Author Topic: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping  (Read 15017 times)

Offline Ranger Dave

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Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« on: March 07, 2011, 09:48:09 PM »
I am loooking for thoughts from different folks about what they consider Boy Scout camping from minimalist to carring everything including the kitchen sink. Looking forward to comments.
Ranger Dave

Offline mike77

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2011, 10:56:17 PM »
I'm not quite sure what you're asking. Are you wanting to know where in that spectrum we consider Boy Scout camping trips? Or something else?

Offline Ranger Dave

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2011, 05:55:47 AM »
I'm not quite sure what you're asking. Are you wanting to know where in that spectrum we consider Boy Scout camping trips? Or something else?

Mike 77, yes that is what I am looking for.  Thank you

Offline Ranger Dave

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2011, 06:02:02 AM »
I guess what I am asking is for thoughts from Scouters and former Scouters or anybody with an opinion on where scout camping falls into the spectrum.

Offline Zuplex

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2011, 07:33:41 AM »
Ranger Dave, in my experience (Eagle Scout, Scout summer camp staff) Scout camping trips run the gamut. In Cub Scouts, it's definitely kitchen sink (and yes, there are packable kitchen sinks). Parents bring absolutely everything they can stuff into their vehicles, including (sometimes) their kids. Older Scouts will experience more primitive conditions, but generally, Scouts tend to bring more than they need.

You really only get into minimalist camping with the High Adventure (Philmont, Northern Tier) camping trips (disclaimer: I have no first-hand experience of those trips). If a Scout does the Wilderness Survival Merit Badge, he will spend a night in the woods with nothing besides what he brings in his pockets (the austerity of that experience depends on the location and instructor). He will have a similar experience if he joins the Order of the Arrow.

The beauty of the Boy Scout program is that is offers something for everyone. If a boy has never spent a night in a tent, his troop can take him on a trip that is in line with his level zero experience. If a boy regularly sleeps under the stars in his local national forest/state park, he can join other Scouts on intense trips that will test his skills.

Offline mike77

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2011, 01:00:47 PM »
I'll pretty much echo HenryM's thoughts that it runs the gamut. I'm also an Eagle Scout and spent a summer as camp staff. Even as an older scout and explorer, I still went on car camping trips. I also went to Philmont and the Boundary Waters area, so had the minimalist experiences also. Really it comes down to the group itself and the leadership. If you read some of the other topics on Scouting, you'll find that some of the groups rarely go camping in any style. Others go a lot and really stress the skills to do so. So there really isn't any particular type of "Scout" camping trip. The only thing that makes it a Scout camping trip is that it is an officially organized trip

Offline Nate

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2011, 01:03:30 PM »
I agree with Henry M.  I am an Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor.  For district or council camporees we would bring the kitchen sink.  On troop campouts we would go a lot more minimal.  Often it was a tarp in cold weather with our sleeping bags and we cooked over a MASSIVE fire.  Many times I slept next to the fire on polar bear campouts because it was warmer than in the shelter we built.  We used our BSA or Military surplus mess kits to cook in.  This was in the 90's.

Offline Pathfinder

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2011, 04:42:09 PM »
Former ASM (10 years), Woodbadge and OA Ordeal here.

Agreed with above - there are troops that are little more than merit badge mills, they typically are the ones with the kitchen sinks along for the camp out. Our troop had a well equipped trailer, thank you, but we also went rock climbing, rappelling, long hikes (15-17 miles in a day), winter camping, etc. and we made certain everyone had the right gear. A bug out bag for each Scout was a mandatory requirement.

We always left the camp sites better than we found them, executed a police line at the end of every camp out.  Although we did not do a lot of wilderness camping, we did our fair share. The boys all knew how to start a fire, and keep it minimal and safe, and we focused on low-impact camping.

OldManSchmidt

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2011, 05:12:15 PM »
Eagle Scout, OA Brotherhood, almost every youth leadership position, 3 years camp staff, former SM (twice), ASM, so on and so forth.

