Forum Index » Backpacking Light with Scouts » How often backpacking?


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David B
(FunnyBizness) - F
How often backpacking? on 01/09/2012 19:09:35 MST Print View

I'm curious: how many times do your troops backpack each year?

I have a friend whose son is in a troop that's scheduled 1 backpacking trip in the last 3 years, and that just seems downright unusual.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: How often backpacking? on 01/09/2012 20:28:18 MST Print View

Sadly, our's hasn't at all in at least 5 years. Managed to get them out for an overnight dayhike last year. Maybe we'll get the first true backpack next year. We'll have a new SM also (not that our current one is bad).

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: How often backpacking? on 01/09/2012 20:57:05 MST Print View

It was decades ago, but our troop had an overnight of some sort (maybe a cabin trip in winter) scheduled every month. Typically it would be driving 20 miles to a regional park. And that served well to get everyone out on a trip on a regular basis and served as a focus of leadership activities - menus to plan, food to buy, gear to check, etc.

With the born-in-1940 Scoutmaster we started working towards an annual 5-day backpacking trip for boys who had the minimum rank and recent activity to qualify. Previously, the born-in-1920, ex-military Scoutmaster went heavily towards great-white-hunter style camping and an annual week at the Council's Sierra facility.

Up here, in Alaska, I'm impressed by the almost expeditionary nature of some of the Scouting trips. Snow camping, backpacking each month of the summer, a week of sea kayking in Prince William Sound, etc.

If they'd just ditch the homophobia and dial back the militarism, they'd have another Scout and a very active Assistant Scoutmaster.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
once on 01/09/2012 21:44:50 MST Print View

Sometimes once...... Sometimes.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
How often backpacking? on 01/09/2012 22:34:36 MST Print View

Huh. Guess we'll have to add homophobia to our troop. Didn't know it was required.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: How often backpacking? on 01/09/2012 22:40:34 MST Print View

We do about 9 backpacking trips a year, plus one winter snowshoe day hike in February, January is Klondike, and December off.
Its a small troop with usually 90% participation.


I don't think anyone in our troop has the phobia described above, I've never seen it. Uniforms or guns aren't a big deal for us, so no military connection here either.
Sorry to the OP for any "chaff" drift.

Edited by bestbuilder on 01/09/2012 22:50:01 MST.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: How often backpacking? on 01/09/2012 22:41:55 MST Print View

It's national policy - you can have openly hetrosexual leaders, but not homosexual ones. But if you've dodged that, great. I know the Piedmont, CA council (very small, very rich) ignores the national policies on orientation and doesn't discriminate but last I heard (Time Magazine, 2009) that was still uncommon.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: How often backpacking? on 01/09/2012 22:54:08 MST Print View

David, the OP gave a good sincere question. Let the thread develop to address his question. You can bring your "issues" up in "Chaff" or on another thread. I feel this is a common courtesy.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
How often backpacking? on 01/09/2012 23:12:42 MST Print View

Apologies to the OP for helping "chaff" it. We try to backpack 2-3 times a year, but it's tough, kids today are almost universally weinies.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: How often backpacking? on 01/09/2012 23:22:29 MST Print View

Wow that is sad. Scouts that don't camp, well that's just weird.

How much are the parents at fault? Won't spend money on gear, or won't give of their time. 2-3 times a year seems minimal. Anything less, is that even scouting anymore?

Edited by kthompson on 01/09/2012 23:23:49 MST.

Ken K
(TheFatBoy) - F

Locale: St. Louis
15 outtings a year on 01/09/2012 23:36:56 MST Print View

My troop did 15 overnight outtings last year, with all but one involving sleeping outdoors. Of those 15, there were 4 different week-long summer camp opportunities (two were high adventure), to make sure all the boys had a chance to do go.

Generally, the first half of our year follows a training regimen for that years high adventure trek. The last two years that meant only one or two backpacking trips, and more gearing for water activities. As we prep for Philmont this year, we'll have four backpacking trips leading up to the big trek in July.

One thing we've started enforcing in the troop is a "one bag, no hands" rule. Regardless of whether we're car camping, backpacking, or paddling, they need to to have all their stuff in a single bag they can carry on their back, no hands holding anything. I have a set of loaner packs and sleeping bags, so no scout needs to worry about buying a bunch of gear to get started. This method was introduced more for logistics than anything else, but it has really helped get them in a backpacking mindset.

Edit: Typo in subject. Said 16 outtings instead of 15.

Edited by TheFatBoy on 01/09/2012 23:37:42 MST.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
packing on 01/10/2012 05:51:49 MST Print View

We camp at least once per month, + high adventure, + summer camp.

Most troop campouts are to work on merit badge requirements and rank progression. We have a year long schedule of basically what is worked on, and when, to cover everyones needs, and cover the needs of the younger scouts too.

