Scouts-L Mail Archive for April of 1999: Re: New Webelos Camping Rules?
Re: New Webelos Camping Rules?
Sat, 17 Apr 1999 22:30:28 -0400
Although I'm sorry to hear that camping opportunities for Webelos Dens may
become much more limited, I'm not sure I would go as far as to say its
better to seek forgiveness than ask permission on this issue.
Most of the time we are inclined to try to find ways to help the boys have
fun and good experiences. And that is as it should be. The other shoe that
drops here is the "what if a Scout is injuried?" question.
When BSA issues a rule about the circumstances under which Webelos Dens may
camp, it is in a legal sense establishing what is known as a "Standard of
Care" that is due each Scout. If a leader or unit ignores that standard and
a Scout is injured, the leader or unit will be seen by a court as "per se"
negligent (negligent as a matter of law) because the leader or unit has
willfully ignored a rule established for the safety of the children
involved. That same leader or unit may also find that its insurers and
BSA's insurer are hesitant to provide coverage because willful negligence is
usually excluded from insurance contracts. In short this becomes a
pocketbook issue for leaders. They can ignore the rules, but in so doing
they may end up with personal liability for any adverse results.
As a lawyer, I would advise a leader to think carefully before ignoring
BSA's rules, especially when they are construed as safety related. We do
want the boys to have fun, but at the same time nobody wants to see a leader
end up on the short end of the stick, if something should go wrong on an
If signficant numbers of Cub Scout leaders communicate to National their
disappointment with the change in rules, National will probably reevaluate
the change. If there are not significant national liability issues
involved, the rule may be changed back.
Mike Bowman, Vice President
U.S. Scouting Service Project, Inc.