Slaughtering the Sacred Cow: Ratio

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Angus Bickerton
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Slaughtering the Sacred Cow: Ratio

Post by Angus Bickerton » Fri Aug 08, 2014 12:01 pm

Well, the title says it all, but I am a firm believer in the Scientific Method, and the question must be asked, so many years after ratio was implemented for Beavers, Cubs and Scouts. I am not talking about 2-deep, which has its own, very special challenges (since the age of three, I haven't needed any one to go to the potty with me, except as an adult leader in Scouting), and is a topic for another day.

My questions are:

1. Why have 1 scouter for every 6 youth in Cubs, but 1 to 5 in Beavers?
2. Where and by whom were the ratios for Cubs/Scouts and Beavers developed?
3. What is the specific justification for 1:6 and 1:5? Why not 1:4 or 1:7 or 1:9?
4. When you are 13 and in Scouts, you need ratio. When you turn 14, and move to Venturers, you magically no longer require it. Why?
5. Why is it that, in a gym in a school, we require 5 adults for 25 kids, when in that same school, earlier that same day, one teacher was enough for the same number of kids?

The answers I am looking for are the real, scientific reasons for having adopted the Ratio Policy, not the "just 'cause" kind of answers. I want to know what National and the Councils and the AGMs that chose the policy in the first place used as a rationale.

I find that ratio, more than 2 deep, is very limiting, and most of the Scouters I know could handle a group of 20 kids with one or two other scouters without difficulty. However, if 5 leaders are not present with 22 kids (4 + 1 for ratio), you've got to shut it down. My hypothesis is that Ratio is more about optics and following a policy for policy's sake to insulate against liability, than it is about putting on a quality program. It is good evidence in a lawsuit if you have a policy of Ratio, and can prove that it was followed, in an effort to rebut a claim of negligence by a suing plaintiff. Wearing my lawyer's hat when I say this.

I'd like to know the full rationale behind Ratio, as I do not like blindly following a policy which I do not entirely understand. Once I achieve understanding, I'll put away my butchering equipment. ;)
Angus Bickerton
Troop Scouter
Brockville Troop
1st Brockville Group Committee
1st Gilwell 2011 (Colony) 2013 (Pack)

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Re: Slaughtering the Sacred Cow: Ratio

Post by Roxybeaver1 » Sat Aug 09, 2014 10:12 am

This is an excellent topic question!

Perhaps when Scouting was more outdoors and less in a gym/church/school, it was easier to track 20 kids on a campsite/hike/trail. 20 kids in a gym are contained in one area. But on a hike, there are always the ones that rush ahead and the ones who trail behind and a handful of leaders is most useful to make sure you still have all 20 kids when you return to base camp!

Perhaps ratio can be modified to depend on the event - indoors, 1 to 10 and outdoor 1 to 5. (At some camps, all the leaders go with their kids plus a handful of other kids and the ratio was 1 to 2! This gave other leaders the time to go and set up food or the next activity without fear of not making ratio.)

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Re: Slaughtering the Sacred Cow: Ratio

Post by norma » Sat Aug 09, 2014 11:05 pm

From Google, there are a lot of different ratios out there ... even just across Canada. Seems each Province has its own idea of the appropriate ratios for adults to children.

The Beavers being the 1:5 is likely due to the 5 year olds being part of the section. 5 year olds are still "pre school" as they are pre Grade 1 (6 yr olds) which is the typical legislated start for schooling, though for most provinces 5 year olds are in school and in some provinces school starts at 4 years old so "pre school" is considered 3 year olds.

I am thinking that someone at some point did some "easy math" and said that since Patrols/Sixes are based on 6 youth, it is easy to have "full Patrol/Six" per adult. And with the lack of youth leadership in Beavers (there is no nationally recognized "Lodge Leader" position similar to the Sixer/Patrol Leader positions) and with the 5 year olds present requiring a higher ratio, that the 1:5 would work to allow "full lodge" per adult.