In all the troops I was associated with, we ran the whole gamut.  A lot depended on what our goals were for the campout.  A wilderness survival campout meant 4 lbs. of gear that we actually weighed and what we could put on our backs and in our pockets.  For our Christmas campout, we packed everything in the house except the microwave oven.

Personally, I think this is the way it should be.  Sometimes the point of a camping trip should just be having fun.  One or two such campouts a year don't hurt the program and keep the boys from getting into the mindset that going camping always means endless work.

Our Christmas campout and Scout-O-Rama were a like this.  In those two cases, the adult leaders also cooked the Saturday supper.  Turkey and all the trimmings on a campfire is an impressive sight.  Hickory smoked stuffing is pretty cool too.

Offline Ranger Dave

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2011, 08:50:31 PM »
Guys thanks for the responses, it helps to know how scouts are camping in other parts of the country.
I am a Camp Ranger for a Boy Scout Council, a scout from Bobcat to Life, SM for 5 yrs, OA Vigil honor, Woodbadge(Owl),COPE, Climbing & Shooting Sports director.

The reason I started this thread is I have had some people raise concerns about how Scout troops are camping these days. Their concern is Troops will load everything in the troop trailer, park the trailer in camp and use the trailer for a Quartermaster station. The trailers generally contain tentage, patrol kitchens, ice chest for food storage and personal gear until it is put into individual tents.

The people who has raised concerns explain "back in the good ole days of yore" they would carry everything in by hand and they believe it should be done this way today.

I have spoke with SMs about what they would do if hypothectically they had to pack their equipment by hand. They said they would find somewhere else to camp.

So if we make it harder for units to camp & units find somewhere else to camp, why have a camp?

Offline Nate

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2011, 02:09:52 PM »
I think people are getting soft.  Since I left Scouting, my connections still involved in Scouting tell me SM's complain that their boys (and themselves) have to walk too far at summer camp!!  I guess walking from your CABIN across the parade ground to the mess hall is too far these days.  Currently I work year round at a YMCA camp and I am seeing the same issues here.  We installed concrete walkways instead of dirt paths.  Now guests want those paths lighted!  Some of my co-workers have been working here since the 80's and they see this trend even more than I do.  Kids and adults complain that we do activities in the rain!  So overall most Americans are getting SOFT!!  I wish we could reverse that, but if you don't provide what the market wants your camp will go under very fast.

The council I grew up in (Black Swamp Area Council NW Ohio) is blessed with 2 camps.  One can be described as rustic and the other more modern.  I worked 8 summers at the "rustic" camp, Camp Lakota.  My last summer there was 2002 and since then they have made some improvements but Scouts still stay in tents there and walk far to everywhere!

Offline Docwatmo

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2011, 06:10:04 AM »
Yep, agree totally with what everyone else has said.  It comes down to planning though.  Every trip is different and what you want to get out of the trip is determined long before the trip ever hops in the vehicle.  If the group wants a "Heavy" camp, then in comes the trailer etc.  If the group wants a lighter camp, then they plan for that.  We will be doing the boundary waters this year and we are planning for a light trip this time.  (The last time they went they went way too heavy and wanted to go lighter).  I get to help them determine whats going and whats not and we are going to work on smaller more useful kit rather than all encompassing bags full of gear.  I want the portages to be less about hauling gear and more about seeing the countryside as we move from place to place. 

If some people are bringing up that the camping is too "Modern" or "too much gear" etc,  then I would ask those people to step up and help plan some less over-zealously geared camping trips.  I don't like when people complain about something and yet don't try to help.  I'm one of those "If your not part of the solution, then shut up and move on or get your ass in gear and help fix it" type of people.  I encourage anyone who complains about something to help fix it.  I don't like it when someone complains and then doesn't do squat to help or fix whatever they are complaining about.  If it's worth your breath to say something, then its worth your breath, time, energy and effort to help correct it.






