 25 years AFTER the Virginia State Health Department, in the person of its Assistant Director, threatened in my presence to close the 1985 Jamboree due to the coincidence of a epidemic of “the runs” and use of the patently unsafe dish-washing method taught by BSA. (Good thing those 3rd tubs showed up.)

          Others, for better or worse, feel quite free to substitute their judgment for that of the various rule-making “teams” at BSA.

          In between there are those of us who want to obey the rules — who were raised to be rule-followers — but have a low opinion of some of the performance of whoever makes up particular rules for BSA , both as to communication and substance.

          I teach health and safety. There is more material to cover every year. How many increasingly-detailed “commandments” can one realistically expect volunteers to follow, as distinct from staking out legal positions for BSA?

        • Tom Linton // May 6, 2015 at 1:03 pm //

          “How is a flintlock different from a percussion lock?”

          A flintlock routinely throws hot particles into the face of the shooter, not to mention anyone to his right or left. One learns this by experience. Reinactors often have pocked faces. This risk can be managed by protective face shields and spacing.

        • Tom Linton // May 6, 2015 at 1:07 pm //

          Replies are often not appearing below the post to which they reply.

      • Or, a good scouter leaves because (s)he can no longer in good conscious support an organization that has such a low opinion of the ability of boys to play.

  20. Doug Rivard // May 6, 2015 at 8:38 am // Reply

    I generally abide by the GTSS without question as I believe safety is paramount. I simply must comment on the absolute STUPIDITY what has invaded the shooting rules. Laser tag and water guns are NOT guns. What about a hose? And who made the ridiculous”ping pong size” water balloon rule and WHY? How is a flintlock different from a percussion lock? Reloaded ammo? Really? I regularly buy reloaded ammo over the counter in gun stores with no problems. It is as reliable as any other ammo. I suspect many people buy reloaded ammo and don’t even to realize it. I would love to hear the answers behind these rules. Answer carefully I’m a gunsmith, hunter, and munitions vet so I understand all aspects of this issue at an intimate level. I’m all for safety but you’ve crossed over to ridiculous and it makes us look ill-informed and silly.

    • Shhh… Don’t tell them about the hose, we’re running out of fun stuff!

      • A hose is a hose until you put youor finger over it, than its a weapon

    • Gary_USMC // May 6, 2015 at 9:03 am // Reply

      It will be ignored and like others said it makes it easier for people to ignore something in the guide that “might” be legit.

  21. It is called a Guide for Safe Scouting. It is not called the Ultimate Rules for Safe Scouting.

  22. RIP Comments Section.

    • Oh, I’m betting we’ll have some gems today… I was half-tempted to say something really snarky like demanding mandatory drug testing for all the people at Natioanl when I read the blog today… But I’ll try to keep my really snarky comments in check.

      • Calvin Gray // May 6, 2015 at 8:48 am // Reply

        Mandatory drug testing for the National Council’s leadership sounds like an excellent suggestion.

        • I’m usually good for at least one or two now and again. 🙂

      • Did I misread the calendar today. Is it April 1st again? This sure reads like one of Bryan’s april fools blogs.

  23. Gary Holeiwnski // May 6, 2015 at 8:44 am // Reply

    When we use the G2SS to have rules like this it calls everything in the G2SS in to questions and makes people less likely to follow rules in general.

    • Amen.

  24. This is a late April Fool’s Day joke, isn’t it. Next thing you know, the BSA will outlaw the sale of chewing gum in camp trading posts because its lawyers think Scouts will choke to death. Get real!

  25. I started writing my response to this several times, and like most, I find it ludicrous. But if I understand correctly, it’s not the getting wet that’s the problem, it’s the simulated firearms that the boys would be shooting at each other, the pretend violence. Because Scouts are Kind.

    Well, a Scout is Trustworthy, so if he covers his post, he can be trusted. He’s loyal to his, He helps out his buddy who’s in a squirt gun crossfire. Friendly? Well, you got me there. Courteous?

    OK, it starts getting silly. But I didn’t start the silliness. The directive did.

  26. Funny – I seem to recall having to load the shotgun shells I used at PSR in 2010 if I wanted to shoot. “Might” even have pictures of the crew doing that – just don’t tell National!

    • Scouterjim // May 6, 2015 at 10:09 am // Reply

      They can do that at Philmont and other high adventure bases guess you did not read that when you read the booklet or did you read that yet.

    • Philmont must follow the rules for experiential camps. They can do things we cannot do in local council and units. Same thing for jamboree.

  27. Absolute stupidity from our National Staff. Are you trying to make the BSA a laughingstock? Surely even the NRA is slapping their forehead at our stupidity.

    • Scouterjim // May 6, 2015 at 10:11 am // Reply

      Guess you do not know that BSA and The NRA wrote the shooting sport manual now did you. look it up.

    • chilebeanz // May 21, 2015 at 6:31 am // Reply

      As of this morning, the BSA is the laughing stock of the internet because of this issue. Even the far left-leaning Today show anchor asks if the BSA has gone too far and admits that he not only used water guns, but his kids now do so as well. He boldly stated that shooting water guns is not a gateway to murder, and he’s right. Do a Google search on “BSA Bans Water Guns”, because that’s how the bigger world sees this issue – as a ban. That’s because demanding that targets be inanimate objects is so ridiculous that it amounts to a complete ban, because what kid is going to find it fun to shoot water at an inanimate object? Shooting water at someone says to that person, “You’re in my friendship circle, and part of my game.” It means, “I accept and befriend you, and if you shoot me back, I will know that I am accepted in your world, too”. It’s a sort of pack mentality thing, and aren’t you all about close-knit packs?

    • We have tracked the rule about not pointing a knife or firearm at another person back as far as 1966. This is not a new rule. Whether the NRA or anyone else supports it is unrelated, it is a BSA rule, and as such it was carried forward to the shooting sports manual. If you have a problem with the rule, I suggest you find a way to change it from within the organization.

      • Tom Linton // May 23, 2015 at 9:53 pm // Reply

        The imperial “We” or “we the bureaucrats who passed this silly rule,” “Tom”

        NOT firearms, “TOM” no matter how many times you irrationally make the comparison. Water “gun,” “Tom”. Toy, “Tom.” Not threatening to normally constituted people, “Tom.”

  28. Robert Bardsley // May 6, 2015 at 8:55 am // Reply

    As a teenage Scout i ran around camp with a 5 gallon Indian Fire pump on my back and squirted others. No one got hurt and no one became a mass murderer. As a Scoutmaster one of the best activities the kids enjoyed were making ballistas out of staves and launching water balloons at the other patrols.They learned lashings, how to get cool and more important teamwork. Because the team that finished their ballista first got the advantage in the balloon launching.

    • Nahila Nakne // May 6, 2015 at 9:35 am // Reply

      The pioneering scout stave ballista was part of the JLT Conference Syllabus in the late 1980s, early 1990s. Staff had theirs already built and hidden while the patrols were building theirs. And one of the best events at a camporee was the pioneering ballista event. had distance and accuracy catagories.

      • Tom Linton // May 6, 2015 at 9:57 am // Reply

        Relatively trivial, but it was likely an allowed trebuchet (throwing arm driven by counterweight or by pulling on the lower end via a rope). A ballista is like a cross bow only with two separate arms, each driver by torsion from being wound in a hank of horse hair. (Manila or nylon rope will not work. The former breaks and the latter stretches.)

  29. You know, a couple years ago I was a Cubmaster. I had several Scouts with disabilities. One was severely autistic, and another had cerebral palsy such that neither could pass the swim test. The counselor took them to the non-swimmers area, and gave them both what I would call mini “Indian Pump” water guns. The boys squirted each other, the counselor, and me several times. They got wet, cooled off and laughed. A lot. It’s sad that we can’t use this type of solution for the boys of today…

    • An Indian Pump is not a simulated firearm. It is NOT a water gun…it is a water pump. It’s still allowed. 😉

      • Nahila Nakne // May 6, 2015 at 10:14 am // Reply

        HMMM. Guess my day camp will have to make a bunch of these for Water Games and keeping people cool.

      • Well then… Let me go arm a couple up! We need to soak this crowd down!

      • Are you sure? It looks alarmingly like a flamethrower.

        • Tom Linton // May 13, 2015 at 12:44 pm //

          If the rationale is that squirting someone with water is contrary to Scouting values, why does it matter what device is used to do the squirting – or hosing?

  30. It’s not the hours of preparation and work that goes into a good Scouting program that makes me tired and want to quit, it’s when I hear about stupid rules like these. BSA national, and America in general, need less lawyers and more Scouting!

    • Nahila Nakne // May 6, 2015 at 9:36 am // Reply

      When the rules about wagons and service projects came out a few years back, my Bears thought it was a joke and laughed at me.

      Agree with ya 110%

    • This has nothing to do with lawyers… this has to do with supporting the values of Scouting!

      • Nahila Nakne // May 6, 2015 at 10:12 am // Reply

        Disagree, a lot of BSA’s policies is based upon lawyers. Look at the pioneering restrictions ( max of 6′) Gone are the days on 30′ high pioneering towers.

        Look at the use of OSHA laws. I already mentioned my Bears laughing at me when I told them no more carts to put out flags on Memorial Day.

        • Actually, the six foot rule , I believe, is because your camps have COPE areas, which limit the height you can go without helmet and belay.

  31. MARSHMALLOW BLOW GUNS TOO!!!
    That’s right sports fans, when you read more into the policy, you will find that Mallow guns are totally prohibited even for target shooting. The ‘reason’ I was given, from National, was that ‘even though we don’t find the projectile harmful, the cleaning process from person to person for each ‘gun’ is potentially harmful to that Scout.’ When asked for more detail, they stated that the bleach-water that is used may unknowingly cause an allergic reaction to an individual Scout.
    …SO, that FUN Cub Day event that we have been doing for -ever- is now out!

    BTW, so is ‘HAWK’ throwing for Webelos, or any Scout under the age of 11.
    “This is a program for Boy Scouts, Varsity Scouts, Venturers, and Sea Scouts. This program is not approved for Cub Scouts or Webelos Scouts.

    WHAT’S NEXT??

  32. Apparently, BSA staff has too much time on their hands. Perhaps they should turn their attention to the crumbling infrastructure at BSA facilities. That would prove much more constructive than writing stupid memos about water guns.

    • T. Scarborough // May 21, 2015 at 7:26 am // Reply

      AMEN! I am constantly amazed at the disconnect between National and the [Volunteer!] leaders with their feet on the ground!

  33. mlfrancis // May 6, 2015 at 9:05 am // Reply

    I hope National doesn’t remember we use water rockets in Wood Badge. Rockets can do way more damage than a simple squirt gun! (Yes, sarcasm is intended)

    • Required Name // May 6, 2015 at 9:28 am // Reply

      Water rockets not mentioned in the SSM.

  34. I agree that these policies are OVER THE TOP and need to be CHALLENGED. Our regional BSA youth camp is along the banks of the Missouri River. If you pass a swim test (at camp, a swim test elsewhere doesn’t count) then you can “swim” but the swimming doesn’t allow splashing, throwing of anything, or even jumping in. Basically it ends up being a bunch of kids standing in knee to waist deep water looking at each other since they won’t let you do anything fun. I have seen a good # of boys be HIGHLY disappointed by the boring waterfront, and stop bothering to swim test at all, even though they can easily pass the test, because there is nothing to do once they get into the water.

    • Scouterjim // May 6, 2015 at 10:15 am // Reply

      Boy you are out of touch with the world today need to read things and not live in the past you will get left behind.

  35. A couple years ago I told my Scouts that the BSA banned lasertag and paintball, and they didn’t believe me that the BSA would do something that stupid. They actually called National to verify that those two were banned.

    At that point I hadn’t thought to bring up the ban on pointing squirt guns. I can’t even imagine what they would say if I told them they could only use squirt guns at target, (non human shaped of course), and that they had to use eye protection.

    Luckily in my troop we protect the Scouts from some of the more stupid aspects of the G2SS.

    • Our “crew” goes to play Laser Tag at least twice a year. But since the BSA has the policy they do, we always host it on non-meeting nights. We spoke to a previous DE about it, and he was alright with us sending a note home to parents stating that the youth are independently taking part in a non-BSA approved activity, and participation will not be covered by the BSA in any way.

      You know what, we’ve never had anyone decline. Parents enjoy that their kids are getting out and having fun.

      • Nahila Nakne // May 6, 2015 at 9:40 am // Reply

        Rob,

        Best OA Chapter event I ever heard of was a pre-ban Lazer Tag overnighter. Chapter advisor owned the lazer tag arena, and let the chapter use it on an off night for a lock in. That stopped.

        And when I was in hte UK, the camp staff ( service team they called us) used laser tag as a team building exercise.

        • Gee, you’re really old. And able to time travel, too. We have now tracked the not pointing a firearm or knife or anything resembling one at another human back to 1966.

          Pre ban? More than likely before someone figured it out, since I do not recall lazer tag being available in 1966.

      • Scouterjim // May 6, 2015 at 11:49 am // Reply

        That is the right way to handle it same with paint ball and water guns Congrats

        • Don’t tell, but we even got the DE to come and take on our committee.. 😛

        • So, it’s better to sneak around, essentially playing semantics with the activity? Got it.

  36. Tom Linton // May 6, 2015 at 9:22 am // Reply

    You mean well, but this is the latest chapter of a slow-motion train wreck.

    I am sure someone at Corporate knows something about the effect of issuing rules that are overwhelmingly unsupported by the population to whom you wish to dictate. If so, listen to him or her and stop weakening your position. Or don’t.

    And while we’re discussing your latest zero tolerance rules, why are ballista prohibited and scorpions, onagers, catapulta and trebuchets allowed by omission? They all involve the violent release of significant energy and, if properly constructed, propel projectiles with great force. All can fail catastrophically and injure those in the area, Like most issuers of bans, your rule-makers likely don’t know much about the topic of the ban.

    Coupling such formidable weapons as Roman artillery with squirt guns creates cognitive dissonance in anyone who understands how wildly different they are in potential to do harm.

    • victoryintruth // May 19, 2015 at 8:34 pm // Reply

      Excellent comment about cognitive dissonance…..our kids are being destroyed with this rampant practice.

  37. For the record, small water balloons are less likely to break, hurt more, and are more likely to cause eye injury than large water balloons.

    I am left wondering whether the folks who put together the shooting sports manual actually understand the difference between a firearm and a toy. Not only are squirtguns only allowed for target shooting, but boys must wear eye protection when shooting squirtguns at targets?

    Not to mention that the shooting sports manual also bans toy plastic boomerangs and a half dozen other things. Frisbees no doubt will be next. What those have to do with shooting sports is anybody’s guess.

    G2SS, meet circular file. Come on, guys, let’s have a squirtgun war!

    • Scouterjim // May 6, 2015 at 11:54 am // Reply

      Bob their/our ballpark want to play then their/our rules….

      • Tom Linton // May 6, 2015 at 12:02 pm // Reply

        The “we” and “our” thing has been noted. What is your position to speak for BSA?

        • Not a Wimp // May 19, 2015 at 6:09 pm //

          Dear Lord in Heaven this is the most stupid thing I’ve read in an age of stupid things.

          What kind of men are you people? No wonder Scouts stopped being “cool” — with useless ninnies like you making decisions, without warrant, for tens of thousands of the Unafraid.

          Why not just get it over and change the name to “Pansy Scouts” and let it die a most unnatural death.

          God help us survive the idiotic Boomers and those that think they’re swell.

      • I’m a unit scouter, Jim. It’s our ballpark, not the BSA’s. We contract with the BSA for program resources. We use resources from other organizations as well. Maybe I’ll see if Supersoaker Corp. has some fun materials, too.

        The point is that we don’t work for the BSA, and the BSA doesn’t own us. The kids don’t work for the BSA, and the BSA doesn’t own them either.

        The BSA is a service organization, and its policies and guidebooks should be evaluated based on whether or not they provide a worthwhile service. If not, there are other resources (and organizations) that we can work with.

      • Actually, its OUR ballpark. National works for us, not the other way around.

  38. Robert Bardsley // May 6, 2015 at 9:26 am // Reply

    Found this on the NASA site about bottle rockets of the 2 liter soda bottle kind. Something tells me that BSA bans these for traditional Scouts but will gladly allow these in the new STEM Laboratory program being piloted in 12 Councils. Because fun can hurt you but science is in,

    http://exploration.grc.nasa.gov/education/rocket/BottleRocket/about.htm

    • Bottle rockets are the kind you put in a bottle that are launch by an explosive component after you light the wick. These are not the water rockets used by scouting at so many levels.

