Jun 15, 2009 at 5:11 pm #1237096
Raphi SchusterBPL Member
Although I enjoy my 10-pound pack as I soar ahead of my troop lugging their 30-pounders, my dad has talked down to my use of solo tarps and individual cooking. He says that I should be part of the troop and camp and eat their food.
Is it really "un-scoutlike" to not be "part of the troop?" I enjoy scouting and hiking with them, but I'd like to use my own tarp and food to save weight instead of lugging 5-6 pound tents and 3lb cook kits around.Jun 15, 2009 at 5:17 pm #1508371
jim drauckerBPL Member
@mtnjimLocale: Shenandoah Valley VA
I think you would be teaching these Scouts to do more with less.
JimJun 15, 2009 at 6:08 pm #1508385
Scott BentzBPL Member
@scottbentzLocale: Southern California
You don't have to lug around 5-6 lb. tents or 3 lb. cooksets. All you have to do is train them how to do things the way you do.
First, if you want to cook as a group that is fine. Just use the freezer bag or the cook in your own cup method for dehydrated food. Someone can carry the large 4 or 6 quart pot like they do in Philmont.
Second, there are a lot of options in lightweight single wall tents. We also have 4.5 lb. free standing tents that the kids just split up (fly, cover, poles, etc.) and each is only carrying a bit over 2 lbs.
We typically just buddy up with someone and cook together. Usually, we have 4 adults cooking together and the kids can do the same. We still go a lot more lightweight than any other troop we see.Jun 15, 2009 at 6:41 pm #1508395
Dumb down, or smarten up?
CheersJun 15, 2009 at 9:21 pm #1508421
>"Is it really "un-scoutlike" to not be "part of the troop?" I enjoy scouting and hiking with them, but I'd like to use my own tarp and food to save weight instead of lugging 5-6 pound tents and 3lb cook kits around."
I too have had the same exact question for a long time. When I talked about wanting to use a frameless pack next trip, my Scoutmaster pointed out that I would not be able to help others by carrying some people's gear who packed like idiots and that I am having the wrong attitude. It just makes me sick. last trip I ended up carrying someone's sleeping bag for them and I hated it. If they hadn't packed like a retard and our SPL hadn't not made him present his gear (that was his first trip so I don't know WHY he did't) to one of the leaders to make sure he wasn't bringing too much, I and others would'nt have had to take 1/2 his gear!!!
Scout leaders let's hear your opinions please!Jun 15, 2009 at 9:23 pm #1508423
>"All you have to do is train them how to do things the way you do."
It's more difficult then you think, especially when you are just the Troop Scribe and not someone like a Scoutmaster/ SPL/Troop Guide…Jun 15, 2009 at 9:26 pm #1508424
Ken T.BPL Member
Evan, Were always taught… You want it, you carry it.. Preselected group gear is of course the exception.Jun 16, 2009 at 5:31 am #1508463
jim drauckerBPL Member
@mtnjimLocale: Shenandoah Valley VA
I am our Troops UL guy. I enjoy teaching Scouts how to go
light. The one line I won't cross is safety. I have had to
deal with the bigger is better mentality for a long time.
Seen many a miserable face, young/old after they carried too much junk all day. Stick to your guns, do the ul thing
whenever possible. Be respectful of you leaders. In time
people will catch on to your example. Our Troop still goes
heavy some times. Jamborees, Trailer at basecamp etc.
When we backpack now almost everyone goes light, except one
adult. He shys away from longer more difficult treks though.