Offline Louisiana Suvivor

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2011, 04:15:41 PM »
was a life scout....found girls b4 eagle :(

did a little of both styles of camping. outta of a truck and outta a backpack. got like 30+ merit badges. wilderness survival, camping, canoeing etc.

besides being in the HS Drumline Scouts were the GREATEST years of my life

OldManSchmidt

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2011, 11:41:25 PM »
Nate, what council is Camp Hugh Taylor Birch in?  I was there once and really liked the place.

On those complaining about the austerity of camping trips, it seems to me that they haven't been taught and don't understand the rewards that such camping can bring.  Listen, even when I was young and invincible, the "4 lbs. and the clothes on your back" campouts all the time would have gotten old.  In my current physical state, I would have a hard time making a 10 mile road hike, much less 10 miles humping through the brush with a pack full of gear.  Even though I am not up to it, I can still see the attraction for such trips.

So, if I am correct, there is a lack of training and experience involved, coupled with some downright laziness.  Seems to me the solution would be to develop a program that provides training and gives experience little by little while offering enough incentive to convince the complainers to overcome their laziness and exert themselves a little bit.  It seems to me that such a program would need to gradually and steadily increase both the level of difficulty and the rewards as the participant progressed through the course.

Here is what I have in mind on a Council Camp level.  Running 2or even 3 parallel programs, say 2 weekends a month, where the stated purpose of the camping experience progresses from a "bring the kitchen sink" campout for the first outing of the program to the "clothes on your back and whatever you can fit in a shoe box" survival campout for the last one of the program.  The purpose of the parallel programs is that you are running the same program 2 or 3 times concurrently at different points along the program course.  Have the program year start right after summer camp so that it and the summer camp program aren't in each other's way and nobody is starting fresh or ending off in the middle of a snow storm or the dog day heat of summer.  If we allow 2 months for summer camp (about the maximum even for the largest councils), then that leaves room for a 10 campout program, provided no more than 3 parallels are run to allow for a holiday weekend each month.  Let's start in September just because.  In September then, we would have a weekend that had a month 1 camping trip (kitchen sink) as the focus for the first weekend, a month 4 camping trip (pack in personal gear at least 5 miles, but the trailer is @ camp) on the second weekend, and a month 7 trip (pack everything in and out 10 miles) on the third weekend.  All 3 programs would progress to a month 10 trip (pack in and out at least 10 miles with barely anything and manage to survive the weekend) each in their own time.

This would allow people of different skill levels to get involved at something like the level they are prepared for without having to wait an extended period of time for the appropriate part of the program to come around.  It also allow some leeway for scheduling conflicts at the troop level.  I realize that many camps are not like the 1000 acre monstrosity we have here in Lincoln Heritage Council nor do many councils have 2 camps available to them like we do.  In fact, it isn't uncommon for 2 or more councils to share a single camp and the cost of maintaining it.  With that in mind, some councils might have to set limits on how many troops could participate in order to keep the program confined to a portion of the camp while leaving the rest of it available for use by units not participating in the program that particular weekend.

Last, before any of you overworked and underpaid rangers or district executives start screaming that you already have too much to do, that is what the volunteer Scouters are for.  In our council, we have what we call a camp master program.  Essentially, they are non-paid assistant rangers.  They assist the ranger in maintaining the camp and also in dealing with the units using the camp on any given weekend.  Also bear in mind that just because they are unpaid, it doesn't necessarily mean the job doesn't come with perks.  I know at our camps, there is a limited amount of firewood harvesting that takes place with a couple of the camp masters and at least one spends so much of his time working on the camp that he doesn't have to buy fuel for his truck.  The ranger insists that he top off his tanks before leaving for the day.  Of course, that particular camp master spends 4 days a week, every week, working on the camp.  Even at today's prices, he is probably drawing less than $100 in fuel for at least 32 hours of work.  I have worked with this man before on many occasions.  Believe me, he earns every penny and is still saving the council a boat load of money.

