Hiking is a fantastic way to connect with nature and get some exercise while exploring the great outdoors. For Scouts in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) program, hiking is also a great way to build skills and develop character. The youth leadership in your troop may be interested in the Hiking Troop Program Feature for Scouts BSA. This program feature provides a structured approach to planning and conducting a series of hiking adventures that will challenge and inspire Scouts.
The Hiking Troop Program Feature is designed to help Scouts develop skills and knowledge in a variety of areas related to hiking. These include map and compass reading, trail safety and etiquette, nutrition and hydration, first aid, and Leave No Trace principles. By completing a series of hikes of increasing difficulty and duration, Scouts will develop their physical endurance and stamina while also honing their teamwork and leadership skills.
As Scouts engage in the Hiking Troop Program Feature, they can simultaneously fulfill the requirements for the Hiking Merit Badge. This badge necessitates Scouts to fulfill a set of criteria associated with planning and executing hikes, and exhibiting expertise in diverse hiking skills. Accomplishing the Hiking Merit Badge equips Scouts with a strong knowledge base and abilities that can prove valuable on future hiking expeditions.
This troop program feature includes a variety of other resources and activities to help Scouts get the most out of their hiking experiences. These may include:
- Hiking equipment and gear demonstrations and reviews
- Guest speakers from local hiking clubs and organizations
- Training sessions on wilderness survival and emergency response
- Community service projects related to trail maintenance and conservation
This program is flexible and can be adapted to the needs and interests of your troop. Whether you’re planning a day hike in a local park or a multi-day backpacking trip in the wilderness, the program feature provides a framework for success. With proper planning and preparation, your Scouts will have a safe and rewarding hiking experience that they’ll remember for years to come.
Further details on how to integrate the Hiking Troop Program Feature into your Scouts BSA program can be found below. With proper assistance and direction, Scouts can cultivate a passion for hiking and foster a lasting appreciation of nature.
BSA has created updated versions of the Troop Program features for Scouts BSA. The Hiking program feature is available in digital format on the BSA website or can be purchased as a publication from you local Scout Shop.
The Hiking feature teaches Scouts how to prepare for a successful and safe exploration of locations near and far. Scouts learn to appreciate everything they see and experience around them as they hike trails in parks, the back-country, and urban areas. The program feature includes some general information and some more specific ideas for meetings:
- How to plan a successful hiking outing
- Preparing for different types of hikes: urban, back-roads, snow, tundra, desert, cross-country, night, trail
Troop Meeting Ideas
Suggested troop meeting ideas are grouped by essential, challenging, or advanced. Here are a few you can see in the guide.
- Practice compass skills (essential)
- Learn about urban and night hiking (challenging)
- Learn about snow, tundra, and desert hiking (advanced)
- Learn how to estimate heights and widths (essential)
- Pack up for a group hike (challenging)
- Acquire equipment for a group hike (advanced)
- Read topographic maps (essential)
- Review what to do if lost (essential)
- Plan a game for a group hike (challenging)
- Teach map-reading skills (advanced)
- Learn how to treat blisters and sprained ankles (essential)
- Review additional first aid skills (challenging)
- Discuss the importance of travel plans (advanced)
Games and More
There are also games suggestions to keep things interesting at your troop meetings. The plan even provides Scoutmaster’s minutes and ceremonies for meetings.
Then there is the “Main Event”. Once again, there are suggestions for essential, challenging, or advanced. Details and planning aids can be found in the online guide.
- Take a ten mile hike (essential)
- Take 2 ten mile hikes on back to back days (challenging)
- Take a 20 mile hike (advanced)
Related Resources for Hiking Program Feature
To complete the requirements for the National Outdoor Award Hiking Segment, a Scout or Venturer must be a learn about hiking and backpacking. Then he or she must spend some time practicing those skills, logging 100 or more miles of hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, or cross country skiing over time.
This award recognizes young men and women in Scouts BSA and Venturing who have planned and executed a historic outdoor activity in cooperation with a local society.
Scouts of all ages are guided by the Outdoor Code and the principles of Leave No Trace when they participate in outdoor activities. Members of Scouts BSA, Venturers, and adult Scouters can earn the Outdoor Ethics Awareness award to learn about being responsible citizens while outdoors.
Scouts learn how to plan for a safe hike, considering their route, hazards, equipment needed, the weather conditions, and more. Then they put their knowledge to work by going out on several hikes. Afterwards they reflect on their experience.
Scouts learn to navigate with a map and compass. They investigate what the various symbols and markings on a map represent. And they get to participate in orienteering events.
Scouts learn to safely find and record geocaches. A geocache is a place you can find using a GPS (Global Positioning System) unit. Usually there is a place to log your find and sometimes leave or take a small trinket. It is a fun way to learn to navigate using GPS.
Scouts learn to keep themselves healthy. They explore nutrition and exercise. They develop an exercise plan and carry it out over 12 weeks. They also find out about careers related to personal fitness.
Scouts learn to plan and execute a safe trek in the back-country. Treating water, Leave No Trace, map and compass skills, GPS, stoves, and sanitary concerns are all covered by this badge. After preparation, Scouts demonstrate their skills by participating in several backpacking treks.
Scouts learn about American history. Topics covered range from the Declaration of Interdependence, to the history of the US flag, to historic places, to their own family history. They also learn about careers related to the study of American heritage. You can incorporate a hike with a visit to site of historic significance.
Scouts learn how to be active members of their local community . They learn about local government and do service work in their region. They also research the history, culture, and demographics in their area. Do some urban hiking around your community to learn more about it.
To earn the Land Navigation core requirement for the Venturing Ranger award, Venturers must learn and practice map and compass skills and then teach those skills to others.
To complete the Backpacking elective for the Venturing Ranger award, Venturers must learn the skills needed for backpacking and take part in several treks. Then they must share their knowledge with others.
When you are on the trail, you don’t have a way to keep food cool and you want something which will provide energy, will travel well, and is lightweight. Trail mix is a popular trail food and there are many possible combinations. Or with a small trail stove, you can heat something up with water.
Every Scout who is spending time outdoors should be familiar with the Outdoor Code. It is especially important for Webelos, Scouts BSA, and Venturers who are out camping regularly.