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
For years I’ve looked to the Dummies series for help in all kinds of situations; so now I am going to try it for Scouters, at least in the area of Tour Plans. (Please no disrespect meant here, this is just a primer for the neophyte.)
Simply put, a Tour and activity plan is a planning tool designed to reinforce basic safety in Scouting—specifically two-deep leadership, transportation, aquatics, rappelling, and youth protection. The Tour Plan, when printed, is a four-page document that can be filled out electronically and then printed and filed with your Chartered Organization.
The central responsibility of tour and activity planning lies with the Unit Key 3 (the Chartered Organization Representative, Committee Chair and Scout Leader), who plan for a safe and fun adventure. It serves as a kind of checklist to make sure that trip leadership is trained, that the right equipment is available, and there is safe and appropriate transportation to and from the event.
Here is how it works:
- The local unit leadership (Bishopric, Committee, Chartered Organization Representative and unit leader) certifies the plan.
- The local council accepts plans through the internet portal but does not approve the activity, this is done by your unit.
- An email workflow notifies the council, chartered organization, committee chair, and emergency contact that a plan has been submitted for review.
- The online planner, which is the prefered method, contains interactive prompts and warnings (which is not applicable to the older paper permits).
- It provides active links to program-required training and education.
- It provides the ability to store, retrieve, copy, and reuse previously submitted tour and activity plans (which is not applicable to the older paper permits).
- It provides the ability to update the plan up until the day before the tour and activity date.
The Tour Plan, or some form of one, has been around since the 1960s to help units plan safe activities. But recently the method of submission changed, so that the unit Key 3 is the center of approval, not the Council. So let me explain how that works with this example:
Recently a den leader asked about supporting her Ward’s Scouting for Food service project and whether she needed a Tour Plan to put out door hangers in her neighborhood. If she sensed some risk to her Cub Scouts, of course, a tour plan could be filled out. But the more likely scenario is that in a Key 3 or Key Scouter Meeting (Key 3s from the pack, troop, team and crew within one chartered organization, such as a LDS Ward) the two-weekend service project would be considered for all units and would then be made as an umbrella over all the activities related to the project.
In any case, the National Council offers Service Project Guidelines just to be sure. After reviewing these guidelines it was clear that hanging the notices in the example above, presented little risk and did not merit the use of a Tour Plan. It was just a neighborhood den activity with neither water, transportation nor other significant risks.
When you are not sure about the risk in an activity, the tour and activity plan is an excellent tool that should be included in preparation, even those not requiring it (ie. climbing, swimming, etc.). It guides a tour leader through itineraries, travel arrangements, two-deep leadership, supervision qualifications, and transportation.
NOTE: If you can’t access it online, then fill out this Tour Plan form and bring it in person to any Utah National Parks Council Service Center or email the completed document to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Darryl Alder | Strategic Initiatives Director, Utah National Parks Council, BSA