Lightweight gear for Scout troop
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Mike Storesund
(mikes) - F
Re: Lightweight gear for Scout troop on 05/28/2006 17:36:07 MDT Print View

I think there is something out of whack with Phil’s’ lists. I do not believe they represent a true comparison. In the “Typical Boy Scout Backpacking Gear” list under the section of “Clothes carried” there is a 24 ounce fleece jacket AND a 24 ounce North Face Parka listed. However the same category under the “Lightweight Backpacking Gear” list only has an 8 ounce nylon sports jacket. Here is about a $330 difference in cost and I would believe one is for summer while the other is for much cooler weather.

As a scouter, I really like the idea and encourage scouts to learn how to use their gray matter and make good decisions when selecting items and packing their backpack. We like to show how multiple use gear is a better choice. Use a Platypus bladder for water and a pillow; a poncho can be used as pack cover and shelter also; a large trash bag can be a vapor barrier or emergency poncho.

Our troop often has demonstrations of the “UL” backpacker, the “traditional” backpacker, and the “Kitchen Sink” backpacker. Where the UL carries tooth powder, the traditional carries trial/travel size toothpaste and the Kitchen Sink carries the full size tube of toothpaste. The UL carries a mini-mag Solitaire (1xAAA) and maybe a Photon as backup, the traditional carries a Mini-mag (2xAA) and the Kitchen Sink carries the 4xD-Cell Mag ‘Club’. These are just a few of the common examples where actually showing the differences will help them learn to make better decisions. Hopefully these are skills they will take with them for the rest of their lives.

IMHO, I believe teaching the scouts how to select proper clothing for creating layers that compliment each other saves a lot of weight. While there is a budget concern, as not all families can afford the latest or lightest gear, it is not necessary to do so either. Good gear can be found for good prices. Scouters being introduced to backpacking probably are a long way from thru-hiking the AT, the PCT or even the JMT, but a 50 mile trek is not far fetched. They do not need to buy a McHale pack (no offense, they are good, but pricey) when a Kelty Moraine at 1/4th the cost will work. They do not need to buy SUL packs that will not last through 4 seasons with heavy bushwhacking or just typical teenage wear and tear when a slightly heavier pack for the same amount will work.

When it comes to ‘Troop Supplied Gear’ (stoves, tents, tarps, cook sets, etc.) that is where the troop committee needs to be educated so they can spend the troop money wisely. You get what you pay for. If you buy a K-Mart “special” dome tent for $59, don’t expect to take it on a “Klondike Derby” with any success. Not going into that deep here.

As far as a comment someone made about inner-city kids not being able to get out there to do it; we have a young man that just received his Eagle Award. He completed his “Eagle Required” Hiking merit badge and did a ‘50 miler’ all confined to a wheelchair with Spina Bifida carrying his own gear. I believe if one really wants to get out there and do it, they will find a way.


(Anonymous)
Re: Re: BSA High Adventure programs on 05/28/2006 23:42:49 MDT Print View

>Hi Anon Eric,

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

Hi Mike...

You are welcome to disagree with me.

>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.

Totally agreed with you there. And Scouting SHOULD be a conservative organisation. Scouting was set up to teach leadership skills, character values and once in a rare while, how to actually take care of yourself in the outdoors. And even enjoy doing it.

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.)

Mike, lightweight backpacking has been a part of BSA High Adventure programs for a long time. At least since the eighties. I would argue that Ryan Jordan didnt "invent" lightweight backpacking, I would argue it was invented by various individuals at Philmont Scout Ranch back in the eighties. Like I mentioned in several other posts, I was doing lightweight backpacking in BSA High Adventure programs as far back as 1985, long before I ever heard of Ryan Jordan and this ultra-light backpacking thing.

>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.

Agreed with you here.

>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?

It depends on what your priorities in life are, Mike. If your priority is on stationary car camping, OA activities and sitting around on your butt getting fat, then I agree it doesnt matter. If on the other hand, you want to go to Philmont real bad and actually do well there, maybe get on Philmont staff or other High Adventure staff and be a fit, active individual that Scouting preaches about (at least in the manuals), then spending a little money on some good gear isnt that unrealistic. Even for many cash strapped parents and teens.

When I was growing up, I had a part time job and a summer job when I wasnt taking part in sports or BSA activities. Since I was interested in High Adventure activities like backpacking, I invested some of my money on good gear, even at the mere age of 15 or 16. When I was younger, say age 11-14, my gear was inexpensive. But even with that inexpensive gear and clothing before my Philmont days, I still completed two local BSA High Adventure treks at age 14, each one covering at least fifty miles in five days. I remember I did my first 50 miler with a cheap K-mart single wall nylon tent and a dirt cheap Sterno stove. In wintertime.

It all depends on your priorities, Mike. Where there is a will, there is a way.

>To your point regarding an Eagle >requirement for a 5 day 50 miler, I >would be concerned on what the effects >it may have:

First of all, I said this proposed requirement was my personal opinion. I figured posting it would lead to controversy here. And indeed it is obvious I touched a nerve with you on this subject.

>On inner city Scouts who have the >ability to get out on a very limited >basis.

I say no excuse. Inner city Scouts should still get out camping at least once every two months, preferably once a month like in my old troop. Inner city Scouts shouldnt use their inner city status as an excuse to avoid the wilderness.

There are many, many wilderness areas right outside of major metro areas like New York City. The AT passes within about an hour of NYC, in fact.

No excuse if its a requirement and the Scout is motivated to make Eagle rank.

>On troops which have limited resources, >time or access to support such >activities.

Mike, all I am talking about is a mere five day 50 miler here. I am not saying I believe a kid should be required to complete a Philmont trek to get Eagle. You can complete a five day fifty miler with cheap gear...it can be done.

