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Camping Merit Badge - Front Country vs. Back Country Camping

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  • #16
    Originally posted by delway View Post
    Hello, I'm a SM and Camping MBC for a relatively new troop. We worked on the camping I totally believe in the "nothing less and nothing more" policy, but I don't want to cut corners on a Eagle MB. I'm Inclined to approve his plan providing he gets his patrol to forgo their chuck box with dutch oven and plan and pack in trail meals and trail equipment since 7B & 8D requires him to pack in some of the patrol gear and his patrol agrees to eat a trail meal instead of car camp meal.

    p.s. this is the same scout that insists on email interviews instead of face to face or telephone interviews because the requirements do not say you can't.
    Originally posted by ScoutNut View Post

    It seems that while you refuse to allow "nothing less", you are not opposed to adding something "more".

    If you follow the requirements - as they are written - you will not be "cutting corners".
    With ScoutNut 100% on this one.

    In addition to his comments, what does the boy's patrol have to do with his MB? MBs are an individual pursuit. It's one thing if the Scout wants to ask his patrol to help him by foregoing the gear, it's another for you to dictate it.

    The broader issue here is that MBs should not be interwoven into the troop program. You can, and I think should, keep MB opportunities in mind, but troop meetings and campouts are not merit badge school. Your dual roles, SM and MB Counselor, will recreate this sticky situation over and over again. Now that you've seen the potential mess early, leave it here. You be the SM, there are plenty of MB counselors.


    • delway
      delway commented
      Editing a comment
      The boys patrol is involved because 8D requires him to cook three meals for his patrol including a trail meal. We can't afford to cook duplicate meals and most of the patrol would prefer a dutch oven meal then a trail meal for a frontcountry / car camp out.

      We are a small troop with a couple of dozen scouts. SM and ASMs double up as MB Counselors.

    • ScoutNut
      ScoutNut commented
      Editing a comment
      Only 1 of the 3 needs to be a trail meal. The other 2 can use a dutch oven, solar oven, campfire, or no oven at all. It is up to the SCOUT doing the merit badge.

      Yes, since he is cooking for his patrol, he should get their input on what they will, or will not, eat, however it is the SCOUT who should be making the decisions for his merit badge.

      For the Camping merit badge, his meal choices are based on the menu the SCOUT created for requirement 8-C :

      "Prepare a camp menu. Explain how the menu would differ from a menu for a backpacking or float trip. Give recipes and make a food list for your patrol. Plan two breakfasts, three lunches, and two suppers. Discuss how to protect your food against bad weather, animals, and contamination."

      Notice the part that states - "Explain how the menu would differ from a menu for a backpacking or float trip." This means that his menu can be all car camping, all the time, if that is what HE wants.

      Also - remember, nowhere does it state that the "trail meal" is REQUIRED to be cooked and eaten, on a backpack trip, or on any trail, anywhere. It simply states it must be a trail meal using a lightweight stove. The Scout can set the lightweight stove up in the CO's parking lot and cook the trail meal for his patrol there if necessary. Is it the preferred way? Of course not. However, it is NOT against the rules.

  • #17
    What a fantastically funny thread......Choked on my coffee.....OH MY.

    This is how we get the no fire building, can't tie a knot, do first aid or find their way out of a paper bag eagles.

    Soooooooo, Who is his merit badge councilor?????? what does he or she have to say on the subject????

    Oh that's right you did it as a troop. NOT the way it was intended.


    • qwazse
      qwazse commented
      Editing a comment
      MBC's can and should take into account different boys circumstances. There is plenty of ways to knock off a given requirement. The troop-method does undermine the ability for each boy to come up with his own style. And as we see here, put's the OP on the spot if he does things a little differently for one boy vs. the others.

      But, even when it's not about MB's, boys can sometimes expect an SM to deliver them the lowest common denominator. ("You're making me do X while Johnny only had to do Y." or "Why do I have to do X? Nobody else does!") It's usually in the interest of the troop if the SM insists on that bit of flexibility.

      So, the problem would come up anyway. This time it just happened to be about a required MB.

  • #18
    But, even when it's not about MB's, boys can sometimes expect an SM to deliver them the lowest common denominator. .
    From your lips (keyboard?) to God's ear. I wasted 30 minutes of my life last night being screamed at by a father wanting exactly this. Any time any Scout has squeaked by on one element of the program, he expects that to become the new standard. Whoever did the weakest Eagle project, whoever had the lowest level of activity, whoever did the worst job in a POR and still slid in under the wire, that's the standard he wants applied to his kid.

    Of course, that way the standards are constantly lowered, never raised. Eventually there will be no standards at all.

    Sounds like society in general.


