Keeping our boys safe is the top priority of the Boy Scouts of America. That’s why the Boy Scouts of America has developed the “Sweet Sixteen” of BSA safety procedures to help ensure that our boys are safe. The Sweet Sixteen points apply to all Scouting activities–especially physical activities. They are included in the 120 page Guide to Safe Scouting.
One of the most important points of the Sweet Sixteen is the buddy system. When participating in an outdoor activity, boys should have a buddy. They should know where that buddy is at all times, and they should never go anywhere without their buddy.
While I was at Philmont this summer, I learned a very simple buddy check system that is especially effective when you’re hiking.
Before you start your hike, have the boys pick their buddy. Number each pair of boys, and explain how the buddy check works. When you call out, “Buddy check!,” the boys will make sure they are standing next to their buddy, and they’ll start counting off. Tell them that they are only to say their number if their buddy is with them.
For example, my son Grant and his friend Ethan are buddies. Before we start on a hike, the pairs of boys are assigned a number. Grant and Ethan are number 1. When a leader announces, “Buddy check!,” Grant and Ethan will start the count by yelling, “One!” But they can only say their number if they are together. If Grant has wandered off, Ethan can’t say “One.”
If there is a pause in the numbers, you’ll know that a boy may be missing. In my opinion, this is a great addition to a visual check. From time to time during your hike, perform your buddy check to help ensure that your boys are safe.
I’m sure you have some great ideas of how to do a buddy check. Share them in the comments!
Yours in Scouting,
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