By Community Submission
Jun 30, 2015

Clarifying Tour and Activity Plans for Cub Scouts

Sat­ur­day, April 1st, 2017, the Tour and Activ­i­ty Plan was dis­con­tin­ued. As part of the announce­ment, BSA stat­ed: The Scout­ing pro­gram, as con­tained in our hand­books and lit­er­a­ture, inher­ent­ly inte­grates safe­ty con­sid­er­a­tions. How­ev­er, no pol­i­cy or pro­ce­dure will replace the review and vig­i­lance of trust­ed adults and lead­ers at the point of pro­gram exe­cu­tion.”  Get details here 

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.

Bear Den Leader GuideRequirements 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 Since the outdated names are still frequently used, you could easily be excused for not noticing that anything had changed.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!

KNOTS_cub_scaredWhen 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:

roay and shantelle coxAuthor: Ray Cox | Cub Scout Roundtable Commissioner, Wasatch District, Utah National Parks Council

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3 thoughts on “Clarifying Tour and Activity Plans for Cub Scouts

  1. AvatarDon Sasser

    I was under the understanding that, as stated in your article, these cover times when the tour plan should be submitted to the council , but a tour and activity plan should be filed with the charter organization any time an outing is planned. I agree that tour and activity plan is a very handy tool in making sure everything is covered that needs to be for the safety of the boys. Shooting sports, which aren’t appropriate for cub scouts out side of day camps, also require a tour plan be submitted to council.
    While it isn’t required to be filed with the council, except for the situations listed in the article, if done online, when one hits the submit button at the end, it is automatically sent by email to the Council, the tour leader, the COR, the committee chair & the designated person not going on the activity and maybe even a few others. So I find it easier to fill it out online and press submit every time so that I know I’m covered.
    The rule I was taught when I first came into Scouting is the BSA will cover your back as a Leader 100% of the time as long as they don’t have a reason not to. Not filing a tour and activity plan gives them a reason not to.

  2. AvatarRay Cox


    The basic premise of your comment seems to be that by always submitting a tour and activity plan, even when BSA does not require it, that we are somehow “covered.” Or is it “extra covered,” because surely abiding by current written policy is enough to be “covered?” Or are you arguing that that by only following written BSA policy we at risk of not following unwritten BSA policy? I admit, I’m a little lost.

    There was a day, a few years ago, when we had to submit a tour plan to the council to get their approval and receive a tour permit. Under that system, if you didn’t have a tour permit, you didn’t have council approval. Any liability arising out of your activity was yours to deal with. The tour permit was your golden ticket.

    Today the charter organization, not the council, approves activities. For some higher risk activities BSA does require that you submit a tour and activity plan 21 days in advance for their review. And, if you submit it online, it will automatically be sent to your COR and committee chair. It is a mechanism we are all familiar with. But that doesn’t make it the one true way. BSA doesn’t dictate how charter organizations need to handle approvals. In my experience most planning and approvals are handled verbally during a pack, troop, or team committee meeting. A tour and activity plan is submitted to council afterward, if required.

    Also, like most units in this council, my pack, troop, and team are chartered by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). The church provides insurance for all their units. So if something goes sideways, decisions about whether insurance will pay are made by the Church. That doesn’t mean that many of the same issues don’t still exist, but it further calls into question whether submitting more tour and activity plans will actually influence the result.

    While I will always recommend the tour and activity plan as an excellent planning tool, I hesitate to suggest to any leader that by submitting them when they aren’t required they somehow guarantee they are “covered.” I don’t want to create a false sense of security.

    PS. If those two Goblin Valley jokers had been leaders in one of my units, they would have had a proper tour and activity plan for that outing. But they would not have been covered. Because they were the problem, not the paperwork.


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