      Talk about reading something and turning it completely around. This is not a matter of water gun fights, it’s a matter that has existed for decades that a scout does not pint a knife or firearm or simulated firearm at another person, even in jest. Which is a pretty close paraphrase of our oldest finding of this rule. In 1966.

      • Tom Linton // May 23, 2015 at 9:46 pm // Reply

        it is hard to be kind when faced by such tortured efforts to defend the indefensible.

  39. Nahila Nakne // May 6, 2015 at 9:27 am // Reply

    Apparently the folks who wrote this policy have never been outside of an air conditioned office in the deep South on a summer day, let alone an entire week of Cub Scout Day Camp.

    In my neck of the woods, the use of water guns, super soakers, hoses, misters, and other water soaking devices is not only fun, but a matter of SAFETY! Yes you heard me SAFETY!

    When I ran Cub Scout Day Camp several years ago, we had a heat wave the same week. We did everything we could to keep the Cubs cool and prevent heat exhaustion: inflatable pools, misters, sprinklers, and yes water guns. We STILL had Cubs leaving camp due to heat exhaustion

    Without the use of waterguns, hoses, misters and other water soaking devices, we would have had higher incidents of heat exhaustion.

    If it is a choice between following an assine policy, or the safety of my Cubs, my Cubs come first.

    Besides, does anyone remember the Cub Scout recruiting poster a few years back with the Cubs using waterguns and talking about fun?

    • SO with you on this one!

      At Day Camp, I carry a squirt bottle and mist the boys regularly (only because misting saves water, not as a ‘safety’ measure) … they love getting squirted, and it does help with the heat issues. Is my squirting the guys now going to be considering dangerous or bullying?

      Now, if some kid ASKS not to be targeted with the squirt guns or water balloons, then A Scout Is Kind and should stop. But that’s already common sense and part of the Law.

  40. Bryan, you guys have got to start publishing some logic to back up these types of decisions. A Scout is Trustworthy. National needs to PUBLICLY DISCUSS their motivations and decision making processes rather than issuing proclamations with nonsensical stipulations. If our insurance people are telling us they are going to cut the cost of our premium if we institute “X” policy, that needs to be known by the membership. That needs to be evaluated with the membership’s input.

    Gates has done nothing to make himself available to membership (starting with the fact that the contact information for his personal assistant has never been published as he promised he would do in his inaugural address). National has become a cloistered, ivory tower, totally detached from the needs of the units.

    I can access a published rule book on water balloons and rubber band guns BUT I CANT GET A SCOUTMASTER HANDBOOK and won’t be able to for the foreseeable future.

    If this wasn’t driven by insurance, the membership deserves to know where it came from and why.

    • Scouterjim // May 6, 2015 at 9:49 am // Reply

      You are right Liability is what caused it get your head out of the sand and look at other organizations and their policies. Plain as the nose on your face for most people.

      • Jim,
        There is a HUGE difference between the following:
        * Behavior that has inherent danger that cannot be mitigated.
        * Behavior that might be actionable in court
        * Behavior that can be banned to get a reduction in insurance premium.

        BSA used to, rightfully, only specifically proscribe behavior that fell under all three criteria.

        Now, sadly, we only rely on the last criteria. And, this is why people can’t understand this in terms of “common sense” because it isn’t. This is penny pinching pure and simple. It has nothing whatsoever to do with boys playing with water guns.

        BSA isn’t discussing the decision making, which is a bad idea in a volunteer organization.

        BTW, I am not aware of any other children’s organizations that banned water guns. Do you?

      • Under what theory of liability do you believe squirtguns pose any sort of quantifiable risk? I assure you that no one in the insurance industry is running actuarial analysis on squirtguns.

      • Hmmm. Trolling for a professional Scouter slot? Sounds like it.

  41. First off I am a BSA Shooting Sports Director, NRA Muzzleloading Rifle, Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun INstructor, and Chief Range Safety Officer. While I agree with most about the BSA going to extremes, did you know these rules were published in February of 2014 as an update to the 2012 Shooting Sports Manual? I assume everyone read the update right? Then why was there no fuss last year? Some other information you may want to know, BSA camps follow under different rules as they are governed by National Camp Accreditation Program (NCAP). This is why camps can have just a firearm instructor at the range and are not required to have an RSO. Also read the part in the shooting sports manual where model rocket launches require at least a BSA Rangemaster. Some Cub packs may want to get someone Rangemaster trained. Maybe this will get people to read the manual. Bryan thanks for bringing this topic up.

    • No, and for a very good reason: unit leaders don’t operate shooting ranges and no one in their right mind would consult page 99 of the shooting sports manual prior to some boys spraying each other with water.

      RSOs, Shooting Sports Directors, and qualified instructors, on the other hand, are concerned with actual gun safety and instruction. When they got to page 99, they went “Yep, doesn’t apply to me because my range only has objects moving one direction, not two. Water guns? Never.”

    • As a matter of fact, yes I did know these were published then and I’ve disagreed with it since before the Feb 2014 update. I’ve fussed about it at our Shooting Sports Committee and to the DE. You’re seeing a fuss here because they chose to make it the topic of discussion on this blog.

      • Well then, travel back to our earliest finding of this rule about not pointing knives or anything that can be construed to being a firearm at another human being…in 1966. The shooting sports manual only brought together 30 years of shooting sports rules into one place where everyone can see them.

        • Tom Linton // May 23, 2015 at 9:43 pm //

          A water gun cannot rationally be “construed to be a firearm” any more than a crayon drawing of a firearm can be rationally “construed to be a firearm.” We hope for sanity in the leadership of BSA and Scouting.

  42. Thank you, Bryan, for FINALLY putting this into clear black-and-white writing for all to see!

    To comment on some of the other comments here…

    Firstly, this is NOT a safety or liability issue. As has already been pointed out, there are plenty of “authorized” activities that are more dangerous and have higher rates of injury that being shot with a water gun or running around spraying others.

    Secondly, this is only partially about promoting gun safety. Any reasonable person would not confuse a Super-Soaker™ with an actual firearm (squirting someone with water is not the same as blasting someone with bullets). And there are also some real gray-areas here… what is a “simulated firearm” and what is simply a device that squirts water? Clearly water guns that resemble real guns (even if brightly colored, cartoony and made of plastic) are simulating firearms… but I’ve seen (and used) “water guns” that are shaped like lobsters or tropical fish. There are “water squirters” that in no way resemble the shape of a gun. Is it okay to use a spray bottle to mist someone? Can we wet someone with a garden hose (pointing and pulling the “trigger” on the nozzle to spray them somewhat mimics firing a gun)? What about those practical joke flowers that squirt water; are they “simulated firearms”? Technically, these thing might be “legal” but the intent and purpose behind their use should be examined.

    So why the rule?

    This is all about, as Bryan stated, teaching kindness, respect and overall pacifism. As Scouts we pledge to be “morally straight” and those morals include being “friendly,” “courteous,” and “kind”… at all times! There is no need to participate in activities wherein a Scout is shooting someone with a water gun… it is nothing more than displaying dominance and/or aggressiveness and creates an imbalance of power (wet vs dry.. the “I got you” vs “no you didn’t”… the superior vs the soaked and humiliated).

    Baden-Powell wrote that “boys should be kept away from the idea that they are being trained so that some day they might fight. It is not war-Scouting that is needed now, but peace-Scouting.” Early editions of the Boy Scout Handbook had a much stronger emphasis on the idea of pacifism. I wish the BSA would encourage more peaceful actions and solutions rather than activities that rely on battling, attacking or shooting each other (even if it’s just with water).

    Tennis balls aren’t banned in Boy Scouting, and throwing them at a fellow Scout while playing a game of catch is perfectly acceptable… but taking aim and trying to peg a Scout and pummel him with tennis balls is very un-Scoutlike behavior.

    You may think I’m just being too “politically correct,” but everything contributes to the overall culture of Scouting and the culture we are raising our Scouts in — and we can make it a culture of violence and aggression and dominance or a culture of peace and tolerance and understanding.

    • Well said, Larry!

      This is not an issuance or safety issue. This is about teaching pacifism and upholding the values of the Scouting program.

      Some may call it being “politically correct,” I call it being “morally straight.”

      • I politely disagree. I do not recall “pacifism” as one of the goals of Scouting. If it was, it would not be accomplished through a draconian ban. In a larger scope, teaching scouts the correctness and the “right and wrong” of their actions involving real or simulated guns involves teaching them the consequences of their actions (or incorrect actions). Agree with the NRA or not, the BSA would be better suited following NRA practices more closely vice the hodgepodge of “on a certain day, if the scout has red hear you do it this way…..on all others you do it another way” currently used.

      • By the way you two… You are slinging some thick Bravo Sierra on us here… If the BSA wanted to teach pacifism, why would we ever teach marksmanship and archery in the first place?! Pacifists abhor guns in any way, shape or form.

        Wrong answer, try again.

        • In the years before World War I, pacifism was a big part of the BSA and the Scouting ideals. Baden-Powell taught it. it’s a big part of Scouting internationally (see the Messengers of Peace program and the writings of B-P) In fact, some felt that the BSA was unpatriotic in their stance against military training prior to WWI. In 1914, Colonel Leonard Wood resigned from the National Executive Board after a pacifistic article was published in Boys’ Life that he considered to be “almost treasonable”. And just look at this article from Boys’ Life about abolishing war: https://goo.gl/Fq9lHc

          Eventually during WWII, the rhetoric changed, and the BSA supported the Marksmanship merit badge (with a strong focus on safety and discipline). Pacifists don’t abhor guns in any way, target shooting is a skill, a discipline and a sport that can exist without ever shooting a person (shooting hoops on the basket ball court is fine; pelting someone with basketballs is not; shooting targets is fine, shooting people is not). On the issue of pacifism and Scouting, Baden-Powell said he had seen enough of war and that “…the boys should be kept away from the idea that they are being trained so that some day they might fight for their country. It is not war Scouting that is needed now, but peace Scouting.”

        • Hold on Larry, you got your wires crossed here. Being opposed to war, is not the same as being opposed to the use of weapons… I would add “Pigsticking, or Hog Hunting” by BP to your list of suggested reading list. In fact you may want to read a few pages before getting yourself deeper into your Bravo Sierra pit…

          Go check it out… I’ll wait… https://archive.org/details/pigstickingorhog00baderich

          BP was not against the use of weapons to hunt, and was not against killing for sport. He was against civilized people making war however, this is true. But go take a look at the original Scouting For Boys… Specifially Campfire Yarns 14 and 15…

          Here’s a great quote: “A hunter keeps himself entirely hidden when he is stalking wild animals. So does the war scout when watching or looking for the enemy.”

          Go look, it’s the second sentence of Campfire Yarn #14. BP’s own words.

          With the advent of WWII he was very offended at how Germany perverted his creation, and became very disenchanted with European society as a whole, which led him to return to Africa for the remainder of his life… I’d be willing to bet you he wasn’t subsisting on crops in his latter years by any stretch.

        • H. David Pendleton // May 6, 2015 at 11:43 am //

          BP started Scouts in the UK to help prepare English youth for the military. It was only after WWI that BP changed the focus of Scouting to a peace movement. BP saw the devastating effects of 4 years of war (over 9 million Soldiers KIA on all sides).

        • Big difference between pacifism as a personal lifestyle choice and non-interventionism as a foreign policy.

          Some folks here are slinging around terms and have no clue what they actually mean or who was actually a proponent of them.

          BTW, tomahawk throwing, which is still legal for now, is actually a purely martial undertaking. Tomahawks were always weapons of war and never had any practical uses. They are absolutely distinct from camp hatchets and wood cutting tools. The manual goes to great lengths to describe them……

          And yet, the tool specifically designed to cleave someone’s skull open passed muster while water guns didn’t?

          Please.

          Someone at National needs to start communicating in a coherent manner to their membership.

        • H. David:
          I would love to have a conversation with you off-thread about how BP saw WWII. We see the WWII from a common perspective, but BP was on a very different vantage point indeed. I can only imagine how painful and sickening it must have been for him to see all he had built up twisted and perverted into what it was made into during that time.

        • I’m a heavily-armed pacifist (per Robert H. Heinlein standards).

        • victoryintruth // May 19, 2015 at 8:48 pm //

          Exactly.

      • Tom Linton // May 6, 2015 at 10:22 am // Reply

        So thinking squirting a water gun at someone is OK is immoral? Not a tad over the top are you?

        • I never said squirting a person with a water fun is immoral (nor do I feel it is)… but it does contribute to an overall culture that says shooting someone is OK.

        • Tom Linton // May 6, 2015 at 11:03 am //

          And we disagree.

        • Tom, you disagree? Really? Tell me how can supporting and allowing activities where Scouts shoot someone with a gun does not contribute to an overall culture that says shooting someone is OK?

        • Tom Linton // May 6, 2015 at 1:27 pm //

          This is a reply to Larry’s question, wherever it ends up.

          I am aware of no science that supports your conclusion that allowing boys to squirt other boys with water pistols causes those boys to engage in behavior intended to injure another person. You have the affirmative on the proposition that allowing such use of water pistols is immoral. Please present your proof. I will review and research that proof with interest.

        • You know, we shot cap guns at our friends, and we for the most part turned out alright. We rode bicycles without helmets or knee pads, and made it to adulthood pretty good. We did a lot of things that when looked at with today’s standards seems downright dangerous, but we turned out OK.

          Our collective phobia is that we fear that our children will learn the hard lessons we did. But why? I have always believed that the more we coddle, the less capable our children will be when we are gone… That’s the opposite of what Scouting is all about.

        • Larry,
          All we have to do to prove your assertion is wrong is look at the, what?, BILLIONS of water gun sales over the decades and the decided LACK of a correlation to actual violence. If there were any validity at all to this theory, the progeny raised in my suburban neighborhood would have killed off most of the population of Texas by now.

          Immoral? Do you have your children avert their eyes when they pass the water guns in the dollar store?

          You know what causes violence in America? It isn’t the water gun contribution. It’s a society that aborts a million children a year without batting an eye. It’s the society that has half it’s children out of wedlock. It’s the society that thinks sending a check to a fatherless family is somehow helpful. It’s the society that finds moral ambiguity IN EVERYTHING except water guns.

          You need to consider the contribution of this rule to the amount of angst our members are experiencing due to poor leadership rather than how many kids might not understand that getting someone wet is different than killing them.

        • Tom – You are misinterpreting or misrepresenting my point.

          As I said, supporting activities where Scouts shoot someone add to an overall culture that says shooting someone is OK. I don’t know how that can’t be true.

          Now I do NOT think kids shooting water at each other will directly lead to kids shooting bullets at each other; my position here has nothing to do with water guns being seen as “desensitizing” kids or being a “gateway” to real guns (any reasonable person can tell the difference between a SuperSoaker and an actual firearm and knows the difference between getting someone wet with water and killing someone with a bullet). I’m not that obtuse. I am against shooting water guns at people because water guns and water wars (and paintball, laser tag, dodge ball, etc.) all add to a more combative and adversarial culture.

          Activities where you are shooting at another person (whether it is bullets, BBs, paintballs, NERF darts, laser beams, rubber bands, H2O, or simply your imagination) in a combative manner (whether maliciously aggressive or simply playfully aggressive) all breed and add to an overall culture of antagonistic and un-Scoutlike defensiveness.

          Activities where Scouts shoot someone with water will NOT result in Scouts thinking it’s OK to shoot someone with bullets.

          But as I said before… activities where Scouts shoot someone (even if just with harmless water) adds to an overall culture that says shooting (i.e. attacking, assaulting, invading, blasting, dominating, overbearing, etc.) someone else is OK. …and that is not OK!

          A Scout is friendly, courteous and kind.

        • “activities where Scouts shoot someone (even if just with harmless water) adds to an overall culture that says shooting (i.e. attacking, assaulting, invading, blasting, dominating, overbearing, etc.) someone else is OK.”

          —–

          There is actually not much respected research in psychology which supports this claim.

          More significantly, this claim would apply to all competition and sports. Patrol knot-tying relays involve “dominating” another patrol. Capture the Flag involves “invading”. Soccer involves “attacking” and even has “strikers”. Chess also involves “attacks” as well as “capturing” opponents’ people and taking/killing the king.

          It’s fine if your personal philosophy is such that you don’t want your own kids to engage in any competitive endeavors, and I would be supportive of, for example, a Quaker scout unit that opted not to play wide games or use squirt guns.

          At the same time, the rest of us who do not share this aversion to competitive games also deserve respect, and should not be subject to your restrictions.

      • Jeff Traviss // May 6, 2015 at 11:11 am // Reply

        I have been with leaders like yourself Larry that the only time they interact with the boys is when they are telling them what they can/t do . This organization is quickly becoming the cant do patrol. If we are constantly being told what we cant do we wont end up doing anything for fear of a finger waiving pacifist such as yourself.