Offline Freshman Preppy

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #14 on: March 12, 2011, 07:29:04 AM »
This is a great thread and I'm glad I found it.  I've been a cubmaster for 5 years and TODAY my son crosses over to a troop.  The new troop has a strong leadership in place so I will not be joining as a leader.  I'm hoping to have good camping experiences with them.  Car camping AND minimalist camping.  If I see gaps, I may have to step up and help out like I did with the cubbies.  They do have a full calendar so my hopes are high.

Offline Ranger Dave

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #15 on: March 13, 2011, 10:59:16 AM »
Freshman Preppy, congradulations on the son crossing over. I would say sign up as a leader with the troop, the reason the troop has strong leadership is because of active parents.

Offline Nate

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #16 on: March 13, 2011, 03:36:40 PM »
Nate, what council is Camp Hugh Taylor Birch in?  I was there once and really liked the place.

Not sure I have heard of that camp before.  Is it in Ohio?

OldManSchmidt

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #17 on: March 13, 2011, 04:14:07 PM »
Yes, it is near Wright-Patterson AFB.  The troop I came up in stayed there on a trip to the Air Force Museum years ago.

Found its website here:  http://www.tecumsehcouncilbsa.org/Camping/CampBirch/

As I remember it, it was a wonderful camp.  I don't know anything about their summer camp program though.

Offline Louisiana Suvivor

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #18 on: March 15, 2011, 03:39:44 PM »
Freshman Preppy, congradulations on the son crossing over. I would say sign up as a leader with the troop, the reason the troop has strong leadership is because of active parents.

I Agree! just the simple fact that you're willing to help with the scouts shows that you're there for ur boy. plus im sure there'll be times when they need another guy to go on the outings considering that even the Scoutmaster sometimes has other life things that have to be over scouting. :)

OldManSchmidt

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #19 on: March 15, 2011, 07:26:57 PM »
Freshman Preppy, congradulations on the son crossing over. I would say sign up as a leader with the troop, the reason the troop has strong leadership is because of active parents.

Ordinarily I too would agree.  I do agree that congratulations are in order for both you and him.  On the other, I would say to sign up as a leader if you can.  If your intent is to remain in leadership with the Cub Pack, I can easily see where you might not have the time and energy to be a fully active leader in the Troop as well.  I might suggest that you sign on as a Troop Committee Member.  That would allow you full access to the Troop program without any legal or insurance concerns (Your Cub Scout registration should do the same, but some DE's and SM's are funny about that sort of thing) and still not demand the larger time commitment of an ASM or SM.

I will say that the more active you can be in the Troop, the more it will enrich the experience for both you and your son.

BTW, as I understand it, if you are not a registered Scouter, the BSA master insurance policy does not cover you and you will therefore not be permitted to join in troop outings in most cases.  There is also an issue with the BSA policy about guarding against sexual predators.  I'm not a big fan of that policy because I don't think it works, but it is policy.  My reservations are fodder for another time and another thread.

Offline Louisiana Suvivor

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #20 on: March 18, 2011, 03:20:27 PM »

BTW, as I understand it, if you are not a registered Scouter, the BSA master insurance policy does not cover you and you will therefore not be permitted to join in troop outings in most cases.  There is also an issue with the BSA policy about guarding against sexual predators.  I'm not a big fan of that policy because I don't think it works, but it is policy.  My reservations are fodder for another time and another thread.

i didn't know that. see i was in my church's troop so the legalities never came up LOL. good to know

Offline drthumbs

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #21 on: March 20, 2011, 03:53:23 PM »
Joined as a youth in 1985 ,Eagle, Brotherhood , ASM, ADL, DL, CM PT….the list goes on

Not sure if what I have to add will be much help, but it all comes down to the willingness of the adult leadership. It should  be a boy lead organization, but the guidance comes from the adults.  If there is no wiliness there, then nothing will ever get done.

