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Troop Trailers - Luxury or necessity

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  • #46
    "I reckon if any campout involves eatin' small amounts of freeze dried food out of a foil pouch, yeh probably just don't know what you're doin'."

    Our troop is big enough that we alternate annually between Philmont, Northern Tier and our own custom treks. We have lots and lots of experience on the trail. We also have two trailers.


    • #47
      Journey To Excellence 2013 new category:

      Troop owns and maintains a troop trailer.
      Bronze - Unit owns 1 trailer and uses it at least three times a year. 75 points
      Silver - Unit owns 2 trailers and uses them on 80% of their camp outs or at least 9 times a year. 150 points
      Gold - Unit owns 3 or more trailers and has the BSA decal along with what council they belong to on at least 2 trailers. 300 points
      Add 50 points if all the troop's Eagle Scout names are on the back door.


      • #48
        Had to laugh about this discussion. I'm generally philosophically opposed to troop trailers because I'm afraid of the slippery slope effect described in previous posts. Now, I've rented U-Haul trailers (cheap, cheap, cheap) a couple of times for troop outings; one was to transport bicycles, and the other was when the campout was a four-hour drive away and we couldn't get enough drivers to haul Scouts and gear that distance.

        A year or so ago a couple of my ASMs who had been in the troop for a couple of years started making noises about the need for a troop trailer. I told them and the troop committee that if that was something they wanted to do, it was fine with me, but I would have nothing to do with it: not raising money to purchase it, or getting it registered or insured, or maintaining it, or finding a place to park it, or finding people to pull it. Well, the discussion was dropped.

        Fast forward to last December, when I retired as SM, and was succeeded by one of those guys. Within two weeks, an email went out -- he'd located a trailer to buy. Pretty soon the trailer was sitting in his driveway with a shiny new paint job and a big BSA logo on the side.

        Dan Kurtenbach
        Fairfax, VA


        • #49
          For me personally, I find it hard to think that renting a u-haul trailer is easier than grabbing the troop trailer.

          not raising money to purchase it, or getting it registered or insured, or maintaining it, or finding a place to park it, or finding people to pull it.

          not raising money to purchase it, We had the money in our account. Decided it would be a good use for the money we'd already raised.

          getting it registered or insured This is pretty trivial.

          maintaining it Yes, there is a little bit of work here, but it hasn't been that much.

          finding a place to park it We had a place already with one of the families.

          finding people to pull it I don't think we've ever had a trip where this was an issue. Maybe it's just the people who are in our troop, but there are lots of trailer hitches around.

          We use the trailer on maybe half of the trips in a given year. The troop gear hasn't really changed all that much from the time before the trailer. It does let us take fewer drivers on some trips. Even if you pack light, it can be hard to fit five people and their gear into a Honda Fit.


          • #50
            I keep wondering if there is some sort of formula for this sort of thing. It is easy for summer camp--everyone is limited to a 14 gallon tub and a day bag for the lap. But pads and sleeping bags add to it. Add a couple coolers for the bug juice, food coolers, flags, dutch ovens, fuel, the list starts to grow.


            • #51
              We always used the rough estimate that each person's personal gear plus their share of troop/patrol gear took up the same volume as an adult in a car seat. So you do a 'mob hit squad' calculation: in addition to the people in the seats, how many dead bodies could you load into trunks and storage spaces in vehicles? So you could pretty much just look at a vehicle and know what it could carry. A standard compact or midsize sedan -- 4 people (comfortably) and gear for 2, or 3 people and their gear. A 7 seat minivan or SUV -- 7 people and gear for 3, or 5 people and their gear. Full size pickup truck -- 2 people (comfortably) (two adults, or parent and son), gear for 8. When I had my minivan, my practice was to put my personal gear in the front passenger seat (which also avoided any "shotgun" claims), leaving the rest of the vehicle for whatever mix of people- or gear-hauling that was needed.

              We often made use of parent drivers. They would come out with us, drop off their passengers and gear, maybe stay a bit, but then go home. Then they or other parents would come out Sunday morning to load up and drive back, though some would come out Saturday evening and stay overnight. Worked well, and the parents got to contribute with something pretty easy to do, and see what we were up to out in the woods. Sometimes it would be difficult to recruit drivers for a more distant campout, but usually the distant location was so attractive or interesting that enough adults wanted to go.

