Scouts-L Mail Archive for November of 1998: Tent Management: Why Bother?
Tent Management: Why Bother?
Mon, 16 Nov 1998 17:01:14 -0500
I would like to take a position contrary to Scott Begin and others who=
advocate Troop-owned tents. If your Troop doesn't own tents yet, don't=
bother. I now belong to a three-year-old Troop that owns only a few=
legacy BSA canvas tents donated by an older Troop. We haven't used them=
yet, but you never can tell!
Scott's recent post is full of practical strategies for keeping Troop tents=
in good condition. You will also note that this position of great=
responsibility has given him a remarkably deep insight into human nature=
and, most-likely, a head of distinguished-looking grey hair. In a=
previous life, I too was an ASM in charge of Troop tents, and I swore I=
would never do it again.
I am now in a High Adventure Troop with many young Scouts. We try to limit=
our car-camping to the fall when most of our new members join from the=
school where we meet. We ask if they can borrow a small tent, and we list=
it as optional equipment in our checklists for beginners. (I write a new=
one every month, it helps keep me from getting in the way of the SPL)=
http://www.kudu.net/troop252/outdoors/check.htm I am always surprised=
at how many Scouts show up at their first campout with their own tent.=
Ownership does not seem to be a function of family income either, as a=
tent is often the first purchase of even some of out most disadvantaged=
When a boy first shows up with a tent, I call his parents after the campout=
to make sure that they know that his tent is supposed to be aired out. We=
haven't lost a tent yet. The lesson here is that most parents know the=
maturity of their sons, and they can monitor & adjust if need be.
It is true that irresponsible Scouts won't take good care of their tents on=
their own, but so what? Just look at all that Scott has to go through.=
Do you really want to be blocking Scouts from Boards of Review because=
one of your Troop tents is moldy, or one of the tent poles is missing?=
The beauty of camping is that it naturally presents plenty of=
opportunities to teach responsibility by reviewing the consequences of our=
actions. In a world of burnt rice and tame bears, why look for expensive=
Also, I believe that there IS such a thing as pride of ownership. A Scout=
who owns a tent contributes a tangible asset to the Troop, and he gets to=
control that small part of his world as well.
An adequate tent costs less than a Scout Uniform. For about $50 you can=
get an Ozark Trails "3 Man" tent at Wal-Mart. Believe it or not, it won't=
fall apart right away. I was in a hard core car-camping-Troop where two=
overweight Scouters insisted on using COTS in these tents! Despite my=
predictions, the thin wire legs of their comfy little beds hadn't poked=
holes in the floor after a year and a half of abuse. We can speculate=
about the maturity levels of children, but most backpacking Scouts simply=
can't do as much damage to their own tent as a car-camping adult can do to=
You can use these inexpensive tents in the winter too. Our Scouts' tents=
get year-around use. We camp in the Buffalo, NY snow without needing=
expensive four-season tents. As long as the rain fly of a dome tent comes=
down to the ground, it will work for winter camping, provided you camp=
near a windbreak like a pine forest if the wind kicks up (or else the snow=
will blow up under the rain-fly).
For winter camping, we require two closed-cell foam mats ($6 at Wal-Mart)=
under each Scout and at least one wool blanket each. We ask that the=
small Scouts sleep three per tent, with the smallest in the middle. All=
of the wool blankets go over all three of these sleeping bags, so that the=
body heat is shared. A winter program is limited by your ability to keep=
hands and feet dry during the day, not by the cost of your tents and=
You do need some training in snow camping, such as BSA Okpik....hey, am I=
beginning to wander? I guess that happens when you don't have to worry=
about that missing tent peg for Troop Tent #7....
Yours in Scouting,
Buffalo, NY and a good old Beaver too!