Most provinces also drop the requirement for strict direct supervision around 13-14 years old. Which means the Venturer section would not have the strict legislated requirements that the other sections could have, allowing for the drop of the set ratio in this section. Also around 13-14 is typically when youth are considered "old enough" to be able to supervise younger children, and with the addition of the section going until 17 when they really can spend extend time "in charge" of younger youth, it is likely seen as the ratio is no longer needed for this section.
The same that Rovers do not require more than a "Scouter in charge" appointed as the members are all adults, and thus (in theory) do not require supervision.


I think though the legislated ratios may have changed a lot over the years since they were last set.

I personally like the UK Scouting ratios. They have "min 2" while indoors, and only during "outdoor activities" that they require a min ratio of adults to youth.
However, they are able to use parents to cover the ratio. With this model and our current requirements for screening and training in order to "count for ratio" it would make it more difficult to leave the hall for activities as you would need to scrounge in order to meet ratio with leaders who do not normally have to be present at meetings.
Many groups are currently limited in their membership more by the number of leaders they can arrange for on a weekly basis, being able to raise their youth membership by removing the weekly indoor meeting ratio, would make it trickier to find "part time" screened and trained adults to cover the outings.

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SteveMatheson
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Re: Slaughtering the Sacred Cow: Ratio

Post by SteveMatheson » Mon Aug 11, 2014 11:57 am

Yeah, it might be arbitrary, but the organization has to set the standard at something. Keep in mind that the ratios also help the Scouters from being overwhelmed or overrun! Will it might make sense to have different ratios for different risk-level activities, it is much easier to administer a single set of rules. (Personally, I find we need more leaders in meetings than we do during camping.)

The only places I see reference to ratio is:
BP&P 4008.2 (iii): Each Colony, Pack, Troop and SCOUTSabout Section must have a minimum of two Scouters present at all times. In total, the minimum ratio of Scouters to youth members for a Colony or Junior SCOUTSabout Section is 1:5; or 1:6 for a Pack, Troop, Senior SCOUTSabout Section; but not less than two (2).

Very minimal verbiage on this, for something so fundamental and important!

Note that Scouters-in-Training youth are ratio-neutral (that is, they don't count against your scouter-to-youth ratio) and can even be part of the ratio once (only after two adults are also present) they complete WBI (which they should do within their first year). Handy if you have 13+ Cub Scouts!
BP&P 4008.5: SIT’s working with colony and pack Sections can be included in the Scouter : youth member ratio provided they have: (1) successfully completed Wood Badge Part I for the Section in which they will be working; (2) have completed three Personal Reference Check (usually the individuals section leader); and (3) has read and understands the Duty of Care document.

Similar with Venturer Scouts. (We invited two former Troop members, currently Venturer Scouts, to our summer Troop/Pack camp. They watched the C&YS training video on my iPod!)
Volunteer Screening Policy Update (May 2013): For overnight camps, in addition to the Code of Conduct and expectations discussion, the Venturer Scout must complete the Child & Youth Safety Training. These Venturer Scouts do not count towards ratio, so the 2 leader rule must be followed at all times.

Parents attending (which is highly encouraged for Colony) are also ratio-neutral. (There was some brief confusion in my Council where it was thought that parents needed two Scouter to "supervise" them - separate from the ratio needed to be present with youth. I pointed out that taking a single youth with a parent on hike would require four Scouters using that logic! While not clearly stated either way, the same two Scouters can handle both youth and parents.)

As for the need for adult "supervision" "magically" disappearing after Troop, I think Troop level youth can also conduct activities without any adult supervision. While this seemingly goes against BP&P 4008.2, the follow does exist on the Outdoor Activity Application:
  • Parents/Guardians have been appropriately briefed regarding the nature of the activities, the preparation required and potential risk associated with the activity.
  • Where Scouts or Venturers are camping or participating in activities without adults present, at least one member present has the necessary skills and training appropriate for the outing.
While this could be simply for time-limited "patrol level" activities (such as cooking, gathering firewood, etc. without dual-Scouter supervision), I don't see why (if deemed appropriate for the participating youth) a patrol couldn't be dropped off on a small island for an overnight survival exercise. We haven't done this, but it would be a neat experience for them! (I did nix once such proposal, as at the time none of the youth had first aid training.)

