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Had a request by one patrol to do an adult free overnight in the woods. You know, just scouts, no adult leaders. These are accomplished campers and we have no doubt they will handle themselves in a safe and responsible way. Are there BSA rules that would disallow this activity? If it is allowed, what would be the minimum age/rank you would require?

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I do beleive you are talking about a Patrol Campout and not only does BSA allow them, I think they outright encourage them. The patrol submits a plan to the scoutmaster who can either approve or not approve the plan. If he doesnt approve, he should work with the patrol to get a plan he can accept.


I wouldnt look at age or rank, rather at maturity and responsibility level. I think it would help overall troop morale if this happened.

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GernBlansten and taamland,


G2SS (Guide to Safe Scouting)

under "Youth Protection and Adult Leadership"

says (see section ****)


"Leadership Requirements for Trips and Outings

Two-deep leadership:

Two registered adult leaders, or one registered adult and a parent of a participating Scout, one of whom must be at least 21 years of age or older, are required for all trips or outings.


There are a few instances, such as patrol activities, when no adult leadership is required.




Coed overnight activities require male and female adult leaders, both of whom must be 21 years of age or older, and one of whom must be a registered member of the BSA.

During transportation to and from planned Scout outings,



now that said...keep in mind adults are usually terrified at this prospect and there are transport issues...like scouts can't drive other scouts...etc.


So you may have to work into this slowly...say the first time on a family property (large back "40") or a friends wooded lot...After working out a really good plan, you sit down with the SPL and the SM and work through the details and the potential problems...If you are getting static it helps to be totally prepared with the best plan you can write up and after a couple of "easy", well done activities it gets easier for adults to loosen the reins a bit...


You might even consider inviting two adults who would camp "way the heck away" from your camp a few times just to give them a level of confidence and the knowledge that while they are "forbidden" to come to your camp...if you really needed them they are "available"...just an "ice breaker" suggestion, if you know what I mean....


It also helps if the Scouts asking to do this type of camp are highly active in the troop's outdoor program and have demonstrated through hard work and experience that they can handle such an activity..After all, if you were a Scoutmaster would you 'approve' a 13 or 14 year old boy going out in the woods who has never shown you he can be "counted on" in the woods on a campout?


I wish you every success it is a great thing you want to do! An excellant patrol identity building tool and a bunch of fun!


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To add to anarchists excellent post and points, I have from the Scoutmaster's Handbook, Chapter 4, Patrol Activities:


"Most patrol activities take place within the framework of the troop. However, patrols may also set out on day hikes, service projects, and overnighters independent of the troop and free of adult leadership as long as they follow two rules:


* The Scoutmaster approves the patrol activity.

* The patrol activity does not interfere with any troop



A patrol activity without adult supervision should be allowed only when it has been thoroughly planned and the Scoutmaster is satisfied that the activity is well within the patrol members' levels of training and responsibility. If the Scoutmaster has any doubts, he should encourage the patrol to reconsider its plans, or should assign adults to accompany the patrol during the activity in question."


I freely admit the above was cut and pasted, well actually, it was scanned, copied and pasted, but I didnt want to retype what the BSA stand is on Patrol Outings without adults.


Also, you can go o the BSA website, search for the phrase "patrol activities" and you will find the same information.

(This message has been edited by OldGreyEagle)

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I don't have my G2SS or Scoutmaster handbook handy, but it sounds like the two contradict each other, I will research tonight though.

I guess we can do this since this a patrol activity. I could be wrong.


My thought would be to obtain a tour permit to drop off the scouts at a trail head then pick them back up at a designated time. I think it would be a dynamite way to reward some of our older scouts and expose some of our younger ones to youth leadership. Nothing instills responsibility better than really being responsible for someone elses little treasure.


note: yeah, I would probably give them a big wave goodbye and secretly sneek up the trail behind them a few hours later to check up on them from the shadows.

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Just a couple of observations:


1. I thought a tour permit was for unit level activities and would not be needed for a patrol level activity. (Where is BW when you need him?) If you do file a tour permit with your council indicating no adult leadership, let us know how that works?:) I think mine would have the Shock & Awe routine all over again.


2. You mention trail head. Be careful here. While the G2SS allows patrol activities with no adult leadership, it also states,


"Safety rule of four:

No fewer than four individuals (always with the minimum of two adults) go on any backcountry expedition or campout"


If your scouts, are planning a "backcountry expedition" and I don't know how that's defined, adults are required. The way I read it is, if a Patrol wants to camp on it's own at a local park, campground, backlot, or scout camp, that's great. If they think their going to sling their packs on and hike 10 miles off into the backcountry, that's a different story. How do others square the two statments?





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I am afraid you have missread the G2SS. Boy Scouts are not allowed to drive to troop functions at all untill they are 18.



From the G2SS:

4.The driver must be currently licensed and at least 18 years of age. Youth member exception: When traveling to and from an area, regional, or national Boy Scout activity or any Venturing event under the leadership of an adult (at least 21 years of age) tour leader, a youth member at least 16 years of age may be a driver, subject to the following conditions:

Six months' driving experience as a licensed driver (time on a learner's permit or equivalent is not to be counted)

No record of accidents or moving violations

Parental permission granted to the leader, driver, and riders



Troop outings do not meet these requirements.




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Yes, I see the error in my ways, G2SS does have an exemption for patrol campouts. But what fun is it to go backyard camping? Our scouts are fully capable of backpacking a few miles into the forest, setting up camp and getting out in one piece. I feel if the SM approves the plan, we should be OK.


Now for the tour permit stuff. Obviously we need one to transport the scouts to the destination, I agree, no scout should drive another. We have plenty of adults to fulfill that task. I guess on the permit, we just reference the trip as a campout, the patrol heads of on its own, and we collect them at the end of the trip.

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I don't know if I read your last post correctly or not but if your intent is to obtain a tour permit for a Troop Campout and use it to cover a Patrol Campout I would advise against it. Make it clear on the tour permit that this is a patrol outing and no adult supervision will be accompanying. Your Council should not have a problem with this as it is a bonifide activity referenced in the Scoutmasters handbook,& GTSS.


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"With the permission of your Scoutmaster and your parent or guardian, your patrol may go on its own to camp, hike, and conduct special projects." - (page 20 of the Boy Scout Handbook)


Get a tour permit; the patrol leader is the tour leader.

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