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Vlad Putin
(Primaloft37)

Locale: Radio Free Pineland
Re: Re: Re: Jumpstaring Ultralight Scouting at the troop level on 11/05/2006 16:46:20 MST Print View

The only way to effect change will be to educate. The boys are usually open to this. They are learning the skills for the first time. The difficulty comes in educating the adult leaders. Typical responses include: that's not the way we did it as scouts, it costs too much, etc.

I agree that "Jealousy is a powerful motivator". The way to reach the leaders is by example.

I am an Assistant Scout Master, and I have seen Scout Leaders carrying close to 90 pound packs. No exaggeration. And a HORRIBLE example for his boys. This was a Christmas 50-miler.

Vlad, please decide to volunteer. We need more leaders who know what they are doing, and that can educate the ones who don't.
-----------------------------------------

Wow...Ive been on my share of BSA 50 milers and I dont think I ever remember seeing anyone carrying a 90 lb load. But I am SURE it has been done in the past...no doubt about it.

I'm not sure I want to go full blown all the way ultra-light yet. It will take me some time, reading and trying some of this UL gear out in the REAL WORLD before I come to my decision. I will compare UL with my previous conventional backpacking experiences and then write a thesis paper on "UL vs. traditional backpacking: Which is better?" I will use MLA cites and everything.

Then I will post it on the Internet, to the PSA message board, to the NESA message board, this message board and anywhere else I can think of.

<grin>

Vlad

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re:^4 Jumpstaring Ultralight Scouting at the troop level on 11/05/2006 17:32:23 MST Print View

There are numerous reasons that Scouts don't buy ultralight, or even lightweight that I see.

First, many parents don't know anything other than the BSA equipment catalog, Sports Authority or REI. While you can get lighterweight equipment at these outlets, you have to look for it.

Second, it hasn't been a focus from BSA. BSA does a great job programatically, but is often slow to change to new ideas. As a result, it doesn't get pushed down from the top.

Third, lightweight and ultralight equipment does cost more (I can get a pack, bag, pad and tent for <$100 @ SA), and many parents won't invest $400 initially, nor should they if they Scout hasn't indicated a serious interest.

Finally, I don't see that many leaders that understand the benefits of ultralight. The 2 "super hikers" both in our Troop carry relatively heavy packs are only now starting to see the light in their ability to keep up or hike longer. (they carried 50 lbs on recent hikes vs our 2 lightweight'ers who were both in the low 20's. Both of their 1 man bivy's weigh more than my 3 man Rainshadow 2, and they were amazed such gear was actually availble)

After the great presentation by Carol Crooker, we've had a movement toward howmuch gear actually weighs. (Thanks again CC!)


One other suggestion: If everyone starts requesting lightweight gear at major gear retailers (ie REI), they're likely to start stocking it.

As for the 90 lb packs, at Philmont earlier this year, most of the adults we talked to were carrying 60-70 lb packs, and one indicated 84 lbs. I did not meet anyone other than one other adult in our group going lightweight, we were both in 24 - 30 lb range.

MikeB

Eric Noble
(ericnoble) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Re:^4 Jumpstaring Ultralight Scouting at the troop level on 11/05/2006 23:33:11 MST Print View

The last 50 miler I went on the guide was carrying 60+ and one of the scouts 50+. My pack wasn't that light but was the lightest in the group at about 30 lbs. The scout with the 50+ lb pack became a hazard above tree line as the weather changed and we needed to move. The guide gave me a little grief for being too light. I am the merit badge counselor for hiking, camping, and backpacking and will try to have some impact there.

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Re: Re:^4 Jumpstaring Ultralight Scouting at the troop level on 11/06/2006 07:50:03 MST Print View

Wow. 90 pounds is a *heavy* pack.

In our troop, my experience is that setting an example can really impact the backpacking style adopted by the Scouts. I carry a lightweight pack with the troop. I have developed guidelines for our parents that encourages them to look for less expensive and lighter options. The troop only makes about 2 general backpacking trips each year. (Our Venturing Crew will do more, such as our Philmont trek this summer).

