We will charter a brand new troop this fall and plan to shed the traditional cast-iron-in-the-chuckbox camping model. All one has to do is shop the internet or local outdoor suppliers to realize BSA's National Council are seriously stuck in the last century. Combine the pragmatic emphasis on "Leave No Trace" and low-impact camping with "Be Prepared" and one quickly realizes BSA National Supply has some catching up to do.
It is just common sense for an organization like BSA to lead charge in bringing the high-impact outdoorsman of the past into a model based on conservation and care of the environment. The heavy equipment used by most troops in our area requires large facilities to store it, big trailers to haul it, and an army of scouts to load and unload it. Furthermore, the traditional scout camp can leave a huge "foot print" on the land, especially when it rains. Thankfully, these heavy-duty scouting units are largely confined to state parks and council camping areas that already get heavy use. Think of the experiences their boys are missing!
Let's face it, our goal as scouters is to keep our scouts interested in scouting long enough to have a positive impact on their lives. So next fall we will ask parents to buy two uniforms: 1) an official BSA Field Uniform for indoors and 2) a separate Troop Activity Uniform for outdoors. Our troop activity uniform will consist of layered clothing elements:
- custom troop CoolMax base-layer shirt (olive),
- custom troop fleece jackets (red) with a troop emblem,
- custom troop boonie cap (khaki) of fast-drying poly/nylon,
- any polypro base-layer long and short bottoms for both warm and cold weather (scout's choice),
- the new wicking BSA "Action Shirt" will become our functional "field shirt",
- nylon convertible hiking pants/shorts (khaki): also serve as swim trunks,
- poly sock liners and boot socks,
- a nylon web belt,
- breathable, ventible wind/rain parka and pants (scout's choice),
- medium weight hiking boots,
- knit cap, gloves/mittens for cold weather
- no neckerchief
Standardizing colors should prevent us from looking like a traveling circus. The customized clothes are less expensive than you might think, but require a parent to serve in a procurement position on the committee.
We have developed a minimal gear list that follows the "rule of multiple uses." With few exceptions, if an item has only one useful purpose, leave it at home. This turns into a thinking game for the boys. We have a recommended list of preferred sleeping bags, backpacks and boots that will be regularly updated. The troop will provide backpacking tents (basic Eurekas), cooking gear, etc.
This strategy will be an experiment for us, but we've seen a few other troops adopt the model with good results. Any thoughts?