Recently I was working with another unit on the time-honored classic Cubmobile Race. Slap a couple of wagon wheels on some 2x4s and find a nice grassy hill to roll down. It’s a project listed in the Bear book for building (Elective 7, “Things That Go”) and we’ve safely run a number of Cubmobile races in the past.
But this year, the Town asked us to provide proof of insurance and hold harmless agreements as well before they would let us use the grassy hill at the park.
The easy answer would probably be to cancel the event. But certainly I believe that Cubmobile Races are reasonably safe, and the activity is not prohibited in the Guide To Safe Scouting’s Age Appropriate Guidelines, and most of all it is listed as a project in our program books.
So how should you answer?
First, make sure that your activity fits within the Age Appropriate Guidelines for Scouting Activities. You don’t have any leeway here. In our Cubmobile scenario, the Cubmobiles are in the Bear and Leader books and are similar to the risk and activity of sledding/tubing or mountain biking – which are approved for Tiger Cubs.
Next, understand exactly what the risks are. Scouting is not without risk! Know how to Manage Risk, and the Sweet 16 of BSA Safety. Many Scouting activities try to balance that element of adrenaline rush with making sure we take reasonable precautions to make sure the boys stay safe. We put blocks on the steering and make the boys wear helmets and appropriate pants and shoes. Since we have many parents involved in the fire department, we had EMTs standing by as well. They weren’t needed, but it was good to have them there. The park we want to use has a gradual slope – fast enough to keep the boys interest, but not so much to allow the Cubmobiles to go too fast. Talk this over with the parents in your unit, and if necessary use a waiver. This is important because it gives you the ability to treat the Scout if his guardian isn’t available.
See the BSA’s May 2012 update on Insurance Coverage. It is most likely that a family’s medical or homeowner insurance is going to primarily cover any kind of injury that might occur during a Cubmobile race, but it never hurts to know that the BSA backs up that coverage regardless. Granted, you have to follow all of the rules and use good judgment. You may also be required to file a tour permit if your activity is outside of the Council, or involves certain activities.
Know what to do if something does go wrong. Make sure you can report Who, When, Where, What and How. If you have an incident beyond just Scout rendered First Aid, you do have to report that to Council.
Few organizations are as well prepared and equipped to deal with problems like the Boy Scouts of America! If you take the time to Be Prepared, your outing can be successful and safe too.