By John Gailey
Feb 04, 2015

Scout Camp Adventure Track Introduction

In an earlier Blog article, we talked about some of the exciting changes coming to three of our Scout camps this year – Tifie Scout Camp, Scofield Scout Camp, and Thunder Ridge Scout Camp.

Adventure Tracks

Scout camps have historically focused on teaching merit badge classes. Based on feedback from Adventureunit leaders and chartered organization partners, and, most importantly boys, we are changing from a merit-badge class orientation to experience-based adventures. Merit badges will still be earned but done through a tactile, experience-based method of learning. In other words, a game with a purpose!

Most tracks are a two-day experience with Scouts participating in two tracks during their week at camp. (Note: Some high adventure tracks will be longer than two days.)

Example of an Adventure Track

Let’s walk through an experience that a young man would have at one of our tracks. Remember that this experience will last two days.

Scofield CanoeingA Scout (preferably with his entire unit, including adults) will check-in at camp and get set up. In the early afternoon, they gather at the lake with swimming suits and ready for some fun! There they meet a camp staff guide who covers canoeing skills and safety. The Scout then jumps into a canoe with his buddy and practices the skills just learned.

The group, after obtaining some skills in canoeing, then canoe over to a new location. Once on shore, the camp staff guide instructs them on how to use a GPS unit and introduces them to Geo-caching. The group does some practicing with that new skill.

The group is then given a Geo-caching course – which is underwater! The group must get in their canoes and complete the Geo-caching course on the lake!

After a lot of fun and overcoming the challenges of completing the course, they return to shore.

crawdadThe next activity is learning all about the crawdads in the lake and how they are caught. The group is instructed on how to build a crawdad cage that can be used to catch these intriguing crustaceans. The group splits into smaller groups to build their cage for the next step in this fun adventure.

After the cages are completed and baited, the group is challenged, using their canoes, to place their cages in the best possible location and tag the GPS coordinates of the cage. The coordinates are then exchanged with other canoeing teams in the group with a challenge to find these cages later in the day.

Once the canoe teams have found and retrieved the cages with the crawdads, they come back together and learn more about these animals.

The entire adventure culminates in a group-based crawdad boil for their next meal!

Who wouldn’t want to participate in such an adventure! And the Scout gets to begin a new adventure the following day!

How do I Register?

Units can register for camp now! This includes Troops, Teams, and Crews (i.e. boys age 12-17). Adventure Track registration will begin on March 1. Details about the tracks will be coming out each week, so keep a close eye on the Blog and at

Some tracks, especially all Blue and Black Diamond tracks, will require the full unit (Troop, Team or Crew), including adults, to register together for the same track.

John GaileyAuthor: John Gailey | Director of Support Services, Utah National Parks Council, BSA. If you are interested in learning more, please contact him at or 801-437-6233.

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10 thoughts on “Scout Camp Adventure Track Introduction

  1. AvatarKaren Adams

    I love this concept! Instead of a “classroom” approach to the Merit Badges you give the boys practical experience that will be remembered all their lives. Thus they will pass on the excitement of their adventures to future generations.

    1. Darryl AlderDarryl Alder

      My best memory of an adventure trek as at East Fork of the Bear. I lead our troop out from camp for an overnighter and pitched camp on a hill. During the night my sleeping bag inched its way down the hill an onto the coals in the fire pit. The end of the bag was missing in the morning, I had smoked black feet and a trophy bag, I use to this day! The lesson I learned on that trek were many, but most of all the brotherhood of a quorum that rallied around me as I hike off the mountain with genuine tender feet. What do you think your son will learn from one of these new adventure tracks when he is old enough to go to camp?

      1. AvatarKaren Adams

        I hope he will learn not to sleep too close to the fire pit. LOL But I also hope he will learn to do hard things.

  2. AvatarDarren

    The theory sounds good, but I have questions about how this is going to work in practice. I like the idea of focusing on the adventure, but let’s be real here – one of the methods of scouting is advancement, and merit badges are what scout camp has always offered to help that. I get the idea of breaking up badges and teaching them through adventure, but are we sacrificing flexibility? Does each track offer a limited set of merit badge opportunities? What about boys who have some of the badges from each track? What about the boy who wants to focus on required badges?

