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Raphi Schuster
(RSchuster) - F

Locale: Washington
Solo Tarps and Gear on 06/15/2009 18:11:40 MDT Print View

Although I enjoy my 10-pound pack as I soar ahead of my troop lugging their 30-pounders, my dad has talked down to my use of solo tarps and individual cooking. He says that I should be part of the troop and camp and eat their food.

Is it really "un-scoutlike" to not be "part of the troop?" I enjoy scouting and hiking with them, but I'd like to use my own tarp and food to save weight instead of lugging 5-6 pound tents and 3lb cook kits around.

jim draucker
(mtnjim) - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah Valley VA
Scouting on 06/15/2009 18:17:44 MDT Print View

I think you would be teaching these Scouts to do more with less.

Jim

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
You don't have to on 06/15/2009 19:08:15 MDT Print View

You don't have to lug around 5-6 lb. tents or 3 lb. cooksets. All you have to do is train them how to do things the way you do.

First, if you want to cook as a group that is fine. Just use the freezer bag or the cook in your own cup method for dehydrated food. Someone can carry the large 4 or 6 quart pot like they do in Philmont.

Second, there are a lot of options in lightweight single wall tents. We also have 4.5 lb. free standing tents that the kids just split up (fly, cover, poles, etc.) and each is only carrying a bit over 2 lbs.

We typically just buddy up with someone and cook together. Usually, we have 4 adults cooking together and the kids can do the same. We still go a lot more lightweight than any other troop we see.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Solo Tarps and Gear on 06/15/2009 19:41:00 MDT Print View

Dumb down, or smarten up?

Cheers

Unknown abc
(edude) - F
"Solo Tarps and Gear" on 06/15/2009 22:21:14 MDT Print View

>"Is it really "un-scoutlike" to not be "part of the troop?" I enjoy scouting and hiking with them, but I'd like to use my own tarp and food to save weight instead of lugging 5-6 pound tents and 3lb cook kits around."

I too have had the same exact question for a long time. When I talked about wanting to use a frameless pack next trip, my Scoutmaster pointed out that I would not be able to help others by carrying some people's gear who packed like idiots and that I am having the wrong attitude. It just makes me sick. last trip I ended up carrying someone's sleeping bag for them and I hated it. If they hadn't packed like a retard and our SPL hadn't not made him present his gear (that was his first trip so I don't know WHY he did't) to one of the leaders to make sure he wasn't bringing too much, I and others would'nt have had to take 1/2 his gear!!!

Scout leaders let's hear your opinions please!

Edited by edude on 06/15/2009 22:21:56 MDT.

Unknown abc
(edude) - F
"Solo Tarps and Gear" on 06/15/2009 22:23:44 MDT Print View

>"All you have to do is train them how to do things the way you do."

It's more difficult then you think, especially when you are just the Troop Scribe and not someone like a Scoutmaster/ SPL/Troop Guide...

Edited by edude on 06/15/2009 22:24:20 MDT.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife
Solo Tarps and Gear on 06/15/2009 22:26:37 MDT Print View

Evan, Were always taught... You want it, you carry it.. Preselected group gear is of course the exception.

jim draucker
(mtnjim) - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah Valley VA
Leaders Opinions on 06/16/2009 06:31:47 MDT Print View

I am our Troops UL guy. I enjoy teaching Scouts how to go
light. The one line I won't cross is safety. I have had to
deal with the bigger is better mentality for a long time.
Seen many a miserable face, young/old after they carried too much junk all day. Stick to your guns, do the ul thing
whenever possible. Be respectful of you leaders. In time
people will catch on to your example. Our Troop still goes
heavy some times. Jamborees, Trailer at basecamp etc.
When we backpack now almost everyone goes light, except one
adult. He shys away from longer more difficult treks though.

Scout On
Jim

rob wil
(AUradar) - F

Locale: FL Panhandle (aka LA)
okay, you asked on 06/18/2009 07:19:22 MDT Print View

I'm a new scout leader, although it is cub scouts. However, here is my general thought on the subject.

first, if you look at the Cub Scout law, the first thing they teach young scouts:

Law of the Pack
The Cub Scout follows Akela
.........

Your scout master is responsible for you, your saftety, saftey of the troop, planning the hike, leading the hike, getting you there, etc. He has put in a lot of time and probably personal expense to put on this hike. He's probably doing that even though he has a family and job of his own he needs to attend to as well. The last thing he wants is some renegade scout wanting to do his own thing and not particpating as a group. Not condemning you, just put yourself in his shoes for a bit. He has to plan not whats best for a particular individual, but whats best for the group as a whole. Yea, it sucks if you have to tote someone elses gear. But, as a scout master, what would you do in the field if someone can't carry their load? Call a taxi and send him home? The scout master has to get everyone home safely, even the dumbarses.