      • So, as an organization, we now are prepared to call people who play with water guns in the traditional manner………”morally unstraight”, “unkind”, and “unScoutlike”?

        Is that where we are? We are not only going to make moral proclamations about sexuality but we have time to discuss water guns too?

        Does National want me to conduct a Scoutmaster Minute on the moral evils that little boys with water guns present to society along and, oh by the way, BSA believes their religion is unScoutlike?

        Seriously, we have entered the twilight zone of Scouting.

      • Gary_USMC // May 6, 2015 at 2:53 pm // Reply

        You are out of your mind. There is NOTHING in BSA that talks about teaching out boys to be pacifists. Where are you and Larry coming up with this?

    • Wow… So the concept of allowing youth to get each other wet in conditions where they need to be cooled to prevent heatstroke doesn’t fit with your arguement.

      I guess what you are saying is that dodgeball, kickball, bombardment or any other game where tagging a youth out by hitting them with a soft rubber ball would be out too, since it would simulate aggression. is that correct?

      So I guess that sports like baseball, softball, or any game where you could tag someone “out” must be banned too, since it has the potential of making physical contact, and the fact that Scouts might want to get an opponent out for strategic reasons would be ostracizing…

      I guess we might as well take you are saying all the way and consider any game or activity in which a Scout could potentially lose banned too, so board games, card games, or any game with an individual winner must be banned too, since it must be mean to try to make someone else lose at anything.

      It’s a shame too, I always liked playing “Steal the Bacon” with my troop, but I guess that’s not allowable now too…

      Thanks for clearing that up Larry! No wonder our membership is declining at horrific rates. It all makes more sense to me now.

      • Firstly, there are plenty of ways for youth to get each other wet in conditions where they need to be cooled to prevent heatstroke that don’t involve shooting each other…such as buckets of water, wet sponges, swimming, etc.

        And just like paintball, laser-tag, and water gun fights… overly aggressive “attack” games — such as dodgeball or bombardment — also have no place in Scouting.

        To be clear: winning and losing is not banned from Scouting (hey, our democratic process has winners and losers of elections, Pinewood derby races have winners and losers, and many great games and other competitions have winners and losers)… but what should be banned is games that teach physical aggression towards others. “Attacking” or “shooting” other people is not Scout-like

        • Hmmm, wet sponges sounds like it would work good with Youth Protection rules…

        • Nahila Nakne // May 6, 2015 at 10:17 am //

          Not every day camp has the resources or personell to have pools.

        • Need to cool the kids off at camp during the day? You don’t need to use a water gun… bring a squirt bottle and spray the kids down. Use a bucket of water and some sponges or a foam…. You can keep the kids cool AND keep the guns pointed away from people. There are plenty of water dispensing devices that aren’t guns.

        • Nahila Nakne // May 6, 2015 at 10:36 am //

          But according to the assine policy, a squirt bottle can be considered a simulated firearm since you are pulling the trigger and causing someone to get wet.

          So what’s the difference? NONE.

          This entire debate reminds me of the sheath knife debate a while back. Waterguns are tools to be used,

    • Nahila Nakne // May 6, 2015 at 9:54 am // Reply

      With all due respect, you can use the same arguments to ban competition. We need to ban comepition at camporees, despite BP using inter-patrol competition, since it’s not “Friendly, Courteous, Kind” to humiliate those patrols that do not win ribbons. Let’s face it interpatrol competition is displaying “dominance and/or aggressiveness and creates an imbalence of power” with with one patrol earning more ribbons than other patrols.

      And I do not know about your neck of the woods, but in the deep south it get hot. And a day camp that doesn’t have aquatics facilties, heck even one that does, needs to come up with ways to keep the Cubs cool throughout the entire day or suffer heat exhaustion/ heat stroke. Heck even when we used water guns, inflatable pools, misters, sprinklers, etc we still averaged about 5 Cubs a day going home early due to heat exhaustion.

      Finally, has anyone ever asked the Scouts what they want to do? I know that when the policy on those under 14 years of age no longer being allowed to use carts, I was laughed at by my Bears, who thought it was a joke. One year when I replaced “Water Game” which included water guns and thrown sponges, with Fishing for the Webelos, I had both groups say they wanted the water game time in the afternoons becasue ti was hot and gave them a chance to cool off and have fun.

      As I mentioned before, it’s a SAFETY issue with me. I will do whatever it takes to prevent heat exhaustion, except cancelling of day camp. And if this matter is forced on me, that will have to happen.

      • If you need to keep Scouts cool throughout the day to prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke, there are plenty of “legal” ways (buckets, pools, misters, sprinklers, sponges, sitting and hydrating in the shade, etc.) that are way more effective than running around blasting each other with water guns. All options considered, water guns are one of the least effective ways to cool someone down. If safety is #1, there are plenty of authorized ways that will get the job done.

        • But Larry, I thought you said it wasn’t a safety issue, but a way to teach pacifism? I’m getting mixed messages here… You’re still holding the Bravo Sierra award from where I stand.

        • Nahila Nakne // May 6, 2015 at 10:18 am //

          ALL are ways to keep cool, and the kids have fun with the water guns. And I use all of them too.

          Maybe I should call them “Personal Water Soaking Devices?”

        • Rob –

          Pointing a firearm (simulated or real) at a Scout is not appropriate. It send the wrong message and models bad behavior. Having Scouts aggressively shooting at each other (whether it be paintballs, lasers, water, rubber-bands, or “imaginary bullets” from finger guns) is also modeling unScoutlike ideals. Therefore shooting water guns at other people is an unauthorized activity.

          A Scout is obedient and should follow the rules (whether you agree with them or not).

          Need to cool the kids off at camp to stay safe? You don’t need to use a water gun to do that… bring a squirt bottle and spray the kids down or mist them throughout the day. Use a bucket of water and some sponges. You can keep the kids cool AND keep the guns pointed away from people. It’s not hard to do. There are plenty of water dispensing devices and methods that aren’t guns.

        • Nahila Nakne // May 6, 2015 at 10:39 am //

          Larry,

          You forget that the BSHB also states that if you do not like the rules, you work to get them changed.

          This is one of those rules that needs to be changed

        • Larry – there’s a distinct difference between a boy pointing a gun (or “simulated gun”) at another boy with the intent to do harm or threaten harm (even in jest) and simply squirting water on another boy. Does it really matter if it from a hose, a bucket, or something shaped like a firearm?

    • Sorry, but I’m going to throw the “hogwash” flag here. Again, the whole “dominance” argument falls flat because that argument can be made about most sports or games. As with all activities it’s up to the adults to ensure that it doesn’t get out of hand and that all the Scouts follow the Scout Law. Just as a game of kickball or capture the flag can get out of hand so can a session of a squirt gun shooting. It’s up to us to make sure that the boys play fair, don’t take advantage of less skilled/able boys, and that everyone has fun. If you can’t do that when they’re squirting each other with water the same as when they’re playing capture the flag then perhaps you should rethink your position in BSA.

    • All sports and competitions have winners and losers. If you are going to teach pacifism then you have to eliminate them too no?

      • Elections have winners and losers… we’re not going to eliminate them. What we need to eliminate is physical aggression towards others.

        • Nahila Nakne // May 6, 2015 at 10:19 am //

          Have you seen some of the political commercials lately. Lots of aggression in them.

        • It’s important to note that there is a counter argument to this.

          Many people believe that providing kids, especially boys, with an outlet for physical energy in a regulated, game environment helps to prevent real physical aggression and violence. Sports and other competition are therefore a productive alternative to youthful fights and gang membership/violence. They fill the same need to belong and be compete and be recognized, but in a productive way.

          Banning competition and outlets for energy and aggression only drives those behaviors into less productive and more anti-social outlets.

    • Kilted Cub Master // May 6, 2015 at 11:36 am // Reply

      I really am mostly in shock, but then again, not sure why I should be, given all the other COMPLETELY INANE things that Scouting has done in recent years.

      If anything from your post, I am most surprised by the quote from B.P. I had not heard that before, and am truly saddened by its revelation. And although it may be complete and utter heresy to say so in this forum, I think B.P. is wrong in this regard (if indeed this quote is correct and not taken out of context).

      You do not need to be a pacifist to be kind or friendly. I can at the same time be both strong and gentle. Kind to my family and fellows, and fierce towards aggression. Why must we teach pacifism to instill the gentler virtues? To be a pacifist means to be “opposed to war or to violence of any kind” (dictionary.com). We live in a dangerous and (at times) violent world. It has been that way from the beginning and I do not see any reason to believe it will ever stop being so.

      I much prefer the “Chivalrous Knight” model to the idea of teaching “pacifism”. Instilling virtues that we should help and defend others, always looking to the welfare of others, but always prepared to do battle on their behalf, and to give our very lives in pursuit of that if necessary.

      There will ALWAYS be an ISIS…a Hitler…a Stalin…a Mao…a Pol Pot…and a hundred thousand others who will seek to subjugate you and me, to enslave your family. To cut off your head if you don’t believe as they do. The grotesque truth is that it’s in our very nature and no amount of hopeful wishing this side of the Second Coming will make it go away.

      I do not want my sons (or yours!) to be pacifists — I want them to be strong, confident, resilient, and chivalrous. I most certainly desire them to be “Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent”. BUT, I also want them to be strong, able to defend themselves and their families and fellows from bullies and tyrants.

      Peace is made through strength. When a bully looks at you and assesses the risk to himself to be too high for the effort, then he moves on. Pacifism only invites victimization. Just ask Chamberlain.

      In our karate dojo, we teach a deep sense of respect towards all, and strictly teach that no student of karate is ever to start a fight, and that your first response in a hostile situation is always to attempt to de-escalate and disengage. However, we also teach them the skills and abilities to confidently and decisively deal with an opponent should it be necessary to do so. This is not done by tickling them into submission.

      I am immensely proud of our eldest son who is both an Eagle Scout and a Black Belt; and our eldest daughter who is a deputy sheriff and Second Degree Black Belt; and our second, third, and fourth sons who will all be Eagle Scouts and are all close to their Black Belts. Not an overtly aggressive one amongst them, and all seek to help and serve others. I would highly recommend, however, you not attack any of them. It would probably not go very well for you.

      Pacifism? Really?

    • Gary_USMC // May 6, 2015 at 2:51 pm // Reply

      What? When the heck did we start teaching our boys to be pacifists Larry? That is not what Scouting is about and I will never do that..

    • jeff traviss // May 8, 2015 at 2:35 pm // Reply

      Larry, sorry for the late response but I have been laughing ever since that comment “displaying dominance”. What kind of weak kneed boys are we trying to create? Take your pacifism to the Chamberlain ” peace in our time ” school for boys that are afraid of thunder school of higher learning and leave the rest of us to have just a little fun .

      • Gary_USMC // May 8, 2015 at 2:48 pm // Reply

        I agree 110% Jeff….are we trying create a group of wimps? I am not!

    • I disagree with your point and view on BSA, the activities in question, and pacifism. The problem I see is that you are looking at the object when it comes to “firearms” and not the intent. Ironically with the tennis ball, you scope the intent in your argument, not the object.

      Can you see the delusion here? Don’t look at the object, judge the intent. If the boys are not trying to hurt each other with object X, even while throwing them at each other, then the activity is not unkind. The kindness comes in the act of doing a group activity, respectfully with each other, while also being a good sport regardless of your position in the outcome.

      • Tom Linton // May 20, 2015 at 11:33 am // Reply

        That is a problem with zero tolerance rules. By their nature, they eliminate the possibility of exercising judgment. And yet we are supposed to be giving values to kids so they will be in a position to exercise judgment.

        Replacing judgment with the 1517 Commandments will not work well.

        Scouting is supposed to be based on affirmative rules, not zero tolerance rules. A Scout IS . . .

    • “This is all about, as Bryan stated, teaching kindness, respect and overall pacifism. As Scouts we pledge to be “morally straight” and those morals include being “friendly,” “courteous,” and “kind”… at all times! ”

      Nonsense. Utter nonsense. Two kids with water guns aren’t being unkind when they shoot each other, they are laughing and having fun. In the 98 degree temps we have here during Cub camp, we would welcome being “shot” with a water pistol. If you want to raise of nation of wimpy children who can’t grasp that being shot with a water pistol is not the same as being assaulted, well, lord, this policy is the way to do it.

      I stayed with BSA and defended BSA’s membership vote. I could find a way to do that, and I kept my unit intact. Didn’t lose a boy or leader.

      This policy, though, is indefensible. If you think this “no water gun” policy makes any kind of sense, you’ve either never worked with boys in the outdoors, or you’ve lost your mind.
      That’s not being unkind, that’s stating reality. I’d like to find a more genteel way to phrase that, but can’t think of one. So, to be trustworthy, I’m telling you how it is.

  43. Kevin Backer // May 6, 2015 at 9:38 am // Reply

    The BSA is absolutely ridiculous. It is no wonder we can’t recruit a youth into this program. This is further proof that the leadership of the BSA has lost touch with the rest of society. I am so close to not renewing and channeling my FOS to another organization.

    Maybe the National Council should assemble some additional focus groups and consolidate a bit more.

    Lets not forget those of us that speak up are chastised and politely managed out of the program.

    Rant over, keep it up BSA you are on the path of loosing me too!

    Kevin Backer
    Eagle Scout ’81
    Vigil Honor ’85
    Woodbadge ’91
    Distinguished Commissioner, ’93
    Distinguished Scoutmaster ’95

    • Scouterjim // May 6, 2015 at 9:44 am // Reply

      Your choice guess you need a wake up call did you fill out a report the last time you had a scout hurt in any fashion bet not look it up

    • Are there any other parts of your Scout resume you feel the need to inject? I’m not sure what all that stuff has to do with the topic but with all that Scout street cred…but you win…you are in fact…the man!

  44. Derek Hart // May 6, 2015 at 9:39 am // Reply

    52 replies and counting… UNANIMOUS contempt and disdain for this so-called rule and the people who created it. Wake up and smell the discontent, B$A!

    I advocate all leaders of good conscience to ignore stupid crap like this from Irving. If you are willing to cancel your popular, fun, Pack water gun event because some obscure rule somewhere says you are supposed to, then you are part of the problem! Squirt away!!

    (first post to this blog – it took this level of inanity to get me typing…)

    • Re-read all the comments… it’s NOT unanimous contempt and disdain. Some of us like the rule.

      • Isn’t that convenient, you’d be losing if it was a vote, but we banned competitions a couple postings back so I guess even though there are 2 with your viewpoint in about 90 people, we can’t say you’ve lost this vote… More Bravo Sierra…

      • Derek Hart // May 6, 2015 at 10:33 am // Reply

        Well eventually a brave dissenter had to emerge! Your post was not visible yet when I posted mine, Larry. I’m happy for you to run your unit the way you like, with an emphasis on non-aggression or whatever you think is best. But I think you would have to agree after reading these comments that most Scouters would prefer you not put them in the same box, if that means that water guns are considered unsafe.

        I’d very much like the “safety committees” in Irving to recognize this as well. There is some very serious push-back on display here!

        I’ll continue to be an outlaw in any case, when the rules become patently absurd.

      • For someone who believes we should be turning our little scouts into pacifist wienies, Larry sure is spending a lot of time arguing with people on here.

        • That’s pretty out of line, not at all Scout-like.

        • Those who actually study Scouting in all it’s forms across the world can tell you that at one point B-Ps form of Scouting was derided as the “peace scouts”.

          For those who do not believe that being kind is part of what should be in this discussion…

      • “Re-read all the comments… it’s NOT unanimous contempt and disdain. Some of us like the rule.”

        It’s certainly not unanimous now … but it’s pretty near unanimous amongst those with common sense and a memory of when Scouting taught self-reliance instead of weak-kneed politically correct garbage.

  45. Scouterjim // May 6, 2015 at 9:40 am // Reply

    This is all about liability for the adult in charge do it by the book and BSA will stand with you.
    If you do not then you are on your own simple as that nothing else needs to be said.
    except we in BSA do not use the word weapon in any context at all…

    • So @Scouterjim, what you’re saying is that the BSA will violate its charter agreement with my organization the very first time one of our adult leaders fails to read to page 99 out of one of the many 100+ page guidance documents the BSA puts out?

      That would make the BSA and its insurance coverage completely worthless as a partner for every Chartered Organization in the nation.

      Do you really want to make that claim?

      For the record, statements like yours are false. Repeatedly stating them after having been corrected is not Trustworthy. The BSA is in fact a good partner, and you should not damage the reputation of the BSA by making statements like this.

  46. Dean Whinery // May 6, 2015 at 9:41 am // Reply

    It appears that the nit-pickers have overlooked one camp activity: tomahawk throwing. Maybe it is classified as part of the politically correct games of “Cowpersons and Indigenous People”.

