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Guidance for supervision of activities

Published August 2020



Within the Scouts we aim to develop skills for life, this includes young people learning about risk management and independence. Keeping members safe whilst allowing them freedom can be challenging to balance, and we see a large number of incidents occur when members are away from direct supervision of leaders.

This guidance is designed to provide leaders with some suggestions of how to manage these activities in order to reduce the potential for incidents and injuries

Types of supervision

There are three types of supervision: direct, indirect and remote. When planning your activities you need to choose the type of supervision, but don’t forget to always maintain your required section ratios.

When considering the type of supervision to be used with our members, the following factors should be taken into account:

  • Age - Beavers and Cubs will require more direct supervision than Explorers.
  • Competence - The level of experience of the young person completing this activity. A Scout going into a kayak for the first time will require a higher level of supervision than that of an experienced kayaker.
  • Activity - Some activities, which have a higher risk level will always have direct supervision, such as shooting.
A diagram showing the activity and risk level versus the age and competence of young persons

Supervision Plans

Supervision plans should include:

  • Number of Members - How many people are in the group? Head counts should be carried out when you observe / meet with the group.

  • Contact Arrangements - How are you planning to stay in contact with the members? Depending on the activity and skills of the members this may include:
    • Meeting the group at set times or checkpoints, you should also identify their estimated times of arrival.
    • Shadowing - tracking the progress of a group remotely, without them meeting you.
    • Sweeping - following the group.
    • Use of technology - Mobile phone and location trackers may be used, but should not be the only form of contact arrangements with members.

  • Hazards / Areas of Risk - You may be able to identify areas of greater hazard, such as a river crossing on a route, or a location where navigational errors are more likely to occur.

  • Nights Away Passport - If a group of Scouts or Explorers are to be remotely supervised overnight, a Nights Away Passport will also be required.

  • Emergency plans - Identifying what the process is for either the group or the supervisor if they believe there is an issue, from a member of the group getting injured to the whole group getting lost.