- The Washington Times - Friday, February 13, 2015

Heads up, Scout leaders: Troops, churches and community organizations that use big, old vans to transport Scouts will need to make new plans this year.

As of Sept. 1, 15-passenger vans that were made in 2004 or earlier cannot be used for Scouting programs and activities, Bryan Wendell said on the blog he writes for adult leaders in Boy Scouts of America (BSA).

Large vans made in 2005 or later may be used, as long as they have the safety feature known as “electronic stability control,” and seat belts for all passengers and the driver, Mr. Wendell said in his “Bryan On Scouting” blog, which is the official blog of Scouting magazine.

He said the policy change came from BSA’s general counsel and will be published in the next updates of the Guide to Safe Scouting and other BSA publications.

The policy will apply to all 15-passenger vehicles used for Scouting, regardless of whether they are privately owned, owned by chartered organizations or rented, Mr. Wendell wrote, adding that removing seats from a 15-passenger van won’t make it compliant with the new safety policy.

“The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says 15-passenger vans with 10 or more occupants are three times more likely to roll over than ones carrying fewer than five passengers,” Mr. Wendell noted.

Transportation is an essential part of the BSA, given the organization’s mission to develop good character in boys and men through service projects, and health, fitness and appreciation for nature through outdoor activities — often in rugged terrain.

In 2013 alone, 2.6 million youth and 1 million volunteers logged 17 million hours of community service and conservation projects, the BSA said in an annual report.

Getting a new van, however, is likely to mean some serious fundraising for affected packs and troops: The cost of a new 15-passenger van, such as the GMC Savana and Chevy Express 3500, starts at around $30,000.

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