Oct 1, 2008 at 11:00 am #1231361
Here's my problem- Our troop has 1 lb tarp tents for the boys. They work great. We have 12 boys in the troop.
For the last few years I have only had one other adult attend the outings with me, so I carried my UL tarp. I've been wanting to get by with just my Gateway Cape. But I really don't want to share that small space with another adult!
Now more Dad's want to come along. I really don't want to loan my tarp, because of the extra wear and tear (I will have to also put it up for them).
What do I do with housing the adults in your troops and how do I get them into a light weight structure? They have tents, but most are heavier then necessary.
How do you guys handle or work out these issues?Oct 1, 2008 at 11:27 am #1452886
Well, you could actually talk to the adults that want to come. Unless you are carrying the gear for them I don't see why you care so much.Oct 1, 2008 at 11:51 am #1452892
I would just explain the options, and let them figure it out. If they don't like carrying a heavier tent, they'll adapt.Oct 1, 2008 at 2:39 pm #1452911
If I find the reference, I'll post exact directions (Jardine, I think), but I recall reading about (3mil?) plastic sheeting (corners reinforced with tape) used for tarps on Outward Bound outings.Oct 1, 2008 at 3:38 pm #1452917
Tad, you don't say a few of things that might help – what kind of trips do you have planned? What distance? How often does the troop go on a hike? Does your troop provide gear for Scouts and adults?
If it's only once or twice a year for 2-3 miles almost any answer will do. Carrying heavy tents won't be a problem for those hikes. As Linsey says they can also use a plastic tarp for next to nothing.
If your troop hikes 20 miles every month then a more serious commitment makes sense.
Our Scouters have learned with the boys about using tarps and Tarptents. My experience has been that adults enjoy going light too. You can find reasonably priced tarps at places like Campmor.
For Philmont, our troop has bought 2 Tarptent Rainshadow 2s.
For other backpacking campouts (1-2 per year) we have a mix of regular Kelty 4-man troop tents and personal lightweight gear.
Our troop owns gear that patrols use on campouts including tents. Our charter organization (a church) has been very generous with us.
It is great that you have more adults wanting to get involved. I applaud your effort to help them. Scouting works best with plenty of committed parents. If they are really interested you can always get them hooked on backpackinglight.com.
As a Scoutmaster I was always pushing lightweight style on troop campouts. It's been fun as the boys and adults see what's possible. Many have joined the light side.Oct 1, 2008 at 4:57 pm #1452924
Thanks for your responses:
Evan- I care, because I care and I don't want to carry anything for them- Most of these guys are new to the whole backpacking thing, let alone Lightweight.
Joe- oh if it were that easy….read below
Lindsey- I started the boys out with plastic to show them it can be done and it worked (some of the Mom's expressed concern). Now that the boys have good tarps, I'm not to sure how handing a sheet of plastic to the adults will go over. Especially when they have no clue about what to do with it. Again, I'll have to take time showing them the process (That is what I'm trying to avoid). I don't want to have to do it on every camp out because a new set of adults come (I've had a different adult on every outing for the last 2 years, I'm tired of going over everything every time we're out).
Phil- I'm the Scoutmaster. We have a hiking outing every month. The distance is about 8-10 miles round trip usually. Even at 2-3 miles some of the adults and boys struggle- that is why I push the boys to go lightweight. We've increased our distances with out must effort by lightening our loads. The adults have trouble figuring this out.
Maybe I can get the troop to purchase extra tarps, but I'd like the adults to get their own gear so we don't have to show them how to use the troop gear every time we go out.
I do a pack check with the boys and require all packs to be below 18-20 lbs (except for winter hikes), even lighter for the smaller boys.
I guess I should try and have a meeting/class for the parents and have the boys teach the lightweight principles they have learned and how to set up shelters. I just don't think those the meeting was intended would attend.
