Incident Reporting

This chapter provides volunteers and professional staff guidance on documenting and reporting incidents, injuries, and illnesses that occur during Scouting activities.

BSA Incident Reporting Policy

The Boy Scouts of America provides a program for young people that builds character, trains them in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and develops personal fitness. A key responsibility that we all share is providing an effective program that meets the needs of young people and provides the proper health and safety of everyone concerned.

It is important that we sustain the safe operation of our programs and promote continuous improvement through organizational learning. Timely and complete incident reports support analysis that is critical to identifying needed improvement of the programs offered by the Boy Scouts of America.

What Is an Incident?

Loosely defined, an incident is any unplanned event that results in harm to an individual, property, or the environment.

Why Report an Incident?

The information reported from incidents is valuable in preventing the reoccurrence of similar incidents. Reporting incidents promptly is also critical so we can respond to incidents in an appropriate manner, and it helps us properly manage any potential claims.

How Do I Report an Incident?

Reporting requirements are based on the severity of the incident. Please see the Incident Descriptions and Reporting Instructions page in the appendix.

Report Writing Tips

It is imperative that you fill out any incident reports as thoroughly as possible. This will help bring clarity to the situation and avoid unnecessary calls or emails for additional information. Photographs of the site, facilities, vehicles, or equipment can add value to the report. The following examples demonstrate a good, better, and best approach to incident reporting. Remember to include only pertinent facts about the incident. Do not assign blame or include personal opinions or recommendations.

Good: At summer camp, a Scout was playing a game and fell, twisting his ankle. He was sent off camp for more help.

Better: This August, a Scout was playing tetherball at summer camp, when he fell and broke his ankle. He was sent to the ER and was released.

Best: On August 6, 2012, a Scout was playing a game of tetherball at a Beaver Dam Summer Camp event, when he fell and twisted his left ankle. The Scout was initially treated by other Scouts and the health lodge, but further treatment was needed. The Scout was diagnosed with a high ankle fracture, was treated in an ER, and released later in the day with a restriction to stay off the ankle until he sees his personal physician.

Incident Reviews

One of the benefits of incident reports is that they can be used to help prevent similar occurrences. While rare, serious and even fatal incidents have impacted the Scouting family.

The BSA has begun posting a series of review sheets based on incidents that have actually occurred. These reviews can be downloaded at along with a how-to sheet to help you discuss what can be learned from the incidents and how you can execute the Scouting program safely as designed.

A Scout Is Trustworthy: Be Sure to Report

Remember: ANY incident that requires the intervention of medical personnel, involves emergency responders, or results in a response beyond Scout-rendered first aid must be reported.