Cub Scout Outdoor Program Guidelines
A Guide for Volunteers and Professionals Who Administer the Cub Scout Outdoor Program
Planned, organized outdoor activities at the den, pack, district, and council levels fulfill the promise made to our Cub Scouts. Young boys have a great desire for outdoor fun, excitement, and adventure. These experiences encourage them to spend quality time with family and friends. Quality council camps and fun pack outdoor events directed by qualified, trained leaders provide an ideal setting for these activities.
Cub Scouts can camp! Every pack's annual plan should include day camp or resident camp and many other outdoor activities. Advanced planning will allow leaders to arrange to attend the training needed to successfully accomplish the program goals of the units and the training requirements of the BSA. Most boys join Cub Scouting because of the outdoor activities. Boys in this age group have a natural curiosity about their surroundings, especially the world out-of-doors. Introducing these boys to the fun and adventure of Scouting in the outdoors will benefit them as they mature through the program. Their participation and enthusiasm will grow for continuing in the program into Boy Scouting and beyond.
It's More Fun Outdoors!
Why Cub Scout Outdoor Activities?
When a boy and his family join Cub Scouting, they join an organization that values the fun and excitement of experiencing the outdoors. Each Cub Scout pack is encouraged to provide its youth members with enriching, positive outdoor experiences. Many boys experience their first organized outdoor adventure as a Cub Scout. Good planning using Cub Scouting guidelines should assure a positive experience. A successful outdoor program that meets the goals of the Cub Scout program will ensure that all activities are appropriate for the target age group. Age-Appropriate Guidelines for Scouting Activities and the Guide to Safe Scouting are both available on the BSA Web site.
In addition, apply these Cub Scouting program-specific criteria:
- The activity is parent/youth or family-oriented.
- The activity is conducted with adult supervision.
- The Cub Scouts are asked to do their best.
- The activity is discovery-based.
- Advancement occurs as a natural part of a well-planned program.
Two-Deep Leadership Required
It is the policy of the Boy Scouts of America that trips and outings may never be led by only one adult. Two registered adult leaders, or one registered adult leader and a parent of a participant, one of whom must be 21 years of age or older, are required for all trips and outings. The chartered organization of any Cub Scout pack, Boy Scout troop, Varsity Scout team, or Venturing crew has the responsibility to stress to the committees and leaders of the unit that sufficient adult leadership must be provided on all trips and outings.
Outdoor Activity Tips
- Obtain permission from parents or guardians for activities that are held away from the regular den and pack meeting places.
- File a local tour permit if necessary. Check with your local council on its policies regarding field trips in your council.
- Be sure to have enough adult leaders for the activity.
- Check out the site before the activity. Check on reservation procedures, restroom facilities, availability of adequate drinking water, and any potential hazards.
- Use the buddy system. Coach the boys in advance on what to do if they get lost.
- Carry a first aid kit and know how to use it. Be prepared with emergency procedures.
- Arrange adequate and safe transportation.
- Always leave a site in its natural condition.
For additional information on specific activities not covered in this document, refer to Age-Appropriate Guidelines for Scouting Activities and the Guide to Safe Scouting.
Cub Scout Day Camp
Day camp is an organized, multiple-day, theme-oriented program for Tiger Cubs and their adult partners, Cub Scouts, and Webelos Scouts. Day camp is conducted by the council/district under trained leadership at an approved site during daylight or early evening hours. Day camps do not include any overnight activities. The day camp program is age-appropriate and theme-based.
Tiger Cub day camp programs should be geared to the physical and mental abilities of their specific age group. Program session time schedules and activities should be geared specifically for Tiger Cubs, with the involvement of their adult partners. This usually will require adjustment of an existing day camp program geared for Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts.
Approval to conduct a day camp is granted by the council. Training for camp directors and program directors is provided through the National Camping School. All day camps shall be conducted in accordance with established standards as given in National Standards for Local Council Accreditation of Cub Scout/Webelos Scout Day Camps, No. 13-108.
Cub Scout/Webelos Scout Resident Camp
Cub Scout and Webelos Scout resident camping is a council-organized, theme-oriented, overnight camping program. It operates for at least two nights and is conducted under trained leadership at a camp approved by the council.
Resident camping typically includes the following outdoor program areas: Showmanship, Sportsmanship, Craftsmanship, Waterfront, Fitness, Campcraft, and Nature.
Each year, councils change their overall theme to offer different adventures. Examples of themes include Sea Adventure, Space Adventure, Athletes, Knights, Circus Big Top, American Indian Heritage, Folklore, and the World Around Us.
Training of the resident camp director and program director is provided through the National Camping School. All Cub Scout and Webelos Scout resident camps shall be conducted in accordance with established standards as given in National Standards for Cub Scout/Boy Scout Resident Camps, No. 19-108.
Council-Organized Family Camps
Council-organized family camps are overnight camping activities involving more than one pack. The local council or district provides the elements of the outdoor experience, such as staffing, food service, housing, and program. These overnighters often are referred to as Parent-Pal or Adventure Weekends. In most cases, the youth member will be under the supervision of a parent or guardian. In all cases, each youth participant is responsible to a specific adult.
