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David Bizup
(ScouterInAHammock) - F
Lightening up Adults (again) on 03/29/2009 08:04:20 MDT Print View

Tad's thread about getting adults to lighten their loads was very good, and I have a similar situation. We have new scouts and parents, and I want to get them lighter in a few easy lessons. Any scouters care to chime in with advice, please do!

9 new scouts crossed into our troop in the last month. I am leading a back country trip at the end of April and some (hopefully all) the new scouts will come. Here is my plan for getting scouts and adults to lighten their load.

1. Issue trek plan with RECOMMENDATION that carried weight not exceed 25% body weight.

2. At a troop meeting have a scout with backcountry experience review gear and lightweight options.

3. Form buddy pairs for sharing common gear (tents, kitchen, food, tp, toothpaste, matches, etc.).

4. MANDATORY shakedown hike. No shakedown, no backcountry trip. Local, easy, 3 or 4 miles, just a day hike. Carry personal and crew gear, food, water. Weigh packs. Gear examination and reduction before the hike. Weigh packs again.

Here's where it gets clever (at least I hope this is clever and not disastrous ...). Not tricky either, because everyone will know the plan ahead of time.

5. Any scout with no previous backcountry experience, new scout or old, must be accompanied by a parent on the shakedown. When a scout struggles we will rest. During the rest scouts can remove anything they want from their packs and give it to their parent.

6. At the end of the trip weigh scout packs. That is the max allowable scout pack weight for the backcountry trip. If scouts can not get their gear light enough and they still want to come, then a parent must come along to carry whatever personal/crew gear their scout can not handle. No limit on adult pack weight.

The idea is to recommend, instruct, demonstrate, provide experience, then let the scouts and parents work it out.

I will not carry other adults' gear, and I will not carry personal gear for scouts whose parents drop them off with 40lb packs.

Suggest away please, our trip is coming up soon!

John Whynot
(jdw01776)

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: Lightening up Adults (again) on 03/29/2009 10:04:39 MDT Print View

It's been some time since I was involved with Scouting, but a few observations:

>>1. Issue trek plan with RECOMMENDATION that carried weight not exceed 25% body weight --
In our troop, this quickly turned into "your pack must weigh 25% of you body weight"

>>6. At the end of the trip weigh scout packs. That is the max allowable scout pack weight for the backcountry trip. If scouts can not get their gear light enough and they still want to come, then a parent must come along to carry whatever personal/crew gear their scout can not handle. No limit on adult pack weight --
I'm not sure that this really teaches your Scouts the differences between wants and needs on a backpacking trip. The Scouts need to learn to make good decisions about what to bring, and I think having a parent along to carry stuff interferes with that process.

I think the idea of a shakedown hike is a good idea -- why limit it to one? Also consider having your backcountry hikes build on one another. Our backpacking trips would have several levels of difficulty on the same weekend trip, so the new scouts would not be overwhelmed, and the older scouts would not be bored.

Edited by jdw01776 on 03/29/2009 10:06:36 MDT.

David Bizup
(ScouterInAHammock) - F
Re: John's comments on 03/29/2009 12:06:36 MDT Print View

John - thanks for the comments. The idea behind having boys hand off gear to their parents is to get parents involved in the process of helping scouts figure out how to pack lighter, at least to the point of understanding how much their scouts overpacked for the shakedown. I hope it works; we'll see. Do you think this is a bad idea?

Only one shakedown because this hike is at the end of April, with Easter and Spring Camporee happening between now and then. Annual planning takes place in May. Hopefully this trip with become a shakedown for more challenging hikes in the summer and fall.

David Bizup
(ScouterInAHammock) - F
Thought some more on 03/29/2009 14:54:35 MDT Print View

Ok, thought some more on your comment about teaching scouts to make good packing decisions. How about this ... they remove from their pack items that are neither essential personal gear nor shared gear. Stuff like extra jeans and undies, D-cell flashlights, books, camp stools, 4lb bags of trail mix, etc.

John Whynot
(jdw01776)

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: Thought some more on 03/29/2009 15:18:46 MDT Print View

I would start by reading the 2 gear list articles by Doug Prosser on equipping Scouts for backpacking (just use the search function) that are on this site. One is for Philmont, the other is for 3 season trips. They are both excellent guides.

Our troop did mainly heavy car camping -- but we had 2 backpacking trips. One was in December, the second was in January. In early November, we would have a all-day training session (on a Saturday). Several sets of equipment would available for inspection, and the older scouts would review good equipment choices. We would also practice cooking and using water filters. This would give Scouts and parents time to assemble equipment.

The night before we left for the backpacking trips, we would have a shakedown, and distribute group gear. We would ensure that all the scouts had made good choices, and the packs would not go home with the scouts.

