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Thread: Is Scouting risk-averse?

  1. #16
    Senior Member Shaun's Avatar
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    I think there is a combination of things:
    As kids we werenít necessarily aware of the safety protocols, think leaders wandering around town when we were let off the leash, we thought they were shopping enjoying themselves, they were but now I know they were also watching us.
    Some of us remember a near miss, so shy away from that activity.
    We have learnt from our experience, I teach knife safety to my Scouts. As a scout knife safety was not to wear flip flops whilst playing splits.
    Children arenít as street wise/lack the common sense/spark we seemed to have as kids. We were more used to a lack of supervision and had a freedom of choice kids today donít get. I wanted to take my kids stream jumping, I guaranteed they would get wet and muddy.
    There are more rules/laws today, the days of an entire football team in the back of a Mini Cooper are gone.
    Parents ARE more risk adverse.


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    Maybe it would be more accurate to put it like this then: the safety wedge we have in place now is not as narrow as it was back then?

    We don't have any more accidents than we used to but we do have a lot more rules telling us how to comport ourselves. Take Nights Away, that was never really a thing back in the day, and we camped with similar numbers of mishaps as we do today.

    So, is it fair to say NA (just as an example) has widened the safety buffer further, and by standardising and quantifying the risks, it gives new leaders a sense of confidence in what they're doing - instead of (sort of) just relying on past experience that may not actually be there?

    TL/DR - the risks are the same but our safety buffer is fatter.

  3. #18
    GSL & AESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    You say Nights Away [permits] were not a thing back in the day but if you were a Cub Leader, you needed a permit to camp (which I think had a mandatory course to go on in order to get it) plus I think ALL Cub and Scout camps had to submit programmes, menus etc in advance of the camp and if camping in another District especially greenfield camping then you could expect a visit from someone from that District who filed a report on your camp.

    Peter Andrews ESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
    www.falkonerscouts.org.uk

    Previous Scouting Roles
    2003 - 2013 ABSL
    2017-2018 AGSL

    Wike, North Leeds District Campsite - www.wikecampsite.org.uk
    www.leeds-solar.co.uk
    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

  4. #19
    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    I guess with each incident that has an identifiable cause and can be prevented, advice or change comes out that makes things a little more prescriptive. I would guess everyone must know a leader that's jacked it in citing red tape or cotton wool culture and so on.

    Our summer camps when I was a scout and venture scout only changed slowly. Always greenfield. Caving, climbing, hill-walking off site, and air rifle shooting and archery in the field we were camped in. The concept of an archery range was an anathema, once the people going off site had gone, the boss was set up, but yeah, the guy running it would put it so you could see if someone walked behind, plenty of space behind it etc, no nets, no back wall, but apart from that, not run much different to today, safety wise, I mean, apart from when it was hot, sometimes he'd fall asleep in his chair and we'd just carry on. The bloke that knew the caves and the kit did the caving, and when he gave up, that was that, no more caving. Climbing was usually run by the Ventures. No idea who if anyone was qualified, I suspect no one. Now, when I run a summer camp, all the activities are bought in, the climbing or caving or whatever will be no different really, just paid for, superficially they don't seem any more or less safe, climbing for example the leaders were pretty thorough when setting up the top ropes as far as I could tell, I mean, I guess they were at risk of death too if *everything* went PING!

    I guess the risk assessment "culture" (even if you don't write it down, even if it's dynamic), and the learning from mistakes. The swimming and being near water changes came in as a result of an accident, the hill walking group sizes and so on after an accident and so on. Edicts about not dicking about on tractors and trailers, part of you goes "killjoys", and yes, a fun thing to do was stopped, but people got maimed and killed and not doing it didn't really have an effect on "proper" scout activities.

    Partly feel like there's less "larks" these days, but seeing as "larks", through today's eyes, well, it just looks like hazing and bullying. I mean, I swear the bamboo and canvas cave rescue stretcher was only taken on camp so Smiffy could get strapped into it and hauled up to dangle from a tree branch. Different times.

