Meal Trading Strategy
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- This topic has 26 replies, 6 voices, and was last updated 3 years, 3 months ago by David Y.
Jul 23, 2019 at 7:09 pm #3603130
I know there’s a box where you can exchange food. We also REALLY don’t want to cook a breakfast. Do you simply go to the box as soon as you pick up the food and exchange? Do you instruct scouts that if they don’t like a particular breakfast or lunch item, they need to make sure they pick something up that’s comparable so they eat enough?
Is it ever possible to exchange a dinner for the entire crew? I wouldn’t think so.
I have a couple picky eaters who probably need to be monitored to make sure they’re eating enough.Jul 23, 2019 at 8:57 pm #3603144
I feel for you; we don’t cook breakfast either. We start hiking before dawn each day.
Commissaries don’t generally have Swap Boxes. Swap Boxes are usually only found at Staffed Camps. Their staff put out their Swap Box on the porch of their cabin during daylight hours. Any and all crews are welcome to contribute or take any un-opened food items any time the box is on the porch.
Swap Boxes generally have odds and ends of items crews don’t want or like but seldom complete meals for a crew of any size.
If you have a meal you don’t want be thinking ahead and investigate Swap Box for gems, you’ll be surprised what people put in them. As you may pass through one or more Staffed Camps during your hike you will have multiple opportunities to search for goodies and be able to collect enough breakfast and lunch type items days before you need to cook that breakfast.
Each morning our Crew Leader lays out all breakfast items in a line of 12 equal piles. In the case of a mis-matched substitute breakfast items the piles may not be identical, just equal. Camper may swap or give away items they don’t want.
“Philmont should be enjoyed, not endured.” MoonshineJul 23, 2019 at 9:20 pm #3603151
I think you can table this one until your first food pick up. The crews figure out pretty fast what they like and what they don’t like. To build on David’s comment above, your crew leader can gather input from the crew on what to leave behind from the food pickup and what to pick up. I, for example, loved the squeeze cheese with jalapeno others did not.
Breakfasts are the most problematic I think. Some Scouts love breakfast bars and others like oatmeal, etc. If you already know on Day 1 that no one in your crew will eat oatmeal, you probably don’t want to carry it, and it goes into the box.Jul 23, 2019 at 11:18 pm #3603176TAG in AZBPL Member
Honestly, there is generally enough variety in the food bags to take care of most picky eaters. Scouts can trade amongst the crew and forage out of the swap boxes. No one should go hungry.
And, if all else fails, take the tortillas. I say this on every Philmont food related post, but really, you can take as many as you want at food pickup.Jul 24, 2019 at 1:15 am #3603189
Sounds like we’ll be good and swapping out the cooked breakfast shouldn’t be too much of a challenge.
I know if I get cat food (tuna) for lunch, I’ll be looking to swap it.
Thank you!Jul 25, 2019 at 1:42 am #3603342Stephen EversonBPL Member
The swap boxes show what is not the favorite of the crews. One swap box was filled with the spicy peanut butter. I went to one swap box and it seems like an entire meal ( the one with the mashed potato) was in the box..for an entire crew….can’t believe the entire crew did not like meal but there were enough packets in there for an entire crew…..I also tried to grab one or two of the Justin peanut butter packets and have one of the those before I started hiking in the morning to give me some energy before we stopped for breakfast. We had a special stuff sack to put all the breakfast meals for the morning in. When we would pack up in the morning, one person would carry the breakfast bag. When we finally reached a nice place to have breakfast, only one person had to dig into the pack to get the breakfast out. System seemed to work well for us. We also took a sharpie and would mark the outside of the bag with a crew members name. This way, each two person group would get their meal packet. Each two person group would jointly go through the bags and decide what they were/were not going to eat. Some wanted the gatorade packets, some did not. Our thought was to why carry food you and your partner were not planning on eating. This was just our strategy for handling food.Jul 25, 2019 at 4:19 pm #3603404
Every crew needs to work out a strategy for meal and food planning rather than be hap hazard.
We do go through all our food packets at Commissary pick-ups to eliminate extra weight and packaging like cardboard to reduce weight. But we try to keep and eat the main menu items to maintain Philmont’s balanced diet over the 10-day period. There are some meals we just don’t like but try to force them down anyway.
Our treks are in the high 20s and we bag a lot of peaks, so our Scouts are always famished so everything is completely consumed. We check the Swap Boxes for extra items to enhance some meals and keep hunger at bay.Jul 26, 2019 at 9:34 am #3603514
Just a thought: over a 10 day walk you could eat just about any diet you like, as long as you got enough calories. Even a somewhat unbalanced diet over that short period would do not harm imho.
So why eat things you don’t like? Skip the ideology.
CheersJul 26, 2019 at 12:33 pm #3603527James ASpectator
Just back from my first trek at Philmont.
