Lightweight gear for Scout troop
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Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Lightweight gear for Scout troop on 03/20/2006 16:35:21 MST Print View

We've been working with the boys this year to help develop stronger backpacking skills, especially with our younger Scouts. I'd like to get some feedback on the ideas that we've been working with. The lists below compare what has been a "traditional" recommendation for Scouts in our area. Much like the excellent advice from Doug Prosser, we've developed some specific ideas to offer parents about gear to buy for new Scouts.

I've even taken the approach of demonstrating the economic savings of starting with lightweight gear rather than taking the traditional route. The prices here are, admittedly, not from scouring eBay and hitting the sales. But that's the situation faced by new parents. They don't have the knowledge nor usually the time to become an expert shopper. So, please let me know your thoughts. I'm showing these as images since I'm not sure about posting a spreadsheet here in the forum.

Thanks,
Phil





Our target hike for the troop is in the spring or fall with temps likely ranging from 40-80F. Rain and wind are always possible. The hike will be on developed trails, probably 3-5 miles one way. Insect pressure will range from low to moderate. Summer hiking here in Oklahoma is a different approach as it's hot and the bugs are in full force.

Edited by flyfast on 05/28/2006 20:40:10 MDT.

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: Lightweight gear for Scout troop on 03/20/2006 16:42:09 MST Print View

Phil,

Want to check out my 3.5lb gearlist.
thats what this young scout uses :-)

just kidding, I dont think anyone else my age would go this light without complaining.

I like that you are supporting UL backpacking through the scouts. I dont see it very often.

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Lightweight gear for Scout troop on 03/20/2006 16:52:38 MST Print View

Ryan, thanks for your encouragement. This Scouter carries a lighter load too.

You've made SUL a serious pursuit. You've got some very creative ideas. I'd love for our guys to get that excited about backpacking. Other than our Philmont crew, we have 40+ novice backpackers.

There's several pages of guidance for parents that go with all of this. I just want to help demonstrate that lightweight is more fun, safer for bodies, and a whole lot less expensive.

Dane Fliedner
(dfliedner) - F

Locale: North Texas
Re: Lightweight gear for Scout troop on 03/20/2006 17:18:13 MST Print View

I'd like to second the encouragement. Like many here, I was initiated into backpacking via scouts (former Eagle scout) and remember all too vividly that to "Be Prepared" meant to be heavy, to crush under your load, to accept sore shoulders/legs/feet as part of backpacking life. One of my fondest scouting memories is of doing my "wilderness survival" merit badge, where we had to make a shelter using only raw materials (OK, so cutting down branches off trees isn't exactly LNT or politically correct anymore, but this was some years ago but more akin to going UL)-- despite this, my "heavy" mentality lasted for me for many years, where I wanted to most bomber (read: heavy) equipment 'just in case'. After a hiatus from backpacking (school, marriage, etc) when I re-started, I was fortunate to get a copy of "Beyond Backpacking" and that was like a huge weight(pun intended) being taken off my shoulders-- there was a better way, and the rest is history. Anyway, the reason I am stating all this is to show how habits taught to impressionable young scouts could easily last a lifetime, and that teaching them better the first time around will make them more likely to stick with it, and be good stewards of the wilds for their kids, etc... keep up the good work!

PS-- Sgt Rock has a $300 UL challenge on his blog/site. You might want to check it out. Also, have you thought about having them make gear as projects before outings? Could do double duty maybe for other merit badges, etc.

Edited by dfliedner on 03/20/2006 17:21:22 MST.

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re:^2 Lightweight gear for Scout troop on 03/21/2006 20:38:22 MST Print View

Ditto again.
I'm also an Eagle Scout and Scoutmaster, and remember many years ago "Being Prepared" meant carrying everything you may possible need, or someone else may need. At the time, we were “proving something" by carrying heavier packs. (still not really sure what we proved...) Unfortunately, there are still several barriers to a broader utilization of lightweight and ultra-lightweight gear:

1) Cost: While Phil's (comprehensive) list shows lightweight costs @ $940 about 25% lower than standard gear, most of our new scouts are spending 1/3 to 1/5 of the $1K shown for all of their gear. It is heavier, but $300 at Sports Authority, REI garage sales or Wal-Mart can supply the same equipment, albeit 30+ lbs vs. Phil's 13 or 23.

2) Education: I’m not sure most hikers in general know lightweight gear is available, much less Scouters who push the initiatives, aka national policy and district resources. You can “do Philmont”, (an 11 day 50 – 100 mile New Mexico summer trek) with a sub 30 lb pack, but most adult leaders I’ve talked to say their Philmont packs are 50 – 80 lbs.

