Risk Management

The health and safety of all of our Scouts, Leaders, and parents will always be a priority of the Patriots’ Path Council. Our Risk Management Committee has a number of helpful programs, guides and recognition to assist with Safe Scouting activities.


Guide to Safe Scouting – September 2021 Update

  • Aquatics Safety Scuba policy updated. Aquatic policy updated to prohibiting full-face snorkels.
  • Camping Camping policy updated. Hazard Trees information is now included in this guide.
  • Medical Information and First Aid Immunization policy updated. Wilderness First Aid policy is now included in this guide.
  • Activity Planning and Risk Assessment The SAFE Checklist: Transition from the Sweet 16 of Safety. Cannon use exception has been eliminated.
  • Transportation Transportation policy updated.
  • Exploring Program Added section.

Download the print-friendly version here. This is the full PDF version that contains updates as of September 2021. 

Click here for the online version for the most updated information.

BSA Youth Protection Mission Statement

True youth protection can be achieved only through the focused commitment of everyone in Scouting. It is the mission of Youth Protection volunteers and professionals to work within the Boy Scouts of America to maintain a culture of Youth Protection awareness and safety at the national, regional, area, council, district, and unit levels. Protección Juvenil En Español

New to Scouting? Click here to login and take Youth Protection training You do not have to be a registered member of the Boy Scouts of America to take Youth Protection training.

To take Youth Protection training go to My.Scouting.org  and create an account. You’ll receive an email notification with your account information, including a member ID/reference number.

From the My.Scouting.org  portal, click Menu then My Dashboard from the menu list. The My Training page displays to take Youth Protection training. Upon completion, you may print a training certificate to submit with a volunteer application. Your training will automatically be updated in our system and associated with the member ID/reference number issued when you created the account.

When your volunteer application is approved, you will receive a BSA membership card that includes your member ID number.

The Boy Scouts of America places the greatest importance on creating the most secure environment possible for our youth members. To maintain such an environment, the BSA developed numerous procedural and leadership selection policies and provides parents and leaders with resources for the Cub ScoutScouts BSA, and Venturing programs.


Every few years, the BSA updates its Annual Health and Medical Record after consulting with health care professionals, Scout executives, council and camp health officers and other experts to ensure it is up-to-date and helpful.

This was one of those years, meaning a new form is available for everyone to use for 2020. Your AHMR is valid through the end of the 12th month after the date it was administered by your medical provider. For example, if you got your physical on Nov. 3, 2019, it’s valid until Nov. 30, 2020.

Next year will be a transition year, so you can use either the old or new form, but everyone in all Scouting programs must use the updated AHMR form starting Jan. 1, 2021. The old form will be obsolete at that date. So, the BSA recommends using the new form on your next physical exam or if you’re a new participant in 2020.

Since at least the 1930s, the BSA has required the use of standardized health and medical information. The last time this form was updated was in 2014. The changes made this year were minor, such as some conditions listed in the health history section.

You can download the new form here. The Annual Health and Medical Record is required for Scouts and adult leaders who want to go on Scouting events, campouts and high-adventure trips. Note that there are different parts to the AHMR:

  • Part A is an informed consent, release agreement and authorization that needs to be signed by every participant (or a parent and/or legal guardian for all youth under 18).
  • Part B is general information and a health history.
  • Part C is your pre-participation physical exam completed by a certified and licensed health care provider.

Which part must be completed?