If he sets the rules for the hike, then if you want to particpate you need to abide by the rules. Rather or not you agree with them. If you want to see the troop go lighter, then you need to work on that during the preparation leading to the hikes. Maybe ask to do some classes or presentation on how to lighten the load and how to achieve the same things with lighter equipment. But ultimately, you have to accept the decision of the group and/or leader or choose not to particpate. When you become scout master, then it will be your turn to set the rules.

Life isn't always fair. It sucks. But trust me, if you are outgoing, your life will be filled with pulling the slack of others.

rob wil
(AUradar) - F

Locale: FL Panhandle (aka LA)
Re: okay, you asked on 06/18/2009 07:43:48 MDT Print View

that may have come off a bit harsher than I attended. I'm just a firm beleiver that when you join a group, you have to understand that there needs to be a leader and you have to respect that leader's decisions. He's having to see the big picture and take on a large responsiblilty, as members, we often only see smaller portions and don't have to accept much responsbility.

As a member, the group will run far more smoothly if we accept and respect the leaders decisions, even if they aren't the best, then if we say no, I don't like that and do our own thing.

Chris Harvey
(CCH185) - F
Troop Activity on 06/20/2009 19:45:01 MDT Print View

I echo all the sentiments for you to help educate your fellow scouts on the path to "enlightenment". I can't speak for your trips but our troop trips are group activities and group gear including food is a shared burden. If tents are shared, each Scout carries part of it or makes up the difference with food. Meals are planned together by patrol and everything is distributed equitably with a bias towards the older scouts as the youngest guys are already struggling based on their size and conditioning. I don't think you should have to carry someone else's tent if you have your own tarp, but Scouting is about working together and group cooking is a part of that experience.

John Whynot
(jdw01776)

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: okay, you asked on 06/20/2009 20:25:35 MDT Print View

>>Your scout master is responsible for you, your saftety, saftey of the troop, planning the hike, leading the hike, getting you there, etc.

Planning and leading a hike (or any troop activity) is the responsibility of the troop youth leaders, not the Scoutmaster. The Scoutmaster's role is to guide, mentor, and coach the youth leadership.

Raphi -- There are plenty of resources on this site to show how a crew or patrol can do lightweight backpacking. Share them with your PLC and Scoutmaster. If you really want to do lightweight backpacking, get elected to a leadership position, and teach, guide and mentor your fellow scouts...

Edited by jdw01776 on 06/20/2009 20:26:58 MDT.

Mark McLauchlin
(markmclauchlin) - MLife

Locale: Western Australia
Re: Re: okay, you asked on 06/20/2009 21:08:46 MDT Print View

Would it just not make sence to teach the entire troop to carry light, that way no one needs to carry anyone elses gear. The excuse that someone elses load is too heavy and others needs to help goes away..

A while ago I bumped into a scout troop, while makeing their dinner the leader was explaining to them the advanages of going lighter. I think it makes sence.

rob wil
(AUradar) - F

Locale: FL Panhandle (aka LA)
Re: Re: okay, you asked on 06/21/2009 07:28:44 MDT Print View

>>Planning and leading a hike (or any troop activity) is the responsibility of the troop youth leaders, not the Scoutmaster. The Scoutmaster's role is to guide, mentor, and coach the youth leadership.

same thing. You still have to relent to the leader's decisions. To disagree and do your own thing is determential to the group.

Roger Tate
(rogertate) - F

Locale: North Texas
Lead by Example or Go with the Flow? on 06/27/2009 19:14:10 MDT Print View

Raphi & Evan-

We adult leaders have high hopes for our Scouts. We want you to learn leadership by giving you hands on chances to do that. One of those leadership skills is leading by example. Another is being a good team member (follower).

When it comes to UL backpacking, are you being an example simply just by carrying a lighter pack and cooler gear? Maybe ... if the others realize your load is lighter and you are having more fun. You might be a better example if you extend yourself a bit more. I'd suggest that the next time you have a New Guy with an overweight pack, you trade packs with him for an hour. The extra weight won't kill you for that long but you will sure get New Guy's attention about how much lighter he could go. If New Guy just isn't going to make it to the night's camp without a lot of help, encourage the other senior scouts to take turns trading packs with New Guy for a while. Doing that will also make you all into a team. Then, when setting up camp, you can all teach New Guy a better way.

In the back country, the safety of the team depends on everyone working together to reach the team's goals. You will do well in Scouting and in the rest of your life if you learn to put your team's needs first. But (and this is a big BUT) that doesn't mean switching off your brain if the leader is taking the team into a dangerous situation like a swift deep stream crossing. Even if the rest of the team are lemmings, your responsibility is to speak up, question the direction, and propose a better solution.

Another idea for teaching your troop is to talk to the outing leader (SPL) before the trip and get him to OK you going lighter than the group with a commitment that you will give a training session for others on the trip. See, now you are getting to do things your way, but serving the needs of your troop while you are doing it.

