Re: Yosemite Bear Development and Outdoor Citizenship
Norman J. MacLeod (gaelwolf@SSNET.COM)
Fri, 30 Aug 1996 07:20:43 -0400
A few answers from my perspective on your questions...
> 1. Should we ever build a wood fire in the backcountry?
Yes, there are times when wood fires are acceptable. This is generally in areas
where the use levels are fairly low and the climate amenable to rapid replacemen
of hte wood used. Wood ought to be collected from the ground, since these areas
tend to have enough dead wood that cutting from trees is not necessary.
Enourmous bofires, however, are not appropriate in normal backcountry
Why should we have wood fires on occasion? Atmosphere aside, the ability to buil
a fire out of locally available material can be a real life-saver in the event o
of our Scouts is someday stranded by a wilderness emergency. Self-sufficiency is
an essential skill we need to be teaching.
> 2. Is the "standard latrine" outmoded. Should we always use individual
Certainly the idea of using individual catholes has considerable merit. But, as
you say, kids in the age group we serve are not always very thorough in carrying
through on the clean-up side of things. They need to be taught how to build and
use catholes to th point where it becomes a fairly automatic process that requir
little thought beyond proper siting of their "spot".
> 3. Can we actually camp in groups of 30 or more in many backcountry
> sites, without too much trampling of the foliage?
Not really. However, if you have enough adult leadership to spread the group ove
a couple of miles of mini-sites, you can go a long way toward reducing your
backcountyr impact. Not only that, but spreading your hiking into small "teams"
will gain you some measure of resepct from other backcountry users.
> 4. Are the "camp improvements" we sometimes make environmentally
Perhaps we could limit the "improvements" to projects approved by the folks who
manage the land we are camping on or backpacking through. Trail associations are
always happy to have you perform some measure of trail litter pipck-up and
maintainence, as are land tract managers. Of course, you do need to "stetch out"
bit to reach these folks sometimes, but it's very much worth the effort.
> Admittedly, most of the time backcountry campoing is limited to older
> Scouts, but if we don't teach "environmentally sensitive camping"
> from the beginning, we may be making a mistake.
That depends. We have eleven year olds out on the trail, too. Their trips are no
as extensive as those of the older Scouts, but they do get into the same
territory, even if by shorter routes. And, yes, we do train them in the proper u
of hte backcountry from Day One.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City