The reason we can get a high participation rate for regular campouts, is because it is trouble free on parents part. Drop child off on Friday evening, come back pick them up on sunday. This works slick and easy when you keep gear and patrol boxes in two large enclosed trailers. They are just hooked up and pulled to a scout reservation with minimal fuss. Even that "minimal" fuss is still a pretty big deal for some folks that volunteer their time to make it happen.

Throw in that there are higher numbers of 10 , 11, and 12 year old scouts due to attrition than the older ones, and group dynamics dont lend well toward frequent backpacking. Because boy scouts are boy-led, the older boys must be there to teach the younger ones too, and get their requirements for leadership, etc.

Any one is free to get up a group of older boys to take a hike at any time. Not many adults will volunteer for that on their own. Regulations also make any small official functions a pain. Much easier for a couple of dads to just get together and take their own kids. Very difficult to match schedules of anyone up for even a weekend when school and sports are going on. Basically you are left with spring break, thanksgiving, and summer. At most summer camps you cant do high adventure treks until 13 anyway, 14 at some, so most kids under 13 are still working on merit badges to get those out of the way if they want to make Eagle, so that they can do high adventure at summer camp the next few yrs.

In the past we have tried to have a thanksgiving break campout somewhere where the rest of the kids can car-camp, and the older ones can take a multi day backpacking trip. The rule is 13 yo, or 12 if your father accompanies you and takes responsibility for your.

When they get 13 and are interested in Philmont or etc the next summer, then they start taking the shakedown hikes with their crew, so they will get three of those in a year leading up to Philmont.

Edited by livingontheroad on 01/10/2012 05:59:43 MST.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: How often backpacking? on 01/10/2012 06:14:05 MST Print View

I see. Good answer Martin.

John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
Re: packing on 01/10/2012 06:40:44 MST Print View

Our troop does it very similar to Martin's.

We have 1 troop backpacking trip per year, but it is a scaled down version due to age and scout gear limitations. We set up the normal camp, hike out Saturday morning, spend the night and hike back Sunday morning.

Our troop also encourages the scouts to pack for campouts using their backpacks, but don't force 100% participation, especially for the newest and youngest boys.

We coordinate some of our Philmont shakedown hikes to coincide with the monthly campout. The Philmont guys don their packs and do an overnight hike while the rest of the troop does their campout activities (each campout has an outdoor activity such as fishing, biking, climbing, shooting, etc).

We also have additional shakedown hikes preparing for high adventure crews.

Hope that helps.

Gerry Volpe
(gvolpe)

Locale: Vermont
frequency of scout backpacking on 01/10/2012 09:38:32 MST Print View

Unfortunately when my family moved to VT from NJ in 9th grade I didn't continue scouting for social reasons(luckily the new non scout friends ended up backpacking). However my previous troop did an overnight every month of the year. There wasn't alot of true backpacking but some short hikes in to camp and some basecamp dayhiking. We learned the skills and had the gear for backpacking but to be honest there just wasn't much of a mileage focus, it was more about camping. I loved that we got out into the woods so much(especially living in the concrete jungle). I really respect the adult leaders for encouraging this frequency, it was a key step in the evolution of my love for wilderness travel. A great midpoint between family car camping and backpacking.

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Backpacking with Scouts on 01/10/2012 10:35:53 MST Print View

The frequency of backpacking trips changes with the age of the scouts. Last year we had a number of very active scouts who prepared for Philmont. They are now mostly "Eagling out". This year we got a huge influx of Webelos and for them there will be overnight weekends offered, that allow them to learn skills.
Most of our overnight weekends require that the scouts carry all their gear in a backpack to the campsite. From there they usually day hike.
To give you an idea, I list below the overnight events that our troop planned for this school year

1) Overnight backpacking Castle Rock State Park
2) Mountain Man Rendevous (this is really car camping)
3) Overnight backpacking Point Reyes (Wildcat Camp)
4) Klondike Snowderby (almost like car camping - you yo pull your gear on a sled to the campsite)
5) Overnight on Angel Island
6) Overnight backpacking Henry Coe State Park
7) Overnight Whitewater Rafting (Car Camping)
8) Overnight backpacking Yosemite (Half Dome)

Then there is summer camp for the younger scouts, NYLT (National Youth Leadership Training) for the older scouts and in some years high adventure (like Philmont) for older scouts.

The scouts in the troop organize also at least five 10 milers and a 20 miler during the year, so they can earn the hiking merit badge. Although these are day hikes, some scouts choose to go with a full backpack to condition themselves.

Scouts in our area are extremely busy with all sorts of activities (school jazz band, school robotics team, sports like soccer, football, lacrosse, water polo, etc.), so we don't expect scouts to participate in all troop events.
Some troops in our area do more, some troops do less. It all depends on the current average age of the scouts in a troop, the size of that troop and the number of involved adults who accompany the scouts on their outings.