Godspeed,

Roger Tate

Bob Summers
(SM498) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Solo Tarps and Gear on 06/27/2009 23:57:25 MDT Print View

In my troop you're behavior would be mostly OK.

I have taken weight from Scouts who were unable to keep up and given it to Scouts who were unable to slow down and stay with the troop. That's part of being part of a group (not to mention being helpful & courteous)

I'd be encouraging you to cook with someone to save weight and to teach them how to go lighter. I let my Scouts work out those arrangements on their own because I think that leads to learning experiences that make Scouting worthwhile. Other troops work much differently.

How did you learn to go so light? Are there any lessons there that you can use to teach others?

I'm not clear on what position your dad has with the troop; that could complicate things for you.

You basically have 3 choices:
- get with the program
- find a program you like
- change the program you're in

I recommend trying to change the troop first. I guarantee that you'll learn a lot. It's a great way to learn about leadership. It's also the hardest, the most rewarding, and the most work.

If you read some Scoutmaster's questions on this site and others about how to get their troops to go lighter you should get some ideas and you can discuss your challenges with them. The have the same problems that you'll face - believe it or not the difficulties are almost the same for you as for those Scoutmasters.

One site, really more of a mailing list is Scouts-L, http://scouts-l.org/ there are a lot of adults there who would love to mentor you in solving this issue.

You haven't given enough information for me to really help you form much of a plan.

A successful plan might involve identifying the appropriate adults and Scouts and building support with them. A lot depends on your personality and the other personalities involved. Is there an adult in the troop that you can approach for help and advice in changing the troop's culture? Someone you can go to and say "Mr. X I want to teach our troop how to backpack better."?

Here's a 3 part plan: build awareness, teach techniques, and practice the techniques.

Building Awareness:
This part never ends.

In my troop I've developed a culture of gentle teasing about the amount of weight people carry. We jokingly try to talk each other into carrying weight for us. Try to make the macho, stud thing being able to go with the least weight not the most weight.

I point out how much lighter some of my gear is compared to their gear. Some of my adults haven't lightened up much, they like their MSR Reactors and Jet Boils but they don't bring camp chairs anymore either. Progress is progress.

I frequently point out that instead of buying Nalgene bottles, people should go the local grocery store and buy a bottle of water. It costs 89 cents instead of 8 dollars, it weighs next to nothing and it comes filled with free water. :-) And when it gets grungy, throw it away and spend another 89 cents for new one.

Your Scoutmaster can create leadership positions from thin air. If you go to him with a plan, there is no reason you couldn't have a leadership position like "Legend of Lightitude" or "Gossamer Ghost" or something else that catches your fancy.

Awards and competition can be ways to motivate Scouts. Maybe beads of different colors on a safety pin for going backpacking with a pack below some weight. 30 lbs gets a black bead, 28 lbs gets a brown bead, ... 10 pounds a gold bead. Publicly recognize people who make progress.

Teaching the Techniques:

You might show the contents of your pack compared to someone else's at a troop meeting and let people feel the difference.

You might break out some scales and show folks how much difference there is in sleep systems at one troop meeting, clothing systems at another, & etc.

For example, at one meeting we went outside during the winter when it was in the 40's or 50's (OK so we don't get cold weather here) and demonstrated how well wet cotton, wet fleece wet wool, and wet polypropylene insulated. It was memorable and instructional. You need to try to create similar demonstrations - Scouts lose attention quickly if you spend too much time talking.

You might talk about the three piles techniques or help some Scout (or even your Scoutmaster, Scouts love to see authority figures instructed. It's also a chance for your Scoutmaster to be a good example of learning) go through his pack in front of the troop after a trip and make 3 piles: Stuff they used everyday, stuff they used occassionally, and stuff they didn't use. Be theatric so your troop pays attention. Extra points if you work some of it out before hand, like a skit.

The occasionally used stuff and the unused stuff should be looked at carefully with an eye to leaving it home next time. You can point out alternatives to save weight.

My troop got Ryan Jordan to go on a hike with us several years ago. We paid his way and his hotel and gave him an honorarium. Ryan has a lot of experience working with Scouts and Scout troops. It was helpful in getting my troop to think about the weight they carry. Check out the Scouting link from the backpacking Light home page.

You could contact Ryan and work with your Scoutmaster, SPL, and troop committee to see if you can get make such an outing happen. We did it as a YLT outing

Can you get some competition between patrols? Some sort of award for being the patrol carrying the smallest fraction of their body weight?

Maybe you could teach the troop how to do tarp shelters. This could be preparation for a tarp-shelters-only outing or two. If you were to get really involved with the planning and execution of those outings, in most troops your enthusiasm would carry the day and everyone will be happy to let you do it.

After you do a tarp shelters only outing then you could do another outing like maybe a survival outing. Some troops have an outing where everything you bring has to fit into a 5 gallon bucket. There could be some sort of award for doing it with only stuff that fits in a 3 gallon bucket.