JimJun 18, 2009 at 6:19 am #1509007
I'm a new scout leader, although it is cub scouts. However, here is my general thought on the subject.
first, if you look at the Cub Scout law, the first thing they teach young scouts:
Law of the Pack
The Cub Scout follows Akela
Your scout master is responsible for you, your saftety, saftey of the troop, planning the hike, leading the hike, getting you there, etc. He has put in a lot of time and probably personal expense to put on this hike. He's probably doing that even though he has a family and job of his own he needs to attend to as well. The last thing he wants is some renegade scout wanting to do his own thing and not particpating as a group. Not condemning you, just put yourself in his shoes for a bit. He has to plan not whats best for a particular individual, but whats best for the group as a whole. Yea, it sucks if you have to tote someone elses gear. But, as a scout master, what would you do in the field if someone can't carry their load? Call a taxi and send him home? The scout master has to get everyone home safely, even the dumbarses.
If he sets the rules for the hike, then if you want to particpate you need to abide by the rules. Rather or not you agree with them. If you want to see the troop go lighter, then you need to work on that during the preparation leading to the hikes. Maybe ask to do some classes or presentation on how to lighten the load and how to achieve the same things with lighter equipment. But ultimately, you have to accept the decision of the group and/or leader or choose not to particpate. When you become scout master, then it will be your turn to set the rules.
Life isn't always fair. It sucks. But trust me, if you are outgoing, your life will be filled with pulling the slack of others.Jun 18, 2009 at 6:43 am #1509010
that may have come off a bit harsher than I attended. I'm just a firm beleiver that when you join a group, you have to understand that there needs to be a leader and you have to respect that leader's decisions. He's having to see the big picture and take on a large responsiblilty, as members, we often only see smaller portions and don't have to accept much responsbility.
As a member, the group will run far more smoothly if we accept and respect the leaders decisions, even if they aren't the best, then if we say no, I don't like that and do our own thing.Jun 20, 2009 at 6:45 pm #1509557
I echo all the sentiments for you to help educate your fellow scouts on the path to "enlightenment". I can't speak for your trips but our troop trips are group activities and group gear including food is a shared burden. If tents are shared, each Scout carries part of it or makes up the difference with food. Meals are planned together by patrol and everything is distributed equitably with a bias towards the older scouts as the youngest guys are already struggling based on their size and conditioning. I don't think you should have to carry someone else's tent if you have your own tarp, but Scouting is about working together and group cooking is a part of that experience.Jun 20, 2009 at 7:25 pm #1509567
@jdw01776Locale: Southeast Texas
>>Your scout master is responsible for you, your saftety, saftey of the troop, planning the hike, leading the hike, getting you there, etc.
Planning and leading a hike (or any troop activity) is the responsibility of the troop youth leaders, not the Scoutmaster. The Scoutmaster's role is to guide, mentor, and coach the youth leadership.
Raphi — There are plenty of resources on this site to show how a crew or patrol can do lightweight backpacking. Share them with your PLC and Scoutmaster. If you really want to do lightweight backpacking, get elected to a leadership position, and teach, guide and mentor your fellow scouts…Jun 20, 2009 at 8:08 pm #1509573
Mark McLauchlinBPL Member
@markmclauchlinLocale: Western Australia
Would it just not make sence to teach the entire troop to carry light, that way no one needs to carry anyone elses gear. The excuse that someone elses load is too heavy and others needs to help goes away..
A while ago I bumped into a scout troop, while makeing their dinner the leader was explaining to them the advanages of going lighter. I think it makes sence.Jun 21, 2009 at 6:28 am #1509594
>>Planning and leading a hike (or any troop activity) is the responsibility of the troop youth leaders, not the Scoutmaster. The Scoutmaster's role is to guide, mentor, and coach the youth leadership.
same thing. You still have to relent to the leader's decisions. To disagree and do your own thing is determential to the group.Jun 27, 2009 at 6:14 pm #1510851
@rogertateLocale: North Texas
Raphi & Evan-
We adult leaders have high hopes for our Scouts. We want you to learn leadership by giving you hands on chances to do that. One of those leadership skills is leading by example. Another is being a good team member (follower).
