Safety Activity Checkpoints (formerly Safety-wise)

When preparing for any activity with girls, always begin with the Safety Activity Checkpoints written specifically for that particular activity.

  • One of the oldest weapons and hunting methods, archery is still used for its traditional purposes, but is common today as a recreational and competitive activity. There are a variety of styles and sizes of bows and arrows, but they’re all used for one purpose: to hit a target. Archery is not recommended for Girl Scout Daisies. Girl Scout Brownies can participate in some archery activities if the equipment is designed for children of that grade level and body size. Participants must be old enough to understand safety procedures and handle equipment so as not to endanger themselves and others. Ensure that bows and arrows are appropriate to the age, size, strength, and ability of the girls.

  • Whether girls are painting, knitting, bookbinding, sculpting, making origami or jewelry, or doing any one of a number of arts‐and‐crafts projects, the options for artistic and self‐expression are endless. Girls are encouraged to plan details of arts‐and‐crafts activities, and it’s important that activities are appropriate to each girl’s age, experience with tools, attention span, and the complexity of the project. Also keep environmentalism in mind; for instance, when doing arts and crafts outdoors, don’t use materials such as glitter that will pollute campgrounds.

  • By some definitions, backpacking entails a low‐budget method of travel in just about any part of the globe, particularly in urban areas. By other definitions, backpacking is specific to front‐country or back‐country environments in parks or wilderness areas. No matter the destination, a backpacker’s primary mission is to explore on foot, while carrying all her gear in a backpack and being a good steward of the land. These checkpoints focus on preparing for backpacking in remote areas, but the recommendations can be used in urban areas, too. For information about backpacking schools and services, visit thebackpacker.com. Backpacking is not recommended for Girl Scout Daisies and Brownies.

  • Whether you’re riding a mountain, racing, or hybrid bike, it’s important to assure that bikes are the proper size and in good condition. Make sure that the seat height is adjusted properly; when seated, girls should have a slight bend in the knee—in other words, the legs should never be fully extended. A too‐low seat is a common problem and causes significant discomfort. The helmet should fit comfortably but snugly, be worn level on the head, and not move in any direction when the chin strap is securely fastened. Bike races, mountain‐biking, and long‐distance cycling trips can be strenuous, and it’s essential for girls to condition
    themselves beforehand. Also, long‐distance touring involves many hours of cycling, sometimes in difficult terrain, and requires girls to carry more gear and supplies than on short day trips. When training for lengthy bicycle trips, set realistic
    goals for mileage, and gradually increase the distance; for instance, one week, aim to ride 10 miles, and the next, strive for 12.

  • Canoeing is a great team‐building activity and an enjoyable and relaxing way to experience the outdoors. Compared to kayaks, canoes tend to be larger and uncovered, and usually accommodate several people kneeling or sitting on a seat.
    Canoeists use either a single‐ or double‐bladed paddle, and kayakers almost always use a two‐bladed paddle. Canoeing is not recommended for Girl Scout Daisies; Class III and Class IV whitewater is not recommended for Brownies; Class IV whitewater is not recommended for Juniors.

  • Caving—also called “spelunking” (speh‐LUNK‐ing) is an exciting, hands‐on way to learn about speleology (spee‐lee‐AHluh‐ gee), the study of caves, in addition to paleontology (pay‐lee‐en‐TAH‐luh‐gee), the study of life from past geologic periods by examining plant and animal fossils. As a sport, caving is similar to rock climbing, and often involves using ropes to crawl and climb through cavern nooks and crannies. These checkpoints do not apply to groups taking trips to tourist or commercial caves, which often include safety features such as paths, electric lights, and stairways. Girl Scout Daisies and Brownies do not participate in caving.

  • A challenge course is a set of structures that provide a setting for physical challenges designed to increase participant self‐confidence and physical coordination, increase group cooperation, and have fun.

  • Rappelling is a means of descending by sliding down a rope. The rope runs through a mechanical device, and a safety belay is used in all rappelling activities. Rappelling is not recommended for Girl Scout Daisies and Brownies.

  • Using the Internet in Girl Scouting isn’t solely for girls participating in a virtual manner; girls use the Web to communicate with other girls, research travel plans and activities, and create Web sites for events and series opportunities.