Once you've got the tarp shelters down, figure out what the next thing to work on is and figure out a plan to teach techniques to handle it.

Practice the techniques

Agitating for some longer, tougher hikes is also a way to get lightweight out of your troop's heads and into their packs - as Ryan once told me. Say a hundred-mile, 7 day trip somewhere in the wilderness might be a good starting point. A trip like that would require some practice trips. If you organized a trip like that, you'd be in a great position to do some teaching.

For example, my troop is going to Philmont in a few weeks. Philmont isn't really about backpacking, IMO, but preparing for Philmont allowed me to slip in a moderate difficulty preparation trip in the fall( a 5 mile day, a 15 mile day, and a 3 mile day) and a really tough 40 miler over the Memorial Day weekend. Having some sort of goal to work toward can be a reason for people to change.

One long day on the tough trip was designated as stove-less. That's because I wanted my guys to work on getting up and getting going in the morning. The fact that they now know how to go a little lighter is just a side benefit.

Trading packs with someone who is carrying too much for a while can help get the point across, especially if you're doing some miles and the person is really tired. I occassionally lend out my hiking sticks for that reason.

Bob S

Edited by SM498 on 06/28/2009 00:06:55 MDT.

Bob Summers
(SM498) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: "Solo Tarps and Gear" on 06/28/2009 00:18:52 MDT Print View

> Edude says:

>> "All you have to do is train them how to do things the way you do."

>It's more difficult then you think, especially when you are just the Troop Scribe and not someone like a Scoutmaster/ SPL/Troop Guide...

That comment would violate the no whining rule in my troop. As Scoutmaster let me assure you that it is difficult for everyone.

See my long response to the original post. Come up with a plan, step down as troop scribe and convince your Scoutmaster to make you a troop guide or to create a leadership position to execute the plan.

Bob S

Edited by SM498 on 06/28/2009 00:37:11 MDT.

Bob Summers
(SM498) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: "Solo Tarps and Gear" on 06/28/2009 00:32:54 MDT Print View

Edude says:
>I too have had the same exact question for a long time. When I talked about wanting to use a frameless pack next trip, my Scoutmaster pointed out that I would not be able to help others by carrying some people's gear who packed like idiots and that I am having the wrong attitude. It just makes me sick. last trip I ended up carrying someone's sleeping bag for them and I hated it. If they hadn't packed like a retard and our SPL hadn't not made him present his gear (that was his first trip so I don't know WHY he did't) to one of the leaders to make sure he wasn't bringing too much, I and others would'nt have had to take 1/2 his gear!!!

Edude. That's strange. Why can't you put other folks stuff in your internal frame pack???

As part of a team, you need to help each other out. You may find it less painful to do the needed helping before your patrol gets on the trail, though if you do you won't have as much to whine about.

Your troop, including you, and his patrol let that first timer down. If you all had done your jobs this wouldn't have happened.

Perhaps you can talk to your Scoutmaster and your SPL about this. Point out your troop isn't living up to the Scout Motto: Be Prepared. And - this is important - tell your them what you want to do to improve things.

Maybe you can offer to do pack checks for first timers. In my troop, the patrol leader is responsible for doing a pack check of everyone on their first backpacking trip but there isn't any reason why one Scout can't do it for the whole troop.

Talk to your SPL to get some time in front of the troop to do some teaching and demonstrating. Demonstrating is better than teaching. Keep it brief, keep it interesting, and keep it informative. I always find it useful to refer to actual things that have happened in the troop. If you do that, remember it as an adventure, you're not there to make one feel bad, you are there to inform.

Look at your fellow hikers at the trail head. A Scout needs to be observant. Is anyone carrying too much weight? If so, take action then. Talk to the patrol leader, the SPL, and the Scoutmaster so that *you* can fix the problem at the trail head.

Bob S

Edited by SM498 on 06/28/2009 00:42:37 MDT.

Warren Maslowski
(CQBer) - F

Locale: Southeast
RE: Solo Tarps and Gear on 06/28/2009 08:45:29 MDT Print View

>I'd be encouraging you to cook with someone to save weight and to teach them how to go lighter. I let my Scouts work out those arrangements on their own because I think that leads to learning experiences that make Scouting worthwhile. Other troops work much differently.

Im the SPL in my troop and we have been doing stuff like this for years. When we go backpacking you are responsible for your own gear, no one else's. And that if you wanted to buddy up and share food, tents, stoves, etc you could, OR you carried all the weight yourself. I do know that a boy, who just aged out, carried a 30 pound cast iron pot up a mountain once, because his mom packed for him. This is why I GREATLY encourage boys to pack for themselves. And it also teaches them that if they brought to much that they should leave behind some stuff next time, and to maybe bring some trail food. My ASPL and I generally hike in the front of the group, because we are the oldest and fastest, and we usually put the weaker hikers with us or in the middle somewhere to balance out a nice pace.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Responsibility - really on 06/28/2009 17:20:14 MDT Print View

OK, I am going to go out on a limb here and put up a different viewpoint.

