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Larger groups in the wilderness

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  • Larger groups in the wilderness

    Group sizes can be limited in certain wilderness areas. However you could easily have enough interest for an outing within a troop where you would be 2, 3, or more times the group size. For instance, the maximum group size per site in the Porcupine Mountains is 4 per remote campsite, which is not even a full patrol.

    So, what are the ways you deal with this? Many patrols with different itineraries...limit participation...other?? I feel I'm overlooking an obvious solution somewhere as this must be a common issue.

  • #2
    Different itineraries. Since I work from the venturing side of things, I call them contingents rather than patrols. But, same principle.

    I did one where a boy planned an outing for 40 people. (Four contingents of ten.) We actually had slightly less than that, but that's what we planned for.

    Morning of insertion, each contingent's navigator(s) reported to me with their itinerary, described their target camp for the night, indicated their intended direction. (This was very important because we drove up the night before and were all camped 1/4 mile of the trailhead(s). It even took me a while to get my head around the fact that our position didn't jib with where I thought I was in my head.) They also confirmed their return time for the next day.

    Next year, same boy planned one with contingents inserting from different ends of the same trail and crossing at some point. Drivers would exchange keys for vehicles. We had lower attendance than expected, so we never implemented it. But seemed like a good plan to me.


    • #3
      Adjoining Camp Sites...spread out..or Find Camps which allow larger groups. Here in Texas the Park Rangers usually don't harass the Scouters. Vehicles are spread out among the Camp Sites. Park Rangers are Cordially invited to All Meals. We voluntarily help Clean the Camp Facilities.. Remember "Do a Good Deed Daily". We enforce the rules, We are quite, We Don't run through other Camp Sites. Texas State Park Youth Group Annual Pass

      The Youth Group Annual Pass is a special program for youth groups 13-17 years of age. Purchased as an annual pass for nonprofit youth groups, the permit waives entry fees for youth group members (13-17 years of age) and a reasonable number of accompanying adult sponsors. The permit is $100 per year and is limited to groups of 50.


      • qwazse
        qwazse commented
        Editing a comment
        You misunderstand. Designated campsites in the same acre do not exist in middle of wilderness recreation areas. You might find a campground on the periphery, but once you hike in, even 20 folks moving and camping in the vicinity of one another can be profoundly destructive. At high altitudes (or deserts, or coral reefs) like Brew describes, contingents of 10 leave an indelible mark.

      • Brewmeister
        Brewmeister commented
        Editing a comment
        Yes. For instance, in the Porcupine Mountains, there are 60-some dispersed campsites but most of them are a fair distance apart. That works with different itineraries IF you have the skill set among your scouts where you can trust them being a mile apart. If not, you need more adults. You can camp anywhere away from trails and established campsites in that particular wilderness, but group sizes are again limited to 4.

        When we had set up our trip in spring the maximum group size was 12. By the time the trip rolled around they had cut that to 6. Next year it will be 4. With a group size of four, if adults are needed, that is a one-to-one ratio.

        So as I look to that as a possible destination again in the future, I'm just not sure how to make it work in a scout context.

    • #4
      I use to take small groups of scouts (up to 8 people) to the Porcupine Mountains years ago. We would rent the few 8 person cabins they had (most were 6 or 4 person), and backpack from one to another, over two or three days. It was nice. You did not have to carry any tents, cooking pots, etc. I stop going because I liked Ontario better.

      I think 4 people limit is too small for scout groups. Most place I been, have a limit of 8 or 9 in the interior. Two years ago, I took a scout group backpacking over Labor Day Weekend, to the Coastal Trail in Lake Superior Provincial Park, in Northern Ontario. I drop one patrol off on the south end, and one on the north. Even thought it was Labor Day Weekend, they did not see anyone over the 15 miles, except when they pass each other. (I stay with the younger scouts patrol - that Coastal Trail is too tough for me!)


      • #5
        I wonder if places are setting low group size limits because of scouts? When we were in the BWCA last year the maximum group size was 9 which is what we took. I would think hard before I'd go with a group that big again, 8 or maybe 6 max because we were too big for the size of the campsites we were on with 9 participants. I'd agree with Q that different itineraries are the key. But to me different itineraries doesn't mean getting to the same place in the wilderness from different directions then camping together in adjoining sites.


        • Basementdweller
          Basementdweller commented
          Editing a comment
          I think that is the exact reason

      • #6
        I guess I have trouble wrapping my mind around 40 people going on a backpack trip together. The only time we dealt with a "large" group (18) was BWCA and we had two groups because the permit limits the number to 9. Two permits, two groups, have a nice trip, we'll see you next weekend. End of discussion.



        • #7
          Yep, the porcupines will have a 4-person group limit next season, or so I was told by the ranger.


          • qwazse
            qwazse commented
            Editing a comment
            Sounds like proper high adventure. Only your best trained boys qualify. So, qualify them all!
            Train them to camp in groups of 4, 100 yards apart. Adults in the center campsite.

            Say you have 6 boys, 2 adults. The less seasoned scouts hike with the 2 adults. The 4 first class scouts (true sense of the word, not just a patch) on their own. Both groups make for adjacent sites, but using different routes. Groups check in via radio, or better yet, appropriate trail signs, at the crossing for the nearest camp.

            Now I really want to go! Maybe I'll talk with my troop about it this weekend when Son #2 and I rendevous with them on the North Country Trail.

          • gotta run
            gotta run commented
            Editing a comment
            Interesting thread

        • #8
          Make it a patrol outing instead of a troop outing......same itereary different weekends... I have had a number of bad experiences on the AT with scout troops......including being thrown out of a public shelter which I was at first. So I discourage taking troop sized groups into the back country


          • #9
            Don't put the cart before the horse. Do your homework first to see just what are the group size limits for the area you're interested in visiting. Then develop a plan that meet those limits....from experience, large groups don't work well in the back country. Logistics, added risk, a wide range of physical abilities, egos and group dynamics (clicks) will negatively impact the adventure