Jan 9, 2012 at 6:09 pm #1283916
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.Jan 9, 2012 at 7:28 pm #1822399
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).Jan 9, 2012 at 7:57 pm #1822409
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
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.Jan 9, 2012 at 8:44 pm #1822431
Sometimes once…… Sometimes.Jan 9, 2012 at 9:34 pm #1822442
Huh. Guess we'll have to add homophobia to our troop. Didn't know it was required.Jan 9, 2012 at 9:40 pm #1822445
@bestbuilderLocale: Pacific Northwest
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.Jan 9, 2012 at 9:41 pm #1822446
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
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.Jan 9, 2012 at 9:54 pm #1822452
@bestbuilderLocale: Pacific Northwest
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.Jan 9, 2012 at 10:12 pm #1822457
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.Jan 9, 2012 at 10:22 pm #1822461
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?Jan 9, 2012 at 10:36 pm #1822471
@thefatboyLocale: St. Louis
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.Jan 10, 2012 at 4:51 am #1822545
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.Jan 10, 2012 at 5:14 am #1822551
I see. Good answer Martin.Jan 10, 2012 at 5:40 am #1822557
@dallasLocale: North Texas
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.Jan 10, 2012 at 8:38 am #1822618
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.Jan 10, 2012 at 9:35 am #1822640
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.
ManfredJan 10, 2012 at 3:25 pm #1822840
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.Jan 10, 2012 at 4:57 pm #1822876
> 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.Jan 10, 2012 at 7:08 pm #1822929
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.Jan 12, 2012 at 1:32 pm #1823881
@taedawoodLocale: Louisiana, USA
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.Jan 14, 2012 at 6:13 pm #1824817
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.comJan 15, 2012 at 6:53 pm #1825139
@markrvpLocale: North Texas
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
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.Jan 15, 2012 at 7:20 pm #1825151
@markrvpLocale: North Texas
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.Jan 15, 2012 at 8:15 pm #1825160
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.
BobJan 15, 2012 at 8:38 pm #1825170
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
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.
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