By Darryl Alder
Jun 01, 2016

LDS Safety Guidelines to be Camp Ready

In our council, we will have 54,000 youth and leaders participating in camps and other outdoor activities this summer. With each adventure there will be some risk. As leaders, we need to pay careful attention to the planning and execution of these activities and ensure each one of the participants returns home safely.

Leaders should be as careful with the safety of participants in their activities as they would be with the safety of their own children. Leaders of youth and children. in particular, should be mindful that parents trust them with the safety of their sons and daughters.—LDS First Presidency, May 19, 2016

Please see the guidelines and counsel in the May 19, 2016 LDS safety letter from the First Presidency regarding safety for activities. Additionally, the following ten guidelines were attached and can be found below the letter at “Reaffirming Safety Guidelines for Activities” at LDS.org.

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Manage the risk and protect the fun!

Following are general guidelines for planning activities for Church members, especially children, youth, and young single adults. Additional guidelines, policies, and training resources are found in chapter 13, “Activities,” of Handbook 2: Administering the Church (2010) and at the new Church Safety and Health website (safety.lds.org). Leaders who participate in Scouting activities should be registered with Boy Scouts of America (BSA) or Scouts Canada and should have completed Youth Protection and related training through their local councils. Safety training is also available to Scouting leaders through local Scouting roundtables and other Scout-sponsored meetings, the Scouting Safely website, and the LDS/BSA Relationships website.

General Guidelines

  1. Care should be taken to promote the physical, emotional, and spiritual safety of those

    participating. Leaders should be as careful with the safety of participants in their activities as they would be with the safety of their own children. All conduct and interactions should abide by Church standards and exemplify Christlike behavior.(see Scouter Code of Conduct)

  2. Leaders, parents, and youth should understand that participation in an activity is not a right but a privilege that can be revoked if they behave inappropriately or if they pose a risk to themselves or others. Leaders should communicate these expectations to parents and participants and counsel together on how to address concerns that may arise.

  3. At least two adult supervisors should be present at every activity. To protect youth and children, leaders should always avoid one-on-one situations with a youth or a child unless the leader and young person are clearly visible to nearby adult leaders.

  4. Prayerfully plan safe activities. This not only protects the well-being of participants, but it also protects the Church from significant liabilities. When activities require specific physical skills or experience, then additional planning, organization, and preparation are required. It may be necessary to obtain specialized training or use professional guides. Instruct all participants in safety practices unique to the activity. Activities should be appropriate for the participants’ ages, ability, and maturity. Leaders and youth should have fitness levels appropriate for the activity, and individual medical risk factors should be carefully considered. For more information, visit the Youth Activities website.

  5. Be prepared for emergencies that may occur, including preparing and discussing plans for possible situations that may arise. Know in advance how to contact parents, Church leaders, Scout leaders (if applicable), and law enforcement and emergency services.

  6. Stake and ward leaders who plan, conduct, and supervise activities should be knowledgeable about Church Activity Medical Assistance (CAMA) and personal liability insurance guidelines. For more details, see Handbook 2, 13.6.9, or visit dmba.com/churchactivity.

  7. Provide parents with adequate information about outings or activities so they can make an informed decision about their youth’s participation. Use the Parental or Guardian Permission and Medical Release form (33810) for activities that require specific skills, that are held out of the area, or that are held overnight. Remember that parents who send their children to Church activities are trusting the Church—and, by extension, the leaders planning the activities—with the safety of their children.

  8. All leaders should be familiar with and follow all vehicle and travel-related guidelines; see Handbook 2, 13.6.24. Drivers should not use mobile phones or engage in other distracting behaviors while driving

  9. Notify the bishop and stake president promptly if an accident, illness, or injury occurs on Church property or during a Church-sponsored activity.

  10.  If an accident on Church property or during a Church-sponsored activity involves a fatality or overnight hospital stay, immediately notify the Risk Management Division at Church headquarters (telephone 1-801-240-4049 or 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-4049).

Managing Risk on LDS Scouting Activities

For more information that will help leaders understand and evaluate Scouting activity risks, see sections 8.17 through 8.20 in the recently updated Scouting Handbook, available online at scouting.lds.org. Safety information is also available for Scouting leaders through local Scouting roundtables, the Scouting Safely website (see scouting.org), and other Scout-sponsored meetings.

