One aspect of BSA‘s  SAFETY  PAUSE  slogan is “Share”, meaning sharing with others anticipated risks and how to deal with them.

But, will others listen?

All volunteer leaders have their own perceptions of risk to be encountered during an outdoor activity, which perception might actually be in line with actual risk (but some may not).  Such perception is based on individual experience, and skill level, in relation to the skills actually required by the anticipated activity, and the conditions to be encountered.


As inexperienced leaders may, due to their inexperience, have had little or no encounters with adverse or challenging conditions during such an activity, their perception of risk may be improperly skewed toward the more favorable end of the risk spectrum. And, inexperienced leaders may also have a less than accurate view of their own skill or ability.

Which means that the “Share” aspect of BSA‘s  SAFETY PAUSE  may not fall on receptive ears  – “What do you mean we have to modify our original plan, we can do this!”

People don’t always want their inexperience or lack of skills pointed out to them, but there are many reported stories where inexperience or lack of skills seem to be a primary cause of an incident, resulting in some rushing headlong into unappreciated and unanticipated trouble.

Cunningham, Sea Kayaker’s More Deep Trouble (2014)  raises the following questions regarding the difficulty of “sharing” risk-related information to those who may have an inaccurate view of their own skill and ability level and hence, may not be able to exercise appropriate judgment in relation to an activity:

  • How do you approach people when you think they may be heading into a situation beyond their abilities?
  • How do you find out what their experience level is?
  • How can you make sure they are prepared to deal with situations that arise without offending them?
  • Does it matter if you offend someone if you are trying to pass along important information about risks that they may not be aware of?

The “Share” of  SAFETY PAUSE  may sound easy, but it is only effective if it falls on receptive ears!

Perceived risk . . . are we open to listening?