Again thanks for the input. If there is anyone else with more ideas I'm very opened minded.Oct 1, 2008 at 5:48 pm #1452928
@vigilguyLocale: Northern Utah
Being a long time Scouter myself, I would hold a mandatory meeting for the newbies- and if they don't show up, they don't go on the trek, it's that simple. That may sound harsh, but hiking in groups is a team effort and if they want to function as part of the team, then they need to attend. And I would let the older experienced youth do the teaching to the younger, less experienced youth. As I'm sure that you are aware, it is supposed to be a youth run program, after all. I believe that the Adults will catch on (through handouts and such), but I would focus my teaching towards the boys and making sure the the youth are prepared. Do you have a committee member on your Scout committee that acts as a Quartermaster?
BSA has a great high adventure handbook which is targeted for high adventure activities, and is a superb resource.Oct 1, 2008 at 6:56 pm #1452934
I just bought that DVD from Gossamer Gear about "Lighten Up", show them that some meeting.Oct 1, 2008 at 8:01 pm #1452938
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
1) Have the troop buy a few large lightweight tarps for the adults. In the long run, it is the only way it will work.
2) Be very hard on the 'must show at briefing meeting to be allowed on the trip' rule. Don't make exceptions unless you know the guy is an experienced walker.
3) Have a gear night when everyone must bring their full kit, and you go through each one. This can be at 2) of course. You might need two nights!
4) Why should *you* show the adults how to pitch a tarp? What do you think the more experienced Scouts are there for? I'm serious: have the Scouts show the adults how to do these things. Having to teach others is fantastic for teaching the Scouts themselves, and for boosting their confidence.
RogerOct 1, 2008 at 8:04 pm #1452940
I would require a meeting for anyone who intends to go. Talk about expectations: distance, difficulty, gear they must provide, provided gear, shared load. Provide a handout covering the basics: clothing, shelter, sleep, eat. Make a table comparing different options with pros and cons. Try not to show bias.
If these people are really that new then they should try to get by with what they already have. You are going to have a hard time convincing people to go and buy a replacement for something they already have just because it's lighter. This step comes after they have they catch the backpacking fever.
When talking about philosophy don't talk about a 'light approach' or 'how to backpack light'. The word light carries a negative association with the word sacrifice. Instead, talk about 'packing smart' or a 'smart approach'. Another good word is 'simple'. Make the end result of a 'smart and simple approach' be a 'light approach'.
Lastly, don't try to do too much yourself. Remember that you have a troop of boys with accumulated knowledge. The boys can help new adults learn the gear and basics of setting up camp.Oct 2, 2008 at 1:01 pm #1453023
@scottbentzLocale: Southern California
We do a lot of the above.
This year the troop gave me the time at a troop meeting to explain the ideas and techniques behind lightweight packing. I started with the "Lighten Up" video. It can visually help people understand what it means to "go light"
Go on a lot of hikes in order to learn how to work together as a group and to try different cooking, sleeping, shelter techniques.
Have a shakedown a few nights before leaving. CAUTION There can be a lot of gear "creep" between the shakedown and the departure. You need to be vigilant. If it is a short shakedown hike in terms of time and distance then just let them take the extra. You can go through the packs when you get to camp. They will usually see the folly of their ways. If you are preparing for a long trip you really need to check the pack one more time.
This year we went to Philmont. No scout or leader was over 30 lbs total weight including water and food. One 63 year old (and quite fit) leader told me he had given up on backpacking due to the weight. He now says he can see backpacking for a lot longer.
Our troop owns a lot of equipment. Make sure you put some funds aside for your troop gear.
ScottOct 2, 2008 at 5:49 pm #1453058
Thanks Scott, my boys are great about their pack weight, but just to make sure I have them deliver them to my house and go through them the night before our hikes. They don't see them until we load them in the vehicles for the trip. They all try and see if they can have a lower weight then me. Its created a great competition.
