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Local and National Tour Permits Obsolete

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#1 THANK YOU FOR POSTING AND HELPING US IN THE FIELD! (and yes I am shouting at you because I greatly appreciate it). I know the tone on these boards can seem discouraging from national's perspective, but your posts hear and on MYSCOUTING are greatly appreciated.


#2 In reference to patrol outing/activities, as someone else mentioned, in some parts of the country it is very possible for a patrol to meet at the PL's house, and hike or backpack to a camping location, even a council camp. I know in my area, there are 3 troops that are within 10 miles of a council camp.


Now in reference to drivers, usually the patrol will meet a specific location, so each scout would get a ride form the older brother, parent, etc and be dropped off. It the location was local, so that if an emergency arose, contact was quickly made. That was my limited expereince on patrol outings.


In reference to aquatics and other restricted activities, obviously those could not be done. Usually the patrol outing is to practice outdoor skills and work on advancement. Again in my limited expereince.


#3 Someone mentioned Follow Me Boys, and to be honest that is how Scouting was originally intended. If you read any of Baden-Powell's scouting works, Boy Scouts not military scouting, and William Hillcourt's work, better known as Green Bar Bill, you will how the SM is suppose to train his initial group of scouts so that they can take over and do the work themselves. PLs should be able to have the KSAs to take a patrol out on their own without adult supervision.


And up until recently, basically when you posted that national is now reconsidering patrol outings, Patrols could do this WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE PARENTS AND SCOUTMASTER (caps for emphasis). Again I had limited experience because when I was PL, the SM wouldn't approve my hike b/c I had all new scouts. While I had the KSAs, he was uncomfortable letting us hike on our own, and suggested maybe taking a dad with us (pre YP and 2 deep leadership days). Luckily the dad who went with us was an Eagle, and basically walked in the rear letting us do all the work. That expereince has helped me to this day as it was my first opportunity to plan and execute an event on my own. Since then I have worked on troop activities, district activities, and council activities. that one expereince as a youth made an impact.


#4 the "300 feet" rule is in reference to TROOP camping (again caps for emphasis). It dates to BP wanting patrols in a troop to be at least 300 feet away from each other, and do not constitute 'patrol outings" The 300 Feet rule was taught at the old Wood Badge Course, Brownsea 22 Course, and Junior Leader Training Conferences. The purpose of this was to insure that each patrol operated independently of the others, but doing inter-patrol activities as scheduled by the PLC.


#5 As some else mentioned for a good idea on how Scouting in the USA was before 1972, as well as how scouting is currently in other parts of the world, visit Kudu's website:




Scouting was radically changed for the worse in the 1970s, as evidenced by sharp membership drops. Bill Hillcourt had to come out of retirement and write a new handbook, unfortunately his last, and create the Brownsea 22 Training Course to rectify the problem that the BSA was facing. And he still was not able to solve all of the problems.


Hope this helps.



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They gave up trying to make this outing a scout activity.




Is the above what you really want? Sooner or later, folks will walk away from the program because it's too cumbersome to operate on the ground. (Don't get me started about Journey to Excellence, but that would digress).


To answer your specific questions:


IF a Patrol needs a ride to a trailhead, the operative rule is not two-deep leadership, it's no one on one contact. That means Billybob and his old single seat pickup cannot take just BobbyJoe who is not his kid. http://scouting.org/sitecore/content/Home/HealthandSafety/GSS/gss01.aspx


The PL is probably not going to think through the nuances of transport to get Mr ASM to be the driver captain. He's going to ask the members of his Patrol to find a couple parents with enough seats and seatbelts to get it done. That is sufficient unto the day, believe it or not, so let it be so.


Now, as far as aquatics go, IMHO the comment at the top of the page is about to apply: If the patrol decides to go to the city pool as a group, you can say all you want it's "not a Scouting activity." Baloney. The youth came up with the idea because they are grouped together as Scouts. Suck it up, put Safe Swim Defense into Junior Leader Training, and devolve the responsibility for closed water swimming to the commercial/governmental pool operator and the Patrol Leader. Now, open water aquatics? Yeah, make that a Troop level activity.


