Safety should be a consistent and constant way of thinking for leaders of eleven-year-old (EYO) Scouts. Adventures in the Scouting program provide the youth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wonder-filled activities and experiential knowledge that prepares them to serve others, build unity, and one day be missionaries, husbands, and fathers. The adroit EYO Scout leader ensures that each activity is conducted safely—from the moment the EYO Scout leaves his home until he returns—and that he learns to make safety a skill he uses all his life.
There is a plethora of safety resources for the EYO Scout leader, from The Guide to Safe Scouting to the recent May 12, 2017 letter from the First Presidency, Safety in Church Activities. The letter provides a link to the Church’s Safety and Health website. The Safety and Health website covers topics such as guidelines for safe Church activities; resources, forms, and media links regarding health and safety issues; Scouting materials; and fact sheets. These are great resources that each EYO Scout leader should review and become familiar with the material.
As an EYO Scout leader, beyond being familiar with the above resources, I teach and instill in each of my EYO Scouts ways to be safe. It begins with Church standards. Understanding and encouraging each Scout to learn and develop the discipline to follow Church standards, especially those outlined in For the Strength of Youth provides a basis for boys to be safe at the individual level. Learning to fight the dangers of this world through strength of character is a key tenant of Scouting as well as the Church. I like to use mealtime topics as a means of bringing up the themes contained in For the Strength of Youth. Mealtimes are perfect occasions as the whole patrol is gathered and a guided topical discussion helps them understand how righteous living is the first way we keep ourselves safe throughout our lives.
As the EYO Scout leader you will set the stage for how the Scout thinks about safety for the rest of his time in Scouting. In the rank requirements for Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class are essential safety principles and policies that you will need to teach your EYO Scouts. Take time to ensure that families complete How to Protect Your Children from Child Abuse; talk to the EYO Scout and talk to the parents; and keep the conversation going so they are protected from this scourge at home, school, and wherever they may go in life.
Through you, the EYO Scout will earn his Totin’ Chip. How you enforce the principles of the Totin’ Chip will be reflected in the EYO Scout throughout all his outdoor experiences. As an older Scout, he will enforce these standards with younger Scouts based on what you taught and enforced. Same goes for the buddy system. Teach the EYO Scouts the importance of the buddy system and how it keeps them safe and not just from a Youth Protection perspective.
Other key safety topics learned as an EYO Scout include safe hiking, Safe Swim Defense, Safety Afloat, food safety, and fire safety; not to mention all the knots and first aid items an EYO Scout is required to learn. So you, as the EYO Scout leader, begin for each EYO Scout the journey of learning to be safe. How you think about safety and how you enforce safety within the EYO Scout patrol makes a difference. Your diligence and your willingness to keep the conversation going about being safe throughout their first year in Scouting will stay with them all of their lives.
Take the time to seriously reflect on how attentive you are to teaching and enforcing the safety standards of both the Church and Scouting. Help each EYO Scout learn to protect themselves spiritually, as well as in their Scouting activities, so that they may live lives that bring forth happiness in all that they do. What you teach them will make a difference for them as well as for their families later in life. Learning to be safe in all that we do is a great Church and Scouting principle.
Stan Stolpe has served in multiple Scouting positions at the unit, district, council, regional, and national levels in the U.S. and overseas. He resides in Alexandria, Virginia, serving in the Mount Vernon Virginia Stake where he is an EYO Scout leader. The views and opinions expressed in this message are solely those of the author.