Thursday, July 12, 2007


Although, basically, the Boy Scout program has a great safety record, there remain those situations that make us Scoutmasters nervous.

When I was a new leader, I found that the first time any boy tried to use an axe was unsettling. It was hard to look! But you have to teach them, and it takes practice. After a year or two, I became a seasoned leader, so I was no longer haunted by axes.

I am now a grizzled leader, having been through untold numbers of mishaps (not disasters), so I don’t get excited very easily. Calmness is a real asset in an emergency. But the one thing I am still nervous about is lightning.

When the troop was young, we were camped one weekend in an established campsite, a clearing among the trees. Around three in the morning, this unforecasted storm came out of nowhere. It wasn’t like we were naked to the weather on top of a mountain or anything. As risk management goes, we were camped in a relatively safe area, in canvas tents and not near the tallest trees.

The storm had not taken Risk Management Training. It did not care about our safety. Several times during that storm, I felt my hair stand on end a few seconds before the lightning bit right in to the ground between our tents. Prayer was the only form of risk management available, and I assure you, every one of us used it!

As some unfortunate Scouts in Utah learned in 2005, you can never be 100 percent safe from lightning. Those Scouts were hit while they were inside a wooden shelter.

As you head out on another Scout adventure, what risks worry you the most?


Anonymous said...

Just because of occasional bear attacks I think about them when we are camping. We are always careful about stowing our food and personal belongings away so that hopefully no critters will be tempted to try and get them. One thing that I recently heard is that you should never sleep in any of the clothes you were wearing while preparing and eating your campfire meals. This makes a lot of sense but I had not thought about this before!

cal said...

I don't worry about a lot when I go camping, a lot of the time my lack of concern is due to ignorance, but we have had a few animal encounters in our troop. Nothing scary like a bear, but once at rockport, while the troop was out fishing, (and our scoutmaster sat at a picnic table in our site) we had a raccoon visit one of our tents. Our scoutmaster told us when we got back of how the raccoon managed to unzip one of our tents, enter it, and make off with a pack of gushers that one of the not-so-bright boys in our troop had left in his pants pocket. Those raccoons are pretty clever...