"On Our Own"
(no name) ((no email))
Sun, 28 Jul 1996 23:17:21 -0500
Paul Brown asked a great question that has been asked of me in
the past couple of weeks in regard to the "convoy" thing, and in
general about other BSA policies:
Someone else asked this exact question:
"So, what if we go ahead and convoy down....our Troop's been
doing this for years to (our Council's summer camp) and has never
had an accident, nobody got lost, and we know all of the adults traveling
to the camp. So what's the big deal if we go as a group or stagger it out
every other half-hour to get there??"
And Paul asked:
"This is my major question. Under what circumstances are we "on our own"as
far as liability insurance? Failing to file a tour permit? Swimming
at a public pool without regard to each of the 8 steps of the safe swim
defense? using charcoal lighter fluid to start a fire?"
The answer to both is "anytime you are conducting a BSA event or
activity, the spirit of the BSA's and your local Council's policies should be
followed as closely as possible". This means that if you have are having
an overnight camping event, even in the backyard of the chartered partner
organization's facility, you need to file that tour permit. This means that
if you are holding a swim party, you need to follow the 8 steps of the Safe
Swim Defense Plan. If you are at a facility that does not allow open fires,
you and your Scouts need to learn how to start a charcoal fire *without
"fire juice" * (and it CAN be done!).
Let's use some "Scouters' (common) sense" to this as well. If the event is
not presented as a "Scouting event", while it is ALWAYS a good idea to use
some if not all of the BSA's health, safety and youth protection rules,
you can let some of that go with little or no real "negative results". If
the swim party is NOT a BSA event, but rather a swim party in which many of
the members of the Troop will be in attendance, I would use the Safe Swim
Defense, but more than likely other arrangements will be made to insure the
health and safety of the participants, surely.
As far as the convoy is concerned, the BSA says "none". Period. End of of
the line in which it appears. Now, if your Troop has been doing this for
years with little or no "problems", and you feel that you can again do this
*this year* with no problems, chances are you won't have any problem. But
*when* (note that I didn't say "if") you DO have a major (or minor)
problem, don't look at the local Council nor the National Office to support
any claim or to assist you with advice on how to handle the situation!!!
That's truly when "you are on your own", and from letters I get, it's NOT a
confortable position to be in, legally, morally, or physically!!
"The spirit of the BSA (or other youth agency, or local youth program)'s
policies" means just that....you attempted to start a fire with "charcoal
lighters" (cans with holes or slits which allows a "chimney effect" to bring
air into the brickettes and lighted paper and other tinder) and its now
nightfall and people are really cold and wet....yeah...break out the lighter
fluid to start that fire and get those youth warm!! You applied the Safe
Swim Defense and you have a group of three instead of two left over.
Let the three swim together and "buddy check" each other! Your Troop goes
to camp and one car is having big-time transmission problems and is
just barely "getting down the road". You follow behind it, with your
flashers going and your Scouts constantly advising you as to how the traffic
is going around you two. Its' a convoy, but the downside to this is
having a car with the potential of getting hit in the middle of nowhere.
The health and safety policies of the BSA, supplemented by those from your
own local Council, are ways in which you can protect yourself, the
members in your party, and the organization in general (not in that order,
mind you, but you get the idea!) from harm and possible litigation due to the
inability of the leadership (youth and adult) to plan things out and consider
alternatives to their plan (that "Plan B" I always speak of!). It's NOT
designed to limit or reduce the amount of fun which can be had by those
participating in an outdoor or indoor Scouting event or activity.
Most importantly, it establishes a set pattern for how each and every
activity and program is supposed to be handled. There's nothing to guess
about if with the planning of each and every outdoor event or activity, a
local tour permit is filed with the local Council. There's nothing to guess
about if every time we get near water, we make ourselves familar with the
BSA's Safe Swim Defense plan. There's nothing to think about when we are
getting ready to go to NOAC or some other event when everyone uses the ideas
generated here and leaves toward the event not in a convoy, but as separate
vehicles all going in the same direction toward the same location. New
leaders of the unit don't have to "find out how this is done",
because the way it's done is the way we've been doing it....the way our
local Council and the BSA wants it done.
Great concept, huh?
When we as Scouters consider or take action to "forget the rules, they're
there for the newbies...WE KNOW WHAT WE'RE DOING", we place ourselves and
the program we belong to into a corner: do we "do what we
supposed to do all of the time or when we feel like it?" This is easily
interpreted by our youth members as "well, you are supposed to follow the
rules. But you don't follow the rules when there's nobody around to "rat"
You and I are the only people in most cases that are even *aware* of the
health and safety policies of our youth program. Our youth may have an
idea, but not the "meat" of what the rules are. Part of our role as
trainers and coaches of our youth leaders is to express what those rules are
and why we should follow them as closely as we can. We do this by personal
example first, followed by an explaination of the rule or policy and how it
Jessica got a new car...the first new car since she started working in 1978.
One of the "rules" for my driving/riding her car was that there was to be NO
COFFEE AT ALL in the car. I have a habit of filling my coffeemug to the
rim many times, and I don't like those silly covers over the plastic mugs.
As a result, I have spilled coffee in my car, making it very messy to sit in.
We compromised, and she allowed me to carry coffee in her new automobile
provided I use one of those silly covers that make it look like I don't know
how to drink coffee except through a straw!
Yesterday, we picked up my three children from their mother's home in
southern Madison County, Kentucky, and not three miles from their home,
Jessiann had to put on the brakes which made me spill a SMALL bit of coffee
onto my leg. "You know the rules, Mike", she said as she pulled over and
used her power window button to roll down my window. "I didn't even spill
it!!", I told her, trying to cop a plea for her to reconsider. "It goes,"
she said, adding for emphasis, "You PROMISED me, Mike Walton."
I emptied the entire contents of the mug onto the ground, placed the mug on
the floor and listened as Jessi rolled the window back up and moved back
onto the Interstate. "He did it!", my middle son whispered to the youngest
one, whom has a time dealing with the divorce, remarriage and
anger in general. "I saw it", the youngest replied, trying to whisper but
"He LOVES coffee. You know how much of a sacifice that is?", my middle son,
the scientist/analyst asked. "He drives MILES to get that stuff!"
"You can get some more when you get at your mother's home. Sorry, but those
are the rules", my wife told me as we moved onward down the highway. I felt
like one of my kids then, but then, I did compromise on the rules and I did
I think you get the idea. What we do -- or fail to do -- is "read" by our
youth members and they do "take notes" for later.
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (Settummanque, the blackeagle) (
co-Owner, Blackeagle Services of Kentucky (502.826.7046) __)_
174 Chapelwood Drive, Henderson, Kentucky 42420-5036 | ** |]
(H) 502.827.9201 (F) 502.826.7046 (W) 888.284.4848 (yea!) coffee?
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