I only have 12 and 13 year old boys so I can't rely on the older one to teach the adults, I have no older boys. We are an LDS troop and at 14 the boys move on to Varsity scouts and in this area they the older boys don't co-mingle with the younger scouts.
I'll try the meeting- I don't want to make it manditory or you don't go- They will just not come and not go. I'd like to make it easy to want to go. I'll keep trying.
Anyone want to loan me the "lighten up" CD. I don't think we have the budget for it.
Thanks for all the input.Oct 3, 2008 at 11:25 am #1453116
@scottbentzLocale: Southern California
I would love to give you my DVD but I can't remember who I loaned it to. They are pretty cheap though at $5.00 a copy. Probably costs more to ship it.
We are also an LDS troop. I know your concerns regarding the older and younger boys. We've made backpacking a priority. We plan a good week long trip in the Sierras each summer and encourage the older boys to participate. We don't get a lot of them on the regular overnighters but they will come on shakedowns preparing for their longer trips.
It's amazing how smooth trips can be with older scouts. They are usually there because they want to. 2 summers ago the scoutmaster hiked out 2 days early because the boys complained so much. They were all younger. I feel bad because some of the older boys were with me instead them on that trip as I was hiking with my boys and nephews on a family hike.
I try and get one or two key older kids excited about a trip. One year we got them excited to get a 50 miler patch. Had a lot of takers. We are planning to hike Mt. Whitney this year. I am hoping some will see it as a challenge and a lot of fun.
Last summer we took a group to Philmont. All were Eagle Scouts. It really was a pleasure hiking with those boys since they were mature and motivated to enjoy the experience.
I forgot to add you are doing a great job with the younger ones in teaching them how to lighten their load. I have some some pretty small scouts with some seriously large packs. It's a shame because it may be so hard on them they may not want to do it again.Oct 17, 2008 at 8:08 am #1454848
Some really good points so far. Regarding the mandatory meetings that Charles suggested–don't worry about scaring people away. Seriously, if adults won't even make the effort to come to a pre-trip meeting, they're not going to have much involvement or effect in the troop. The adults who do show up you can probably count on as adult leaders. I also think that by making the meeting mandatory, you kind of generate a team feeling, locker room pep talk-like. Make the trips a special group effort, something they can take pride in having or developing the knowledge to do.
To second Evan's comment, I wouldn't broach the lightening up subject as ultralight, or backpacking light, or whatever. IMO, I don't think I'd even use the packing smart phrasing (some implication of packing stupid). I regularly get customers in the store, complaining of bad backs or knees, saying they can't go backpacking any more. I don't talk about going ultralight. I just tell them that I can easily get them a fifteen pound baseweight–with all the comforts they're used to, and with strong safety allowances. They look stunned, say wow. I say yeah, the stuff they're doing with equipment these days is really amazing. And you can get by with fewer things than you used to be able to, but still stay just as warm and dry.
One thing that struck me is what sounded like constantly different adults on trips. Sounds like they're not enjoying the experience enough to keep going? I've said it elsewhere, but not everyone likes tarps. A lot of people, and virtually all newbies, are more comfortable in a conventional tent. Mountain Hardwear has the Lightpaths right now, $160 and $190, roughly 4-5 pounds. No, it's not as light as a tarp. But it might make some people more comfortable and keep them coming on the trips.
Regarding younger scouts, and not relying on them to teach… Rely on them! Raise your expectations of them, and they'll raise their expectations of themselves. When I was a kid, my friends and I got our Eagles around 14 or 15. We wouldn't have done that so early if we hadn't been constantly encouraged to lead ourselves and teach others. In my experience, young Scouts invariably enjoy and respond well to increased responsibilities.
My cent.Oct 20, 2008 at 8:06 am #1455295
@scottmphotoLocale: The beautiful Arkansas River Valley
Right now, my troop only has so much gear. If some of the parents want to go, they have to provide their own basic gear. Usually, I don't mind if a few extra adults are around as we have always had a problem getting volunteer leaders.
