Re: an item from rec.backcountry
Ricky Steverson (RSteverson@BEACHLIFE.NET)
Fri, 26 Dec 1997 11:18:52 -0800
> So, my question is: Is this a common perception of Boy Scout outdoor
> ethics? If so why? If not, why do we get the bad press?
It doesn't take but one troop, or even one boy, to leave that impresssion of the BSA in
someone's mind for years. My wife was told by a state forest ranger when we were family
camping one time that he hates having Boy Scouts in his camping area. Seem that some
troop had some scout practice their Tote-in Chip skills on the wooden barriers around
the camping area. No telling how long ago that was.
She (my wife) told me about that when I got back from my first campout with the troop.
I had been a little put out by what I saw as minor bad behavior by the troop leadership.
The SM had the troop camping on two campsites at an improved campground. That was
about 12 tents, 22 people on two sites, where the camp rules were two tents, 6 people
max. per site. Why? I got the impression that the SM wanted to save money. There were
empty sites around us. He had the boys digging a pit to dump grease and dishwater, when
I voluntee to haul it to the RV dump station to prevent another camp rule volation by
the troop. Sunday, a friendly ranger stopped by to advise the ASM (SM was with some of
the boys away from the site then) that he was aware of us, that we were over the max.
cap. of site, which he had been ignoring because of the troop's after dark arrival on
Friday, and that we would be better off in a youth area that the state forest have
availiable by reservation. With that, the ranger left a card with the contact person's
phone number for youth camp reservations. The SM, when the info was relayed to him,
chose to hear only the warning, and got bend out-of-shape about the rangers picking on
At another campout in the Gulf Island National Seashore, the leaders were complaining
about the park regulation prohibiting wood fires (charcoal fire were allow in grills).
They could not understand why, with all the wood around, they couldn't burn wood. At a
camporee, a ASM found a stand of bamboo and decided that he would cut several canes for
some lashing projects. I found out later that cutting live plants at that site was
None of these things occurred in backcountry, they were all in typical car camping
areas. So what wrong here? A leadship that can't seem to understand WHY these rules
and regulations are there, that can't believe that they should apply to ALL. These
adults are not all bad, they do a good job of having the boys police the site before
leaving a camp. But they are living with a code of behavior that out of touch with this
time, a code from their youth, in the BSA from years ago. I would hate to think of what
they would do in a backcountry environment. If they can't understand restrictions on
cap. are necessary to prevent widespread detruction of plant life, and restrictions on
fires are necessary to prevent turning a campsite into a charcoal pit, they don't have
any business in the backcountry.
I believe that the BSA has a responsibility to see that "Leaving No Trace" training is
availiable and given to every adult in the Scouts. This is the only way to ensure that
the scouts of today get the right kind of outdoor skills, regardless of them going into
the backcounrty. Yes, using axes, knifes, building campfires, and building monkey
bridges are fun, but we have to understand that they are limited in today's outdoor
world. And when we understand, we have to see that our scouts understand, too.
Ok, I'll get off the soap box now. Thanks.
Rick Steverson, CC
Ft. Walton Beach, FL
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City