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  • Campouts: Who should/should not be going?

    I imagine this topic has had some discussion. Our troop is facing the question of whether to allow NON-scout friends and siblings of our scouts to attend Troop camp outs. One school of thought is that it doesn't happen often, and when it does it's usually younger brothers of boys in the troop who need to come b/c dad can't come without both of them. So, we should permit it.

    The other "camp" says this is a bad practice b/c of BSA policy, insurance and because it damages/disrupts the troop patrol dynamic when scouts have to "baby sit" grade schoolers who do not follow shared group duties and bonds. We have one dad in particular who slips his younger, third grader into our troop campouts at the last minute without really asking permission. The dad assigns the boy to a cooking group and the older boys have to incorporate the child into their responsibilities. Now, predictably, we have a second dad who want to know if his grade schooler can join our campouts.

    A third group advises that we show allow non-scouts but inist that they stay with a parent and not be part of troop patrol activities. I don't know how to manage such a policy. What if we have a hike. How do we tell a dad that they must stay in camp at their tent with their non-scout son?

    I see big danger here. What are your experiences? Can you help?

  • #2
    As you've experienced, it's a slippery slope!

    If the troop needs the parent to come along to achieve the two-deep leadership role, then some accomodations should probably be made. They could come in the form of other parents volunteering to babysit the younger sibling, or in the form of the sibling coming as a "tagalong."

    But if you have enough adult leaders, and you don't need the father's presence, the answer should be a polite-but-firm "No." That seems to be the situation you describe. The problem is with the father running roughshod, not with the sibling.

    As with all things, there should be some leeway. If the sibling is a Webelos, for example, due to join the troop in a year or two, I wouldn't have a major problem with it.


    • #3
      Registered boy scouts should go on boy scout campouts. There are two exceptions I know of: boys that meet the boy scout joining age requirements and are being recruited to join the troop, or Webelos scouts.

      All these 'camps' are not Boy Scouting. I see big danger, dejection, disruption, and dismal decline into disarray. :-)

      Scout On


      • #4
        In reference to younger siblings, I agree with Shortridge, if you can say "No."

        In reference to non-scout friends, if they are a prospective member, as long as ll the paperwork, i.e. healthform and permission slip, is with the young man, he is good to go, and is covered by insurance.


        • #5
          Not exactly what is being said here, but I had a discussion about this with more than one scouting professional (in our council). Our council provides complete insurance coverage automatically, so that may make our rules different, but we are allowed to invite prespective non-scouts (qualifying age) on campouts with the troop. They need not be registered, and I would discourage their parents attending. We are expected to have them participate as if they were scouts, and they must (just as the members do) have a signed permission slip.

          I know that this may raise the hairs on the back of one's neck, but I heard this directly from our Council Exec (it was the extension of a discusion we were having about taking perspective Sea Scouts out on boats as a recruiting activity, and it was given the go ahead, so long as we were following G2SS. He said it was no different than a campout with a non-registered prospective guest; he left the distinct impression that he had verified this through risk management in Dallas).

          As for Webelos capmping with the troop, I would say only at pre-arranged campouts, so that the troop can arrange age appropriate activities. Younger siblings? No. Non-perspective friends? Same no.

          Just my 2.


          • #6
            Yah, amay, welcome to da forums, eh?

            Generally speakin', I think havin' younger siblings along on Boy Scout outings is a poor practice for all the reasons mentioned. Boy Scout outings are not (and should not be) age-appropriate activities for cub aged youth. In order to keep things safe for those younger tikes, yeh either have to "dumb down" the outing for the boys to somethin' that's appropriate for cubs, or you have to insist that dad baby-sit the little guy (which means that dad really can't be effective as a Boy Scout leader / helper). Anything else, includin' making older boys baby sit little guys in the outdoors without training really ain't responsible in terms of safety. Nor is it fair to the boys, eh?

            I particularly think it's a bit selfish and irresponsible for a man to "slip his third grader into an outing" in the way you describe.

            That having been said, there's times when an occasional "family campout" with carefully selected activities and supervision by parents can be an OK thing, maybe once a year or so. And sometimes yeh gotta do what yeh gotta do in order to get enough adult leaders or drivers. But it should be made clear that the parents are responsible for supervisin' the little ones 100% of the time, and for that reason the parents supervisin' the little ones should never be leaders who are needed to supervise the boy scouts.

            As for non-scout friends, sure, they're welcome if they're of boy scouting age and are being recruited... except yeh need to consider whether the activity and your leadership can handle it, eh? For example, a water activity where yeh need to have done a swim check and have medical information and have done prior instruction.... not a good idea to bring a non-scout drop in. Non-scouts create an extra supervision burden for you, because they don't know things about behavior and skills that the scouts do. So yeh have to ask yourself two questions: Do you have enough adults to provide extra supervision for these guests? and Is this activity going to be OK for a guest with zero experience whose behavior might be a problem? If yeh can't answer "yes" to both questions, then havin' the guest along is irresponsible.

            Many bigger or established troops will designate some activities and events as "guests welcome", but not all activities.

            Final consideration is that they should be guests who are thinkin' about joining, not boys cherry-picking special outings without makin' a commitment.

            Hope that helps a bit.



            • #7
              This unit requires boys to be registered troop members. Period. I don't know if this is due to some past incident or if the council requires it. Likewise, parents who want to accompany us must complete the adult application and join. We have a lot of ASMs.
              That also makes it easy to find a sufficient number of adult leaders for an outing almost any time.
              I like the policy - we don't have any problems with recruitment either.


              • #8
                As the boys get older, there is a tendency for them to start to not like hanging out with younger boys. So, if you have dads bringing their 3rd graders and forcing the older boys to deal with them, it might just help push the older boys away.