    • perdidochas
      perdidochas commented
      Editing a comment
      Wow, That's incredible. I had seen some of the Eagle Projects done. I tried to (and succeeded) in getting my son to bite off a pretty ambitious project. I wanted him to have the most activity possible. I wanted him to do a good job on his POR.

    • qwazse
      qwazse commented
      Editing a comment
      2C, you probably said something this, but my standard reply (especially to my own kids): "I know what the boy is capable of, and I am holding him to words 4 through 8 of that oath he makes at every meeting."

    • Twocubdad
      Twocubdad commented
      Editing a comment
      Fair and consistent are the by-words. It would be neither if we hold anyone to a higher standard than the lowest minimum. I believe it was Emerson who said "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of a small mind."

  • #19
    Originally posted by delway View Post
    We are a small troop with a couple of dozen scouts. SM and ASMs double up as MB Counselors.
    Does your council not maintain a list of registered MBCs? Use the troop resource survey to increase your pool of talent:‎
    In either case, that doesn't go toward the issue that the troop program is not merit badge school, and you should not use your muscle as SM to impose a MB on your troop or uninvolved scouts (in this case the boy's patrol). If this trip was a one-off, that's one thing, if this is the MO of your program, things should be rethought. A solid program will provide MB opportunities, a MB-centric program is stifling.


    • #20
      Originally posted by Rick_in_CA View Post

      It's not Baloney. There are more restrictions now.
      Call it socialist steak, it's still baloney.

      A note to young readers!

      Citizenship in the Parlor Worker's Paradise!

      "Pay attention please. Thank you!"

      "Is next . . . Daywear!"
      "Is next . . . Eveningwear!"
      "Is next . . . Swimwear!"

      That's what government-imposed monopolies do: Force your parents to brainstorm excuses for dreadfully inferior products like the BSA Camping Merit Badge.

      To the "Trained" adult mind, Parlorwear Eagles are inevitable.

      Citizenship Merit Badge Vocabulary Words:

      Dictatorship of the Proletariat
      Dictatorship of the Parlortariat
      Wood Badge
      Den Leader
      Free Market
      Perp Walk
      Something for Nothing
      7.7 Trillion-Dollar Bailout


      • #21
        Originally posted by Rick_in_CA View Post

        "50 years ago we did not take rifles backpacking."

        The point wasn't that they were taking rifles, it was that they were camping without direct adult supervision - something the BSA no longer allows.
        No, your point was "If any group of scouts tried that today, a bunch of people would probably end up in jail."

        As for RichardB's "Centennial Year" attack on the "Real Patrol" Method: What do you expect? His boss gets paid a million dollars a year to bash camping.

        So what?

        How did that actually impact your own outdoor program? Was it 4 Patrols times 4 Weekends per month for a total of 16 fewer Patrol Campouts per month?

        50 years ago it never occurred to us to ask our Scoutmaster for permission to camp without adult supervision, even though it was "required." The "simple reality" is if you teach your Scouts how to backpack, they will begin to buy the equipment they need to go backpacking on their own. Like we did 50 years ago. They will invite their friends, some of whom may be in their Patrol, and some of whom will not be Scouts at all.

        They may ask their parents for permission, but they won't ask you.

        Originally posted by Rick_in_CA View Post

        "No law then or now prohibits unsupervised teenagers from backpacking in national forests (or most state wilderness areas)."

        Incorrect. California state law (which applies even in national forests here) makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to be "out in public" without adult supervision between 10:00 pm and sunrise (there are exceptions for traveling home from a movie, etc.).

        There is no such California state law.

        Originally posted by Rick_in_CA View Post

        I've been told camping in a state park is considered "out in public" (I haven't consulted a lawyer on that point however).
        "Been told" by a Trained Webelos III leader, you mean.

        I called the head of Cleveland California National Forest Law Enforcement (858-673-6180). He said he had never heard of such a state law, and if one existed it would not be his job to enforce it. He did say that there are city and county laws designed for urban areas, but he has never heard of one being used against Boy Scouts in a National Forest or state wilderness area.

        The problem is that Wood Badge has been dumbed down to the Den Leader level, so BSA camping is usually a Webelos III event in a Boy Scout camp or other family venue. So when a "Trained" leader hears the term "state park," he or she thinks of state family campgrounds (where unsupervised teenagers might be discouraged) rather than state wilderness trailheads, which are essentially the same as National Forest trailheads.

        And of course: Wood Badge victims can not distinguish between a Troop backpacking program and a "Real Patrol" overnight.

        Originally posted by Rick_in_CA View Post

        "When I got my driver's license we drove 100 miles to the Adirondacks on school vacations. I know "21st century" Scouts who drive 200 miles after I get them addicted to backpacking."