    • Tomahawk throwing is on page 101 of the new manual. It is an approved activity with the proper supervision.

    • Shhh! Don’t give them any ideas!

      • Scouterjim // May 6, 2015 at 10:01 am // Reply

        Go read the manual and see.

    • Look at the PDF Shooting Sports manual included in the story. Tomahawk throwing is included, with rules and procedures for safe tomahawk throwing. Page 101 and several pages thereafter.

    • Tomahawk throwing is an authorized activity. Likewise, water guns are authorized within BSA.

      However throwing tomahawks at a person is unauthorized… just as shooting water guns at a person is also unauthorized.

  47. Hey, Bryan, the kid in the picture is not wearing eye protection!!!

    After a quick Google search, I was unable to find any pictures on the entire Internet of anyone (Scout or non-Scout) wearing eye protection while firing a water gun.

    The BSA is truly breaking new ground with their rule of requiring eye protection while firing water guns. Another first for the BSA!

    • I have been told that if I keep commenting on insane policies that it could get me kicked out of Scouting. I hate to tell you, with losing 7% of your volunteers to this kind of garbage and the likelihood that you are going to lose 10% this year – I don’t think you are going to much going to have a program nor youth after this.

      Additionally, more of the PC stuff is coming. Be Warned.

  48. Scouterjim // May 6, 2015 at 9:51 am // Reply

    Brian do not use the w word or you owe us all a dollar SSD’s

  49. Cubmaster Matt // May 6, 2015 at 9:54 am // Reply

    I carried a super soaker at cub day camp and would spray the cubs down every chance I had. The boys would flock to me in order for a chance to cool off. The camp had no sprinkler stations set up, so my water gun was their only hope on 90 degree days. By the second day, nearly every den leader was carrying a super soaker. We’ve been doing it for a few years now. I’ll continue to do it until someone kicks me out of cub day camp, or until the camp provides adequate sprinkler stations for the boys to run through.

    • A Scout is Obedient. A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobeying them.

      Don’t break the rules.

      Need to cool the kids off during the day? Simple: don’t use a water gun… bring a squirt bottle and spray the kids down. Keep them cool and keep the guns pointed away from people.

      • Or alternatively Larry…

        We, the court of volunteers who actually have boots to the ground and a pretty hefty modicum of common sense all post what a steaming crock this policy is, and pressures national to see reason and have the stupid mindless rule changed. In a scoutlike way of course.

      • Dan, I think you are now my hero. So well stated. Thank you for this great reply.

      • Calvin Gray // May 6, 2015 at 11:10 am // Reply

        If this logic had been followed during the 50s and 60s, the civil rights struggle would have never occurred.

      • I think it’s clear from the postings here that if a jury of our peers was convened, there’s no way anybody would be convicted of a safety violation for allowing kids to shoot each other with squirtguns.

        Baden-Powell’s 13th Point of the Law applies: A Scout is not a Fool.

    • Nahila Nakne // May 6, 2015 at 10:23 am // Reply

      Matt,

      My day camp had sprinklers, a mister station, hoses, inflatable pools, etc, and it STILL wasn’t enough. Not only that, but as you mentioned the kids crave it.

      Has anyone asked what the Scouts want?

      • No one at national cares what the scouts want. … I was gonna make a statement about what I figured they cared about but honestly I can not for the life of me figure out what they do care about. It sure isn’t providing a robust outdoor program or anything thing approaching adventure.

        Not picking on the Girl Scouts but their entire program is less restrictive than the BSA’s.

      • Real world dweller // May 6, 2015 at 12:38 pm // Reply

        Seriously? Ask the Scouts? If we did that, they’d want to sit inside and play Minecraft in the AC all day.

        • Nahila Nakne // May 6, 2015 at 1:42 pm //

          You’d be surprised. I know of some Scouts who would do waterguns and tomahakw tossing all day. Heck, when I gave one of them a choice between fishing and tomahawk tossing, the tomahawks one.

        • Lance W. // May 6, 2015 at 1:49 pm //

          As long as they can actully do stuff outside I’ve found they all would prefer getting dirty.

  50. I learned somewhere that if you want to get the story right, go to the sources. So I did.

    Re: water balloons, the Shooting Sports manual does not forbid water balloons. Read page 100. Page 100 discusses shooting devices and catapults, and limits using water balloons as ammunition for shooting devices. Scouts are not prohibited from throwing water balloons at each other, at least according to the Guide to Safe Scouting and Shooting Sports manual.

    The shooting sports manual also does not forbid water rockets. Search the shooting sports PDF and guide to safe scouting and you won’t find any mention of water rockets.

    My son goes to a public school system that doesn’t understand boys and is hypersensitive to real and imaginary threats, but at the end of the day, we have to go along to get along. Our kids live in a different world than we did, and our world was different than our parent’s world, etc. Our parents had the same complaints when we were younger, and their parents complained too. We turned our fine, and our kids will be fine not shooting each other with squirt guns at Cub Scouts. Trust me on this one.

    • Nahila Nakne // May 6, 2015 at 10:25 am // Reply

      Dennis,

      Tell that to the Cub Scout who doesn’t want to get wet so he sits in the shade while his buddies play water games. And then he has to leave early due to heat exhaustion. True Story.

      • Tell him what? Read the books to him?

  51. Matt Gallagher // May 6, 2015 at 10:01 am // Reply

    This is ridiculous. I kept on looking to see if the date of the post was “April 1” just hoping it was a joke, but unfortunately it isn’t. Volunteers like us can’t be expected to tell a group of teenage boys that they can’t play with water balloons on a hot day or have super soaker & water gun fights. It makes us look like we are very out of touch and overly afraid of legal action. And how can we tout high adventure when we don’t allow a scout to even get a bit wet from a water gun.

    • Scouterjim // May 6, 2015 at 12:09 pm // Reply

      well Matt guess you have not been on the end of a legal battle. I have and it’s not fun and run the 12…

      • I have been part of many legal cases involving kids, injuries, and educational settings.

        I will continue to let kids play with squirtguns, including blast away at each other on our next water outing. Not a moment’s hesitation, in fact.

        It’s the community norms that apply in legal cases, not the BSA’s internal documents. In the broader community, squirt guns are nothing but fun, and totally appropriate for kids on water trips.

  52. The saddest part of this is that boys are going to have squirt gun fights, and they are going to play laser tag, and they are going to head to the woods to play. They’re just not going to do it with the lamo-BSA anymore.

  53. The G2SS hasn’t included water guns when prohibiting pointing simulated firearms and I understood the difference to be that the purpose of laser tag and paint ball is to simulate shooting someone else while the purpose of a water gun is to get someone wet. (The National Shooting Sports Manual disproves this 🙁 Too bad)

  54. The one idea that I have not seen here yet, and seldom see in these types of posts, is that one can just walk away. One doesn’t have to participate in anything that one considers to be unsafe. “Just say no.”

  55. A Scout is Brave. I want BSA to stop running from the threat of litigation and political attacks, stand up, and say:

    “We understand that with any type of active play by children, there is a risk of injury despite precautions, and even when there is no intent to injure. However, we believe play by children is critical to their growth and well-being despite the risk of injury. We believe that by teaching children proper safety precautions, active play can be carried out relatively safety, even active play that involves physical contact or the throwing or launching of balls, water, or other projectiles. This is demonstrated daily through the play of tens of millions of children, as it has been throughout history.

    “We also understand that some people object to allowing children to play with ‘guns’ of any kind, even squirt guns; and that some people object to allowing children to do anything that would ‘simulate’ the pointing of a gun at another person. However, we believe that children can be taught the difference between real guns and ‘play’ or simulated ‘guns,’ and their purposes, that there is a difference between the safety hazards related to different types of ‘guns,’ and that different levels of safety precautions apply to different types of ‘guns.’ Thus safe play with items such as squirt guns or paint ball guns under the auspices of the Boy Scouts of America is not in any way a political or philosophical statement about real guns, guns in society, or gun violence. It is about children playing and developing fitness and their physical, mental, and motor skills.

    “We also understand that some people feel that no action by a child that appears to be threatening or appears on its face to be unsafe or a violation of rules can be tolerated, and thus even pointing something that vaguely resembles a gun must be treated as if it were a threat. We believe that no action by a child can be judged in a vacuum, and that the child’s understanding of what he or she was doing, his or her intent, and the surrounding circumstances are necessary to making any kind of judgment about that action.

    “For more than one hundred years, the Boy Scouts of America has been committed to the development of youth in accordance with the ideals of the Scout Oath and the Scout Law. Thus, children’s activities that can be conducted safely (Duty to Others, Duty to Self) by youth who understand that they need to follow the rules (A Scout is Trustworthy, A Scout is Obedient) and play to learn and have fun, not to harm (A Scout is Friendly, Courteous, Kind) are generally acceptable activities in the programs of the Boy Scouts of America.”

    • That was an amazing post, very well thought out. Maybe I quote you in other conversations?

      • Certainly – with kindness, and in context. And please, email it to program.content@scouting.org, together with your own thoughts.

    • Dan –

      The BSA is not banning the shooting of water guns at people because that type of active play has a risk of injury. Nor are they banning it because there is a threat of lawsuits and litigation.

      The BSA is banning shooting water guns at people because pointing and shooting anything at other people is counter to the values and principles of the Scouting program.

      Yes, children can be taught the difference between real guns and “play” guns, but the use of play guns is unnecessary and only serves to undermine the principles that the BSA is working to instill. As such, the BSA has decided that play guns have no place in the Scouting program.

      Again, this isn’t because Super-Soakers are dangerous… it’s because shooting at people is simply not Scout-approved activity.

      • Nahalia Nakne // May 6, 2015 at 12:13 pm // Reply

        But throwing water ballons, sponges, etc at people is OK with BSA. Sorry Larry, but none of your defense of this policy is rational.

      • Sorry, but “pointing and shooting anything at other people is counter to the values and principles of the Scouting program” is not an explanation or justification for the policy. What values? What principles? Certainly “Kind” doesn’t work.

        But even if what you say is correct, my point is: We should base our squirt gun policy on more relevant Scouting values and principles, rather than ones that have been stretched to the point of absurdity.

  56. jeff Traviss // May 6, 2015 at 10:30 am // Reply

    Once again national and Bryan are on the warpath to become FUN KILLERS . Luminaries BANNED. Slip and Slides BANNED. Next thing will be hiking when its below 32 degrees BANNED. And you wonder why our numbers are dwindling its ridiculous articles like this. Get A clue leaders are laughing at you and the ones that agree God help them.

    • While I agree that this rule is disagreeable. Bryan has nothing to do with this decision. What you are doing is a classic case of “shoot the messenger”.

      I agree with everything else you have said though.

    • Um… Slip-and-slides are not banned…. you just need to make sure you follow the manufacture’s warnings and recommendations for their set-up and use.

      See: http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2015/04/09/body-sliding-safety-alert/

  57. Glad this came out today, the same day I opened the letter I received in the mail reminding me that I have not yet paid my FOS pledge. I think will be “kind” and send that money to Nepal earthquake relief instead of to BS. (It’s not fair to call it BSA anymore given the virtual elimination of any recognition of America in the updated Cub Scout program that take effects in June. Don’t believe me? Compare the current program to the new and you’ll see they’ve eliminated almost every requirement pertaining to the flag, patriotic songs, US history, etc.)

  58. I sure am glad we didn’t do things like this when we were kids. Just imagine all of the carnage and lawsuits that would’ve occurred. Geez…

  59. Many regs from nationals are simply legalistic nonsense. Others work great. Bottom line is kids aren’t as interested in Scouts as they once were. Sometimes the regs are at fault because they result in a very “uncool” environment. Sometimes its something else entirely.

    I was once a (successful) District Executive. I found the work soul-sucking at hated it. All emphasis was on obscure rules, regulations, and theories along with a one-more (one more scout, one more unit, one more dollar) mentality of goal-setting to make the “program” run. This resulted in top-down edicts from Council to District to Unit. Some units hated it enough they avoided Council at all costs.

    Whenever a unit did really cool stuff that engaged the boys, others swarmed. Not to get ideas, but to see where they were breaking the rules and to call them out on it.

    I’m now a Den Leader and an Assistant Cub Master. I’ve seen positive changes happen to the program but I abhor the lack of real-world common sense that shines through regs like these. I think back on the experience that made my time as a scout worth it, and how many of those would be looked upon with suspicion or as broken rules today and it is frustrating.

    Getting along (as someone above suggested) isn’t a good option. We shouldn’t tolerate this idiocy in Scouts and we shouldn’t tolerate it our schools (referring to Kindergartners suspended for making a gun with thumb and finger) or anywhere else.

    Hopefully someone down in Texas is reading these comments. If the regs really bother you, contact National staff directly. Make them explain themselves. Ask for change.

  60. Don’t shoot the messenger. Bryan is the conveyer of information. While I agree that National needs some review, Bryan represents the informational arm, not the decision making body.

    • In this case, we should shoot the messenger. His office-mates should hold him down and blast him with a super soaker (without eye protection) for having the gall to post such a moronic statement that he happens to like the only reason offered for this rule, that a scout is kind. Also, it shows a complete lack of journalistic capability to post an article about this non-sensical rule without specifically stating who from National should be contacted to get the rule changed.

      • jeff Traviss // May 6, 2015 at 1:53 pm // Reply

        Love it . You hold him down I’ll blast him.

  61. As a Cubmaster, I strongly disagree with this prohibition. The authors of this policy seem out of touch with youth. Water guns, water balloons, and marshmallow shooters are great fun for Cub Scouts and can be done in a safe and responsible manner with adult supervision. I do not know of any parents in my Pack who would object to these activities. Prohibiting these activities will only drive youth away from Scouting and encourage leaders to more broadly ignore the rules. Let’s use common sense and focus the rules on activities that have significant risk.

  62. dave litle // May 6, 2015 at 11:16 am // Reply

    With all the rules stupid or not the bsa is just going to drive people away.and the people will do their own programs .”where the kids are alllowed to HAVE FUN”

  63. RichardSM // May 6, 2015 at 11:31 am // Reply

    What about Laser Pointers? There is nothing in the GtSS about them and they are FAR MORE dangerous water guns! They were selling them at our CS Day Camp Trading Post last year!!!

  64. Doug Rivard // May 6, 2015 at 11:46 am // Reply

    I have no problem with someone disagreeing with me. I do have a problem with someone suggesting I’m immoral because I don’t agree with them.

    • Tom Linton // May 6, 2015 at 12:01 pm // Reply

      Where did he write that or who heard him say that and where is such an account recorded?

  65. Doug Rivard // May 6, 2015 at 12:20 pm // Reply

    The statement made was:

    ” As Scouts we pledge to be “morally straight” and those morals include being “friendly,” “courteous,” and “kind”… at all times! There is no need to participate in activities wherein a Scout is shooting someone with a water gun… it is nothing more than displaying dominance and/or aggressiveness and creates an imbalance of power (wet vs dry.. the “I got you” vs “no you didn’t”… the superior vs the soaked and humiliated).”

  66. Yesterday's Scout // May 6, 2015 at 12:23 pm // Reply

    This organization is doomed. There seems to be a concerted effort to remove anything of the old program and turn BSA into the factory of political correct, emasculated wimps. No water squirting. Teach pacifism. Gimme a break. This from an organization that has Master of Arms as one of its original “Badges of Merit” – as an organization we have crossed the Rubicon.

  67. A couple of years ago I started giving half of my Friends of Scouting Donation to our local pack. This year I think half will go to the pack and half will go to the troop and district and council can work to get that money back by fixing this policy.

    • Tom Linton // May 6, 2015 at 1:30 pm // Reply

      I see no concerted effort. Instead I see disconcerted effort coupled with lack of clarity of intent or purchase. Sometimes people are just not very good at what they are doing or trying to do.

      In the end, risk management cannot trump keeping the business running and name-calling adds little to analysis despite giving a feeling of satisfactions or moral superiority.

  68. John Scifres // May 6, 2015 at 1:05 pm // Reply

    I can’t wait until the general public gets ahold of this. It makes us look even more stupid in the public’s eye. If it is a safety issue let’s just outlaw fire building because it can be a risk and cause injuries. Oh that’s right..we need to outlaw knives also because they can cause injuries. Any activity we do in Scouting can involve risk. It is a manner of the environment and how it is conducted that makes it safe. Restricting water guns to target use only is a knee-jerk reaction to the ill-perceived negative perception of firearms in today’s society. I don’t think the parent who has a negative opinion on firearms would object to little Timmy’s participation in a water gun fight. I think I am tempted to mail a water gun to national in protest.

