Weekend 1: April 5-7, 2024  |  Camp Strake &
Weekend 2: May 4-5, 2024  |  Challenger Seven Memorial Park and David Braun Park

Powder HornPowder Horn is an action-packed, hands-on course that helps Scouts and Scouters learn how to implement high adventure activities into their troop, crew or ship. The training is being held over two weekends.

Scouting leaders often face the dilemma of having a strong desire to provide challenging and fun outdoor programs to meet the needs of their older youth, while lacking the knowledge and/or resources to do so. Powder Horn responds to this quandary by exposing Scouts BSA and Venturing leaders to a wide range of outdoor/high-adventure activities. More importantly, Powder Horn provides participants with valuable resources and contacts to assist them in delivering the promise of Scouting’s high adventure. 

During Powder Horn, participants learn by doing with expert consultants who demonstrate the skills and explain where resources, such as equipment, facilities, guides, instructors, and certifications can be obtained. Learn how to expose Scouts in your troop, crew or ship to rock climbing, Dutch oven cooking, geocaching, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, paddle boarding, firefighting, search and rescue, trekking in different countries, snorkeling, mountain biking, fly fishing, canoeing, wilderness first aid, astronomy, shooting sports (e.g., rifle, shotgun, handgun, archery), equestrian, 1860 baseball, wilderness survival, National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT), Sea Scouts, the Kodiak Challenge, the BSA Distinguished Conservation Service Award, Messenger of Peace, living history, Leave No Trace, vendors, the National Scout Jamboree, event planning, scuba diving, and more.

Facebook groupPowder Horn is offered once a year, so do not miss this chance to attend.  Set your sights on a course that maximizes Scouting skills while bringing adrenaline, new activity ideas, and leadership to your unit.  Powder Horn is designed to introduce and expose adults in troops, crews, and ships and the youth leaders to the activities, training, and resources necessary to manage a successful outdoor or high adventure unit-level program.  It is based on the eight-core requirements and eighteen electives found in the Venturing Ranger program.  It is intended to help leaders get out of the box in finding and using resources, and in the way, they lead their unit-level outdoor and high adventure programs.

Powder Horn trainers do not teach participants to be an expert or even to be self-sufficient in any aspect of outdoor skills.  Unit leaders will still need to find knowledgeable, trained, and certified individuals to help provide a safe and exciting outdoor high adventure program.              


Adult leaders from all Scouting programs and Scouts aged 14 and older are eligible to attend; there are no restrictions on attending the course a second time. Staff should contact the course director or staff adviser for the staff registration link. 


Powder Horn Swag

Special keepsakes can be ordered. Items may be picked up on the first day of the course or at the Cockrell Scout Center after the course; items will not be mailed. 

Shirts: Participants who register before the supply ordering deadline will receive a dry-fit shirt. Additional shirts can be ordered as part of the registration process. 

Belt buckles are rugged-looking pewter-tone belt buckles showcasing a die-struck Powder Horn logo in the center surrounded by the words Powder Horn Course and Boy Scouts of America.  Supply is limited and will only be sold until supplies run out.

             Order Belt Buckles

Powder Horn is designed to:

  1. Expose participants to high adventure activities for older youth in troops, crews, and ships.
  2. Provide an introduction to the resources and consultants available to successfully lead Scouting units through a program of high adventure.
  3. Help adult and young adult leaders feel comfortable offering challenging outdoor activities while balancing fun with safety, health, and responsibility. 