The troop can go a minimalist as it cares too.   I have recently worked with a troop teaching the wilderness survival merit badge.  It went over well with most of the scouts and the adult leaders.  Plans were already being made by the Scouts for me to lead another similar “survival” campout out before this one was done. 

My boy will soon move up from Webelos to this troop and while we will get a number of the state park type campouts, we will be doing a number of the more primitive style as well

http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=25419.0

Offline Freshman Preppy

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #22 on: March 20, 2011, 04:44:50 PM »
Ordinarily I too would agree.  I do agree that congratulations are in order for both you and him.  On the other, I would say to sign up as a leader if you can.  If your intent is to remain in leadership with the Cub Pack, I can easily see where you might not have the time and energy to be a fully active leader in the Troop as well.  I might suggest that you sign on as a Troop Committee Member.  That would allow you full access to the Troop program without any legal or insurance concerns (Your Cub Scout registration should do the same, but some DE's and SM's are funny about that sort of thing) and still not demand the larger time commitment of an ASM or SM.

I will say that the more active you can be in the Troop, the more it will enrich the experience for both you and your son.

BTW, as I understand it, if you are not a registered Scouter, the BSA master insurance policy does not cover you and you will therefore not be permitted to join in troop outings in most cases.  There is also an issue with the BSA policy about guarding against sexual predators.  I'm not a big fan of that policy because I don't think it works, but it is policy.  My reservations are fodder for another time and another thread.

I signed on as a committee member.  Won't go and NOT help.  I was extremely busy as a cubmaster for 4 years and I don't even understand how the troop is run so I'm going to sit back and soak it up.  The troop is active and has plenty of leaders.  If and when the time comes, I'll be trained up and able to help more.   

Offline JarHeadTed

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #23 on: April 29, 2011, 08:03:55 AM »
I too am an Eagle Scout.  OA/Brotherhood, 5 years on Summer Camp Staff.  When I first joined Scouts, my troop went camping 3 times a year, Spring and Fall Camporee and Summer Camp.  Once I and one of my best friends became the patrol leaders for our 2 patrols, we started camping once a month except for July and August.

Our campouts at first consisted of Packing our backpacks (ironic since we didn't do backpacking at the time) in the Scoutmaster's stationwagon and the Assistant Scoutmaster's truck and going out to the Corps of Engineer's Campground for the Camporee.

After we started camping on a monthly basis we mainly did backpacking with a minimalist mindset (because an 11 year old can only carry so much) all the way up to the father son campout where we had a battery powered TV so we could see just who did shoot JR.  Now I'm showing my age.

It's really up to the troop to dictate what they want to do.  I personally would rather pack my gear in, but at the same time I know many troops would stop functioning if they didn't have their trailers.  My troop didn't have a trailer, but we had patrol boxes for all communal gear such as a dutch oven, saw, ax, and basic group cooking gear.  I built 3 boxes similar to that design for my family camping gear and Bug Out Boxes.  The scouting experience gave me a good foundation and skills I have used just about everywhere I have gone.

Offline phargolf

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #24 on: April 29, 2011, 08:39:25 PM »
I too am an Eagle scout(1965), OA/Brotherhood, former SM, etc. I believe that the amound of gear should be tuned to "what you are trying to accomplish on this campout only). More gear=less time spent on setting up, cooking, etc. but would be great if you are trying to teach them a time consuming lesson, such as conservation, bridge building, etc. Less gear=if trying to develop woodcraft, camping skills, etc. Just an old geezers .02 ;)

Offline peytonriver

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #25 on: May 01, 2011, 07:28:01 AM »
SM and OA, proud about taking a troop over and going to 6 scouts to 24 in three years.

Great thread.

When I here about things not as hard as it was in the "olden" days I think about a saying that I heard while I was in the army but it relates to almost anything. "The army is not what it use to be but it never was." Yes scouting is not like to was 15 years ago but what is the same? My goal as a scoutmaster is not to make mountian men. My goal is to help parents raise thier sons to become productive members of this country and thier community.