  • The Girl Scout Cookie Program is the largest girl‐led business in the United States, generating more than $700 million for decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics. Girl Scout council‐sponsored product sales— which include products from official Girl Scout Cookie vendors and magazine and nut vendors—give girls proven opportunities to earn money and/or credits for their Girl Scout program activities, while contributing significantly to their local councils and communities through take‐action projects.

  • Also referred to as “back‐country,” “Nordic,” and “XC skiing,” cross‐country skiing is an excellent form of exercise and an opportune way to explore the outdoors in the wintertime. As with downhill skiers, cross‐country skiers use two poles for guidance, and bindings to connect boots to skis. Unlike downhill skiing, in which the entire boot is attached to the ski, only the toe of the cross‐country skier’s boot is attached to the ski. Contact ski shops and cross‐country ski organizations to inquire about rental equipment. Cross‐country skiing is not recommended for Girl Scout Daisies.

  • Whether girls are participating in snowboarding or traditional downhill, slalom, Super G, or other types of skiing, participants use trails and slopes matched to their abilities. Skiing.about.com describes various ski levels, which range
    from “never‐ever” to expert. In planning a Girl Scout ski or snowboarding trip, contact the ski resort or organization to inquire about rental equipment, lift tickets, and accommodations for large groups. Downhill skiing and snowboarding is
    not recommended for Girl Scout Daisies.

  • Derived from the word “defense,” fencing is a sport and martial art that involves using swords called foils (practice swords), sabers, and épées (a fencing sword with a bowl‐shaped hand guard). The object of fencing is to touch the opponent with the tip of a sword without getting hit by the opponent’s sword. A fencing game (or bout) is typically three minutes—the first fencer to score five touches (or hits) wins; if neither reaches five within the designated time period, the participant with the most touches wins. If performed correctly with the proper equipment, fencing is a safe activity with a low injury rate. Most fencing clubs provide students with a full kit of equipment. Girl Scout Daisies learn about fencing games and the rules of fencing but should use only foam mock swords.

  • Fishing (also referred to as “angling”) is a sport, a leisurely activity, and a major food industry, depending on who you’re talking to. In the United States, freshwater fishing is more popular than saltwater fishing, and varieties include fly fishing,
    ice fishing (see the “Ice Fishing” Safety Activity Checkpoints), and match fishing (the most popular form of competitive fishing). The best times of day to fish rely on a variety of factors, such as amount of sunlight, temperature, and depths of water, and winds. In general, however, the best times to fish are early in the morning or in the mid‐evening.

  • Geocaching is a recreational outdoor activity that centers on the use of a Global Positioning System (GPS) and maps. Geocachers seek out caches (waterproof containers containing logbooks) that have been hidden just about anywhere in
    the world, whether in urban areas, in the wilderness, in tree roots, and so on. As treasure hunters in an international game of hide‐and‐seek, participants use geocaching.com to select cache locations and communicate with other geocachers.

  • Camping, a great Girl Scout tradition, is one of the very first activities that Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low encouraged for girls. The key to an enjoyable group‐camping experience is being prepared by packing just enough gear,
    supplies, and clothing that are appropriate for the weather, sleeping situation, and cooking meals. Girl Scouts advocate for the Leave No Trace method of camping, which involves leaving a campground the way it exists in nature, free of garbage and human impact.

  • A traditional activity that’s often part of autumn festivities and apple‐ or pumpkin‐picking trips, hayrides are fun for girls of all ages. Before participating in a hayride, ensure that hayride equipment (tractor/truck, bales of hay) are secure, that
    vehicle weight limitations and seating capacities are not exceeded, and that paths and trails are free of obstructions. Also ensure that girls are responsible riders who stay seated during the hayride.

  • Unlike short walks, hiking involves lengthy, cross‐country walking trips and often requires sturdy boots to provide traction on rocks and unruly earth floors. With respect to the Leave No Trace philosophy, it’s important for hikers to leave trails as (or better than) they found them. Although the action of one hiker may not strongly affect the environment, the effects of large groups of hikers can degrade trails.

  • One of the most important aspects of horseback riding is showing respect for horses. Before riding, inspect horses to ensure that they have no cuts, injuries, or rocks in their feet. The purpose of these checkpoints is to provide tips for trail riding and ring or corral riding. Some activities, such as vaulting, pack trips, driving, and games, may require special equipment, as well as horses and instructors with
    specialized training. Horseback riding is not recommended for Girl Scout Daisies, but Daisies may participate in pony rides when the horses are led by persons on foot.