Evan wrote:
> When I talked about wanting to use a frameless pack next trip, my Scoutmaster pointed out
> that I would not be able to help others by carrying some people's gear who packed like
> idiots and that I am having the wrong attitude.

First, let's look at the legal situation, and this applies equally to BSA, church groups, youth clubs, school parties etc. You might hear this from Search and Rescue groups as well.

The participants are mostly MINORs. When push comes to shove, the court is going to ask who was in charge. You can forget all the waffle about this being the Scouts' trip: the Scouter (Scoutmaster?) is legally, morally and ethically responsible for the safety of the minors in his care. Make NO mistake about this!

If the Scouter does not have the skills necessary he may call on the skills of someone else to help. But it remains HIS responsibility to ensure he has got adequate advice. You cannot shirk responsibility by passing it to someone else.

I applaud the idea of getting the participants to do some thinking about what is involved and what is the correct thing to do. Good stuff - but that is only training for adulthood. It does not change the legal, moral and ethical situation.

Now, to the matter Evan raised. It is the Scouter's responsiblity to ensure that each minor in his care can manage the trip. This includes checking that the minor has adequate gear, but not more than he can carry. The Scouter cannot dodge this legal, moral and ethical responsibility.

So what happens if one of the minors turns out to be carrying more than he can manage? Who has the responsibility to handle this problem? Legally, morally and ethically, the Scouter! He stuffed up his duties. Not some other minor in the party, who has perhaps been a shade more sensible. If one kid has too much gear and can't manage, the **Scouter** has to handle the problem and not try to pass it onto someone else. Yep - he gets to carry the excess!

You can see the benefits of this idea. Next time the Scouter would be just a bit more inclined to handle his responsibilities properly. To check each kid and his gear list. :-)

In short Evan, you were right with your initial choice of lightweight gear. You were behaving in a responsible manner, making sure you had a load which you could handle. Your Scoutmaster was **wrong**.

As to the issue of 'attitude', the Scoutmaster was also wrong - or incompetent. The single most important factor in 'attitude' in a situation like this is being cheerful and not moaning! That is what 'attitude' is about.

Well, my 2c.

Cheers

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
Don't be pressured on 06/28/2009 18:54:36 MDT Print View

Don't be pressured into giving up on a light pack

But - You should TEACH a class on what you do and why. Add Judgment to the class as a key factor when choosing what to bring.

Also, get on of yer scout buddies in on your UL gig. Make an alcohol stove as a class!

John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
Where Scouts get their gear on 06/29/2009 12:54:45 MDT Print View

>my Scoutmaster pointed out that I would not be able to help others by carrying some people's gear who packed like idiots<

Most Scouts have gear that was purchased for them by their parents.

Many of the newer Scouts have not had a choice as to the gear that their parents got for them, so maybe they are not 'idiots', but rather just not as experienced and/or informed.

That doesn't make it any easier or more fun to help carry someone else's gear, and maybe it is 'unfair',
but as others have pointed out, Scouting is basically a team activity with the advantages and disadvantages teamwork brings.

I hope your Scouts (and Scouters) are able to learn how to lighten their loads, because at the core of all this, backpacking is supposed to be enjoyed, not endured.

Jeremy Greene
(tippymcstagger) - F

Locale: North Texas
good lightweight slogan on 06/29/2009 13:27:48 MDT Print View

"I hope your Scouts (and Scouters) are able to learn how to lighten their loads, because at the core of all this, backpacking is supposed to be enjoyed, not endured."

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Where Scouts get their gear on 06/29/2009 17:48:11 MDT Print View

> Many of the newer Scouts have not had a choice as to the gear that their parents got
> for them, so maybe they are not 'idiots', but rather just not as experienced and/or informed.

Two points:

Very often it is not the gear which was purchased as the excess un-needed and redundant gear that was packed. Plenty of stories about that here at BPL.

Regardless of what the parents purchased, it is STILL the Scoutmaster's responsibility to ensure that the kids do not pack more than they can carry. It the Scoutmaster fails that responsibility he should wear (as in carry) the consequences himself.

Note added in edit:
I went through Cubs, Scouts, Senior Scouts and Rovers. I gained the top Scout award in Australia - Queen's Scout badge. It was fun.

Cheers

Edited by rcaffin on 07/03/2009 15:35:44 MDT.