When it comes to UL backpacking, are you being an example simply just by carrying a lighter pack and cooler gear? Maybe … if the others realize your load is lighter and you are having more fun. You might be a better example if you extend yourself a bit more. I'd suggest that the next time you have a New Guy with an overweight pack, you trade packs with him for an hour. The extra weight won't kill you for that long but you will sure get New Guy's attention about how much lighter he could go. If New Guy just isn't going to make it to the night's camp without a lot of help, encourage the other senior scouts to take turns trading packs with New Guy for a while. Doing that will also make you all into a team. Then, when setting up camp, you can all teach New Guy a better way.
In the back country, the safety of the team depends on everyone working together to reach the team's goals. You will do well in Scouting and in the rest of your life if you learn to put your team's needs first. But (and this is a big BUT) that doesn't mean switching off your brain if the leader is taking the team into a dangerous situation like a swift deep stream crossing. Even if the rest of the team are lemmings, your responsibility is to speak up, question the direction, and propose a better solution.
Another idea for teaching your troop is to talk to the outing leader (SPL) before the trip and get him to OK you going lighter than the group with a commitment that you will give a training session for others on the trip. See, now you are getting to do things your way, but serving the needs of your troop while you are doing it.
Roger TateJun 27, 2009 at 10:57 pm #1510873
In my troop you're behavior would be mostly OK.
I have taken weight from Scouts who were unable to keep up and given it to Scouts who were unable to slow down and stay with the troop. That's part of being part of a group (not to mention being helpful & courteous)
I'd be encouraging you to cook with someone to save weight and to teach them how to go lighter. I let my Scouts work out those arrangements on their own because I think that leads to learning experiences that make Scouting worthwhile. Other troops work much differently.
How did you learn to go so light? Are there any lessons there that you can use to teach others?
I'm not clear on what position your dad has with the troop; that could complicate things for you.
You basically have 3 choices:
– get with the program
– find a program you like
– change the program you're in
I recommend trying to change the troop first. I guarantee that you'll learn a lot. It's a great way to learn about leadership. It's also the hardest, the most rewarding, and the most work.
If you read some Scoutmaster's questions on this site and others about how to get their troops to go lighter you should get some ideas and you can discuss your challenges with them. The have the same problems that you'll face – believe it or not the difficulties are almost the same for you as for those Scoutmasters.
One site, really more of a mailing list is Scouts-L, http://scouts-l.org/ there are a lot of adults there who would love to mentor you in solving this issue.
You haven't given enough information for me to really help you form much of a plan.
A successful plan might involve identifying the appropriate adults and Scouts and building support with them. A lot depends on your personality and the other personalities involved. Is there an adult in the troop that you can approach for help and advice in changing the troop's culture? Someone you can go to and say "Mr. X I want to teach our troop how to backpack better."?
Here's a 3 part plan: build awareness, teach techniques, and practice the techniques.
This part never ends.
In my troop I've developed a culture of gentle teasing about the amount of weight people carry. We jokingly try to talk each other into carrying weight for us. Try to make the macho, stud thing being able to go with the least weight not the most weight.
I point out how much lighter some of my gear is compared to their gear. Some of my adults haven't lightened up much, they like their MSR Reactors and Jet Boils but they don't bring camp chairs anymore either. Progress is progress.
I frequently point out that instead of buying Nalgene bottles, people should go the local grocery store and buy a bottle of water. It costs 89 cents instead of 8 dollars, it weighs next to nothing and it comes filled with free water. :-) And when it gets grungy, throw it away and spend another 89 cents for new one.
Your Scoutmaster can create leadership positions from thin air. If you go to him with a plan, there is no reason you couldn't have a leadership position like "Legend of Lightitude" or "Gossamer Ghost" or something else that catches your fancy.
Awards and competition can be ways to motivate Scouts. Maybe beads of different colors on a safety pin for going backpacking with a pack below some weight. 30 lbs gets a black bead, 28 lbs gets a brown bead, … 10 pounds a gold bead. Publicly recognize people who make progress.
