Our rule is if they want to do it, we find the adults necessary. Kids are so over scheduled these days that nothing is spontaneous and everything is planned in advance, so it isn't difficult to get the adult leaders if it is going to be a Scouting event.
The difference is that is an individual activity not a team sanctioned activity. Do my son and his buddy's who are Scouts take bike rides together or go hang out at the nearby lake or go into town to get pizza together? Of course. Does that need adult supervision? Of course not. Could a whole team meet on school grounds, use the school equipment and have a practice without adults? I highly doubt it. If it is a patrol, Troop, OA Chapter or other activity, does it require adult supervision? Of course it does.
As @NJCubScouter said in another post -- it is the darn lawyers. As one of those darn lawyers, I understand that no organization can undertake any activities with youth in the absence of appropriate adult supervision. A kid falls and breaks his arm while on a patrol activity, the boys were encouraged to undertake the activity by the adults in charge of the Troop. However, there are no adults there. The boys that are there try their best to help the boy up so they can walk out of the woods, but in doing so causes permanent nerve damage. Can you tell me there won't be a lawsuit based on negligence for failure to provide adult supervision?
In a perfect world, patrols would be able to do those sorts of activities without adult supervision. Unfortunately, the world isn't perfect. So we have two options - bemoan the rules and declare the death of the patrol method or figure out a way to keep the patrol method alive and kicking in our Troops. I chose the latter.
What a FABULOUS idea!!! Our Pack and Troop turned 55 this year, and we haven't really done anything to commemorate that yet - I hadn't even considered putting the Scouting Heritage merit badge forward as a way to recognize our units' longevity, which is all the more embarrassing since I am the merit badge counselor for Scouting Heritage.
I am so glad you posted this, haha!