Safety Guidelines
(from the BSA "Guide to Safe Scouting", 1999 Printing)

Bike Safety

The following guidelines and procedures apply to all BSA units, councils, and national program activities including bicycling.

  1. Qualified Supervision
    All unit, district, council, and national event activities must be supervised by a mature and conscientious adult at least age 21 who understands and knowingly accepts responsibility for the safety of children in his or her care, who is experienced with the skills and equipment involved in the activity, and who is committed to compliance with these BSA safety guidelines.
  2. Physical Fitness
    Biking is strenuous. Long treks and hill climbing should not be attempted without training and preparation. For Scouting activities, all participants must present evidence of fitness assured by a complete health history from a physician, parent, or legal guardian. The adult supervisor should adjust all supervision, discipline, and protection to anticipate any potential risks associated with individual health conditions. In the event of any significant health conditions, proof of an examination by a physician should be required by the adult leader.
  3. Helmets and Clothing
    All cyclists must wear a properly sized and fitted helmet approved by either the Snell Memorial Foundation or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards. Layer your clothing for warmth on cool days so you can avoid chilling or overheating. Cover up for sun protection on clear days.
  4. Buddy-Up
    When the program activity is a bicycle expedition or trek, the buddy system must be used. When there is program activity emphasizing individual performance skills, one buddy observes while the other takes his turn. In competitive activity where the buddy concept cannot be practically applied, all activity must be directly observed by the adult supervisor. (Youth members should be taught that biking with a buddy is best. When biking alone, apart from Scouting activities, youth members should be encouraged to tell someone their route, schedule, and destination before departing.)
  5. Keep Right
    Ride with the traffic flow, as far to the right as possible. Avoid curbs, storm drains, soft or loose gravel on shoulders, and other hazards.
  6. Be Smart
    Obey all traffic laws, signs, signals, and street markings. Watch for changes in road conditions. Ride only one to a bike. Do not ride after dark. No stunts--trick riding is only for professionals who use special equipment. Yield to motor vehicles even if you think you have the right-of-way. Never hitch a ride on another vehicle. Keep your head and ears open and do not wear headphones while riding.
  7. Turns and Intersections
    Look left, right, back, and ahead before turning. Stop and search all directions when entering a street from a driveway, parking area, sidewalk, or an alley. Signal all turns using universal hand signals. Walk your bike through or across busy intersections.
  8. Right Bike
    Ride only a bike that fits you. Select a bike that permits you to put both feet on the ground while sitting on the seat. The handgrips should be no higher than your shoulder or lower than your seat.
  9. Accessories
    Every bike needs a horn or bell and reflectors (front, back, and sides). Items should be carried only in baskets, saddlebags, or on a rear carrier rack. If you must ride in traffic, a bike- or helmet-mounted mirror is recommended. For long trips, a bike-mounted container for drinking water is recommended.
  10. Maintenance
    Keep your bike clean and well-maintained--especially the brakes and drive chain.
  11. Race Right
    Open street racing is dangerous. Race only with supervision on marked courses that have been set up to exclude other vehicle or pedestrian traffic, to eliminate fall hazards and minimize collision risks, and to define clearly "start" and "finish" points.
  12. Planning
    Plan both the route and timing of bike trips to avoid heavy traffic and hazardous conditions. Biking is unsafe on wet pavement and on windy days. Plan for at least hourly rest stops and a maximum of approximately six hours on the bike per day.
  13. Discipline
    All participants should know, understand, and follow the rules and procedures for safe biking, and all participants should conscientiously and carefully follow all directions from the adult supervisor.

(from the BSA "Guide to Safe Scouting", 1999 Printing)



A sharp pocketknife with a can opener on it is an invaluable backcountry tool. Keep it clean, sharp, and handy. Avoid large sheath knives. They are heavy and awkward to carry and unnecessary for most camp chores except for cleaning fish. Since its inception, Boy Scouting has relied heavily on an outdoor program to achieve its objectives. This program meets more of the purposes of Scouting than any other single feature. We believe we have a duty to instill in our members, youth and adult, the knowledge of how to use, handle, and store legally owned knives with the highest concern for safety and responsibility.

(from the BSA "Guide to Safe Scouting", 1999 Printing)


Rope Monkey Bridges

When constructing monkey bridges, observe the following safety rules:

  1. Always follow the steps for constructing monkey bridges outlined in the Pioneering merit badge pamphlet.
  2. Before beginning the project, inspect your rope, looking at both the inside fibers and inner strands. Know the size and strength of the type of rope you are using, and its safe working load.
  3. Monkey bridges should not be constructed higher than 5 feet above flat-surfaced ground nor longer than 40 feet. Initially, beginners should not span more than 25 feet.
  4. Know the effect the knots will have in reducing rope strength and the proper care that rope requires.
  5. Rope, especially rope carrying a load, should be checked each day before using. Rope carrying a load and left in place tends to become slack from fatigue and will break under stress. Tighten rope as necessary to maintain the integrity of the original construction.
  6. Exercise special care when members of the public are allowed to use these monkey bridges. Establish controls when monkey bridges are constructed outside the camp environment. Station Scouts at each end to control access to the bridge. Allow only one adult at a time on the bridge. Never allow unaccompanied children on the bridge. Shut down the bridge when any repairs are being made and do not reopen until the adult leader has approved the repairs.
  7. Any activity on rope swings, monkey bridges, slide-for- life, or similar devices that are located over water must comply with Safe Swim Defense.

(from the BSA "Guide to Safe Scouting", 1999 Printing)


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