Requiem for a BSA Form


Cynics like to say that Scouting requires more paperwork than the U.S. government. If you’ve recently been completing your income tax return, you know that’s definitely not the case. Still, it is true that we Scouters have our share of forms to fill out. (When I was a district executive in the pre-digital age, I carried around a milk-crate file organizer full of youth and adult applications, advancement reports, tour permit applications, medical forms, and other paperwork and often handed out copies at roundtables.)

Fortunately, one BSA form has recently gone the way of the dinosaurs. Effective April 1, 2017, units no longer have to complete the BSA’s Tour and Activity Plan before heading to the woods (or anywhere else). That doesn’t mean Scouting’s safety rules have changed–the policies in the Guide to Safe Scouting still apply. You just don’t have to fill out a form anymore.

In announcing the policy change, the BSA put together a helpful FAQ, which I encourage you to read. Like all FAQs, this one may seem a little redundant, but it makes some important points.

And some of those points have less to do with tour plans than with persistent misunderstandings about the liability protection the BSA offers us as volunteers. In short, you are covered during official Scouting activities regardless of whether you fill out any paperwork, require your Scouts to wear their field uniforms on the road, or say “Mother, may I?” before you leave the parking lot. (Registered volunteers have primary coverage; non-registered volunteers have secondary coverage.) To learn more, visit the BSA’s insurance coverage page.

Now that you have one less BSA form to fill out, you can turn your full attention to your Form 1040 and all its attached schedules.

Need more great troop program ideas? Check out the new edition of The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook, which is now available in both print and e-book formats at


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