Your unit might have big plans this year, but it’s important to remember what shouldn’t be on your schedule.
Throwing boomerangs? Tree climbing? Cliff-diving? You can find a list of many prohibited activities here in the BSA’s Guide to Safe Scouting.
The guide, introduced in 1991, isn’t meant to take the fun out of Scouting. It’s designed to keep everyone safe.
But what if you don’t know if an activity is allowed or not if it’s not mentioned in the guide?
A good rule is this: Is the activity in a handbook or other current literature of the Boy Scouts of America? If so, it’s approved. There are many fun, educational and character-building activities within the program. If something doesn’t sound very exciting, like practicing knot-tying, then there are ways to make them fun — without building a pumpkin-chunking trebuchet.
Refer to leader guidebooks, available at the Scout Shop, or this leader resource site for games, meeting agendas and more. Check out the “hobbies and projects” tab at Scout Life‘s website for more fun activities.
Now, there are some activities that used to be fairly commonplace that aren’t appropriate anymore — chunking pumpkins, for example. That’s why it’s important to check the Guide to Safe Scouting for updates. Someone saying, “But we’ve always done it,” is not reason enough to do the activity.
Other questions to ask yourself before an activity in question: Does this activity support the values of the Boy Scouts of America? Is it age-appropriate?
You can find guidelines for these questions in this BSA Safety Moment. The Safety Moments page is a good resource for specific activities — from model rocket safety to using generators — to help direct you toward making safe decisions.
There are exceptions, like crossbow-shooting and ATV riding, which aren’t allowed as unit activities, but are allowed at certain council camps and high-adventure bases where qualified and trained people are in place who review the activity and analyze hazards. For more answers for questions about specific activities and possible exceptions, click here. And for more help in planning activities and assessing risks, click here.