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  • Troop Trailers - Luxury or necessity

    I didn't want to interfere with another thread but a comment was made where the adults of the troop felt that a troop trailer is a necessity. I don't happen to think so, but my style of camping must vary quite a bit from what is expected today.

    I tried a new option for me last summer and am looking forward to it again this coming summer. I have done backpacking and canoeing for most of my adult life, but when my new wife put the screws to me for kayaking it became a whole new challenge. There isn't a whole lot of room in a kayak. (My canoes are 17' freighters capable of #750 load.) I could almost pull a troop trailer with those. But now with a kayak, a whole new world opened up. Water, tents, blankets, cooking gear, clothes, and all you have is 2 cargo bins in your kayak and the wife has only 1. I carried more stuff at Philmont that would fit in the kayak.

    On a normal camporee type weekend, I never use the troop trailer yet carry everything I need for the weekend. I don't eat with the boys, carry my own food, do my own menu etc. and fit everything into an old Yucca pack. In colder weather, I use 2 Yucca packs. Yet I have boys show up with a huge military duffle of just their personal gear. There's something wrong with this picture.

    I say there is no need for a troop trailer and the money that is spent on such an item would go a long way to covering the troop expense of lightweight gear.

    What say you?


  • #2
    Can I pick something in between luxury and necessity? I'd say it's a convenience.

    For some trips, it's very convenient to have a trailer. If all you do are backpacking trips, then you don't need one. But we do car camping trips, camporees, bike trips, water trips, all manner of things. Sometimes it's nice to have coolers, dutch ovens, and gear boxes. Some trips involve extra stuff, like catapults that the Scouts have built. Summer camp involves hauling a lot of trunks.

    Could we change the program? Yes. We don't really want to, though.
    Could we do the same things without a troop trailer? Yes, but it would be inconvenient.

    So, I admire those troops that do everything lightweight. But I also admire troops that make good use of a troop trailer.


    • #3
      I had been with the Troop I served for about 15 years, we went from 30 scouts to 90 scouts back to about 30 scouts all without a trailer. It may be nice to have but its not a necessity, unless your idea of getting away from it all includes bringing most of it with you


      • #4
        About 4 years ago, our troop purchased a trailer. It has annoyed me every since. It is almost as if it changes the perception of what constitutes an acceptable place for an outing. I also didn't like that the next purchase after that was a carport/canopy ("why the whole troop can fit under it!") and a large 3-burner propane stove ("why we can cook for the whole troop on that thing!"). Last thing I heard the same guy ask about was a large dutch oven (again, "we can feed the whole troop out of that thing!"). See the way this was going? It was not exactly reinforcing patrol method.

        Granted, we have storage issues with our CO (our only space in a building is an old moldy basement), so having the trailer has made for a nice storage bin, but the adults who have trailer hitches on their vehicles haven't been on outings in awhile. So we haven't hauled the trailer in, I think, almost two years.

        I would have loved to save the money on the trailer, carport and large stove by buying lightweight flies and backpacking stoves. Maybe even some lightweight tents. As others have pointed out, you can use those things on any outing.


        • #5
          If a troop is mostly a backpacking troop a trailer is most likely a nuisance. If a troop aspires to own substantial amounts of patrol gear (e.g., large stoves, large tents, and patrol boxes) for car camping then a trailer may become unavoidable.

          When I grew up most troops had trailers and fewer adults owned pickups. Only tradesmen, ranchers and farmers owned pickups. SUVs did not exist. When people began acquiring pickups as a primary or second family vehicle, trailers became less important. Owning a trailer requires a place to keep it, registration and insurance. Using a trailer requires skills that many drivers do not have. I would own a canoe trailer before I would own a simple cargo trailer.


          • #6
            Where would you put all of the names of your past eagles at?????

            Where would you put all of your troops sponsor logos????

            Where would you haul your gator????

            Trailers are an annoyance to me....There is a couple of troops in our council that have big tandem axle trailers with sponsorship decals all over it? then the one that has Troop 123 where eagles soar.....they have a year and all the boys that reach eagle on it....there has to be 10-15 a year.......

            It is one of the reasons the BSA has a bad reputation for camping way too heavy.......and the crux of my question about backpack as the norm not the exception.



            • #7
              Our troop trailer was donated before I joined the troop. We only use it on district or council wide camporees and summer camp. If anything, it has been an advertisement for us which has helping in a few boys joining our troop. The people who donated it had our council shoulder patch painted on the side. It also lists every Eagle from our troop since 1933. Is it show-offy? Yes, but if it helps us recruit from it, then more power to it.

              It serves us well for the few bigger events, but otherwise it stays home on the regular monthly outings because no one would see it in the woods anyway.


              • #8
                We have two trailers. We could get by with one. We have had camp-outs with 50 folks and 3 trailers. Way to heavy.