                I have three sons, and there have been times when it would be more convenient for me to just take them all along even though they aren't all old enough, but I don't. My 5th grader does not want his younger brother at his Webelos meetings, and my 7th grader barely tolerates some of the less mature 6th graders in our troop. Honestly, I am sure that if I somehow let my younger boys come on all the boy scout outings, it wouldn't be long before my oldest boy would be wishing I would stay home.


                • #9
                  When we go on trips, the leaders make sure the kid will eat with, be with and sleep with his (no girls-- so far) parents, and even so be apart from the rest of the troop. If the kid wanted to be with a certain patrol, like, say, his big brother's, then the patrol has the simple right to refuse the service unless the kid shows some sort of usefulness. No amount of pressing from the parent could change the issue. The kid is the parent's responsibility-- not the troop's.

                  Thankfully, though, we rarely have the problem.


                  • #10
                    I gotta agree with mn_scout. Younger siblings can require a lot of work and can be a huge distraction. They shouldn't be allowed.


                    • #11
                      I strongly discourage taking siblings along on an outing. It's really nothing more than babysitting and that is not what Scouting is about. Sure, you can tell parents that they will have to supervise the sibling and not get in the Scouts' way. Really folks, can you actually see that happening? What I envision is younger brother running around, harassing his older brother, wanting to do what the older guys are doing, perhaps causing a safety issue.

                      The only time we allow siblings along on trips is when we go snow skiing. A very popular outing and having parents and sibs along doesn't disrupt anything really. Fun for the whole family and we don't have a problem with that.

                      We have had prospective scouts and brothers who are Webelos come along on other outings, but those have been our more car camping trips where specific preparation and experience isn't necessary (i.e., water trips, backpacking, etc.).

                      I will say we have never had a time when we had to rely on a parent to come on a trip as our second adult, so the prospect of Dad bringing younger brother along because he had to hasn't been an issue.


                      • #12
                        I can only imagine how the boys feel about this. I know my son would not enjoy having somebody's little brother tagging along all the time. The age range in boy scouting is already enormous and a challenge when it comes to providing appropriate/challenging program for all members. Let's not broaden that by de facto including even younger kids.


                        • #13
                          If they have a 3rd grade little brother - then the 3rd grader can join a PACK and the family can participate in family campouts with the Cub Scout pack. I would use this as an angle to encourage this Dad to go that route.

                          The Boy Scout can camp w/ the Pack and meet some advancement achievements by performing as a Den Chief.

                          The converse is not a good idea, and detracts from the purpose of the Troop. If it absolutely had to be done, then this father (or any others) needs to be informed up front that the younger sibling will NOT be inserted into a patrol (other than the adult patrol) and that not all activities will be age appropriate for the 3rd grader.

                          What if you are at a council sponsored camp and they want to shoot 22-cal. on the range? Nope - 3rd grader (cub or not) can't do it. A more simple example would be a hike. The older scouts are on the campout to have fun and be challenged a little. How can that happen if the 3rd grader can only manage a 3 to 4 mile hike at best? You have scouts in the Troop that could likely do a 8 to 10 as a day hike. Is the entire group going to be truncated to 4 miles b/c of this non-scout sibling? No. If he is allowed to go, then the expectation should be that the younger son and dad remain in camp and the DAD (not the Troop) is responsible for providing his 3rd grader age appropriate content to keep the kid entertained.

                          We have similar issues w/ cub scouts and very young sibs coming on family campouts. Fortunately, we have a uniform policy and understanding w/ parents that 1) We will have some activities for younger sibs, but they are the responsiblility of the parent(s) and 2) We will not attenuate our pack activities to accomodate the sibs. We've had kids in diapers (my own son included) who have camped with us. I doing the pack stuff and my wife hanging in base-camp with a few other moms and taking the little ones to the sand area or wading pool while we go hike. BUT - I (as CM and committee member) do not plan, nor take any responsibility for those younger sibs. The parents need to be prepared to entertain their younger ones so that the scouts and leaders can concentrate on scouting.

                          If that is not happening, I would politely ask the dad to stay home with the younger sib. His scout son could still attend, assuming he is willing to sign the permission slip.

                          Sounds from your post, however, that you might have a Chinook parent that is making some broad assumptions about program and bending it to his will without the consent of the Troop leadership. This is not so much a camping policy issue as it is a Troop Committee needing to stand up for its Troop and project some leadership.


                          • #14
                            After a couple camp-outs with siblings (as well as mom & dad) that turned into family camping trips, (not Scout camp-outs), the PLC discovered they actually do have power and and just said no. No more little brothers or sisters, no more mom & dad, and only Trained Adults unless a parent is needed for the two-deep.

                            We now have one camp out each year that allows Webelos and their parental units, but that's it.

                            They (PLC) even went further and rated all camping trips (easy, medium, hard) with attendance restricted by experience (number of camping trips a Scout has been on). This last ruling after a brutal November camping trip with a couple new Scouts who then promptly quit.


                            • #15
                              "Scout campouts for Scouts"

                              I like SMT222 that mentions the PLC has "power". Let them decide, and the adult Scouters back them up.

                              Our Troop plans a "family" camp in September to kick off the season. We go someplace special (Cape Henlopen State Park, NJ. is favorite), take the Troop Trailer, set up on Friday night and leave late Sunday. Everyone is invited, it is definitely not "roughing it". Babies and sibs, non camping spouses and grannies. Lots of planning. Camp stoves, bakers, surf and sun (hopefully), history and hiking and biking. Astronomy, campfire stories, marshmalows and BBQ ribs.

                              The rest of the year is SCOUT Scout stuff.