Jump to content

Promoting high adventure with a young troop

Recommended Posts

Any of you who pay attention to my posts (some of you may not) are aware that I work with a young troop. For scouts (mostly 6-8th graders) who may not have the big picture of scouting and scouting adventures, how do you encourage them to select and plan a "higher adventure" program?


Looking for ideas to discuss with you and to bring back to the PLC.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Great question. It is really hard to get scouts to think outside of their own past experiences. I know we've suffered the same thing with our troop's various efforts to have a functional venture patrol (which, in its current incarnation, was started back up with boys who are all aged 12-14). The challenge is that you say "well guys, what do you want to do?" and because they have no idea of what is possible, you get a lot of blank looks back.


One jumpstart method is for adults to pick out three or four trips THEY were willing to do, and put them on the table for the boys to consider. Some of these started small. For example a 2 night backpacking trek (exciting if the boys are accustomed to car camping). You can build up to higher adventure once the boys have done some of this smaller stuff. You could also bring in those nice glossy flyers or web videos from the national HA bases (or local ones). I know our guys were practically drooling after they saw the Florida Sea Base and the Northern Tier material.


The other might be to ask other troops who have a functional HA program to share what they have done. Best if you can get boys from that troop to visit with pictures of their trip, but even just a list of activities might help prime the pump.


The challenge to the first is that adults also need to know when to let go. The idea is to feed beginning ideas, not set the troop's agenda and run it for them.



Link to post
Share on other sites

Yah, I'd say yeh start with more adventurous troop trips, eh? Something that whets their appetite. Backpackin' in to an interesting or fun location, canoeing, sailing, climbing, whatever. Like Lisabob says, consider those things your adults are willing to support.


Once the boys get a taste for it and start to realize they can do it, then yeh just seed the idea of "wouldn't it be cool if we could go sailin' and scuba-diving for a whole week?" or "do you think you guys are tough enough to do a really hard, adventurous canoe trek?" Leave some pamphlets around.


I think for a young group, da biggest thing is for the adults not to rain on the parade at the start. Don't start raisin' objections or problems. Kids are used to adults raisin' objections as a form of adult lecture - it's just a way for an adult to say "no." They'll give up on yeh. Instead, enthuse and enable, eh? Yeh can deal with the challenges down the road apace.




Link to post
Share on other sites

You have got some really great advice so far. We started by doing some back packing on campouts and then growing out by looking for camps that customized a trek for our younger group. Camp Frank Rand in New Mexico was a great experience.


BUT, looking back on it, the boys aren't as much the problem as the adults. Adults have to be motivated as well to have a good adventure troop program and by starting small, you give the adults time to learn and build experience. High Adventure is expensive just in the gear alone, so you can scare a lot of folks away if you take on to much to fast.


Do some local hiking on your weekend camping trips. First just a couple five mile hikes with backpacks. Then do a weekend trip where you actually move the troop to a different location. Not a long hike (5 miles max), but long enough for everyone to learn what you really need and what is just added weight. But make sure you get a good summer trip in somewhere that is scenic and fun. Your troop will likely have the bug to be an adventure troop after that.


I really like the idea of finding another troop to learn and gain adventure experiences, but don't forget the Venturing Crews. I have always found them excited to teach Boy Scout Troops. And older scouts always have a good influence on younger scouts. They also have some good canoeing crews that will get you ready for Boundary Waters. They may even offer to go as guides and what a great experience that would be.


I also suggest looking for experiences like Hiking in the Pecos Wilderness through Camp Frank Rand because they send a guide with you as well. I think that was really the point where our troop took off because everyone who came back from that trip felt trained in back county camping. The scouts who went on that trip even found Philmont to be bit of a let down after Pecos.


BUT BEWARE: A troop that has the reputation of high adventure will grow like crazy because most troops don't do it. The most boring troops are the ones who think adventure starts at age 14. Adventure should start the day a Webelos joins the troop. Give them a reason to buy a pack.




Link to post
Share on other sites


A couple of ideas (we are sort of in the same boat).


1. I compare the overall idea of the Troop to that of a football team (something the boys can relate to). Troop meetings are practice, monthly campouts are games, summer camp is the Super Bowl, and High Adventure is the Pro Bowl. The Pro Bowl is for the best of the best, and you can't get there without the practices, the games and the Super Bowl.


2. Pick up a copy or two of the Passport To High Adventure booklet at your Scout Shop, and give it to the SPL and PLs. Let them look it over - it covers the National HA bases as well as Council HA programs. It gives instruction on how to plan a HA trip, and lists age requirements, etc. A great resource.


