General Health and Safety FAQs
Additional FAQ’s: Annual Health and Medical Record, shooting sports program
Q. Can Scouts use zip lines?
A. Zip-lining is considered age-appropriate for Venturing-age youth and older Boy Scouts. If the youth are participating in a commercial zip-line activity that is not located on a BSA-owned property, then we suggest you make sure that organization follows the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) standards for installation, maintenance, and operation. Use of privately installed, maintained, or operated zip lines by any unit, district, or council is not authorized. (Examples of these include self-built, backyard, or non-BSA-owned zip lines.)
Additional guidance can be found here.
Q. Is there an age requirement to use a lawn mower as part of a service project?
A. For powered mowers and blowers, the operator must be at least 16 years of age. Please refer to the Age Guidelines for Tool Use and Work at Elevations or Excavations if you have questions about any other type of tool.
Animals on Campouts
Q. Can we bring animals or pets on campouts?
A. No, animals or pets are not part of tours or activities in Scouting. This does not preclude merit badge programs where specific animals are part of the merit badge (Horsemanship, Mammal Study, Reptile and Amphibian Study, etc.). The preface to the Guide to Safe Scouting states that, “In situations not specifically covered in this guide, activity planners should evaluate the risk or potential risk of harm, and respond with action plans based on common sense, community standards, the Boy Scout motto, and safety policies and practices commonly prescribed for the activity by experienced providers and practitioners.”
Q. What training is required for aquatics activities?
A. Adult leaders supervising a swimming activity must have completed Safe Swim Defense training within the previous two years. Adult leaders supervising activities afloat must also have completed Safety Afloat training within the previous two years. CPR training is advised.
Q. Are Cub Scout units allowed to conduct boating activities?
A. Cub Scout adventures include limited activities that can be conducted at a unit level. Please review the appropriate Cub Scout handbook, also the Age-Appropriate Guidelines for Scouting Activities and Safety Afloat, both found in the Guide to Safe Scouting.
Q. Are online-only CPR courses accepted by the BSA?
A. Online-only courses are not accepted. The BSA will accept nationally recognized blended courses—such as from the American Heart Association, American Red Cross, Emergency Care and Safety Institute—where competency can be demonstrated to an instructor.
Q. Is there an agreement between the BSA and the American Red Cross?
A. Yes, there is an agreement between the Boy Scouts of America and the American Red Cross. You can view the American Red Cross and Boy Scouts of America Training Agreement for more details. In addition, the BSA has an agreement with the Emergency Care and Safety Institute (ECSI).
Q. What coverage do we have for Scouts during Scouting activities?
A. Please review the Insurance Coverage alert that is updated from time to time. Another resource to review is the Insurance section of the Guide to Safe Scouting.
Q. Do you need to travel in uniform to be covered by BSA insurance?
A. Wearing a uniform is not required to be covered by BSA insurance. The requirement is that the youth and adults be engaged in an official Scouting activity. Scouting units, volunteer Scouters, and chartered organizations are covered by the BSA’s comprehensive general liability insurance. While your automobile insurance is primary, the BSA’s comprehensive general liability insurance provides secondary or excess insurance. Check the Bryan on Scouting blog for more information.
Q. Is there any type of training about lightning and weather safety?
A. Yes, there is an online training course offered through the MyScouting page called Weather Hazards. This course will provide training on all types of weather situations including lightning safety. You can also review the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website.
Parades and Floats
Q. Can Scouts go on a hayride or ride on a trailer in a parade?
A. Yes, Scouts can participate in hayrides or parades but with certain provisions. Scouts cannot be transported to or from the event in the trailer or the truck. You can review additional provisions in the Parade Floats and Hayrides section of the Guide to Safe Scouting.
Power Tools and Heights
Q. What are the BSA’s guidelines for youth using power tools on service projects?
A. Please review the Age Guidelines for Tool Use and Work at Elevations or Excavations for the specific guidelines.
Q. Is there a restriction on the height from which a Scout can perform work on a service project?
A. Yes, there are restrictions that have been put into place on the height at which a Scout can be working. The Age Guidelines for Tool Use and Work at Elevations or Excavations addresses this policy.