Participant Qualifications and Prerequisites

  • Powder HornBe a registered adult or a registered in Scouts BSA, Venturing or Sea Scouts who is at least 14 years old. For young adults between the ages of 14 and 17, the course director requests that the applicant, their parent, and a unit leader have a conversation around maturity, expectations, and the Powder Horn experience.
  • Submit a copy of BSA Annual Health and Medical Record (Part A, B, C). Forms can be downloaded at scouting.org/scoutsource/healthandsafety/ahmr.aspx. Part C must be completely filled out and signed by a physician. Medical forms are only current for one year and must not expire before the last day of Powder Horn.  
  • Adults must be trained for their position.
  • Youth must have completed the required leadership training for the unit in which they are registered (Introduction to Leadership Skills or National Youth Leadership Training).
  • Complete the following online trainings at My.Scouting.org prior to the course:
    • Youth Protection Training (YPT)
    • Hazardous Weather Training (Now part of Program Safety within the courses on my.scouting).
    • Safety Afloat (Now part of Program Safety within the courses on my.scouting).
    • Safe Swim Defense (Now part of Program Safety within the courses on my.scouting).
    • Climb on Safely (Now part of Program Safety within the courses on my.scouting).
  • Be able to pass a BSA Swim Test to fully participate in boating or aquatics activities.
  • Attend the entire course.


Notice!  Please be advised that promotional videotaping/photography may be in progress at any time at an event. Your entrance constitutes your agreement that the council has the right to reproduce your likeness in videography/photography for promotion (e.g., publications, internet, newspaper).

Frequently Asked Questions About Powder Horn

Why Powder Horn?

Many Scouting leaders face the dilemma of having a strong desire to provide challenging and fun outdoor programs to meet the needs of their older youth members, but lack the knowledge and/or resources to do so. Powder Horn responds to the quandary with an exciting new training opportunity that exposes Venturing, Scouts BSA leaders, and youth leaders ages 14 and up to a wide range of outdoor/high adventure activities. More importantly, Powder Horn provides its participants with valuable resource and contacts to assist them in delivering the promise of Scouting’s high adventure to youth.

Testimonial 1               Testimonial 2

What is the approach for this training?

Experts or "consultants" teach the courses and introduce participants to a variety of high-adventure activities in our area. Participants do not become experts in an activity; participants will learn how to help their unit’s youth leaders find and recruit experts in activities that the Scouts may enjoy.

Participants will experience activities such as climbing or shooting sports or shoot a skeet course, and will learn where to go to find those who can teach these skills to Scouts BSA and Venturers. Under no circumstances is any Powder Horn participant required to participate in an activity they are uncomfortable with.  Participants may choose to just observe and learn - "Challenge by Choice."

What activities are presented at Powder Horn?

Participants will experience at least ten activities from the following list:

Astronomy, ATV, aquatics, backpacking, camping, canoeing, cave exploring, challenge events (COPE), climbing/rappelling, conservation, cycling - road/mountain, ecology, emergency preparedness, equestrian, expedition planning, extreme sports, fishing, first aid, geocaching, historical reenactment / living history, hunting, kayaking, Leave No Trace (LNT), lifesaving, motor boating, mountain biking, orienteering, outdoor living history, personal watercraft, plants and wildlife, sailing, sailboarding, search and rescue, SCUBA, shooting sports, snorkeling, space exploration, wilderness first aid, wilderness survival, and winter sports.
What are the learning objectives?

1. Learn what resources are available to support a high adventure program.
2. Learn where to find the resources.
3. Learn how to use the resources.
4. Learn how to safely do a high adventure program.
5. Learn what is involved with different high adventure disciplines.

What is the history of Powder Horn?

In 1983, Louise, a 37-year-old very shy woman read in Boys' Life (now Scout Life magazine) about an Outdoor Exploring High Adventure training in Lubbock, Texas. It was in the spring and if you have ever been in the Texas Panhandle in the spring you know that it can be hot, sunny, rainy, windy, tornado or snowing.  Louise packed her camping gear (bits and pieces borrowed from her two Scout sons along with a new tent) into her car and headed for Lubbock (two hours away).  She knew only what she had learned at Wood Badge in 1978 about “high adventure” in the outdoors but had never experienced real high adventure in person.

The course material said it would cover climbing and rappelling, small boat sailing, camping, backpacking, snow skiing, canoe and much more.  After getting lost on the loop around Lubbock, she finally arrived at the “camp” (a park).  About eight people showed up from around the country. (They probably came to see what snow skiing in Lubbock was like).