One misconception is that you need to put something in the swap box in order to take something out. Not true! Take what you want and dump what you don’t. Check out the box first thing when you get into camp. Then as other crews drop things off, check it again later. We found some real gems like Pop-Tarts, which the guys snagged quickly!
We did not ever cook breakfast in order to save time. We did make cold oatmeal right in the packets a couple times. You really do want to minimize the time you spend in camp in the mornings. Getting caught in an afternoon thunderstorm is not fun, so get the miles in during the AM hours.
I weight about 175 and definitely needed to eat everything Philmont gave us and then add a few snacks each day from swap boxes in order to be full.
Peanuts! No matter how much you may love peanuts, you will get tired of them, I promise.Mar 1, 2020 at 7:46 am #3633830
Looking at the 2020 menu four breakfasts require boiling water or cooking like a supper.
Cooking directions for the two Mountain House Breakfast Skillet Entrée on day 5 and Biscuits and Gravy on day 10 each require 13 minutes to rehydrate the meal after the time it takes to boil water, sanitize dishes, sit and eat and clean-up after. This takes as much time as cooking and eating a supper. You’ll be in camp a long time that morning which means you will be hiking during the heat of the day and might miss getting the best camp sites or to do program at your next camp.
The two instant oatmeal breakfasts would not be as bad if you eat them right out of the package, hold with folded bandana and just add boiling water. You can lick your spoon clean and fold and trash the bag, bingo!
The rest of the items in those 4 meals are good finger food and worth saving. You just need to find items the Swap Boxes to replace the cook ones, which should be easy.
These may be good meals if you were backpacking in a winter environment and needed a hot breakfast but at Philmont in summer I think I’d rather eat finger food and hit the trail. There’s plenty in the Swap Boxes.
“Philmont should be enjoyed, not endured.” MoonshineMar 2, 2020 at 8:04 am #3633930
In the South Country, the commissaries are located at staff camps, so there will be a swap box, just not right in front of the actual “commissary”. The commissaries I saw were “ISO shipping containers” (like a small truck trailer without the axles) away from the staff cabin. I think the containers are used because they are bear-proof and virtually rodent-proof. They may even make the “beginning of the season” delivery to the camp using them.
As an aside, don’t be scared of re-hydrating dinner in a pot as the ranch specifies. It really isn’t the “soul-draining time waste” people make it out to be. Cleaning the pot is fast if you use something to scrape the pot out. Use a spatula with a handle and a lucky Scout or two can get extra servings out of it. Worked for us, when they were done with the pot it looked clean. A quick scrub, rinse, and you are done.Mar 2, 2020 at 8:35 am #3633934
Philmont: We notice that lots of crews are leaving cooked breakfasts in the swap box.
Also Philmont: Let’s give them more cooked breakfasts.Mar 3, 2020 at 8:03 am #3634094
Philmont did not used to offer cooked breakfasts and now that so many crews are rising and hiking early the two are in conflict. I wish Philmont would go back to non-cook breakfasts, it allows crews to get where they are going before the mid-day heat and afternoon storms without having to go thru Swap Boxes for substitutes.
“Philmont should be enjoyed, not endured.” MoonshineMar 3, 2020 at 8:42 am #3634096
At least one cooked breakfast was in the rotation since at least 2015 (that’s just as far back as I have paperwork, I believe it has been for many years). Crews have been waking up before dawn for a couple of decades, so this is not a new concern.
The spirit of the choice is probably to reinforce eating as a crew and preparing things together.
The Philmont program isn’t about developing “21st century least-effort backpacking skills”. It is about teaching Scouts to be self-sufficient and responsible for their activities. It is about dwelling in 214,000 acres of undeveloped land with some of the best scenery imaginable. Waite Phillips wanted Scouts to see the West as he did, on the ground and working for the privilege (it truly is a privilege). Philmont is the WHOLE journey, not just the staff camps.
The best way for a Scout to learn that there are potential consequences to decisions is to see a “less than perfect” (in the eye of the beholder) day. If you start cooking before dawn, you can be walking “at dawn”.
Cooking breakfast will not ruin a day, let alone an entire trek. Ask your Scouts their opinion WITHOUT influencing it by phrases like “wasting time” or other terms. How YOU and the other advisors frame things will affect how they see things.
On a shakedown, time cooking and cleaning a breakfast. It isn’t going to take more than an hour -less than that if you have practiced. Let that be a day you cook in the pouch if you are really worried about every minute. (The staff camps don’t inspect your trash bags to see if your empty pouches are clean and dry)Mar 3, 2020 at 9:45 am #3634099
I know in 2014 there were no cook breakfasts.
Mountain House’s normal pouches are made to be used as cook-in-pouch with boiling water for the convenience of solo backpackers not working as Scout patrols.