              Dan Kurtenbach
              Fairfax, VA


              • #52
                There is no right or wrong answer on this because troops vary so much. It's a necessity for us because we run 50 to 60 youth per year. It isn't out of the norm for some of our trips to be 4 hours away from home. Parents can't just drive the boys to the location and leave......and we all know there are folks here who are critical if you have more than the SM and a couple of ASM's camping. I'll admit, I sometimes have the same issue as I've seen up to 20 adults go camping with 40 boys. But we have a well established culture in our troop of the adult area and the patrol areas and people are not welcome to just wonder into anyone's campsite without asking permission first. We have trained adults for climbing and our own climbing gear. We do mountain biking. We do backpacking. We do good old fashioned car camping and cook in dutch ovens. The larger the troop, the more people there is to transport and the more food and gear too. A trailer just makes things much easier and can help reduces the adult footprint.


                • #53

                  Thanks, I love rules of thumb.

                  Yes we typically run 35-50 on campouts. Odds and ends add up and we haul about 14 boys in a van with little room for cargo.

                  I'd love for a good QM to work all this out.


                  • #54
                    Yes, I have a _personal_ bias against troop trailers, but I also know that good troops use them well and efficiently and without falling into the trap of the trailer moving from "convenience" to "necessity" and without the trailer pulling the troop away from going "light" and engaging in more adventurous programs. Correct -- There is no right and wrong about trailer use generally; it is about the troop's program overall and how they use the trailer in that program. Heck, I was a Scout in a small rural troop that had an old small school bus for transport -- repainted tan with a big BSA logo painted on it. They took out some rows of seats in the back and installed bunks. When the bus was running, it was great. But it always needed work. Fortunately, one of the ASMs ran a service station.

                    Dan Kurtenbach
                    Fairfax, VA


                    • #55
                      Personally I'm not a big fan of troop trailers. Maybe it was because of the troop that jackknifed theirs blocking the only exit from the parking lot at the end of Summer Camp last year when everyone just wanted to get home...

                      Most of the good backpacking locations around here are Wilderness areas, so 12 person party size limit. 2 adults, max of 10 Scouts. Works out prety good, either one highly active patrol where most everybody goes, or two average patrols that have 4 or 5 guys going each. I drive a Chevy Avalanche, and can fit 4 scouts in the cab and 12 packs in the bed easily. If the other adult drives a minivan that can seat 6 Scouts, we're set. Perfect. Several other ASMs have similiar rigs to mine, and minivans are pretty common, so... no trailer needed for backpacking!

                      We just need 6 to 8 adults to go on the trip so we can have enough parties to keep each under the wilderness limit.


                      • #56
                        The ultimate troop trailer:

                        Grey with 5'X 5' pictures of the many activities the boys have done in the past, Eagle names and sponsors too. Big BSA logo on sides and back along with pictures.

                        Side door and rear doors.

                        Floor to ceiling shelving both sides.

                        Gas hook up with multiple hoses to cover 2 camp stoves and 3 gas lanterns.

                        Stainless steel shelf that runs the full length of the non-door side of the trailer for food prep.

                        Awning off that side so cook doesn't need to worry about the rain. Hooks on the poles for the lanterns

                        2 folding tables for the buffet serving of the troop for all meals. Plenty of room at the back end for the folding dutch oven table, too.

                        Patrol method means the boys stand in patrol lines to gain access to the buffet table.

                        There are a lot of green-eyed SM's out there that would trade their right arm for a rig like this. I'm thinking there are a few catering and luncheon outfits out there that could use an upgrade like this.



                        • #57

                          You forgot about the bunks for the SMs and ASMs, as well as the AC and quiet generator. Also, the big screen TVs set up inside the trailer doors.


                          • #58
                            There is a guy that tailgates near me who has converted an old ambulance, with flip up sides, beer kegs, whiskey dispensers, tv's on the flip up sides, hanging speakers, bar stools, etc.; cooking at the back. Sweet. I may need to talk him into loaning it to me for the troop!!!!!!!!! Especially at a camporee.



                            • #59

                              Those things will never happen, this is a troop that has a council reputation for high adventure, thus the bunks, A/C and generator aren't necessary. They crank out 2-3 Eagles a year in a troop that averages about 20-25 boys at any given time with another 15-20 on paper. They have the trailer so packed with troop junk that it is difficult to find room in the center aisle for the boys' backpacks.



                              • #60

                                I like your idea of renting a U-Haul trailer for those few times you need one. How much does U-Haul charge for a weekend rental? I took a quick look on line, and it would only tell me the cost for a 6 hour rental.