It takes some time and patience to see an impact. Finally, it seems that older Scouts have their gear and are set in their ways. My experience is that the real opportunity to teach lightweight technique is to work wtih the young Scouts and their parents. Besides, LW style can make backpacking a lot more fun for 11 and 12 year old Scouts.

The important thing is to remember that LW, UL, SUL, whatever...it's really all about getting the boys outdoors.

Vlad Putin
(Primaloft37)

Locale: Radio Free Pineland
Re: Re: Re: Re:^4 Jumpstaring Ultralight Scouting at the troop level on 11/06/2006 12:09:09 MST Print View

>Besides, LW style can make backpacking a >lot more fun for 11 and 12 year old >Scouts.

Uh...not to be overly blunt, but this shows some lack of knowledge here. The BSA (for very good reason) does not encourage 11 to 12 year olds to go on BSA sponsored backpacking trips. The eleven to twelve year old range kid is just learning super duper basics...just making Scout and Tenderfoot rank, just joining, etc.

The general age limit listed on most BSA High Adventure program applications and ALL of the BSA sponsored 50 milers Ive been on...has been 14. That was usually waiverable down to 13 depending upon the boy and his capability and motivation.

If you attend a BSA 50 miler, you will see very few under 14 year olds, maybe a handful of 13 year olds (maybe). I dont ever recall seeing any 11 to 12 year olds on a BSA 50 miler, nor on any other BSA High Adventure backpacking trip I was on.

At Philmont, you will almost never see a boy under 14. You may see a few 13 year olds...but 11 and 12 year olds in the Philmont backcountry? FORGET ABOUT IT! The physically and mentally toughest program at Philmont, the Rayado Trek, has (or had) a fifteen year old minimum age. I am assuming this minimum age still stands.

Few 11 to 12 year olds are physically developed enough to handle 10 plus mile days, in the mountains, carrying a pack of any weight size. Ultra-light, lightweight, medium or heavy. Furthermore, as I already mentioned, that 11 to 12 year old range kid has got their hands filled with just learning the ultra basics...stationary camping, some day hiking, cooking in the outdoors, their first summer camp, making Scout and Tenderfoot rank, maybe making Second Class rank (maybe).

Just wanted to point that out. Scouting uses the crawl, walk, run method. "Crawling" is just joining up and going on your first overnighter, your first fall camporee, your first summer camp, making Tenderfoot rank. "Walking" is going on a couple day hikes in the mountains, perhaps a weekend long camping trip with day hikes as the main activity. "Walking" is mastering stationary camping and cooking skills, earning swimming merit badge at summer camp and making patrol leader.

"Running" is that first BSA sponsored 50 miler or that first council sponsored High Adventure trek. Followed by hopefully, that first Philmont trip. As I mentioned above, the "running" phase usually doesnt kick in til around age 14. Ironically, that is the age a lot of boys start dropping out of Scouts as they enter high school around that age and develop other interests, as well as start thinking about that drivers license they are going to get in ONLY TWO MORE YEARS!

I have always maintained the claim that BSA High Adventure can be one of the main things that can keep some older boys motivated to stay in the BSA past age 14 and probably make Eagle.

Vlad

Vlad Putin
(Primaloft37)

Locale: Radio Free Pineland
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:^11-12 year olds are normally not allowed on 11/06/2006 12:20:24 MST Print View

I wanted to mention that I dont remember the packs on BSA High Adventure treks being all that heavy. For summer trips, maybe 35-40 lbs. For winter 50 milers, maybe 40 lbs at the beginning. One of the advantages here is that you are with a group, normally ten people or more. The BSA standard operating procedure dictates that you split up the "crew" gear among your patrol or group.

In other words, your buddy will carry the tent or tarp, while you will carry the stove. Another guy might carry stove fuel. Another guy might carry more than his share of food, but not carry a tent or tarp.

