The Scouts BSA Outdoor Program
In the outdoors, Scouts have opportunities to acquire skills that make them more self-reliant. They can explore canoe and hiking trails and complete challenges they first thought were beyond their ability. Attributes of good character become part of them as they learn to cooperate to meet outdoor challenges.
Types of Outdoor Activities
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 Scout patrol may hike or camp with other patrols in the unit. Two registered adult leaders 21 years of age or over are required at all Scouting activities, including meetings.
Weekend overnights—Troops that plan and carry out outings once a month attract and retain their members 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.
Summer camp—Summer camp is what many Scouts enjoy most. Camp programs provide numerous opportunities for Scouts to earn merit badges along their advancement trail. Resident camp includes at least five nights and six days of fun outdoor activities.
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.
National high adventure—The BSA operates four national high-adventure bases and programs.
- Florida National High Adventure Sea Base – with two locations in the Florida keys, offers a variety of aquatic and boating programs.
- Northern Tier National High Adventure – 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 and great views of wildlife and nature. it is a true “mountain top” experience for any Scout
- Summit Bechtel Reserve – in the mountains of West Virginia offers Scouts the opportunity to experience BMX biking, skateboarding, and the “BIG ZIP” and may have the opportunity to raft the whitewater of the New River. In addition to these high adventure programs, Scout Camp is a program where Scouts can have a summer camp experience like no other. The Summit Bechtel Reserve is also host to the National Scout Jamboree and was host to the 2019 World Scout Jamboree.
Age requirements for these programs vary, but most programs are rugged and designed for older Scouts.
Unit high adventure—The highest level of challenge for a troop or crew 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
- Obtain permission from parents or guardians for activities that are held away from the regular unit meeting places
- 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.
- Use the buddy system. Coach the Scouts in advance on what to do if they get lost.
- Carry a first-aid kit and make sure someone is qualified to use it. Be prepared with emergency procedures.
- Arrange adequate and safe transportation.
- Always leave a site in its natural condition.