Manfred

David B
(FunnyBizness) - F
Once or twice on 01/10/2012 16:25:15 MST Print View

Thanks for the feedback. To clarify, the troop in question camps regularly but does not backpack.

My son's troop has about 15 overnight events each year. 1 or 2 are backpacking trips. Participation ranges from 3 scouts to maybe 7 or 8. This is in a troop with about 35 registered scouts.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Once or twice on 01/10/2012 17:57:42 MST Print View

> Participation ranges from 3 scouts to maybe 7 or 8. This is in a troop with about 35 registered scouts.

Interesting. Our's would just cancel the event if so few were interested. Maybe this is an avenue I could pursue. Announce a trip outside our normal monthly event, and if anyone wants to join great. Would just need to make sure another adult was along. Could say it wasn't a Scout trip at that point I guess, but I'm not willing to be responsible for other's boys.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
average on 01/10/2012 20:08:39 MST Print View

I think its pretty average.

Many kids see backpacking as hard work, not fun. Of course carrying a 35-40 lb pack and not being in shape to do it doesnt help.

Our older kids voted for what they wanted to do for high adventure trip last fall, and it was not backpacking.

Gerry Brucia
(taedawood) - MLife

Locale: Louisiana, USA
Backpack Trips per year on 01/12/2012 14:32:50 MST Print View

Our troop camps virtually every month but we limit backpack trips to scouts who are First Class and/or 13 years of age. Our troop has approximately thirty boys but normally have six to nine youth and three to four adults attend our backpack trips. We backpack at least three to four times per year. Unfortunately it has been five years since we have had a Philmont contingent. More than any other activity it is the backpacking trips that have kept the older boys involved.

Martin, I really like the "one bag/no hands" policy for car camping. I don't know if I could enforce that in our troop or not but I sure would like to head in that direction.

Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
Boise troop activities on 01/14/2012 19:13:16 MST Print View

Our troop was a car camping troop when we (my son and I)joined about 5 years ago. I started leading off-the-calendar day hikes and backpacks our first year, and when we set the calendar the next fall, enough parents and scouts were interested in backpacking that maybe 5 backpacks were scheduled for the next year. Now they are the norm for our monthly campout.

Each spring I lead an easy backpack, about 2 miles, that 11 year olds can handle. After doing a 2 mile backpack (one way) they are pretty comfortable trying a 4 mile. In the middle of summer I have a 4 day backpack that 11 year olds can handle. By the end of the year, almost all our 11 year olds have been on a backpack.

Last year we had maybe 6 or seven backpacks, and two different 50 milers were available to scouts over the summer. We also sent a group of 12 to Philmont, and we usually do a spring break 50 and 30 milers to Southern Utah. Last summer we had a group go to Sea Base in Florida, and another group is going to Philmont next summer, to Konderstag scout hostel in Austria, and to SeaBase again. We usually go on a winter camp where we hike in to a hot springs, and sleep in tents in the snow, usually February. We are based in Boise, Idaho.

Some trip reports are here: http://boisetroop100.wordpress.com

Mark Rash
(markrvp) - M

Locale: North Texas
One Bag No Hands on 01/15/2012 19:53:22 MST Print View

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the "One Bag, No Hands" rule for campouts. When I am Scoutmaster next year I will implement this policy for at least some of the campouts. I'll explain more in my next post why 90% of our campouts are car-camping style campouts... but I want to paint a picture for you of how most of our scouts show up for a campout:

1 Tote that contains clothing, sleeping bag, etc.
Cheap tent from Wal-Mart in its carry bag
Cot
Chair
Air mattress (outside of the tote)

As you can guess this is a nightmare packing in the scout trailer, as it takes a lot of time and takes up a lot of space. With the one-bag policy, where do you guys sit at the campout? We like the boys to have a chair on car campouts so they have somewhere to sit while we do instructional topics.

Mark Rash
(markrvp) - M

Locale: North Texas
Backpacking on 01/15/2012 20:20:59 MST Print View

Back to the original question, our troop has actually only gone on one overnight backpacking campout in the last 3 years. Our previous and current Scoutmaster do not like backpacking. Our troop normally has a monthly 2-night campout February-May and September-December. We have summer camp in June and don't camp in July and August due to the temperatures being in the 100s here in Texas. One of those campouts is usually a canoe trip.

Knowing that we have two crews going to Philmont this summer I was able to take our troop on a 2-night backpacking campout last May. Prior to this I did a presentation on lightweight backpacking techniques that most of the kids were receptive to. We will be doing two shakedown campouts in March and April that are 15 miles each to further prepare for campout.

Here is what I see as the challenges to backpacking in our troop:

1.) Cost - most of the kids in our troop just don't have the money to buy suitable gear. I would guess that half our scouts don't have a backpack and the only reason the other half have them is because they are going to Philmont.