Elsewhere on this forum, Beavah, an accomplished Scouter, listed all the activities the BSA National Council has removed from authorized activities for units. Let me give you a clue: It's getting harder out here in the field to sell Scouting to Chartered Partners and to retain youth members (who buy program materials from National and generate revenue for the corporation). If you want Scouting in the US to decline and die, keep doing what you are doing by listening to the liability attorneys. May I suggest a better way: Start looking at how laser tag, motocross, HS football team related Venturing Crews, martial arts, can all fit into the program.

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I posted, but seems it didn't take for some reason.. So I will try again..


Even though my troop may never use the Patrol outings. Even though the thought of getting the parents to give permission for their son to go on a patrol outing without adult supervision, may be a difficult thought for many troops to ever envision the day.


I love the possibilty, because it makes the SM ask himself if he would trust his patrols on an outing without supervision. If he says "No" then that is the goal he should be shooting for, he has just stated his patrols are adult-led. Then it is a matter of shooting for the goal of having the parents see that the patrol their son is in is capable of going out without adult supervision. Which means the goal is boy-led and fine tuned.. I love the fact that this option give the SM a very tangable goal to shoot for to be able to gauge if he is running a troop that is boy-led or adult-led..


As for car-pooling, it really is not very sensible for a patrol outing to be 100 miles away from your home town, unless as indicated the whole troop is going on the trek there is already car-pooling involved and then the patrol goes on their own once they arrive at the destination.. The reason it would not make sense is the fact that you have adults then hanging around with nothing to do, or having to set up a camp or get a hotel room while they wait.. Not pratical IMO.. Remember in the end their planned outing must be approved by the SM.. Therefore with car pooling this should be checked by him for accurate coverage..


But a parent dropping off & picking up locally is 100% do-able, and even an organization of a car-pool for a trip maybe an hour out, is well within the ability of boys who have been taught to lead themselves.


Don't sell these boys short.. If they can't organize a car pool, they are not ready for an outing of that level..


As for swimming, most of the boys in the troop are the ones with the BSA Lifeguard. My son had BSA Lifeguard & Red cross.. It is a wonderful summer job for them. Adults usually don't have the time to keep the Lifeguard certificate up-to-date, kids can do it as a summer camp activity and while earning money in summer jobs.


But a trip to the public beach with lifeguards on-duty, is also a possibility for fun..


For fear of getting hit by my fellow posters though I can see some high adventure activities being either not allowed without adult suprevision, or a professional guide. Like whitewater is normally with a professional guide unless your unit owns it's own raft equipment.(This message has been edited by moosetracker)

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I agree with John on this. I have a suggestion that might help avoid the bold statement that John started with. I think it would be helpful if the people at National were required periodically to get out and actually DO some real scouting with real troops. Not high adventure (Philmont, etc.) but kind of like that TV show in which the boss takes some menial job in his own business and finds out just what it's really like. Respond to an invitation by a troop for a regular backpack, or a merit badge outing like cycling or hiking, or a week at any ol' summer camp.

This would accomplish several things simultaneously. First, it would help put the people at National back in touch with the volunteers and the boys. Second, it would build a better sense of understanding on the part of the volunteers. Third, it would get them off their butts and give them a chance to get fit and maybe remember what it's all supposed to be about. Sounds good all around to me.

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Yah, so here are some of da things safe, successful troops and crews in our area have done by way of independent patrol outings:


1) (most common) Troop arrives at trailhead, driven by adults. Each patrol has its own hiking plan and proceeds on its own. Chooses its own route, campsite, pickup. Older boys might go some distance, younger fellows might be shorter and accompanied by adults. Adults hike/camp on their own, but might check in with a patrol in passing and boys know where they can be found if needed. One troop I know uses radios in case of emergencies.


Yeh see troops most comfortable with this sort of independent patrol outing involving high school aged boys / venture patrols or mixed-age patrols with those boys leading. If a group of boys just came back from two weeks at Philmont, they can handle a 10-15 mile weekend backpack trip on their own. Camp Friday near the troop dropoff, meet up Sunday at the pickup point.


2) Patrol designs its own outing, goes somewhere local that they can either hike to or be dropped off at. Most common is private land owned by CO, troop member, or friend of scouting. Also common as a day trip, like to do da 2nd class hike/bike. Sometimes it's a service project rather than an outing. Occasionally, I hear tell of patrols that just get together after school to go skating or mountain biking or whatnot. Yeh also hear of patrol trips to da arcade or laser tag emporium ;).