LNT was/is a big deal, but at one time was not, lightweight is currently not. We had Carol come out and give our troop a lightweight discussion (Thanks again Carol), where many didn't realize they really could get down to 12 lbs. I think the word has to spread showing the capabilities and benefits, maybe there are opportunities we need to create to educate the professional Scouters who push the initiatives.

3) Benefits:
Less stress on joints, (*much* bigger deal as you get older…), faster hiking, safety, lower impact, and I’m sure there’s more.

I expect I’ve missed a lot here, but I believe this is an opportunity for a coordinated effort, to educate Scouts, Leaders as well as others on the advantages of lightweight backpacking. Can we get poignant articles written for Boys Life and Scouting magazines, plus hitting various scouting website / message boards? The costs have to be addressed, as that is a major issue with most Scouts, but in the end, lightweight needs to have a much wider audience, and it appears a significant number of adult hikers were Scouts.

Just a thought or two,

MikeB

Frank Ramos
(frprovis) - F
scouting and equipment on 03/21/2006 21:17:57 MST Print View

You ought to encourage the scouts to sew and otherwise make their own gear. Sewing and gear-making is a lot more useful than a lot of the other skills taught in scouting.

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Lightweight gear for Scout troop on 03/22/2006 09:04:15 MST Print View

Mike, thanks for your comments. Absolutely, I agree that costs can be significantly less than what I've listed here. I've started with essentially "list prices" for everything. It will be a good next step to start looking for sale price examples. Plus, a lot of gear gets handed down in the troop. We're having a troop-wide gear exchange in a couple of weeks to promote hand-me-downs.

I am a Scoutmaster too. This spreadsheet started with my recommendations for backkpacking gear for 11-12 year old Scouts. I'm working with some of our other Scouters in the troop to create a more up-to-date and LW list.

There is a significant cultural bias in BSA toward heavyweight backpacking. I understand the conservatism of the folks and the tendency toward perceived safety of heavy gear. I am delighted that we have a developing interest locally in what LW backpacking can do for Boy Scouts.

You're right, typical Philmont crews carry heavy packs. My predcessor as SM has been one of those guys. But as he preps for a trek this year, he is seeing that a light load can be a lot less stressful on the body.

My efforts to introduce LW backpacking to the troop are stimulated by the great article that Doug Prosser wrote for BPL. Our new Scouts typically weigh 60 and 80 pounds. They want to be successful and enjoy a weekend hike. Expecting them to carry a 30-50 pound pack is absurd.

Part of our challenge in selling LW backpacking is that parents buy the gear. We need to demonstrate to them that carrying a LW load can be done for a much lower cost than with heavy gear. Once we have a majority of the boys practicing LW backpacking it will become a self-perpetuating standard. New boys in the troop will emulate the older guys.

It will be a judgment call as to what kind of prices should be shown for each load in the above spreadsheet. The point is to show that in addition to being lighter, a LW kit is less expensive.

Finally, Frank, thanks for the suggestion on sewing. We might have 1 or 2 guys that would have the interest and patience to undertake sewing. It would be a difficult undertaking for us since none of our current adult leaders have those skills. Someone has to teach if the boys are going to learn. Of course, if anyone near Tulsa, OK would like to volunteer....

We will, however, look for those places where the guys might make their own gear. Making a wood/hobo stove is a good example. (Our younger Scouts will not be using alcohol stoves, another good MYOG project).

Thanks for your thoughts.
Phil

Edited by flyfast on 03/22/2006 09:05:25 MST.

J R
(RavenUL) - F
Re: Re: Lightweight gear for Scout troop on 03/22/2006 10:46:08 MST Print View

"Finally, Frank, thanks for the suggestion on sewing. We might have 1 or 2 guys that would have the interest and patience to undertake sewing. It would be a difficult undertaking for us since none of our current adult leaders have those skills. Someone has to teach if the boys are going to learn. Of course, if anyone near Tulsa, OK would like to volunteer"

You might try contacting local fabric or craft stores about sewing classes they offer... then ask if they would be interested in donating some time to the local scout troop so that they can learn to sew.

It might work... cant hurt to ask.

