This may sound pessimistic – but it is an unfortunate reality.
Sometime, somewhere this month (and every month thereafter) a Troop of Scouts will start off on a hike that will end in some sort of tragedy.
The major tragedies we see on the news – a lost scout or group of scouts, a serious injury, a death – all probably preventable.
The smaller, yet often more poignant, tragedies don’t get publicized. A lack of preparation leads to an unpleasant or dangerous experience that causes a Scout or his parents to question his involvement in Scouting. An injury or illness, caused by carelessness, saps the energy and confidence of Scouts and leaders alike. Anyone who leads outings for enough years will, soon enough, have their stories to tell.
Conversely thousands of Scout hikes will conclude without incident and be remembered as a great time.
Question is which of these hikes will your Troop take?
Measures to assure a successful experience are not elaborate or restrictive – indeed they are quite simple. Scoutmasters can help their scouts plan and lead safe hikes and backpacking trips without removing the challenge and adventure by using these resources;
Trek Safely is a basic course in planning and conducting hikes offered by the BSA.
Hike safe is a program offered by a consortium of organizations in the White Mountain region of New England. The ‘Whites’ are close to major urban populations, are breathtakingly beautiful and have a reputation for quickly changing weather that can and all too often is deadly to the unprepared. Their website has lots of information for individuals and groups.
Perhaps the most convincing reading is found in their lessons learned section:
Lessons from the trail: In the fall of 2001,
well-known Boston radio announcer Ted O’Brien was lost for three days
in the White Mountains. AMC Outdoors spoke with Ted about the
experience and what he learned.
Q. What was the worst part of the experience?
In addition to the pain and fear I put my family through, the fact that
a lot of good people were put at risk. Light planes can crash — or
helicopters, as we saw in a recent rescue effort in the West. Search
and rescue people can fall, get hurt, or get ill. Even professionals
are not immune. If anything had happened to anybody else as a
consequence of my actions I’d feel a lot worse than I do.
Q. Did you learn anything else?
I learned that nature is utterly indifferent to outcomes. And I learned
that people, family and friends and even complete strangers, are not.
And I am grateful to them all.
Visit the Hikesafe Website.