This is the same way the military does it, you split up "crew served equipment" among different people, lightening the load some.

But since so many UL backpackers are solo backpackers or just go in very small groups (your UL buddy perhaps), there isnt the opportunity to split up certain gear. Youve gotta carry EVERYTHING yourself. Hence the mad push to find the absolute lightest equipment and clothing possible.



Vlad

Ron Moak
(rmoak) - F
Kid's Can't Hack It! on 11/06/2006 12:25:49 MST Print View

>> Few 11 to 12 year olds are physically developed enough to handle 10 plus mile days, in the mountains, carrying a pack of any weight size. Ultra-light, lightweight, medium or heavy. Furthermore, as I already mentioned, that 11 to 12 year old range kid has got their hands filled with just learning the ultra basics...stationary camping, some day hiking, cooking in the outdoors, their first summer camp, making Scout and Tenderfoot rank, maybe making Second Class rank (maybe). <<

I won’t go into my feelings about Boy Scouts. Considering that training is up to a few dedicated or not so dedicated individuals, it’s not surprising for the organization to be quite conservative in its training or field requirements.

That said, kids can do far more than we sometimes give them credit for. At 13 my own son hiked 700+ miles on the AT over the roughest terrain. He carried upwards of 20+ pounds at a time and we frequently covered more than 20 miles in a day. He really loved the experience and the harder it got the better.

I also know a young girl who, at the ripe old age, of 10 thru-hiked the PCT with her folks. While her pack wasn’t really heavy, it was by no means ultralight.

Ron

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Forum Consideration on 11/06/2006 13:08:05 MST Print View

There are varying opinions in this forum and they stem from difference experiences.

I would like to encourage everyone to be careful with their use of words so that people's opinions and positions are recognized and considered rather than invalidated.

Ryan

Edited by ryan on 11/06/2006 13:08:34 MST.

Siegmund Beimfohr
(SigBeimfohr) - M
Re: Kid's Can't Hack It! on 11/06/2006 13:46:05 MST Print View

Although my son's experience wasn't backpacking but bicycling, I think it fits this discussion. From the time he was 7 and did his first century (100 miles in one day), we averaged 4,000 to 4,500 miles a year until he started racing in early teens and had other time demands (school, orchestra, etc.).
At age 11, this skinny kid pushing a 30# 10-speed (my bike was 21#), did the quad-century (four hundred miles in four days) of the DALMAC (Lansing, MI to the straights) ride folowed by 400 miles in five days with loaded panniers as we rode back from Mackinac to Grand Haven, MI where our vacation time was up.
I was dying; don't know how he did it. Kids are capable of a lot with conditioning and motivation.

Vlad Putin
(Primaloft37)

Locale: Radio Free Pineland
Re: Kid's Can't Hack It! on 11/06/2006 14:08:54 MST Print View

>That said, kids can do far more than we >sometimes give them credit for. At 13 >my own son hiked 700+ miles on the AT >over the roughest terrain. He carried >upwards of 20+ pounds at a time and we >frequently covered more than 20 miles >in a day. He really loved the >experience and the harder it got the >better.

It is not that I or the BSA is not giving the kids credit, I fully realize there are exceptions and your son definitely sounds like an exception. But most 11 to 12 year olds couldnt hack 700 miles (or even 50 miles) on the AT.

I did mention that the BSA gives waivers sometimes for 13 year olds for High Adventure activities. But the general age limit is 14 and for most boys, I think thats a good limit for strenuous multi-day backpacking trips.

>I also know a young girl who, at the >ripe old age, of 10 thru-hiked the PCT >with her folks. While her pack wasn’t >really heavy, it was by no means >ultralight.

Wow...that is amazing! A ten year old thru hiking the PCT? Man, that 10 year old is tougher than most 16 year old boys.

While I believe this claim, I will go so far as to say that it is highly atypical of the norm. That ten year old girl should be viewed as the exception to the rule.