Joseph Jacaruso
(CaptainJac) - MLife

Locale: Southeast
Where Scouts Get Their Gear on 07/02/2009 14:07:03 MDT Print View

So if most Scouts get their gear from purchases by parents then the logical solution is to educate the parents. I meet with all the parents before they move up from cubs. In this meeting I start by telling them we are an UL Troop. That we do a lot of backpacking. That this may not be a good match for your son. I show them pictures from recent trips. This year I will have pictures from a 100-mile trip on the AT. I complete the meeting by showing them my gear (including the Gatorade bottle).

Before each trip I encourage the boys to go through their packs and discard things they did not use the last time. After the trip before they go home I repeat the request. I have boys that amazed thru-hikers this season. They wanted to switch packs with us.

The key is knowledge. The more you know, the less you carry.

However I will admit it has been an uphill battle to get all the adult leaders on board. Slowly but surely I'm breaking the barrier and they are coming around. I just got a new leader that does a lot of traditional backpacking. He is eyeing my 50-liter rucksack and starting to ask the right questions.

Joe Jacaruso
Scoutmaster
Troop 1
Burlington, NC

Edited by CaptainJac on 07/02/2009 14:08:57 MDT.

David Bizup
(ScouterInAHammock) - F
Patrol / Crew Backpacking on 07/03/2009 05:26:04 MDT Print View

First of all, Scout units SHOULD backpack! Many do not. So kudos to you and your troop for hitting the trail.

Backpacking with a Scouting unit and backpacking solo or with some friends are very different beasts because their aims and methods are different. Scouting aims for character development, good citizenship, and physical fitness via outdoor activities as a patrol. The patrol is key; it is the fundamental unit of scouting. If you are not working as part of a patrol then you are not scouting.

Buy the Backpacking Merit Badge pamphlet, or get one from your troop's library, or borrow one from a MB counselor, and read it. It is all about being part of what the pamphlet calls a "trek crew." Some of the requirements are:

- define limits on the number of backpackers appropriate for a trek crew
- describe how a trek crew should be organized
- show how to pack your personal gear and your share of the crew's gear and food
- conduct a pre-hike inspection of the patrol and its equipment

Crew gear and techniques are somewhat different than individual.

So, yes, it is unscoutlike to not be part of the troop or patrol for the simple reason that scouting happens in patrols. Solo backpacking is a wonderful thing. You should do it. Crew backpacking is a wonderful thing too.

Also, a scoutmaster forcing one scout to carry another scout's gear because the second scout packed poorly is total crap.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Patrol / Crew Backpacking on 07/03/2009 09:39:19 MDT Print View

a scoutmaster forcing one scout to carry another scout's gear because the second scout packed poorly is total crap

I would not be QUITE so harsh. Scouting is (should be) about learning. Different people learn different ways. The objective is to get the kid hooked on the outdoors and physical activity, not to end his scouting career before it begins.


  1. Joe's reply is on the right path ... meet with all parents before the boys join and explain the facts.

  2. Cut a scout a little slack if he over packs on his first trip and offer help with his load ... after giving him enough time to "appreciate" his over packed load.

  3. Make it clear that the help is a one time event.

Edited by jcolten on 07/03/2009 09:46:24 MDT.

Roger Tate
(rogertate) - F

Locale: North Texas
Roger's Comments re Scoutmasters on 07/03/2009 11:34:23 MDT Print View

I feel a need to respond with some subtleties of Scouting philosophy to respond to Roger Caffin's remarks.

Most kids now-a-days are much more highly protected and watched over than when I was young. Most of them do almost no "free play" where they make their own decisions. Scouting is different. We want to give the boys the chance to make their own decisions and deal with the consequences. The role of the adult leader is to maintain a large safety envelope and let the boys work within it rather than double-check them at every turn. What that means on a practical basis is:

We will let a boy get cold but not hypothermic.
We will let him get thirsty but not dehydrated.
We will let him get weary but not break his spirit.
We will let him get hungry but not starve.

When a boy makes it through a hardship he grows wiser and more confident that he can handle the adversity that he encounters in life.

I agree with Roger C. that the adult is ultimately responsible for the group's overall safety (heavy loads are usually a comfort issue not a safety issue), but the solution is not always for the adult to pick up all of the boy's slack. Scouting is training for cooperation and group leadership in life. A struggling scout is not just a problem for an adult to fix, it is also an opportunity for another scout to show leadership and compassion (maybe with encouragement from an adult).

On another note, pack inspections have been frequently mentioned as a tool for managing pack weight. Personally, I think that the way a pack inspection is handled makes a lot of difference. I will admit to being a bit naive about this, but in my mind we should inspect pack contents to make sure that truly essential gear gets packed and to make sure that no pack exceeds weight guidelines for the size of the boy. After that, we should leave it to the boys in the trek crew to make decisions about how to distribute crew gear to get everyone within weight. We should also encourage the group to challenge the necessity of certain gear or to come up with lighter solutions such as sharing items.