3) Leadership-School style. Venture Patrol or crew goes on a backcountry trip with adults, but as terrain, weather, and experience allows are sent on independent hikes for the day with designated meet-ups and emergency procedures. Might involve several days of "solo". The units I know that do this sort of stuff on average have lads and young ladies who have more training than most scouting adults.


4) College-aged crews, of course, are yet another different beastie.


To my mind, these really aren't safety concerns at all, eh? Da units that do this prepare the lads well. Safety concerns come more from weaker/inexperienced adults in my mind, who are doin' activities for the first time. That's when ego sometimes substitutes for experience.


The other challenge I suppose is that in an advancement-mill type program the boys won't develop the skills to really do this on their own. So the extent to which we continue to weaken the advancement program so that requirements mean "did once, with help" rather than "can do on my own, without help", we compromise da ability to do patrol outings. That's Kudu's 300 feet point, eh? We should be teaching outdoor skills, not management school skills, so that boys can operate on their own where it's "inconvenient" for the adults to watch over their shoulder or them to turn to another patrol for help. So Richard needs to work on those fellows in da program office. ;)


Given that approach, the ability to camp on their own for a weekend is well within the safety scope of a group of First Class scouts, eh? Especially where the SM knows 'em and has signed off on their plan.




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In reference to folks at national getting into the field with units, I wouldn't limit it to just troops, I think is a great idea. While Mazzucca couldn't get away with it, maybe others could.


I know when I worked for supply, my boss didn't have a clue as to why I wanted to do things a certain way at summer camp because they had never worked at a summer camp before. Some of our conversations, and heated discussions, were over the Operations Manual I wrote for the summer camp store and why they worked and the boss' ideas didn't. Very frustrating to be hired for a job 'because you have expereince working at summer camp," and then have every single proposal being questioned.Luckily the boss got a better idea of what we did at summer camp when the boss worked at jambo.


Now in reference to Richard B. if memory serves, he is in the field serving as a unit leader. I have been having problems accessing the MYSCOUTING forums, so I can't access his profile over there, but I believe he is an active volunteer according to his profile. So he is serving in the trenches with the rest of us.


As I stated previously, we have a new generation of leaders who either were never involved in Scouting as a youth, or were involved during the 1970s and have little to no expereince on how the program was meant to be. So what we are trained on is what we know. Let's face it, the Patrol method is not as emphasized as it should be in training. The concept of Patrols going out on their own without leaders is not as widely known as some believe. I have received 'deer in the headlight' looks about patrols going out on their own when I mention it to some of the "younger" leaders. Green Bar Bill may have saved Scouting, but even he was not able to completely fix the problems of the 1972 Scouting program. God help us all if it happens again because IMHO no one can possibly fill his shoes.

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Now in reference to Richard B. if memory serves, he is in the field serving as a unit leader.


Yah, this can work both ways and even be a problem, eh?


Nuthin' worse for a district than when one troop contributes a lot of district personnel. Every troop always thinks their way is right/best, eh? :) Nature of the beast. We're all proud of our own programs. So when they get to da district, they want every other unit to do things the way their unit does things. I reckon we see this on da forums occasionally ;).


Even worse if yeh want everyone in the country to do it your way. :p


If Richard's unit hasn't figured out Patrol Method yet, has never read Green Bar Bill, and does the weaker version of FCFY, then he could easily see patrol outings as irresponsible, eh? Just like we see parents who have never let their kids walk to school who feel it's irresponsible to let any kid walk to school.


I agree that there are way, way too many layers in da BSA which insulate the Irving Office from the field. National, Regions, Areas, Councils, Districts, COs, units, adult volunteers, kids. Average national fellow only has occasional contact with councils, and average council fellow only has occasional contact with unit adults, let alone kids. It's too remote. But while it's nice to serve as a unit volunteer, it's not enough, eh? Yeh have to see and participate in a variety before yeh get a real sense of what's out here.



(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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Eagle92 says:


As I stated previously, we have a new generation of leaders who either were never involved in Scouting as a youth, or were involved during the 1970s and have little to no expereince on how the program was meant to be.


