Re: Camping without adult supervision
James A. Sheckels (JASHECKELS@AOL.COM)
Fri, 15 Dec 1995 03:21:08 -0500
Some thoughts on recent posts about adult leadership and patrol camping. The
learning that took place during that Scoutmastership fundamentals was either
misunderstood, not explained well, ar was flat wrong.
The Safe Guide to Scouting (#10-212), as well as the Health and Safety Guide
(#34409) and Tours and Expeditions Guide#33735) all provide some reference on
this subject, all of which must be considered in total context.
Statements are made as to adult supervision requirements for trips and
outings, and overnight events. Each of these require two adults minimum, one
who must be over 21years old. This can be two registered leaders, a leader
and a parent, or in some cases, possibly two parents. The Scoutmaster
Handbook is clear when it states (on page 39) that any patrol activity must
be approved by the Scoutmaster, and he may ask a Scout's parent and another
leader to accompany the patrol on an outdoor experience.
In the Safe Guide to Scouting (page 4) & Health & Safety Guide (page 2) the
statement that adult leadership is required for all trips and outings except
for a few instances, such as patrol activities where no adult leadership is
required, is where the confusion comes in. I would point out here that
reference is made to patrol "activities" which goes beyond just outdoor
activites and camping. Elsewhere it is clearly stated that two deep adult
leadership is required on ALL overnight activities, which would exclude even
a patrol overnight from the "no adult leadership exception". Absolute adult
leaedrship is also required for any activity invovling aquatics, as specified
in the Safety Afloat and Safe Swim Defense guidelines (explained in both of
The Tours and Expeditions Guide restates what the Safe Guide and Health and
Safety Guide state, and amplifies the requirement for adult leadership on
overnight and backcountry activities. (pages 2 and 8)
The guides state that the Troop, team, pack or post is responsible to ensure
that sufficient adult leadership is provided. So, the Scoutmaster must then
weigh the patrol activity along with the ability of the patrol members to
police themselves, before he approves an activity with no adult supervision.
I have always interpreted the guidance provided to mean that a patrol
activity which could occur without adult leadership would (1) not involve an
overnight (2) not occur in a "backwoods" environment (3) not require
transportation in which Scouts are driving (4) not involve aquatics events
(5) not involve any other activity where safety required an adult presence -
a judegement call by the Scoutmaster. And remember, without parental
support, you are just spinning your wheels. Explain to them the benefit of
an adultless activity to garner their support.
Having gone through that (fairly painlessly I hope), what are appropriate
activities for an adultless patrol? Consider in town hikes, short hikes in a
park (maybe transpoted by adults and dropped off/picked up) that is not
really "backcountry", visits to historic places, libraries, patrol meetings
and a Scout's home, patrol activity at civic support facilities (police
station, fire station, city hall, council meeting, a local business, etc).
Any activity that is "close in" where the Scouts can quickly get help if a
problem did come up, and is within the Scout's ability to handle. No adverse
reaction (publicity) is expected.
And I've said it here before - push those common sense rules through the
grinder: Is it safe? Is it legal? Is it ethical? Is it moral? 99% of the
time, if you get a yeas to all four, you will be OK. In this case, throw in
does it make sense to the aims of Scouting - need a yes for a GO!
Bottom line - the Scoutmaster and the Chartered Organization/Committe are
responsible to ensure adequate adult supervision is maintained. You know
your Scouts, only you can decide what is best. Scouting ain't an exact
science, never was, never will be, never meant to be.
This has been a long one, so I'm goin to clamp it and get some coffee! ;-)
YIS Jim Sheckels I used to be a Bobwhite....
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City