Scouts-L Mail Archive for August of 1999: Re: Northern Tier prep
Re: Northern Tier prep
Fri, 27 Aug 1999 22:02:21 -0500
I'm sure everyone who has been there has a routine for prep. For those who
have not, don't underestimate either the amount of work involved nor the
amount of planning required. Some suggestions:
1. Practice canoeing, even if you don't have the chance to complete Canoeing
merit badge. We take the Scouts to a nearby lake for afternoons. We work
in shallow water for a while and practice what to do with a swamped canoe.
Much better there than in a cold Minnesota lake.
2. Conditioning is key. Running or jogging, plus repetitive weight work
make the most sense to us. The long pull against the wind is an aerobic
workout for sure. When it blowing hard is not the time to run out of steam.
Instill in the Scouts and Adults that they must be willing to keep going
until a safe place is reached in a blow. Swinging broadside to heavy waves
is an invitation to a swamping.
3. If this is your first trip, while the lighter Kevlar canoes sound
enticing, stick to the heavier aluminum canoes. They have more capacity, a
wider beam and thus more stable, and they are durable. This summer, for
example, we say a crew of Scouts wedging themselves and gear in a nice canoe
- all complaining about the lack of space and how unstable they were. Gear
was stacked HIGH and the center of gravity was correspondingly high. One
canoe with the key advisor had already been dumped, on their first day.
4. Portaging is a skill. Learn it before you go. Find someone to teach you
how to properly lift and carry a canoe. Borrow a 70 pound aluminum canoe
and practice in a park big enough walk around for ten minutes. Learn the
balance and feel before you have to learn on a slick rocky portage trail.
Likewise, carry heavy packs without waist belts. Find out who has the
strength for each task. Sometimes a person can carry a canoe but not pick
it up. Learn team work to help with the pick up and set down.
5. Divide your groups into crews that balance size and strength. We like to
use crews of seven plus the interpreter. That's two adults, five Scouts,
and the interpreter. Uses three canoes. The interpreter, the smallest
Scout and a good size Scout go in one. The two largest Scouts and the next
smaller Scout in the second, and two adults in the third. The adults get
extra cargo. The crew cooking gear goes in special pack, the food goes ina
a special the Scouts share two Duluth packs for personal gear, and the
adults share a Duluth pack for personal gear and the excess crew gear. The
interpreter usually has his personal gear in a small pack. If you were
counting, that five packs and three canoes for eight people to carry - thus
only one trip per portage.
6. To accomplish the crew work division, you must pack LIGHT. Pare down
religiously to the absolute minimum. The lists you get from Sommers are too
much stuff. Fanny packs can help a little, but beware of those becoming a
7. Team work. When a crew arrives at a portage, how ofeten do I see
everyone get out of the canoes and look at the adulst, waiting for them to
unload. Wrong. A good team will immediately begin to unload. Every person
is responsible for specific gear to unload, to carry across the portage and
to reload. When the canoe is back in the water, it should be automatic for
every piece of gear to go right back in the same place. Then nothing gets
left behind and forgotten.
There are many more ideas, but that's a good start. Feel free to email me
personally for packing lists, meeting agendas, etc.
High Adventure Leader
Troop 59, Venture Post 2159