2.) Size of New Scouts - Even small adult backpacks are too large for most 11-year-old boys. We had one scout whose dad went out and bout him a brand new Kelty Coyote backpack. Even after I adjusted the torso length as short as it would go, the hip belt was still drooping around this kid's butt. To get an appropriately sized pack, the kids would need to spend big bucks for a down sleeping bag and lightweight tent that would stuff into the smaller pack. Even when these kids get bigger, we'll have a new batch of tiny 11-year-olds each year at the March crossover.

Bottom line, our kids just don't have the gear to go backpacking. When I become Scoutmaster I will work to raise money to get some troop packs, bags, and tents that are suitable.

Edited by markrvp on 01/15/2012 20:24:26 MST.

Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
no gear for new scouts on 01/15/2012 21:15:02 MST Print View

I think that is the norm for new scouts. They have a huge sleeping bag, which won't keep them warm and is a nightmare to pack. I have accumulated gear to loan out, including sleeping bags, raincoats, and fleece pullovers. I get very small external frame packs, and keep an eye on craigs list for them for our equipment room. We supply tents, stoves, and cooksets, so about all they need are backpacks. Many in our troop are fairly affluent, so most kids get outfitted in the first year.

Its not easy when they are underequiped. But it sure worthwhile to show some kids the outdoors in a genuine way. Good luck.

Bob

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: no gear for new scouts on 01/15/2012 21:38:57 MST Print View

Bob, if you need to get inexpensive bags for scouts get the military surplus patrol bags. You can sometimes get them for under $20. They are probably good down to 35-40 with a little extra clothes in bed (however, they are "rated" to 30). I think they weigh about 2.5 lbs, compress down to about the size of a good quality 15-20 degree down bag. Overall good quality. Obviously there are better out there, but nothing for such a low price and much better than those rectangular fleece lined nightmares.

Ken K
(TheFatBoy) - F

Locale: St. Louis
Re: One Bag No Hands on 01/15/2012 23:29:00 MST Print View

>> As you can guess this is a nightmare packing in the scout trailer, as it takes a lot of time and takes up a lot of space. With the one-bag policy, where do you guys sit at the campout? We like the boys to have a chair on car campouts so they have somewhere to sit while we do instructional topics.

That's exactly why we implemented the "one bag, no hands" rule. We had a small troop trailer (6'x10'), and it was used as both a general storage shed AND gear shuttle. Our Scouts would do exactly like yours... Separate duffel, sleeping bag, an extra bag with some clothes, maybe a plastic bag with extra shoes, and a pillow! When we loaded up all that gear, our trailer was overloaded, and when we got to camp, we'd have "gear vomit" all over the parking lot when the trailer doors were opened.

We don't enforce the rule for brand new scouts, but seeing the older boys doing it usually motivates them to fall in line. We also let the rule slide just a bit for week-long resident camps.

As for sitting... Most of the campouts where we might be sitting around already provide picnic tables or benches (summer camp, state parks, etc.). For campouts where we're staying in a base camp and expecting rain, we may allow chairs. For those where we're getting off the beaten path, the scout is still free to bring a chair, but it has to be lashed to their pack. Some have picked up lighter three-legged stools. Most fore go it.

Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
military surplus patrol bags on 01/16/2012 11:03:42 MST Print View

Never heard of them, but I'll check them out now. Having a few extra sounds like a good idea for new scouts.

When we started, we didn't know if 11 year olds could pull off a backpack, and the norn in other troops was to require first class, and/or 13 years old. But it has worked out just fine. The kids who really want to car camp go to other troops, and the kids who want to backpack come to our troop. On any one backpack, there will be only a handful of kids totally new to backpacking, and they learn pretty quickly from the more experienced scouts.

The trick to getting a troop to do more backpacking is to have a bunch of parents in favor of it and willing to go on backpacks. You need maybe 4 parents passionate about backpacking, for leadership, and maybe half the parents preferring backpacking for their kids.

Kai Larson
(KaiLarson) - F
Regular outdoor activities are key. on 01/22/2012 00:46:53 MST Print View

We do an outdoor overnight every other month during fall, winter, and spring. On the months we aren't doing an overnight, we do day hikes or other activities (backcountry skiing, rock climbing, ice climbing, survival skills training, sledding, etc.)

Overnight trips vary from car camping to short overnight hikes, to overnight backcountry ski trips.

Every summer, we do a multi-day backpacking trip. Depending on the age of the boys in the patrol, it varies from 2 to 5 nights.

J Thomas Peterson
(tpeterson1959) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Backpacking and Participation on 02/08/2012 15:29:13 MST Print View

I'm a retired SM and I have some very strong feelings about this issue.

The bottom line is if the unit isn’t getting outside, the troop will die.

The troop I was associated with had been around for 40 years when my oldest son and I started with them. At that point they had a very outdoor activity oriented SM, who was preceded by a not so outdoor activity oriented SM. During the year or so before when the troop was not so outdoor activity oriented, the unit lost about a dozen boys.

