By Annaleis Smith
Jun 02, 2015

LDS Cub Scouts CAN go camping!

In the new Cub Scout program there are required adventures for all ranks that center around the idea of learning to camp.  The boys are required to participate in a campfire program, learn about the Leave no Trace principles, the outdoor code and more.  But wait… as per the “Green Scouting Handbook”, (page 4 section 6.1) Cub Scouts in LDS units are not allowed to go camping, right?  Let’s re-examine the statement in the LDS Scouting handbook a little closer because the “Cub Scouts can’t go camping” interpretation is not quite accurate.  What it actually says is: “No Scout-sponsored overnight camping should be planned for boys under age 11.”  Okay, so does it actually say that a boy under age 11 can’t go camping?  No!  Let’s get this straight… A Cub Scout age boy CAN go camping, just not with his den or pack, like would be done in Cub Scout packs not sponsored by the LDS church.

cub scout camping

And, if you read the requirements for the adventures with camping requirements they also include the following statement. “If your chartered organization does not permit Cub Scout camping, you may substitute a family campout or a daylong activity.”  So, what does that mean for LDS Cub Scouts?  Well, since we have already established that an LDS Cub Scout CAN go camping, there are lots of options for an LDS Cub Scout to fulfill the camping requirements.  The first one was listed above in the BSA statement, and since Cub Scouting is a family program this, in my opinion, is the very best place for him to pass off these requirements—on a family camping trip!  It could be with his immediate family, with extended family, on a ward campout, or even on a “Father’s and Son’s” camping trip.  Of course, just GOING camping may not do what needs to be done.  Let’s look at the actual requirements to see how they could get passed off on a family or ward campout.

If a boy is 8 years old and working on his Wolf badge:

Wolf Camping

Wolf Camping requirements – click on pic for larger image.

If a boy is 9 years old and working on his Bear badge:

Bear Camping

Bear Camping requirements – click above to see larger image.

And a 10 year old working on his Webelos and Arrow of Light badges:

Webelos CampingAs you read through the above listed requirements, do you see anything that could not be done on a family campout, at a ward campout and/or at a Father’s and Son’s campout?  I don’t.  If it is known in advance that the boys need to do these things, they could easily be worked into the plan.

To download a pdf with all the Camping Requirements here.

family campingBut, let’s say you have a boy who’s family just does not camp.  The don’t and they won’t.  Well, most of these requirements could even be done in the back yard but that’s not quite the same type of experience so there is still the 2nd option—that of the “daylong activity”.  I have had some leader’s ask me if that means that attending Cub Scout Day Camp counts as a “daylong activity”.  Well, maybe… if the requirements are completed at day camp, but most likely not.  The National Council recently made the following statement about Day Camps: “The overall purpose of day camps is to offer a fun experience and extend the participant’s Scouting engagement. The purpose is not advancement. If advancement happens as part of fun engaging program, great! But it should not be the focus of camp.” So, most likely the day camps will not be focusing on those camping requirements.  But there is nothing stopping a pack from planning their own “daylong” activity that does focus on and allow boys to complete the required camping requirements.

Den at CampPicture this… The boys, parents, leaders and possibly siblings as well, all show up somewhere suitable for camping.  The Webelos Scouts need to pick a spot to set up a tent without adult help.  Webelos also need to demonstrate how to build a fire.  (Note the requirement is to “demonstrate how” so if fire restrictions prevent you from actually having a fire, have them build it and just not light it) Wolf Scouts need to practice being careful with fire so that they can write about it after.  Webelos need to cook part of a meal as well as two recipes that do not require pots and pans (many camp recipes don’t) and the Bears need to help cook the meal and help clean up.  The Webelos will have previously planned a campfire program, with adult help, and can assign songs, skits, run-ons etc to the appropriate den according to their requirements.  I think it would be great if assignments were made to the families/parents and leaders as well.  End your “Day long activity” with a Campfire program and your requirements are fulfilled!  Cub Scouts have learned about camping without actually camping – let’s call it the next best thing.

LiderThis day long activity could also be used to pass of many of the other outdoor related activities like plant and animal identification, hiking, etc… And some of the above are electives not required.  It could be done all together as a pack, like I described above, or each den could plan their own day long activity.  There are lots of options—It’s all in how you plan it.  Note – The Webelos do have one more required “campout or outdoor activity” with the troop as part of the Scouting Adventure but that’s a little different and really should be done with the troop (or 11yr old Scouts) and Webelos Scouts together.