Teaching the Techniques:
You might show the contents of your pack compared to someone else's at a troop meeting and let people feel the difference.
You might break out some scales and show folks how much difference there is in sleep systems at one troop meeting, clothing systems at another, & etc.
For example, at one meeting we went outside during the winter when it was in the 40's or 50's (OK so we don't get cold weather here) and demonstrated how well wet cotton, wet fleece wet wool, and wet polypropylene insulated. It was memorable and instructional. You need to try to create similar demonstrations – Scouts lose attention quickly if you spend too much time talking.
You might talk about the three piles techniques or help some Scout (or even your Scoutmaster, Scouts love to see authority figures instructed. It's also a chance for your Scoutmaster to be a good example of learning) go through his pack in front of the troop after a trip and make 3 piles: Stuff they used everyday, stuff they used occassionally, and stuff they didn't use. Be theatric so your troop pays attention. Extra points if you work some of it out before hand, like a skit.
The occasionally used stuff and the unused stuff should be looked at carefully with an eye to leaving it home next time. You can point out alternatives to save weight.
My troop got Ryan Jordan to go on a hike with us several years ago. We paid his way and his hotel and gave him an honorarium. Ryan has a lot of experience working with Scouts and Scout troops. It was helpful in getting my troop to think about the weight they carry. Check out the Scouting link from the backpacking Light home page.
You could contact Ryan and work with your Scoutmaster, SPL, and troop committee to see if you can get make such an outing happen. We did it as a YLT outing
Can you get some competition between patrols? Some sort of award for being the patrol carrying the smallest fraction of their body weight?
Maybe you could teach the troop how to do tarp shelters. This could be preparation for a tarp-shelters-only outing or two. If you were to get really involved with the planning and execution of those outings, in most troops your enthusiasm would carry the day and everyone will be happy to let you do it.
After you do a tarp shelters only outing then you could do another outing like maybe a survival outing. Some troops have an outing where everything you bring has to fit into a 5 gallon bucket. There could be some sort of award for doing it with only stuff that fits in a 3 gallon bucket.
Once you've got the tarp shelters down, figure out what the next thing to work on is and figure out a plan to teach techniques to handle it.
Practice the techniques
Agitating for some longer, tougher hikes is also a way to get lightweight out of your troop's heads and into their packs – as Ryan once told me. Say a hundred-mile, 7 day trip somewhere in the wilderness might be a good starting point. A trip like that would require some practice trips. If you organized a trip like that, you'd be in a great position to do some teaching.
For example, my troop is going to Philmont in a few weeks. Philmont isn't really about backpacking, IMO, but preparing for Philmont allowed me to slip in a moderate difficulty preparation trip in the fall( a 5 mile day, a 15 mile day, and a 3 mile day) and a really tough 40 miler over the Memorial Day weekend. Having some sort of goal to work toward can be a reason for people to change.
One long day on the tough trip was designated as stove-less. That's because I wanted my guys to work on getting up and getting going in the morning. The fact that they now know how to go a little lighter is just a side benefit.
Trading packs with someone who is carrying too much for a while can help get the point across, especially if you're doing some miles and the person is really tired. I occassionally lend out my hiking sticks for that reason.
Bob SJun 27, 2009 at 11:18 pm #1510876
> Edude says:
>> "All you have to do is train them how to do things the way you do."
>It's more difficult then you think, especially when you are just the Troop Scribe and not someone like a Scoutmaster/ SPL/Troop Guide…
That comment would violate the no whining rule in my troop. As Scoutmaster let me assure you that it is difficult for everyone.
See my long response to the original post. Come up with a plan, step down as troop scribe and convince your Scoutmaster to make you a troop guide or to create a leadership position to execute the plan.