When the outdoor activity oriented SM began his tenure, he cautioned that he intended the unit to be out side doing something every month. We – and five other families - joined the troop about three months into his tenure because they were active.

I took over two years later and continued that tradition. Both of us had annual and semi-annual planning meetings where the Scouts brain stormed what they wanted to do, followed by a parents meeting where we (only sometimes) brought in a dose of reality. Starting with my predecessor, the troop went for nearly eight years (I was SM for 6 years) with backpacking, camping, or paddling trips every month, and sometimes even more often.

Both of us emphasized backpacking more than just car camping and during that time we averaged about 25 active Scouts with another 10 – 15 less active to inactive registered boys. The Scouts frequently wanted to return to hikes and spots they’d gone to before and we would occasionally let them, but more often than not we would encourage new hikes in the same region. We tried to rotate the trips by both distance from home, distance for the hike (some were car camping in wilderness areas, to some as long as ten miles in), and terrain (forest, desert, mountainous, or beach – ocean, Colorado River, or Lake Mead/Lake Mojave).

Being from we hiked within about a 300 mile radius, with the majority of trips being either to the southern Sierras (averaging about 150 miles round trip for driving). The best year I had was one when the troop got weathered out (rain, snow, and oppressive heat for the location) four times during the year. The Scouts insisted we find another trip on short notice and they stuck with their planned outings for the year (that year it was twelve troop activities, Fall and Spring Camporees and Summer Camp).

After I retired and moved away, the new SM was a more not so outdoor activity oriented guy. The first year, he stuck with the monthly pace, but starting the second year he actually discouraged hikes because it didn’t fit his vacation schedule. By the third year there were less than ten Scouts actively involved with the troop. That was when he declared there wasn’t enough interest to go backpacking (he had three active ASM’s). The fourth year, after more than fifty years, the troop folded.

It’s an old saying, put the outing in Scouting, but it is a key element for any troop.

William Carpenter
(alancar) - F
How Often Backpacking? on 03/06/2012 15:06:03 MST Print View

Im an ASM in Central OH and our troop has been having sucess with having Adventure (Under 10 mi weekends) and High Adventure for the older guys that do up to 32 Mi in a weekend but usually in the 16-20 mile range. We are lucky to have some phenominal hiking areas in Ohio that are under 2.5 hrs away (Zaleski, Shawnee, Archers Fork, Twin Valleys, Mohican State Park, Buckeye Trail..ect) our schedule this year is :

Jan Cabin Camping with weblos
Feb. Backpacking 1st class scouts and above 16 mi
Mar. 10 mi Sat training hike then next weekend
Backpacking Adventure and High Adventure Level 9.4 mi + I wil have 9 adults and 17 youth
April 10 mi Sat training hike then next weekend
Base camp for lower level scouts and high adventure backpacking trip
May Base camp for lower level scouts and high adventure backpacking trip

June 4 day Monongohila high adventure trip
sea base
Summer camp
July Philmont
Aug Canoe Trip
Sept back packing
Oct 3 day KY backpacking trip
Nov-wilderness survival campout making own shelters
Dec. Cabin camping

Steven Scates MD
(scatesmd) - MLife
camping frequency on 03/20/2012 12:59:52 MDT Print View

Our troop schedules a backpacking trip monthly. Once set up, the trip goes rain or shine. This weekend, we were at the Pinnacles National Monument and it stormed with rain, sleet, and hail all weekend. Some parents wanted the trip cancelled, but 13 of us went and I was highly impressed with how the boys did. The prior month, we hiked 20 miles at Point Reyes, California. Again, it is easy to underestimate how well the boys will do.

Thanks, steve

Walter Underwood
(wunder) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Either backpacking or walk-in camping on 03/21/2012 22:01:48 MDT Print View

Checking the schedule, we've had five or six backpacking trips each year for the past couple of years. I'm not counting the 1/2 mile walk-in campouts, like the rafting trip or camporee. That does include high adventure treks.

We always schedule a couple of three mile backpack outings in the late spring to get the new Scouts some time on the trail. We also have a few outings where we can split off a Venture Patrol for a longer, more challenging route to the same destination.

All our campouts are with backpacking gear. We don't have chuckboxes or dutch ovens. Nobody has a chair or a cot, they spent that money on a backpack or a sleeping bag.

We do not limit backpacking to older Scouts. Tenderfoot requirement 1 says, in part, "Show the camping gear you will use. Show the right way to pack and carry it." Not "how you will load it on the trailer."

We also don't have a trailer. I can fit seven people and seven backpacks in the minivan, no problem.