Q. Are Cub Scouts allowed to launch rockets?
A. Rockets may be used in the Scouting program. Rocket Academies have traditionally been a one-day event for communities and neighborhoods. They are a good way to show the broad spectrum of activities and learning associated with Scouting, and can educate participants and attendees about the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) program. Scouting.org has published several articles about Rocket Academies.
Safety is always a paramount consideration, and the BSA wishes to re-emphasize the following as unit, district, and council rocket activities are considered.
- Review and be familiar with the National Association of Rocketry safety code, which can be found at www.nar.org.
- Determine if there are any local rules and regulations regarding the type, size, and launching of rockets within your community.
- Be aware of and guided by the Sweet 16 of BSA Safety.
Complete a Program Hazard Analysis (PHA) in an effort to identify and be familiar with the hazards and risks associated with this activity.
Q. Is there anything I can use to help when planning a service project?
A. Please refer to the Service Project Planning Guidelines. This document is a tool to help in planning service projects as well as Eagle Scout projects.
Q. What is the official BSA regulation on carrying sheath knives?
A. The Boy Scout Handbook, Bear Handbook, and Webelos Handbook contain the program for the safe and responsible use of knives. The BSA believes choosing the right equipment for the job at hand is the best answer to the question of what specific knife should be used. We are aware that many councils or camps may have limits on the type or style of knife that should be used. The BSA neither encourages nor bans fixed-blade knives nor do we set a limit on blade length. Additional information is found in the Guide to Safe Scouting.
Q. How long are the training courses valid?
A. Please review the Spring 2011 training update archive for a full listing. Below is a shortened listing:
Youth Protection—every two years
Safe Swim Defense—every two years
Paddle Craft Safety—every three years
BSA Lifeguard—every three years
Climbing Lead Instructor—every two years
Climbing Instructor—every two years
COPE/Climbing Inspector—every two years
Safety Afloat—every two years
Hazardous Weather—every two years
Climb On Safely—every two years
Trek Safely—every two years
Q. Is there a limit to the total amount of driving time to Scouting activities during one day?
A. According to the Transportation section of the Guide to Safe Scouting, driving time is limited to a maximum of 10 hours per day with frequent stops for rest, food, and recreation. All state and local laws should be followed at all times.
Q. Does the BSA have a policy about cell phone usage by drivers?
A. According to the Transportation section of the Guide to Safe Scouting, drivers should refrain from using cell phones (including hands-free units) and text-messaging devices while driving.
Trips and Outings
Q. Can nonregistered participants attend troop campouts?
A. According to the Guide to Safe Scouting, two registered adult leaders, or one registered adult leader and a parent of a participating Scout or other adult, one of whom must be 21 years of age or older, are required for all trips and outings.
Q. Can a leader bring his or her younger children on a troop campout?
A. The Camping section of the Guide to Safe Scouting states:
“If a well-meaning leader brings along a child who does not meet these age guidelines, disservice is done to the unit because of distractions often caused by younger children. A disservice is also done to the child, who is not trained to participate in such an activity and who, as a nonmember of the group, may be ignored by the older campers.”
Q. When is Wilderness First Aid (WFA) required?
A. WFA training is required by the camp standards for council high-adventure and backcountry camps, backcountry COPE and climbing, and by our national high-adventure bases. There are no unit-centric requirements, only program requirements.
Unauthorized and Restricted Activities
Q. Is laser tag an approved activity?
A. Scout units may plan or participate in paintball, laser tag, or similar events where participants shoot at targets that are neither living nor human representations. Please review additional information located in the Unauthorized and Restricted Activities section of the Guide to Safe Scouting.
Q. Can we play arrow tag? It’s not pointing a gun at anyone, which we know is unauthorized.
A. No. Shooting or throwing objects at each other is unauthorized. This activity is not now, nor planned, to be part of any program or activity of the Boy Scouts of America.
Q. Can Scouts participate in martial arts or anti-abduction demonstrations?
A. Scouts cannot participate in the demonstrations, but they may observe a demonstration.
Q. Are Scouts allowed to go to trampoline parks?
A. There is no known trampoline park program so we recommend that an outing be planned using the Sweet 16 of BSA Safety. Be sure to have qualified supervision and adults who will know what a safe area at such a park is and get individual parents to sign any required waivers or risk acknowledgment on behalf of their children. You may want to contact your local council’s Enterprise Risk Management committee for additional guidance.