Scouting’s Adventures for Older Scouts

Scouts who are at least 13 years old or have completed the seventh grad seek challenge and variety. How does Scouting capture their interest? One sure way is through diverse high-adventure and outdoor opportunities. Scouting not only provides adventure but also emphasizes values through ideals that reinforce God, country, and personal growth.

Older Scouts plan and run their own meetings and activities with minimal adult guidance. They participate in exciting outdoor programs like climbing, caving, and backpacking, and council and national high-adventure programs including Philmont Scout Ranch, Northern Tier, and the Florida Sea Base.

BSA High Adventure Bases

The BSA operates four national high-adventure bases, each with its own unique program opportunities:

  • Philmont Scout Ranch, often referred to as Scouting’s premier high adventure base, is where Scouts can experience a life-changing, backpacking trek through some of nature’s most beautiful mountain scenery, along with a host of activities associated with an array of backcountry, staffed camps.
  • Florida Sea Base offers a variety of specialized tropical adventures like coral reef sailing, offshore fishing and underwater exploration.
  • Northern Tier is the BSA’s premier winter, wilderness camping program, and offers summer canoeing expeditions in Northern Minnesota and Canada.
  • The Summit Bechtel Reserve is the home of the national jamboree. It’s also the site of the Paul R. Christen National High Adventure Base offering BMX, skateboarding, mountain biking, zip lines, canopy tours, challenge courses, climbing, shooting sports and more.  Additionally, the Summit is the home of the James C. Justice National Scout Camp providing programs focused on advancement and Scouting traditions.

These resources can help you deliver the promise to your older Scouts.

Preparing for High Adventure

The Adventure Plan (TAP) is a comprehensive tool to guide unit leaders—Cubs, Scouts, Venturers, and Sea Scouts— step by step through all stages of outdoor adventure planning. Learn more here.

You Name It, the Fieldbook Has It

The Fieldbook is the most comprehensive reference for Scouts, Venturers, unit leaders, trainers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. Includes sections on leadership and trek preparation, Leave No Trace principles, trek adventures, and appreciating our environment.

Outdoor Ethics/Leave No Trace

Outdoor ethics and Leave No Trace reminds us to respect other users of the outdoors including future generations. Appreciation for our natural environment and a knowledge of the interrelationships of nature bolster our respect for and reverence of the environment and nature. They are an awareness and an attitude rather than a set of rules. Outdoor ethics apply in your backyard or local park as much as in the backcountry. Scouts and Scouters who complete the outdoor ethics award requirements are entitled to wear patch number 618280 or name badge number 618977.

Climb to New Horizons

Climb With Confidence

The job of climbing is hard to top. Watching an experienced climber fluidly move from one hold to the next with skill and confidence inspires others. Belay On describes recommended techniques for setting up and carrying out a top-roping program that is appropriate for most BSA youth and units. It applies to climbing facilities such as towers, vertical and horizontal walls as well as to natural features such as cliffs and rock faces.

Climb On Safely

Designed to train BSA leaders to safely manage climbing and rappelling programs and where to find qualified climbing instructors. Climb On Safely is the climbing and rappelling equivalent to the BSA’s Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat guidelines for aquatic activities. The eight points of Climb On Safely detailed in this publication are designed to assure that BSA climbing activities are done safely. Adult leaders who complete training in Climb On Safely are entitled to wear the Climb On Safely temporary patch (No. 8631).

Climb High with an Updated Merit Badge

The new Climbing merit badge introduces older Scouts to all types of climbing activities—rock faces, climbing towers, climbing gyms, walls, etc. Acquiring climbing skills builds self-esteem in young people as well as a sense of accomplishment. No. 35001A.


COPE is an acronym for Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience, a program in the Boy Scouts of America. It consists of group initiative games, trust events, and high and low ropes course. Some activities involve a group challenge, while others develop individual skills and agility.

The COPE program is designed to enhance the Scouting experience and to promote Scouting values and objectives among its participants with fun and challenging activities. The events and activities of COPE are not designed to be competitive or a race against time, but rather are intended to encourage participants to do their best. COPE emphasizes building self-esteem, developing leadership, and working as a team to accomplish tasks; and it provides opportunities for every participant to succeed as an individual and as a member of a group. The COPE program emphasizes eight major goals.

Challenge by Choice” is a key principle of COPE. Each person may choose which activities to participate in without being pressured or coerced by the group or without having to justify a choice that has been made. While no participant should be pressured or coerced, all should be encouraged to participate in the events. Facilitators must be aware of the fine line between encouragement and pressure. The group must accept each individual’s choice.

More Outdoor Adventures

Service to America Through Conservation

The Conservation Handbook shows units how to select, plan, and carry out a variety of conservation projects at home and in the field. Well-conceived and well-done conservation projects provide a worthwhile service to others and become a source of enduring pride. No. 33570.

Training Opportunities of a Lifetime for Young Leaders

Order of the Arrow Points the Way

The Order of the Arrow is the National Honor Society of the Boy Scouts of America. Its purpose is to recognize those campers who best exemplify the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives, develop and maintain camping traditions and spirit, promote year-round and long-term resident camping, and cheerful service to others.

Where to Find These Resources

All these materials, resources, and programs are available through your BSA local council service center.