I am getting a little tired of reading statements like this in this forum. (And I know I have said this before, but I'm saying it again.) At best, a statement like this is an overgeneralization, and at worst, simply wrong. I was a Scout both before and after 1972, and from my perspective, nothing really changed. (And I think I was part of enough district and council activities, not to mention going to Philmont and having some contact with Scouts from all over the country, that my perspective is larger than just the troop I was in.) So the handbook was changed so there wasn't as much about camping, and the requirements were changed so camping was not an absolute requirement for the lower ranks (for about five years) and Camping MB was not required for Eagle (for about seven years I believe.) It doesn't mean people stopped camping. Please also realize that the adult leadership in the troops -- where Scouting actually takes place, as opposed to National -- did not suddenly change in 1972. The Scoutmasters and ASM's were still the same guys who were Scouts in the 30s and 40s and leaders in the 50s and 60s (generally speaking.) They knew what Scouting was all about and continued to pass on that knowledge, regardless of how many pages were devoted to camping in the handbook and what you had to (or didn't have to) do to make First Class. The patrol method was still there. We didn't suddenly abolish patrols and start doing everything as a troop. People didn't stop camping, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, building towers with lashings and all the other stuff. Philmont did not shut down (and as I said, I know because I was there, after 1972.)


So to say that people who were Scouts in the 70's "have little to no expereince on how the program was meant to be", I think is really not correct. If someone who was a Scout during the same period I was has a different viewpoint and really believes Scouting stopped being the program it was "meant to be" during that period -- and I mean "on the ground", in troops, not just in books issued by National -- I would be interested in hearing it. Maybe my patrol, my troop(s), my Scoutmasters, my district and council, and the troops I saw at Philmont and at out-of-council summer camps were atypical. But I doubt it.



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While some of the older, established troops kept the flame going in the 1970s, I know my old one was one of them, there were troops that didn't have the "outing in scouting." My brothers' troop was one of those new troops, and they didn't camp and they left. In talking to adults who have sons in the program now, one's troop didn't do much outdoor stuff, and another said boy scouts didn't camp as much as he did on his own.

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The objective outcome from Scouting, as regards outings, would create a group of Scouts with the Scoutcraft/Outdoor skills to do their own camping/hiking/etc and create Patrol Leaders with the leadership skills to plan and lead such things. This is not the objective for new Scouts or new Scout patrols. Once Scouts are First Class they should have the basic skills, once a Scout has been a PL for a while and gotten trained he should have the leadership ability, and once these Scouts have worked together and matured a bit it should be possible. Obviously they should run their ideas past the PLC and the SM for approval, but that should be all a patrol needs for basic independent operations such as a trip to the movies, the local museum, camping in Grandpa Bob's field, hiking in the local park, etc. Certainly a "Venture Scout Patrol" should be both capable and authorized to do these things with PLC and SM approval. Patrol size groups out of a Venturing Crew or Sea Scout Ship should also have similar options for doing all the basics of Scouting once they have the training, experience, and maturity.


As to aquatics, I would trust a first year life guard on my aquatics staff at camp far more than most adult leaders for supervising a swim at Uncle Joes above ground pool in the back yard. Quite frankly BSA needs to look at Safe Swim with regards to both commercial and private pools, such as small home pools, pools at hotels and campgrounds, YMCA pools and city pools. The Safe Swim rules are very much non-optimal for these conditions and need to be looked at again. Really Safe Swim needs to be looked at from two different angles, one being the controlled, closed water pool, (both those with life guards and safety protocols of their own, and also for pools without life guards on duty), second you need to look at from the point of view of areas like lake fronts or ponds and other open water or non-controlled environments.


For my part I would certainly trust the patrol to go to city pool with its professional lifeguards and safety policies, provided the patrol members were all Swimmers and knew the basic points of Safe Swim Defense. (The rules don't approve of this, but probably should.)