Before a trip, we always meet and go through the boy's bags to see what they're planning on taking. I can't stop them from bringing some things, but I try to make suggestions as what might be better choices. If it is a backpacking trip, we also weigh the packs and try to get them to understand just how much that extra stuff weighs.
I have a few extra tents (older and cheaper) that we use when family camping that I may loan out when needed but I never loan out my "good" gear because I'm usually using it.Nov 5, 2008 at 8:05 am #1457645
That's kind of a shame that you move your older boys up. You're denying the younger boys a chance to learn from peers, and the older boys a chance to actually prictice leadership thru instruction. But that is probably for a different thread, huh?Nov 5, 2008 at 9:36 pm #1457773
Joe, we are a LDS troop and that is how all LDS troop handle things. We deal with leadership in a different way. The boys have leadership opportunities at all ages. The older boys interact with the younger boys through church activities. You can get more information at your local roundtable- just ask one of the Scoutmasters from an LDS troop how they handle leadership in their church and troops.Nov 5, 2008 at 9:40 pm #1457774
What is an LDS troop and why is it different from others?Nov 5, 2008 at 9:45 pm #1457775
Its a troop sponsored by The church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Boy Scouts is the activity arm of the church's young men's (youth) program. There are a number of minor differences, none better or worse. The differences work better for this organization. About 40% of the scout troops in the US are LDS troops.
For More information, do as I suggested above.Nov 5, 2008 at 10:08 pm #1457776
Then I'd have to go to a Roundtable. Ick.Nov 5, 2008 at 10:18 pm #1457777
You could go directly to your local LDS church and ask them. I was just trying to give you a less direct route.
BTW, most of our district roundtable meetings are pretty informative, most of the time they are worth going to. We even have a local UL expert do a presentation every year. We are working on getting the scouting program in this area to go lightweight.Jan 15, 2009 at 11:03 am #1470382
@finallymeLocale: Utah desert
LDS troops aren't always split up three ways. My first troop included 11-18 year olds. The way the troop is formed is based on how each church unit is split, and this is based on how many adults in a certain area, not how many boys. Because of this, sometimes you get troops with 30-40 boys between 11-18, and sometimes you get 5. This is usually determined by where you live (lots of young families=lots of boys, lots of old people= not so much boys), or the church member population in the area.
The biggest difference between LDS troops and others is how the leadership is formed, and how the troop acquires members. The church is all volunteer, so every position in the church is done voluntarily. However, you don't volunteer for a certain position, you just say you want to volunteer, then they ask you if you want to do a certain one. I was just asked to be the Scout Master. This also means that you get a lot of one time volunteer helpers that won't be scout leaders. They usually have another job in the church that they are doing, but they also have a boy in scouts, and want to go camping. My dad went on every camp out with my troop until I was maybe 14, but he was not a scout leader at that time. The way the troop acquires scouts is also different, generally. Our boys are generally church members with the occasional friend. They also have to live within the boundaries of your church group. If a church group gets too large, they split into smaller groups. This normally lowers the number of boys in an LDS troop. It is rare to see an LDS troop with patrols. A normal troop is the size of what a patrol should be. We do occasionally get together with other LDS troops. Anyways, hope this helps.Feb 9, 2009 at 2:30 pm #1476540
This thread is a little old, but there is currently a series of youtube videos on making a tarp-tent that may be of interest at
There is also a review of the same atJun 20, 2009 at 8:22 pm #1509574
@eaglembLocale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
I have a ~ 1MB Powerpoint presentation on Packing Light we've done for our troop and a few others. If BPL or someone else has a server to put it on, I'd be happy to provide it. I can try to put it on my site but that will take a little while.
Let me know if there is any interest.
BPL (at) mikebarney (dot) netJun 20, 2009 at 10:01 pm #1509581
I'd like to see that…………
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