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C'mon now people!
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Alex Gilman
(Vertigo) - F

Locale: Washington
C'mon now people! on 04/22/2010 13:35:06 MDT Print View

After my little camping trip two weeks ago and seeing the chaos that were the Boy Scouts; taking 4 hours to start a fire, tents pitched wrong and flapping. Garbage everywhere and a crappy "tater soup" cooked over a huge Coleman stove for supper out in the desert. Not to mention kids running out of drinking water next to 3 desert lakes because the adults didn't bring filters or heck even bleach so they had to have Eagle scouts fetching what looked like 3 gallon drums in the AM from the car and hiking in.

I thought I'd volunteer and see if I can help out.

Two emails later and a phone call to my local troop produced 0 results while I see cancelled trips on their website calendar.

This is just bad, I wish I could help more but I can't get in touch with anyone. I may just have to drive to a meeting and see if I can talk to someone.

Kids deserve better...

Lynn Richard
(TrailH4x) - MLife

Locale: Atchafalaya Basin
Always moving forward. on 04/22/2010 14:42:14 MDT Print View

Scouts look to their leaders. Feed the masses.

Pop in to one of their next meetings with a small handout or map of a nearby area they may have heard of. Tell them you are interested in checking out the area and would like to know if a couple leaders would like to tag along. If they bite, you will become a huge asset to the troop as these leaders will not stop signing your praises.

What may also help is offering to conduct an outdoor ultralight demo of water purification at a nearby area. Tell them you plan on camping overnight and ask them if the Troop would be interested too, that way they have their security for the Boys and you are readily available.

I would suggest whetting their intrigue and letting them come back to you for more. Too much too fast may challenge the leaders in a negative way.

Thanks for the interest. Our program is for the Boys. We leaders are the cause of all the problems... LOL!


Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
backpacking with scouts on 04/25/2010 12:12:07 MDT Print View

My son and I joined a car camping troop, thinking it was a high adventure troop. All troops think they are high adventure, it just depends on the definition. I found a lot of interest in backpacking in about half of the parents, they were just waiting for a leader. Three years later, we have had 5 or 6 backpacks each year, and now the experience level of the older scouts is much higher. This year' s calendar is mostly backpacks, at least when the season permits.

Its doable to introduce backpacking to scouts, it just takes time and a few interested parents. You can't do it solo.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: backpacking with scouts on 04/25/2010 16:43:18 MDT Print View

> Its doable to introduce backpacking to scouts, it just takes time and a few interested parents. You can't do it solo.

I heard that! Right now I'm solo and making zero headway. Another BPing parent just joined and another should be coming in next year so hopefully that will change. Our SM said our kids are essentially lazy. While that may be true, I'm sure there are some that would rather do more than mostly car camp.

Alex Gilman
(Vertigo) - F

Locale: Washington
Cool on 04/27/2010 00:05:52 MDT Print View

Went to a meeting tonight. It was pretty cool. Not what I expected but in a good way. It seems like I'll have to get some kind of "assistant Scoutmaster" title before they let me tag along on any trips though. So I'll need to get started on that.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: backpacking with scouts on 04/27/2010 07:55:37 MDT Print View

I suppose since you don't have a son in the Troop, you'll need to be a registered adult of some kind so they can run the background check. FWIW, if you don't want to take your time and money to go through the ASM training, you could also be a Committee Member. That training is free and online. You'd still have to fill out the adult app.

More power to you. It's nice to see someone willing to teach Scouts new skills and that they are apparently willing to learn.

I did learn we'll be trying to do our first BP trip again this fall. Of course, they will only let the older boys actually BP. The new ones just get to car camp and dayhike.

Alex Gilman
(Vertigo) - F

Locale: Washington
Re: Re: Re: backpacking with scouts on 04/27/2010 09:08:59 MDT Print View


As a Committee Member am I allowed to participate in outings with the troop? If so I'd much rather do that than go through ASM training. I'm not trying to make a "career" out of this.

Sarah Kuhn
(SCKuhn) - MLife

Locale: Mountainous Ohio
New adult joining scout troop on 04/27/2010 09:20:50 MDT Print View

Technically yes..... but it may depend on the troop. Committee members are only supposed to have limited interactions with scouts - they are the behind the scenes people (in theory...).
Be prepared for chaos..... don't go into this thinking that you are going to 'teach them a ton' or turn them into a well oiled backpacking machine. Boy Scouts, when done properly, is a boy lead organization - more about the learning process for the scouts then the outward appearance.
Be available to the scouts, but remember to let them seek you out... one of the few times in our adult lives that we, as adults, should be bearly seen and rarely hear!
Especially if you weren't a scout as a youth, I'd strongly encourage you to take the training so that you can understand the youth led mindset of the organization.