    I'd say it's very difficult not to get more risk adverse with your charges over time. I mean, once you have to fill in the 18 page form, and the extra evening or two it takes up being "interviewed" by someone... You aren't rushing to repeat the experience. Then some spoilsport on escouts tells you your tennis ball cannon might be classed as a fire-arm, so you're less inclined to do that again...
    Ian Wilkins
    Farnham District Explorer Scout Commissioner

    Jambowlree - Worldwide Scout Ten Pin Bowling Competition
    All sections, all countries, runs December 2018 - May 2019
    http://www.jambowlree.org

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    Yep Lyme Bay in 1993 was a massive turning point and probably rightly so. 1989 to 1992 I did some summer work instructing various outdoor activities - no qualifications, done on practical experience and I guess what you'd call a capability test by the guy running the centre. He has enormous experience - had been doing it for 40 years by that time and overnight because he also had no formal paper qualifications had to stop and get in qualified staff. (At nearly 60 it wasn't worth going through it all). He's still around and well into his 80's now, mostly pretty fit and pretty sanguine about the way it all changed. He knew what he was doing but he accepted that there were too many that were cutting corners and as a result the credibility of the whole industry got a hammering over the accidents that happened. Sure he never did paper risk assessments but he'd pretty much figured it out none the less - where you never took a kayak, which way you went depending on the state of the tide or wind, etc. As far as I know there was never a significant injury during activities - we had a few where people were larking about in between - one ran into a tree, tried to use his foot to stop himself and twisted his ankle, another fell off a wall and broke his leg etc.

    Agree on the larks as well - back in the day on Scout camp we took one lad who was a heavy sleeper, loud snorer etc and lashed him to the diving board of the onsite swimming pool - in his sleeping bag, still asleep. Everyone took it in good spirits, no question of bullying as he was one of the more popular lads - but I agree it would be too close to bullying now. (Going back to that time working - we had one group in that decided to "take on" the staff from day one, so we had an escalating battle starting with the staff getting pushed in the river, and ending with their clothes strung 30 feet above the car park on a climbing rope - at which point both sides were told enough was enough, you've had your fun, now pack it in).

    On the whole I think I'm with my old boss, there were some good times in the old days, we survived them but maybe that was more a question of luck than because it was the right way to be. The compensation is that with better licensing etc has come an expansion of variety. Back then no-one would dream of sticking a mile long zip wire across a quarry in north Wales, or an artificial surf lagoon outside Bristol - we do it now because the standards are in place to allow insurers to feel confident covering these sorts of activities.
    Does anyone know what's going on?

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    Senior Member bernwood's Avatar
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    Since leaving Scouting and joining an Independent Youth Group, it has highlighted to me how many loops you have to jump through in Scouting. We are so small with 2 leaders and 3-4 parents who help out on camps, that our command chain stops with us, no GSL to report to, no DC, Nights away permits,safeguarding courses, ratios etc. We can decide on an activity in about 20 minutes, book it and well be doing it next week, from rock climbing, fishing, kayaking , shooting we do all the scouty stuff just with out the paperwork, plus with our own forest area our kids are outside every week, lighting fires,axe and knifework, cooking, shelter building etc.

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    GSL & AESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bernwood View Post
    We can decide on an activity in about 20 minutes, book it and well be doing it next week, from rock climbing, fishing, kayaking , shooting we do all the scouty stuff just with out the paperwork
    Yes but you also take on all the risk as unless you have NGB qualifications to run climbing, kayaking, shooting etc (I have yet to meet someone who is not a professional outdoor instructor who has all of these and more NGB qualifications) then you will have a hard time proving you covered you legal duty of care to your members should anything go badly wrong whilst you are running these activities.