So, for those who read the title of this article and thought “No they can’t” or to those parents and leaders wondering how LDS Cub Scouts will complete all the new camping requirements, I hope I have shown you a few ways that it is possible.  Use your imagination, use your resources and keep the outing in scouting.  Boys today need experiences that can only be found outdoors and Cub Scouting can give that to them when it is planed right.

AnnaleisAuthor: Annaleis Smith | Assistant Council Commissioner for Cub Scouting, Utah National Parks Council, BSA

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14 thoughts on “LDS Cub Scouts CAN go camping!

  1. AvatarDaniel

    Somebody should communicate this to LDS church leaders in the council. We were told by our stake leaders that while boys could pass off camping requirements with their families, we were not allowed to suggest they do so. They had to just come up with the idea on their own, because if they did it at our suggestion, then it could be interpreted as a den or pack activity, even if done within the family. We were specifically told that we could not suggest completing scout requirements while at ward campouts or father and son activities. While we were allowed to go on day hikes, we were not allowed to set up any kind of camping site, tents or campfires, even if not staying overnight, to avoid even the appearance of an overnight trip. We were also told that as cub scout leaders, we could not wear our uniforms during any ward activities.

    1. Annaleis SmithAnnaleis Smith Post author

      I guess maybe I should have prefaced my article with “assuming your Stake/Ward leaders approve”. Every Ward and Stake has slightly different policies and practices but… As to the advice and specific instructions you have been given… There is SO much running through my head right now (some of it not very nice) “Avoid the appearance of…? They have to come up with the idea on their own…?” WHAT?

      I’m sure this makes perfect sense to someone, but I am a bit confused and saddened by this. I guess all I can suggest is to remember the Cub Scout Motto – Do Your Best! Do your best to sustain your leaders. Do your best to provide a great program for the boys. The boys will benefit from your time and efforts as a Cub Scout leader. Thanks for doing what you can!

  2. AvatarGary Miller

    “No Scout-sponsored overnight camping should be planned for boys under age 11.”

    The key words here are “Scout-sponsored overnight camping”. Some feel that its OK as long as the scout is with their parent. That is not the case, if its a Den or Pack planned/sponsored Family Camp, Father and Son camp or any other overnight camp it would be considered “Scout-Sponsored overnight camping”.

    1. AvatarAmber

      So what makes you the authority on interpreting the meaning of the handbook? And if you are the authority, then please explain the reason behind the camping restrictions in the church altogether. Having a family members present to camp with their boy is way different than the boys camping with only scout leaders.

  3. AvatarBrenden Taylor

    Daniel, you have some leaders there who need to get trained and understand how scouting works within the Primary and Young Men’s programs. A week at the Priesthood Leadership Conference on Scouting at Philmont would do them good, and as stake leaders, they are certainly eligible to go. Encourage them if you get a chance. Sounds to me like you have some leaders with good intentions reading more into the guidelines than is actually there, which is contrary to both BSA and Church policy.

  4. AvatarEric

    I have never heard of a “Scout Sponsored – Father & Sons”.

    Father & Sons campouts are always Ward sponsored and organized through the Bishop and Priesthood Quorums. There is nothing “Sponsoring” about saying…”Fathers here is a list of things your son needs to pass off with you while out camping.”

    Cubs is all about the parents passing off the boys requirements, but as we all know most parents haven’t got a clue what their boys are working on, or what they need to pass off without a lot of help. I think printing off those tables above and handing them to each Father at a Ward campout is a great idea.

    I also think it would be great to have a “Day Long Activity” at a local park, and doing all of those activities would be a fun and easy way to teach and pass off some requirements. Most cities would have a restriction on “Overnight Camping” in the park, but there’s nothing wrong with setting up a tent (er um I mean “sunshade”) and taking it down again.

  5. AvatarPhilippe

    Ladies, Gentlemen, Fathers, Scouters: How hard is it to simply decide AS A FAMILY to go out and enjoy the great outdoors – whether on a weekend, during the week or on holidays – and take that opportunity to do ON YOUR OWN some scout-related activity? When our boy was Cub Scout age, we simply looked at his requirements manual with him, talked, listened to his goals and helped him plan a few activities that as a family we could do and also subsequently have our son submit to his Akela his efforts – with pictures, actual rocks, leaves, drawings, whatever! In our stake ALL scout-age youths are on a linked site accessible by all parents to help them monitor where and how the boys progress. Is it possible our stake leadership north of the American border has a broader, more innovative way of thinking to help its youth?