George Gother
(ggother) - F
Re: Lightweight gear for Scout troop on 03/22/2006 13:20:43 MST Print View

Hey Phil,
I think this would be a great list for older (17-18) / more experienced boy's. Dealing with 11 & 12 year olds, I would consider the following:
Pack - Kelty Yukon or Jansport Scout,
1)more versatile, as they have adjustable frames to "grow" with the boy's.
2)I think it would be impossible to fit enough food and water in the Jam should they do a 5 day trip or Philmont.
3)I think the Jam would make cold weather backpacking kind of impossible.
Shelter - Kelty Teton 2, hassle free setup when cold, wet and tired.
Clothing -
1)I would have them bring the lightweight long john bottoms.
2) I would go with a waterproof/breathable rain jacket and pants and loose yhe nylon jacket and poncho.
Essentials - The (10-14)recommended per each 2 "buddies" minimum.

I enjoy seeing lightweight lists from other scouters. I will be taking a crew to Philmont in 2007 and expect that we will be carrying packs of 35lbs or less by using most of our own lightweight gear and scrutinizing every item in the pack.

I think that, eventually, lightweight backpacking will take hold in scouting. It has already started!

Paul Cronshaw
(beemancron) - F

Locale: Southwest US
Re: Lightweight gear for Scout troop on 04/17/2006 20:22:12 MDT Print View

Phil,

As an assistant scoutmaster, I would like to thank you for taking the time to make a comparative list.
I plan to share this list with my troop at our next meeting.

Over the past 3 years, the adult leaders have been gradually transitioning to lightweigth gear. We are all getting older and want to extend our backpacking years!

As we take the scouts on backpacking trips, they too are slowly learning to appreciate lighter equipment.

One recommendation that I would suggest in your gear list is switching the Golite Jam for one of the ULA-Equipment Packs: Conduit, Circuit or Catalyst.

http://www.ula-equipment.com/

I have the older ULA P-2 model and it has done very well on a number of 10 day high adventure Sierra trips. I like Bryan's P-2 pack (now Catalyst) because it can store a 900 cc Wild Ideas Expedition bear cannister inside the pack.

http://www.wild-ideas.net/index2.html

Above all, the Durable Dyneema Gridstop fabric that makes up a Golite or ULA pack is much more practical and durable for scouts than any silnylon fabric.

You can view some of our lightweight equipment in action at:

http://photos.lpforest.org/

Click on Boy Scout Troop 33

I hope to see a future Scout Handbook chapter on lightweight backpacking, or at least a section that teaches scouts to follow Gossamer Gear's motto: "Go towards the light..."

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Lightweight gear for Scout troop on 04/18/2006 07:07:10 MDT Print View

Paul, thanks for the thought. One of my favorite pieces of gear is a ULA P-1.

I enjoyed your photos. It's great to see a troop having a good time with lightweight backpacking.

This list has resulted in some good ideas. Plus we've had a lot of discussion among our troop Scouters. I hope to post an updated list in the next few days.

For our parents, we are also publishing our own gear guide for backpacking. ULA packs are a good example of gear that we will recommend for our Philmont-bound guys. But for younger guys, we're trying to find some selections from local suppliers. Parents of a 5th or 6th grade new Scout are looking for easy, inexpensive options to get their guys started. A couple of our local outfitters are also very generous with discounts in support of Scouting. GoLite is a good brand that is locally available.

It has been fun to work with Scouts and Scouters to try out lightweight backpacking. My goal is to help the troop approach backpacking as a fun challenge. Learning some new skills helps develop confidence and teamwork. Rather than depending on heavy gear to be successful, we are working to have our youth leaders teach LW skills. Our early work with LW backpacking in the troop has been successful. Of course, guys are having a lot more fun carrying a lighter load.

As a Scoutmaster, there is the responsibility to plan for the health and safety of the troop. My experience thus far is that LW backpacking enhances the health and safety of our outings. Young men carrying a lighter load are less prone to injury. Our adults benefit as well.

In the past, our troop like others, relied on heavy tents, white gas stoves, and other heavy gear to be bulletproof and thus eliminate problems. We are still early in the transition to LW backpacking. But I think that the focus on skills and teamwork helps accomplish many more of our goals in working with the boys.