Louise promptly lost her car keys.  Thinking she had locked them in the trunk of the car, a state trooper tried to pick the lock.  He succeeded in screwing up the electronic system and finally getting the trunk open.  About that time, Louise found her keys in her pocket!

After a supper (of sorts) the group pitched their tents and settled in for the night.  It rained and rained and rained and the wind blew, lightning struck and Louise got wet and cold.  The next day was somewhat better.  Small boat sailing, canoe and yes snow skiing (cross country skiing on the grass).  A wall and ladder were used for climbing and rappelling.  Backpacking and other outdoor skills were covered.  Then everyone loaded up and went for showers at a local high school (oops!! Someone forgot to turn on the hot water heater). The showers felt really good even if they were so cold!!  The crew then moved to a Scout camp (Camp Haynes) where they pitched their tents at 2:00 A.M.  Cold, hungry and tired Louise settled in for the night.  Like a good Scout, Louise had ten essentials for survival including tea bags and a little camp stove and water.  Louise began to shake—shake like she had never shaken before.  She had read about hypothermia and was afraid that was what she had because of the cold showers and long day.  She knew that she had to get warm, but Louise could not light the fire that could save her life because she was shaking too much.  Desperate, she crawled out of her tent and went to the first tent.  Wayne, a man in his 70’s was sound asleep. Louise woke him and told him her problem.  He soon realized the danger and made her some tea.  Louise was soon sound asleep. Wayne knew that he had saved her life and felt very good as he dozed off.  The short night was soon over.  Wayne and Louise never forgot that night.

The next day was better.  250 foot cliffs and slow rappels made the day great.  Soon the shy Louise was enjoying herself, but was unaware of what she was learning would help hundreds and possibly thousands of youth in Exploring and now Venturing.

Shy Louise went to one small outdoor training event in Lubbock, Texas 18 years ago.  That event changed her life and the life of her husband and their 2 sons.  It will impact the lives of their 7 grandchildren.  She went home and started a high adventure Explorer post.  The post had as many as 250 youth.  They went SCUBA diving, snow skiing, water skiing, climbing & rappelling, camping, and much more.  The post was in Boys' Life three times and participated in a training video.  Louise was the chairperson of the outdoor cluster of the national Exploring committee.  She is a dive master, Red Cross instructor, EMT, boat captain, NRA instructor in rifle, shotgun, pistol and black powder and COPE director.  She will be the first female Course Director in her council for Wood Badge.

You should realize what a really small training program in Lubbock Texas has done for Louise.  It changed her life.  Much like the new Powder Horn course can change the life of the Venturing crew advisor.  It gives that advisor the opportunity to “taste” high adventure.  It gives them the confidence they need to find experts and resources to help them provide experiences for their youth.  

Incidentally, Louise is Donna Louise Cunningham, one of the authors of the Ranger Guidebook and the first course director for Powder Horn.  She currently serves on the Venturing Outdoor Committee. 

The first adult training done to see if there was a possibility to do Explorer adult outdoor training was done in Amarillo, Texas in September 1997. Participants came from Amarillo, Wichita Falls, Texas, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.  It was such a success that the outdoor committee decided to pursue the syllabus.  Larry and Donna Cunningham were given the responsibility of developing the syllabus.  Then, in March of 1998, Exploring was moved to Learning for Life. Venturing was born.  We were hard-pressed to develop literature to have ready by August 1, 1998 when Venturing was officially announced at the All Hands Conference in Nashville.  

The first national Powder Horn course was conducted in September 1999, 50 people attended the first course in the Philmont backcountry at Hunting Lodge.  Cimarroncito was used as a program area, as well as Webster Parks, and Aspen Springs for the overnights. 


Hope Mahoney
Powder Horn Registration


Lynn McKee
Powder Horn Course Director


Brendan Cronin
Program Chair and Training Chair Staff Advisor