  • Ice fishing, the practice of fishing through a hole cut in the ice of a body of water, is a relaxing wintertime activity— particularly in northern U.S. states. Ice anglers often sit on stools inside small ice shanties, which provide shelter and warmth in cold temperatures. Shanties are typically made of wood or plastic and are rented from sport‐fishing outlets or made at home.

  • Originally developed as a way for speed skaters to train year‐round, in‐line skating is now a popular activity and sport that represents a modernized version of roller‐skating. All skaters are encouraged to obtain safety rules from the adult
    or rink manager, and beginners should consider taking lessons from a certified skating instructor. Once girls are skilled skaters, they may wish to participate in more challenging skate activities such as skating backward or hosting skating
    competitions and games.

  • Kayaks come in a variety of styles and sizes, and like canoes are almond‐shaped and powered by paddling. Kayaks tend to be smaller than canoes, sometimes covered by a deck and spray skirt, and seat one or two kayakers, who sit with legs extended in front of them. Kayakers almost always use a two‐bladed paddle. Beginners should be careful of overexertion. If girls aren’t accustomed to using oars, they may experience strained arm muscles. Kayaking is not recommended for Girl Scout Daisies; Class III and Class IV whitewater is not recommended for Brownies; Class IV whitewater is not recommended for Juniors.

  • Orienteering is an activity that involves using a map, compass, and navigational skills to find your way around or across an unfamiliar area, and may also incorporate camping, backpacking, hiking, cross‐country skiing, or horseback‐riding skills. Orienteering often takes place in the wilderness, although events can take place in just about any terrain such as a beach, urban area, or park. Orienteers often use control markers to flag various land features found on the map, serving as checkpoints along a course.

  • Other land sports include team sports such as soccer, softball, and basketball, as well as individual activities such as dance, gymnastics, and track and field. In planning activities, ensure that girls aren’t pushed beyond their capabilities. As
    is the case for all Girl Scout activities, a girl’s participation depends on her readiness, level of maturity, physical conditioning, and level of training.

  • Historically, wood fires were the primary source of heat for camp cooking, but the practice of cooking with large fires is no longer recommended, because of the detrimental effects on camping areas. Instead, use an established fire pit to
    ignite a small fire, or use alternative cooking methods such as a portable cook stove (electric or fuel‐based). When cooking outdoors, it’s important to pack the appropriate amount of food for the group, so as to avoid discarding unused
    food. To properly plan food supplies, consider the activities you’ll be participating in, keeping in mind that girls will burn more calories and hence need to eat more when participating in rigorous activities. Also, more calories are needed
    during cold weather. Extensive outdoor cooking is not recommended for Girl Scout Daisies, but a less extensive activity, such as roasting marshmallows, is appropriate.

  • Whether you’re participating in a parade or planning a Girl Scout event, series, or other large group gathering, it’s important to represent Girl Scouts in the best possible way and encourage girls to plan the festivities.

  • Playing is just as much a fun activity for kids as it is a critically important part of their creative and social development. KaBOOM! is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to ensure there’s a “great place to play within walking distance of
    every child in America.” With the help of sponsors and adults, the organization has developed hundreds of playgrounds in underprivileged areas.

  • One of the most historic means of transportation, rowboating has evolved to become a leisurely activity and competitive sport. Ocean rowing, competitive rowing, and Venetian are just a handful of rowing styles; in racing rowboats, an eightoared shell can hit speeds of up to 16 miles per hour.

  • The sport of sailing has become very high‐tech and competitive since its humble beginnings, but sailors and racers still must rely on the force of wind to push their boats. There are a wide variety of sailboats, including small and large sailboats, keelboats, and multihulls. Sailboating is not recommended for Girl Scout Daisies and Brownies.

  • Scuba diving is an eye‐opening opportunity to experience the underwater world of sea life. Scuba is an acronym for “self‐contained underwater breathing apparatus” and requires specialized equipment, most of which certified scubadiving schools rent for lessons. Organizations such as the National Association of Underwater Instructors and the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) offer online tools to locate certified scuba instructors. Scuba diving is a challenging activity, and girls who wish to learn to scuba dive must be at least 12 years old and meet the health requirements set by the certifying agency.