Edited by flyfast on 04/18/2006 07:16:55 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Lightweight gear for Scout troop on 04/18/2006 13:30:56 MDT Print View

Speaking of that, Backcountry.com has the Jansport Scout external frame pack on sale for $50. http://www.backcountry.com/store/JAN0014/c3/s8/Jansport-Scout-Backpack-3850-cu-in.html

I think other places for kids and adults to save is to look for equivalents in other sports. Many have adopted trail running shoes, which also cuts the price by 50% or better and there are very usuable models on sale often. You can find all kids of nylon windbreakers that weigh 11-12oz and will give all the service that a $100 2oz windshirt can, likewise with running pants and shorts. Ponchos are proably preferable for rain gear with kids carrying packs and the emergency backup theu can provide. Fleece garments are cheap and easy to come by and certainly serviceable for three season use. Kitchen goodies are easy to substitute-- Lexan sporks are commonly under $1. The pot from a Scout mess kit is a great UL boiler and the kids could make Esbit stoves for nothing. If the Troop kicks in for shared stoves, the Coleman F1's are $30 any day of the week. 20F sleeping bags in the 3lb range can be found for under $100.

So, if the family can get essentials, a pack and sleeping bag and the Troop does the tents and stoves, you can get them up the trail for under $200. A lot of the clothing can do double duty for everyday stuff too-- might as well, because they'll outgrow them before they wear them out.

What do the Troops do for tents or other shared items these days? We shared tents when I was a kid.

David Wills
(willspower3) - F
Re: Re: Lightweight gear for Scout troop on 04/18/2006 14:57:50 MDT Print View

How old are you, Im 19 and about to go between 2&3 lbs ( at 3.5 now) depending on my next paycheck (cuben vs spinnaker for things). Its cool to see another young fellow in UL pursuits.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Lightweight gear for Scout troop on 04/18/2006 16:40:54 MDT Print View

Heheh-- how old am I? Well, my oldest kid is a year younger than you are-- and we started late. I'm so old that dirt asks me for advice.

That's why I was asking how Scout troops handle shared resources. I started in Boy Scouts around 1965 and a lot of things have changed, but the mountains are still tall :)

Jordan Calicott
(ShortmanCal) - F

Locale: Arkansas!
David's Gear List on 04/18/2006 17:24:17 MDT Print View

David, could you post your gear list?

Paul Cronshaw
(beemancron) - F

Locale: Southwest US
Scout shelter on 04/22/2006 22:12:09 MDT Print View

In response to Dale's question:

"What do the Troops do for tents or other shared items these days?"

In the Sierras and Los Padres National Forest, our Troop has used tarps and megamids for the past 18 years. Megamids can sleep 4 scouts in an emergency.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Scout shelter on 04/23/2006 17:30:28 MDT Print View

A plug for myself. I make pyramid shelters
that are larger than standard (10x10') that
make sleeping 4 easier. Also make a huge one
that is 11x11 and 7.5' tall that will sleep 5-6 and
the neat thing is that you can fit 12 or more folks
inside seated in a circle for evening trainings and
debriefs. In silnylon it weighs less than 3 lbs sans
pole. I also make them in less expensive urethane
coated nylon. (Keep in mind the fire hazard of silnylon or spinaker). Scout groups get 10% off.

http://owareusa.com/tents.html

Outward Bound considers pyramids adequate for
4 season use in the seirra nevada. Summer trips they use large tarps.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Scout packs on 04/23/2006 17:32:32 MDT Print View

I have found that for do it yourselfers that 200
denier coated fabric lasts quite well for pack fabric
and is still quite light. Much more durable than
silnylon and cheaper too.


(Anonymous)
BSA High Adventure programs on 05/28/2006 00:44:57 MDT Print View

Hi...

I am a thirty-seven year old guy who is getting back into backpacking, after a twelve year hiatus from the sport. I am absolutely amazed at how the equipment has changed so fundamentally, particularly within the last eight or nine years it seems. Within the last six months, Ive been reading all about this "ultra-light" and "light and fast" thing that seems to be taking over non BSA backpacking.

It is VERY interesting! I like it. However, I would also like to say that no matter how light the packs get, physical conditioning still reigns supreme in the end.

First I'd like to say that I proudly got my start with backpacking in the Scouting organisation back in the early eighties. During the eighties, from 83' thru 87' I was extremely heavily involved in BSA High Adventure. My BSA High Adventure resume is as follows:

1) Formally accepted to be a Philmont Ranger for the 1991 summer season, but cancelled Phil-contract at the last moment.
2) Philmont base camp staff-1986 (Philmont Base camp is at 6500' altitude)
3) Philmont Trail Crew (one month long)-1985
4) Philmont Rayado Trek program (fifteen days)-1985

5) Camp Daniel Boone Council High Adventure program, located in Haywood county, North Carolina. I was a camper in this program twice and a staffer/crew leader once. This program is located near Canton, NC and comprised of a 54 mile "expedition" in the Shining Rock Wilderness area of the Pisgah National Forest and canoeing on the French Broad River. Good but little known BSA high adventure program.