Edited by wunder on 03/21/2012 22:22:07 MDT.

bill berklich
(berklich)

Locale: Northern Mid-West
Re: Backpacking on 05/22/2012 04:26:41 MDT Print View

Mark - Thought about having them use their school backpack? Carry water, clothes and personal gear then use the trailer to stage the heavy or bulky stuff (tents, Stoves, sleeping bags) at the camp. We are a "Trailer Troop" and generally do it that way. Lightens the load for the new Scouts. Also, I don't know about your area but Craigslist, Ebay, Garage Sales and Salvation Army are great places to pick up $10 backpacks (usually from the 70s or 80s). My son stumbled across an old Jansport D5 at a local garage sale for $5 because it matched my D2 from the 70s.

James Tisdale
(Jameyt) - M

Locale: PaNW
Every month, rain or shine on 06/18/2012 14:35:27 MDT Print View

We started a Troop last April. We camped every month last year and ended up with a total of 30 nights outdoors. All our guys are young (11 or 12 with one or two 13 year olds). We ended up with 9 guys with 20 nights camping and 3 had all 30.

We did 1 backpacking trip the first year and have started increasing the frequency. We just completed the first of this year (second overall) to Mt. St. Helens and we've got 3 more on the calendar this year (with the threat of a couple more to be added). Just looking at our calendar we've got 42 possible nights on the calendar already. This includes 6 nights for a Ross Lake kayak trip and summer camp. Because we guranteed an overnighter each month, and because we camp so often I've got 10 ASMs bucking to go out whenever they can. The adults are trained and my biggest issue lately has been turning some away from a trip because we can't have too many SMs out there.

We've made a concious decision to not get grub boxes, dutch ovens or anything else that is heavy. We're (hopefully) getting ready to purchase a tarp for each patrol so they can use it as a dining fly and sleep under it and a water filter by patrol.

I've been hammock camping from the get go. Over time more adults and Scouts have taken it up. After this weekend when some of them saw the difference between a hammock and splitting up their 10 lb tents I suspect almost everyone will be in the trees on the next outing.

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
1 car camping, zero BACKpacking. on 06/18/2012 16:03:37 MDT Print View

1 car camping, zero BACKpacking.

In the area that I'm affiliated with, rich parents who buy ipads and high end laptops for their 6 year old kids. This father's day weekend, I was roped in to a car camping trip. My observations:

All the parents (mostly men and 3 single moms) were learning how to set up their costco/coleman tent for the first time. For a family of 3, they each had the 3-room 8-person capacity McMansion giant tents, with two-feet deep king size air mattress and cordless air pump.

I was the only one with a reasonably sized two person tent.

The parents were setting up the tent, the scouts were running around playing.
I made the nephew "help me" select a camp location, and got him involved in every step of the tent and gear setup. This is car camping, 30 secs walking from the car. He was the only one that hammered in the stakes and raised the tent poles, and clipped the rainfly.

A previous comment was that today's scouts are weenies, and for my area, it reminded me of that Billy Crystal movie "City Slickers"

My observations is that the parents are ultra yuppies, but want their kids to Man-up. they sign them up for the scouts to outsource the testosterone training, but the parents get in the way, and influence their sons to be like their fathers.

The scout master is an ex-marine. His two sons are very hard nose bully alpha males, in a troop of wimpy ipad generation children. These scouts were not taught anything functional. it was chaos child daycare in uniform under the trees.

Butters

Edited by RogerDodger on 06/18/2012 16:18:03 MDT.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: 1 car camping, zero BACKpacking. on 06/18/2012 16:21:46 MDT Print View

Thats a good post, Rog.

+1

I see that stuff too.
...People feeding the poles through clips as if it were sleeves.

" it was chaos child daycare in uniform under the trees."

yep

Steven Shumway
(Shumway@T49) - F
Put the Outing in Scouting... on 07/02/2012 18:25:56 MDT Print View

We founded our troop 5 years ago and have had an outing every month. We are now moving into more backpacking trips. We are also using camping hammocks. That's where we are now.
If are moving towards more backpacking go camping every month. You have to do this every month with out fail. Even if none of the boys go. Go anyway. Add day hikes. Get High Adventure trained. And then go out and hike some more.
Good Luck...

Wesley Witt
(weswitt) - M

Locale: Northwest
Getting Outdoors... on 07/16/2012 09:19:17 MDT Print View

For those of you who have mentioned the high cost of gear please have look at http://www.scoutdirect.com/. They sell to scouts at serious discounts. The gear is not top notch, but great for kids getting started. All the gear is good, safe and reasonable quality. It doesn't qualify as "light", but for the prices it works great.

In terms of backpacking or camping frequency the rule of thumb is 10 outings per year for a unit, minimum. If you're not getting out this often then you're really not going to survive as a troop. When I was scoutmaster my troop ran an active outdoor program for the troop where we got out every month. We also had a high adventure program for the older scouts where we offered a long term, challenging backpacking trip every summer. The HA program serves to give a challenging program for the older boys and something for the younger boys to look forward to. Our HA program did things like Philmont and one year we went on a 10 day backpacking trip in the Sierras with a summit of Mt. Whitney (BTW this was WAY better than Philmont).

