If your Troop goes on weekend backpacking trips, are "tune-up" hikes required?
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- Dec 2007
Fall weekend backpacking trips tend to be shorter, fun, intro/training activities - proper gear, water management, cooking, hiking, map reading,..Spring weekend backpacking trips tend to be longer and more challenging (terrain, mud season, bugs) as preparation for summer treks.
Yes. For a long trip we will require several 1 day 10 milers on a beach or hill with slack pack. For the AT prep more than that.
We backpack 2 or 3 times a year, Typical trip is 3 day 20 mile weekend in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains.
So as SM you know your boys....You know the trip they are planning.....
Someplace new, scout son and I will go investigate and do a weekend trip on our own.
Once a week shake down hikes are completely worthless as a conditioning tool.....They are fine for gear testing....
Do you have a bunch of fluffy couch potato types????
If we were going somewhere significantly higher in elevation, or mountains that have very long steep climbs.....I would encourage the Patrols to condition 3 or 4 days a week......
- Aug 2008
In my expereince, the weekend backpacking trek is the "Tune Up"or as I've heard them called "shakedown" trip. Like Base, the troops I know use weekly hikes more for conditioning than anything.
I sure hope oldest picks a troop that goes backpacking like the one he visited that is going to Philmont in 2016. Although he will be to young to go, I bet he'll love the shakedowns.
- Apr 2011
having witnessed a troop hike where several of the scouts weren't truly successful in hiking just 5-8 miles on a good day carrying just water/food i dont have much hope for them ever doing a 3 day backing trip.
if you are doing monthly or so backpacking trips i would say you are doing pretty well as a troop. I agree with the above posters that these trips should be the lead up to things such as winter backpacking, and the more difficult and longer treks.
10-03-2013, 10:12 AMEditing a commentSo Kristian how do you measure success on a Back pack trip??? Distance???
Why do you say 5-8 miles isn't enough????
Success from my perspective.....The patrols heading out a head of the of the Adults. When we arrive at the campsite everyone is there in one piece and their camp site is set up. We head home and everyone is present with minimal blisters and no permanent visible scares.
Hopefully they learned a thing or two and had some fun.
Kristian commented10-06-2013, 05:03 PMEditing a commenti would define success as a trip that the scouts were actually able to complete, and also one that they were able to enjoy doing, though learning something also would also be a great benefit for some.
distance is something that will vary greatly depending on the terrain, weather, elevation and many other things.
i dont believe i ever said 5-8 miles inst enough for anything. i would see this as something most scouts would reasonably be able to do per day.
- Apr 2009
Depends. Kids who play soccer or run cross-country year round aren't such an issue. I do like to get newbs to try an afternoon hike with their gear to get their gear shaken down. Kids who only hike their avatars playing Skyrim and don't try out their equipment either drag the contingent down, or hit "the wall" at about mile six on a seven mile hike.
- Nov 2011
We found tune up hikes to be very useful for gear checking and getting your pack to fit right but, as mentioned, they really don't lead to conditioning. If a boy can't hike 5 miles with a loaded pack he needs to work on his own or wait on the trip--one or two hikes with the troop won't help.
King Ding Dong commented10-03-2013, 09:18 AMEditing a commentI suppose footwear falls into the gear category, but very useful for identifying those issues.
10-03-2013, 02:20 PMEditing a commentFootwear????
All but gone are the days of wearing hiking boots while mowing the lawn or to school to break them in. A few short walks will let you know if they are going to rub or not.
My son and I hike in trail runners when it is dry or on single day outings. Gore tex soft sided boots when it is wet.....I have a pair of Asolo G420's all leather gore tex nice boots but they are obsolete. To heavy for the type of hiking we do. Great winter boot but that is all.
Maybe not for tune up but for testing new packs and seeing which boys may not be ready. We will do stair runs as well and beach hikes (since the sand is more of a challenge) and it does show the strongest and weakest hikers.
What I am seeing is the Adults are over thinking it....
What do the boys want???? Why is this a troop and not a Patrol activity?
Young scouts aren't going to plan a 30 mile weekend trip..... Fluffy body type scouts aren't going to go backpacking at all if they have a choice.
I attended a Backpacking district camporee in a neighboring council....The camporee was in April so you had lots of new crossovers along. It was 10 miles along a river to the camp ground.....We passed more than a few very young scouts broken down in tears along the trail. Then it was 10 more miles then next day back to the parking lot, It was more rugged. Lots more boys broken down in tears completely exhausted with way too much gear on their backs for their size.