    Peter Andrews ESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
    www.falkonerscouts.org.uk

    Previous Scouting Roles
    2003 - 2013 ABSL
    2017-2018 AGSL

    Wike, North Leeds District Campsite - www.wikecampsite.org.uk
    www.leeds-solar.co.uk
    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

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  10. #23
    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bernwood View Post
    We can decide on an activity in about 20 minutes, book it and well be doing it next week
    That's how most of my programme is organised!
    Ian Wilkins
    Farnham District Explorer Scout Commissioner

    Jambowlree - Worldwide Scout Ten Pin Bowling Competition
    All sections, all countries, runs December 2018 - May 2019
    http://www.jambowlree.org

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    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ianw View Post
    I'd say it's very difficult not to get more risk adverse with your charges over time. I mean, once you have to fill in the 18 page form, and the extra evening or two it takes up being "interviewed" by someone... You aren't rushing to repeat the experience. Then some spoilsport on escouts tells you your tennis ball cannon might be classed as a fire-arm, so you're less inclined to do that again...
    In my defence of being "that" spoilsport.... My son was away at Uni and very narrowly avoided getting arrested under a firearms charge when a neighbour reported him and his mates for making potato cannons... he elaborated the other day, it wasn't two Ambleside cops who knocked politely on the door as he had told us at the time. It was an armed response unit...

    My point was, and still would be, if we introduce activities, there can be unintended outcomes... I was surprised that no-one at TSA could see the link between a harmless tennis ball cannon and a potentially lethal potato cannon.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4z6amELU0LY

    I did have a link to a potato cannon smashing through a concrete slab...

    Scouts of course are thouroughly responsible and would never try taking anythinga stage further...


    On NGB qualifications and outdoor centres. The reality is that many instructors with outdoor centres DO NOT hold NGB qualifications. My son resigned from his role at a popular Lakes outdoor centre because he was being made responsible for non-qualified kayak instructors who were taking kids out unsupervised... The centre apparently needs the NGB qualified coaches to supervise, but then can have them remotely supervise others, out of sight...

    One Nav group took a group of "cubs" up kinder Scout with no qualified leaders. I had a presumption that an NGB qualified leader was a requirement. I went into this in some depth with the AALA, and it turns out that voluntary groups do not need qualifications, they just need to show a duty of care equal to that of an AALA centre. There is an irony in that as a BC coach, I have limitations on where I can take kids, but if I were not a BC coach I could exceed those limits so long as I showed an equal duty of care - but as Shifty says, without quals, it is difficult to prove, perhaps.

    For the record - Archery - GNAS qualified people, Shooting NSRA qualified people, Climbing SPA, kayaking, BC L3, Hillclimbing - we don't go over T0, but if we did, we have the contacts to take us if we ask. I do not advocate offering activities that we are not "qualified" to run.
    Last edited by Bushfella; 17-05-2019 at 09:28 AM.
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  14. #25
    GSL & AESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushfella View Post
    For the record - Archery - GNAS qualified people, Shooting NSRA qualified people, Climbing SPA, kayaking, BC L3, Hillclimbing - we don't go over T0, but if we did, we have the contacts to take us if we ask. I do not advocate offering activities that we are not "qualified" to run.
    The point though is you have access to NGB trained people, presumably amongst a fairly large group of people which makes that possible (as I say one person holding more than a couple of NGB qualifications at once becomes difficult unless you do it professionally due to the time involved in keeping your activity levels at the required amount across multpile disciplines). Whereas Bernwood was indicating they have two adults running a group and they run all these activities themselves. Now its possible he meant they organise them but have NGB qualified people run them (either hired in or volunteering) but if he means they just run them because they feel they know how to do so safely (assuming they don't have multiple NGB qualifications between the two of them) and there is no GSL or DC etc to stop them then IMHO they will be on a very sticky wicket if anything does go badly wrong.

    Peter Andrews ESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
    www.falkonerscouts.org.uk

    Previous Scouting Roles
    2003 - 2013 ABSL
    2017-2018 AGSL

    Wike, North Leeds District Campsite - www.wikecampsite.org.uk
    www.leeds-solar.co.uk
    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

  15. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiftypete View Post
    You say Nights Away [permits] were not a thing back in the day but if you were a Cub Leader, you needed a permit to camp (which I think had a mandatory course to go on in order to get it) plus I think ALL Cub and Scout camps had to submit programmes, menus etc in advance of the camp and if camping in another District especially greenfield camping then you could expect a visit from someone from that District who filed a report on your camp.
    I can't speak for cubs, but for scouts - we never submitted programs or menus to anyone, we contacted the DC of the area as a courtesy - and no one ever filed a report on our camps.

