Bryan on Scouting

Buddy check! The importance of getting a friend wherever you go

In a crowded pool full of raucous boys splashing and swimming, the justification for frequent buddy checks appears self-evident.

But do Scouts really need to get a friend for a quick trip to the latrine or when they meet with a merit badge counselor?

Simply put, yes.

Scouting’s buddy system calls for Scouts to pair up with a friend or two for all activities. This helps ensure safety and accountability, and teaches Scouts to have responsibility for others.

The basics

Looking out for one another anywhere and everywhere is the keystone to the buddy system. Just because you’re in a populous place doesn’t mean you can’t get overlooked by those around you. Watch a few videos on this YouTube page of rescues at a South Carolina wave pool, and you’ll soon notice that many times the lifeguards — and not the swimmers just a few feet away — are the first ones to realize something is wrong.

Buddies are there to watch you when others may not. They stay nearby to monitor you, alerting a safety team if help is needed.

Adults are not exempt from any these safety measures. Scouters should have buddies during all Scouting activities, too.

Buddy system guidelines: 

On the water:

On the trail:

At meetings:

What about girls?

When girls join Cub and Boy Scouting programs, the Venturing program has a practice the other programs will follow. Buddies should be the same gender, or in groups of three in mixed company. No boy-girl buddy pairs.