By Paul Riley
Mar 18, 2014

What Leaders Can Do to Keep LDS Units Safe

April is safety month in the BSA, so we’ve gathered some helpful articles and resources for you to review as spring and summer outdoor activities get on their way.

Too often, a scout or leader participating in a unit sponsored by a ward or branch from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is injured.  These tips are meant to highlight the balance needed between providing exciting adventures and bringing your scouts home safely at the end of the day.

  • Become familiar with the Church’s new website that provides guidance and instruction on planning safe activities.
  • Keep good trained leaders in their scout callings as long as possible. Former LDS Church Young Men General President, Charles W. Dahlquist II emphasized the Four T’s. Tenure is the third member of this mnemonic.  President Dahlquist affectionately refers to tenure as “ten-year.”  In his May 2007 Aaronic Priesthood–Scouting satellite broadcast talk he stated, “Ideally it would be wonderful to leave leaders of the youth in callings as long as possible, but we recognize that is subject to revelation. Over time, leaders become trained, establish strong Scouting traditions, and build relationships of trust with the boys and their families.  This usually takes years, rather than months.
  • Read, know, and use BSA’s Guide to Safe Scouting.  This manual contains all of the basic information a unit needs to ensure that they are following the guidelines established by National Boy Scouts of America that will help keep boys and leaders safe. It also ensures that the unit will retain liability coverage that may be lost if they are engaged in an unauthorized or restricted activity.  This resource is available online through a link on the National BSA website at  Occasionally, I hear about units that try to get around the principles found in the Guide to Safe Scouting by calling it a “quorum activity” instead of working within these potentially life-saving guidelines.  Once a leader takes these steps, the leader places the liability for the activity squarely on his shoulders. The leader’s homeowner policy now becomes the first line of defense in case of a liability claim.
  • File a local or national tour plan, whenever required by your council, by your bishop, stake president, or whenever specified by the Guide to Safe Scouting. This simple act solidifies all of the protection that the National Boy Scouts of America organization has to offer. This plan helps to ensure that you are doing everything necessary to carry out a top notch program. For more information about submitting a tour plan follow this link.
  • Properly register each of your young men and adults involved in Scouting.  Registration provides significant liability insurance protection to Scout Leaders.
  • Obtaining the appropriate training for your calling as a Scout Leader. Start with available online training, but then follow up with basic training and Wood badge. The scriptures tell us in Doctrine and Covenants, Section 107: 99 “Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.”  In addition, leaders have a responsibility to teach and train the scouts regarding the safety requirements of a proposed activity. For some of the higher risk activities, we need to spend as much time and effort with the principles of safety as we do teaching about the “fun” side of the activity.  Remember . . . the only good activity is a safe activity.  We want these times to be memorable for the right reason and not because of an incident or injury.

Hopefully, these tips will help your unit have a safe (and exciting!) summer as you experience the beauties of nature, for it is within these environments that Lord Robert Baden Powell was convinced that Scouts learned to understand their God and Creator.  In an excerpt of a good-bye note to Boy Scouts, Baden-Powell wrote the following, which was found among his personal papers after his death, “Nature study will show you how full of beautiful and wonderful things God has made the world for you to enjoy.”

Church Resources

BSA Scouting Resources

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Author: Paul Riley | Global Safety Manager, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints | Enterprise Risk Management Chairman, Utah National Parks Council, BSA

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2 thoughts on “What Leaders Can Do to Keep LDS Units Safe

  1. AvatarRay Webb

    Several months ago I asked the Stake High Counselor with responsibilities for Scouting, under what conditions units covered by BSA, Church and individual insurance protection. After speaking with people at the Council Office and the Church’s Risk Management Office, he was of the opinion that because the Church is self insured, units do not pay for and are not covered by the BSA insurance. His information was that BSA insurance was only available when paid for by individuals.

    Part of this question related to coverage in the event a Tour Plan was not submitted to the ward, or to the Council.

    Since Brother Riley can be quoted as “the Source” on this subject, what is the correct information?

    Thank you for resolving this concern.

    (Please email an answer to me at your earliest convenience.)

    1. AvatarPaul Riley


      Thank you for the questions. I will try to clarify the three questions that I have identified in your comments above.

      1. BSA Medical Insurance (Known by BSA as “Unit Accident Insurance Plans”): This is an insurance plan that is offered by each BSA Council for an extra fee. LDS Units do not purchase this extra coverage when they register each year because the Church provides what is called “Church Activity Medical Assistance” or “CAMA” to it’s members. If a Scout or Participant is injured during an authorized LDS BSA activity, then a family’s medical insurance is primary and the Church’s CAMA program is secondary to help with “out of pocket” expenses.

      2. BSA Comprehensive General Liability Insurance ( This coverage provides primary general liability coverage for registered volunteer Scouters (Leaders) with respect to claims arising out of an official Scouting activity with the exception that the coverage is excess over any insurance that may be available to the volunteer for loss arising from the ownership, maintenance, or use of a motor vehicle or watercraft. In other words your personal auto or boat insurance is primary and BSA insurance would be secondary.

      3. Tour Plans: I mention in my article that a Tour Plan should be filed “whenever required…”. If a Tour Plan is required and not completed then it can adversely affect insurance coverage. But, most importantly it helps you plan for a safer activity to reduce risk for the leaders and the Scouts. You can go to for additional help and clarification concerning when Tour Plans are required.

      I hope this information is helpful,



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