A five day, fifty miler can be done using BSA issued gear.

>On Scout families with limited budgets >who can't afford hiking boots, much >less a Catalyst (much less a GG >Mariposa).

A five day fifty miler can be completed using cheap, K-Mart work boots. I completed my first fifty miler at age 14 in inexpensive Army surplus "panama sole" jungle boots, in winter. Most of the gear I used in the beginning stages of my backpacking was inexpensive gear. My folks were going thru hard times and didnt have a lot of cash to give me...but I was motivated and found ways.

>Serious question Eric, should all of >these be excluded from obtaining an >Eagle award?

It is my personal opinion that the BSA could benefit from creating a new mandatory requirement for Eagle rank that includes either:

1) completion of a five consecutive days and four consecutive night, 50 miler backpacking trek, in any terrain and any weather. Without food resupply...only water resupply and emergency support.

or:

2) Completion of a ten day Philmont trek or other similar, formal BSA High Adventure program that involves the successful hiking of at least fifty miles, whilst carrying a backpack.

That isnt that hard Mike. And doesnt require a lot of fancy, expensive gear.

>Further, who decides on what is a >physical disability, and to what >degree?

How about a Medical Doctor? Arent Medical Doctors trained to decide such things? BSA National Headquarters, in concert with a committee of accomplished Medical Doctors and Sports Medicine specialists, could develop a list of disqualifying medical conditions. If a Scout is so afflicted with such a medical condition, such as a congenital heart condition, diabetes, is wheelchair bound, has a nervous system disease that prevents extensive walking and hiking, etc. then a Medical Doctor could fill out a form and the fifty miler requirement could be waivered.

But if the Scout has no significant medical issues, I PERSONALLY see no reason not to create a new requirement that would expose the young man to the wonderful world of backpacking in order to attain the rank of Eagle.

No big deal...

>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.

The outdoor component should never be thrown away or Scouting will lose its soul. I have heard this argument before and it usually comes from Scouters who are old, unfit, drink too much beer, have health issues which precludes them from participating, etc.

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.

Yes, I am well aware of the wilderness survival merit badge. I earned that badge at BSA summer camp at a young age of around 12 or 13. Unfortunately, the qualify of the "survival" training was extremely poor, leaving me as a young Scout kind of disenchanted and let down. I really wanted to learn that stuff when I was a young ball of fire, unfortunately, the vigorous outdoor training program that mainstream Scouting advertised itself on didnt exist. At least not at the council level. It wasnt until I got to places like Philmont that I experienced the intensive High Adventure experiences I wanted as a youth.

I always thought that the claim of "this camping stuff is going to prepare you for adult life" was a bit of a stretch. Camping is...camping. What I think prepares you for a good job and "getting that corporate raise" is doing well in school, going to college, etc. Having Eagle on your resume and having played high school football doesnt hurt either. Having excellent leadership skills is fundamental, as I am sure you are well aware. But I disagree with you that things like wilderness survival merit badge training (or ROPES courses), teach real "leadership skills" that prepares you for that boardroom in the future.

Some young guys really do want to learn how to camp, hike, backpack, canoe, orienteer in the Scouting program. These are actual sporting activites. Sporting activities that have a strong carryover value to adult life if learned well when young. These are sports that can keep you fit, but arent fitness fads.

In fact, a fit adult backpacker who learned his sport in Scouts as a teen might have a better chance at that boardroom than some others. Why? Because its oftentimes easy to continue hiking and backpacking into adulthood, which goes a long way towards keeping you lean and fit. And being lean and fit has a big impact on your personal appearance (a hallmark of being a good leader). A good personal appearance improves your chances of getting promotions, job offers, etc.

I hope you can see my point.

The way I remember it, lack of a real outdoor program (can you say BORING!) was probably the second most common reason a lot of the guys in my old troop dropped out around Star or Life rank and never made Eagle. The first reason was THEY GOT THEIR DRIVERS LICENSE!

LOL Im sure you know all about that.

>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.

I agree with you that a "super backpacking" program is not mainstream BSA and I dont think it should be either. I am not a fan of either the Exploring or Venturing programs...I believe in the basics...good old fashioned Boy Scouting.

But I also believe mainstream Boy Scouting could use a shot in the arm as far as pumping up its outdoor program. Again, I think creating a mandatory five consecutive day fifty miler requirement to attain Eagle would go a long way towards accomplishing this goal, without going overboard.

>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.

I was in Scouting from 1980 at the age of 10 (starting in Weblos) thru 1993 or 94. I did everything you can do in Scouting, made Eagle, did way more backpacking, hiking, canoeing, camping than most and yes, I am proud of that fact.

>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.

I am not interested in competing with you or any others in seeing who has the most years logged in Scouting. My old Scoutmaster, who I have huge respect for, is one of those guys you are talking about, has been in Scouting almost his entire life. Ive known many old Scouters like that and they are the backbone of the Scouting program IMO. I had a very ethical "old school" Scoutmaster who pushed a back to the basics outdoor program, along with a lot of leadership training. He also was a huge believer in making Eagle.

He was very proud of my Philmont and other High Adventure accomplishments and frequently bragged about my BSA High Adventure accomplishments to his adult Scouter friends, most of whom were sedentary individuals with beer guts.

I just think its a shame that so many Scouts cannot camp, hike, orienteer or backpack much better than my grandmother could.

This is all just rhetoric anyway, we know the BSA isnt going to change. If anything, in reality I expect the BSA to move further and further away from its outdoor roots as time goes by. I was mainly just spouting off some of my personal beliefs and complaints...cynical rhetoric.


Respectfully,

Eric