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Definitions of Camping Experiences

What are typical Scout outdoor activities? For younger Scouts, less-rugged activities are more appropriate as they begin to acquire outdoor knowledge and skills. These may include the following:

Day Hikes—Reasonably short hikes (3 to 10 miles) in terrain without a lot of elevation gain or loss.

Service Projects—Daylong projects that may be related to conservation, food collection, building shelter, or healthy living activities.

Patrol Activities—A Boy Scout patrol or Varsity Scout squad may hike or camp with other patrols or squads in the unit or, with the permission of their Scoutmaster and parents or guardians, may hike or camp on their own.

Weekend Overnights—Troops that plan and carry out outings once a month attract and retain boys at a much higher level than those that have fewer outings during the year.

Camporees—Councils and districts plan camporees and other outings during the year that give Scouts an opportunity to test their knowledge and skills in competitive events with other troops and patrols.

Long Term Camping - A camping experience consisting of five or more consecutive days and nights in the outdoors.

Jamborees—Every four years, the Boy Scouts of America hosts a national Scout jamboree. More than 40,000 Scouts and leaders from across the country participate in this 10-day event filled with the most popular and highest quality outdoor activities Scouts enjoy. To participate, a Scout must be at least 12 years of age by July 1 of the jamboree year and be a First Class Scout.

Council high adventure—A high-adventure experience includes at least five nights and six days of trekking in wilderness and other rugged, remote locations. Trekking may include backpacking, canoeing, mountain biking, horse packing, mountain climbing, ski touring, rafting, kayaking, or a host of other outdoor adventures. Participants must be at least 13 years old by Jan. 1 of the year they participate.

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National High Adventure—The BSA operates national high-adventure bases and programs. With two locations in the Florida Keys, the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base offers a variety of aquatic and boating programs. The Northern Tier National High Adventure Program, based in northern Minnesota with two satellite bases in Canada, provides a variety of canoe treks and programs. Philmont Scout Ranch in the mountains of New Mexico provides excellent backpacking treks. Age requirements for these programs vary, but most programs are rugged and designed for older Scouts. BSA’s newest High Adventure opportunity is The Summit Bechtel Reserve – Situated in the wilds of West Virginia, The Summit is a training, Scouting, and adventure center for the millions of youth and adults involved in the Boy Scouts of America. And anyone who loves the outdoors. And home to the National Scout Jamboree. And the Paul R. Christen National High Adventure Base which complements the three existing bases: Philmont Scout Ranch, Northern Tier and Florida Sea Base.

Unit High Adventure—The highest level of challenge for a troop or team is to plan and carry out its own high-adventure experience. These activities for more experienced Scouts are planned and implemented by youth members with coaching from their adult leaders.

Outdoor Activity Tips

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Scoutmaster Handbook, No. 33009
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Guide to Safe Scouting,No. 34416
  1. Obtain permission from parents or guardians for activities that are held away from the regular unit meeting places.
  2. Understand the local council’s policies regarding filing tour plans for unit outings. Click here for more information on tour plans.
  3. Be sure to have enough adult leaders for the activity. If feasible, check out the site before the activity. Check on reservation procedures, restrooms, availability of adequate drinking water, and any potential hazards.
  4. Use the buddy system. Coach the boys in advance on what to do if they get lost.
  5. Carry a first-aid kit and make sure someone is qualified to use it. Be prepared with emergency procedures.
  6. Arrange adequate and safe transportation.
  7. Always leave a site in its natural condition.

For more safety tips, review the the Guide to Safe Scouting and the Sweet 16 of BSA Safety.

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Accident and Sickness Protection

For questions about current camper accident and sickness insurance, please contact your local service center.

Leave No Trace

Every Scouting activity should be planned with Leave No Trace principles in mind. Leave No Trace is a method that prepares Scouts to make ethical choices in the outdoor environment and to respect the rights of other outdoor users, as well as future generations. It’s an awareness and an attitude rather than a set of rules. It applies in your backyard or local park as much as in wilderness or backcountry areas. The principles of Leave No Trace are below:

  • Plan ahead and prepare.
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  • Dispose of waste properly (pack it in, pack it out).
  • Leave what you find.
  • Minimize campfire impacts.
  • Respect wildlife.
  • Be considerate of other visitors.

For more information, refer to the Principles of Leave No Trace, No. 430-105. Also see Teaching Leave No Trace on this website.

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