Bob SJun 27, 2009 at 11:32 pm #1510877
>I too have had the same exact question for a long time. When I talked about wanting to use a frameless pack next trip, my Scoutmaster pointed out that I would not be able to help others by carrying some people's gear who packed like idiots and that I am having the wrong attitude. It just makes me sick. last trip I ended up carrying someone's sleeping bag for them and I hated it. If they hadn't packed like a retard and our SPL hadn't not made him present his gear (that was his first trip so I don't know WHY he did't) to one of the leaders to make sure he wasn't bringing too much, I and others would'nt have had to take 1/2 his gear!!!
Edude. That's strange. Why can't you put other folks stuff in your internal frame pack???
As part of a team, you need to help each other out. You may find it less painful to do the needed helping before your patrol gets on the trail, though if you do you won't have as much to whine about.
Your troop, including you, and his patrol let that first timer down. If you all had done your jobs this wouldn't have happened.
Perhaps you can talk to your Scoutmaster and your SPL about this. Point out your troop isn't living up to the Scout Motto: Be Prepared. And – this is important – tell your them what you want to do to improve things.
Maybe you can offer to do pack checks for first timers. In my troop, the patrol leader is responsible for doing a pack check of everyone on their first backpacking trip but there isn't any reason why one Scout can't do it for the whole troop.
Talk to your SPL to get some time in front of the troop to do some teaching and demonstrating. Demonstrating is better than teaching. Keep it brief, keep it interesting, and keep it informative. I always find it useful to refer to actual things that have happened in the troop. If you do that, remember it as an adventure, you're not there to make one feel bad, you are there to inform.
Look at your fellow hikers at the trail head. A Scout needs to be observant. Is anyone carrying too much weight? If so, take action then. Talk to the patrol leader, the SPL, and the Scoutmaster so that *you* can fix the problem at the trail head.
Bob SJun 28, 2009 at 7:45 am #1510908
>I'd be encouraging you to cook with someone to save weight and to teach them how to go lighter. I let my Scouts work out those arrangements on their own because I think that leads to learning experiences that make Scouting worthwhile. Other troops work much differently.
Im the SPL in my troop and we have been doing stuff like this for years. When we go backpacking you are responsible for your own gear, no one else's. And that if you wanted to buddy up and share food, tents, stoves, etc you could, OR you carried all the weight yourself. I do know that a boy, who just aged out, carried a 30 pound cast iron pot up a mountain once, because his mom packed for him. This is why I GREATLY encourage boys to pack for themselves. And it also teaches them that if they brought to much that they should leave behind some stuff next time, and to maybe bring some trail food. My ASPL and I generally hike in the front of the group, because we are the oldest and fastest, and we usually put the weaker hikers with us or in the middle somewhere to balance out a nice pace.Jun 28, 2009 at 4:20 pm #1510963
OK, I am going to go out on a limb here and put up a different viewpoint.
> When I talked about wanting to use a frameless pack next trip, my Scoutmaster pointed out
> that I would not be able to help others by carrying some people's gear who packed like
> idiots and that I am having the wrong attitude.
First, let's look at the legal situation, and this applies equally to BSA, church groups, youth clubs, school parties etc. You might hear this from Search and Rescue groups as well.
The participants are mostly MINORs. When push comes to shove, the court is going to ask who was in charge. You can forget all the waffle about this being the Scouts' trip: the Scouter (Scoutmaster?) is legally, morally and ethically responsible for the safety of the minors in his care. Make NO mistake about this!
If the Scouter does not have the skills necessary he may call on the skills of someone else to help. But it remains HIS responsibility to ensure he has got adequate advice. You cannot shirk responsibility by passing it to someone else.
I applaud the idea of getting the participants to do some thinking about what is involved and what is the correct thing to do. Good stuff – but that is only training for adulthood. It does not change the legal, moral and ethical situation.
Now, to the matter Evan raised. It is the Scouter's responsiblity to ensure that each minor in his care can manage the trip. This includes checking that the minor has adequate gear, but not more than he can carry. The Scouter cannot dodge this legal, moral and ethical responsibility.