6) Multiple BSA sponsored "50 mile hikes" held in the winter during Christmas vacation. Fifty miles in five days. I loved those Christmas fifty milers. While everybody else was eating Christmas leftovers and watching the boob tube, I was out backpacking fifty miles in cold weather, sleet and wet North Carolina snow with fifty to eighty crazy Scouts and Scouters. A lot of whom would drop out of the hike BTW.

7) Numerous backpacking trips on my own, solo, including trips on the AT and down into Linville Gorge Wilderness area, NC several times.

8) Made Eagle rank in 1987

9) Assistant Scoutmaster in my old troop from 88-93.

I find this string of posts very interesting, partially because I disagree strongly that the mantra in Scouting is to go heavy on backpacking treks. My experience was that it was the exact opposite in formal BSA High Adventure programs.

When I was in Scouting back in the eighties, we always had shakedowns and the Philmont Rangers/Trail Crew Foreman were fanatics about ditching unneeded gear and equipment. Same thing in the Camp Daniel Boone High Adventure program...those shakedowns were pretty aggressive.

"What are you gonna need this for?" was a common derisive comment during a shakedown.

I will admit that back then it was basically impossible to get down to these ridiculously low pack weights some ultra-light guys seem to be getting to...say in the 20-25 lb range for a five day trip. But our packs were still reasonably lightweight back then, say in the thirty to forty pound range. That is not a bad weight, particularly when you are physically fit and with no serious health issues.

Personally, I believe that much of the problem with weight stems from lack of physical fitness. If you have no major health problems and are in shape, carrying loads up to forty pounds shouldnt be a problem even into your forties, if you are motivated to do so.

Being that the United States has become the fattest, most out of shape country in the world, I think the ultra-lightweight backpacking movement is a great thing.

I really shouldnt say this, but some of these posts have irritated me in a way. But when I was at Philmont, I had a lot of "behind the scenes" interaction with Philmont Rangers, Conservation staff, etc. And Philmont Rangers used to complain A LOT about "all the Scouters who come to Philmont but are so out of shape its ridiculous." Some of the Rangers talked about some of the Scouters like they needed to be shipped off to Marine Corp Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC to be whipped into decent cardiovascular shape.

Not all Rangers were critical like that, but I heard it enough the two summers I was there. And not all the Scouters were out of shape, there were many would were in very good shape, in better shape than many of the Scouts.

But too many were just plain physically unprepared...I am just going to call a spade a spade here. If you are physically unprepared, drink too much beer, etc. no amount of lightening your pack weight in the world will prepare you for humping it up and down mountains at high altitude at a place like Philmont. You are not going to adjust to the high altitude well. Your feet and joints are not going to be able to handle the ground pounding if you are out of shape.

Nothing replaces prior physical conditioning. Being physically fit is part of "being prepared" and is what allows you to handle certain pack weights. Also, few who are not physically prepared will be able to handle the altitude at a place like Philmont, even if your pack weighs only fifteen pounds and your boots or trail shoes only weigh 1-2 pounds per pair.

It is a medical fact that out of shape, overweight (even moderately overweight) people are more susceptible to developing altitude sickness.

My extensive experiences with the BSA program...and with BSA High Adventure in particular...taught me several things:

1) most Scouts and Scouters are not interested in backpacking to begin with. Most of the Scouts in my troop did not earn backpacking merit badge...not even hiking merit badge. I earned both...and always wondered why more werent "into" high adventure programs like I was.

I found that the Scouts and Scouters at Philmont and similar BSA sponsored High Adventure programs were atypical to the overal Scouting program. In my experiences, most in the Scouting program were interested in stationary base camp type camping (summer camps, weekend camping, camporees, Jamborees and working on their rank).

2) BSA High Adventure programs like Philmont ARE NOT oriented for younger Scouts in the 11-13 year old range. While I am sure it has been done, I cant imagine an 11 to 12 year old on a Philmont trek. Very few 11-13 year olds are physically or emotionally capable of completing a Philmont trek. When I was at Philmont for two summers, the program was geared towards older Scouts in the 14-21 year range. The age limit for the hardcore Rayado Trek program was 15 and the age for the Trail Crew program was 16. Basically high school thru college age.

So discussing backpacking for really young Scouts in the 11-13 year old ranger I think is kind of silly.

3) Despite the above observations of the BSA as a whole, there are some Scouts and Scouters (minority within the BSA) who are intensely into backpacking. These are the Scouts and Scouters I got along best with...and respected way more than a lot of the guys I made Eagle with.