I learned from the experience and what I witnessed. I would never take the average new crossover on a trek like that, most of them simply don't have the physical strength to do it. Shakedown everyones gear ever trip..... watch the weight.
I wonder how many boys that camporee cost scouting.
King Ding Dong commented10-08-2013, 12:31 PMEditing a commentDon't worry he is not going and I have not purchased a pack. Some aspects he could handle some I seriously doubt. He spent all week at summer camp outside the tent so going bag less would not be a problem if it not to cold, but still the most he has hiked is 4-5 miles. The kid could survive on trail mix, Cheerios and granola bars all year if you let him.
Late October in Missouri could be 25-65 at night, who knows. Terrain is hilly but not much more than 200' ridges.
He has a 4-5# 20 degree slumber jack mummy that he even uses in summer we just need a larger compression sack for it. Even I have a tough time stuffing it in there. Basically the boy is thin as a rail with 1% body fat, he has stamina but not much strength. He wants to do it and before middle school and all the books he has to carry put some stones in his school backpack. . Two other boys in his patrol are going but they are 100# and over.
Just want to make sure I am not helicoptering him.
10-08-2013, 12:57 PMEditing a commentSounds like a great kid, not afraid of a challenge. That's good.
If one can survive on Pop Tarts/hot dogs, they can survive on granola/gorp.
When I was that weight, I did have a paper route so I had leg strength but poor upper arm strength. I could walk forever, but heavy packs were a problem. That's why I had to learn to adjust weight on just about every outing. If I could balance it properly, my legs did the work.
Beefing up will take some time, but if he works at it he won't miss out on much. I had one boy on my Philmont trek that carried 50% of his body weight. He had a 50#+ pack and he weighed 110#. He was small, but he had trained for a year before the trek, every day, weights, running, and hiking. He was the only boy on the trek that had a smile on his face the whole time. I asked him what his secret was. He said he put cement blocks in his backpack and jogged for miles each day. He said, whatever Philmont tossed at him, it had to be easier than that!
25-65 is pretty chilly for a single wool blanket. However, I have a rubber gum blanket that when it gets cold, I put on a stocking cap and roll up in the gum blanket and wool blanket like a cocoon. That holds in a ton of heat, really not too bad, but for a young boy starting out without such experience/knowledge, 25 degrees is quite a challenge. I froze my butt off many a trip until I figured out how it works best for me. Not much fun, but it is quite a motivator.
qwazse commented10-08-2013, 01:09 PMEditing a commentIt's not so much the weight for an 11 y.o. as it is the comfort with the gear and cohesiveness of the patrol. You don't buy a pack on Monday for a major hike on Friday, unless your team is very good at spotting when that bottle is about to fall out, or a strap is coming undone, etc ... A good backpacking contingent has at least two mechanics, two navigators, two cooks, and two really good story tellers.
We tend not to do more than 6 miles with crossovers unless they've been hiking with their gear a mile or so for a couple different weekends. BUT, if we see an exceptional patrol of boys who consistently work well with each other, we may reconsider. (Even then we make sure the patrol has a "plan B" if it looks like their newbie is only good for 4 miles. Older boys have to be prepared to carry extra gear.)
- Jun 2006
5 miles on Thursday, 10 on Friday, 10 on Saturday, and 5 on Sunday. 1860's equipment.... At 60 years of age I made it, but on some of the trek I had to go without shoes, they were more painful than walking barefoot. I cut my gear to the minimum, survived the whole trip on water and trail mix. About 75% didn't finish, but if it wasn't for a ton of "shakedown" hikes over the years, neither would I. No tent, only 1 wool blanket, 1 gum blanket, food sachel, canteen, and the 11# gun was all I carried. And yes it did rain, but my feet, out the bottom of my gum blanket, felt really good all night long being cooled off.
Scouting is not just for the scouting program. There are a lot of other activities out there that I do outside the BSA program that are much more enjoyable because of what I learned in Scouting.
Besides reenacting, there's hunting, camping, fishing, biking, kayaking/canoeing, just to mention a few things that my wife and I enjoy doing that has nothing to do with the BSA. We'll be heading out to Colorado to assist in the clean up this month and I'm not expecting to have a hotel available, but that won't slow us up a bit.