I will say that if your troop does mainly backpacking, you will probably have an easier time. It's tough to convince car campers that they don't need to bring it all with them.

David Bizup
(ScouterInAHammock) - F
Re: an more on 03/29/2009 19:11:56 MDT Print View

Great articles! Thanks for the recommendation. Your idea to collect packs after the shakedown hike sounds good too.

Announced the trip. 6 scouts and 2 other adults want to go. Pretty good turn out, I think. Why am I worried? It's scouting. You tell the scouts what you expect, provide some training if they need it, and in the end everybody has a good time!

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Lightening up Adults (again) on 03/29/2009 22:34:09 MDT Print View

David, in the last 5 months there has been gradual progress with the adults attending our outings. I even had one of them bragging on a recent outing that he just got a “Light my Fire spork at REI”. When the adults see how easy the boys have it with light weight packs, they start working on simplifying things and reducing there loads- I had another dad today at church ask me about “lighter’ packs for himself and his scouts little brother who just turned 11. On Friday another parent asked for my light weight list, they have a boy turning 11 in a few months and want to use the list as a guide for birthday gifts. We are moving in the right direction.

With the boys, I stress that they should not have more then 20% of their body weight including their pack. Some of these boys are 80 lbs so they might be a little over 20% sometimes but I really try and work them down. It helps that the patrol gear is light weight (tarps) and we are presently using pocket rockets for stoves. This summer I going to start pushing pop can stoves so that every scout will have his own equipment and he can be responsible for that equipment (and have a lighter load). That way they will have something to use when they are out on their own.

I do a pack check at my house an evening before the hike and have the boys bring their packs with a parent. I bring out the scale to weigh the pack (and the boy) and then I have the boys go through their pack pulling out everything that is unnecessary, handing it to the boy or parent to take home. I keep the pack at my house (we usually meet at my house for the hike and leave from there). The parents see the process first hand and I explain to the boy and the parent why I’m pulling the item and sending it home. I can also check to make sure they have every thing they need (I still keep the pack, I just have them bring the missing item before we leave). This also helps me keep my load down so I don’t have to bring extra item that a boy might have forgotten, reducing the “just in case” items.

Your idea of the day hike with the boys and handing off to the parent what they don’t want to carry sound good in theory but I don’t know if it will work in practice. If you can be 100% that every boys parent will be there and is will to do the hike then maybe it will work. I don’t think you will ever get 100% participation at any given time, things come up and the parent/child team that will most need it will be the one missing. I would also hate to turn a boy away because his parent wasn’t able to do a day hike. I think there are better ways to get your point across. I find constant teaching has worked the best for our troop. Good luck what ever you decide

Edited by bestbuilder on 03/29/2009 22:38:40 MDT.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Lighten Up on 03/30/2009 15:57:59 MDT Print View

I found that we had to do training in order to teach the scouts and parents the necessary TECHNIQUES to go lighter.

The first class I had was to show the DVD Lighten Up found at Gossamer Gear. The DVD gives them the visual concept of what lighter can look like. I then gave examples of 3 packs from heavy, lighter, and lightest. Nothing of importance was missing in the lightest pack. They could pick up the packs and feel the difference.

Next. we had to teach techniques of lightweight backpacking. This would include methods for: water purification, cooking, eating, shelters, footwear, clothing, first aid, etc. If you are not going on long hikes have the kids experiment. After each hike have a meeting where you can find out what was learned by either taking too much or too little.

That is the way I learned, albeit on my own. I have taken my experiences and tried to get our troop to take on the same approach. The big payoff was when the boys would explain to our Ranger and to other Staff members at Philmont that we were a "lightweight troop" (in the good sense of the word).

Get the kids to buy into the system and they will wear it as their own badge of honor. Show an adult how nice it is to go lighter and they will thank you profusely. It will extend one's enjoyment in the backcountry immensely.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Lighten Up on 03/30/2009 17:20:25 MDT Print View

Ah, requiring every parent to participate could eliminate some of the kids. That is an unfortunate fact of our society, some parents have to work and other parents don't care. Sometimes it is unfair to the kids.

Here is something you might consider, a contest to see who has the lightest pack, and the pack must contain all necessary items to be safe. Do it as a % of body weight. There are 3 categories:
1. Kid
2. Parent
3. Kid and parent combined.

This way the kids can't off load to the parent. The parents get involved in the competion and toghether they can work as a team to get the lowest combined weight. If a kid does not have a parent participating, they can still win.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Parents on 03/30/2009 18:10:17 MDT Print View

Requiring every parent to participate is not a good idea.

