LDS Boy Scouting

Training for LDS Boy Scout Leaders


High Adventure

High and Low Adventure – big game with a bigger purpose

High Adventure is really where the rubber hits the road, this is the opportunity for the unit to plan an outdoor adventure that allows the Young Men do something more creative than car camping or scout camp. If done properly the 14-18 year old scouts will be involved in the whole process of planning, fund raising, and execution. This provides the Team and Venture scouts an opportunity to work together towards a common goal thus encouraging them to function more cohesively and become more united as a Quorum.

Why High Adventure?

As Lord Baden Powell has said: “Scouting is a game with a purpose”, High Adventure give the opportunity to be involved in a big game that can not only challenge older scouts through physical activity but provide a venue where Young Men can come together in the ultimate laboratory, the outdoors. In the LDS units High Adventure reenergizes those scouts who have completed their Eagle requirements and also to help less active members of the Quorums to become more engaged. High Adventure helps to unify Quorums thus strengthening the entire scouting progrm and Young Men program. All trips should therefore be planned with a priesthood purpose. Finally, we are also in the business of creating memories; the memories that come from a well executed High Adventure trip will be remembered in a positive way for years to come.


High Adventure trips need to be determined and planned out by the Team and Crew. When Crews delegate and plan out the event the Young Men become more intimately connected to the trip and thus take ownership. Unfortunately, some trips have been planned out entirely by adult advisors. If adults step forward and take over then Young Men are ultimately deprived of the opportunity to run the show. It sends the message to the YM metaphorically that adults are afraid the Young Men might burn the bacon so it needs to be done for them. So, when the YM plan their own trip adults allow the Young Men to develop as leaders and delegate responsibilities to other members of the crew/team. Whenever possible try and have an individual who has successfully done a similar trip to come and give a presentation to your crew/team, this will serve to heighten the excitement and anticipation of the pending high adventure and also give them insights into what will be needed to make the trip a success.

Planning a high adventure trip usually starts one year prior to the actual date of the proposed trip. In some situations such as Philmont scouting ranch where you need to be selected through a lottery it is necessary to make preparations two years prior. A list of potential high adventure programs will be listed at the end of this chapter for your review with approximate amount of time necessary to plan for each of these particular trips. Another reason to begin early is because when a third party outfitter is involved they typically will extend to us preferred pricing. Or in other words we get a better deal which obviously can affect overall costs by as much as 20%. Also by securing a price we also can lock in favorable dates and not be left to trying to sign up 3 months in advance having to take whatever is available.

Where to go?

The counsel I received while attending “Scouting in the LDS church” at Philmont training center in 2003 was fairly clear. Elder Melvin F. Hammond then General Young Men President of the church said: “The stars and moon that shine down on us here are the same everywhere in the world”. In other words we do not have to necessarily travel great distances to some far off exotic place to put on a successful high adventure trip. That said however, the next question is how far can we travel? While I have served with the scouting program in our stake for nearly 20 years, I have been involved in high adventure trips involving canoeing in the boundary waters (Minnesota), Sea kayaking in the Apostle Islands (Wisconsin) and Spelunking in Mammoth Caves national park in Kentucky. We have ridden our bikes nearly 300 miles across Iowa and have gone whitewater rafting in West Virginia. All of these trips have come in at or under 550 miles. If a trip to Philmont in Cimarron, New Mexico is taken then your mileage doubles to around 1,200 miles. All of these trips previously mentioned have been done successfully and are all considered, as of this writing, to be acceptable locations and adventures. Of course your adventure may be different according to the needs and time you have to prepare for you high adventure trip. Ultimately the destination should be part of the planning process while taking in to account the individual needs of the crew/team as a whole. In summary there are many great venues within a day’s drive of Chicago that qualify for outstanding adventures.

Marketing the Adventure

If you have decided on a destination and the crew/team members have been involved then selling the trip is usually quite easy, mostly because the YM feel ownership in the high adventure. Marketing the trip to the less active is your next challenge and making sure they know about the trip well in advance of the departure date. Marketing to the parents usually involves meeting with the parents and giving them a presentation of the proposed trip which if done well can generate considerable enthusiasm and inertia and then finally to invite all of the crew/team members fathers to come along. After all most dads are just big kids in larger bodies.


Funding of the high adventure trip, can be a very interesting topic and one that can elicit a variety of emotions. Ultimately one needs to defer to the counsel given in the General Handbook of Instructions. It has been my experience that one well organized fund raising activity if well conceived and executed should provide adequate monies to pay for the majority of the trip. Certainly YM if given ample notice and are genuinely excited about the trip will find a way to earn the money for their summer high adventure trip.

Tour permits

Tour permits are necessary for any high adventure trip. This also gives us additional insurance coverage through the BSA as a primary provider if it were ever needed. The local tour permit is one that is given for trips under 500 miles away from our area and can be obtained in about 2 weeks time sometimes sooner if someone in the committee takes it directly to the council office. The National tour permit is given for trips that go beyond the 500 miles limit of the local permit. These take a little longer to obtain because they go through the regional office. Expect approximately 6 weeks for these permits to be processed. Try not to let this wait until the last minute to do; ideally this should be assigned to a member of the scout committee to take care of.


The overall agenda is dictated by the trip itself; however the evening program when the day is drawing to an end needs to be worked out with the youth leadership in the crew/team and their advisors keeping in mind the overall needs of the crew/team/quorum. Usually having lively discussions pertaining to the Gospel are encouraged. On one high adventure trip I was on the professional guides with us expressed a desire to know more about the church. We had each young man prepare to speak for up to 5 minutes on various topics including the apostasy, restoration, first vision, and the Book of Mormon. All of the young men present signed their names inside the cover of two Books of Mormon which were then presented to our guides as we sat around the fire after dinner. Once again, the important piece to take from this is that you should have some plan worked up prior to leaving on the trip and assignments given with appropriate time given to the individual to prepare for his designated part. You will find that not only are we able to have fun but bring a spiritual side as well to the adventure.

Evaluation of your trip or a reflection of the event is important to determine if the high adventure was able to meet the crew’s expectations and to review those things that went well also to discuss things that could have been different or made better. If you find that there wasn’t much interest in the high adventure trip chances are that the young men were not adequately engaged in the planning and development of the overall trip. When you allow the crew members to plan and execute the trip there will be a greater sense of accomplishment and a feeling that it was our trip and we did it. I have also found that cost seems to take on a secondary roll when the crew members are anxiously engaged because they have assumed ownership of it and typically will get busy earning necessary funds for the trip. When we as adults take over then we deny our crew/quorum members to be youth led. This of course is one of the main reasons for doing high adventure trips with our Young Men.

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