Hikes should not be tune-ups or shakedowns. They should be a normal part of the program.
We backpack in most of our gear every campout and do a serious backpack weekend two or three times a year, so we find the scouts don't really need tune-up hikes other than for getting use to a new crew. The adults on the other hand tend to need the hike to get waken up to the physical and mental stress of a longer distance hike has on their older bodies. It reminds them to what a week on the trail will feel like. They tend to get a lot more serious about their equipment after tune-up hikes. I used the hikes to guide the adults as to how boy run works so that they don't try to take over the crew. I don't know why adults feel they must have majority control of the crews. It's never a problem on the patrol hikes, but high adventure crews really struggle with it. Strangely, Boundary Waters is the worst problem with new adults because they just don't see how canoeing all day can be all the strenuous. What's a rod anyway? I have lots of adult stories. Barry
10-08-2013, 11:59 AMEditing a commentI so totally agree!
You'll always have more problems with adults than with the boys. I've done Philmont and I've done BWCA, and it's the adults that ticked me off more than any of the boys. If it wasn't for YPT, I'd just take the boys and go. I would enjoy it a lot more, instead I tend to babysit the adults so the boys can have fun.
Through the years I learned that scouts are surprisingly resilient and can handle most physical stress really well, so I got to where I didn't worry much about them, even with crappy equipment. Adults on the other hand don't bounce back well from physical stress and need to be in shape before the trek if they want to enjoy it. My son was also a small scout and did a lot of backpacking at around 95 lbs. He carried about the same weight as the other scouts and never once complained. I am not recommending that, I didn't know because I wasn't on most of his treks. But the one 10 day trek we did together, the sole of his boot came completely off the leather the second day on the trail, so he used duct tape for about 70 miles of the trip and never complained. As I said, I just quit worrying about boys physically. Barry
- Mar 2013
Update : I got a short report on that weekend backpacking trip. The three other 1st year 11 year olds went with nice fancy new packs they had never used before. The troop has not done a hike since April. There were apparently tears from all three of them and they had to drop out Saturday, but had to make it back to the camp road. I expressed my reservations about it to two of the other Dads, but they thought 7-10 miles in a day was no big deal. Hope they stay in scouting. Glad I took a pass on that one. Took the family for a 4 mile hike at a state park Saturday instead. Boys were tired but fine, wife was crabby and didn't want to cook dinner.
10-28-2013, 03:52 PMEditing a commentMy wife doesn't need a 4 mile hike to be crabby and not cook dinner. She gets worn out walking from the sofa to the kitchen.
If anyone forwards this link to her, I'm a dead man.
Sentinel947 commented10-28-2013, 04:02 PMEditing a commentKDD: buying a pack is kinda a scary proposition with younger Scouts, as they tend to outgrow em. So keep that in mind, your son will grow, and that pack of an 11 year old could be too small in a few years.
Jblake: I don't think dead would even begin to describe the state you'd be in.
10-28-2013, 04:35 PMEditing a commentWhen it comes to packs, most of the standard packs are way too big for the average kid starting out. What I do is get the boys to pack their school packs for the first year. First it is well within their physical capabilities to carry the small load and second, it begins the training on cutting the crap to a minimum.
Couple of changes of clothes, flashlight, first aid kit, mess kit, canteen on a strap, toiletries, wear your outer clothing unless it's too hot, then lash on over the pack if necessary, garbage bag for rain poncho in the pocket, sleeping bag strapped to front straps to balance the load. I never have the newbies carry camp gear. It's difficult enough carrying their own necessities.
For long term camping (summer camp), the boys are taught to multiple pack and portage the gear with multiple trips.
If nothing else it gets the boys thinking about weight and they can consider a bigger pack when they have the strength to handle it.
I still use the bedroll worn like a horse collar over one shoulder along with my Yucca pack. It can be done. One does not need to bring everything from home on an outing. There have been plenty of outings where my "mess kit" is nothing more than a Sierra cup and spoon. The cup on the belt and the spoon in my pocket.
Inevitably as SM I have had to take on someone else's pack for short stints and it's best not be overloaded yourself. A small boy's pack on the front is easy enough to carry.
I first learned this process, not while backpacking, but while canoeing. Nothing is as bad as a double portage when you get stuck with the canoe. It's always better to rest up while the boys go back for the second trip. The only time I ever needed help was on a 3 mile portage in the BWCA.
Personally, I'm getting excited for the weekend.