Leadership of these functions is provided through the family camp administrator, who is at least 21 years of age and has successfully completed National Camping School training in Resident Camp Management. It is his or her responsibility to promote, schedule, and oversee the family camping opportunities in the council. The family camp administrator has the responsibility to train family camp directors and other staff who will be providing leadership for the family camping activities.
Pack overnighters are pack-organized overnight camping activities involving more than one family from a single pack, focused on age-appropriate Cub Scout activities and conducted at council-approved locations (use Pack Overnighter Site Approval Form, No. 13-508). If nonmembers (siblings) participate, the program must be structured to accommodate them. BSA health and safety and Youth Protection guidelines 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 giving leadership to a pack overnighter must complete Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Orientation (BALOO), No. 34162, and be present on campouts. BALOO trains participants to properly understand the importance of program intent, Youth Protection guidelines, health and safety, site selection, age-appropriate activities, and sufficient adult participation. Permits for campouts shall be issued locally, according to council policies. Packs use the Local Tour Permit Application, No. 34426.
Webelos Den Overnight Camping
Webelos den campouts serve to move the Webelos Scout to the next level of the BSA's ever-increasing challenge in the outdoors. The boy and his parent or guardian will be introduced to the basics of Boy Scout camping. A Webelos den leader who has completed position-specific training and Outdoor Leader Skills for Webelos Leaders training should conduct these events. Webelos dens are encouraged to participate in joint den-troop campouts, particularly in the fifth-grade year. These campouts should be conducted with an individual troop for the purpose of strengthening ties between the pack and the troop. BSA health and safety, age-appropriate guidelines for Cub Scout activities, and Youth Protection guidelines apply. When camping with a troop, Cub Scout guidelines still apply for all Cub Scout members.
Webelos dens are encouraged to visit Boy Scout camporees and Klondike derbies. The purpose of these visits should be for the boys to look ahead with anticipation to their future as Boy Scouts and observe troops they might join. Webelos Scouts should not compete or participate in activities designed for Boy Scouts. Webelos Scouts should not spend the night at the event if the program is Boy Scout-based. A separate Webelos-only event known as a Webelos-Ree should be provided by the council or district.
To provide leadership for this event, Webelos den leaders should complete the course, Outdoor Leader Skills for Webelos Leaders, No. 13-33640.
A Webelos-Ree is a district or council overnight camping experience for Webelos dens with den leadership present. The local council or district sponsors the event and provides the program and leadership. The location is approved by an appropriate committee, as determined by the council. The local council sets the ratio of Webelos Scouts to adults for the event. In most cases, each boy will be accompanied by a parent or guardian. In all cases, a responsible adult will be designated for each youth participant. BSA Youth Protection standards will apply regarding sleeping and bathroom arrangements.
This camporee-style event is intended for Webelos Scouts, with events and activities planned for their ability level, according to age-appropriate guidelines for Cub Scouts. Boy Scouts should participate only in leadership and support capacity. Key staff members should be trained in Outdoor Leader Skills for Webelos Leaders, No. 13-33640. A program guide, "Conducting a Webelos-Ree," is available from local councils.
Other Cub Scout Trips and Excursions
Going outdoors is one of the most exciting parts of Scouting. All Cub Scouts look forward to taking field trips to museums and local places of interest, going on hikes, and taking part in sports, service projects, and nature and conservation activities. All trips should be conducted in accordance with established procedures. Tour Permits for such tours shall be issued locally or nationally, depending on the distance traveled.
The National Council has established the following guidelines for non-camping Cub Scout trips and excursions:
- Trips normally will be one-day excursions.
- Overnight stays are permitted but they are not encouraged.
- When overnight stays are necessary, participants will stay in private homes, motels, or hotels.
- Lock-ins or overnight programming at local museums or other appropriate locations may be approved by the local council.
- Den leaders, pack leaders, and parents or guardians are expected to accompany the boys on approved trips.
- The adult partner must accompany the Tiger Cub on all trips and outings.
Before a BSA group may engage in swimming activities of any kind, a minimum of one adult leader must complete Safe Swim Defense training, have a commitment card (No. 34243) with them, and agree to use the eight defenses in this plan. The Safe Swim Defense plan applies to swimming at a beach, private or public pool, wilderness pond, stream, lake, or anywhere Scouts swim.
The following information is specific to Cub Scout swimming activities:
- If the swimming activity is in a public facility where others are using the pool at the same time, and the pool operator provides guard personnel, there may be no need for additional designation of Scout lifeguards and lookout.
- The buddy system is critically important, however, even in a public pool. Remember, even in a crowd, you are alone without protection if no one is attentive to your circumstances.
- The rule that people swim only in water suited to their ability and with others of similar ability applies in a pool environment. Most public pools divide shallow and deep water, and this may be sufficient for defining appropriate swimming areas.
