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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

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(Published February 2021 replacing version March 2016)  


This page provides guidance to groups wholly aged 18 and over participating in activities. Where any participant is aged under 18, or is unable to independently understand the risks involved in the activity, the activity must be led or supervised in accordance with the adventurous activity permit scheme (see POR Rule 9.7), this applies to joint activities with both Explorer Scouts and Scout Network members. 

Taking part in activities helps to fulfill a number of goals, including personal developmentenjoyment, a desire to develop skills that will help young people, and to participate in a group experience. However, it is important that all participants understand the risks in the activity, and that activities are appropriately planned to minimise the risks involved. 

This guidance sets out the general areas that should be covered to help all participants to form an informed opinion about the activity. More specific advice and guidance for particular activities is contained in various factsheets, in publications produced or recommended by relevant National Governing Bodies, specialists within the Scouts (including Assistant District Commissioner (Activities), Assistant County Commissioner (Activities), Activity Permit Holders, Assessor and Advisers), or through appropriate external bodies and experts. 

Don’t forget communication is a two-way process and that there should not be a sole reliance on the information given. Every participant has the responsibility to question what measures have been taken for safety and wellbeing. Particular attention must be paid to, and by, those with little experience in the activity which is planned. 

Planning considerations 

The following is not an exhaustive list but sets out certain broad areas for consideration. They could be used as part of a checklist and in a Risk Assessment. 

The role of the leader in charge is to ensure that the following steps are taken 

All administrative aspects have been dealt with, including: 

  • Details of the activity are published 
  • A risk assessment is conducted, discussedunderstood and accepted by all participants 
  • An InTouch system is put in place 
  • Relevant medical information is obtained where applicable 
  • The relevant Commissioner is advised 
  • Participants are kept informed of the plans prior to and during an activity 

Consideration must be given to seeking technical advice where this is not available within the group. Advice may be available from various people for example; a person holding an adventurous activity permit for the activity, an experienced member of a District or County team or an active and informed member of an appropriate club. 

It is important to consider the size of party for the activity you are planning. For instance, a hill walking activity in open country may not be suited to large groups. Where POR refers to group sizes these must be adhered to for adult groups, where group sizes are referenced within permit scheme documentation these should be considered advisory and group sizes determined within the risk assessment and planning of the activity.  

A Risk Assessment must be conducted, documented and the details shared with all participants prior to the activity taking place. FS120000 Activities - Risk Assessmentsprovides information on how to do this. 

Each participant must understand and accept the risks involved in the activity and the control measure in place to manage these risks. This can be done through sharing of risk assessments and briefings, the leader in charge must be satisfied that everyone understands this before the activity can start. 

Consideration must be taken in regard to the experience and personal limitations of each individualThis may include medical conditionsfitness and technical knowledge/experience 

Where members of the group do not have the technical ability or understanding to operate safely in line with the risk assessment an alternative delivery method should be chosen, this could include using a permit holder or external provider to deliver the activity. 


It is important to ensure that all members of the group have suitable equipment and clothing and footwear for the activity which they are doing and the terrain / weather they may face. 

Safety equipment should be identified within the risk assessment.  

Where equipment is used, participants should be trained in the correct use and care for it. 

Appropriate First Aid equipment should be available within the group. Every participant should have access to a person with sufficient knowledge to administer First Aid in the relevant environment and the participants should know who this is. With activities in Terrains Zero or One, and inland water activities, the minimum knowledge is The Scout Association’s First Response (or equivalent) training. For more adventurous or remote activities, a full First Aid qualification is recommended. Definitions of terrains and water classifications can be found in POR chapter 9. 


Alternative plans should be considered in the run-up to the activity so that a switch can be made without too much difficulty where a change in circumstance of conditions occur. 

It should be clear about 'who does what' in the event of an emergency. Continuous evaluation during the activity may prevent a real emergency arising. 

Where an activity is in a remote location, a route or activity plan should be left with a responsible person in the locality, who is able to act in case the party is late returning. The Scout Association produces a Route Card template, although others that contain similar information could be used. 

It is recommended that medical information is recorded for use in the event of an emergency. 


Rules in POR that apply to adult groups in adventurous activities

Rule 9.1 All Activities

Rule 9.7 Adventurous Activity Permit Scheme

Rule 9.8 Adult Groups in undertaking activities

Other Rules in POR that apply to activities irrespective of age

Emergency Procedures, as set out in Chapter 7

Rule 9.6 Use of External Centres and Instructors

Rule 9.3 Visits Abroad

Further Advice and Information