3. I have a sort of unofficial goal of giving every boy in the Troop the opportunity to earn the HA Triple Crown. What that means in reality is we are going to promote HA by talking about the different programs available and make sure the boys know about them. If we need to bring Scouts in from other Troops who have been on those trips to discuss them, we will. If we need to raise money for camperships for boys who can't afford the trips, we will. I mention this during the parent part of Webelos visits and in new parent orientation. The boys don't have to go if they don't want to, but the goal is to give the boys the opportunity.


4. There is a National High Adventure Program DVD available, for $10 I think, that is decent. It shows Philmont, NT and Sea Base. I'm not sure when it was put together, but the music is not very appealing to today's youth. Still, it's not a bad resource if the boys have no exposure to the National programs. I think you can get copies from the NT Trading Post.


The NT trip we are taking this summer is our first HA trip. We started talking about it as soon as we formed the Troop, when the boys were 11. That is another point to make with the boys - you are usually planning these trips at least a year in advance. Help the SPL figure out the deadlines for entering the lottery for Philmont and other programs, and get them on your calendar. Without a slot, you can't go.


I think HA is a big part of the ingredients for the long-term glue that keeps older boys in Scouting (to earn Triple Crown, they will most likely be in Scouting through age 16 at least). HA also plays a big part in the maturing of the boys. Nearly everyone I have talked to about NT said the same thing - you will take up a group of boys and bring back a group of young men. HA gives purpose to many of the yearly campouts and programs - the Scouts learn they need those camping skills and experiences if they want to have a fun, successful HA trip.


Final suggestion - one of the members of the WB patrol I was TG for wrote up his ticket around promoting HA in his Troop. The final product was resource binder that turned out to be the Passport to High Adventure on steroids. This thing is a work of art - a real page turner! When it comes out, the boys are glued to it. Other parts of his ticket included putting together a crew and having them plan a HA trek, having them plan and conduct all the shakedowns and then go on the trip. Point being - you may want to find an adult (may be you) to be the point man for your Troop on HA. He studies the programs and works with the boys to make it happen. Good luck!

Link to post
Share on other sites

One method to get some Big Ideas flowing...


- Pick up a copy of Backpacker magazine and fill out the "request information" card in the back (or request the info online). Get gear catalogs - tents, packs, climbing gear, clothing. Get tourism and adventure guide information - to Alaska, New Mexico, the Yukon, Africa, wherever.


- Contact tourism agencies of neighboring states and ask for their basic travel guide, plus anything specifically on ecotourism or outdoor activities.


- Get a copy of your local OA lodge's "Where To Go Camping" guide. (If they don't have one, ask them why the heck not?)


- Make a list of every place and activity your troop has done in the last few years.


- Gather all this stuff up and dump it on the table at your next PLC. Do a free-range brainstorming session, with the Scouts looking at the materials and tossing out ideas. Don't self-censor - any idea gets written down on the board for everyone to see, no matter how expensive or off-the-wall it may seem. (Do have a copy of the G2SS on hand to quash those ideas that aren't kosher by BSA regs - paintball, skydiving, etc.)


- Once the list is complete and your ideas are exhausted, have someone type them up and make copies. Bring it back to the PLC and discuss, making a top 10 list. Have your SPL assign Scouts to research details about each of those top trips - basic costs, best time of year to go, skills needed, etc. - and report back.


High adventure doesn't necessarily mean going to a HA base. For a young troop, it's best to start relatively small and closer to home, and work your way up. Some of the best trips will be the ones that your troop will design on its own - the prepackaged national HA base trips will be relatively dull in comparison.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent ideas all. I especially like the "Triple Crown" idea. (On a side note, I wonder if the HA base in WV will be completed in time for these 11 year olds to have a shot at a "Quadrouple Crown." ) And I concur that starting small, on the troop level, is best. I am not really looking for specific ideas of what we can do; we have plenty of resources and ideas. My real quandry is what how to empower the PLC to take ownership of these activities.


I keep thinking about Kudu's Green Bar, and though we are working through that now, it does not really give the scouts "vision" outside of their limitied experience. And some of those who think they can envision these activities really think it is too much work, and really don't want to participate anyway.


We have been talking about a long canoe trip (70 miles down the Suwannee River, August) but the scouts aren't showing much interest in learning about canoe packing and planning for the warm-up trip in 2 weeks. The PLC wanted a climbing campout planned for October, but no one wants to take ownership of planning it. It may happen, or it may not. Some of these scouts really don't like backpacking (it is a mental block for them, not a true aversion), so we are planning to do some day hikes from a base camp as prep to an short and longer backpack trip this fall/winter. Then we are planning to do a Manatee swim (which we traditionally do as a family campout).