Edited by SCKuhn on 04/27/2010 09:28:44 MDT.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: backpacking with scouts on 04/27/2010 10:10:11 MDT Print View

Any registered adult or parent should be able to attend an outing unless circumstances dictate otherwise (eg, limited space or physical conditions). As Sarah points out, Scouts is SUPPOSED to be boy-led so adults are often behind the scenes. Much of the instruction and training should have been done in the meetings.

ASM training would be good for you to understand "the system" better. It is not required for an adult leader to attend an outing. However, the Scoutmaster is essentially a dictator role. If he says you need it for his troop, you need it.

I guess I should also point out as a committee member, which are often parents but can be anyone, that you'd be expected to attend the committee meetings. Those are monthly for us.

Edited by topshot on 04/27/2010 10:12:27 MDT.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Training on 04/27/2010 14:57:41 MDT Print View


No matter what you do with the troop, you will need some sort of training. The minimum is Youth Protection.

A Scoutmaster should not let anyone near the troop that has not done this training. It can be done online. You can print out a card after you have completed it. After you get involved, as a committee member or other, you can let the leadership know of your desires to be involved with backpacking and outdoor activities. Many parents want nothing to do with that so your help should be welcomed. Of course, that depends upon the Troop and the type of people in it.

Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
Scout program on 04/29/2010 10:00:28 MDT Print View

Each troop is different, but our committee is made up of about 10-12 of the more active parents. They also lead trips, and go on trips. In general, parents are helpful to have on trips, because they have cars.

Our scouts cook on their own, set up their own tents, plan their own food, bring their own gear. Parents cook separately, definitely sleep separately, and are supposed to let the scouts do their own thing. They learn from each other, and a big part of BSA is to have the older boys teach the younger boys. Adults without kids can be present on trips, and are usually parents whose kids have moved on from scouting. At no time is any adult alone with any kid except their own kid.

What we have done is have an early season very easy trip, after new scouts have joined the troop from cub scouts (crossed over from cubs or Webelos). I have small backpacks to lend out, and a few sleeping bags. The hike is to a high interest area like a hot springs or water fall, about 2 miles, no elevation gain. Its very doable for 11 year olds. After that 2 mile hike, they think "that wasn't so bad, I think I can do a 4 mile hike, and I want to get a lighter sleeping bag."

Later hikes in the season are increasingly harder, and we have one that is a 4 day, 22 mile backpack that 11 year olds can do. (

The older boys (and their parents) were exposed to a car camping style of camping, and they are not interested in backpacking at all. Don't plan on converting them. But after 3 years of indoctrinating the incoming class of young scouts, and 3 years of older scouts leaving (with their parents), we have achieved a critical mass of backpackers.

More of our trips are on my blog:

and the troop blog:

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: C'mon now people! on 04/29/2010 13:10:59 MDT Print View

Alex, just a point of order- odds are "those three Desert lakes" are probably seepage lakes and are full of fertilizer (bad chemicals) that backpacking filters do not “filter”.

Yes, shame on the boys for not having enough water, but going to the car to get more is far better than using the lake water.

Bad food and scouting goes hand in hand- I was 12 years old once and I would eat anything not matter how bad it has cooked- (if I had to do the cooking). I learned from those days and now I can cook quite well both at home and on the trail because of my “training” during scouts.

Tents badly pitched are another staple of scouting- you ought to look at some of those boys bedrooms or school binders or anything else in their lives, the tent would look pretty good compared to the tent. What a great training ground, if you get wet from a badly pitched tent, the next time you will make sure you do a better job. If the training has been done, the Scoutmaster is more of a coach, working with them and letting the scouts learn from their training.

Garbage everywhere- there is no excuse for this! Maybe a note to the SM about leave no trace and a suggestion to reread the scout handbook. Everyone from the SM down should review their training, totally unacceptable.

Follow the others suggestions about getting involved.

I spent 5.5 years as a SM and had a great time. I have friend who were not scouts when they were young and have boys in other troops, they don’t understand the “organized” chaos, everything to them looks totally unorganized. I have to explain to them that the Boys run the program and a little slack is needed to help the boys along. It is the process to help the boys become men. I wish more boys had that kind of structured opportunity to help them to manhood.

There is always room for improvement for every troop and your help is sorely needed.

Edited by bestbuilder on 04/29/2010 13:11:36 MDT.

(cuzzettj) - MLife

Locale: NorCal - South Bay
"C'mon now people!" on 04/29/2010 20:02:29 MDT Print View

Scouts will make mistakes as will adults. Contact the council and join one of the adult training teams along with a local troop. Do the Camporees and Scouting Universities. Offer a class at a troop and market it to others in the area. Teach backpacking at a Merit badge Midway and mentor Scouts in a troop or the council. You can teach to the masses at council camps and training sessions. The desert is no place to be without water. No question.

Just go with the flow and you will meet great peole and possitively influence youth through the leaders and Scouts.

Have fun!