For more than 50 years the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has used some form of planning and review tool, which was submitted to the local council or BSA National offices for review. As of April 1, 2017, the Tour and Activity Plan (T&AP) is no longer available. This is the result of an evaluation by a cross-functional team within BSA which determined that T&APs were significantly underutilized, added complexity, and limited the “safety planning” components of the planning process to just a few leaders.
BSA expects that the elimination of the BSA Tour and Activity Plan will:
- Reduce complexity, by cutting back on processes and paperwork for unit leaders.
- Increase or improve consistency with existing planning resources –
- BSA National Offices – Commitment to Safety,
- The Guide to Safe Scouting,
- The Activity Planning and Risk Assessment Strategy
- National Camp Standards (NCAP) planning tools
- Change the conversation, by engaging everyone (including youth) in risk-based planning.
For some leaders, this may not mean much because they were not familiar with the tools and resources the Tour and Activity Plan provided or how to properly use it. Others may shout for joy, as they are not required to complete one more form or online application before their unit goes on a high adventure activity. Some other leaders felt the T&AP was an indispensable part of the activity planning process and we applaud your efforts.
Leaders and boys still need to be registered and leaders need to be committed to follow safety guidelines for all youth activities as requested by the BSA and the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as outlined in their annual Safety in Church Activities letter.
Safety is still the priority! BSA is trying to change the conversation to involve the youth, direct youth leaders (such as den leaders, scoutmasters, coaches, and crew advisers), as well as the leaders from your chartering organization (bishops and counselors over the youth) who approve your unit’s plans and activities.
The desire is to gain greater a safety commitment by all front-line youth leaders, but in a less regimented, more common sense approach. They will need to be familiar with the potential hazards and do a risk-based assessment. Then they can discuss concerns and counsel together, while planning how to mitigate, reduce, or avoid anticipated risks. We have learned that solid and effective planning is the best way to help ensure an outing is Christ-centered, safe, and fun. As leaders counsel together and plan an activity, sometimes possible risks seem to jump right off the page. In other cases, the hazards may be more subtle and need to be coaxed into the light. After we take time to identify them, those risks can be mitigated or avoided. This describes the basic principle of planning a safe activity.
Over the next several months, we will focus several blog articles on our responsibilities and the benefits of following the programs and guidelines of the BSA. We will also help you identify some available resources that can be effective in your activity planning efforts.
When all is said and done, safety is important to the First Presidency “…both to preserve the safety of participants and to protect the Church from significant liabilities” (Safety in Church Activities, May 19, 2016). It is also important to your local and national BSA leaders as stated in BSA’s Commitment to Safety; “We want you to know that the safety of our youth, volunteers, staff, and employees is an important part of the Scouting experience.”
Perhaps this quote by Sir Robert Baden-Powell from his 1914 book Quick Training for War is appropriate to include here: “… The books lay down definite principles and examples which serve to guide the leaders when applying their common sense to the situation before them. No two situations are ever precisely the same, and it is therefore impossible to lay down exact rules that should guide in every case, but a man who carries precedents and principles in his head has no difficulty in applying their teaching in supreme moments of sudden emergency …”
Remember – The “Adventure is Waiting…” I hope yours will be a safe one!
Contributed by LDS Church Risk Management