  • First produced in 2002, the Segway PT is a personal transportation device powered by an electric motor, and is a great way to tour urban and historic areas, such as Washington, D.C. Although not as fast as a bicycle, Segway PTs travel up to 12.5 miles per hour and glide under the control of the rider. Mobilized by two wheels, Segway PT riders stand on a platform that is balanced by the sensors and motors beneath. Riders lean forward to go forward and back to reverse, and turn left or right by using the handlebar, which resembles a video‐game joystick (first‐generation Segway PT models used a steering mechanism that resembles a motorcycle’s throttle). The Segway manufacturer requires that riders weigh 90 to 250 pounds; state and locals governments differ about location and age restrictions. Some Segway guided‐tour and guided‐ride organizations limit their services

  • Invented in the 1930s by California surfers who were frustrated by bad waves, skateboarding has become a popular sport and pastime with competitions and professional skateboarders. Skateboarding schools and camps teach beginners
    how to ride, perform tricks, and skate ramps and half‐pipes. In general, for groups learning to skateboard, four class sessions are recommended. Girl Scout Daisies do not participate in skateboarding.

  • Sleds vary in design, shape, and material and can range from round plastic discs to rectangular wood structures with metal runners. A toboggan is typically a long, flat‐bottomed sled made of thin boards that curve upward in a C‐shape at
    one end. Snow tubes are inflatable, doughnut‐shaped rubber or plastic inner tubes similar to those used in water tubing, but have dimpled centers.

  • Snorkeling is a great way to explore underwater life without the complicated equipment required of scuba diving. It’s important to learn how to breathe using snorkels properly, and to receive instruction from an experienced snorkeler or
    equipment‐rental facility. Coral, an ecosystem of shell and marine life, is a popular attraction for snorkelers and must be respected. As ocean organisms that support plants and fish, coral reefs are an essential part of the underwater
    ecosystem. Unfortunately, the coral reef is threatened by climate change, ocean acidification, and people who mistreat it. Touching coral can harm the delicate outer layer, which may take up to 100 years to recover.

  • Originating thousands of years ago as a means of trekking through snow, snowshoeing has evolved to become a competitive winter sport. Snowshoes also have evolved to become sophisticated sporting equipment. Traditional snowshoes are made of wood and rawhide lacings, and modern snowshoes are typically constructed from plastic, metal, and other synthetic materials. As for selecting appropriate boots, waterproof boots or snowboarding boots work well, as
    do waterproofed leather hiking boots for snow hiking, and trail‐running shoes work well for snow‐running. Contact ski facilities and outdoor equipment stores to inquire about renting snowshoe equipment. Snowshoeing is not recommended for Girl Scout Daisies.

  • Women have made incredible contributions to the STEM community and have, as a result, advanced culture and improved modern ways of life. Unfortunately, women are underrepresented in these fields, especially technology and engineering. A number of organizations work to encourage girls to enter the sciences and to connect girls with mentorship and education in the sciences (see the “STEM Links” section for resources). To encourage girls’ interest in
    STEM, it’s important to engage them in hands‐on activities that provide ties to real‐world applications. Activities should allow girls to explore the vast array of career opportunities available to them. Before working with girls, make sure you fully understand the STEM activity and make note of any additional safety precautions provided in the activity directions.

  • Surfing (also referred to as “surfboarding”) is one of the most challenging water sports, but if a new surfer is well prepared, it can be a safe, rewarding experience that develops balance, agility, strength, and confidence. With proper instruction from an experienced surfing teacher, many first‐timers are able to stand up on their boards during the initial two‐ to four‐hour session. Of course, people learn at different paces, but three to four lessons are recommended. Enrolling girls in a surf camp or daylong surfboarding lesson is highly recommended for beginners; be sure to inform the surf school of girls’ ages, heights, and sizes to reserve appropriate surfboards and wetsuits. Surfing is not recommended
    for Girl Scout Daisies and Brownies.

