Scout Safety

By: Philip Stewart Email
By: Philip Stewart Email

March 20, 2007

The story of Michael Auberry, the 12 year-old boy scout who went missing for three days in North Carolina while on a camping trip, had a happy ending. But it does raise questions about how such organizations handle these types of trips.

In Charlottesville and Albemarle County there are more than 30 Boy Scout troops. They often take trips much like the trip Auberry was on. But scout leaders say parents have no reason to worry.

"Boy scouts are trained in every aspect of what to do in the case of emergency, in case they got lost or separated," said Richard Bogan, the Monticello District Director.

Bogan oversees the 35 troops in the Charlottesville area, and he said it was very good news to him when he heard that Auberry had been found.

Midday Tuesday, Auberry's father spoke to the press. "(Michael) wants to thank Gandalf, the dog who found him, even though he knows that Gandalf did eat the peanut butter crackers that he gave him," said Kent Auberry.

Those snacks left behind led authorities to the 12 year-old.

Bogan said scouts are often taught to "leave marks, if they know that they've been wandering maybe have left something behind."

Scouts and their leaders are also taught many other valuable safety tips. Scouts use the buddy system, they're also taught that if they find themselves lost, stay put. Scouts often carry whistles, and, if possible, leaders tell them to make themselves visible, using bright clothing or other items. But, if the weather turns bad, scouts should seek shelter and stay warm

There are about 900 Boy Scouts in the Charlottesville-Albemarle area. They go on camping trips a lot, sometimes to the Blue Ride Mountains, the beach, or even to places as close as McIntire Park in Charlottesville. They are trips that are key to teaching the values of being a scout.

"Confidence, character development, physical fitness," said Bogan. "It's all kind of molded into one big program. We kind of disguise the good lessons in life by having fun and doing that in an outdoor setting."

Leaders say these kinds of trips will, of course, continue, but parents are to be assured that safety is the highest priority.

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