  69. But kids have a Game Design Merit Badge, and have video games where they shoot at each other all day light on Call of Duty, Black Ops, and Halo….

  70. A couple friends were just fired from their summer camp positions for violating the no shooting rule. Yes, it’s true that they didn’t have NRA training. Yes, is true there was no rangemaster present. Yes, they should have embraced pacifism and realized that a Scout is kind and that they should never have directed their shooting at each other, but I don’t think they realized just how far political correctness had gone in Scouting. I’m sure they would never have stopped and, on their own time, shot the breeze with each other if they’d realized that their unfortunate use of that word would get them fired.

    Seriously, though, I’m LDS. I run into similar problems with some well meaning but entirely clueless LDS people who think that a prohibition on liqueur means they can’t have anything with sugar liqueurs, when the scientific use of the term, namely a hydroxyl molecule bonding with a carbon module, is not what us meant when the church discourages the practice of “drinking” (nor is that meant to mean that downing a glass of water is to be discouraged either).

    We all teach children contradictory things all the time, and I’ll give one quick example. We teach children to be wary of strangers, then introduce the children to our friends, who are strangers to the children, and expect the children to be friendly. Part of growing up is learning which rules to follow at any particular moment, which seemingly contradictory ruleset should be applied at any particular moment. Those people who, like National, seek to enforce a blanket ban on all forms of shooting without stopping to think about whether the no shooting rule is appropriate for each situation, don’t seem to demonstrate that they’ve grown up and are fit to handle a complex discussion, let alone make rules for a national corporation.

  71. Scouterjim // May 6, 2015 at 1:19 pm // Reply

    To be blunt about this issue we are adult leaders in scouting and as that we are saddled with major tasks/responsibilities. Reading most of these commits some are spot on and others are lacking in that area. If this issue had not been pointed out by Bryan would you know????
    If you want to be a complainer you can do that but complete the above before you do so you know the facts Our Shooting Sport Manual was written and is revised by staff from the NRA and BSA. from time to time.
    So as adult leaders we need to run the 12 every day and read what is going on in the BSA as far as changes be them done or be them pending that is our responsibility to the youth in the BSA.
    They (the youth) not only need a TRAINED Leader but an INFORMED leader.
    So go be one today!!!!!
    In closing when was the last time you updated and printed and carried with your unit the Guide to Safe Scouting????

    • Well Jim, that’s the problem with little things like this. Here is this rule buried on page 99 of a shooting manual that most unit leaders will never read simply because they aren’t running a range, not because they don’t like training or are willfully ignorant.

      When that well meaning Scouter turns to page 61 in the GTSS, he isn’t going to find ANY THING there about water guns or super soakers. He’s going to see a blurb about not pointing “firearms or simulated firearms” and no reasonable Scouter is going to just intuit that it includes a dayglo green water gun from the dollar section of the toy store. Nobody. So, once again, we get part of the story in one publication and part in another AND NO SPECIFIC GUIDANCE AS TO WHY……..other than, yep, a blog post.

      So, your question is entirely valid “How would we know?”

      That is until some erstwhile commissioner remembers the blurb on a blog he saw and pops off in a unit visit that those playful young Wolves are breaking BSA policy with those water guns. He is going to get laughed off the property and National and councils all over the country are going to lose yet a little more credibility when it comes to “helping” units deliver the program.

      As a trainer, I despise discussion on these asinine rules in class because I have to stand and tell a bunch of intelligent, reasonable people that they stuff they let their kids do at home, the stuff their school system offers them opportunities to do on public property, the stuff dozens of organizations sell them the opportunity to do, can’t be done in a khaki shirt because it violates our “safety” standards or the Scout law.

      It is absurd, my friend.

    • Scouterjim,
      Sorry, the Shooting Sports Manual specifically applies to shooting sports. Based on the literature provided (G2SS and the NSSM), water guns would not be allowed to point at people as part of shooting sports. There is no requirement for leaders who are not participating in Shooting Sports to read or learn that manual, and the G2SS guideline is being stretched beyond recognition. Personally, I have yet to witness “water guns” being used as part of a shooting sport.
      I’m sorry, but only a portion of “squirt guns” bear any resemblance to firearms, so could not legitimately be suggested as simulating a firearm. Based on the comments from the G2SS, about the only legitimate application is to state that water squirters shaped like a gun are proscribed. Water weenies, cannons, super soakers, etc bear no resemblance to a firearm, making the suggestion that they simulate a firearm unreasonable. So I guess, as long as your water squirting device doesn’t look like a gun, you are completely in compliance with the G2SS, as well as the Law and Oath.
      Taking the guidelines to an extremely anal level applies both directions.

      • … and by its definition, the approved use of a squirt gun has been reduced to that of a shooting sport, so no, there is misinterpretation, hence the outrage. The problem here is that you are telling leaders to infer that there is a statute of limitations on the scope of “being prohibited” when factually the GTSS imposes no such mechanism. I disagree with prohibiting these, but as a leader thus informed, I must acknowledge in my conduct that prohibited means prohibited in every sense of the word unless, and only unless, it is expressly stated otherwise, which it is not!

  72. Gary Wilson // May 6, 2015 at 2:07 pm // Reply

    A lot of folks here seem to need a reminder of Scout History. This isn’t just modern legal CYA or politically correct thinking.

    When Scouting was first introduced in 1910, it’s main opposition came from folks who thought that putting kids in uniforms was tantamount to training them to later become soldiers, or as a history of BSA put it, “raising the red flag of militarism”.

    Thus BSA has always prohibited from the 1910’s things that might be construed as militaristic, such close order drill and shooting sports except at non-human type targets.

    This became even more so when the rival “American Boy Scouts” run by William Randolph Hearst DID include such things, and wound up collapsing after one of their kids killed another.

    So while no one is going to consider water pistols modern weapons, the policy simply includes anything that looks like a gun in the same light for simplicity’s sake. And it ensures mistakes like that which recently killed a child playing with a toy gun in Cleveland won’t happen at a BSA activity.

    • Things that might be construed as militaristic (because, they in fact, are): troops, patrols, ranks, uniforms, badges, salutes, oaths, pledges, and the list goes on and on and on.

      Scouting is paramilitary. It was born on the battlefield. Like it or not, that’s the history and the legacy. And, while NO ONE in this thread is advocating a return to close order drill or the Master-At-Arms badge (scratch that), banning water guns is just………..silly.

      BTW, the ABS incident occurred in 1912. The boy who committed the act, had in fact, broken several rules of the organization in the process of intentionally shooting another child. It was an intentional assault with a firearm. Although oft cited as the reason for the demise of ABS, the truth is they carried on until 1917 when BSA finally received a court injunction to prevent them from using the terms “Boy Scouting” in any of their literature. THIS is what ended the ABS.

      “killed playing with a toy gun” – Uh, well either it wasn’t actually a toy or toys have become far more powerful than I recall. Either way, streams of water don’t create future killers or encourage accidental shootings.

    • Tom Linton // May 6, 2015 at 4:36 pm // Reply

      Reply to Gary, wherever it appears.

      BSA briefly dropped shooting sports; quickly adopted them again; and has had them ever since.

      Drill was not and is not prohibited in Scouting. Some troops drilled at every meeting when I was a Scout. My troop when I was a kid was mildly heckled by scouts from other troops for not drilling. I had two SMs. One spent four years in the Army and one was a career Marine MGSgt. Neither was big on drill. Standing in lines quietly, especially during “Flag,” was about the extent of it. I did more drill in high school PE classes.

      But it’s a long jump from shooting sports and drill to being a paramilitary organization. In fact, my troop was founded in 1908 as Peace Scout Troop 43. Just normal boys of their time doing normal boy stuff when I was a member in the “Golden Age.”

    • Tom Linton // May 6, 2015 at 4:38 pm // Reply

      By Edward Reimer

      The “Manual of the Staff” has been simplified by the elimination of the positions of Port Staff, Right Shoulder Staff, Left Shoulder Staff and Secure Staff, and by reducing it to simpler positions and motives.

      First: FALL IN is executed with the staff at Order Staff. FALL OUT, REST, and AT EASE, are executed as without staves. On resuming attention, the position of order staff is taken.

      Second: Unless otherwise ordered, Scouts take the position of Trail Staff at the command MARCH.

      Third: The dress, side step and back step are executed at the position of Trail Staff without command, resuming Order on halting. The same holds good for taking interval or distance, open and close ranks.

      Fourth: The staff is brought to the Order on halting. The execution of Order Staff begins when the halt is completed.

      Fifth: A disengaged hand in double time is held as when without staves.

      The following general rules govern the execution of the Manual of the Staff:

      First: In all positions of the left hand at the balance, the thumb clasps the staff.

      Second: The cadence of the motions is that of quick time.

      Third: The Manual is taught at a halt and the movements are, for the purposes of instruction, divided into motions and taught in detail; in which case the command of execution determines the prompt execution of the first motion, and the commands two, three, four, that of the other motions.

      To execute the motions in detail, the instructor first cautions: By the numbers. All movements divided into motions are then executed as above explained until he cautions: Without the numbers, or commands movements other than those in the Manual of the Staff.

      Position of Order Staff, standing: Foot of staff resting on the ground against toe of right shoe, arms and hands hanging naturally, right hand holding the staff between the thumb and fingers, staff in hollow of right shoulder.

      Being at order staff: (1) Present, (2) STAFF. Carry the staff to the center of the body with the right hand, grasp it with the left hand at the balance, forearm horizontal and resting against the body, staff vertical. (2) Grasp the staff with the right hand below the left.

      Being at present staff: (1) Order, (2) STAFF. Carry and lower the staff to the right side with the right hand, steadying it with the left hand, fingers extended and joined. (2) Drop the left hand smartly by the side.

      Being at order staff: (1) Parade, (2) REST. Carry the right foot six inches straight to the rear, left knee slightly bent; carry the top of the staff in front of the center of the body, butt remaining in place; grasp the staff with the left hand in front of the buckle of the belt, with the right hand immediately below and against the left.

      Being at parade rest: (1) Patrol, (2) ATTENTION. Resume the order, the left hand quitting the staff opposite the right hip.

      Being at order staff: (1) Trail, (2) STAFF. Raise the staff slightly, right arm slightly bent, staff sloping forward to make an angle of about 36 degrees with the vertical. When it can be clone without inconvenience to others, the staff may be lowered until horizontal and carried at the balance.

      Being at trail staff: (1) Order, (2) STAFF. Lower the staff with the right hand and resume the order.

      Being at order staff: (1) Ground, (2) STAFF. Take one step to right oblique with the right foot, the staff at the trail, at the same time place staff on ground, perpendicular to the front, about 12 inches to the right of the right foot, left hand steadying the body by resting on the left knee. (2) Let go the staff and resume the position of attention.

      Being at the attention: (1) Take, (2) STAFF. Take one step to right oblique with the right foot, lean down and regrasp the staff at the balance, left hand steadying body by resting on knee. (2) Lift staff and take the position of order staff

    • Tom Linton // May 6, 2015 at 4:41 pm // Reply

      https://books.google.com/books?id=pEcqAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA276&lpg=PA276&dq=boy+scout+drill+commands&source=bl&ots=l5qL1_qE9n&sig=xIyW1ShK2KAI6vZGLX5oNOZbyyQ&hl=en&sa=X&ei=tolKVYrVCqrhsASZxICABg&ved=0CEwQ6AEwCg#v=onepage&q=boy%20scout%20drill%20commands&f=false

      Scoutmaster’s Handbook – material on drilling Scouts.

  73. Jeff Traviss // May 6, 2015 at 2:16 pm // Reply

    After reading all the comments here it becomes very clear that the vast majority of sane scouters agree that national has again gone too far in its quest for a completely sanitized program. I would urge ALL of you to make this appoint to your local scouting office or at the very least bring it up at your next roundtable. They need to be put on notice that we have had enough preaching to about solar car chargers and bans on water gun fights. They need blowback and the only way to do that is to confront their ridiculous decisions. A scout is Brave. DO IT!

  74. If we go back to the previous recent post about technology as apply the same logic. Squirt guns have been around since the 1800’s and they are not going to go away. Instead of banning a common activity of youth, shouldn’t we be teaching them how to have good clean fun.
    The is no evidence that squirt guns lead to mass murderers of any of the of paltry reasons offered.
    Part of life is understanding moderation and making logical choices. This rule is neither.

    Quite frankly, I am offended that BSA national thinks we are so dumb.

  75. DomiPink // May 6, 2015 at 4:06 pm // Reply

    On a hot day in Texas, squiring someone with is VERY KIND!!!! BSA looks so out of touch with reality here and I can’t imagine sane people to agree with the killing of so much fun!

  76. DomiPink // May 6, 2015 at 4:12 pm // Reply

    So, i guess you can’t use a tree or plant as a target either, right? They are living. (SO STUPID!!!)

  77. I cannot fathom the hubris of the individuals in this thread who on the one hand, adamantly support this prohibition based on “basic Scout law” morality, gun safety, and common sense. But, on the other hand, no one has posited why, after 100 years, BSA suddenly came to this conclusion when millions of other Americans clearly…….havent. Certainly, America is not so bereft of concern for children that this escaped everyone’s attention before now.

    Are the rest of us just that evil/ignorant that we can’t see the truth here? How is it that these high minded safety advocates did not have their epiphany until National issued the edict?

    BSA is suffering, deeply and perhaps catastrophically, because it is no longer a grass roots, locally driven organization. This is simply a symptom.

  78. Ask yourselves this question. Premise: You were never a Boy Scout and have no idea what scouting is about. You now read a headline that an outdoor organization for boys is no longer allowing those boys to play with water guns. Would your first instinct be to see how your first grader can join that organization? Or would you think it’s a joke? Our area has a great Laser Tag facility and as a troop, we have never been able to go there because of these silly rules. Hopefully, National may decide to amend this ruling but I wont hold my breath.

  79. Sam Harley // May 6, 2015 at 4:28 pm // Reply

    And membership keeps going down, down, down

    • Yesterday's Scout // May 6, 2015 at 5:19 pm // Reply

      Don’t worry. STEM Scouts, Learning for Life, and whatever else the boys from Texas come up with will be trotted out as “proof” that Scouting is alive and doing fine. In fact, traditional Scouting is being driven to its demise both from within and from the outside. In 10 years even more Scouts will all be sitting inside working (read: playing) on their electronic devices. You know. fires can burn you, insects and animals can bite you or sting you, some plants can give you itchy rashes, sleeping on rocky ground can give you a cramp, hiking can give you blisters, et alia ad absurdum et ad nauseum. Arthur Rose Eldred was BSA’s first Eagle Scout. I am starting to wonder if some of us will live to see the last.

  80. If pointing guns at other people is wrong, are we now prepared to revoke the Eagle Scout Award for anyone who becomes a police officer, security guard, body guard, or soldier? Those seem to be professions that BSA, as a patriotic organization, holds in high esteem. I have never and never plan to read the G2SS. I think it is a plan for the destruction of the Boy Scouts.

    • I have to say I do not want my sons in a troop where a leader brags about not reading the Guide to Safe Scouting. Yes, it goes overboard. Yes we live in a litigious society where people get sued (and lose) because they served coffee that was hot. I agree that there are times when we as adults make concessions on the overboard safety issues and turn a blind eye to small issues, but for the most part the Guide to Safe Scouting is for the protection of the boys from getting hurt, and of the adults and organizations involved from getting sued. Blame society, not the BSA! I want my kids to fall down and scrape their knee and learn how to get up and keep going; however I do not want them to lose an eye or break their neck, and since I can’t be there to judge each and every activity for safety, I need to rely on other leaders to do so, and if I as a parent know that they are going to at least attempt to follow the GTSS when I am not there I can let my kids take the risks I deem acceptable when I am around. I for one as a leader am not going to take many unnecessary risks with other people’s kids involved! I would hate to be the one who let something terrible happen on my watch.

      One last comment about the water guns issue… they never said you can’t use spray bottles etc; but in today’s society kids have gotten suspended from schools (ridiculous or not, it’s true) for taking a bite out of a slice of bread and pointing it like a gun; so why confuse them by letting them point a gun shaped water squirt-er?

      • There is a difference between leaders expressing their disagreement with the ruling of the BSA and their capacity to carry it out. In this forum and as a parent, I indicated my extreme disapproval with these restrictions. As a den leader it goes without saying I will begrudgingly enforce those ludicrous restrictions and watch my kids become increasingly disengaged as I predict they will. We are concerned responsible adults and perfectly capable of simultaneous criticism and conformity.