I also understand the um...cynical attitudes towards the BSA by some outdoorsman. I fully realize that there are a few who believe the BSA has strayed way too far from its original mantra...the outdoors. I am one of those people I should add. I oftentimes felt like most of the adult leaders as well as the boys were not really serious about roughing it type outdoor activities.

Unfortunately, the BSA is not run by backpackers, its run by Eagle Scout owning executive types. Many are motivated more by extrinsic motivation such as titles, medals, patches, awards of various types and the potential to be able to put "Eagle Scout" or "Scoutmaster" on their resume. Rather than intrinsic motivation factors such as the lure of strenuous backpacking treks. Sporting for the sports sake.

Vlad

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
BSA on 11/06/2006 17:52:42 MST Print View

I think a lot of the issue is cost. I have realized, as I've returned to scouts at the age of 48 with my son... that I have to cut some weight. I did break down and find a Kelty 50th anniversay pack, and thought I was in high cotton. Then I found this web site. I'm just going to lead by example, and if some of the boys can afford it, show them how to go light. I'd rather they used heavy equipment and went outside instead of staying in.

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re: BSA on 11/06/2006 18:01:46 MST Print View

Ryan, what's the chance you have a package we could start circulating to various districts and councils? That might be another way to try to provide more lightweight visibility.

MikeB

Vlad Putin
(Primaloft37)

Locale: Radio Free Pineland
Re: Kid's Can't Hack It! on 11/06/2006 19:34:15 MST Print View

>Considering that training is up to a few >dedicated or not so dedicated >individuals, it’s not surprising for the >organization to be quite conservative in >its training or field requirements.
-----------------------------------------

I agree with this statement. I would take it a step further and claim that most Scout leaders are not interested in backpacking, nor teaching backpacking techniques. I used to butt heads a little with others in the BSA organisation when I was a teen due to my interest in backpacking. And I suspect Id do the same as an adult...maybe more so. I think the BSA needs to go back to the outdoors more.

I was recently browsing over the "revised" merit bad pamphlets for various outdoor subjects at my local hardware store. It *seemed* to me, that the hiking and backpacking merit badge requirements had gotten considerably easier sounding compared to twenty years ago. Maybe I am mistake. I wish I had saved all my old Scouting literature, handbooks, merit badge pamphlets, fieldbooks, etc. Then I could compare them to whats in the books now.

One thing I did notice is that the BSA has this new thing called a "Ranger" award. They didnt have that when I was in Scouts. I am wondering what that is all about.

Vlad

Phil Barton
(flyfast) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:^4 Jumpstaring Ultralight Scouting at the troop level on 11/06/2006 21:08:35 MST Print View

I'm very thankful for the content here at BPL. It has helped improve our troop's backpacking program.

Our responsibility, as Scouters, is to help develop outings appropriate to the boys' age, strength, and skills. Short, overnight backpacking trips are entirely appropriate for young Scouts. The boys enjoy backpacking immensely. It's a new challenge for them. It is also a lot of fun to help them tackle that challenge.

BSA has long held high adventure programs, like Philmont for Scout 14 and older. That is a wise provision.

Lightweight backpacking techniques are a great tool for getting the boys outdoors and encouraging them to have fun.

Here's a great article from BPL with a solid introduction to the subject. I hope it is helpful. http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/boy_scout_gear_list.html

Edited by flyfast on 11/06/2006 21:10:59 MST.

Vlad Putin
(Primaloft37)

Locale: Radio Free Pineland
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:^4 Jumpstaring Ultralight Scouting at the troop level on 11/06/2006 22:17:47 MST Print View

I'm very thankful for the content here at BPL. It has helped improve our troop's backpacking program.

Our responsibility, as Scouters, is to help develop outings appropriate to the boys' age, strength, and skills. Short, overnight backpacking trips are entirely appropriate for young Scouts. The boys enjoy backpacking immensely. It's a new challenge for them. It is also a lot of fun to help them tackle that challenge.

