Volunteer Experience, Volunteers

What are Girl Scout Safety Activity Checkpoints?

When you’re part of a girl-led organization that promotes skill-building (like Girl Scouts) inevitably the girls are going to want to try out an activity that likely has some safety risks involved. Like whitewater rafting. Or horseback riding. Or even bubble soccer (yes, that’s a thing)!

So where do you go to find out what activities girls can (and cannot) do with Girl Scouts? And how do you figure out the activity guidelines, safety gear, age and experience requirements, and types of equipment needed for that activity? You go to our Safety Activity Checkpoints!

What are Safety Activity Checkpoints?

Safety Activity Checkpoints are a resource for Girl Scout members that provides us with general safety standards and guidelines for activities and outings. They include key steps to take in advance of the activity, such as notifying our council of high risk activities, verifying instructor knowledge and certifications, any prerequisites to check on (like are there age level limits for the activity, prior skills or activities girls should have before participating), ratios for adult supervision and transportation, and necessary equipment. They also include steps to take on the day of the activity as well as links to sites to learn more about the activity or common terms girls should know.

Think of it like a thorough checklist for planning a troop activity so that you (and your troop) feel prepared as you head out on your adventure. Even if you are a master at an activity, like a backpacker who hits the trails all the time on your own, when you’re introducing a group of youth to an activity they may not have done before it’s helpful to review the Safety Activity Checkpoints for that activity. If nothing else, it’ll remind you what safety practices and common terms you’ll need to explain to the newbies!

Plus, you and your troop can use the checkpoints as a way to brainstorm exciting activities for your troop each year! We recommend letting older Girl Scouts scroll through the Safety Activity Checkpoints as part of their planning process so they can see the types of activities Girl Scouts can do. They’ll probably think up things they hadn’t considered before!

Who develops them?

The 2018 version of Safety Activity Checkpoints was developed by a task group of Girl Scout councils and Girl Scouts of the USA. This group researches available safety information for each individual activity to create activity guidelines that cover many factors such as “the presence of certified instructors and lifeguards, adult-to-child ratios, travel specifications, activity progression, and activity-specific safety precautions.”

When building our guidelines the task group takes into account “activity-specific loss data, Girl Scouts’ historical experience, American Camp Association recommendations, and the industry trends and standards that are considered best practices for safety.”  We all want girls to have fun, try new things, and be safe, so these guidelines are how we support our girls and volunteers as they live the Girl Scout way — building skills and going on adventures!

So what can girls do?

Girls can have so many adventures in Girl Scouts. Seriously, there’s a lot! Take a minute and scroll through the alphabetized list in the guidelines for the full scope of awesome activities girls can do. So many choices! Here are some of our favorites: backpacking, challenge courses, climbing and rappelling, fencing (think swords, not pickets), horseback riding, indoor skydiving, bubble soccer, paddle sports (canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, whitewater rafting), sailing, scuba diving, spelunking, target sports (archery, tomahawk throwing, rifles, and more), tethered balloon rides, and wakeboarding.

There are so many fun skill building activities found in our Safety Activity Checkpoints your troop is sure to find something to challenge them, make awesome memories, and unleash their inner G.I.R.L. (Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers, Leaders)™!

Are there activities girls cannot do as Girl Scouts?

Yes, there are activities that Girl Scouts cannot take part in as a Girl Scout (but they can as individuals not representing the organization, of course!). Why? Some activities pose a high risk of severe bodily injury, require extensive prior experience, or require a license to participate. These activities are evaluated annually before being placed in the “not permitted” category. So what are they?

You can find a full list on pages 12-15 of Safety Activity Checkpoints (and the reasons behind their inclusion in this category), but here’s a general overview: bungee jumping; flying in privately owned planes, helicopters, or blimps; hang gliding; untethered hot-air ballooning; hunting; jet skiing; riding a motorbike; using outdoor trampolines; parachuting / skydiving; parasailing; paintball tagging; riding all-terrain vehicles (ATVs); stunt skiing; and zorbing.

So now that you know about Safety Activity Checkpoints and all of the awesome adventures girls can have with Girl Scouts, what will  your troop do this year to challenge themselves? We know that no matter what the girls choose, you’re going to be prepared for fun!

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