I agree that Lightweight Scouting is somewhat an oxymoron if you look at what some of the scout camps require. Some camps say you must carry a hard ‘Nalgene’ lexan type water bottle, that an Aquafina bottle or soda-pop bottle is not rugged enough. Also look in the Boy Scout Handbook, and as the article by Doug Prosser suggests, the scoutstuff.org official catalog. As an example, here the lightest published weight is 3 lbs. 3 oz. for a Kelty Lynx 2900 backpack. They do offer an esbit style stove, but their other backpacking stoves are the Colman Exponent, and MSR Whisperlite; both white gas, not that light and cannot be transported commercially. Also, their prices can easily be beat almost anywhere.
If you use the scoutstuff.org catalog site to purchase items for outfitting their scout, I can easily see how the cost would choke any parent. As far as a $900 per scout per year for uniform and summer camp, I suspect that might be a bit high. You can run fund raisers to help curb the cost of camp.
Yes, the expensive BSA shirt, pants/shorts are all 65% polyester and 35% cotton and are not always appropriate. What we do is have the boys only wear their scout shirt during travel and at flag ceremonies the rest of the time we have troop T-shirts made of synthetic material. We do not require BSA Official pants/shorts as part of their uniform. I believe only the Youth Leadership camps, and if you are a staff member, require full ‘Official’ uniform.
Part of the problem is that the Troop Committee actually runs the troop, even though “Boy Lead; Adult Guided” is the purported philosophy. Most of the Committee members, that have the final say on expenses, come from the old school where the heavy more durable gear is more appropriate. With many young boys, if the gear is not their own, they do not have as much respect for it; therefore it is typically not cared for as it should be. With this, the Committee acknowledges that more durable, hence heavier gear is more affordable for the budget.
I am aware of some troops that have lists for their scouts of items to purchase, including packs, bags and tents. The troop gets a discount buying in bulk, and all the scouts have essentially the same gear which they own and keep when they leave scouting. This also offers the appearance of a troop as a team with all the same gear. Some of the more wealthy troops, while few and far between, have pre-purchased some of these items just to have that ability.
I am sure many can expand on and contradict these statements and ideas, but doesn’t a board like this foster brainstorming…