    I mean, who would they file it with exactly and to what end?

    We had one visit I remember from someone in a uniform that had obviously never seen any grime. He was having a poke around and one of the kids dropped a can on deodorant in a half-built camp oven...

    I think if nothing else, it highlights the differences in how things run up and down the UK.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    I can't speak for cubs, but for scouts - we never submitted programs or menus to anyone, we contacted the DC of the area as a courtesy - and no one ever filed a report on our camps.

    I mean, who would they file it with exactly and to what end?

    We had one visit I remember from someone in a uniform that had obviously never seen any grime. He was having a poke around and one of the kids dropped a can on deodorant in a half-built camp oven...

    I think if nothing else, it highlights the differences in how things run up and down the UK.
    The process at the time was quite clear. I think any camp of more than 3 nights had to be inspected and programme, menus and site location sent to camp DC at least 4 weeks in advance signed by home GSL. The report was sent to home DC, there was a standard form. We actually won a Cumbria camping award for the quality of our site and programme. I'm sure you could avoid all that by ignoring it, in the same way as no one can actually stop a camp going ahead with no NAP holder - and I'm sure it happens.

    I never objected. If your camp was poor on hygiene or layout or safety then constructive critiscism is more welcome than having an issue arise and deal with it after.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shiftypete View Post
    Yes but you also take on all the risk as unless you have NGB qualifications to run climbing, kayaking, shooting etc (I have yet to meet someone who is not a professional outdoor instructor who has all of these and more NGB qualifications) then you will have a hard time proving you covered you legal duty of care to your members should anything go badly wrong whilst you are running these activities.
    I assumed, since he said he can 'book' these activities, that his organisation would be booking professional leadership. No where in his comment did he say they'd be running these types of activities him or themselves.

    I think (again) it's unfair to assume the people running the activities wouldn't be qualified or that bernwood (or someone else wouldn't check). And in any case, how is that any different for activities we'd be buying in - do we all check people's CV's before they take our kids out?

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    Senior Member big chris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    I can't speak for cubs, but for scouts - we never submitted programs or menus to anyone, we contacted the DC of the area as a courtesy - and no one ever filed a report on our camps.

    I mean, who would they file it with exactly and to what end?

    We had one visit I remember from someone in a uniform that had obviously never seen any grime. He was having a poke around and one of the kids dropped a can on deodorant in a half-built camp oven...

    I think if nothing else, it highlights the differences in how things run up and down the UK.
    the system was that a rep of the host district would turn up and inspect your camp. The report was then sent to your DC, i think and maybe your GSL.

    It reported on the standard of the camp. Sometimes it was the warden of the campsite but when we were greenfield, it was the DC or a delegate.

    Hygiene, camping standards etc were reported upon. It was always just a friendly chat. You can tell if a camp is well run within 10 seconds of arriving.

    As part of the process, you would also discuss the local area and get tips on things to do with the scouts while you were on camp. It was a nice thing.

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    GSL & AESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    I assumed, since he said he can 'book' these activities, that his organisation would be booking professional leadership. No where in his comment did he say they'd be running these types of activities him or themselves.

    I think (again) it's unfair to assume the people running the activities wouldn't be qualified or that bernwood (or someone else wouldn't check). And in any case, how is that any different for activities we'd be buying in - do we all check people's CV's before they take our kids out?
    Sorry you are right I missed the book bit, in which case its no different to any Scout Section. I can decide to do something with our Explorers, book it and be doing it a week later if we want to. No rules in TSA prevent me doing so, using external providers is extremely easy (ok if I had a stupid DC who had a draconian interpretation of rule 9.1 maybe that could cause me an issue although I suspect even then a week's notice would be plenty)

    Peter Andrews ESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
    www.falkonerscouts.org.uk

    Previous Scouting Roles
    2003 - 2013 ABSL
    2017-2018 AGSL

    Wike, North Leeds District Campsite - www.wikecampsite.org.uk
    www.leeds-solar.co.uk
    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

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