Now enough philosophy. As a practical matter, we should not take a first-time backpacker on a trip of more than a couple of miles. Even a short trip will highlight excessive pack weight and poor packing strategy. For a troop that does a lot of backpacking that means you need to mix in some short trips for training new scouts. (I know a nearby troop that is about to fold up because they enjoy serious backpacking so much that no young scouts will join or stay with the troop.)

Respectfully submitted,

Roger Tate

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
The Loner or Follow the Crowd on 07/08/2009 18:28:28 MDT Print View

This thread depresses me. The scout wants to go lightweight and can't.

He should find a buddy in the troop and do it with him. A tarp may be way too much to buy for a SM that doesn't have experience with that type of shelter. If such is the case, just find the lightest tent and share the load. That's what most of our kids do. One takes the tent, the other the fly and stakes, etc. You are still using the buddy system. We pair kids up and make each pair responsible for their own food. We teach them what to take as far as dehydrated, lightweight options, etc. The two scouts rely upon each other.

If you really look at a kids pack, it is (as has been pointed out) mostly redundant stuff that gets the weight up.I have seen scouts pack a pair of underwear, socks and shirt for each day on the trail. This is probably because a mother is behind the boy just thinking he will need to change daily. Even though the kids have extra clothes they almost always come home with 1 set of real dirty worn clothes and the rest that are dirty but never worn. Then there are the stoves, knives, axes, chairs, etc, etc. that some HAVE to pack.

We start packing at a young age and most are getting the message. Stick to your guns but do it in a way that doesn't set you apart from the troop. Show them that by being lighter, and having all of the necessary items, you are not as tired as the rest. Don't go ahead of the group. Stay together and enjoy watching the other kids doing the two step trying to readjust their pack about every third step.

Edited by scottbentz on 07/08/2009 18:30:27 MDT.

Greg Bohm
(GregInMI) - F

Locale: SE Michigan
Mandatory prep hikes are the key... on 07/10/2009 09:34:34 MDT Print View

Our troop requires a series of required prep hikes before a Scout or adult can go on any of our extended hikes.

Everyone has their own preferences and needs/wants. We have the more experienced adults review each pack and make recommendations, but it is ultimately up to each hiker to decide what they can carry. Our prep hikes start out with 2-3 miles at a local park followed by a weekend outing with a couple 5 mile days. The goal is to give the boys and adults (dads tend to be the worse offenders IMO) an opportunity to evaluate for themselves how much they can carry and decide what to leave behind.

John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
Re: Patrol / Crew Backpacking on 07/10/2009 12:02:23 MDT Print View

"Backpacking with a Scouting unit and backpacking solo or with some friends are very different beasts because their aims and methods are different."

I totally agree with the above. I just got back from a backpacking trip on the Colorado Trail with just my son and I. We enjoy troop activities, but also enjoy individual activities. Both have their place, but they are indeed different.

When with the Scouts, we follow the Scouting aims and methods. When we are on our own, we can do as we wish.

Edited by dallas on 07/10/2009 12:03:40 MDT.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Roger's Comments re Scoutmasters on 07/10/2009 12:22:51 MDT Print View

Roger Tate hits the bullseye.

I might add It is impossible for a scout (anyone, really) to have a success if the possibility of failure has been eliminated. The Scoutmaster's job is to make sure that failure won't include serious health and safety consequences. My own short summary of that is called fencing the range

Regarding a scout wanting to do purely his own thing: BSA has a program for that, it's called "Lone Scout" ... but it's intended for kids who don't have the opportunity to be part of a group.

Regarding stubborn old school scoutmasters: Remember that the "I'm right and you aren't" attitude rarely convinces anyone.

Seeing is believing for many people, one approach is to pack light on "safer" outings like the typical 2 night weekend campout ... especially those where less than ideal weather is forecast. Having a more traditional "plan B" available as backup makes it easier for folks to accept you trying what you want to do. (my own first attempts at tarping were in situations where there was little or no penalty in also bringing a tent). It also helps them get used to new ideas a little bit at a time and it's also a chance to convince a buddy to try UL.

Richard Perlman
(montclair) - MLife

Locale: Metro NY
Re: Re: Roger's Comments re Scoutmasters on 08/03/2009 14:36:03 MDT Print View

On safety: I kid with the parents of my scouts that the job of the leaders is to ensure that no scout *dies*. They might get wet, hot, cold, hungry, thirsty, or tired, but I guarantee that after each trip their skills will improve to the point that they are setting the example and teaching the skills to the new scouts.

On lightweight: I taught my scouts freezer bag cooking for backpacking trips (only). What kid likes to wash dishes?

We used to bring little lanterns which run on the stove's butane/propane cartridges. Now when it gets dark, they go to sleep.

Scouts must earn First Class before they are allowed to use their own tent, which is usually a solo double wall tent. I'm in the Northeast and bugs are an issue.

Edited by montclair on 08/03/2009 14:52:35 MDT.

