Scouting FAQs: Ensuring SAFE Service Projects


Taking good turns is an essential part of Scouting. But these good tricks can get worse if Scouts and leaders are not properly prepared and supervised. A great way to avoid problems is to use the SAFE Service Project Planning Checklist.

What is SAFE?

SAFE is Scouting’s model for ensuring that all activities (not just service projects) are carried out safely. The four points of SAFE are Supervision, Assessment, Fitness and Skills, and Equipment and Environment.

What does surveillance cover?

The adult leaders are adequately trained, experienced and qualified to lead the activity, and they recruit qualified instructors, guides and security personnel as needed. They remain engaged with the participants to ensure compliance with established rules and procedures.

What does the assessment cover?

Managers assess risks during planning and review applicable rules to ensure planned activities are allowed. They also take into account the weather conditions; Working hours; and food, water and sanitation needs. For service projects in particular, they check the area for any hazards and assess the requirements for personal protective equipment such as work gloves, safety glasses and fall protection.

John R. Fulton Jr.

What does fitness and skills cover?

In addition to reviewing participants’ annual medical and health records, leaders ensure participants have the right skills or training for the task at hand. They also follow age-appropriate guidelines for using the tools.

What does the equipment and the environment cover?

Leaders ensure proper use of equipment and follow the most restrictive and protective guidelines. When in doubt about a particular task, they recruit properly trained and / or experienced adults to carry it out.

What tools can Scouts use?

Tool usage varies by age and is detailed in SAFE Project Tool Use. At one end of the scale, Lions and Tigers cannot use tools on service projects; at the other end of the spectrum, Boy Scouts, Sea Scouts, and older adventurers can use a variety of tools, including power tools. Note, however, that tools like riding mowers, chainsaws, and pressure washers are intended for adult use only.

Is it true that ladders are prohibited?

Working at altitudes of 4 feet or more is prohibited for any young person, but older Boy Scouts, Sea Scouts, and Adventurers may use the first three steps of a ladder or stepladder. Work below grade that includes trenches or excavations 2 feet deep or more is not permitted.

Where can I find out more?

The SAFE Service Project Checklist will walk you through the steps to follow. You can read more about all BSA security policies in the Guide to Safe Scouting.

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