- Aquatics activities for dens often are held in backyards with swimming pools. Safe Swim Defense guidelines must apply. A certified lifeguard, though highly recommended, is not required. A qualified supervisor must be present. It is critical that the swimming activity be supervised by a conscientious adult who knowingly accepts the responsibility for the youth members involved in the activity.
Before a BSA group may engage in any watercraft activity, adult leaders for such activity must complete Safety Afloat training, have a commitment card, and be dedicated to full compliance with all nine points of Safety Afloat. (Through enforcement of these nine measures, most watercraft accidents can be prevented.) At least one of the adult leaders must be trained in CPR.
The following information is specific to Cub Scout boating activities:
- Supervision—the ratio of adult supervisors to participants is one to five.
- Skill Proficiency—Canoeing, rowboating, and rafting for Cub Scouts (including Webelos Scouts) is limited to council/district events on flat-water ponds or controlled lake areas free of powerboats and sailboats. Prior to recreational canoeing, Cub Scouts are to be instructed in basic handling skills and practices.
- Planning—Canoeing, rowboating, and rafting do not include "trips" or "expeditions" and are not to be conducted on running water (i.e., rivers or streams); therefore, some procedures are inapplicable. Suitable weather requires clear skies, no appreciable wind, and warm air and water.
- PFDs—All persons engaged in activity on the open water must wear properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices (PFDs).
- Scuba—Youth members in Cub Scouting are not authorized to use scuba in any activity.
Cub Scout Shooting Sports
Shooting sports provide fun and adventure for boys. Archery and BB gun shooting teach skills, discipline, self-reliance, sportsmanship, and conservation, all of which are elements of good character valued by Scouters.
Archery and BB-gun shooting are restricted to day camps, Cub Scout/Webelos Scout resident camps, council-managed family camping programs, or council activities where there are properly trained supervisors and all standards for BSA shooting sports are enforced. Archery and BB-gun shooting are not to be done at the den or pack level.
Archery and BB gun shooting belt loops and pins may be earned only at the camps and activities listed above. These programs are designed to emphasize safety and marksmanship development under the direction of trained range officers using nationally approved instructional methods.
Standards for Privacy on Trips or Outings
To support the BSA policy of two-deep leadership on all trips and outings, we must address the sleeping arrangements of male and female leaders.
All leaders are expected to reflect high moral standards established by customs, traditional values, and religious teachings.
Male and female leaders require separate sleeping facilities. Married couples may share the same quarters if appropriate facilities are available.
Male and female youth participants must not share the same sleeping facility.
When tents are used, no youth will stay in the tent of an adult other than his/her parent or guardian.
When housing other than tents is used, separate housing must be provided for male and female participants. Adult male leaders must be responsible for the male participants; adult female leaders must be responsible for the female participants.
Adult leaders need to respect the privacy of the youth members in situations where the youth are changing clothes or taking showers, and intrude only to the extent that health and safety require. Adults need to protect their own privacy in similar situations.
Although it is not mandatory, councils are strongly encouraged to have separate shower and latrine facilities for females. In camps where separate facilities are not available, separate shower schedules for males and females should be posted. Exercise the buddy system for latrine use by having one person wait outside the entrance, or use Occupied or Unoccupied signs on door latches.
For more guidelines on camping and supervision for Cub Scouts, see the Guide to Safe Scouting, No. 34416
Accident and Sickness Protection
For questions about current camper accident and sickness insurance, please refer to the latest material sent to Scout executives from the Insurance and Risk Management Service of the Boy Scouts of America.
Cub Scout Outdoor Activity Award
Tiger Cubs, Wolf and Bear Cub Scouts, and Webelos Scouts have the opportunity to earn the Cub Scout Outdoor Activity Award. Boys may earn the award in each of the program years as long as the requirements are completed each year. The first time the award is earned, the boy will receive the pocket flap award, which is to be worn on the right pocket flap of the uniform shirt. Each successive time the award is earned, a wolf track pin may be added to the flap. Leaders should encourage boys to build on skills and experiences from previous years when working on the award for a successive year.
With your den, pack, or family:
- Participate in a nature hike in your local area. This can be an organized, marked trail, or just a hike to observe nature in your area.
- Participate in an outdoor activity such as a picnic or park fun day.
- Explain the buddy system and tell what to do if lost. Explain the importance of cooperation.
- Attend a pack overnighter. Be responsible by being prepared for the event.
- Complete an outdoor service project in your community.
- Complete a nature/conservation project in your area. This project should involve improving, beautifying, or supporting natural habitats. Discuss how this project helped you to respect nature.
- Earn the Summertime Pack Award pin.
- Participate in a nature observation activity. Describe or illustrate and display your observations at a den or pack meeting.
- Participate in an outdoor aquatic activity. This can be an organized swim meet or just a den or pack swim.
- Participate in an outdoor campfire program. Perform in a skit, sing a song, or take part in a ceremony.
- Participate in an outdoor sporting event.
- Participate in an outdoor Scout's Own or other worship service.
- Explore a local city, county, state or national park. Discuss with your den how a good citizen obeys the park rules.