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By:    On: 2013-07-10

A Scoutmaster emailed me with a question the other day. On an outing he couldn’t attend, his Scouts played several games like Indian leg wrestling, after which the assistant Scoutmaster in charge allowed the Scouts to engage in “plain old wrestling.” His question was whether this activity should have been allowed. (I assume the style was more Greco-Roman than WWF!)

How would you answer that question—other than making up an answer, of course?

Your first stop should always be the Guide to Safe Scouting. And I mean the current version at, not the printed copy you’ve been carrying around in your briefcase for five years. Within the GSS, the first place to look is the list of unauthorized and restricted activities in the chapter on sports and activities. There you’ll find mentions of varsity football, martial arts, parasailing, and go-karts—but nothing about wrestling.

If you want to dig a little deeper, you could use this Google search string (without the quotation marks, of course): “wrestling” That search string will show any occurrence of the term wrestling on the BSA website, including several mentions of the prohibition (under Youth Protection policies) of wrestling between Scouts and adults.

The answer, then, seems to be that Scouts can wrestle with each other so long as nobody gets hurt. Our job as Scout leaders is to make sure that this activity, like any other, follows the New Games philosophy: “Play Hard. Play Fair. Nobody Hurt.”

Republished with permission of Mark Ray at

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