  81. Anyone have the specs for an official squirt gun range? I want to talk to council about setting one up at summer camp as a kind of adventure activity for the older guys. We’ll need to approach donors about sponsoring the range and equipment. I’m also interested in the safety training course syllabus and necessary certifications. Do we need ANSI Z87.1 safety glasses? And, I’m kind of embarrassed about this, but I’ve never actually seen a squirt gun target. So if someone has an officially-approved sample, I’d appreciate it. If this turns out to be popular, as I’m sure it will be, we might look into Action Squirt Gunning, where you go through a course out in the woods and shoot at 3D targets. But we may have to skip that if it turns out that we can only use single-shot squirt guns. Anyway, I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep tonight thinking about all the possibilities!!!! Merit badge, here we come!!!!

    Oh, hey, what are your thoughts on squirting gloves? Do they really help?

    • Best response of the thread!

    • That was fantastic. Maybe we can BSA-approved water to use too.

      • Soft water only.

  82. Tim Hand // May 6, 2015 at 9:01 pm // Reply

    I think its funny that everyone on this acts like its a new regulation. Th BSA starts boys out with firearm saftey young.
    Its a way to get boys to take firearms seriously. I worked in a boyscout camp for years the first yr i was on the rifle range, cubs used bb guns and it was still unnerving have a bunch of children with them even in a well structured learning enviroment. In the scouts a rifle,shotgun,slingshot,bow,water gun, exc… aren’t allowed to be called weapons they are a firearm. Nothing more than a tool, water gun fights contradict that lessonthats the purpose. If your not familiar enough with the program to understand this and have seen this yourself
    Then it is not the program that is the problem for the boys its
    you. The kids only do well and participate when the parents and leaders are involved and capable. I whole heartedly belive in the program because it taught me a gammet of things that puts me a head of the pack. The boys dont get negative until the leaders do ive seen it lots of times. Instead of wasting time squabbling over regulations with legitamate roots for the safety
    of the boys as they go through the stages of scouting get off the computer, or phone and go spend time with your kids and teach them something that is the true program. Im sure your kids have access to this page think about how many kids will
    quit after reading all your crying you should be ashamed of yourselves

    • Tom Linton // May 6, 2015 at 10:44 pm // Reply

      A reply to Tim Hand, wherever it ends up.

      First, I acknowledge that a good many Scouters seems to get satisfaction primarily out of questioning BSA — even seeming happy in a belief that BSA is out to destroy BSA.

      Still, Tim, can you conceive of a difference between “firearms” and a water pistol or water balloon? I am sure you can. In which case, do you want to reconsider trying to shame all fellow Scouters who are asserting their right in Scouting to seek to influence BSA policy?

      Can you see a difference between what we say to BSA and what we say to Scouts about BSA? I hope we all can.

      Some of the negative comments have been “over the top,” as have some comments urging support of the rules in question, but we don’t have to take the Devil as our model, do we? Can’t we discuss this like adults, however passionately, so we don;t have to be ashamed of ourselves?

    • The assumption here is that kids cannot distinguish between toy guns and real firearms. That’s nonsense. Kids of scouting age are perfectly capable of distinguishing between toys and real firearms, and are perfectly capable of learning different behaviors for each.

      Playing with toy cars and trucks (which kids almost always make crash) does not mean that when they eventually get behind the wheel of a car they will be more likely to crash it.

      Building a Lego building and then knocking it down in an earthquake or Godzilla attack does not mean that when they grow up they will become Tim McVeigh.

  83. Such good news, along with having 2 or 3 instructors at every rifle event. Soon, we will be able to phase any type of rifle or shooting activity out of scouts. Then we can take on archery with its pesky fun and canoeing and waterspouts with their track record of accidents. Can’t wait till we can finally phase out fires and camping because they are statistically the most damaging of scout activities. I will not be satisfied until there is no adventure left in scouting and our troop activities resemble board meetings. Only then will we have achieved true political correctness, safety and avoid law suits. Yay!!!

  84. http://m.paliadventures.com/electives/water-war-at-summer-camp/ is an amazing activity. Anyone who manages to say that water fights are immoral or contribute to an open acceptance of fighting in general and of all war is, in my frank opinion, and let me try to be diplomatic about this and simply say that they are talking about something that they don’t really understand. A water war or a water fight is fun. One important caveat is that you make a spectator area, so that people who don’t want to get wet won’t get wet. But banning all water fights as an immoral activity which teaches kids to embrace violence, is just, well it’s not only not correct, it’s so absurd that it’s not even wrong, in the same vein as 1+1=3 is wrong and 1+1=banana is not even wrong.

  85. Personally, I have never used a water gun. I have often used manually operated water squirting devices, such as super soakers, water weenies, etc. But never have actually seen a water “gun.” Let me remind you of the definition of a gun – “a weapon incorporating a metal tube from which bullets, shells, or other missiles are propelled by explosive force, typically making a characteristic loud, sharp noise.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a manually operated water squirt device that matches that definition. Operating a device as described by the definition “gun” could be quite dangerous. Operating a manually operated water squirting device is not.
    Nor do any of my manually operated water squirting devices simulate a firearm in any way. I have yet to ever see one that does. Now, I have seen some of these manual water squirting devices that are molded into the shape of a gun, but they in no way simulate a firearm any more than a pop tart nibbled into the shape of a pistol.
    By the way, the BSA National Shooting Sports Manual has no authority over water squirting devices. It covers specifically shooting sports. Squirting water has never been considered a shooting sport.
    If this doesn’t point out the utter absurdity of this, then we’re in serious trouble. This is such an extreme conflation of the Guide to Safe Scouting that it seems like it should have been an April 1 post.
    Maybe we shouldn’t use vaccination guns. And, you know, the water pressure spout on my hose kind of generally resembles a gun if you squint real hard. You know, when pointing, my hand starts to resemble a gun as well. As a matter of fact, there are a good number of tools that can be described as resembling a firearm. That’s because a firearm is designed to be held, and so has handles.
    Firearm safety is absolutely critical in our program. No ifs and or buts. But firearm safety begins with understanding what a firearm is, not hiding from everything that resembles a firearm. Just because we call them water guns, doesn’t make them gun simulators.

    • Yesterday's Scout // May 7, 2015 at 5:39 am // Reply

      Rick, this organization has been in serious trouble for a while. The millionaires and lawyers who run this organization live in a alternate reality than do the rest of us. That which was prohibited is celebrated, and that which was accepted is banned. Sometimes I wonder whether this is part of a deliberate strategy to completely change the character of the organization, but slowly, over time, or the result of a mindset wherein every day sees the creation of a new universe and nothing that happened yesterday is of any relevance; allowing the national staff to make it up as they go.

  86. While we’re discussing proscribed projectiles, we might need to remind Councils that Atlatls are spears. I’ve seen many official Council events for Varsity include Atlatls, which are on the unapproved list. For example, look at the Spring Rendezvous at Lincoln Trails Council:
    http://www.lincolntrailscouncil.org or Illowa Council’s Shooting Sports Field Day: http://www.illowabsa.org/Events/Boy%20Scout%20Activities/Field%20Day%20-%20Shooting%20Sports. Or the utah national Parks Council – http://blog.utahscouts.org/camping-2/wahoo/. Hawk Mountain Council, WD Boyce Council, are others that host spear throwing activities. Even Scouting magazine has written some positive articles on events where these proscribed activities take place:
    http://scoutingmagazine.org/issues/0610/a-mmen.html
    It’s a little ard to take admonitions against water guns seriously.

    • Axel Anderson // May 7, 2015 at 9:48 am // Reply

      If anything, the tomahawk- and knife-throwing contests you see at camporees and even Philmont need to go.

      • Why? Why would you make this blanket rule for the entire organization?

  87. Trail Life USA has a paintball tounament!!!

  88. You would think that when they picked the stock photo to go along with the article – a boy, Cub Scout age, without eye protection mind you, using a super soaker, WITH A HUGE SMILE ON HIS FACE – that they would say to themselves “maybe we should rethink our postion?” Yea, you might think that . . . but you’d be wrong.

  89. Den Leader // May 7, 2015 at 8:40 am // Reply

    And they wonder why boys leave. I hope National is reading all these comments.

  90. The tomahawk- and knife-throwing contests you see at camporees — and even at Philmont — are really what need to be ditched. These activities are a paradox: With Totin’ Chip we teach Scouts to be responsible with outdoor tools; then we let them hurl axes and sheath knives? Unbelievable!

    • A throwing ax is not a chopping ax and a throwing knife is not a sheath knife anymore than a ball peen hammer is a roofing hammer. Different tools are used differently, I really don’t see the problem with that.

    • These events are consistently some of the most popular. Scouts love them and when taught by a proficient instructor, they have quite a contest. And – it can EASILY be done safely and responsibly. I have no idea why anyone would want to take away tomahawks for everyone much less water guns.

      Don’t like it? Don’t throw one. Pretty simple.

  91. What’s “wrong” with Scouting today? It is not the banning of water guns. Come on, people! Shooting water guns at other Scouts is not (nor has it ever been) a core or essential part of the program.

    What is “wrong” is that this rather irrelevant program change (or rather, this program clarification) has sparked over 250+ comments here in less than 24 hours (with even more Facebook comments and shares).

    Meanwhile this story (http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2015/05/04/eagle-scout-organizes-relief-trip-to-area-destroyed-by-nepal-earthquake/) of Eagle Scouts providing relief to earthquake victims from earlier this week gained 4 comments and a fraction of the social media buzz.

    Rather than focusing and getting all excited and worked up over what Scouts can’t do… let’s all focus and get excited and worked up on what Scouts CAN do (and are doing and should be doing)!

    I didn’t join Scouting to shoot people with water guns (most people don’t). There are plenty of authorized activities that keep kids engaged and excited about Scouting. If your program relies so heavily on blasting kids with SuperSoakers that this policy cripples your program, well then you’re not really running the Scouting program. Let’s focus on what Scouts can do… and not what they can’t.

    • You’re right — it isn’t the banning of water guns. It is the fact that there are processes going on right now in our beloved organization that made it possible for the organization to reach a decision to ban water guns. That is what is so alarming. That is what we are worked up about.

    • Nahila Nakne // May 7, 2015 at 9:45 pm // Reply

      Walter,

      In my neck of the woods, using water guns and other soaking devices is a SAFETY issue as it prevents heat exhaustion/stroke. Heck we averaged 5 kids a day leaving early from day camp because of the heat, and we were keeping them soaked.

  92. Hello, Bryan –

    I hope you take a moment to read my comment… as a loyal Scouter I’m not commenting on the water gun policy, but I am offering my advice for your blog here.

    Firstly, I love your blog. It is a great resource for all Scouters! The work you do here is great – keeping us updated on current events, program changes, policies, Scouting history, best practices and even some entertainment and humor. I also understand that many times you are just the messenger passing along the “bad news” (or conversational news)

    However Baden-Powell (you know, the founder of Scouting) once said that “the boy is not governed by don’t, but is led by do.”

    Another great peal of wisdom from B-P states: “It is risky to order a boy not to do something; it immediately opens to him the adventure of doing it.”

    Now, again, I really appreciate your blog. Your posts help inform leaders of the policies and the best practices of the BSA. I appreciate the clear and direct answers to questions. However I noticed a lot of posts that simply focus on “don’t”s.

    Here are just a few from the past few months:
    >> No Water Guns – http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2015/05/06/water-guns-ok-for-target-shooting-not-for-firing-at-other-scouts/
    >> No Unit-Owned Credit Cards – http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2015/04/23/unit-owned-credit-cards/
    >> No Singing for Lost Items – http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2015/04/21/singing-for-a-lost-item/
    >> No Body Sliding – http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2015/04/09/body-sliding-safety-alert/
    >> No Texting Scouts – http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2015/04/06/no-one-one-contact-provision-applies-digital-contact/
    >> No Power Tools for Kids – http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2015/03/09/check-the-bsas-tool-use-policy-before-your-next-service-project/
    >> No Skipping Vaccines – http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2015/02/04/bsa-immunizations-whats-required-whats-recommended/
    >> No Old 15-passenger Vans – http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2015/02/13/no-more-pre-2005-15-passenger-vans/
    >> No Digitizing Health Forms – http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2015/01/23/say-no-to-digitizing-medical-records/
    >> No Merit Badge Worksheets – http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2015/01/13/merit-badge-worksheets/

    No, no, no!!! And those are just the ones from 2015… there are numerous posts from prior years.

    Sometimes we need to hear the “no”s and be told the rules, policies and guidelines in a clear and direct manner. Some are safety related (such as Guide to Safe Scouting and Youth Protection policies), some are legally related (such as fundraising or insurance rules), some are programatically related (such as advancement or uniform policies), and some are just common-sense “best practices” for working with youth.

    But I think it would be more beneficial to led us with more “do”s than with lots of “don’t”s.

    If we can’t shoot water guns at each other, why not do a blog post recommending 15 things that Scout can do to keep cool in the heat and have fun? Maybe some of those things will even be way more fun than the old water gun battles that the Scouts at Day Camp won’t even mind (or notice) that the water war or the Den Chief’s random SuperSoaker shootings have been replaced with other more-fun (and Scout-approved) alternatives.

    If we can’t use unit-owned credit cards, why not do a blog post on 10 ways units can help empower and engage financially struggling volunteers?

    If we can’t have 11-year-olds using wheelbarrows or extension ladders, why not post a list of 20 service projects that a first-year Scout can do?

    Can’t use your church’s 15-passenger van any more? Don’t worry! Here are 10 cost-effective ways to get your troop to your next campout destination!

    Don’t digitize your health forms… here are 5 great ways to organize, control and carry all these pesky forms!

    You may not be able to do a fundraiser working for “tips” but here are 12 amazing fundraising options.

    Who cares that you can’t play paintball? Here are 10 awesome and extreme games that your Scouts will love!

    Rather than give us lots of “thou shall not”s, why not give us more “have you tried this?” Every time you do a “don’t” post, you should do two or three related “do” posts to go along with it.

    The Scoutmaster, much like the boy, is not governed by don’t, but is led by do… plus we won’t grumble so much if you give us some practical and creative solutions or new ideas.

    Thanks again for all your work… blog on!

    • Bryan Wendell // May 7, 2015 at 1:14 pm // Reply

      Well said. Water guns have never been a core part of the program, so I could have (should have) included a few examples of fun, summer activities that are core to Scouting. Point taken.

      • Calvin Gray // May 7, 2015 at 2:10 pm // Reply

        Bryan, water guns have long been a fun activity for Scouts. There are many, many other summer activities which aren’t “core” to Scouting but help to attract and keep young people in our organization.

        I remember attending a Circle Ten Council camp near Athens TX where one of the most enjoyable aspects of the camp was the water guns the camp sold in the trading post. I remember Scouts spending all of their money on a super soaker and feeling the money was well spent. The second time we attended the camp, I called the Circle Ten Council to see if the trading post would again be selling water guns as I wanted our families to know that selling water guns seemed to be a summer camp tradition at the camp.

        I’ve been a Scouting leader (pack, troop, post or venturing crew) since 1978. This rule, which isn’t even in the Guide to Safe Scouting, is the most stupid guideline I’ve seen the BSA issue. I hope you will encourage the top leadership at National to read the comments as this rule, as once it is publicized in the non-Scouting world, is going to make the BSA look absolutely silly.

      • Nahila Nakne // May 7, 2015 at 10:06 pm // Reply

        Bryan,

        You do realize that not only do camps use water guns and other soaking devices for fun activities and to keep folks from getting heat exhaustion, BSA has used images of a water gun fights to recruit Cub Scouts.

        The challenge is that BSA is stating to have too many ridiculous rules, some that are affecting core part of the program, that people are just ignoring them.

        Biggest rule I saw ignored this past weekend was pioneering projects taller than 6 feet in height. Heck I even mentioned that Guide to Safe Scouting rule forbidding pioneering projects over 6 feet in height to someone, and they thought I was joking. They couldn’t believe it .

        • Tom Linton // May 8, 2015 at 12:05 am //

          My troop won the fire hose fight event at Summer Camp last year. The participant were equipped with helmets with face shields. The objective was to move a bucket suspended on a cable, but the best tactic was to spray the other team from time to time to disrupt their efforts.

          Squirt gun? Ha!

          The same event is a favorite at the annual Dorchester International brotherhood Camporee (May 8-10 this year)

      • Our pack has had a water gun fight every summer for years. Who are you to tell us that those good memories and fun times were unimportant?

    • This is the Blog Comment of the DECADE.

      Although BSA necessarily uses Bryan On Scouting to deliver Leader info (remember, Jim, BOS is not a message to “boys” but rather to Leaders), we all still respond better by being boys (and girls) at heart. As a hospitality manager, the over-riding training I give (and get) is that there is ALWAYS a way to say “yes” to deliver a “no” message.

