You check the weather forecast a day before the troop’s campout this weekend: A 60 percent chance of thunderstorms with possible wind gusts of 30 mph. Should the campout be postponed until a weekend with more fair weather?
It can be a tough call, and there are many factors to consider — what is the terrain where the campout will be? Will you be camping in a place susceptible to flash flooding or lightning strikes? What activities are planned? Would bad weather make those activities dangerous to do? What are the typical weather patterns for the area and that time of year? Are there permanent shelters available near the campsite? What are the capabilities and experiences of your unit?
Robert Baden-Powell wrote “every Scout ought to be able to read signs of the weather” in the 1908 manual Scouting for Boys.
Reading the signs of weather is important. According to “The Sweet 16 of BSA Safety” in the Guide to Safe Scouting:
The risks of many outdoor activities vary substantially with weather conditions. Potential weather hazards and the appropriate responses should be understood and anticipated. Weather hazards training should be up to date for at least one leader on the outing.
You can find the BSA’s free online Hazardous Weather Training, available through the BSA Learn Center at my.scouting.org. The course teaches the essentials and should be renewed every two years.
You can also find severe weather safety tips at the BSA’s weather-related safety moments page and safety alerts page.
Before the storm
When have you canceled an event because of weather? What conditions give you pause when looking at the forecast?
Safety and common sense should dictate whether or not you cancel or postpone an event. Check the forecast right before the event, and because there’s a little precipitation expected doesn’t mean you have to hit the brakes on everything. Here are some tips for camping in wet weather:
- Start a fire in the rain
- Choose rain gear to stay dry
- How to disaster-proof your campsite
- Tips for reading the clouds
If you want to test your severe weather knowledge, you can take our Scouting Safety Quiz and be entered to win a $100 Scout Shop gift card.