Scouting Forums

Water Balloons

Yup, the quote from the National Shooting Sports Manual is:

Although specific rules have not been written about each
type of shooting activity, these general guidelines apply:

  1. Have fun and be responsible!
  2. Do not aim any shooting device at a person. Never shoot
    any projectile, even if it is soft or seems to be harmless,
    at or near people, animals, or personal property. This
    includes water balloons.

I have been explicitly told that this prohibition is intended to apply not only to launchers, but to the balloons themselves however they are propelled. The argument made is that, otherwise, the section on using small biodegradable water balloons under the heading “Ammunition” would require biodegradable water balloons only when used as ammunition in a launching device, which I was told was not the intent.


Violation! :rofl:

• Water guns and rubber band guns must only be used to
shoot at targets, and eye protection must be worn.

I’m honestly a bit concerned by this direction:

• A range master must supervise the range for all activities described in this chapter.
• All shooting activities must be approved by the council shooting sports committee or the National Camping School–trained shooting sports director or an NRA rife instructor.

This, together with the fact that water balloons and water guns are described, implies that you have to have a range master at water gun shooting contests. This seems more than a bit over the top to me.


Hence the question: Is just a bunch of scouts having an old-fashion water balloon battle using typical balloons we all used as kids considered “ammunition” or just a water balloon as a toy? If it’s considered “ammunition” then I supposed a human arm throwing a balloon is a “launcher” as well…

It’s amazing to even have a discussion like this…lol

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I know my scoutmaster is rolling over in his grave. Throwing water balloons at one another was his solution for the “dirt clod” fights we used to get into as scouts (as a recreational activity). I’m just waiting for the G2SS to outlaw snowballs…

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LOL!!! , , , , , , (Yes, complete sentence!), , , , , , , , , , ,LOL!!!

Clearly snowballs are already just as prohibited a “projectile” as water balloons are.


Well even a rock throwing station I worked years ago at a cub a rama needed a range officer

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As a bit of curiosity, I sent an email to national asking to clarify the rule on water balloons. I asked them if the balloons that kids would normally use in traditional water balloon battle where they are simply tossing them at each other for summer fun are the same “ammunition” as described in the BSA regulations pertaining to using some type of launching device. I also added that I can’t believe I’m actually have to write national about water balloons…

I will share my response when it arrives. I was told it normally takes about 72 hours.

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violates my rule #1: don’t ask for a rule, you’ll live to regret it!

In any case, we don’t use water balloons or super-soakers to target opponents, we use portable heat stroke abatement devices to manually rescue potential victims at risk for dangerously elevated core body temperature.


I received a “great” reply from national and here it is: Hi!
A public comment has been added to the request shared with you: Question About Water Balloons.

You can access the request in the customer portal or reply to this email to add comments or attachments.

Hi ,

You can refer to the Safe Scouting Guide, link below.

If you need additional assistance, please call us at 972-580-2489 Monday through Friday 7am to 7pm central time.

Member Care Contact Center

FWIW here is the list of prohibited and unauthorized activities and water balloon battles aren’t listed:

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 youth 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 youth 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

Unauthorized and Restricted Activities

The following activities have been declared unauthorized and restricted by the
Boy Scouts of America:

  1. All-terrain vehicles (ATVs or UTVs) are banned from program use. The
    exception is council-approved ATV programs. They are not approved for
    unit use. ATVs are defined as motorized recreational cycles with three or
    four large, soft tires, designed for off-road use on a variety of terrains.
  2. Boxing, karate, and related martial arts—except judo, aikido, and tai chi—are
    not authorized activities.
  3. Chainsaws and mechanical log splitters may be authorized for use only
    by trained individuals over the age of 18, using proper protective gear in
    accordance with local laws.
  4. Exploration of abandoned mines is an unauthorized activity.
    VII. Activity Planning
    and Risk Assessment
    The online version of the Guide to Safe Scouting is updated quarterly.
    Go to
  5. Varsity football teams and interscholastic or club football competition and
    activities are unauthorized activities.
  6. Fireworks secured, used, or displayed in conjunction with program and
    activities is unauthorized except where the fireworks display is conducted
    under the auspices of a certified or licensed fireworks control expert.
  7. The selling of fireworks as a fundraising or money-earning activity by any
    group acting for or on behalf of members, units, or districts may not be
    authorized by councils.
  8. Flying in hang gliders, ultralights, experimental aircraft, or hot-air balloons
    (nontethered); parachuting; and flying in aircraft as part of a search and
    rescue mission are unauthorized activities. Tethered hot-air balloon flights
    are authorized, and a flying plan checklist must be completed.
  9. Motorized go-carts and motorbike activities are unauthorized for Cub
    Scouting and Scouts BSA programs. Go-carting conducted at a commercial
    facility that provides equipment and supervision of cart operation is
    authorized. Participating in motorized speed events, including motorcycles,
    boats, drag racing, demolition derbies, and related events are not authorized
    activities for any program level.
  10. Participation in amateur or professional rodeo events and council or district
    sponsorship of rodeos are not authorized. This includes mechanized bulls
    and similar devices.
  11. Pointing any type of firearm or simulated firearm at any individual is
    unauthorized. This prohibition includes archery tag. Scouting units may
    plan or participate in paintball, laser tag, or similar events where participants
    shoot at targets that are neither living nor human representations. Units
    may participate in formally organized historical reenactment events, where
    firearms are used and intentionally aimed over the heads of the reenactment
    participants. The use of paintball guns, laser guns, or similar devices may be
    utilized in target shooting events and following the Sweet 16 of BSA Safety.
  12. Hunting is not an authorized Cub Scouting or Scouts BSA activity, although
    hunting safety is part of the program curriculum. (The purpose of this
    policy is to restrict chartered packs, troops, and ships from conducting
    hunting trips. However, this policy does not restrict Venturing crews from
    conducting hunting trips or special adult hunting expeditions, provided
    that adequate safety procedures are followed and that all participants have
    obtained necessary permits and/or licenses from either state or federal
    agencies. While hunter safety education might not be required prior to
    obtaining a hunting license, successful completion of the respective state
    voluntary program is required before participating in the activity.)
    The online version of the Guide to Safe Scouting is updated quarterly.
    Go to
    VII. Activity Planning and Risk Assessment
  13. Motorized personal watercraft (PWC), such as Jet-Skis®, are not authorized
    for use in Scouting aquatics, and their use should not be permitted in or
    near BSA program areas. The exception is council-approved PWC programs.
    They are not approved for unit use.
  14. Except for law enforcement officers required to carry firearms within their
    jurisdiction, firearms shall not be brought on camping, hiking, backpacking,
    or other Scouting activities except those specifically planned for target
    shooting under the supervision of a currently certified BSA national
    shooting sports director or National Rifle Association firearms instructor.
  15. Parasailing, or any activity in which a person is carried aloft by a parachute,
    parasail, kite, or other device towed by a motorboat, including a tube, or by
    any other means, is unauthorized.
  16. All activities related to bungee cord jumping (sometimes called shock cord
    jumping) are unauthorized.
  17. Technical tree-climbing with ropes or harnesses is not authorized as an activity.
  18. Water chugging and related activities are not authorized for any program level.
  19. Bubbleball, Knockerball™, zorbing, Battle Ball™, bubble soccer or football,
    and similar orb activities where participants run into one another or roll
    around on land or water have been reviewed and are now unauthorized.