I am wondering if these above average adventure trips are the right steps to giving ownership to the PLC. I guess what I see are that these scouts are just lazy about planning. They are looking for this to be a Webelos 3, rather than Boy Scouts 1 or 2. I think our youngest scouts do have the interest to do this, but they are just too young to take ownership of this process. And I am concerned that they will be tainted by the attitude of the "older" scouts.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess what I see are that these scouts are just lazy about planning.


Nah, not lazy.


Just don't know how, eh?


Given modern parenting's version of adult-run schedules and play dates, I bet a lot of young scouts have never even planned to meet their friends down the street for a game of catch.


I know a lot of adult scouters who have a hard time envisioning and planning a high adventure trip for kids. Best not to set the bar too high for your young fellas. I think yeh need to think of your first one or three HA trips as "jointly planned" by adults and boys. As in the adults set up da structure and the kids follow along and participate in some of the details and decisions. Get a few successes like that under your belt and the boys' knowledge and confidence will improve to the point they're ready to take the reins.




Link to post
Share on other sites

Just avoid Lisabob's venture patrol problem where the planned activity was taken over by adults :-).


Anyway, I am very thankful for my experience as a Scout. Our SM grew up backpacking in the Smokey Mountains, so when he started a troop (at age 24), he took older scouts to the Smokey's every fall. I joined, as I recall, in the second year of the troop. That first fall, I wasn't able to go on the trip. It was for 12-yr-olds and up (which had the effect of removing first-year scouts from the trip). But the next fall, I was ready, and what a great trip it was. It rained and rained, but that didn't matter. I was running with the big dogs.


That first trip for me was just after a contingent got back from Philmont. The older dudes, who had gone to Philmont, planned their own Smokey's trek. The younger ones of us went a different, more modest, route and we all met at the end. I think it took some coordination by the drivers, but we all did well.


My own Philmont trip took place two years later. I skipped a HA trip to what was NT back then, but I did go on a trip to the Maine National High Adventure Area the next year.


So I guess what I'm saying is that it was all progressive. Younger kids took smaller steps, while the older kids went off on annual HA trips. Eventually we all got to run with the big dogs, and then one day we were the big dogs.


I hear stories now about troops that don't do car camping, and I'm envious. I would have loved that as a Scout. I'd love it if our present troop could move that direction now (that's a whole separate story).



Link to post
Share on other sites

some of the Scout high adventure programs have movies you can borrow. check with your local council first-they may have these. movies on what is now Northern Tier are viewable on the Web.

Put the word out that anyone who has done high adventure is welcome to come visit your troop and chat about it. Make sure they bring their photo album.

as someone has already said: email for brochures.

if your Scouts show enthusiasm for any, then you all (the boys too) need to work out a CPM/PERT chart on how to get from where you are to where you want to be: what merit badges need to be earned, what options for ea. badge should be chosen, what the program vendor requires, what fund-raisers need to be done, what intermediate training hikes, camping or canoeing has to be done, etc

we require all our new Scouts to fill out a questionnaire upon joining "what do you expect to get out of Scouting, what Scouting adventures do you hope to have?" this has helped.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Great advice from all. Keep after you scouts and leaders, because IMHO high adventure is the best part of scouting by far. One day they will thank you for "encouraging" them to spend the time and effort on building a robust high adventure program. Our guys certainly did!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Beavah's advice follows our experience - the adults will most likely need to get the train going, and use it as a teaching opportunity.


Also, we don't treat HA as a direct PLC issue. We handle it as a Crew, and usually hold meetings outside of Troop meetings. We did have the Crew elect a youth leader when we first started putting the trip together, and have let him schedule meetings, etc. It has been a learning experience for all involved.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been to Powderhorn, and I am actively working to have our council host our first one (fall 2010), as probably less than a dozen people in our council have participated in this event. Powderhorn is a great program (when organized well), and it is a useful tool for troops as well as Venturing crews. As I stated earlier, resources are not the issue for us; it is about getting the scouts to buy into it.


Beavah, I do appreciate your down-toning my use of the word "lazy." I don't want to make any derogatory statements about my scouts, but these guys are just plain lazy. Some would gladly skip dinner just so they didn't have to prep, cook or clean up. It is a culture which we are trying to change. Fortunately, most of our 6th grade scouts have a better attidude, and are actually more willing to work than our 7th and 8th graders.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...