  • For all Scouting events: Part A and B. Give the completed forms to your unit leader. This applies to all participants for all activities, day camps, local tours and weekend camping trips less than 72 hours.
  • For events or camps: Part A, B and C. A pre-participation physical is needed for resident, tour, or trek camps or for a Scouting event of more than 72 hours, such as Wood Badge and NYLT. The exam needs to be completed by a certified and licensed physician (M.D. or D.O.), nurse practitioner or physician assistant. If your camp has provided you with any supplemental risk information, or if your plans include attending one of the four national high-adventure bases, share the venue’s risk advisory with your medical provider when you are having your physical exam.
  • For high-adventure trips: Part A, B and C. Plus, each of the four national high-adventure bases (Florida Sea Base, Northern Tier, Philmont and the Summit Bechtel Reserve) has provided a supplemental risk advisory that explains in greater detail some of the risks inherent in that program. Please review these as some Scouts or leaders may not be physically or mentally able to handle the trek. Others arrive at a high-adventure base without discussing that base’s risk factors with their health care provider, meaning they have missing info at check-in that can slow down the process.

BSA Incident Reporting Requirements Effective June 24, 2019

When an injury, illness, or other incident occurs during a Scouting activity, the safety of our youth is top concern. It is essential that we all help mitigate potential impacts by following mandatory reporting requirements. To better enable this process, New Incident Reporting Requirements and a new online form have been put in place at the national level and are effective now. The form is available to councils and volunteers. Serious incidents need to be reported within 24 hours both online and to the regional and area directors as well as emailed to [email protected]. Online incident reports on serious youth-protection violations, membership standards infractions and medical treatment beyond first-aid will need to submitted within 72 hours. The process for submitting reports has been streamlined and simplified so please ensure you, your leaders, your troop, etc. comply with these requirements.

Learn more about the New Incident Reporting requirements HERE https://www.scouting.org/health-and-safety/incident-report/

Insurance Coverage

The Council provides both liability insurance and accident insurance for its members.

Submitting Insurance Requests — We recommend submitting a request at least 30 days in advance of your event. This allows for any problems that might arise and also allows for information to come from the National office if needed.We cannot guarantee a certificate will be issued if the request is submitted with less than two weeks advanced notice.

Certificate of Insurance Request Form

Certificate of Insurance Guidelines

What Insurance Does Your Unit Need?

General Liability Insurance Protection

The other type of insurance that is frequently needed is liability insurance. This insurance is provided by the National Office and is requested though the Council Service Center. This insurance is only needed when an organization (i.e.: school, business, attraction) requests proof of insurance for you to use their facilities. Many school districts and churches that are used by Units already have a copy of this insurance on file. If an organization requests that you supply them with a Certificate of Liability Insurance, you will need to complete a Certificate of Liability Insurance Request Form, which will ask for the details of your particular event. After this request is submitted to Council, it takes about a two weeks to process and distribute but may take longer. If you do not submit a request within 2 weeks of your event, we cannot guarantee that it will be processed. We recommend that you try to submit all requests 30 days in advance of your event to allow for any problems or for approval form the National Office. New Guidelines were issued November 1, 2017.

Chartered Organizations for Scouting Units

The general liability policy provides primary liability insurance coverage for all chartered organizations on file with the BSA for liability arising out of their chartering a traditional Scouting unit. Chartered organizations do not need a certificate of insurance. The chartered organization endorsement is a part of the insurance policy contract and is enforceable under the policy contract.

Accident Insurance Protection

All Patriots’ Path Council units automatically have Accident Insurance Protection. This policy is updated annually and covers registered youth and adult members while they participate in Scouting activities. Claims can be made and questions directed to the Council Service Center.

Proof of Accident Insurance coverage is often requested by other Boy Scout Councils and camps when you use their facilities or take part in one of their events. If you are asked to supply them with a copy of your unit’s accident insurance, contact Brenda Sonzogni at 973-765-9322, ext. 253 or [email protected] to obtain one.

Activity Planning and Risk Assessment


Policy Regarding Prohibited and Unauthorized Activities

The Boy Scouts of America’s Charter and Bylaws, Rules and Regulations, policies, and program guidelines help provide a safe and consistent program. Council and unit charters as well as individual registration are conditioned upon adherence to those requirements. Adult volunteer leaders and units that allow youth or units to engage in prohibited or unauthorized activities in contravention of program requirements, and leaders who fail to take steps to stop any such activities, put Scouts and the organization at risk. Only leaders possessing the educational, emotional, and moral qualities necessary for leadership are permitted to register and serve as Scouters. Actions which put youth or the organization at risk call into question the suitability of a Scouter for leadership. If it is determined that Scouts were allowed to participate or engage in unauthorized or prohibited activities, a leader’s registration and/or the unit’s charter may be subject to adverse action, including revocation.