Bottom line is that if you want a thriving troop you must get the boys outdoors and my opinion is that car camping is not enough. The boys need a challenge and something difficult. Backpacking provides things that other outdoor activities simply cannot.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
troop on 07/16/2012 17:23:16 MDT Print View

To have a thriving troop, all many need is a constant influx of new crossovers from cub scouts every year. Some troops dont care that they lose kids every yr as they get older and less interested because the troop just basically does nothing outside of car camping.

In some troops , 95+% of scouting is oriented toward getting these youngest kids progressing to rank of first class. While older kids are just working on trying to make Eagle so that they can finally quit. High attrition rates are not surprising.

But the troop "thrives" with 50 members.

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: troop on 08/07/2012 16:22:07 MDT Print View

More recently, my nephew's troop that I'm loosely affiliated with.

Was gonna take the neph and his peers for a BP trip, but the other parents wanted to have a picnic instead.

a picnic so the parents can discuss activities while eating hot dogs and potato salad near the parking lot.

This is so much like the office life. Have a pre-meeting, before the actual planning meeting, before the implementation meeting. Too many meetings, three months later, the kids are still playing games on Facebook.

Really, it's the parents that just want to socialize with other parents in a group daycare setting. This isn't scouting.
King-of-the-hill.jpg

James Tisdale
(Jameyt) - M

Locale: PaNW
Too many parents on 08/08/2012 14:31:07 MDT Print View

In reference to the last comment . . . why do you have parents there?

We invite families to 1 camping trip a year. We limit the amount of adult leaders that go on any outing as well.

Isn't there some way to (1) get the Scouts planning the outings and (2) not include a bunch of families in the mix?

Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
backpacking thins out the parents on 08/08/2012 20:32:49 MDT Print View

We are going on a section hike of the JMT in August. We have 4 adults and 8 scouts. 2 of the adults are hiking buddies of mine, ex scouts but they don't kids in our troop. Our typical backpack has about 1/3 to 1/2 parents. They are welcome, and if they bring a younger sister, it works out fine. We need them for drivers also.

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: Too many parents on 08/09/2012 00:31:34 MDT Print View

With a lot of the controversial abuse scandals in the news, priests, school teachers, football coach, it makes sense that parents want to be near their kids. The downside is that they negatively influence activity decisions to the lowest common denominator. So it ends up being about the wilderness, weather, physical fitness and low tolerance threshold of the parents and single moms.

Any way, this is not a problem that can be fixed, basically would have to pick another troop that is more adventurous, and that's unlikely because the kids know each other.

Thank you for reading and commenting. It gives me an idea of what the norm is elsewhere, and that their opinion is flawed - that scouts backpacking is some Rambo survivalist death march.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
adult involvement on 08/09/2012 16:47:53 MDT Print View

If any adult wants to be involved, in any way, with BSA outings, they need to join BSA, submit to the background check, and complete Youth Protection training. Then they can attend.

Period.

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: adult involvement on 08/09/2012 21:05:32 MDT Print View

Interesting. Good to know.
That rule is not enforced in my area.

Bruce Tolley
(btolley)

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Adult involvement on 08/10/2012 00:00:00 MDT Print View

AFAIK there are rules, policies and procedures at the national, council, and troop level.

Just to repeat what the Scouters on this site already know, at the national level, the minimum standard for an BSA outing is two deep leadership, meaning one registered adult Scouter who is (at least ) youth protection trained and one other adult. In our local council, the Tour Permit used to ask whether the second adult was youth protection trained. We now use a standard national tour permit whose wording escapes me.

In my local troop, the policy has been to require all parents to be registered and youth protection trained. The BSA enrollment form which the parent signs for the scout also informs the parent that "youth protection begins with you."

I think it is just good common sense to have all the adults who want to come on an outing to be trained to the same standard on the BSA safety principles from the use of chemical fuels, to car pools and caravanning (not!), to the prohibition of "one on one contact" between an adult and a scout. Otherwise, they should stay home. The youth protection training only takes 30 minutes on the internet.

Edited by btolley on 08/10/2012 00:01:41 MDT.

Erik Basil
(EBasil) - M

Locale: Atzlan
YPT is a good start on 08/10/2012 08:06:24 MDT Print View

We try to get as many parents as possible to step up and become ASM's, if only for the ability to spread the load for events. On dayhikes, anyone can come along. We allow ASM's and YPT-carded, registered parents to attend high-adventure, car-camping and summer camp as adult leaders (preference to ASM's).

We don't have an issue with parents hovering over our Scouts, but rather the opposite: getting adults to drive/haul and hike along.