    I am not saying I don’t like the new program, I just have a very large amount of unanswered questions. I need the details on this, sooner rather than later, so I can start working with the boys and parents to set up their camp experience. Please, PLEASE send out specific details on this soon. And unless it is too late, please do not sacrifice the ability for each boy to completely customize his camp experience and merit badge goals.


    A Scoutmaster

    1. John GaileyJohn Gailey Post author

      Great questions and ones that the Council Advancement and Recognition Committee and the Camping and Outdoor Program Committee have been discussing at length. Details on each track will be published in the next few weeks. Each green track will include three (some may have more) merit badges that will be worked on, meaning that Scouts could be working on at least six merit badges just through the tracks. There will also be open time for the youth to work on specific merit badges between the tracks (Wednesday morning and Friday.)

      Summer camp definitely provides opportunities to work on advancement, including merit badges. We do not want to change that, but we do want to make sure that summer camp provides opportunities for all eight methods of Scouting – not just advancement.

      1. AvatarDarren

        Thank you for the reply. I really do look forward to getting more specific details on the program. Do you know when they may be coming?

        I still have a lot of questions. I agree that there are more methods of scouting than just advancement, but I worry about some of my boys. What about a boy who has two of the three merit badges from the waterfront, but still would like to get in the water? Does he forfeit two merit badges because he already has those, or have to give up the waterfront badges altogether? What about my SPL who already has a significant number of badges? If he has one or two from each track already, is he now missing out? Or has this been thought of, and are there alternatives?

        While advancement is not the only thing I worry about, I do have to go talk with parents. I do not have a lot of budget this year, and I am having to forward a significant portion of the cost of camp to the scouts and their parents, and merit badges ARE what they care about. If they or their son is going to pony up the cash, they want to see real, tangible results. And by that, they do mean merit badges.

        I worry that the program, as I understand it, takes into account only certain cases, especially scouts who have never been to camp, and not those more experienced scouts. Or those who have a wide variety of interests who want to sample more things. Or my son with ADD who needs a variety of stimulation to keep his focus. Or the autistic scout who has a very specific set of needs. Or the scout who just plain doesn’t know what he likes, and wants to diversify. Whatever the reason, cutting down on the flexibility makes me very nervous.

        I am speaking from our experience at Scofield last year. I had four different scouts that, due to injury, anxiety attacks; and other circumstances, had to change their camp experience. I would hate for them to go home feeling like a failure because they got only a badge or two.

        Please take this as honest questioning. I really want to see how this works out for ALL scouts. Maybe I just completely misunderstand how the program will work. I truly hope so. You can see now why I am so anxious to get my hands on the specific details of how this will work.

        Thank you for listening…

        1. John GaileyJohn Gailey Post author

          The details are just about ready for release and should be out about this time next week! We are excited to share them with you! Boys will sign up for two tracks for the week, but there will also be many other opportunities to earn merit badges throughout the week – independent of the tracks.

          Historically, many older boys (14+) are often not interested in coming to camp at all, because they are not as interested in earning merit badges. For these boys, we will now have blue and black diamond tracks that are focused much more heavily on adventure and outdoor experiences.

          As a unit leader, make sure that you identify, with your youth leadership, the shared outcomes that you want to get out of summer camp and share those outcomes with parents before camp begins. Advancement will likely be part of the desired outcome, but hopefully that is not all. Scouting is about preparing youth to become strong citizens and leaders of the future – able to make ethical and moral choices and to do hard things while staying morally straight.

          1. AvatarDarren

            Thank you, yet again, for the reply. I am still worried about it, but I will reserve judgement until next week when the details come out and I have a chance to look them over for a while.

          2. AvatarDarren

            Sorry for the brevity of my last comment – let me add this:

            After re-reading your comment about merit badges being available independent of the tracks, I am much less worried about what is being done here. Also, I attended the University of Scouting over the weekend, and I think I might have a better understanding of what this program is trying to accomplish.

            I still have a lot of questions. But fewer worries. Thank you for indulging me, and I truly do look forward to seeing the details and working out with the boys what they want their camp experience to be.


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