By Darryl Alder
Apr 09, 2015

Are You Weather Smart?

Weather SmartThis week I started getting ready to teach at National Camp School. As part of that, I am renewing my Hazardous Weather training.

Since 2009, the Health and Safety and Risk Management Teams at the National office, have offered Hazardous Weather training (log in to MyScouting to take this course online) and it should be part of every Scouters training arsenal.

This training is required for at least one leader before filing for a unit tour or activity plan, but more importantly, it is knowledge that we all can use to manage risks in any outdoor setting. Since this training must be completed prior to requesting a tour and activity plan from the BSA, it’s pretty important for all Scouters to keep it up to date. The estimated time to complete is 40 minutes—I took the course over several days, so I am not sure how long it will take you. You should renew this training every other year.

The module presents safety precautions for eight different types of weather, as well as planning, preparation, and traditional weather signs. As you finish each section, you answer questions about the topics to insure you have the facts.

I was interested to read ScouterMom’s take on this:

Jeannine Szatkowski

Jeannine Szatkowski, ScouterMom Blogger is an Assistant Scoutmaster, a merit badge counselor, Advisor for a Venturing Crew, and a Pack Trainer.

The weather on the first camping trip I went on with my first Webelos den was “not as advertised.”  As a novice camper, there was enough for me to handle without unexpected rain and unseasonably cold weather in late April. I had another Scouter with me who was an experienced camper, so all was fine. Plus the Boy Scout troop was on the other side of the field. But imagine if two inexperienced adults took some Webelos out on a hike and the weather suddenly turned ugly. That could be serious trouble.

Now I have a lot more experience under my belt and I am very comfortable and confident when I go hiking or camping. But a lot of that experience came through training. Getting the right training will help you know how to cope with unexpected situations and to see when it is time to bug out on an outing. And no matter how much experience you have, remember not to be too confident in your skills. If you have any doubts at all, call it off or turn around and go back.

I recommend the Weather Hazards course at the Online Training Center. It is long …but you can do part of it and then pick up later where you left off.

If the module is taken online, when you are done, your training is noted automatically in the BSA records database. Hazardous Weather CDHazardous Weather CDThis course is also available on a CD titled:  “Plan & Prepare For Hazardous Weather” for use in your unit, district, or with other groups. The CD is also great for  training when an Internet connection is not available. You can purchase a copy at the Scout shop or order one online at (search for item 610642).

Please note that the format of the training is set up for you to facilitate; just pop in the CD and play for the audience. It is suggested that units work with their district training chairs to make sure that Scouters have the completion of the training entered into their records. The training takes about 40 minutes to complete which is just right for a troop, team or crew meeting.

It is both age-appropriate and recommended for all adult leaders and for youth in Boy Scout troops, Varsity Scout teams, or Venturing crews, but we require it for all camp staff members too.  Ryan Bertran, one of our new District Directors, shared this from one of his staff at Camp Lazarus:

In 2012 as part of our camp staff training, we were required to complete online Weather Hazards training as a condition of our employment. The benefits of completing this training became obvious later that summer when many of us served on camp staff for volunteer-run day camps elsewhere in the council.

During one of these day camps, at the first sign of thunder, the pool was immediately closed along with lakefront and slingshots (all run by resident camp staff). The volunteer camp director was unaware why we shutting down our stations due to thunder and some lightning. Resident camp staff took over under the direction of the aquatics director and got other staff to help get campers into shelter.  After 30 minutes of thunder and lightning, the camp director thought we could to resume stations, but after a look at the radar, we knew that the cell still hadn’t arrived. We explained that all areas should stay under shelter; then the lightning and thunder picked up. We had half of camp in the dining hall and half in the exchange lodge. Resident camp staff tried to get all under closed shelters due to the severity of the storm. One resident camp staff member who worked the ranges told the volunteer rangemasters to close due to the 30 minute rule and they were not even aware a thunderstorm was approaching.

Fortunately, the storm passed without incident. We all walked away from this experience knowing and understanding the value of the Weather Hazards training we took.

Whether you are camp staff or volunteer Scouter, you can see the importance of this training. When will you take yours?

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