BSA has long held high adventure programs, like Philmont for Scout 14 and older. That is a wise provision.

Lightweight backpacking techniques are a great tool for getting the boys outdoors and encouraging them to have fun.

Here's a great article from BPL with a solid introduction to the subject. I hope it is helpful. http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/boy_scout_gear_list.html

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I agree about the informal weekend Troop trips. I dont see why a 12 year old cant take part in an informal, weekend Troop camping trip where two or three days of day hiking or some light backpacking is the focus of that weekend. I did a few of those when I was 11-12.

But for formal BSA sponsored High Adventure treks...including those infamous council sponsored 50 milers...I think the age limit set at 14 is the correct one. With waivers given for age 13 depending upon the individual boy.

Vlad

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Re: BSA on 11/06/2006 23:37:09 MST Print View

>> Ryan, what's the chance you have a package we could start circulating to various districts and councils? That might be another way to try to provide more lightweight visibility.

Mike - we are looking at a March 15 2007 publication date. - Ryan

Don Montierth
(Chumango) - F

Locale: East TN
Local Leaders Make the Difference - so BE ONE on 11/07/2006 05:03:39 MST Print View

Scouting National is slow to change for good reason. In many cases the boys are just not experienced enough to make a go for backpacking with minimal gear, so they just carry everything. It depends entirely on the individual troop.

That's why it is the local leadership that makes all the difference. That experience comes with actually getting out and doing it, when it becomes a tradition with knowledge passed down. The troop leadership, with parents that care, make all the difference.

I am a Scoutmaster of a small troop. We like to go backpacking and canoeing. Before I was scoutmaster, I was involved with the high adventure type activities for at least 5 years (my sons were in the troop, and I wanted them to have the experience). Before that, all they ever did was car camp. Even when I was trying to do "real" outings I would sometimes get resistance from other leaders. But over time it has become a tradition to do more demanding trips. The kids' pack weight has been steadily dropping as they get experience (so has mine). There have definitely been some interesting experiences along the way, but they are learning.

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
Ranger Award, BSA & Venture Scouts on 11/07/2006 07:18:54 MST Print View

"One thing I did notice is that the BSA has this new thing called a "Ranger" award. They didnt have that when I was in Scouts. I am wondering what that is all about." - Vlad

Vlad,

Might this be what you are referencing? Venturing Ranger Award

As I was searching for information, I remembered that thing called Venture Scouting that, unfortunately, few districts participate in. In reality, one of the best ways to get boys re-involved in the outdoors may be to look into starting a venture troop in your district. Venture troops are, more or less, solely focused on high-adventure outings... hmmm... gives me some ideas...

edit - I'm ignorant... I spelled award as aware in the title...

Edited by jdmitch on 11/07/2006 07:19:29 MST.

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Ranger Award, BSA & Venture Scouts on 11/07/2006 07:28:09 MST Print View

The CESA (Collegiate Eagle Scout Assoc) here is actaully a Venture Troop. We don't really focus on high adventure stuff so much as helping the troops in our area. You do still get the Scout discount at some outfitters though.
I was in a Venture troop as well as Scouts when I was involved in Scouting. We did a lot of climbing and hiking. The cool thing about Venture troops is that it is coed. Girls, like my sister, are given the opportunity to camp, hike, climb, and otherwise get out in ways the Gril Scouts don't offer.

Adam

Jim Colten
(jcolten)

Locale: MN
Re: Re: Ranger Award, BSA & Venture Scouts on 11/07/2006 07:37:36 MST Print View

and otherwise get out in ways the Girl Scouts don't offer.

While that is certainly true in practice, as with BSA, it depends on the adult leaders in individual units. GSA does not necessarily discourge outdoor activities but a majority of the units are led by folks who don't care to camp. But there are exceptions.

And in BSA, there are folks who live to camp and there are those who don't care for it.

Edited by jcolten on 11/07/2006 07:38:55 MST.