And on that note, I'm going to go start the truck and head upstate to begin our Troop's 2012 High Sierra Backpacking trip. Two other adult leaders, a case of wine and...wait, I meant 5 canisters of dehydrated food, two kites, four fishing rigs, and one bright orange poo trowel. Yippee Ki-yay!

Larry Schwartz
(larryschwartz) - F
Some ideas for Roger Dodger on 08/10/2012 13:34:02 MDT Print View

RD,

I feel for you and have seen this type of thing before, as have all of us most likely. Some thoughts on how to improve the situation...

First, since you are loosely affiliated with the troop, think about getting formally affiliated with it and bring your knowledge, experience, and PREFERENCES to it. See what the troop leadership would like to do, maybe they want what you do but don't see how to make it happen, or maybe they don't have your experience and would appreciate a "backcountry expert" to help them move forward.

As for the kids not doing anything but run around and play, the SM and troop leadership at every level should emphasize the policy that it is about the kids and by the kids, so the kids do the planning (with guidance where needed), and do the camp setup/teardown, cooking, etc. Get that point across to the parents right up front, especially when the kid joins the troop.

A couple of approaches to solving the car camping issue are to:

~ Have a dual activity weekend outing where they you set up a car camping campsite and also do a backpacking hike of some sort. The car camp will be a good place for the less experienced or younger scouts to do their activities while the more experienced scouts could shoulder their backpacks and hike .5 to 5 miles into the boonies and set up a camp at some nice destination, like a lake or someplace with a great view, then come back to the base camp in the morning. Heck, it doesn't even have to be an overnight, they could hike somewhere, have a meal, then come back in time for dinner or a campfire.

~ We all need to take into consideration what the scouts know or don't know and their skill levels. They could do some car camping events and also mix in some backpacking/hiking events so that they can ease into backpacking and more rigorous outdoor activities. One way to get away from car camping trips with the heavy, bulky gear is to frame every trip as a backpacking trip of some sort, even if it is just a quarter mile walk from the parking lot to the campsite. Even when I go car camping with friends I still pack everything I will use in a backpack and make just one trip from car to campsite.

~ Teach the troop, its leaders, and parents how Scouting does things by starting them off with basic outdoor skills and activities, then adding in hiking skills and activities, and then progress onto backpacking and high adventure stuff. Keep in mind, to be a fun and effective program does not mean that they have to hike five miles away with a 25 pound pack on their back every time they go somewhere as a troop.

Once you are involved you might find that you have a kindred spirit in one of the other parents who could help provide the "backwoods" adult leadership/supervision that seems to be missing in the current situation.

And last, since you see most of the parents as yuppies who don't know much about the outdoors and outdoor activities, maybe the troop should have a camping trip just for the adults to teach them how it's done. Maybe event frame it like one of those corporate team building weekends.

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: Some ideas on 08/10/2012 15:01:52 MDT Print View

Larry,
Thank you for the feedback. I'll see how far I can get with the BSA suggestions.
I'm a substitute parent for the nephew the last two years, since his dad is very ill.

Stephen Everson
(mrevets) - F
Re: Some ideas for Roger Dodger on 08/13/2012 15:57:05 MDT Print View

We hvae started to move from car camping to backpacking with our trip to Philmont in 2013. We have included the boys NOT going to Philmont in on our shakedown hikes. I had the new scout work on planning/purchasing the meals for the trip, even though he is not going to Philmont. The best part of the trip was getting lost..at the very beginning. Instead of starting off the hike headed north, they started off headed south...they did not finally realize their mistake until 6 miles in. Us adults told them they our job is to make sure they do not get hurt and fix them up if they do (Wilderness First Aid training)....The leader had a map, compass, and trail description..so we ate lunch and hiked back out the same way, instead of making a loop on the trails...so it was a good learning experience for the boys...

Next month, we will try to take the route that we should have taken in the first place.

We end our trip by heading back to the church and camping out in the backyard of the church.. setting up our backpacking tents, etc... cooking our meals over the backpacking stoves...

So we are making the transition from car camping to backpacking... long over due

Thanks for posting

Brian Reyman
(breyman) - M

Locale: Rocky Mountains
That is AWESOME on 08/16/2012 20:59:56 MDT Print View

That is a great story. Talk about being able to let go of the reins. I feel that I've gone a long way in letting the scouts I work with make mistakes, but I'm not sure I would have let that one get that far off track. Good for you. I'll remember this story in the future and hopefully have the courage to let them make that kind of (safe, but not very common) mistake!


>> The best part of the trip was getting lost..at the very beginning. Instead of starting off the hike headed north, they started off headed south...they did not finally realize their mistake until 6 miles in. Us adults told them they our job is to make sure they do not get hurt and fix them up if they do (Wilderness First Aid training)....The leader had a map, compass, and trail description..so we ate lunch and hiked back out the same way, instead of making a loop on the trails...so it was a good learning experience for the boys...