For the last 105 years, the experience of being a Boy Scout has had a positive, lasting effect on the lives of millions of young people. Scouting is building tomorrow’s leaders while teaching a powerful set of real-life skills and developing fundamental qualities like leadership, character and respect. In order to do that, professional Scouters and volunteer leaders work tirelessly to ensure young people are having fun and staying safe. At the National Service Center, that work is headed by Richard Bourlon, director of environmental, health and safety, and the subject of today’s 5 questions.
What’s most exciting about your role as director of health and safety?
Richard: The most exciting part … is when it’s not exciting, when the programs we have are run with precision. In the last few years, helping integrate safety into new programs such as the ATV or Pistol Safety and Marksmanship programs has been exciting. On the health side, the simplification and standardization of the Annual Health and Medical Record – a form that affects around 4 million folks annually – was one of the more exciting projects I’ve worked on. Lots of stakeholders provided input on how to improve the form, which made the task of balancing this feedback a vital one for the organization. (The next update will come sometime after 2020).
What is your Scouting background? What drew you to the BSA?
Richard: Growing up in Pack and Troop 317 in Seguin, Texas, Alamo Area Council, with both of my parents as active volunteers, I’m a product of the program. When my son was a first grader, he came home from school and proclaimed that this “old guy” came up to the school and told him he could shoot BB guns and bows and arrows, but he had to bring his parents back to school that night. That led to volunteer stints as a Tiger Cub den leader through cubmaster, assistant scoutmaster, and scoutmaster. I joined the professional staff in July 2007.
What’s your favorite Scouting memory?
Richard: My last Eagle Scout Court of Honor as a scoutmaster tops the list. Most of my memorable experiences are watching our program work as boys become men, learn to cook, take on leadership roles, overcome adversity, or have intelligent conversation around a campfire about the best way to survive a zombie apocalypse. Having the privilege to work with our military partners at the 2010 National Jamboree as a staff member also was an awesome experience.
How is health and safety significant to the Scouting experience?
Richard: Former National President Rex Tillerson said, “Safety is our license to operate,” and that pretty much sums it up. Millions of parents entrust their kids to local volunteers every day. Our job isn’t to make sure there are “no risks” but rather that we “know the risks,” and are prepared for that activity. As we look at exciting new programs and activities that appeal to youth, the need to integrate safety into the program becomes even more critical.
And, most importantly, what’s your go-to campout food?
Richard: Coffee – strong, black, no additives. And yes, it is a food. The ultimate position for the H&S guy is sitting around the campfire drinking coffee, but bored because nothing bad is happening. Granny Smith apple cobbler is second to the coffee!
Introduce the man behind BSA health and safety to your Scouting network by saving the graphic above and sharing in your social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) with hashtag #BSA5Questions. You can also get to know STEM Directors April and Trent, Market Intelligence Manager Scott, Order of the Arrow Director Matt and Scouting Alumni Association Director Dustin!