Approved by the National Executive Committee, February 13, 2018

Unit Health and Safety Chairman

The Patriots’ Path Council encourages each unit to designate a Unit Health & Safety Chairman. This person is recruited by the Unit Committee and would have the following responsibilities:

Keep unit leaders informed as to the current policies and procedures related to Health & Safety, Accident Prevention, Health Education, Fitness and Aquatics. Keep all youth and leaders informed of the procedures and policies in the Safe Guide to Scouting Manual.

Be on the alert for health and safety needs in the unit; conduct an Annual Meeting Place Inspection; and monitor camping and activity site locations for safety concerns.

Be certified in the following areas or make sure other volunteers in the unit hold the following certificates:

Community First Aid and CPR
Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat
Youth Protection Training Certificate

Serve as a Health & Safety Coordinator for all unit activities.

Work with the Unit Advancement Chairman to conduct Health and Safety-related advancement

Be responsible for reporting all accidents to the Patriots’ Path Council.

Conduct Youth Protection Orientation for youth and families using “It Happened to Me”, “A Time to Tell”, or our new Venturing’ videos.

April 1, 2017
To: Unit Leaders
RE: Requirements associated with reserving facilities

Be careful what document you sign, or what “I agree” box you click online when making a reservation. You could be making yourself personally liable for anything that goes wrong.

Public and private institutions such as parks, schools, gyms and shopping centers occasionally allow packs and troops to use their facility for little or no cost. When an organization donates the use of their facilities we often issue a certificate of insurance for liability purposes, and offer a BSA-approved hold-harmless agreement. Recently, organizations have been including hold-harmless wording in their written applications and on-line reservation systems. A unit leader is blocked from making a reservation unless they indicate that they have read the fine print and agree with its terms. Often those terms are unacceptable to BSA, and no agreement of that sort binds the council or BSA unless signed by the Scout Executive.

When we are advised of these situations, we check the wording – often referring it to the national office or our corporate counsel for review. In many instances we agree with the wording and will execute the documents with the Scout executive’s signature. But in some cases the wording is unacceptable. For example, some public entities ask that we assume all responsibility for negligence of their employees. This is clearly a liability that we cannot accept. In those instances either we come to a resolution with the facility, or inform the unit that we cannot meet the stated requirements.

It is important to note that if an individual volunteer signs such an agreement, or clicks the “I agree” button on a website that he or she has assumed personal responsibility for that risk. No one except the Scout Executive can bind either Patriots’ Path Council or the Boy Scouts of America.

We recognize the administrative difficulty this poses, particularly for school districts that have adopted an online room reservation system. Wherever possible, we will work with those districts to come to a reasonable resolution. Your first point of contact on this issue is Brenda Sonzogni. She will engage the appropriate professionals for review and approval. Brenda can be reached at [email protected] or 973-765-9322, extension 253.


First, know the BSA’s policy

The Boy Scouts of America has adopted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s recommendation that when “Thunder Roars, Go Indoors! The only completely safe action is to get inside a safe building or vehicle.”

Right when lightning-prone conditions start to develop, go ahead and get inside a building or safe vehicle if you can. Why risk it?

The BSA’s Guide to Safe Scouting has a section devoted to Lightning Risk Reduction.

There you’ll find steps for what to do if no shelter is available, including staying away from tall trees and spreading out.

Then, get trained

Don’t blow this training off, because it just may save your life or the lives of your Scouts. The E-Learning Weather Hazards Course, available through MyScouting, is appropriate for youth of Boy Scout age and up and all adults.

