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Rules, who needs em?

Unfortunately, we all do. Without them we would have no way of knowing what will happen next.

For instance, if the rule about driving on the left side of the road was ignored, mayhem and death would no doubt occur. Similarly, if we took away an activity rule, (such as wearing a climbing helmet when climbing) the result would be similar, although probably not on the same scale. Rules are for our own safety. Young people join scouting for activities, challenge and adventure. We need to make sure we fulfil those needs and wants, but in the safest possible way. All leaders must follow best practice to ensure the safety of young people.

Scouting has a set of rules which are designed to ensure the safety of all members. Some may appear to be obvious, others less so. However, most rules are made because accidents or injuries have happened from missing the obvious or doing stupid things.

All the rules of The Scout Association are in a publication called Policy, Organisation and Rules (POR for short). Most of the rules are about how Scouting works and how it is made up. In POR there are a number of rules about all types of activities: water, air, land and creative. Some activities have a large number of rules, such as air rifle shooting. This is because there are a lot of laws controlling the sport. Our rules aim to simplify these laws and help you stick to them.

Some rules in POR are supported by factsheets. These are available as free downloads from Scout Stores. Whilst many of the factsheets give useful advice or ideas, a considerable number of them give quite specific safety guidelines, such as the Aerial Runway Code, for example. These kinds of factsheets should be considered as extensions to the rules in POR.

Anyone taking Members of The Scout Association on an activity must be aware of the rules as they affect that activity.

Some activities are forbidden to take part in as a member of The Scout Association. This may be for several reasons. For instance, hang gliding was forbidden when it first started as it had no set guidelines and safety standards - accidents and even deaths were fairly common. As experience in the sport grew the equipment became better produced and pilots became more experienced and therefore the sport as a whole became safer. As this happened over a period of years, hang gliding became an acceptable activity and was permitted for our Members. A similar thing is happening to bungee jumping (jumping into mid-air with support from a giant elastic band tied to the ankles). This sport is considered highly dangerous, equipment is extremely varied, and there is no central body controlling it. Owing to the accidents and the technical inability of some companies undertaking this sport, the activity is banned to Members of the Movement. Who knows, one day this might change as the sport becomes more popular and better controlled?

Activity rules

Before leaders in your group offer a particular activity you must first check if there are any special rules. These may include age restrictions, parental or carer permission or leader ratios. In some cases, the Association has decided that a particular activity is not appropriate for its Members. Having checked the rules there are two ways to offer adventurous activities to Members of the Movement, either:

  • within Scouting, using our own Members
  • using professional instructors/or other organisations.
  • The adventurous activity authorisation scheme

This is the Association's formal scheme to approve people who lead the following activities:

  • air activities
  • caving
  • climbing & abseiling
  • hill walking in Terrain One and Two
  • off-road cycling in Terrain One and Two
  • snow sports in Terrain One and Two
  • water activities (except 'C' class waters)

See POR for more details.

Ultimately, your District Commissioner is responsible for all activities that take place in your District. They are responsible either formally through our authorisation scheme or informally your Group Scout Leader.

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