However, by inviting all parents to participate, you can find reliable troop support. The one's that can help will do so. I started backpacking again when my kids' scoutmaster said he was going to increase the amount of backpacking that was going on. I wasn't too interested in car camping, even though I would go when they needed more leadership, but when I heard they were planning backpacking trips I said "Sign me up!"

David Bizup
(ScouterInAHammock) - F
Ok, getting started! on 03/30/2009 19:01:37 MDT Print View

Thanks for the suggestions. I think I'm antsy because this is a first back country experience for 5 of the 6 scouts (aged 10-17, ranked Scout-Eagle, a good mix).

I am meeting with the scout crew leader later this week, and then he will call a meeting of all scouts going on the hike to review:

1. Goals

2. Backcountry Etiquette (rules 1,2,3,8 from the thread in the Philmont forum.)

3. Personal Gear
4. Crew Gear (For these two, I took the list from the Backcountry Outdoor Leadership Skills class and crossed some stuff off)

6. Duty Roster
7. Buddy pairs
8. Plan Shakedown hike

I like the idea of keeping the packs after the shakedown. And the pack weight competition too. I'm dropping the whole parent thing. I have extra 8x10 silnylon tarps. I'll loan those and recommend Tyvek groundcloths on ebay. That will keep shelter weight down. My son will volunteer to be grubmaster, which pretty much guarantees the scouts will have lightweight food (and Spam singles. He got into my stash and loves them!)

They're all going to have a great time, and then put more backpacking into the annual plan! That's the important thing.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Getting Started on 03/31/2009 10:56:57 MDT Print View

David,

It seems like your ideas are spot on. I have one suggestion.

If you are using a tarp you may want to make sure you have some sort of bug protection since the tarps provide none. A head net is the easiest investment. Make sure the kids have some sort of long sleeve and bring bug juice. I always break down my bug juice into smaller units to save weight.

I have seen trips ended early due to bugs. I don't know where you are going but if bugs are an issue it can ruin the whole thing.

David Bizup
(ScouterInAHammock) - F
All set on 04/01/2009 14:33:31 MDT Print View

Got it. Thanks for the all the input. It looks like this trip is starting to shape up nicely.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Trip Report on 04/13/2009 14:06:26 MDT Print View

David,

Have you gone on your trip yet? Reports are great to read.

David Bizup
(ScouterInAHammock) - F
Not quite yet on 04/14/2009 17:02:54 MDT Print View

The trip is a week and a half away. I'll post a trip report afterwards. In the meantime, my son and I pre-hiked the route this weekend and I am pleased to report that we discovered good campsites, reliable water sources, and most importantly that we both love the taste of Knorr Cajun Dirty Rice with Spam followed by Oatmeal Cream Pies for desert!

Joe Geib
(joegeib) - F

Locale: Delaware & Lehigh Valleys
Re: Not quite yet on 04/14/2009 17:04:50 MDT Print View

we both love the taste of Knorr Cajun Dirty Rice with Spam followed by Oatmeal Cream Pies for desert!

I believe that's the most important thing to figure out!

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Pre-hike on 04/14/2009 17:48:32 MDT Print View

A pre-hike is a very smart thing to do. Before I started backpacking with our troop they hiked in about 2.2 miles to a campsite. Not knowing the water situation they all took a TON of water. When they got there they discovered a natural spring. One of the leaders actually hiked in with a 2.5 gallon jug of water.

Oh, to be prepared!

David Bizup
(ScouterInAHammock) - F
Re: Pre-hike on 04/23/2009 17:28:21 MDT Print View

Finished the pre-hike this afternoon. Pretty much as expected. We divvied up the crew gear, then hiked, then went through each pack to see what the scouts were carrying. I saved that for last figuring that they might be more willing to send something home after carrying their packs for 45 minutes than before.

Two scouts packed pretty well, without too much extra stuff. One scout had 3 jackets, multiple shorts and pants, 8 or so pairs of socks, half a dozen undies, and two mugs. Another packed two pairs of pants and a pair of shorts. We lightened their loads quite a bit. Like I said, about what you expect for first time backpackers: they enjoyed packing; they enjoyed the shakedown; and then they enjoyed unpacking!

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Nice Shakedown on 04/23/2009 17:55:58 MDT Print View

The extra clothes are pretty standard. Sweets also. The best one I remember, just as we were unloading packs at the trailhead, was a 6 pack of Creme Soda.