I don’t know about now, but until 2016, Philmont had Mountain House suppers repackaged in pouches that would not stand-up to boiling water to discourage the cook-in pouch technique and to ensure the Scout patrol cooking methods. The repackaged pouch was plane-jane silver foil with just printed name, ingredients and directions.
“Philmont should be enjoyed, not endured.” MoonshineMar 3, 2020 at 10:20 am #3634103
Yes, PSR officially says cooking in the bag is bad. I suppose I should have given some caveats.
The bags USUALLY will hold 200 degree F water, IF you treat them GENTLY, don’t move them, and provide external support. We experimented with this on a shakedown and it worked. Sample size of five pouches – your mileage may vary.
At PSR, we used the big pot to rehydrate and boiled water in a one liter and 1.8 liter heat exchanger pots. The 1.8 liter pot worked for the sanitizer since each our bowls and spoons would at least halfway fit in it.
Even in the pot, I don’t think the cooked breakfasts are contrary to Scouts enjoying themselves. Definitely not the pinnacle of efficiency, but certainly not awful. You could eat breakfast with a dinner for a second course. Or replace the Pasta Primavera with breakfast food. (Did I mention I hated the Primavera? Like window caulk with noodles in it.)Mar 3, 2020 at 2:11 pm #3634127
I have trouble seeing the importance of having a group of Scouts cooking all in one pot.
Is it possible that Philmont is letting ideology dominate over the practical?
There is a saying about some of the really softer ‘sciences’ that they progress one funeral at a time. Sounds a bit like Philmont.
CheersMar 3, 2020 at 2:53 pm #3634139
Philmont does it because it’s the patrol method. I get that.
However, in Scouts you should learn different skills. By the time a scout arrives at Philmont, he’s been doing patrol method cooking for years. He has that skill. He’ll continue with that method after Philmont.
Philmont and BSA do not agree with me on this. It’s their place, their rules, so we follow them. They are not interested in differing opinions on this. I would prefer they use Philmont to learn backpacking skills they can use after scouts should they choose to continue backpacking.Mar 3, 2020 at 3:37 pm #3634144
Philmont does it because it’s the patrol method.
That is totally without logic.
I suggest Philmont does it because a couple of the elderly top bosses want it that way, and won’t (or can’t) change their minds.
Change comes, one funeral at a time.
CheersMar 3, 2020 at 9:27 pm #3634199matthew kModerator
Roger, the BSA is not about learning backpacking skills. It’s about learning how to work within a structure, delegate responsibilities and stuff like that. It uses the outdoors to teach those skills.
That said, I was not one tiny bit disappointed when my son said to me “Dad, I’d rather go backpacking with you in the Sierra than go to Philmont carrying a stupid heavy stove and following ridiculous procedures.”Mar 3, 2020 at 10:28 pm #3634208
I understand about that – I went from Cubs to Rovers myself.
I am just suggesting that the powers that be should learn to delegate some authority to the Scouts and their leaders, rather than hogging all the power to themselves.
CheersMar 4, 2020 at 4:40 pm #3634271
Philmont banned boiling water bag methods of freeze dried food because of the used bag trash that accumulated in the staff camps that needed to be hauled out.
AFAIK if a crew can demonstrate a boiling water method with tupperware bowls to thier Philmont Ranger for example, that would be acceptable.
The BSA patrol method is only loosely correlated with one pot cooking. Over the years there have been multiple reports here at BPL of crews using methods other than the one pot method.
But the crew needs to practice and show the Philmont Ranger that they are using a patrol method to assign the various roles, heat up the water, clean up, namely work together to accomplish the goal. (One cook burning the 4 quart pot of chicken noodles in the dark is not the patrol method IMO.) If the crew cannot demonstrate their preferred method, the Ranger teaches the one pot method.
I personally do not understand this move to hot breakfasts. Most kids these days do not eat hot breakfast at home. I wonder if the meal manufacturer offered Philmont a deal they could not refuse.Mar 4, 2020 at 5:24 pm #3634277
Hot breakfasts – someone mentioned ‘biscuits and gravy’ as an example.
Is this for REAL????
Follow-on Q: does anyone have this for breakfast at home???
Forgive me, but my mind boggles.
CheersMar 4, 2020 at 10:37 pm #3634315
RE: Biscuits and gravy. Yes served all over the US in restaurants. It was never served at home where I grew up in Northern California. I think it might have come from the South originally. See here:
https://www.southernliving.com/recipes/biscuits-and-gravy-skillet-recipeMar 4, 2020 at 11:08 pm #3634319
Ready in just 45 minutes, this rich and flavorful breakfast skillet will be on the table in no time!
Yes, I can see why Scouts might not want to bother with this.
And while the title SAYS ‘biscuits and gravy’, I note that the list of ingredients starts with a heap of pork sausages, butter and flour. Most misleading – but still almost an hour to prepare.
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