      Q: Does the hotel have room service? A: Here are 10 menus you can choose from to provide food service to your door. (90% of hotels would just say “no”)

      PLEASE, Bryan, start focusing on the THOUSANDS of “Yes” options that take the place of the “no” item that you are the messenger for.

      Thanks, Jim!

  93. BSA is a lost cause. The powers that be listen to corporate dollars and ignore it’s own members. That’s why I left and encourage everyone I meet to join an alternative organization. The BSA I grew up in and earned my Eagle Scout badge is long gone. R.I.P BSA.

  94. Jeff Traviss // May 8, 2015 at 8:43 am // Reply

    This is the response I got from national after calling them . I was transferred to a lady somewhere in the world that tried to transcript my concerns. To my surprise I got a response back . Apparently all who participate in water gun fights are “Unkind” This is the kind of creeping PC pacifism that is destroying us. Boys are more aggressive by nature. So by BSA standards tackling another boy in a game of football is ” Unkind” .

    Mr. Travis:

    Thank you for your call and concerns about “no longer able to have fun in Scouting”. There is a passage in the blog that refers back to the Guide to Safe Scouting. Also the following:

    “Pointing any type of firearm or simulated firearm at any individual is unauthorized. Scout units may plan or participate in paintball, laser tag or similar events where participants shoot at targets that are neither living nor human representations.”

    Why the rule? A Scouter once told me this explanation I liked quite a bit: “A Scout is kind. What part of pointing a firearm [simulated or otherwise] at someone is kind?”

    The basic intent of this is to limit the activity – not remove the fun.

    Don Day, Member Care Contact Center

    ————————————————————————————
    Note: This E-mail is sent with reference to Incident #1522766
    Kindly mention Reference Number ‘ref#24-1522766’ for further E-mail communication in this regard.

    eff Travis’s

    11:31 AM (3 hours ago)

    to SDE

    Look at the responses on Bryan on scouting and tell me you are servicing the volunteers wishes as they want . National is out of control with control issues . Let us lead. We are not idiots that follow you blindly. You and national are out of touch . Are you listening ?

    Jeff Travis’s

    2:34 PM (0 minutes ago)

    to SDE

    In a second reading of your response I was dumbfounded for you equivocate a firearm with a water pistol . Next you guys will be calling Frisbees flying polystyrene circles of death. I and over 240 others commenters just on Bryan have tried to tell you that you have gone Too far . The answer to my question is apparently you are not listening . BP said ” the boy is not governed by don’t, but is led by do.” Do you really believe that BP would chastise boys over a simple water gun fight? If you are an honest scout you know you can’t say he would. I and thousands of others will choose to simply ignore a VERY stupid and fear mongering directive.

    • Gary_USMC // May 8, 2015 at 8:53 am // Reply

      Thanks for sending that Jeff….pretty worthless response IMHO. PC to the extreme.

    • Jeff,
      How about providing us all an email address to Mr Don Day so we can all email him and tell him what a terrible idea this is. Maybe a few hundred (or thousand) emails would change their minds

  95. Jeff Traviss // May 8, 2015 at 1:25 pm // Reply

    At the risk of being called unkind , here it is . SDE@netbsa.org One final thought using the BSA”S definition of not being kind . Tackling in football , what is kind about that? Striking a boy out at base , unkind? Playing tag unkind? There is no end to their overreach once they go down this idiotic road.

    • Thanks! I sent a message.

  96. I hope everyone sees this and sends an email to express your opinion. The correct office to vent to is SDE@netbsa.org . Let them know you think this rule is ridiculous

    • Just like they have listened in the past?

    • Yesterday's Scout // May 8, 2015 at 10:34 pm // Reply

      They will not care. They do not care.

  97. Let us back the worry wagon up. This is not what B.P. had in mind. Are you kidding me, we are worried that water guns are immoral. Obviously those in charge think we should have our scouts pass out pansies. But of course we have to put a disclaimer due to pollen, but to be safe they must wear safety goggles…. Come on, we need to stop this hooey. Let us get back to what scouting was and what it stood for, or stands for. And I wondered why scouting is at an all time low…..

  98. scoutboy // May 9, 2015 at 9:33 am // Reply

    just wondering (not taking sides) for those that are against this policy, how you you feel about laser tag or paintball? In other words, if BSA was to modify the regulations where should the line be drawn?

    • Calvin Gray // May 9, 2015 at 10:00 am // Reply

      The ban on laser tag is especially silly. Several years ago, for a period of a month or two, the BSA actually removed laser tag from the list of unauthorized activities. However, someone apparently brought this to the attention to one of the high-level bureaucrats and the activity was placed back on the unauthorized list (found in the Guide to Safe Scouting).

      In August of 2014, my wife and I traveled from our home in Texas to northern Virginia for our granddaughters 10th birthday. She decided to have her party at ShadowLand, a venue that offers laser adventures.

      While at ShadowLand on Saturday, I picked up a flyer advertising “Troop Nights” at ShadowLand, including…

      Boy Scouts Girl Scouts Cub Scouts Brownies

      “Turn a meeting night into a fun-filled event.”

      “OR have an awards ceremony ShadowLand by using one of our private events rooms.”

      “OR challenge another troop to a fun “inter-troop” competition.”

      “If your troop is planning an activity, look nor further than ShadowLand. Be your troop’s hero…”

      My granddaughter and her friends had a great time playing two games of laser tag. My guess is that one of her sisters will select this venue for a future birthday party too.

      Bottom line…the girls had a nice time. I wish we had a similar venue where I live as I’m certain our Boy Scouts would enjoy it too.

    • Mike Rossander // May 12, 2015 at 10:49 pm // Reply

      Paintball has the potential for real injury – penetrating bruises that hurt even a well-muscled adult. An age restriction for paintball is reasonable. (One could argue about whether the risk is qualitatively different than the risk of other allowed activities but there is at least a plausible safety-based rationale.)

      The arguments against laser tag and squirt guns are not based on safety. Those prohibitions are being based solely on a very strained interpretation of the Scout Law.

  99. Yes, these water guns are far too dangerous. Sir Baden-Powell would be laughing his a** off. We should stick to the old Baden-Powell games. Anyone for “Bang the Bear”? Using clubs fashioned out of rope, the entire troop gangs up on one boy, trying to hit him in the back. That boy, however, gets his own club and aims for the others heads (hats). Much safer than water guns!

    Bang the Bear (By Sir Robert Baden-Powell):
    One big boy is bear, and has three bases in which he can take refuge and be safe. He carries a small balloon on his back.

    The other boys are armed with clubs of straw rope twisted or knotted scarves, with which they try to burst his balloon while he is outside a base. The bear has a similar club, with which he knocks off the hunters’ hats.

    If a hunter’s hat is knocked off he is counted killed but the bear’s balloon has to be burst before he is killed so he will learn to turn his face to the enemy and not his back.

    • Tom Linton // May 10, 2015 at 1:05 pm // Reply

      Can we conceive of times changing?

      When I was a Scout, we player Buck-buck . tackle football, and Red Rover with a stretcher party standing by and regularly utilized. Broken arms were regarded as part of the program. My first Scout meeting, two of the patrol I was “visiting” had arms in casts. I broke a “little finger” the first patrol meeting. Think that makes sense? ‘

      And I still think the water gun and water balloon rules are a mistake.

      • Yesterday's Scout // May 10, 2015 at 5:25 pm // Reply

        Tom, someone once told me that times do not change, people change. Today the children are taught to be afraid, to stay inside, and to go running and crying to mommy for every little boo boo and whenever someone says something that isn’t “nice” it is a Federal incident. We as a society are reaping what we have sown.

        • Tom Linton // May 10, 2015 at 5:29 pm //

          And those overly-frightened parents decide if their children will be in Scouting and hire the lawyers who will eagerly sue you — and the CO and BSA — if someone gets hurt. Just becasue it’s unreasonable does not mean that it’s unreal. No logical person believes all change if good, but it nevertheless IS.

      • Jeff Traviss // May 11, 2015 at 5:06 pm // Reply

        I would wager that the majority of scouts would prefer to be in a scout troop like that than one that they were inside learning about sustainability.

    • Yesterday's Scout // May 10, 2015 at 5:20 pm // Reply

      Today National would say that BP was “unkind” and “not Scoutlike”!!!!!

  100. We intended to pledge $50 to FOS. However after reading this about the squirt guns, I am seriously considering writing a letter back instead of sending in my $50 stating that I am putting that money towards taking my son (in Webelos) to Appleseed. It appears what Appleseed tries to instill in its students is much more in line with what we need to be teaching kids instead of the idea that squirting each other with water guns is unkind.

  101. Squirting someone with a Super Soaker is NOT unkind. I’m hosting a water-gun fight at my next Scout meeting in the name of this article. – KL-Eagle Scout

  102. Steve Stockham // May 11, 2015 at 10:55 am // Reply

    I’m sorry but I have to disagree! This has virtually nothing to do with teaching scouts not to shoot other people except in some incredibly liberal whacked out PC “bubble wrapped” brain-dead over-the-top litigious crazed fantasy!!! I’m fast reaching the point where I am disgusted with some of these dictates from National!! We have gone SO far over the common sense middle of the pendulum all the way to whacko-land that it’s just stupifying!! It’s a WATER PISTOL!! Wait, would it be okay if the scouts all had rubber duckys that they could fill up and squeeze at each other? It’s not a simulated gun? Oh wait, that won’t work either because it’s a simulated animal and a scout is kind….

  103. Steve Stockham // May 11, 2015 at 11:17 am // Reply

    I’m sorry to disagree with you Walter but the overreach of these guidelines that has generated these responses IS the problem!! You don’t like that people are getting worked up over an “irrelevant program change?” Well, that’s your purvue. I also prefer to hear uplifting stories about scouts doing great things but that’s not the focus of this thread!!! Foolishly restrictive mandates and all of this PC cr*p is beginning to disgust a LOT of scouting volunteers! Hardly “irrelevant!”…

  104. My son is in the Scouts. We’re not going to be renewing after this year. This is ridiculous.

  105. This is dumb….really, really dumb. No wonder we are turning our boys into a bunch of wusses. This is nothing but a bunch of political correct bull crap. It’s water….get over yourselves.

  106. The water balloon rules appear to have be taken out of context. They’re in a section about their use as catapult or slingshot ammunition.

    • Phred Jones // May 19, 2015 at 4:32 pm // Reply

      No, Randy, we won’t have any context here. Gotta overreact and flail about.

    • I had noticed that, as well. However, it seems that it’s National that is abusing the context. The vehemence of the responses I’ve seen so far is in that regard.

  107. This is a prime example (among many others) for why I’ve lost faith in the BSA and will no longer give it my support. My boys are already being inundated with politically correct nonsense pushed by the popular culture. BSA should be standing against this kind of silliness, not joining in it.

  108. Easily one of the dumbest things I have ever heard. BSA needs to re-evaluate whether it exists to provide fun for the boys or PC headlines to reporters. Everyone involved in this should be ashamed of themselves.

  109. As an Eagle Scout, I can only say that this new rule and its justification are an embarassment. A Scout is brave no longer. Now a Scout is taught to be afraid of fun. Scouts was supposed to teach a boy how to be a man of character. Leadership has really lost its way, and that shows in such efeminate and silly rules like this.

  110. Smelly Scout // May 19, 2015 at 3:32 pm // Reply

    Simple solution. Our pack will ignore the rules and proceed as always. We are reasonable people who love scouting and it’s traditional heritage. Figure it out.

  111. tomdperkins // May 19, 2015 at 4:05 pm // Reply

    The people who promulgated and approved this rule may be functional, but are insane. It is not merely kind to point a firearm shaped water gun at someone and pull the trigger, it can be great fun.

    The BSA must fire these people or they will continue to see their relevance evaporate. You cannot be doing good Scouting while being confused about reality, as him implied endorsement of this nonsense leads me to believe Mr. Wendell must be.

    I suspect this rule will be cheerfully ignored.

  112. John Turner // May 19, 2015 at 4:18 pm // Reply

    When did the Boy Scouts turn into P.C. Wusses?

    Leave kids alone

    • Sadly, for many years now. Ever since they bowed to the liberal feminist to let girls in.

  113. Phred Jones // May 19, 2015 at 4:28 pm // Reply

    Boy, I sure am glad people are reacting so reasonably to this policy change!

    Opponents, you’re right: kids are quitting Scouting because they can no longer participate in that cutting edge, high tech activity – water guns! And, there’s clearly no other way to cool off at camp; forget swimming pools, lakes, rivers – nope, gotta have water guns or those poor kids will melt.

    Good God, people. Put this energy into recruiting more kids and families.

    • “Put this energy into recruiting more kids and families…”
      We’ll get right on that. I’m sure people will flick to join the BSA after we tell them that the dangerous water gun menace is now banned in Scouting. I’m sure that leading with that statement will be sure to increase new member counts, just like its increasing our retention rates!

  114. What part of Kind is taking away childhood fun? The BSA is continuing its slide into the liberal progressive gutter land. Lord Baden Powell is rolling in his grave as to your you and your ilk have done to this historic brotherhood.

    • Uh, I’m progressive and I would never ask for this. Just because you don’t like left leaning politics or this policy does not mean they are one and the same. This looks mean spirited and without merit to people of any political persuasion.

      • I’m not progressive, but thanks for this reminder.

  115. “Why the rule? A Scouter once told me this explanation I liked quite a bit: “A Scout is kind. What part of pointing a firearm [simulated or otherwise] at someone is kind?””

    I suggest that this person is not someone in the main stream of American or BSA mindset. I am guessing some northeastern liberal with their own perversion of morality.

    • Don’t pin this idiocy on liberals. I doubt you would find much support for this lunacy in their ranks either.

      • You would be wrong sir. I have been associated with Scouts for over 30 years now and have seen the slide over many years. Political Correctness is a tool solely used by the progressive left to attack religion and traditional American male values. BSA for the past 20 years has succumbed to this pressure as your groups like the ACLU constantly take us to court.

        Although, I do agree that not all liberals would agree with the BSA’s move here but I know more than not that would be in agreement. Progressives have work non stop over the years to emasculate the BSA and are winning.

  116. The Boy Scouts of America: Looking more and more everyday like the Girl Scouts. I don’t have sons; if I did, I wouldn’t let their names be associated with this increasingly gelded shell of an outfit.

    • You don’t need to resort to sexist remarks sir. Most would agree without you making them. In fact, I suspect girl scouts has no such restriction anyway.

  117. I’m an Eagle Scout (Class of ’90) and spent three years on staff at my Council’s camp. From time to time as I’ve gotten older I’ve considered becoming involved with BSA again as a Scoutmaster or Assistant Scoutmaster, or in some other role in order to give back to the organization that gave so much to me.

    However, it is the onslaught of ridiculous policies like this that stop me every time. Keep it up, BSA; you’re doing nothing but driving away more and more of us who traditionally would have supported the organization and the mission of Scouting both from a financial perspective and in the form of local volunteer leadership.

  118. As an Eagle Scout and former Adult scout leader, I have to say that the BSA has become a shadow of the once proud organization Robert Baden-Powell founded and William Boyce brought to the USA, one that I was proud to be part of for many years . It is a shame that the examples being set by the BSA’s current leadership are NOT the one I was inspired by nor that I desire my sons to emulate; I much prefer for them to learn to stand up to political correctness, to stand up for their beliefs whether popular or not, and to stand firm against a creeping spinelessness that currently infects this organization as it cowers in abject fear of criticism and litigation. My sons will not participate in Scouting during such an unfortunately politically correct period in BSA’s history. This is not my, or my father’s, or my grandfather’s scouting organization any longer.
    Boys must be allowed to be boys while on the pathway to growing into strong, independent adults, and that certainly can involve shooting water guns at each other for fun.

  119. What a joke of a policy. Our unit’s recent campout had 1) water guns, 2) water balloons, and 3) bottle rockets. All under adult supervision. No problems. Just fun. Keep the PC in the safe. Don’t do wrong by the boys. BSA is becoming just so much BS.

  120. victoryintruth // May 19, 2015 at 8:06 pm // Reply

    The founding fathers would be entirely disgusted with this. If I had a son, he would not be allowed to be part of this ridiculous organization.

  121. Tom Linton // May 19, 2015 at 8:06 pm // Reply

    The rule is unsupported by Scouting. Having said that, you, sir, are a bigot.

  122. Shooting a watergun at someone is “unkind”, and therefore against the Scout Oath?? We shot waterguns all the time at Camp Constatine, Camp Pioneer, and even found them for sale at most camps.

    I’ll tell you what’s “unkind” and against the Scout Oath, feminizing our young Scouts by sheltering them from the real world and not teaching them how to be strong and adventurous men. The BSA of today is not the organization I was a member of growing up, who taught mental, physical, and spiritual toughness. Instead you do not teach them about real life but try and shelter them from the real world that they are charged to protect and to serve.