David Bizup
(ScouterInAHammock) - F
Trip Report on 04/26/2009 20:22:28 MDT Print View

Planning
• Event announced at Troop meeting, followed by email to all.
• 9 Scouts signed up: 1 experienced backpacker, 1 with 1 trip, and 7 with no previous backpacking experience.
• Appointed crew leader. Met with crew leader to set planning meeting agenda.
• Initial Crew Meeting and planning session: 6 scouts showed up. Reviewed LNT, Trek Safely, back country etiquette, and the route. GL discussed personal and crew gear, assigned buddies, assigned crew gear, made duty roster. Personal and Crew Gear lists are abridged versions of the NCAC BCOLS class list.
• I pre-hiked the route with my son 12-13 April: Tuscarora Trail from Elizabeth Furnace to Signal Knob. Found several nice campsites about 1 mile from the parking lot. Clean water nearby. Plan to camp there Friday night on Scout trip. We hiked about 5.5 miles with 1200’ elevation gain, reached the Massanutten Trail (about 1.5 miles short of Signal Knob), and decided to spend the night there. Discovered that we both love the taste of Knorr Cajun Dirty Rice and Spam washed down with a few oatmeal cream pies.

Shakedown
• Originally scheduled for Monday. Moved to Tuesday b/c of conflict with 3 scouts’ religious education class. Moved to Thursday b/c of my work travel schedule.
• All scouts who came to the planning meeting came to the shakedown. Repackaged food, and packed it into gallon zipper top bags. Distributed food and all crew gear among scouts. Hiked 1.5 miles. After the hike, did a gear check of each pack. Common packing problems: too many clothes; full mess kits (recommended just bowl, cup, and spoon) including heavy, steel folding spoon-fork-knife thingys; poor weight distribution.

Shopping
• Saturday Breakfast: Instant oatmeal, Pop-Tarts, Hot Chocolate
• Saturday Lunch: Tortillas, Peanut Butter, Jelly
• Saturday Snacks: Beef Jerky, Oatmeal Creme Pies
• Saturday Dinner: Knorr Cajun Chicken Rice, Spam and other meat packs, Instant Pudding
• Sunday Breakfast: Pop-Tarts, Instant Oatmeal, Hot Chocolate
• Sunday Lunch: Tortillas, Cheese, Pepperoni
• Sunday Snack: Little Debbie cakes
• Other – Gallon bags, Quart bags, Coffee, Snickers, Nuts, Dried Fruit, M&Ms

Friday, 24 April 2009
Departed my house at about 5:00pm. Encuntered heavy traffic on Rt. 66 west of the beltway. Arrived at Elizabeth Furnace parking area about 8:00pm. It was already dark, as we were on the eastern side of Massanutten mountain. Geared up quickly. Crew leader appointed a navigator. Scouts hiked west on the Tuscarora trail. After about 0.5 miles, they stopped at the Massanutten trail intersection as planned and waited for the adults. Hiked another 0.6 miles to campsite near Little Passage Creek. Scouts set up camp, got 5 gallons crew water from creek, treated it, hung bear bags. Beautiful night: 60 degrees, starry sky. Clouds rolled in around midnight.

Saturday, 25 April 2009
Awoke. Packed. Boiled water for coffee, hot chocolate, and oatmeal. Scouts set off at about 10:30am while adults finished their coffee. Today’s plan is to hike 3.5 miles with about 1300’ elevation climb to the top of Meneka peak, then 1 mile and 300’ down the other side of the mountain to a creek feeding the Strasburg reservoir, and camp there. Everybody drank at least 1qt water at breakfast and carried 2qts. Beastly hot. Temperatures in the mid 90’s, and no trees on leaves to block the sun. Stopped for water at a spring about 1 mile from the peak. Scouts went strong until the spring, and hiked well ahead of the adults. They all stayed within sight of each other today. After the spring, they took breaks every 5-10 minutes until we got to the top. Ate lunch at the top, cleaned up, and hiked down to the next creek. Scree covered trail. Scouts careful, nobody slipped. Scouts glad to be going downhill for a change. Got to the creek. Set up camp. Played in creek. Scouts cooked dinner at about 6:00pm and cleaned up. They were amazed that 9 people ate 3 meals and only made 2 gallon zipper top bags of trash. Campfire. A few brief thundershowers.

Sunday, 26 April 2009
Broke camp, ate, washed up, drank, refilled water, and on the trail by 8:30am. Reversed yesterday’s path. Scouts separated into buddy pairs today. 2 fast hikers out front, 2 in the middle, and 2 slower hikers in the rear. Crew leader set times and landmarks for lead pair to stop and wait for everybody else. A little bickering between fast hikers and crew leader while they worked out an arrangement that made everybody happy. Arrived at cars about 12:00. Packed up, did a Start-Stop-Continue, hit the road.

Comments
Our troop formed in September 2008. We currently have 26 registered scouts. This was our troop’s first backpacking trip. Every scout who went said they want to backpack more, and considering that three-fourths of our PLC went on this trip we should be able to make that happen. There was not a single complaint from any scout about the trail, or the heat, or the weight of their gear.