  • A longtime Girl Scout tradition, swimming is one of the many ways that girls develop athleticism, leadership, and teambuilding skills. Whether swimming outdoors at camps and competitive events or in indoor pools, safety is one of the
    keys to having fun in the water. Girls and adults adhere to council requirements for swimming levels—in addition to the requirements of the organization you are working with—to participate in water activities. Consult a local organization such as your local parks and recreation department, YMCA, or American Red Cross for swimming lessons, or locate a swimming instructor in your area at swim.com.

  • Roller coasters have come a long way since the first coaster—built as a means of transporting coal down a Pennsylvania mountain—was invented in 1872. Much like architects who try to win the “world’s tallest building” recognition, rollercoaster
    designers and theme parks try to outdo records for largest, fastest, and tallest amusement‐park ride. To ensure a safe theme‐park experience, it’s important to communicate with girls about ride and crowd safety, and to encourage girls to act responsibly. Search for U.S. theme parks by state at About.com. Remember that some theme parks have height restrictions for Girl Scout Daisies and Brownies.

  • Travel camping (using campsites as a means of accommodations) is planned and carried out by a group of girls and adults who are experienced campers. The group travels by foot or human power and uses motorized or non‐motorized
    transportation to move from one site to another over a period of three or more nights. Motorized transportation is usually a bus, van, or automobile but may also be an airplane, boat, bicycle, or train, or a combination of vehicles. When
    preparing for and conducting the trip, use other Safety Activity Checkpoints (such as “Canoeing,” “Backpacking,” and “Outdoor Cooking”) to aid trip‐planning. Trip/travel camping is not recommended for Daisy Girl Scouts and Brownies.

  • Tubing involves floating down a river or other body of water in a doughnut‐shaped inner tube. Tubing is popular both as a relaxing leisurely activity (in slow‐moving waters) and as an adventurous recreational activity in faster‐paced rivers. As a safety precaution, keep in mind that tubes occasionally flip, causing tubers to sometimes fall out of their tubes as they travel over rapids and through rough patches of water. As river tubing is often a one‐way trip, ensure to arrange
    transportation from the tubing final destination. If participating in speed‐boat tubing, be sure to take safety precautions that comply with small‐craft safety guidelines.

  • Similar to surfing, learning to stand up on waterskis or a wakeboard (a single board resembling a snowboard) is one of the sport’s primary challenges, especially for beginners. Waterskiing requires thorough instruction and practice; key elements of successful waterskiing include balance, a strong grip, and proper‐fitting skis/board and bindings. Beginners must learn the waterski position: knees bent and together, leaning back with weight on the balls of the feet, head up,
    arms straight, and skis pointing forward. To prevent injuries, waterskiers must learn (contrary to instinct) to release the towline as soon as they begin to lose their balance. Skiers either wear one board (called slalom) or two skis (called combo); barefoot waterskiing is an advanced skill. Wakeboarding is not recommended for Girl Scout Daisies and Brownies.

  • White‐water rafting is especially popular among adventure seekers, but is enjoyable for general outdoor lovers as well. The level of rafting difficulty is measured by white‐water classification, which ranges from classes I to VI—Class I represents water with very few rough areas that are suitable for beginners; Class VI rapids are considered to be extremely dangerous and generally impassable. Rafts come in a variety of styles and lengths, the most common of which are between 11 and 20 feet in length and typically seat four to twelve rafters. It’s nearly impossible to stay dry while white‐water rafting, so it’s important to dress for the water temperature, rather than the air temperature. If the water is
    cold, wear a wetsuit; on cool days with cool water, wear a wetsuit and a paddle jacket. Avoid wearing cotton because it makes the wearer cold when the clothes get wet. White‐water rafting is not recommended for Girl Scout Daisies; Class
    III and Class IV whitewater is not recommended for Brownies; Class IV whitewater is not recommended for Juniors.

  • Windsurfing combines surfing and sailing, and is one of the fastest‐growing water sports. Expert windsurfers (aka “boardheads”) seek out the challenges and freestyling opportunities that big waves provide, but beginners should windsurf on water with little to no waves. Windsurfing instructors usually begin the instructional process on land to guide students through a startup sequence. The essence of windsurfing is to balance oneself on the sailboard while holding the sail and cruising with the wind; learning how to turn is an advanced skill that takes some windsurfers years to master. Keeping in mind that people learn at different paces, with a good instructor, beginners are often able to learn how to windsurf in a single lesson. Windsurfing is not recommended for Girl Scout Daisies and Brownies.