    You know what other piece of character is in the Scout Oath? “A Scout is cheerful” and you are robbing these young men of their cheer, and therefore violating the Scout Oath that you have sworn to follow.

    Shame on you BSA.

  123. Alan Wright // May 19, 2015 at 10:00 pm // Reply

    As an Eagle Scout (1985) and Cubmaster I have to say that I’m done with the BSA. I started in Scouts in 1976 and I held every leadership position possible. This is just another example of the Politically Correct crap gone amuck. Skills I learned in scouting literally saved my life in Desert Storm and other times in my life and I am disgusted by the wimpy attitude so many in the BSA leadership have demonstrated over the last 4 years.

  124. My son was an Eagle Scout and now he is a grown man, He is kind, thoughful and all around good person. They were governed by Liberal BS. Quite caving to the left. Your base is going to drop support if you keep on this path. Scouts turn this boys in to good men and leaders, not weak minded Liberals. This makes me very sad to see them going downhil from the great organization it has been since 1910. They don’t leave things alone they just run it into the ground.

  125. Perhaps they should survey a few hundred thousand parents like the did with the gay admittance issue? People need to hammer national on this one….

    • Yesterday's Scout // May 19, 2015 at 10:55 pm // Reply

      My understanding is that they ignored the survey and voted pro-homosexual anyway. National does not listen. National will not listen.

  126. Vinnie Moscaritolo // May 19, 2015 at 10:29 pm // Reply

    I am greatly disappointed and embarrassed at what BSA has become. Please remove the people who drove this decision, maybe it’s time to start an alternative to BSA. You are teaching the boys to become passive in the face of danger. They will never grow up to be men that way..

    It’s sad indeed to see what the BSA has become.

  127. As an Eagle Scout and former Adult scout leader, I have to say that the BSA has become a shadow of the once proud organization Robert Baden-Powell founded and William Boyce brought to the USA, one that I was proud to be part of for many years. It is a shame that the examples being set by the BSA’s current leadership are NOT the ones I was inspired by nor ones that I desire my sons to emulate; I much prefer for them to learn to stand up to political correctness, to stand up for their beliefs whether popular or not, and to stand firm against a creeping spinelessness that currently infects this organization as it cowers in abject fear of criticism and litigation. My sons will not participate in Scouting during such an unfortunately politically correct period in the BSA’s history. This is not my, my father’s, nor my grandfather’s scouting organization any longer. Even the once highly-regarded BSA Fieldbook has become an unrecognizable shadow of its former self.

    Boys must be allowed to be boys during the exceptionally short period that they can while on the pathway to growing into strong, independent adults. That period certainly can involve shooting water guns at each other for fun. Though forced to grow up much faster than previous generations, AS ADULTS WE MUST NOT ALLOW societal and adult pressures to strip today’s youth of the fun and excitement of boyhood as so many of us experienced it any faster than is absolutely necessary

  128. You asked: “What part of pointing a firearm [simulated or otherwise] at someone is kind?”. When it is hot outside, and I would like to be cooled off, pointing a water gun at me and shooting me with water is very kind. Thanks for the refreshing cool down.

  129. This ban serves only one purpose, eliminate harmless fun. There is no significant danger in the use of water balloons or squirt guns, even if they are super soakers, especially when conducted under the supervision of responsible adults. By their logic, BSA should also ban running; all sports with balls that could hit someone like volleyball, basketball, or soccer; any competitive activity that may reward the efforts of some more than others, like pinewood derby, especially if they are team oriented, such as capture the flag, which could resemble combat or cause those participating to lose in any way; or any other physical activity that has the potential for someone to accidently get hurt. Eventually no one will ever ask their parents to let them join and with no members BSA will finally have no liabilities to be concerned of.

    • Thanks, and amen.

    • Tom Linton // May 20, 2015 at 11:43 am // Reply

      Good points.

      And I second your comments about gratuitous name-calling.

      And what of Dodge-ball? The goal is to hit another player. Hit! A publicized Eagle project was to build an enclosure for a type of Dodge-ball that was being constantly played at the merit badge mill we attended last Summer.

      So we have zero tolerance rules that are not only substantively dubious and unsupported by the Scouting community but zero tolerance rules that are inconsistent with other, allowed activities

      History teaches us that decreeing rules that do not have the support of the relevant community creates disrespect for rules in general and for the rule-maker.

      BSA, you need Scouters. Consider ways to earn their support and trust rather than adopting an increasingly directive style of attempted leadership.

  130. Yesterday's Scout // May 19, 2015 at 10:50 pm // Reply

    Guess what? This little rule change just made the Drudge Report! And you should see the comments on the linked page. Well done, National!

  131. I am getting concerned that 1) “You people” in Texas don’t spend enough time in the field, with the boys and Troops camping with them, and 2) You forget that we are out to have fun too.

  132. Scouter Sully // May 20, 2015 at 4:59 am // Reply

    Now it’s on Fox News. We’re a laughing stock.

    • Gary_USMC // May 20, 2015 at 8:59 am // Reply

      Yep it is on several other news outlets as well on conservative and liberal and we are a joke on both of them. We REALLY need something like this now.

  133. Doug Schumick // May 20, 2015 at 6:05 am // Reply

    What’s “kind” about throwing a ball at someone in dodge ball? What’s kind about “blocking” someone in football? What’s kind about throwing a hardball high and inside in baseball? It’s called life. Get one. I begged the Bishop to drop the BSA as they slide ever farther down the PC rat hole.

  134. I have read a lot of “I am done with scouting” comments. What you are teaching your kids is to not take a stand when things don’t go your way. Tuck your tail and quit! That is the lesson being taught.

    As a BSA Leader, we need to teach our kids to fight back and work to change rather than quit.

    Believe me, I am a madder than a wet hen and last night I wrote a letter to national and are posting this rule all over the place asking people to step up. That is the lesson that needs to be taught. The BSA belongs to all of us leaders, parents and scouts and we need to take the lead in this.

    The BSA is going through a lot of changes with the curriculum. This may come as a shock, but they aren’t going to get everything right and they needed to be told in a very firm way that decisions like this are wrong.

  135. I was waiting for “the other shoe to drop” before pulling my son out of scouting. It dropped, and we’re out.

    • Because he can’t shoot a water gun at someone during a scouting activity? Really? Be real

      • No, because it has become evident that the people writing the rules have lost touch with reality and the bare bones program being offered in most units is not enough incentive to stay in spite of that.

        • Your experience of Scouting is as good as the local units. One can quit or one can pitch in and help improve the program.

        • Bill, I am tempted to tell you how many hats I am wearing for the specific purpose of improving the unit experience (in units other than my own).

          However, you and I both know that one of the primary reasons our program is suffering is lack of passionate, well trained leaders that have a vision of a great program.

          Things like this simply run those folks off.

          If I was wrong, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  136. Been a registered scout for 69 years starting at Cub 8 years old. This just adds to the reason why Trail Life and American Heritage Girls are gaining ground. The day will come and probably soon where we will need men to defend our country on our own turf. Sadly they won’t be men trained by Boy Scouts.

  137. Alan Wright // May 20, 2015 at 9:32 am // Reply

    I cannot even begin to express my sadness at this discussion. I’ve been involved in scouting in some way or another for more than 35 years and I’ve been dismayed many times before at the direction in which the organization has been going for some time. But it’s the silly rules and lack of common sense that irritate me most. While the whole water-gun, super soaker debate is silly at best, it is indicative of the weak and conciliatory nature of leadership from BSA National.

    I fear that the usefulness of scouts may be waning.

  138. I have no intention of complying with this ridiculous mandate. I want to raise boys with character, not mind-killed little bureaucratic units.

    I will probably write a letter to my council letting them know. If they cut me off as an adult volunteer, so be it. This is rapidly becoming not real Boy Scouts anyway.

    • This is not an enforceable rule. There is noway you are going to get a bunch of boys together with water guns/cannons to merely shoot at targets. They will turn on each other and have a water-war because that is what boys do….

      Funny that we can teach 3rd Graders how to use a real pocket knife and allow them to carry via the “Whittling Chip” course but cannot shoot water guns at each other…

      I anticipate this rule will be corrected.

  139. “A Scout is kind. What part of pointing a firearm [simulated or otherwise] at someone is kind?” <= The person who said this is "not kind." It is "not kind" to keep boys cooped up in a class room all week and them subjugate them to this nonsense. It is "not kind" to force our boys into the servitude of non-scout friendly policies. It is "not kind" to emasculate our boys. It is "not kind" for our scouting organization to be led by the thoughtless.

  140. Growing up in the 1960’s, everyone had guns and parents often shot their pistols in the back yard during the summer (suburbs, not inner city). We all held them, loaded them, watched them be shot and sometimes shot them ourselves. We were surrounded by them and guns were just something else around the house.

    But then came the gun police, and they started taking them away and made it difficult-to-impossible to own and use. This generation hardly ever saw them, never used them, and now they are something to be afraid of. And if a kid finds one, bad things can happen because they aren’t trained.

    What the liberals have done has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. They thought guns were bad and could kill innocent people so they pretty much banned them. By doing that kids don’t understand them and when they find one they misuse it and sadly, innocent people can be hurt.

    Now kids aren’t supposed to pretend to use guns. I’m nearing 60 and won’t be around when the country collapses, for which I am eternally grateful.

  141. My troop’s has been around since 1932. The only thing that kept it going was the leadership qualities of the boys and adults involved. We had zero support from Council and National was non-existant. Heck, Council even relocated another troop into a church on the next corner of the block that our church was on. We learned early on that National was out of their minds for the most part, but we needed it for the boys to make Eagle. I’ve never seen a watergun related injury. I’ve never HEARD of a water gun related injury. I have never heard of a human being that could confuse a squirtgun with a weapon. In my troop, ALL injuries occurred doing National sanctioned activities, to the point where we refused to go skiing. This is incomprehensible and stupid, and I’m a pretty Liberal Democrat.

    National is an embarrassment.

  142. I just completed Wood Badge. Ironically, one class was on the history of scouting where they discussed the decline in scouting during the 70’s when the emphasis was shifted from outdoor activities to indoor/urban pursuits. Boys stopped joining Scouts because it wasn’t fun. At the same time, the troop guides discussed the current decline in scouting enrollment. With respect to National, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

  143. This is one of the dumbest rules I’ve ever heard! Nuts!

  144. Thunderbird // May 20, 2015 at 12:14 pm // Reply

    Everyone please calm down . . . if you want National to use common sense, please do so yourself.

    I am just glad our troop was late in finalizing our summer camp tee-shirt design. Thinking now we will go with a back design that has concentric circles . . .

    See . . . problem solved!

  145. Can you get around the ban by getting a permission slip from parents allowing the use of water ballons or squirt guns on specific outings or activities? Seems that is the least they can do – although repealing the ban would make most sense.

  146. The cub scout program just changed to add more activity and adventures and then they ban water guns and water balloons right before summer – time to repeal!! Maybe we can get a petition to circulate online.

  147. Chris the Commissioner // May 20, 2015 at 12:49 pm // Reply

    I wonder if the people who came up with this policy have ever met a 10 year-old boy. Everything — EVERYTHING — he touches becomes a gun. Pick up a stick? It’s a gun. Brooms? Guns. Oddly shaped leaf? Gun. Cell phone (don’t get sidetracked on the “electronics at camp” discussion)? Gun.

    I have yet to see a camp staffer tell a scout to put a stick down because he’s pretending it’s a gun.

    Having said all of that, this doesn’t have to make sense, it’s just the policy. If you don’t like the policy, apply the Scout Law: “A Scout is obedient. A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he seeks to have them changed in an orderly way.” Notice it doesn’t say he blatantly ignores them. Set the example for your scouts by obeying the policy and seeking to have it changed in an orderly way.

    • Tom Linton // May 20, 2015 at 1:12 pm // Reply

      I respectfully suggest that “Obedient” must be understood in light of the fact that BSA holds Dr. King up as an icon, and Dr. King won the Nobel Prize for Peace for leading a massive campaign of civil disobedience. That’s DISobedience of “the laws of his community and country.”

      I had relatives who worked the “Underground Railroad” in clear violation of the Fugitive Slave Act. Does BSA have a problem with that? Doubt it.

      Moreover, BSA’s rules are not “the laws of his community and country.”

  148. Tom Linton // May 20, 2015 at 12:57 pm // Reply

    There was this guy, Baden-Powell, and he had some ideas on zero-tolerance and squirt gun.

    .“Fun, fighting, and feeding! These are the three indispensable elements of the boy’s world.”

    “It is risky to order a boy not to do something; it immediately opens to him the adventure of doing it.”

    “An invaluable step in character training is to put responsibility on the individual.”

    “The boy is not governed by don’t, but is led by do.”
    “The Scout Oath and Law are our binding disciplinary force.”

    “Correcting bad habits cannot be done by forbidding or punishment.”

    “An individual step in character training is to put responsibility on the individual.”

    “Trust should be the basis for all our moral training.”

    He also took a dim view of disputation by name-calling. “Yelling” does not make your argument more convincing.

  149. I see the merger with the Girls Scouts is almost complete.

  150. Boy Scout has gone off the deep end again! The only way my nephew is boy scout is because my brother is an assist scout leader only to keep his foot in on what they all do.Same with my daughter law she is troop leader in girl scouts for my grand- daughter to also be in control what they learn and what the girls do.She also is an assistant for grandson in boy scouts. Political corrective has gone too far when it has to involve our kids now. That is what is wrong in the world and it’s BS !

  151. Anyone know where comments on this new guideline should be sent? Perhaps it would be more useful if those of us who have strong beliefs on this subject were to direct them where it can make a difference – the staff in Irvine, our Council Executive, Area Commissioners, National Board members? All of the above? Others?

  152. carbon dioxide // May 20, 2015 at 2:06 pm // Reply

    This is just as bad as the no dodgeball rule that some schools have. I personally have never liked scouting much but my son is in scouting and he likes it. He has my permission to take a water gun to a scout outing if he wants. You better believe I will bring on if for no other reason than because this stupid rule exists. Yes a scout is kind but a scout should not also be raised to be a coward or a sissy. Enough political correctness!!!

  153. I’ve noticed that here, the defenders of this policy tend to personally attack those who think the policy is dumb/bad/inane/etc. Those who dislike the policy only attack the policy.

    It’s a common tactic,when you can’t defend your position, to personally attack the opponent, but I thought Scouters were above this ploy. Apparently not. Attacking a poster for mentioning he has deep and long Scouting experience is not helpful, friendly, courteous, or kind.

    Most of the posters here hold the view that this policy is a bad policy. I think pretty much all rational adults would agree with that view. National should regain some credibility with the volunteer community by manning up, admit that equating a water gun with a shotgun makes no sense, change the policy so it does make sense to reasonable adults, and then let’s move one.

    Everyone would come out ahead, except for those prone to panic at the slightest opportunity.

    • Tom Linton // May 20, 2015 at 2:52 pm // Reply

      In fact, there have been a good many personal attacks by those who dislike this unfortunate policy.

  154. David Welling // May 20, 2015 at 2:33 pm // Reply

    My son and I made Eagle Scout at 14, just 20 years apart. This is rule is the most ridiculous left-wing hippie policy in years and we will encourage those with a problem to confront the local and national leadership. Clearly this was the “brain-child” of a Carpet Bagger that made his/her way to Irving, Texas and implemented their leftist policies on scouts. What’s next? A scouting ban of MOH, Call of Duty or other FPS video games?

  155. Boy Scouts is an organization that has become a hollow shell of what it once was. I was a boy scout once. We shot real guns and made primitive weapons of every sort one could imagine. And yes, we shot each other with water guns and hurled water balloons at each other from time to time.

    We all know it isn’t the water gun rule, in of itself, that disappoints so many, but the overall agenda to emasculate boys and young men to further a social and political vision.

    My son will never know that organization as it was, nor will I allow his mind and spirit to be irreparably damaged by the current one.

  156. I was a former scout. You guys have lost your way. Will not be enrolling children into boy scouts, but into an organization that actually teaches real firearms safety, not fake “overreaction” safety theater. The purpose of water fights is clear…to have fun squirting cold water on your friends during a hot summer day. Squirting water at a target is literally the least fun thing I can think to do with a water gun.

    If you guys can’t even see that, then you’ve lost a crucial part to even understanding what it is to be boy…or even human for that matter.

  157. I am an Assistant Scoutmaster. The BSA should lighten up on these rules and allow Laser Tag, Water Guns, and any size water balloons. Those are safe activities that allow boys to be boys and PLAY and Have FUN!

  158. Please direct your comments to program.content@scouting.org .