“At least one member of any tour or activity should have the training,” says BSA Health and Safety guru Richard Bourlon.


Lightning Risk Reduction

In many parts of the country, Scouting activities in the outdoors will be at risk to thunderstorms and lightning strike potential. In a thunderstorm, there is no risk-free location outside.

First, to be prepared for your outdoor adventure, it is important to know the weather patterns of the area. Weather patterns on the Florida coast differ greatly from the mountains of New Mexico and the lakes of Minnesota or the rivers of West Virginia. In addition to patterns, monitor current weather forecasts and conditions of the area you plan to visit to modify your plans if needed.

The National Weather Service recommends that when the “Thunder Roars, Go Indoors! The only completely safe action is to get inside a safe building or vehicle.” When a safe building or vehicle is nearby, the best risk-reduction technique is to get to it as soon as possible. Move quickly when you:

  • First hear thunder,
  • See lightning, or
  • Observe dark, threatening clouds developing overhead.

Stay inside until 30 minutes after you last hear the last rumble of thunder before resuming outdoor activities. Shelter—two forms:

  • Safe Building—one that is fully enclosed with a roof, walls, and floor, and has plumbing or wiring. Examples of safe buildings include a home, school, church, hotel, office building, or shopping center.
  • Safe Vehicle—any fully enclosed, metal-topped vehicle such as a hardtopped car, minivan, bus, truck, etc. If you drive into a thunderstorm, slow down and use extra caution. If possible, pull off the road into a safe area. Do NOT leave the vehicle during a thunderstorm.

Risk Reduction (when no safe building or vehicle is nearby):

  • If camping, hiking, etc., far from a safe vehicle or building, avoid open fields, the top of a hill, or a ridge top.
  • Spread your group out 100 feet from each other if possible.
  • Stay away from tall, isolated trees; flag poles; totem poles; or other tall objects. If you are in a forest, stay near a lower stand of trees.
  • If you are camping in an open area, set up camp in a valley, ravine, or other low area, but avoid flood-prone areas. Remember, a tent offers NO protection from lighting.
  • Stay away from water, wet items (such as ropes), and metal objects (such as fences and poles). Water and metal are excellent conductors of electricity.
  • If boating and you cannot get back to land to a safe building or vehicle: On a small boat, drop anchor and get as low as possible. Large boats with cabins, especially those with lightning protection systems properly installed, or metal marine vessels offer a safer but not risk-free environment. Remember to stay inside the cabin and away from any metal surfaces.

If lightning strikes, be prepared to administer CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) so that you can tend to lightning victims quickly (they do not hold an electrical charge). Take anyone who is a victim of a lightning strike or near-strike to the nearest medical facility as soon as possible, even if the person appears to be unharmed.

For additional information on lightning and weather services, visit www.noaa.gov .




Safe Swim Defense & Safety Afloat Training

Most accidents during aquatic activities are caused by a lack of adult supervision and discipline. Almost every accidental drowning can be attributed to the violation of one or more safe swim defenses.

Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat are required courses for your unit to participate in ANY aquatic activity. This training is offered to any registered adult leader, and is appropriate for Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Venturing or Explorer Leaders.

The training fee for this class has been eliminated. Patches will be sold separately.

For more information about the classes, contact Keith Dlugosz at our Cedar Knolls Service Center, (973) 765-9322 x412. 

Facilitators wishing to conduct their own training should request a kit. Please see Facilitator flyer for more information.

New Jersey has been a hot spot for ticks and cases of Lyme disease for decades with no indication that will change this summer.

Tick season is getting into full swing in New Jersey with May, June and July considered the prime months for Nymphal blacklegged ticks (deer ticks) — the types that can transmit Lyme disease

Fight the Bite, NJ!

When infected blood-sucking insects (such as mosquitoes and ticks) bite a person, they can spread vector-borne illnesses such as West Nile Virus and Lyme disease. There are many types of vector-borne illness. The best defense against them is to take steps to avoid being bitten by infected insects.