Age Guidelines for Camping
The Boy Scouts of America has established the following guidelines for its members’ participation in camping activities:
- Overnight camping by Tiger Cub, Wolf, and Bear Cub Scout dens as dens is not approved, and certificates of liability insurance will not be provided by the Boy Scouts of America.
- Tiger Cubs, with their adult partner, may participate in boy-parent excursions, day camps, pack overnighters, council-organized family camping, or resident camping.
- Tiger Cubs, Wolf and Bear Cub Scouts, and Webelos Scouts may participate in a resident overnight camping program operating under BSA National Camping School– trained leadership and managed by the council.
- A Webelos Scout may participate in overnight den camping when supervised by an adult. In most cases, the Webelos Scout will be under the supervision of his parent or guardian. It is essential that each Webelos Scout be under the supervision of a parent-approved adult. Joint Webelos den/troop campouts including the parents of the Webelos Scouts are encouraged to strengthen ties between the pack and troop. Den leaders, pack leaders, and parents are expected to accompany the boys on approved trips.
- All Scouts registered in Boy Scout troops are eligible to participate in troop or patrol overnight campouts, camporees, and resident camps.
- Boy Scouts and Varsity Scouts 12 through 17 are eligible to participate in national jamborees. Boy Scouts and Varsity Scouts 13 through 17 are also eligible to participate in world jamborees and high-adventure programs.
- All youth registered in Venturing are eligible to participate in crew, district, council, and national Venturing activities as well as national high-adventure programs and world jamborees.
If a well-meaning leader brings along a child who does not meet these age guidelines, disservice is done to the unit because of distractions often caused by younger children. A disservice is also done to the child, who is not trained to participate in such an activity and who, as a nonmember of the group, may be ignored by the older campers.
Family camping is an outdoor experience, other than resident camping, that involves Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, or Venturing program elements in overnight settings with two or more family members, including at least one BSA member of that family. Parents are responsible for the supervision of their children, and Youth Protection policies apply.
Camping Recreational family camping occurs when Scouting families camp as a family unit outside of an organized program. It is a nonstructured camping experience, but is conducted within a Scouting framework on local council-owned or -managed property. Local councils may have family camping grounds available for rent at reasonable rates. Other resources may include equipment, information, and training.
Cub Scouts may experience overnight activities in venues other than accredited resident camping. There are two categories of Cub Scout overnighters.
Council-Organized Family Camp
Council-organized family camps are overnight events involving more than one pack. The local council provides all of the elements of the outdoor experience, such as staffing, food service, housing, and program. These are often referred to as parent/pal or adventure weekends. Council-organized family camps should be conducted by trained leaders at sites approved by the local council. Each youth member will be under the supervision of a parent or legal guardian.
In special circumstances, a Cub Scout whose parent or legal guardian is not able to attend an overnight camping trip may participate under the supervision of another registered adult member of the BSA who is a parent of a Cub Scout who is also attending. The unit leader and a parent or legal guardian must agree to the arrangement, and all Youth Protection policies apply. At no time may another adult accept responsibility for more than one additional “nonfamily member” youth.
Overnight activities involving more than one pack must be approved by the council. Council-organized family camps must be conducted in accordance with established standards.
These are pack-organized overnight events involving more than one family from a single pack, focused on age-appropriate Cub Scout activities and conducted at council-approved locations (councils use Pack Overnighter Site Approval Form, No. 13-508). If nonmembers (siblings) participate, the event must be structured accordingly to accommodate them. BSA health and safety and Youth Protection policies apply. In most cases, each youth member will be under the supervision of a parent or guardian. In all cases, each youth participant is responsible to a specific adult.
At least one adult on a pack overnighter must have completed Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Orientation (BALOO, No. 34162) to properly understand the importance of program intent, Youth Protection policies, health and safety, site selection, age-appropriate activities, and sufficient adult participation. Permits for campouts shall be issued locally.
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:
Day Hikes—Reasonably short hikes (three to 10 miles) in terrain without a lot of elevation gain or loss.
Patrol Activities—A Boy Scout patrol or Varsity Scout squad may participate in patrol activities with the permission of its Scoutmaster or Coach and parents/guardians. Appropriate adult leadership must be present for all overnight Scouting activities.
Weekend Overnights—Troops/teams 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.
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 Scout camping 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 September 1 of the year of participation or a registered Venturer.
National High Adventure—The BSA operates unique and exciting national high-adventure bases and programs. With two locations in the Florida Keys, the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base offers a variety of aquatics 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, located in the mountains of New Mexico, provides excellent backpacking treks. The newest national high-adventure base, the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia, provides activities such as whitewater rafting, BMX, skateboarding, mountain biking, zip lines, canopy tours, challenge courses, climbing, and shooting sports. 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 team is to plan and carry out its own highadventure experience. These activities for more experienced Scouts are planned and implemented by youth members with coaching from their adult leaders.
Venturing camping can include high-adventure activities, such as scuba diving, water skiing, rock climbing/rappelling, caving, horseback riding, and more, but can also include many avocation/hobby interests. Venturing members can participate in the national Scout Jamboree.
Venturing camping should not be just an extension of a Boy Scout resident camp. Venturers need a more teenageoriented experience. Having Venturers involved in this planning process is a must.
Important differences in outdoor programs for Venturers include:
- Venturing outdoor activities must include experiences beyond those available to younger youth.
- Consideration of coed involvement.
- Venturers should have a voice in choosing and planning activities.
- Venturing outdoor programs should be patterned after types of activities that appeal to adults and teenagers.
- The camp experience should not be overly structured, and should allow Venturers the opportunity to choose activities.