Oct 1, 2012 at 3:32 pm #1294620
I'm working on an activity to keep the interest in some of my older boys and challenge their skills. I would appreciate any feedback/concerns/issues the collective may have… (I'm known for coming up with ideas that sound good but aren't always practical. :o)
So here's the general concept… Each scout will have their backpack with a few snacks, some water and jacket/hat/gloves. Their sleeping bags, tents, food and clothing, however will be placed at three separate caches spread over a wilderness area of about 5 square miles. The idea is that they'll divide into two or three teams (with an adult) and have to navigate between the caches before arriving at their campsite.
My intent is to provide each team with a topo map with their caches marked but no routes identified. There are no marked trails. Each team's gear will be at different locations approximately 1/2 to 1 mile apart. The area I have in mind is bounded by four backcountry roads so they have clear boundaries in a national forest. Elevation gain is no more than about 500 feet. There is no water. It's a mixture of high mountain meadow and tree-lined ridges.
Am I crazy or something that I'm missing or should add? Thanks for any thoughts…Oct 2, 2012 at 7:11 am #1917471
Erik BasilBPL Member
I think you've got an innovative program idea there, and it sounds like a great one, too. I hope your Scouts go for it and that you tell us about it, afterward.Oct 2, 2012 at 8:06 am #1917489
Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Sounds like a super awesome idea.
Just some top of mind feedback…
Here in California many of the orienteering club events work closely with the local land management agencies. It might be a good idea to coordinate with the local NFS office. I know once I was on a public land hiking where it was posted "stay on trail" and came across a 2 person orienteering team coming from off trail. When I mentioned this to the ranger at the TH, he knew all about them. Given how remote your area is, the NFS should also know whether there are possible illegal (drug) activities going on that could put the Scouts at risk.
Second, have a detailed emergency plan that spells out what to do: self evacuate, call you, call 911, etc in case someone breaks a leg. If the local land management agency knows there are 20 scouts out in the woods in section 123 (See above), it could speed up any response.
Third work with your Scouts on how to implement the LNT principles. They are principles after all not rules. Sometimes we need to travel on surfaces that are not durable but still need to use our brains to practice the ethic of LNT.Oct 2, 2012 at 10:23 am #1917516
Thanks for the comments… Good point about notifying the local NFS. The area isn't trafficked much by foot, mostly folks who are looking for primitive camping. There is a fair amount of ATV/motorcycle activity but hope the NFS can help us minimize. BTW, this idea came from a scouting friend of mine when we were thinking up a wilderness survival weekend. Will post some results when we get it done… Hoping to do this in a few weeks. Thanks again…Oct 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm #1917632
If you get them to take headlamps with them you'll at least be setting them up to be prepared to keep going when it turns dark. (which could be fun in itself).
Our last backpacking trip got a really delayed start. So we ended up doing night backpacking. The guys really enjoyed it (to the point of a few of them suggesting we do it again).Oct 3, 2012 at 2:27 pm #1917863
A few suggestions…
1. Make sure that the adult carries emergency gear, to include a few liters of water in case they don't get to their caches.
2. Have emergency supplies at the four corners of the boundary roads so that if they get turned around they can just shoot an azimuth to a road and then walk it to the intersection. You might even want to have their destination campsites near those intersections.
3. Turn it into a real survival weekend. Use it to teach them what they need to know for the Survival merit badge and then put it into practice by spending an "unexpected" night outdoors. Then in the morning they can gather themselves together and all rendezvous at a campsite you have already set up for a big breakfast. I did something similar with my ROTC unit when I was in college, we ran a patrol with a few missions in the mountains of WV for two days and we only took one meal per person for the weekend…that turtle was a welcome sight and very tasty on the second day. :)Oct 5, 2012 at 11:21 am #1918431
Thanks for the ideas. Since we've not done this before and currently planning to do this in the next few weeks, I'm a bit reluctant to press the overnight survival scenario. We'll be camping at 8500 feet so wet snow is a very real probability and all of its associated risks. Good point on the emergency supplies at corners and I'm currently planning on using one as the stepping off point with the opposite corner as the destination campsite. Maybe we can get a couple of folks to sit at the other two corners… I'm planning to head out to the area this weekend and scout out some good cache locations but we're also forecasted for 2-6 inches of snow so may have to delay… Thanks again for everyone's two cents!Nov 19, 2012 at 7:59 am #1929600
We completed the race this weekend. Due to ongoing elk season, we decided to move the event to one of our local council properties vice the national forest. This shortened the course and also prevented staging gear at each cache/check point. I created two routes (one for each patrol) of approximately one mile each with checkpoints spaced about 0.5 km apart. Check points consisted of a Mtn House dinner hung from a branch with bright orange construction tape. Each scout carried their full pack through the course which included about 800 feet of climbing in densely wooded terrain between 8500 and 9500 feet. Since we had all the older scouts who like to sleep in, they opted to start at about 3 p.m. (Sun is behind the mountains by 4:15). I wasn't sure how long it would take so it added a little stress for the boys (and adults). Given the course arrangement, we decided to let the boys go without any adult (I could hear them most of the time from our backwoods campsite.)
So some lessons learned…
1. Scouts don't practice these skills enough. Even though all points were found, both patrols needed some guidance to get their bearings and locations.
2. Timing. We got squeezed into getting this done now (Nov) for some external reasons. The event would have been much with longer days and warmer weather, not to mention no hunting season.
3. Even considering the first lesson learned above, the courses were too short and one passed too close to the final checkpoint/campsite. One of the groups drifted off course and stumbled into our camp. They dropped their packs and nearly ran the last couple of checkpoints.
4. Time for the patrols… 35 minutes for one and 60 minutes for the other.
5. Practice. I assumed the boys could maintain their bearings and a pace count to the checkpoints. I was a bit disappointed with their performance but the boys learned some lessons which is more important.
The boys feedback was positive so I'll give this another go in the spring.
-DanNov 19, 2012 at 3:10 pm #1929700
@cameronLocale: Idaho Falls
Sounds like the boys had fun and it was a good learning experience. We ran a mini adventure race for some kids from a youth group once and the results were similar (kids struggled with navigation). I think navigation is just something you need to practice to get right.
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