Restart to Scouting

The Virginia Headwaters Council take the health and safety of all members and staff very seriously. As Virginia moves into Phase 3, our council’s Outdoor Programs and Properties committees have established this guide for Safe Scouting During the Pandemic for Unit Meetings, Hikes and Camping. This guide is to be shared with all participants before any outdoor activity. Acknowledgements and signatures are to be collected and retained by the unit leader.


Safety and Risks with Scouting Activities

Being safe is not the same as risk free in the context of Scout unit activities. As the response to the pandemic shifts to a state-focused, phased approach, we must strictly conduct activities following the guidelines of the State of Virginia and the BSA to be safe and compliant with their guidelines.

Precautions and mitigation strategies are important, but they cannot eliminate the potential for exposure to COVID-19 or any other illness with in-person activities. People with COVID-19 may show no signs or symptoms of illness, but they can spread the virus. Some people may be contagious before their symptoms occur. The fact is, that someone with COVID-19 may still pass the required health screenings and be allowed into program activities. Further, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that as people age and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. These individuals are precluded from participation at in-person unit activities.

 

Traveling to and from Events/Activities

Most likely you will be traveling in a car, van or bus to your outdoor activity. When in a vehicle you must wear a mask and avoid physical contact. Wash or sanitize hands before getting into the vehicle and immedi-ately after leaving the vehicle. If you stop for food, restroom, etc., keep your mask on, wash or sanitize hands after leaving vehicle and before entering vehicle.

 

Hiking

Hiking is a key activity for Scouts of all ages. Being outdoors does help lower risk of infections and that is a positive. As noted above, there is always some risk. To mitigate the risk as much as possible the following must be followed:

  1. Attestation of pre-activity health conditions signed by parent or guardian.
  2. Acknowledgement of recognition of risk associated with the activity signed by parent or guardian.
  3. On-site re-check of health conditions.
  4. All records are kept by leader for a minimum of four weeks after the event.
  5. Physical distancing of a minimum of 10 feet outdoors without masks.
  6. Masks must be worn when less than 10 feet except when eating or drinking.
  7. Wash or sanitize hands at beginning of event, before and after every meal, and at the end of the event.
  8. Report to adult leadership if at any time someone in the group is feeling ill. Also, report to adult leadership if at any time you are diagnosed with Covid-19.

 

Camping

Camping, like hiking, is a keystone activity in scouting. Both are conducted outdoors does help lower risks; but conversely being in a confined campsite, cooking meals and eating together as well as other troop/patrol activities may increase risks for infection. To mitigate this risk the following must be followed:

  1. Attestation of pre-activity health conditions signed by parent or guardian.
  2. Acknowledgement of recognition of risk associated with the activity signed by parent or guardian.
  3. On-site re-check of health conditions.
  4. All records are kept by leader for a minimum of four weeks after the event.
  5. Physical distancing of a minimum of 10 feet outdoors without masks.
  6. Masks must be worn when less than 10 feet except when eating or drinking.
  7. Wash or sanitize hands at beginning of event, before and after every meal, when you wake up, prior to going to bed and at the end of the event.
  8. Sleep in a hammock or alone in a tent to reduce contact.
  9. Extra precautions must be taken during food preparation, dining and cleaning. Regular and repeated hand washing or sanitizing during all of the activity must occur. Strict distancing during preparation and clean up must be enforced. Wearing masks during these activities are recommended. Strict distancing during dining, when masks cannot be worn must be enforced.
  10. If any shared troop/patrol equipment is used (i.e. axes, lashing poles, lanterns etc.) they must be disinfected prior to use and immediately after use.
  11. Report to adult leadership if at any time someone in the group is feeling ill. Also, report to adult leadership if at any time you are diagnosed with Covid-19.

 

Safety During Instructional Activities

In addition to the above elements for activities, for instructional sessions you must agree to follow state guidelines to minimize exposure (distancing, hygiene, masks). On arrival to the class you must wash or sanitize your hands as well as when you leave the class. For activities in the water, you will not have a mask on. In aquatic activities, the risk of exposure is greater given the lack of a mask, and thus 10 feet distancing is particularly critical. All shared equipment must be sanitized before use and immediately after use. During instruction it may be necessary for you to have physical contact with the instructor or another swimmer. Avoid breathing in each other’s face and limit the time of contact to a minimum. Report to adult leadership if at any time someone in the group is feeling ill. Also, report to adult leadership if at any time you are diagnosed with Covid-19.

If you are involved in any of the above activities, you and your family must evaluate your unique circumstances and make an informed decision to participate or not. If you decide to participate, you must then agree to accept the risks.

File Name Description
VAHC COVID-19 Guide and Form Download