Family Camping and Troops - <long>
Cliff Golden (C60DJK1@MVS.CSO.NIU.EDU)
Sat, 18 Feb 1995 18:12:00 CST
Is Family Camping Legal for Boy Scout Troops?
I know family camping is legal in Cub Scouting. It makes sense
there. We want the Cub to have a positive experience, and having
his family there makes him feel safe and secure. If he has a good
experience camping as a Cub he will more likely join the Boy Scouts
when he gets older. Everything we do in Scouting we do for the
boys. That's the rule I've always operated under.
In Boy Scouting, camping is for scouts and leaders. We are creating
an environment where a group of boys under their own leadership can
solve problems and overcome challenge. They develop leadership
skills and gain self confidence. They work as a patrol within a
troop. That makes sense to me.
When a troop invites the entire family along, with mom, dad, and
brothers and sisters, I believe this changes that environment very
dramatically. How does the inclusion of family members on a troop
activity help achieve the aims of Scouting? Is is legal by BSA
A troop in my district was inviting the whole family along on all
of their troop activities. Complaints were made to the council from
parents concerned about girls attending on overnight camping events.
The council told me to bring this unit around and end the family
camping. I was told it violated the BSA rules. I sent their unit
commissioner in to talk to them and she was told basically to "mind
her own business, their troop was running just fine the way it was."
The council told me that their charter was in jeapardy if they
continued family camping and especially if they allowed girls to
attend meetings and activities. I talked to their Chairman and
Scoutmaster, both of whom I had known over 20 years. I warned them
about the possibility of their troop's charter being pulled.
BTW their troop is over 50 years old and was the 2nd largest troop
in the district at the time. It was an unpleasant situation for me.
There were some hard feelings. The situation was resolved. They no
longer allow girls on campouts and have stopped family camping as a
troop. They boycotted district events for awhile, lately they have
been participating in district events again (their troop has won the
last Camporee and Klondike Derby).
In the recent issue of Scouting magazine in the "Front Line Stuff"
feature, a troop talks about their family campout to the Grand
Canyon. If that is published in a national BSA publication then is
family camping by troops legal? It contradicts what I was told.
I know there is a book on family camping for Boy Scouts, but it
specifies that family camping is a "family activity" for individual
families on their own, not for a troop of families together.
The purpose of family camping as I understand it, is to take the
family into a new environment away from the external distractions of
their daily routine and give them quality time together. They can
function as a family unit doing things together as a family.
To me a troop of families camping together does not meet the goals
of troop camping or family camping. The boys will be running in one
direction, the siblings in another, and the parents hanging around
talking about their kids. Quality family time will be diluted by
the distractions of the group. Patrols will be overburdened to
provide for family members or not function at all, replaced by the
family unit. I don't see where boys will be learning leadership or
self reliance with parents there to care for their needs. Programs
will have to accomodate younger family members which will reduce the
challenge level for Scouts. Where is the benefit to the boys?
Families doing family camping by themselves makes sense to me,
troops camping by patrols make sense to me, but families camping as
a troop makes no sense to me at all. I think it blurs the goals of
both family and troop camping. How do the boys benefit from this?
Are we doing this for the sake of the boys, or is this for the
enjoyment of parents? Who are we serving?
Finally, is their a concrete policy of the Boy Scouts of America
that is written down in black and white concerning this issue?
I have a feeling I might get some phone calls from that troop asking
why family camping by troops is being touted in the last issue of
Scouting magazine as something positive for large troops.
I need some input here.
YIS Cliff Golden, DeKalb, IL Scoutmaster Troop 33
Three Fires Council BSA Advisor Post 333
Kishwaukee District Commissioner
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City