Category: Health, Safety & Survival

Lightning Strikes

There are lots of myths and misconceptions about lightning strikes on outings. However, one thing to remember is that there is no safe place for Scouts during an electrical storm. Scouts and leaders have been hit by lightening (and killed) in shelters as well as open spaces. In fact, during one especially terrible storm at the Griswold Scout Reservation in New Hampshire, 23 Scouts who had taken shelter under a canopy were hospitalized from a lightning strike that hit close to them. The problem is serious enough that BSA has studied it ……….

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Poison Oak / Ivy

At the end of the summer, 12 year old Colin was climbing around in Rock City, a popular area at Mt. Diablo State Park. Since

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Fear, Panic, and Paranoia on the Trail

Fear can paralyze a Scout and keep him from experiencing life-changing places like Philmont. There is no way to eliminate fear from a backpacking trip and we shouldn’t try. However, success on a high adventure outing is all about facing fears and dealing with them successfully (and safely). That’s why high adventure outings are so good at turning boys into men.

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Wilderness Emergencies (S.A.M.P.L.E.)

On the fourth day of a 50 miler, the group was interrupted by a boy loudly complaining about intense pain in his stomach. The adult leader, assuming appendicitis, frantically hiked to the nearest ranger station and arranged for a helicopter evacuation. When the boy finally arrived at the hospital emergency room, a quick examination by doctors revealed the problem and the Scoutmaster was dead wrong in his diagnosis.

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Tick Bite Danger

One hot afternoon, a new Scout on his first outing ran through the campsite screaming loudly and holding his crotch. Despite the commotion, the other boys barely noticed because they were occupied trying to start a fire with a magnifying glass. After a few seconds, however, I realized what was wrong and said to the closest adult leader, “Better go and get the first aid kit, we need to remove a tick.” It took us more time to chase the boy down and get him to cooperate than it took to pull the tick out. (Please forward this email to your Scouting friends.)

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Mosquitoes Suck

At dusk the mosquitoes were swarming and we were all cowering in our tents. Only the cook and his assistant were forced into the open, and they struggled to prepare dinner in long shirts, gloves, and mosquito hats. When it was time to eat, everyone grabbed their food and disappeared back into their tents as fast as possible. Next morning, we ventured out and were immediately attacked by thousands of frantic mosquitoes. Everyone just grabbed their stuff and ran down the trail with tents, cooking equipment, and even sleeping bags in their arms until the mosquitoes left us alone. (Please forward to your backpacking friends.)

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Poison Oak

At the end of the summer, Colin was climbing around in Rock City, a popular area at Mt. Diablo State Park. Since the temperature was in the high 80’s, he was wearing only shorts and tennis shoes as he scampered from rock to rock in the bright sunshine. Unfortunately, he suddenly lost his balance. A large bush broke his fall, but he ended up scratched and bleeding where the branches penetrated his skin. The next day in the hospital emergency room, Colin learned the bush was poison oak, and he had several painful days of recuperation ahead of him. (Click to learn more about poison oak and how to deal with the rash it causes. Please forward to other Scout leaders.)

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Bear Country

Bears are an increasingly common companion for hikers in the backcountry. According to a Ranger in Yosemite, there are now more than 30,000 black bears

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Cat Holes

Since you’re seeing this on a computer screen, you’re obviously a member of a privileged part of the world population, the part that has bathrooms.

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Wilderness First Aid

One of the unique characteristics of backpacking is that it puts you in control of your own destiny in a very real, but sometimes dangerous,

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Hiking Safety

The most important part of keeping your group safe is planning ahead. Think about the worst case scenarios ahead of time, and decide how you

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Wilderness Survival

Puma Point seemed like the perfect spot for our Wilderness Survival campout. It’s in a beautiful area – near Lake Chabot – with lots of trees and vegetation. BBQs and stone pits are on hand for fire building. Hardly any other campers are close enough for us to disturb with our cheers, singing and late night activities. Most important, there is lots of space for Scouts to spread out and build shelters.

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