                But then we have 6 patrols with patrol boxes, food coolers, etc. Each boy may have a backpack or tub.

                The backpacking trips are much, much better.

                In our case I have tried to dump the patrol boxes but some adults pushed for making a whole new set and equipping them. Everything else is a cubic foot calculation.


                • #9
                  Necessary in some cases where a CO doesn't have other storage.

                  Personally, I think they tend to detract from and limit the scoutin' program in the units that operate the big haulers.

                  When given da opportunity to make the choice themselves, I've found most boys tend to go with lighter-weight stuff. It's adults who are more in to haulin' half of civilization with 'em.



                  • #10
                    Unless it's a water activity, we never haul a trailer. Even for a car camping trip we travel light; no lanterns (even minimize flashlights), patrol boxes, large grills, canopies, or Mansion tents. It's really amazing to see what some troops bring and the time spent lugging it all out set-up and tore down. Most scouts use backpacking stoves or charcoal for cooking. Occasionally on car trips some will make a treat with a Dutch oven but by and large that's as elaborate as it gets. If it rains we'll use a tarp or cheap plastic for the campfire program. We have loaner backpacks and tents primarily for new scouts until they learn the type of equipment to buy. Kelty brand backpacks and tents (2 Man) are popular with a lot of the scouts. The Jet Boil cooking systems is also something I'm seeing a lot more of. Do I feel like the program is lacking or its inconvenient not having a trailer; not at all. You really don't need all that stuff and you can get in and out of your site leaving more time to focus on your program\activity.


                    • #11
                      Welcome, Mountaineer!

                      I concur, light is the way to go. I too get exhausted just watching those troops unload those giant trailers full of gear. Lanterns blazing late Friday night as they assemble all that stuff. Saturday they camp, and Sunday morning they have to break it all down and load it.

                      Concur with Beavah, given the choice, the scouts are content with very little. It's the adults that need/want all that heavy gear.


                      • #12
                        If it's to haul a massive canopy so that the boys can stretch hammocks three high between each pair of posts, maybe.

                        Otherwise, luxury.


                        • #13
                          A luxury that is perceived as an absolute need;

                          Unless you need it for storage, stay away from itthis is a slippery slope

                          Step one, Troop would like to get a trailer to help haul gear.
                          Step two, Troop packs all the gear they have and some, then some more into trailer.
                          Step three, Find/beg people with hitches to pull trailer
                          Step four, Every one forgets how to pack for a trip, (Patrol boxes are not needed on most trips)things like dinning flys become a necessity for a two night campout, 4 dutch ovens.
                          Step 4aboys and adults get lazy, do not plan for campouts..instead grab everything..end up with 3 stoves, 10 pots in each campout.
                          Step five, guy with trailer hitch gets tired of doing it, beg a new guy.
                          Step six, now that you have so much gear, it takes you 3 hours to set up camp
                          Step seven, boys are not out doing things because they are stuck setting up camp.

                          Step Eightbecome the troop that might as well go camping at the KOA.

                          Final step..SM finally gets ticked.starts to force people to leave the trailer at home.people grumblea few slowly begin to realizehey I can real fit a few tents in my carhey we can use real wood instead of charcoalHey, I can leave my gas guzzling dually at home. Hey the boys can actually think about the pots they need rather than take the patrol box.


                          • #14
                            There are times when there is just not enough room to carry the backpacks alone based on number and size of cars. My Corolla can take 5 people, albeit a tight fit, but there simply is not enough trunk space for 5 fully loaded packs. Multiply that by 3 other drivers with similar vehicles, how do you carry the gear. Even if one of the cars is an SUV, it can't handle the overflow gear. Now if the SUV is towing a small Troop trailer. It can work. Trip is on. And this is for a backpacking trip.

                            Other times the event we are going to requires additional gear. The pioneering merit badge councilor is having several boys build a tower at campout with visiting Webelos. The trailer makes hauling the materials possible. Webelos are impressed. New scouts come crossover.

                            Trailers are not just a luxury. As one mentioned earlier, sometimes a trailer is a necessity.

                            Note I said a small trailer. For our troop of 45 scouts a small trailer works.

                            I have seen larger troops get away with out using their trailers, but the convoy of cars going out with 3-4 people per car pack with gear seems to me just as frivolous.


                            • #15
                              Art, you make a good point. Now that I think about it, it's not so much the trailer as the type of gear many trailer troops haul in it. It is certainly cool to put everyone's pack in the trailer, without jamming stuff in car trunks. Get to the trailhead and in minutes you're unloaded and in the outdoors.

                              The heavy gear troop seems to load their trailer with a bunch of complex, weighty stuff. Less time enjoying the outdoors, more time carrying and assembling stuff. Sounds like work!