The BSA’s Historic Trails Award has been around for decades–so long, in fact, that the patch isn’t even fully embroidered. (Gasp!) Now, an important update makes getting started with the award easier.
As described on the application, the award has just three requirements:
- Locate a historic trail or site and study information relating to it. (The information may be obtained from an adult historic
society, public library, or people living near the trail or site.)
- Hike or camp two days and one night along the trail or in the
vicinity of the site.
- Cooperate with an adult group such as a historic society to
restore and mark all or part of this trail or site. (This may be
done during the hike or overnight camp.) Or cooperate with
such a group to plan and stage a historic pageant, ceremony,
or other public event related to this trail or site—such an event
should be large enough to merit coverage by the local press.
Those Scouts and adults who complete the requirements are eligible to receive a cloth or leather patch, which may be attached to a backpack or patch blanket (but not worn on the uniform).
The main problem with the award in recent years has been identifying nationally approved trails. No one was apparently maintaining the list, which had grown outdated as councils merged and changed names. Now, the National Outdoor Programs Support Committee has updated the list and published it on The Adventure Plan website. Just scroll to your state (or a state you want to visit), and you’ll find the trails in that area, along with the appropriate council to contact. (If you know of a trail that’s missing, encourage your local council to submit the BSA Historic Trails Renewal Application.)
In Boy Scouting, we often focus heavily on merit badges and ranks. While those advancement awards are obviously important, recognitions like the Historic Trails Award can be useful motivational tools and can encourage your Scouts to broaden their horizons.
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 https://www.eaglebook.com/products.htm#scoutmasters.