    1. AvatarMatt

      Actually, depending on your family’s size, age, disposition, level of outdoor experience of the parents, and other factors, planning a family camping trip or daylong outdoor activity can be a huge undertaking and even a financial burden. It seems that those who are blessed with a love of Scouting and all things outdoors have difficulty understanding that, for many families, full participation in Scouting is indeed a sacrifice. This can be particularly true for LDS families, for whom participation is not a voluntary choice, but (quite possibly) a trial of faith. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but our attitude in the way we approach these kinds of topics can have a huge impact on whether Scouting is viewed from a friendly or hostile viewpoint.

  6. AvatarCary Jamison

    You ask the question, “As you read through the above listed requirements, do you see anything that could not be done on a family campout, at a ward campout and/or at a Father’s and Son’s campout?”
    Actually, yes! The requirement for Bear says specifically to “camp overnight with your pack.”
    Maybe you could stretch a ward or Fathers&Sons to say they were “with [their] pack”, but it seems quite a stretch. You’re also relying on an annual event that a cub could easily miss out on – then what?

    1. Annaleis SmithAnnaleis Smith Post author

      That is exactly why the BSA wrote the following statement: (Parentheses added/my comments):

      “If your chartered organization (like the LDS Church) does not permit Cub Scout camping, you may substitute a family campout (anytime of year or multiple times) or a daylong (with your den, with the pack, or with your family) activity.”

      So… No one has to rely on any annual event. All of these requirements can be passes off in a variety of ways, locations and any time of the year. And THAT was the whole point of this article… All of the new and required “camping adventures” can still be completed. And in an effort to make sure Cub Scouts get quality experiences in the outdoors (Keep the outing in Scouting) we need to make sure that we don’t short change the boys because we have a mistaken belief that LDS Cub Scouts CAN’T go camping. LDS Cub Scouts CAN go camping…. just not as a den or pack like a traditional/non LDS den or pack would do.

  7. AvatarColleen Scholz

    Dear Annaleis,
    I for one ,want to thank you for your wonderful articles, especially this newest one about Cubs and Camping. I love Scouting, and especially all the outdoor things. I totally miss going camping with my 11 year olds and my husband, which we had done for many, many years. I was unfortunately released recently, mostly because they wanted a man to do my job and take them camping. OK, it’s understandable. I was excited about the new Cub Scout program and the camping part of it when I was put in as Cubmaster. I really thought there had to be a way to take them camping. At least, I will be able to share some of my favorite outdoor skills with them in Day Long adventures or at a Campfire /Pack meeting. hooray for that much! I have copied this article off to share with my Bishopric so he will understand what I’m trying to do. I think it will really help. Thank you for taking the time to write such useful articles. You are fantastic! Your friend, Colleen

  8. AvatarEtin

    These cumbersome debates are the other reason why I participate in the Kiwanis scout pack instead of my ward I don’t participate in my ward scout pack. 🙁


    I wish for the day that all LDS & Traditional unites work together to understand the BSA’ mission statement.
    I have enjoyed working with many LDS scouts & scouters over the years, I wish to see the adults stepping forward to help training our youth in becoming the leaders of tomorrow. No one will ask if the man who is going to the moon next is LDS or an Oregonian. That is why the BSA program is open to all faith.
    I am sorry ETIN likes one pack or another, all packs are brothers and should be a safe place for any boy. This usually happens when one or two ADULTS in the pack are not trained properly or were forced to take training & the job. However, good for ETIN & his family to keep him in scouting. EAGLE SCOUT ETIN, go scouting, go outdoors. 🙂

  10. AvatarVincent Burns

    What a great article! I have been in Scouting for over 40 years and it is a shame that certain individuals have to put a clamp on what will be a learning and good time for the youth and parent. We have many parents who do not help at all in scouting but will sit back and complain that there son isn’t advancing. Step up and help out, because this transition for the Cub Scouts is a change and it is what we make it. We have guidelines and guidelines in everything we do, (do you speed) probable most of us do. Just recently I was told I was wrong for having a small fire in the parking lot of the church for the eleven year old scouts, no harm and no foul, and they passed off requirements and had a great time. BUT you can’t have a fire in the parking lot, against all the rules.
    I stated that if someone had a issue with a valid reason come to me, stop complaining and do something positive…… A BIG THANK YOU TO ALL THE LEADERS WHO PUT IN QUALITY TIME WITH THE YOUTH. IT TAKES MORE THAN ONE HOUR A WEEK, I put in over 10 hours a week or more.


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