A safety related incident in 2018 prompted the Oregon Trail Council to reemphasize their efforts to communicate the BSA’s safety rules to its adult volunteers.
One of the results of that initiative is their Scout S.A.F.E. Video, in which the council’s Scout Executive, commissioner, vice president of district operations, and two youth members of the BSA walk viewers through the BSA’s S.A.F.E. Scouting checklist and other elements of safe Scouting.
“We decided our goal was to make sure all our leaders were educated on those elements of Scouting,” says Scout Executive Scott Impecoven. “We felt the need to get word out sooner to our leaders, rather than waiting until they took leader specific training.”
The 8-minute video is brief and direct, and does a great job of emphasizing the importance of following the BSA’s safety rules — and the possible consequences if you don’t — without coming across as overly somber or preachy.
It’s well worth taking the time to watch it.
Parents trust Scout leaders to conduct safe programs
If none of the material covered in this video is news to you, that’s great. That means you’re doing it right.
If some of it is new to you, that’s OK. No time like the present to learn.
“We understand the trust that parents have placed in us when they made the decision to allow their children to participate in Scouting,” council commissioner Claudette McWilliams says in the video. “And we continuously strive to earn and maintain that trust.”
The video is the brainchild of Phil Ermer, a member of the council’s enterprise risk management committee.
“One of the goals of the video is to establish a standard process of safety planning for Scout activities so it is clear what everyone’s roles and responsibilities are,” Ermer says.
Assessing risk during planning
Ermer breaks down his process into six steps.
- Who is the leader on this trip? How are they qualified to lead this activity?
- Who are the assistant leaders — the eyes and ears watching the youth?
- The leader studies the challenges and hazards of where the Scouts are going, cross checking everything with the BSA’s Scouting Safely resources. One example of the kind of thing you could learn: If you’re planning a hike at a state park, and the park’s website notes that some sections of the trail require hikers to use their hands to go up a hill, you are no longer hiking, you are now climbing, and the BSA’s climbing rules now apply (you’ll note that they’re quite different from hiking rules and require leaders with more advanced training).
- The leader refers to the BSA guidelines: S.A.F.E., Guide to Safe Scouting and weather safety training for how to mitigate any hazards.
- Communicate to other adults: They must understand the rules and their role of being the eyes and ears for safety on the trip.
- Communicate to youth: In pre-trip planning and via Safety Moments, don’t be concerned about some repetition. Set clear and firm expectations to youth. They must understand and abide by safety rules to be part of the trip.