As for car camping (using a trailor) yes our troop does it a lot and heres is why. We have  young troop and when get new scouts 90% of them have not slept outside at all or with out a parent. Our goal is to keep the boys in the scouting program and if they hate thier first camp out with us they will never come back.

Now we do have a patrol of 14 year old boys and we are taking them to the next level of camping carry everything they need in and out.

In the end we as leaders need to keep the scouts having fun and they will stay in the program.

Offline Nate

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #26 on: May 01, 2011, 08:16:38 PM »
Our goal is to keep the boys in the scouting program and if they hate thier first camp out with us they will never come back.
In the end we as leaders need to keep the scouts having fun and they will stay in the program.

As an Eagle, Vigil Honor and former camp staffer for 8 summers I agree with you 100%!  No sense overwhelming the boys on their first trip.  Easing them into the more rustic experience seems the way to go.  I plan to use this same approach with my children in regards to camping and backpacking.  Someday if they choose to join Scouting I hope the Troop they join has the same mindset from the leadership.  If not, it will be something I will have to remedy!

Offline Freshman Preppy

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #27 on: May 05, 2011, 04:58:56 AM »
Just attended the SM/ASM training Saturday.  Next step is the adult camping experience and then I'm fully spun up and ready to jump back in.  I was the cubmaster for 5 years but Scouts is a totally different animal.  It's going to be a great time!

Offline Pathfinder

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #28 on: May 05, 2011, 08:01:48 AM »
Just attended the SM/ASM training Saturday.  Next step is the adult camping experience and then I'm fully spun up and ready to jump back in.  I was the cubmaster for 5 years but Scouts is a totally different animal.  It's going to be a great time!

Great news.

I wanted to remind everyone, though, that the Scouting ideal is a boy-led troop, not a parent-led troop. We were the latter, and the SM I served under worked long and hard to convert it to the former. As a part of the transition, we (adults) did Junior Leader Training with a formal syllabus - in the woods though, way cool place to teach leadership - and after 3 years the older boys were even running the JLT. We also emphasized the coolness and fun of the Woodbadge training (I was a Bear), and enticed a number of adults to take the course. When I started as ASM, we had zero Woodbadge leaders. When I left for ND, we had 6 or 7 IIRC. That training helps immensely.

When we made the small, incremental changes, the troop took off, and was the envy (and the bane, but that's another story) of the Council and the other troops. And the adults could enjoy the camp outs, as all we had to do was conduct over-watch of the activities, not actually run them.

As for camping, use the same approach. If you find your troop is doing the "kitchen sink" approach, don't jump right in and try to change it, but put together a special "wilderness" camping outing plan, present to the leadership, and make it happen. This will help you gauge the boys' reaction, as well as those of the adults (many of whom I found do not like losing their luxuries, even for a weekend). Perhaps even start small, conduct some 1-day or during Troop meetings wilderness training sessions - how to lash poles, how to build a snow shelter. Come prepared, train some of the boy leaders, help them make it look effortless, and the rest of the boys will get interested.

Offline bigbear

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Re: Looking for thoughts about Scout camping
« Reply #29 on: July 01, 2011, 12:51:08 PM »
Nice thread...  I'm an Eagle, OA, Vigil, etc.  (Don't have a clue what some of the letters people were throwing out there above are though!)

My troop did the full range from car/Summer camp.  To minimalist backpacking at Philmont.  And there is a place for each.

I enjoyed the car camping stuff for the sheer fun of throwing in the soccer ball or football and playing games with the guys.  Having the extra screened canopy was nice during dinner too.  It's not just a good time for entry level adventurers.  But it's a great place for them to start.

We also did a 100+ backpacking trip in Philmont.  It wasn't living off the land and we have food pick up spots scattered around the park.  But we did have a few dry camps where we had to plan ahead and pack water into some campsites.

We also did a few wilderness survival trips where we built our own shelters and the meals for one of the days could only hunted/gathered (no guns though).  Fish with some wild onions was the popular meal.