High Adventure

Recently there has been some discussion in the Boy Scouts of America community site regarding “High Adventure”.
And the question came up as to what the definition of “High Adventure” was or is??

According To page 145 of the Scoutmaster Handbook High Adventure includes activities such as:
Backpacking, Canoe Camping, Caving, Cycling, Discovering Adventure, Fishing, Freestyle Biking, Frontiersman, Mechanics, Orienteering, Rock Climbing and Rappelling, Snow Camping, Survival, and Whitewater Canoeing.

As I reviewed that list, I thought to myself.. well most of these are not really what I would consider “High Adventure”.. I mean, we do most of this over the course of a normal year anyway.

The discussion revolves around new physical standards for High Adventure activities. New requirements to be a certain weight if you are a certain height, restrictions if you have certain ailments such as asthma.
I have to agree with the BSA on limiting some of these activities if one is not “Physically fit” or unable to perform tasks without medical aid. After All, we do not want to jeopardize anyone’s health and maybe put them at higher risk. On the other hand, there are Scouts and Scouters out there that can perform High Adventure activities with ease and still fall into one or more categories of “Risk”.
I think the answer is simple. A trained medical professional, person physician, needs to clear you. You need to have an annual physical or biannual physical that states that you are fit enough to perform High Adventure activities.
The intent of the BSA is not to exclude anyone from activity, rather it is trying not to put anyone further at risk of seriously hurting themselves due to a pre existing medical condition.

High Adventure activities as defined can be limiting, I would suggest that units look at them with some discretion. Use common sense, and not limit anyone.
Our Troop backpacks… everyone participates, we may have a slow group and a fast group. We may have a group that goes farther, we may have Scouts that meet us at the camp site with a support vehicle, but no one is ever discouraged from participating.
We like to Rock Climb and Rappel, no one is excluded, they participate at the level they are comfortable with.
Does this mean we are not going to do High Adventure? OOOOOOHHH Noooo…
High Adventure is what keeps our boys coming back. We are Boy Scouts and are looking for adventure… it make life fun and challenging. Even Scouts with physical ailments enjoy the challenge, they love to feel success after hiking 26 miles, knowing that they can do it, even though they have asthma.

So look at the list, take the appropriate risk reduction measures and get out there and do High Adventure Activities!

Have a Great Scouting Day!


  1. Great post Jerry ! I have to agree with you that not all listed are considered HA in our troop either since thay are a part of our normal outdoor program..


  2. Hi Jerry: I’d like to offer a perspective — not on the necessary physical standards, but rather on BSA’s vision (definition) for “High Adventure”. At times leaders focus on the adventure itself, without understanding why “High Adventure” is a vital part of the BSA program. “High Adventure”, at its core, provide a unique format to present Scouts with opportunities to experience Scouting’s 3 aims: character, fitness and citizenship. From the BSA Passport to High Adventure, pg 5, here’s a subset of the “High Adventure” vision:- “seek greater challenges to their physical and mental abilities”- “entice them to stretch”- “more than just a scenic outdoor experience”- “overcome difficulties”When it comes to guiding Scouts towards the best “High Adventure”, guide towards the 3 aims. Best, Steve


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