While Venturer Scouts can conduct activities without adult supervision, they can only do so after obtaining Adviser permission. (And Group Commissioner permission too, if it is an Outdoor or overnight activity.) So, they aren't completely without adult guidance just yet.

This all leads to gradual independence for Scouting youth. While the exact leadership ratio numbers and ages where they apply are debatable, they are needed.
Steve Matheson
Group Commissioner, 3rd Eastern Passage
Nova Scotia

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Re: Slaughtering the Sacred Cow: Ratio

Post by norma » Mon Aug 11, 2014 3:43 pm

SteveMatheson wrote: I think Troop level youth can also conduct activities without any adult supervision. While this seemingly goes against BP&P 4008.2
10001 - Additional Leadership Requirements for Camping and Outdoor Activities (See Section 2008.2)

10001.3 - Scouts:
Troop Scouters may approve patrol size groups of Scouts (two to ten) holding short-term camps without adult leadership, providing each Scout has obtained permission from a parent or guardian
Scouts can camp "Short-term" which is defined as "consists of two nights or less" in 10000.2 - Definitions.
So it is permitted for them to do a weekend camp.

Venturers/Extreme Adventure are able to do short or long term camps without adults ("long term" is defined as "consists of three nights or more") as per 10001.4

It does go with the gradual independence though. Beavers camping is done with their parents (as well as leaders, though the leaders can be parents also). Cubs camping is with adult leadership (so no longer have their parents there necessarily). Scouts have short term camping without adult leadership, and then Venturers have long term camping without adult leadership. Then Rovers may camp without adult leadership at all provided they give notification.
SteveMatheson wrote:Note that Scouters-in-Training youth are ratio-neutral (that is, they don't count against your scouter-to-youth ratio) and can even be part of the ratio once (only after two adults are also present) they complete WBI (which they should do within their first year). Handy if you have 13+ Cub Scouts!
This has recently been changed slightly (Nov 2010). Activity Leaders (14-15 yr olds) who have completed WBI now count towards the ratio (previously it was only the Scouter-in-Training (15-17 year olds)) Though BP&P only mentions Colony and Pack Sections being included in the ratio. (AL do not seem to be able to be in the Troop [somewhat makes sense as 14-15 yr olds could be participants in Troop] and myScouts doesn't have an AL position for Troop. But BP&P does not mention Troop where saying SIT could be part of the ratio, though the screening documents don't differentiate about what sections they would count for ratio)
The minimum 2 registered adults must be maintained, which matches the screening document which says that AL/SIT have to be supervised by 2 adults.

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Re: Slaughtering the Sacred Cow: Ratio

Post by SteveMatheson » Tue Aug 12, 2014 1:57 pm

Thanks Norma for that update! (And thanks for quoting BP&P "scripture", it is very helpful.)

This is a confusing (and often contentious) topic, so I think a quick reference summary is in order!

Please check out http://wiki.scouts.ca/en/Ratio and let me know if any changes are needed to it. (Or better yet, login to the wiki and make edits yourselves!)

Norma (or anyone else), do you have a reference to that 2010 change for Activity Leaders with WBI counting in the ratio? I would like to add that.

(Angus - Sorry if my "answers" are closer to "just 'cause" than "scientific". It would be interesting to know the reasons behind these exact numbers.)
Steve Matheson
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Nova Scotia

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Re: Slaughtering the Sacred Cow: Ratio

Post by norma » Tue Aug 12, 2014 9:49 pm

SteveMatheson wrote:Norma (or anyone else), do you have a reference to that 2010 change for Activity Leaders with WBI counting in the ratio? I would like to add that.
4008.4 – Activity Leaders: Revised November 2010

Activity leaders are registered members, 14 or 15 years old, who work with a Beaver colony
or a Wolf Cub pack as part of its leadership team of the Section. Activity leaders assist with
the conduct of activities and serve as instructors or helpers as members of the Beaver colony
or Wolf Cub pack leadership team. They must be willing to participate in a development
program to equip them for the job. As such, AL’s are eligible to take Wood Badge Part I and
receive the appropriate recognition. They are part of the Scouter: youth ratio if they have
completed WB1.


