Scouts-L Mail Archive for October of 1998: G2SS questions (very long)
G2SS questions (very long)
Fri, 23 Oct 1998 14:56:23 -0400
This is an invitation to Judy Johnson, a Senior District Executive
of Santa Clara Council to respond to questions about BSA policy on
transportation. Any other BSA professional is also welcome to respond.
First of all, I want to applaud Judy for being so vocal and so open
in communicating with this list. I think it is an eye-opener as to
how effective the everyday use of the internet could be in Scouting.
I think these questions have been asked before on this list, but
they generated a variety of "my opinion" and "I think" responses.
This is an attempt to get something a little firmer.
Below I will set forth some quotes from BSA publications and ask whether
certain understandings/interpretations are correct. When responding,
I ask that you clearly state whether your response is an official,
nation-wide BSA position; your specific council's position; your
unofficial opinion; or otherwise. Any additional references to help
clarify would also be appreciated.
Now, on to the questions.
The following is an excerpt from the Guide to Safe Scouting, number
34416A, ISBN 0-8395-4416-2, )1998 Boy Scouts of America, revised 1998,
as reproduced on the web site of the U.S. Scouting Service Project.
TEXT IN ALL CAPITALS REPRESENTS TEXT IN BOLD PRINT IN ORIGINAL
Established public carriers trains, buses, and commercial
airlines - are the safest and most comfortable way for groups
to travel. Chartered buses usually are the most economical
transportation for groups of 20 or more. It may be necessary
for small groups to travel in private automobiles; however,
the use of chartered equipment from established rail, bus,
and airline companies is strongly recommended. The advantages
are many. These companies have excellent safety records because
of their periodic inspections and approved health and safety
References: Cub Scout Leader Book, Scoutmaster Handbook, Troop
Committee Guidebook, Exploring Reference Book, and Tours and
It is essential that adequate, safe, and responsible
transportation be used for all Scouting activities. Because
most accidents occur within a short distance from home, safety
precautions are necessary, even on short trips.
General guidelines are as follows:
1. SEAT BELTS ARE REQUIRED FOR ALL OCCUPANTS.
2. ALL DRIVERS MUST HAVE A VALID DRIVER S LICENSE THAT HAS NOT
BEEN SUSPENDED OR REVOKED FOR ANY REASON. IF THE VEHICLE TO BE
USED IS DESIGNED TO CARRY MORE THAN 15 PERSONS, INCLUDING THE
DRIVER (MORE THAN 10 PERSONS, INCLUDING THE DRIVER, IN CALIFORNIA),
THE DRIVER MUST HAVE A COMMERCIAL DRIVER S LICENSE (CDL).
3. AN ADULT LEADER (AT LEAST 21 YEARS OF AGE) MUST BE IN CHARGE
AND ACCOMPANY THE GROUP.
4. THE DRIVER MUST BE CURRENTLY LICENSED AND AT LEAST 18 YEARS
OF AGE. YOUTH MEMBER EXCEPTION: WHEN TRAVELING TO AN AREA,
REGIONAL, OR NATIONAL BOY SCOUT ACTIVITY OR ANY EXPLORER EVENT
UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF AN ADULT (AT LEAST 21 YEARS OF AGE) TOUR
LEADER, A YOUTH MEMBER AT LEAST 16 YEARS OF AGE MAY BE A DRIVER,
SUBJECT TO THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS:
A. SIX MONTHS DRIVING EXPERIENCE AS A LICENSED DRIVER (TIME
ON A LEARNER S PERMIT OR EQUIVALENT IS NOT TO BE COUNTED)
B. NO RECORD OF ACCIDENTS OR MOVING VIOLATIONS
C. PARENTAL PERMISSION GRANTED TO THE LEADER, DRIVER, AND
The following is an excerpt from the back of the BSA Local Tour Permit,
form number 34426, 1997 printing, that I typed in:
2. If by motor vehicle:
a. Driver Qualificafions: All drivers must have a valid driver s
license and be at least 18 years of age. Youth Member Exception:
When traveling to an area, regional, or national Boy Scout activity
or any Explorer event under the leadership of an adult (21+) tour
leader, a youth member at least 16 years of age may be a driver,
subject to the following conditions: (1) Six months driving
experience as a licensed driver (time on a learner s permit or
equivalent is not to be counted); (2) no record of accidents or
moving violations; (3) parental permission has been granted to
leader, driver, and riders.
The first paragraph of the G2SS excerpt above seems to set the tone that it
applies to long distance travel for Scouting functions. Note how it says "it
may be necessary for small groups to travel in private automobiles" as if that
would be a hardship or the least preferred method of travel. I would infer
from this that the transportation section is meant to apply to something along
that lines of my Massachusetts Troop going to a Camporee in the mid-west, not
my monthly local weekend trip.
QUESTION: So I guess the first question is whether G2SS section 12,
transportation, is meant to apply only to long-distance travel where the use
of "trains, buses, and commercial airlines" is most likely.
Next, there is a paragraph titled "automobiles" that appears to apply to the
use of automobiles "for all Scouting activities." And the next sentence
references "a short distance from home."
QUESTION: Is "all Scouting activities" defined anywhere? Does it include
weekly Troop meetings, weekly Patrol meetings, monthly PLC meetings, Scouts
going to purchase food and supplies for an upcoming campout, Scouts going to
work on service projects or Eagle projects?
QUESTION: When does a "Scouting activity" begin, and therefore become subject
to these regulations? Does it begin at the Scout's door when leaving to go to
an activity? Does it begin when he arrives at the Troop's meeting place
("let's all meet at the Church and then we'll leave for the campout")? Does
it begin when he arrives at another pre-arranged meeting place ("let's all
meet at the Wal-Mart parking lot and then we'll all leave for the ballgame
together")? And the reverse is also asked for when an activity ends.
Further down in the excerpt, there is a general exclusion for drivers under
age 18 with an exception allowing drivers age 16 and up in cases of "AN AREA,
REGIONAL, OR NATIONAL BOY SCOUT ACTIVITY OR ANY EXPLORER EVENT." The words
"area, regional, or national" have a very specific meaning in BSA. They refer
to the three highest levels of the BSA structure. Omitted from this paragraph
are references to "unit, district, or council," also with very specific
meanings. This is repeated verbatim on the back of the Local Tour Permit form
QUESTION: Does this really mean the age 16 driver exception DOES NOT apply to
unit, district, or council activities such as monthly Troop campouts, annual
district camporees, or council klondike derbies?
Now, let's take these two publications together and ask -
QUESTION: In the case of activities for which a Local Tour Permit is NOT
required (weekly meetings, campouts at our Council's own reservation), does
the general exclusion for drivers under age 18 still apply? (E.g., our
17-year-old SPL cannot drive himself to the meeting?)
QUESTION: When is a "driver" a "driver?" If a Scout drives himself alone in
a car, does that avoid the under-18-year-old exclusion?
At this point, many of you may be saying "holy ----, is he splitting hairs!"
All I can say to that is: should there ever be a catastrophic event, God
forbid, there will be a long line of people "splitting hairs" just like these.
Better to know up front.
Troop Committee Secretary, Northborough Troop 101
Brotherhood, Chippanyonk Lodge #59, OA
Knox Trail Council #244, BSA