So what happens if one of the minors turns out to be carrying more than he can manage? Who has the responsibility to handle this problem? Legally, morally and ethically, the Scouter! He stuffed up his duties. Not some other minor in the party, who has perhaps been a shade more sensible. If one kid has too much gear and can't manage, the **Scouter** has to handle the problem and not try to pass it onto someone else. Yep – he gets to carry the excess!
You can see the benefits of this idea. Next time the Scouter would be just a bit more inclined to handle his responsibilities properly. To check each kid and his gear list. :-)
In short Evan, you were right with your initial choice of lightweight gear. You were behaving in a responsible manner, making sure you had a load which you could handle. Your Scoutmaster was **wrong**.
As to the issue of 'attitude', the Scoutmaster was also wrong – or incompetent. The single most important factor in 'attitude' in a situation like this is being cheerful and not moaning! That is what 'attitude' is about.
Well, my 2c.
CheersJun 28, 2009 at 5:54 pm #1510980
@mikeclellandLocale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
Don't be pressured into giving up on a light pack
But – You should TEACH a class on what you do and why. Add Judgment to the class as a key factor when choosing what to bring.
Also, get on of yer scout buddies in on your UL gig. Make an alcohol stove as a class!Jun 29, 2009 at 11:54 am #1511117
John MyersBPL Member
@dallasLocale: North Texas
>my Scoutmaster pointed out that I would not be able to help others by carrying some people's gear who packed like idiots<
Most Scouts have gear that was purchased for them by their parents.
Many of the newer Scouts have not had a choice as to the gear that their parents got for them, so maybe they are not 'idiots', but rather just not as experienced and/or informed.
That doesn't make it any easier or more fun to help carry someone else's gear, and maybe it is 'unfair',
but as others have pointed out, Scouting is basically a team activity with the advantages and disadvantages teamwork brings.
I hope your Scouts (and Scouters) are able to learn how to lighten their loads, because at the core of all this, backpacking is supposed to be enjoyed, not endured.Jun 29, 2009 at 12:27 pm #1511122
@tippymcstaggerLocale: North Texas
"I hope your Scouts (and Scouters) are able to learn how to lighten their loads, because at the core of all this, backpacking is supposed to be enjoyed, not endured."Jun 29, 2009 at 4:48 pm #1511175
> Many of the newer Scouts have not had a choice as to the gear that their parents got
> for them, so maybe they are not 'idiots', but rather just not as experienced and/or informed.
Very often it is not the gear which was purchased as the excess un-needed and redundant gear that was packed. Plenty of stories about that here at BPL.
Regardless of what the parents purchased, it is STILL the Scoutmaster's responsibility to ensure that the kids do not pack more than they can carry. It the Scoutmaster fails that responsibility he should wear (as in carry) the consequences himself.
Note added in edit:
I went through Cubs, Scouts, Senior Scouts and Rovers. I gained the top Scout award in Australia – Queen's Scout badge. It was fun.
CheersJul 2, 2009 at 1:07 pm #1511735
Joseph JacarusoBPL Member
So if most Scouts get their gear from purchases by parents then the logical solution is to educate the parents. I meet with all the parents before they move up from cubs. In this meeting I start by telling them we are an UL Troop. That we do a lot of backpacking. That this may not be a good match for your son. I show them pictures from recent trips. This year I will have pictures from a 100-mile trip on the AT. I complete the meeting by showing them my gear (including the Gatorade bottle).
Before each trip I encourage the boys to go through their packs and discard things they did not use the last time. After the trip before they go home I repeat the request. I have boys that amazed thru-hikers this season. They wanted to switch packs with us.
The key is knowledge. The more you know, the less you carry.
However I will admit it has been an uphill battle to get all the adult leaders on board. Slowly but surely I'm breaking the barrier and they are coming around. I just got a new leader that does a lot of traditional backpacking. He is eyeing my 50-liter rucksack and starting to ask the right questions.
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