Scouts-L Mail Archive for August of 1999: Re: Dilemma.....backpacking!
Wed, 11 Aug 1999 10:49:38 -0400
James Ball from Orlando FL asks:
>how do you induce Scout aged boys to want to do backpacking and hiking
How indeed. Like you and some of the others who have already posted to
this question, our troop's boy leaders do not always seem open to any
activity that might make them sweat.
Having returnd last Sunday from a week's stay near Orlando (our troop
did Scout Days at Disney World) I can agree that you have some months of
the year that make camping in general unattractive to me. It was HOT!
I don't find the argument that backpacking activities are too expensive
to hold much water, however.
Our troop deals with the expense of backpacking gear by supplying tents
and stoves for the boys. We use the Eureka 2 man A-frame type tents
that run about $100 each. Coleman Peak One Feather 400 series stoves
are our stove of choice. The troop also has several donated packs that
new members can use untill they can earn enough to buy a pack.
Almost all (not our Disney trip, but most all) of our outings are
organized along the lines of a backpacking trip. Even camporees and
such car camping outings. That lets the boys practice the skills they
use when they do backpack. Camp setup, cooking, cleaning and site
reclamation are done using low impact methods.
That way the Scouts don't need to buy two sets of camping gear and
we are able to use an area for a campout and not leave a trace of our
presence. I feel that the latter helps build good will toward the
Good quality packs, sleeping bags, and particularly, boots are
expensive. That's why our troop participates in all Council backed
fund raisers (popcorn and Scout Show ticket sales). We also have
a troop trash pickup activity each quarter that earns money. The
procedes from these activites are credited to the participating Scouts'
escrow accounts from which they can buy Scouting related gear, uniforms
and pay for Scouting trips.
Now that the equipment question is solved, how to get the boys to
schedule backpacking and hiking activities? Quite simply the Troop
Committee rides herd on the PLC's schedule choices. At the annual
planning meeting, as Scoutmaster, I can help counsel the boys that the
Committee will not approve a calendar that lacks enough chalenge.
Without the Committee's approval the calendar will not be implemented.
Fortunatly, the Committee memebers are strongly in favor of the boys
spending time in the woods, although, with proper leadership from the
adults at the calendar planning session the Committee doesn't have to
flex their muscle very often.
Getting the boys to participate is the trick. Few of them are inter-
ested in 20 mile "death marches." When setting any Scouting outing
one of the main factors should be fun. Reasonable trek distances that
take weather and terrain are important. The activities that are part of
the trek should be interesting and fun. Fishing, nature study and
gourmet cooking are things boys like to do and are examples of the kinds
of activites that can be included in a backpacking trek.
I must admit that we live in an area blessed with many great places to
hike and camp. Darn few are like Philmont, but there are plenty of
fun and chalenging places to spend a weekend. It does take a bit
of effort to make it all work, but it certainly is well worth it.
Yours in the spirit of Scouting,
Dan O'Canna Lexington, Kentucky