4008.5 – Scouters-in-Training: Revised November 2010

Scouters-in-Training (SIT’s) are registered members, 16 or 17 years old, who work with a
Beaver colony, Wolf Cub pack or a Scout troop. Scouters-in-Training assist with the
operation of any aspects of the program as members of the Beaver colony, Wolf Cub pack,
and Scout troop leadership team.

Scouters-in-Training must be willing to participate in a development program to equip them
for the job. As such, SIT’s are eligible to take Wood Badge Part I and/or Wood Badge Part
II and receive the appropriate recognition.


SIT’s working with colony and pack Sections can be included in the Scouter : youth member
ratio provided they have: (1) successfully completed Wood Badge Part I for the Section in
which they will be working; (2) have completed three Personal Reference Check (usually the
individuals section leader); and (3) has read and understands the Duty of Care document.
Note: minimum standard of two registered adults must be maintained.
The bold is mine. AL have to do the full screening the same as the SITs, it is just not listed as one of the requirements in order to be included in the Scouter: youth member ratio, as it is for SITs.


For the wiki ratio information, there is the missing requirements for Venturers and Rovers.
4008.2 – Requirements for Section Leadership:
Venturer and Extreme Adventure sections will have at least two registered Scouters, one of
which is 21 years of age or older and who is responsible for the section and leadership team.
Assistant leaders must be at least 18 years of age.

(v) Venturer Companies and Extreme Adventure Groups:
Whenever adults (Scouters) are present, there must be at least two, one of which must
be a registered Scouter (see Section 4008.3 and 10001.4).

(vi) Rover Crews:
Must have at least one Scouter who is 25 years of age and who is responsible for the
section (see Section 10001.5).
4008.2 (v) does say that only one must be a registered Scouter, however with the new CYS information, the min two must be "registered adults" and to count for ratio you need "WB1 in your primary role". So parents (or non-registered adults) cannot be used to cover ratio, especially the "min two" part.
Last edited by norma on Tue Aug 12, 2014 9:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Slaughtering the Sacred Cow: Ratio

Post by Sam Wallis » Tue Aug 12, 2014 9:54 pm

just curious, but they have to complete 3 personal reference checks (usualy the individuals section leader) isnt the section leader one person?
am I the only one who thinks thats confusing.

as to ratio, it says nothing of quality, which IMO is more important than quantity.
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Re: Slaughtering the Sacred Cow: Ratio

Post by norma » Tue Aug 12, 2014 10:02 pm

Sam Wallis wrote:just curious, but they have to complete 3 personal reference checks (usualy the individuals section leader) isnt the section leader one person?
am I the only one who thinks thats confusing.

as to ratio, it says nothing of quality, which IMO is more important than quantity.
Well, usually there are more than one section leader, so likely they should have made it plural rather than singular.

The ratios are the minimum that you need. The "quality" part is covered with:
(vii) Increasing Ratios:
Scouts Canada’s Duty of Care (Section 7000) impacts the appropriate ratio used.
Ratios may be increased by the leadership team depending on factors including, but not
limited to:
• Location of activity.
• Technical skills required of leadership team and participants.
• Youth skills, attitude, capabilities and fitness levels.
• Leader skills, attitude, capabilities and fitness levels.
• Familiarity of surroundings.
• Time of year
Yes you need a minimum of x number of adult bodies present. After that you still need to have
10000 - Camping and Outdoor Activities

Sections involved in outdoor activities must ensure that sound conservation and
environmental practices as described in this section are followed. This section also helps
leaders and group committee members determine if the proposed activity meets the
following criteria:
Leaders and Participants Are:
in the Right Place,
at the Right Time,
with the Right People
and with the Right Equipment

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Re: Slaughtering the Sacred Cow: Ratio

Post by SteveMatheson » Wed Aug 13, 2014 8:57 am

Updated http://wiki.scouts.ca/en/Ratio with more reference notes.

