Scouts-L Mail Archive for December of 1999: Re: BSA Risk Mgmt. (WAS:)help with laser tag
Re: BSA Risk Mgmt. (WAS:)help with laser tag
Fri, 17 Dec 1999 23:39:25 -0600
I'll forward your posting to the list as well as answering it here personally.
>I am unable to post to the list from my portable account so I am sending
>this direct to you...
(From what I stated earlier with regard to laser tag and risk management in
>>Much of these restrictions are caused by risk management reasons and NOT
>>because the BSA wants to "take the fun out of the program."
>I was wondering if you could post a little about where BSA risk management
>gets their facts and how they go about determining if an activity is safe,
>unsafe, or improperly delivered. I have seen several BSA prohibitions that
>are blamed on a risk management descision but I cannot understand how they
>are arriving at this determination...
There's little that I know about the BSA's Risk Management Division. What I
do know, is that the Division is composed of professional Scouters and
lawyers (some both), whom are entrusted to assist local Councils directly or
indirectly through the examination and implementation of national policies
in the areas of risk assessment, risk avoidance, and risk management. Not
being a lawyer, I only have a layman's idea of what those three areas
consist of. Maybe someone else can help me out with more of an
explaination than my "simple" explaination.
I am sure that the BSA's Risk Management teams gets their information in the
same ways tha school systems, church organizational bodies, and corporations
both private and public get their information. I don't know exactly where
they get their information from directly as it relates to paintball or other
>A recent example that I know about is the "paintball ban". I am a trained
>and certified paint ball field operator and have seen three independant
>studies that show paintball having less injuries than GOLF! Granted, there
>are other issues at play with this example, but to say that the sport of
>paintball is unsafe, I would like to know how risk mgmt got to this
>decision. Paintball can be unsafe if it is *improperly delivered*, but so
>can almost ANYTHING else in our program.
Which I agree. I think that when they look at paintball, as well as other
items, they are not just looking at the game itself, but the manner it is
played, the "game field" in which the game is played through, and the
participants (the Scouts) involved.
Any activity can be dangerous if not conducted properly and under the right
set of circumstances...Chevy Chase made this clear when imitating former
President Ford descending down stairs or walkways, for instance. Remember
(For those that don't remember or were too young, Roller Derby was a "sport"
which was imitated by a LOT of youth in the early to mid 70s....it tried to
make a comeback in the middle 90s. Two teams of rollerskating individuals
would play in a similar way as football or rugby would be played...one team
would have the "ball" and the other team would jam, spike and strike their
way to getting the ball from the other team before a "goal" was scored. It
became so bad that many rollerskating rinks eventually had to go out of
business due to kids injuring themselves while playing supervised or not on
their premises. Even with protective head and body gear, there were many
injuries caused by the "sport.")
>Same goes for Laser Tag. How is this game unsafe on a *standardized
>level*. Sure, some arena's may have potential for injury, others may have
>less, but how can the medium -- laser tag -- be deemed unsafe in and of
>itself without addressing delivery of the activity.
I don't know how THEY would see it, but it do have some idea on how *I*
would see it as a parent. You have kids running around with eye protection
which does impair their total ability to correctly see and determine depth,
height and distance.
(So do a poorly fitting pair of glasses....). They have in their hands a
weapon (okay, a piece of electronics-covered plastic shaped in the form of a
weapon) which they fire beams of light at their fellow "players" as they
move around on a "playing field". This "playing field" has hazards --
hazards which can be man-made or built upon the "playing field" to provide
cover, concealment, and to slow down the opposition during their "advance".
Additionally, some "facilities" utilize smoke generators, "pellets" and
other items which when exploded, are hot to the touch and additionally
impairs the players as they move about the "playing field."
If I was doing a risk assessment for a military unit (which we are required
to do now prior to every exercise or comittment of personnel as part of our
preparation for conducting an operation or exercise), I would give those
items a "poor" rating because we have a better than average chance of injury
as the "game" is being played. A sprained ankle is an injury; a "roughing
up" by kids whom forget this is GAME is an injury; a broken arm caused by
falling down behind cover only to discover that some other kid's leg is now
coming up while their arm is going downward...is an injury. As I mentioned
earlier, running headfirst into a tree or another player is also an injury.
How would we do this activity safer?? If it was a military unit, I would
chuck it up to "that's what happen in a wartime situation."
But I'm NOT talking about a "military unit" but rather a "Scouting activity"
which should be as safe as possible as well as fun as possible. The fun is
there....but is the safety there??
That's what I think that the Risk Management teams look at when they look at
Paintball and now when they are looking at Laser Tag. That, and the
perception of such games would "play out" so to speak, with the public
seeing Scouts - in uniform or not -- participating in such activities.
>Could you provide the list some of the insight, that you are so good at, on
>how BSA Risk Management works, how the arrive at their decisions, and what
>influences the activities they choose to regulate.
>It would help me to understand why they make such seemingly "uninformed"
>decisions at times.
I wish that I can, James, but the above is about the extent of my *personal
knowledge* of what they do for all of us, and in particular, to support the
local Councils that eventually have to make that decision on allowing us as
volunteers to play those types of games and activities or not.
(disclaimer: while I've had some communication with folks belonging to the
BSA's Risk Management Division over the past few years, I am NOT a
professional nor am I associated in ANY WAY with the BSA's volunteers
serving within the Risk Management or Health and Safety Committees at the
national or local Council level....I'm just a Scouter....*smiling*)
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle)
personal inquiries via firstname.lastname@example.org,
blackeagle@SCOUTER.net or email@example.com
professional inquiries via firstname.lastname@example.org
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