Yeah, When it gets to the point of being overly ridiculous - we go out and shoot marshmallows and water baloons at each other after a good dodge ball match.

Then our Venture Crew goes hunting and we use the State Law, rather than BSA policy to follow, as the State Law is Required to be followed, that goes against BSA policies. They also show that special adult hunting expeditions are authorized, which means the kids can hunt the Scoutmaster or other adult leaders if I read it in the proper American english. (Sarcasm).

I bet you the National guy’s blood vescle would pop out when the Crew goes indoor parachuting.

And we have more kids who get broken noses from basketball than any other sport. Soccer is soon to be banned in the BSA because of broken legs and ankles. And heaven forbid we go to a Judo expo and watch one of our Venturers earn her black belt. Oh golly gee!

And of course, since Snowmobiles are more dangerous that ATV’s, we always use them.

Lunacy and Bubblewrap do not make for safe programming.

I can understand your sarcasm, however please try to get your information correct.


I am not seeing Soccer banned yet. I have created a new location for discussion of Soccer and other sports program features at:


Judo (and aikido) maybe prohibited effective 1 October 2019.

Per the Guide to Scouting Safety, January 2019 version, 34416, ISBN 978-0-8395-4416-6, ©2019 Boy Scouts of America. 2019 Printing, p. 39, states:

Unauthorized and Restricted Activities
The following activities have been declared unauthorized and restricted by the Boy Scouts of America:
… 2. Boxing, karate, and related martial arts—except judo, aikido, and tai chi—are not authorized activities.

Change in definition and policy effective 1 October 2019

However the GSS online version had an August 2019 change effective in October that does not include judo as an exception

Activity Planning and Risk Assessment Added Prohibited Activities section to replace Unauthorized and Restricted Activities section.

Prohibited Activities (Effective 10-1-2019)

web page includes:

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.

The list is not comprehensive, but it serves as a definitive list of prohibited activities and it offers a broad sense of what is not allowed as a Scouting activity. Scouting leaders should refer to this list when deciding on activities, and they should reflect vigorously on how any activity outside our published program would resonate with the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

The Boy Scouts of America prohibits the following activities (with exceptions in italics):

  1. Activities where participants strike at each other, including martial arts, boxing, combat games, gladiator games, and reenactment activities such as live action role-playing games (LARP) and Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) activities (exception: tai chi)

Thrown Objects

I do not see “water balloons” listed, but “thrown objects” are.

The Boy Scouts of America prohibits the following activities (with exceptions in italics):

  1. Activities where participants shoot or throw objects at each other, such as rock-throwing, paintball, laser or archery tag, sock fights, or dodgeball

Guide to Safe Scouting Reviewed Quarterly

The Guide to Safe Scouting is reviewed quarterly and the latest version, if revised, may be found online.

Post updated: 2019-08-25

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Evidentally, Sarcasm is not understood.


Sarcasm isn’t always understood when the medium is printed words. I did not know if the soccer comments had any truth behind them. And turns out the Judo stuff does. I did get the snowmobile comment.

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The soccer comment Is coming… just had a kid in the emergency room for a tibia tibia fracture.

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I have created a new location for discussion of Soccer and other sports program features at:

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Well…that pretty much answers the question. While not specifically stated, the phrase “such as” pretty much sums the matter up. Perhaps the PLC can schedule something safer like judo. We can turn a Troop meeting into a Judo Dojo but can’t throw water balloons. LOL


Makes sense to me that snowballs would also constitute a projectile/missile. Good catch, Mr. Strain.

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For those of you who know little or nothing about japanese martial arts, i have trained in traditional budo arts for over 40 years. Judo has choke techniques and pain submission holds like arm bars. Somehow, bsa finds this sort of training okay but has issue with water balloons. Mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey got her atart as a USA Judo olympic silver medalist. Something is rotten in the state of denmark.


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