After a couple false starts, the long-awaited revision to the online Tour and Activity Plan process is now live in most councils and can be used to file a tour plan for outings as required by your council.
The new process is really slick. Whereas the previous online process wasn’t much more than an electronic form which was then submitted to your council, the new system integrates your unit data with what’s on file in ScoutNet, so adult membership and training is verified automatically. It also checks to make sure you have sufficient leadership in place. It’s not necessary to submit detailed driver information – only to verify that drivers are licensed and adequately insured. The only vehicle information collected is make, model and year of each vehicle. Other items are brought to your attention as being necessary, such as the availability of informed consent (permission slips) and health forms for participants, and of a first-aid and roadside repair kits.
The Tour and Activity Plan site features a number of planning aids, including a handy checklist for gathering information before you begin the application process. While you can enter the information you have, save it and return later, it’s more convenient to gather everything you’ll need at the outset. And, if your plans change, you can update and revise the filed plan right up until the time you set out.
The process takes you through a series of steps where you enter general information, the type of outing, adult roster, the itinerary, activities, training, and contact information, both on the tour and back at home. If something’s out of line, like not having an adult over 21 and a registered adult leader, the process will flag it and alert you to correct it before moving on.
Best of all, you don’t have to wait for your council office to mail or fax your completed tour permit back to you, since after all the requirements are met and checked online, it’s not necessary for them to repeat the same steps. You can print the completed tour plan directly from your MyScouting account and take it with you or distribute it to others in your unit. Our troop just completed an out-of-state trip under a tour plan filed under the new system, and our outdoor coordinator found the system easy and straightforward to use.
The tour permit process has long served a dual purpose – informing your council of your plans and ensuring that you’ve properly planned the details of your outing. The online system accomplishes both in one easy-to-use application. Even if your council doesn’t require you to file a plan for local outings, completion of the online process ensures that your outdoor experience benefits from proper prior planning.