Welcome! This forum has a treasure trove of great info – Scouters helping Scouters! Just a heads up, though - all content, information, and opinions shared on this forum are those of the author, not the BSA.
@BenjaminWard - I see immediately why the question was raised. This does seem like a team/club sort of thing. Man, I would be thinking this is ad hoc like my stick ball stuff was in Newark, NJ… but sometimes these things are far more organized.
Crud…last thing you want to do is ask the legal team
@BenjaminWard - now that I see what @CharleyHamilton has posted I may have taken a wrong turn on the activity. But this is the benefit of the forums. Work through thoughts, concepts and concerns. I would without any doubt like to know if I am totally mistaken.
I tend to agree that it should be a permitted activity, I’m just not sure that it is, because of how broad Item 22 on the prohibited activities list is.
As much as I lean toward your aphorism of “never ask for a rule…”, like @jacobfetzer I suspect that getting written pre-clearance that doing an orienteering meet is compatible with the Aims and Principles of Scouting and therefore not prohibited by this section. It seems like the path to a successful justification with the DE/SE looks like:
Participation by scouts as part of a scouting activity in an orienteering meet sponsored by the local orienteering club helps fulfill the aims and principles of scouting by engaging youth in worthwhile outdoor educational activity, particularly the learning and practicing of the scout skill of navigation. Therefore, participation in such an orienteering meet is not prohibited by the Guide to Safe Scouting, in particular not by Item 22 on the list of prohibited activities…
Per G2SS, the list of prohibited activities states:
The Boy Scouts of America prohibits the following activities (with exceptions in italics):
22. Intramural, interscholastic, or club sport competitions or activities
The explanation provided for the prohibitions generally is:
Some activities considered by youth and leaders are not compatible with the Scouting program. Some have unacceptable risks that have been confirmed by serious or even fatal consequences. Others are not compatible with the Scout Oath and Scout Law. The activities listed below are strictly prohibited as part of any Scouting program.
An orienteering meet is compatible with the Scouting program, and compatible with the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Orienteering is one of the skills offered as part of the Scouts BSA Merit Badge program. As requirement 7a for that merit badge, scouts are to take part in at least three orienteering events. Scouts are similarly required (8, 9, and 10) to set up and officiate at orienteering events, and to teach orienteering skills to their fellow scouts. Therefore, it appears that the BSA considers orienteering itself to be compatible with Scouting and its principles.
Regarding the issue of unacceptable risks of fatal and non-fatal injuries, the BSA already accepts that the risks from orienteering as an activity are sufficiently low that it is an approved merit badge topic, with requirements that scouts participate in, plan and execute orienteering activities. Therefore, no blanket prohibition on orienteering as an activity should apply under the G2SS list of prohibited activities.
I dunno. Every time something like this comes up, it sounds like too many lawyers and not enough scouts/scouters were involved in crafting that list.
orienteering is defined primarily as a individual activity done with a buddy. At a camporee you might have the results totaled by patrol and/or troop.
Do the following:
a. Take part in three orienteering events. One of these
must be a cross-country course.
My opinion: Joining a club to do an activity and taking part in an event are two different things.
If I remember correctly lone scout friend and counselors are encouraged to find non-scouting resources if scouting resources are not available.
Is the orienteering club a government one?
Seascouts BSA & US government activities
Seascouts BSA ships compete with other ships at training events managed by the US Coast Guard. Using a map and compass (or the stars) for navigation is part of the Seascouts BSA program. I do not know if they do at-sea version of an orienteering course or not.
Scouting / county government activities
Participating in a county government activity might be allowed.
The council might want to approve a county run orienteering activity for all units in the council.
I recommend contacting your district or council program committee for assistance in getting approval from the local council, program committee and Scout Executive.
Fortunately ours takes guests (for +$1 per map fee). So I’m using it as an out.
We do need to recognize that at the club level, orienteering can be stressful. You are constantly pushing for a higher standing, or any standing on the more challenging courses. There is pain in the offering. So, where most clubs compete as individuals, the buddy system is a must for scouts.
I think the issue here is insurance coverage and liability. If it is a scouting activity then BSA provides insurance coverage. I would think part of the insurance binder would be to prevent using it to cover events/activities external to the Scouting Program. While a cool event, it would be similar to having the Scouts sign up for bull riding clubs, sky diving clubs or any other external activity to Scouting. Their is a risk to team sports that tends to go beyond what Scouting has to offer. When is PT is a Scouting event there are rules and policies to safeguard the Scouts in the activity. Here the event is not safeguarded by Scouting policy. Basically, putting the Scouts in an activity not allowed moves the liability from BSA to you as the leader. At the end of the day you can do anything you want, but if you venture outside of approved activities you waive liability insurance coverage and assume the risk yourself. That would be my take on this.