Now for something very important:


Almost every troop has Scouts conducting Patrol Outings. The thing is, they just aren't official anymore because in many cases the Scouts have given up on the idea of this being their program to plan and do what they want. Instead they are planning these things outside teh official scouting context, often with their non-Scouting friends too, and just avoiding being told "no" by the adults or having to navigate the BSA rules minefield. This is not at all OK by me. The Scouts should be able to do these things as part of Scouting, not forced to huddle up during the patrol games and quietly exchange weekend plans out of ear shot of the adults. Plus, in most units the adults are going with something like a "I see nothing..." attitude. Wich is safer, may I ask: a patrol of Scouts doing an activity on their own that has been reviewed by the PLC and SM? or a mixed patrol of Scouts doing the same activity without any review or input by adults? I think we all know the answer, and we all know that in this case actual safety of the youth, and legal liability make contrary arguments. It would be much safer for the activity to be reviewed and approved, but instead for fear of liablity we refuse to review and approve, and thus they do it anyway but without any over site or help. This also hurts recruiting. If they can go have more independent, self lead, fun activity outside of Scouting than in it, how do they ever convince their friends to join?





For any of this to work we have got to get more serious about the selection, recruitment, and training of competent and capable adult leaders. The rules are mostly because we seem to think that there is no adult so incompetent, ignorant, immature, or idiotic so as to be told he should not be a leader, or certainly not a primary leader, of a BSA unit.


Also, on the same note as the "unofficial" patrol outings, there are a lot of leaders who take the attitude that the rules are more of "guidelines", wich is in part out of frustration with the rules, and in part due to selecting leaders who aren't willing or able to navigate teh BSA policies and proceedures.(This message has been edited by Proud Eagle)

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LOL. Nah, JoeBob, a Patrol has N-deep leadership, where N is the number of boys in the patrol!


Maybe that's what's wrong, eh? We keep using "leader" to mean "adult leader" when da reality in Scouting is and should be different. Like Proud Eagle says, a troop might well have a lad who was on the aquatics staff at camp who is far better trained and more capable than an average adult at supervising a water event.


We let a parent who has never camped join immediately as a "leader" with his or her son. But we don't consider a 17-year-old Eagle with years of camping experience and vastly more training a "leader" for the purposes of supervision. That's just nuts.


For a troop or patrol, we'd probably be better up addin' up the number of people with below-first-class skills and make sure that they are each supervised by someone with above-first-class skills and experience. Then it's safe. That might mean that the patrols need to lend a few older scouts to help supervise the adults. ;)



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Beav you said it (bold for emphasis)


Maybe it's a pet peeve of mine b/c of treatment by other Scouters when I was an younger Scouter, maybe b/c of just the way my troop ran and gave us youth a lot of responsibilities and opportunities.


BUT I HATE IT WHEN FOLKS EQUATE AGE WITH EXPERIENCE ( Meant for emphasis, but maybe an angry tone with it)


I know of 14 year old Star Scouts who have more outdoor skills and knowledge than many CS leaders. Heck I know of 17 and 18 year old Life and Eagle Scouts that have more outdoor KSAs than some ASMs and SMs. I have met Venturers who I would love to help staff BALOO and IOLS. Age doesn't make one an expert: Knowledge, Skills, adn Abilities do!


Ok rant over.

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In the thread on 'Nightline - Boy Scout Tragedy...', BrotherhoodWWW made the observation that the result of a settlement in that case might cost us in several ways. One of them was the possibility of even more required training or (horrors) forms. Even if you don't share my contempt for bean counters I suspect most of you see his prognostication as one realistic possible outcome.

But in that tragic case, let's assume that the troop had an approved tour permit. Let's assume that the leaders were experienced and fully-trained. Let's assume that every preparation up to the actual outing itself conformed perfectly to BSA requirements - and there's no reason to suspect otherwise from what I've read. The tragedy occurred anyway.


What does tightening the grip on requirements accomplish? I suspect little or nothing in the above case, probably elsewhere. But it could produce the effect described by Princess Leia (local units), as she spoke to Tarkin (BSA), "The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

At some point tightening the requirements becomes incentive to ignore them or leave. The difference is that BSA doesn't have Darth Vader to enforce things.

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[cue the Imperial March]


da da da dun da da dun da da...


Yeh definitely get the king geek award for that Star Wars reference. :)


And the image of Evil Emperor Darth Mazzuca supported by Lord Vader-Bourlon is precious!


Reminds me of da other great quote (the Amidala Principle?): "So this is how liberty dies... with thunderous applause!" In questing for absolute security from bad things happening, we can willingly sacrifice the best of who we are.




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