Thanks for the clarifications!
Steve Matheson
Group Commissioner, 3rd Eastern Passage
Nova Scotia

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Re: Slaughtering the Sacred Cow: Ratio

Post by Hawkeye3 » Wed Aug 13, 2014 7:37 pm

So, who will craft a new proposal and ensure that SC can vote on it?

Personally, I would like to see 1:10 for Beavers and Cubs, minimum 2 deep. I cannot speak for higher sections.
Tom

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Re: Slaughtering the Sacred Cow: Ratio

Post by Hawkeye3 » Thu Aug 21, 2014 3:32 pm

I feel as though I have killed the discussion. Is anyone here familiar with the process to do this? I understand that to make this change we have to write the suggested new rules and then have enough voting members agree to table this nationally.

Is there any interest in doing this? I think that using tools like the Wiki (wiki.Scouts.ca) and the online forum, we could do this. It would be an interesting experiment at least!
Tom

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Re: Slaughtering the Sacred Cow: Ratio

Post by Sam Wallis » Fri Aug 22, 2014 9:51 am

I think your issue is finding support among voting members. since a lot of them helped craft the current rules, or at least aprove them, it might be an issue. That said, I have no idea how the process would work, or if it could.
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Re: Slaughtering the Sacred Cow: Ratio

Post by Roxybeaver1 » Tue Oct 28, 2014 7:47 pm

Two deep - is that when alone with a child? If you are with five of them, outdoors, leading a station, can you be one leader? Or is that okay only if within eyesight of another leader?

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Re: Slaughtering the Sacred Cow: Ratio

Post by Hawkeye3 » Wed Oct 29, 2014 10:36 am

Roxybeaver1 wrote:Two deep - is that when alone with a child? If you are with five of them, outdoors, leading a station, can you be one leader? Or is that okay only if within eyesight of another leader?
I believe you have to have another leader close. We are always within close eyesight (e.g. no more than 20 metres away). Leaders are NEVER alone with youth regardless of how many youth there are.
Tom

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Re: Slaughtering the Sacred Cow: Ratio

Post by Angus Bickerton » Mon Nov 17, 2014 4:07 pm

Tom:

You didn't kill the discussion. There's only a handful of scouters on this forum anyway. When I started this thread, I had two things in mind:

1. Trained leaders are the single biggest bottle-neck to growth in my Group, and likely most other Groups across the country;

2. What was the rationale for the ratio numbers, or were the numbers pulled out of a particular body part where the sun doesn't shine?

It would seem to be the latter, based on the guesses above. 1:6 based on the six/patrol size, and 1:5 "just 'cause they're Beavers". They are stupid, stupid numbers, if that is how they were arrived at.

I think that to operate, any section requires at least 3 leaders. Allows you to stay 2 deep when 1 leader needs to pee. 4 is better, 5 is optimum.

I have every confidence that I could run a Beaver Colony or Cub Pack of 25 youth with 2 other leaders, and the odd parent helping out. I think we need to look very hard at what the UK is doing, because until we deal with the leader bottleneck, we will keep turning kids away, which sucks. Bigtime. I don't think ratio is even needed at the Troop level, especially if you are running a good patrol system.

But, alas, no one from SC ever answered my question. The rationale behind the current ratio numbers remains a mystery.
Angus Bickerton
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Brockville Troop
1st Brockville Group Committee
1st Gilwell 2011 (Colony) 2013 (Pack)

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Re: Slaughtering the Sacred Cow: Ratio

Post by Sam Wallis » Mon Nov 17, 2014 10:41 pm

It would be nice to know the reason why on Ratio. Perhaps those who designed the current ratio figured that it would get more trained, skilled and enthusiastic leaders with the kids. instead the drive for ratio gets anyone who's arm can be twisted, resulting in leaders who know squat, and care less.

We would be far better off with 10000 leaders who have great skills, varied knowledge and are all enthusiastic than the 20 somethousand we have today, with half of them knowing nothing about the scouting method, or which end of an axe to use.
Truth is a perception, and a individual perception is their truth

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