Jace Mullen
(climberslacker) - F

Locale: Your guess is as good as mine.
As an SPL and founding member... on 10/08/2009 21:22:29 MDT Print View

I have tons of say, and my scoutmaster came to me for tips on how to lighten up, i've done presentations on how to lighten loads, and I am allowed to cook on my own (we break up into pairs anyway) I have also challenged some of the older, responsible scouts to beat my weight. I got some of their packs total weight down to 18 lbs, and mine was 17lbs (I had my WBBB hammock, wich was nice for the bug situation) and they just slept under the stars. So I think that I am doing well.

-CS

Jace Mullen
(climberslacker) - F

Locale: Your guess is as good as mine.
Also... on 10/08/2009 21:44:18 MDT Print View

I come from a VERY boy led troop (or at least while I was SPL) were when a knew adult came on a trip, and started makeing decisions i would first politly tell them that this is, indeed, a boy led troop, and that we would be making decisions. Then after about the second time of that, I would be known to tell them that their job was to keep us from dying, and that we could handle the rest. (My SM agrees with me completly on this point, and will always help me out with "trouble" adults). I just recently (last monday) handed off my position as SPL after a year of leading. In that year we went from MAYBE one backpacking trip a year, to about 5 this year, and we started a venture crew (YAY! Girls!). I hope to make sure that our crew is UL and i think will be pretty successful in that.

Jace Mullen
Troop 784, Carlsbad, CA

Frank Steele
(knarfster) - F

Locale: Arizona
Rob is obviously a Cub Scouter on 03/24/2010 10:46:43 MDT Print View

IX-Nay on the Scout Master doing any of that Stuff.

Raphi, the only person that can ask you to do anything differently is the Senior Patrol Leader. My suggestion is to ask him to let you be Troop Guide, and then you can start helping the newer/younger boys think about being prepared instead of being equipped.

In BOY scouts the troop is lead by the boys. period. (Well that's how it is supposed to be according to official BSA training)

The boys pick when and where they are going to hike/camp. They find out how many boys are going (and collect the permission slips), how many drivers will be needed (and then tell the parents) . What equipment to take, what food to buy and bring, who is buying the food. What permits will be needed (and then tell the parents). Who will tent with who, who will use tarps. They determine what scouting requirements the younger boys can get signed off (Troop Guide's responsibility). They set the schedule, when to leave, what to do on the hike, when to return.

The Scout Masters role should be "Supreme Question Akser", "Is that enough time to hike there?, is that enough food?, do you think that is enough water?, do you think there will be a water source nearby? Do you think it might rain? Will you be able to pack all your trash out? Do you really need to take that? etc..

My first shock in Boys Scouts was when my son showed up, they said had their opening ceremony, and then promptly closed the sliding curtain and had their meeting without us.

I just took over as Scout Master and I am trying to be even more hands off, so that the older boys can get all the leadership experience. First thing I say when a boy comes up to me and says Mr. Steele can I..... or should I ..... is "What did the your Patrol/Senior Patrol Leader Say?

Walter Underwood
(wunder) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Patrol, not troop on 03/25/2010 15:17:46 MDT Print View

The troop and Scoutmaster should not have much to do with this. It is a patrol decision.

Get together with your patrol and choose what patrol gear you will carry. Share that fairly, which might mean stronger Scouts carrying more.

Cook as a patrol, unless your patrol decides differently. For example, the patrol might use three-person cook groups, which are very efficient.

First Class requires that you cook for your patrol, so get some practice.

I was Scoutmaster for three years, now ASM for the venture patrol.

sean mccutcheon
(aldosean93)

Locale: East Bay
Boy Led, Patrols, and PLC on 03/25/2010 17:06:04 MDT Print View

Raphi,
If your troop is boy led, bring it up at your next PLC. I'm sure there are plenty of scouts in your troop who want to go light.
As far as your original question: Is it really "un-scoutlike" to not be "part of the troop?": if you troop breaks into patrols for tent buddy's and cook groups you should stick with your patrol. That dose not mean you can't go solo when cooking or sleeping as long as your tent buddy/patrol wants to solo also. Talk to your SM and find out if your district or council has a HAT program and more to the point a light weight backpacking trainer. I'm a SM of a troop in the SFBAC we have a HAT instructor who will work with leaders,his name is Victor Karpenko he is a BPL Lifetime Member. one other good teaching tool is the Lighten Up DVD from Gossamergear, it's back on the gossamergear web sit for $5.
~Sean

Gary Boyd
(debiant) - F

Locale: Mid-west
Picking up someone elses slack... on 03/29/2010 08:04:20 MDT Print View

Sucks, but it also builds character. If you're the one picking up other peoples slack then you will be seen as a leader. If you're the one whining because you have to help others you look like a jerk. Boyscouts always seemed to me a military prep program anyways. You might be forced to carry a 240B one day, or a massive radio. As Dennis Leary said: Life sucks, get a helmet.