I had a Trail Crew buddy who dropped out of Scouting his Senior year and didnt make Eagle. He joined the Army and served as a infantryman paratrooper. I respected him way more than most of the guys in my hometown who made Eagle, simply because he was like me...he was a hardcore backpacker/outdoorsman and not a weenie.

I would also like to say this (pure personal opinion). I think that completing a five day, fifty mile backpacking trek should be formally added into the mandatory requirement to make Eagle. I realize a lot of Scouters at the National level would disagree with me on that, but thats my personal opinion. But unless a Scout is physically disabled in some serious way and physically cannot walk 50 miles, I stand by my opinion. For physically disabled Scouts, the mandatory fifty miler should be waivered to so they can still make Eagle rank.

I saw way too many Scouts make Eagle who were not good campers, much less backpackers. And were scared of the dark at age 18 when placed out in the woods, etc. Making completion of a five day fifty miler mandatory for making Eagle rank would weed out a lot of the "weenies" in the Scouting program.

I also think this would kindle more interest in backpacking within the BSA, because for some backpacking is an acquired taste. It is an activity that is enjoyed ONLY when you are reasonably fit!

Now that I have ranted and gotten this off my chest, I would like to say that I think the ultra-light backpacking movement is a great thing. As long as it isnt seen as a replacement for that most basic thing in backpacking...reasonable levels of physical fitness.

Eric

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re: BSA High Adventure programs on 05/28/2006 15:29:34 MDT Print View

Hi Anon Eric,

I felt compelled to respond, as I believe there are relevant facets not apparent in your post.

BSA is a relatively conservative organization, not jumping to nouveau concepts because of fashion or timing, nor making changes without considering long-term, group and individual effects. Will lightweight backpacking come to BSA? Absolutely IMHO, and (i expect) there are discussions regarding that as we speak. Some if it is industry driven, some performance, and some safety and enjoyment. (And there is to some degree defacto lightweight / ultralight with ‘shakedowns’ at Philmont et al, or other strenuous venues.)

The price of lightweight gear will continue to drop as ubiquity increases, followed by, as I expect, Ryan Jordan training ‘trainer classes’ @ BSA HQ in the near future. It’s coming.

Unless you want to refocus Scouting on those who can write checks at will today, as opposed to reaching out to as many Scouts as possible, there is a temper to the savings of 1 pound of a $280 ULA Catalyst vs. a Jansport Scout $60 bag (or Kmart $25 bag).
All meet the need, how many can truly afford the difference for an item that is often used less than 10 times per year?


To your point regarding an Eagle requirement for a 5 day 50 miler, I would be concerned on what the effects it may have:
On inner city Scouts who have the ability to get out on a very limited basis.
On troops which have limited resources, time or access to support such activities.
On Scout families with limited budgets who can't afford hiking boots, much less a Catalyst (much less a GG Mariposa).

Serious question Eric, should all of these be excluded from obtaining an Eagle award?
Further, who decides on what is a physical disability, and to what degree?

As for Scouts and Scouters who are not interested in backpacking, is there a problem there? I’m ecstatic in our troop we have a couple Scouters who are the Uber backpackers, a couple of serious hikers, a couple of other Dads and Moms that will do crowd control on ‘Park and Flops’, and others that are willing to provide general support. I don’t see the need for Uberpackers as an adult requirement, that would greatly shrink the program and support. Besides, isn’t the idea to provide a program which teaches life long skills to as broad an audience? I’m glad there is a significant outdoor component, that is used as a training vehicle, but it’s not the only way. There is a badge for Wilderness Survival that teach strategic skills that follow into later life, but realistically, starting a fire without matches in the board room isn’t going to get you a corporate raise. The strategic lessons learned there and in other badges are what carry forward.

If you want start a “Super Scout” Explorer Post for older boys with an intense Backpacking Only regime, go for it. Some exist, and are quite explicit about their goals and membership. I hope you’ll find many interested. But that’s not the 11-18+ yr. old program that BSA and the majority of local volunteers put into the mainline program.

Finally, and with all due respect, I appear to have more BSA years of experience than you've indicated, and I hardly consider my experience extensive. If you like, I can put you in contact with several lifelong Scouters, each having over 1/2 century of experience in Scouting, both of whom I believe would take significant exceptions with many if not most of the comments made in your post.

Respectfully,
MikeB

Edited by eaglemb on 05/28/2006 15:31:48 MDT.