        In California at least, it is illegal for a driver under the age of 18 to drive with any passengers under 20 years of age unless they are accompanied by a licensed driver over 25 years old. Plus they can't drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

        The age of passengers is unrestricted after holding a driver's license for one year, or at 17 years of age, whichever comes first. That's about the same as it was 50 years ago in New York State.'..._United_States

        Originally posted by Rick_in_CA View Post

        So yes, it's much more difficult for teens today to just pick up and "go camping" than it used to be.
        So no, it is not more difficult for teens today to just pick up and "go camping" than it used to be.

        What is more difficult for teens today is to find a "Trained" Boy Scout leader that does not brainstorm excuses for a Boy Scout program literally (not figuratively) designed to get parlor boys to Eagle without ever walking into the woods with packs on their backs.


        • Rick_in_CA
          Rick_in_CA commented
          Editing a comment
          Ouch. Kudu you are correct. The source I had found that listed the curfew law as a state law was incorrect. It was a city ordinance. But I bet that a bunch of kids camping by themselves without adult supervision could cause legal problems (locally someone had child services called on them for leaving a 14 year old girl home alone overnight).

          And you are correct that the driving restrictions only last a year (or until the driver turns 18 if that comes first). So unless a group of teens have someone at least 17 years old with an unrestricted license, they aren't going to be driving themselves a 100 miles to go camping.
          Last edited by Rick_in_CA; 02-11-2014, 05:40 PM.

      • #22

        State parks around here do not allow scout-age teens to camp without an adult.
        No person under the age of 18 will be permitted to camp unless accompanied and supervised by a person 18 years of age or older who has been issued a permit; provided, however, that at such facilities as may be designated by the commissioner, no camping permit will be issued to any person under the age of 21.
        Customers must be 18 years or older to make a reservation.
        Photo ID is required upon registration at the campground.
        A camping permit or reservation shall not be issued to anyone under 18 years old.
        Minors must be accompanied by an adult who accepts all responsibility for the camping party.
        The designated head of the camping party staying overnight on the site must be at least 18 years of age and is responsible for the conduct of all campers and visitors on the site

        Add to that, that many parks now use online reservation services which require a credit card.

        Never had those restrictions back in the day when I was a scout planning campouts, just typed a letter and mailed it (with cash) to the park ranger,


        • DuctTape
          DuctTape commented
          Editing a comment
          In NYS, there is much more land that is not a "Park" in which one can camp without a permit or payment. State Forests abound and then there is the Catskills and Adirondacks.

          Vermont also has plenty of state land (and national) open for primitive camping for free without permit. I am sure a quick search will find the same for NH. Doubtful for MA tho.
          Last edited by DuctTape; 02-08-2014, 01:34 PM.

      • #23
        Originally posted by RememberSchiff View Post
        "(8) No person under the age of 18..."

        Is a subset of

        "(g) Camping at authorized sites, cabins or other structures."

        That is Webelos III camping, not a backpack trip.

        In New York State you need a permit for wilderness backpacking only when you camp in the same spot for more than three nights, or in a group of ten or more people.

        Originally posted by RememberSchiff View Post

        Customers must be 18 years or older to make a reservation.
        Photo ID is required upon registration at the campground.
        "Campground" being the operative word here, if the photo of the paved sidewalks and crushed stone campsites didn't give it away.

        I did call one state park and the weekend guy said, "Well, I don't know of any Massachusetts wilderness age rules, but I wouldn't send them out on the AT any younger than ten or eleven without adult supervision!"

        Originally posted by RememberSchiff View Post

        A camping permit or reservation shall not be issued to anyone under 18 years old.
        My underage New Hampshire backpacking experience is limited to the White Mountain National Forest, where there are no age restrictions.

        If the term "state park" is too confusing, unsupervised Boy Scouts might stick to National Forests and the Appalachian Trail (AT): Massachusetts has 90 miles of AT trail, Vermont has 150 miles, and New Hampshire has 161 miles.

        A Note to Young Readers:

        If your "BSA Trained" adult leaders can not tell the difference between a family campground and a state wilderness trailhead, you might be safer in a campground that requires photo ID!


        • RememberSchiff
          RememberSchiff commented
          Editing a comment
          Ok, I misread the NY regulation, though it seems odd that NY of all states would allow any camping without a permit and a $$$ permit at that. So I'll amend my statement - State parks (MA, VT, NH) around here do not allow scout-age teens to camp (at a campground, campsite, primitive site, whatever) without an adult...Never had those restrictions back in the day when I was a scout planning campouts, just typed a letter and mailed it (with cash) to the park ranger, which was my point.

        • Kudu
          Kudu commented
          Editing a comment
          Even more disturbing for adult backpackers is the statement on the New Hampshire site:

          Camping in N.H. State Parks is only permitted in organized campgrounds.