8.9 Safety  Priesthood and Scouting leaders should refer regularly to Handbook 2, chapter 13 for policies and guidelines regarding activities and safety. Leaders should also comply with guidelines in the Guide to Safe Scouting, published by the BSA. This publication is available online at scouting.org and at BSA local council service centers. Additional safety guidelines can be found on safety.lds.org.

Varsity Scouts taking to the trail

Well prepared Varsity Scouts face little risk

Activities should be appropriate for the participants’ ages, ability, and maturity. Leaders and youth should have fitness levels appropriate for the activity, and individual medical risk factors should be carefully considered. Before holding an activity, leaders should instruct all participants in safety practices unique to the activity. Leaders and youth should know and abide by all laws and safety guidelines pertaining to the activity or property.

8.11 Accident Response and Reporting Leaders should notify the bishop and stake president promptly if an accident, illness, or injury occurs on Church property or during an official Scouting or Church-sponsored activity. If the accident involves a fatality or overnight hospital stay, leaders immediately notify the Risk Management Division at Church headquarters (telephone 1-801-240-4049 or 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-4049). Leaders should also notify the local BSA council. For detailed guidelines on responding to accidents and reporting them, see Handbook 2, 13.6.20.

Incident Reporting enables Church employees, missionaries, and volunteers to report safety concerns and incidents involving injury or damage to vehicles or property or that present a liability for the Church.

8.20 Official Scouting Activities and Unauthorized Activities An “official Scouting activity” is an activity that is consistent with the established programs, values, charter, bylaws, and rules and regulations of the BSA. The BSA’s Guide to Safe Scouting provides important planning guidelines, along with a list of unauthorized and restricted activities. These activities are not considered official Scouting activities.

Volunteers (registered and unregistered), units, and chartered organizations will jeopardize insurance coverage for themselves and their organization if they engage in unauthorized activities. Leaders should not put themselves, others, or the Church at risk. (See the BSA’s Guide to Safe Scouting, section X, “Insurance.”)

Additional Considerations

  • Plan to be safe by using the church’s Activity Plan form (33809) or for Scouting activities use the BSA Tour and Activity Plan and read this FAQ]  Also note this statement from the Church on their safety website: “the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) long-term summer camps or high adventure bases can help provide these safety resources. In some areas these camps may also provide similar resources for Young Women camps.”
  • If you go on your own, “be prepared for emergencies that may occur. Know in advance how to contact law enforcement and emergency services.” Boy Scout Camps and High Adventure Bases do this for you, but in either case you should be Weather Smart (this is a course you can take online at my.Scouting.org). Scout Camps and High Adventure Bases offer liability and camper insurance.
  • Activities should be age and ability appropriate.The Guide to Safe Scouting has a list of these. The Church suggests: “Leaders and youth should have fitness levels appropriate for the activity, and individual medical risk factors should be carefully considered.” BSA’s Annual Health and Medical Record is an important part of this.
  • At the Church’s safety website it suggests: “Before holding an activity, instruct all participants in safety practices unique to the activity. Observe safety precautions at all times during the activity. Know and abide by all laws and safety guidelines pertaining to the activity or property.” BSA certification courses may be helpful (click here for a listing).
  • For Scouting activities use Activity Consent From and Approval by Parents or Legal Guardian for all non-local, overnight travel or activities that require specific physical skills or experience. Parents should be given adequate information about the events and activities so they can make an informed decision about their youth’s participation. Parents should also provide valuable information about their youth’s allergies, pre-existing medical conditions, and medications.
  • The Church also states:”Activities normally should not require long-distance travel. However, in the case of approved long-distance travel, use safe and reliable commercial transportation whenever feasible. Be sure to verify that commercial transportation providers are licensed to operate and are protected by liability insurance. Travel practices and guidelines should be consistent among units in the same coordinating council.””When using private passenger vehicles, instruct drivers to obey all laws, to not drive if they are drowsy, and to never use mobile phones or engage in other behaviors that could be distracting while they drive. Each person in the vehicle should properly use a seat belt. Each driver should be a licensed, responsible adult leader. All vehicles and drivers should be covered by reasonable amounts of insurance. Vehicle owners should make sure that their vehicle is in safe operating condition. For more details on travel-related guidelines, see Handbook 2(13.6.24).”

LDS Church Safety Resources

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