Tour and Activity Plan. Just hearing those words causes some leaders to break out in a cold sweat. Or hives. Which is a shame because it can be a helpful planning tool. But it has kind of become the boogey man. There are lots of stories circulating, most of them a little scary, and everybody tells them differently. Finding good information—clear, consistent, authoritative, and documented—has been challenging.
Requirements for planning a tour have changed in recent years. We have gone from “Tour Permits” to “Tour Plans” and now to “Tour and Activity Plans.” There are significant differences, but the names are confusingly similar. Since the outdated names are still frequently used, you could easily be excused for not noticing that anything had changed.
There has been conflicting official information published about when tour and activity plans are required. The 2010 edition of the Cub Scouts Leader Book stated, “Tour plans are required…whenever the den travels to a place other than its regular meeting place even for short, in-town trips.” More recently, an online FAQ appeared that told a very different story.
Fortunately two recent events have made it easier to find the right information: In May, a newly updated Den Leader Guide was released containing information about tour and activity plans that matches other official sources, and the council published a very helpful series of blog articles entitled “Tour Plans for Dummies.”
The obvious question then is…
Q. When do I need to complete a tour and activity plan?
A. Times when a tour and activity plan must be submitted for council review include the following:
- Trips of 500 miles or more; or
- Trips outside of council borders (exception: not to your council-owned property); or
- Trips to Florida Sea Base, Northern Tier, Philmont Scout Ranch, Summit Bechtel Reserve (you will be asked to present a copy of your tour and activity plan upon arrival), national Scout jamboree, National Order of the Arrow Conference, or a regionally sponsored event; or
- When conducting any of the following activities outside of council or district events:
- Aquatics activities (swimming, boating, floating, scuba, etc.)
- Climbing and rappelling
- Orientation flights (process flying plan) o Shooting sports
- Any activities involving motorized vehicles as part of the program (snowmobiles, boating, etc.); or
- At a council’s request (Contact your local council for additional guidelines or regulations concerning tour and activity plans; many have set guidelines for events or activities within council boundaries such as for Cub Scout overnight camping.)
Regardless, the tour and activity plan is an excellent tool that should be included in preparation for all activities, even those not requiring it. It guides a tour leader through itineraries, travel arrangements, two-deep leadership, supervision qualifications, and transportation.
There you have it, one reasonably clear, consistent, authoritative, and documented answer. But wait, there’s more!
When you factor in which activities are age-appropriate for Cubs, it gets even simpler: You need to complete a tour and activity plan only if you are swimming, snorkeling, climbing or bouldering, or rappelling other than at a district or council activity, or if you are leaving the council boundaries. And unless you live near the council border, only aquatics and climbing or rappelling activities should apply to you.
This is great news as it will make it easier for leaders to take their boys to new places to enjoy many fun new adventures!
Here are a few resources that you may find helpful:
- BSA’s Tour and Activity Plan FAQ – BSA Web Page
- UNPC’s Tour Plans for Dummies blog series – Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, FAQ
- Guide to Safe Scouting – PDF File
- Age-Appropriate Guidelines for Scouting Activities – BSA Web Page, PDF File
- Online Tour and Activity Plan tool. This is fast, easy, and it automatically submits it to your council for review and to your local unit for approval. Must sign in to use. – http://www.myscouting.org
- A roundtable handout I created. It’s nothing fancy. – Ray Cox Tour and Activity Plans
Author: Ray Cox | Cub Scout Roundtable Commissioner, Wasatch District, Utah National Parks Council