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Do Patrol Boxes Work?

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  • Do Patrol Boxes Work?

    Do Patrol Boxes work? I guess the question really is are they worth the effort of storage, transporation, maintenance, etc?

    They seem big and heavy. So big you need a trailer just to get them to campsites. Once there, you need an entire patrol to carry and setup. Once back home, they need to be restocked and stored between campouts. Periodically the quartermaster needs to clean, repair, and replace lost implements.

    I have reviewed a variety of plans and drawings from the web. Each has a minor variation on the theme but are basically the same.

    When I was a Boy Scout 25 years ago, we had a cardboard box. It stayed in my crawlspace between campouts. We kept a few kitchen utensils, pots, pans, etc. The designated patrol member would buy the food for the weekend and bring it in a different cardboard box. Once at the campsite, we would just pluck items from the boxes and throw them back in. At the end of the weekend, the food box would likely be burned in the campfire since the food would have been eaten. The other box went back to my crawl space until next time.

    Does your troop use patrol boxes? Are they worth the effort and expense? If you don't use patrol boxes, how to you handle the whole kitchen experience on campouts?

    (This message has been edited by resqman)

  • #2
    We replaced your cardboard box with a plastic tote - with all the cooking/cleaning stuff. Also each patrol gets a folding table for a place to cook/eat, a plastic tote for dry food and a cooler.

    We used to have wood chuck boxes but got tired of moving them around inside the trailer and wet wood started to rot.

    Everyone is much happier.

    Comment


    • #3
      yes, if you keep the weight down.

      but I suggest seperating into multiple items in plastic tubs with handles. I've seen wood used. Though sturdy, they were heavy even for me, let alone a first year, and we're talking a smaller wooden box (held kitchen and stove only)
      I would avoid cardboard as it doesn't promote the outdoor code.

      Basically I think the following works:

      One box for the cooking supplies. This may or may not include a propane stove depending on troop style. Number them and assign one number to each patrol each campout.
      One box for dry goods (small)
      One cooler for cold food (small)

      This way you're keeping food away from the long-term storage area. There's nothing like finding something spilled all over your kitchen a month later.

      No personal gear, such as silverware, should be in the kitchen. This will reinforce the seperation of patrol and personal gear per the scout book.

      Comment


      • #4
        I realize some of these answers have already been given but let me review.

        Your question addresses utility, so the answer is yes. Your implication and explanation has to do with efficiency, so the answer is no unless you have specific reason to use them. As far as being practical for car camping, the box can be packed with all of the gear for a weekend, then unpacked after returning home to complete cleaning and then repacking for efficient storage. Even when built of lightweight wood or metal with seam reinforcements, these boxes are heavy. The equipment itself is heavy when stacked in one place, so the box will always remain heavy. The box also tends to become a storage receptacle for related but unnecessary items that are only used periodically.

        The cardboard box has utility for storage, is lightweight, and allows for the grouping of the necessary items for a weekend camp. It is economical but it's longevity in comparison to a wooden box is short. The plastic tub/box has the same characteristics but will last many times longer and can be cleaned periodically and will keep out any pests when sealed.

        It appears that the Patrol box has limitations that are not easily overcome, save adding wheels and making it into a trailer. The one advantage of the Patrol box over the other boxes is that it can be constructed by the Scouts and then decorated with the Patrol logo for enhancement of Patrol spirit. Since there are other ways to enhance Patrol spirit, even this advantage has its limits.

        My Dad and I built the Lion's Patrol box that I held onto it after becoming an adult. It now serves as a tool storage bin. I think about our project with fondness. That is the one big advantage of the heavy wooden Patrol box over the best tight sealed, inexpensive, long lasting, lightweight plastic tub but even that can be achieved in many other ways.

        FB

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        • #5
          1. As the Scoutmaster of a large troop with 43 Scouts, we haul our 7 wooden patrol boxes in a troop equipment trailer. Yes, they are heavy, but they contain all the cooking gear for each campout. Each patrol hauls their food in separate coolers that the Patrol Quartermaster owns. For "base camping," the patrol boxes work well.

          2. However, if your troop is trying to do some High Adventure-type outings, the heavy patrol boxes don't work. The troop (or the individual Scouts) must tote LIGHTWEIGHT cooking gear. Our troop is not wealthy enough to buy a bunch of backpacking stoves, aluminum pots, etc., so we're somewhat tied to our patrol boxes and equipment trailer. This limits our ability to go on long-distance hikes.

          3. I set up a patrol box using one of those huge, wheeled Rubbermaid bins. They are a lot lighter than the wooden boxes, and they can be left out in the rain. Our wooden patrol boxes are usually set up on wooden door tabletops that rest on plastic sawhorses. I've seen other troops' patrol boxes with wooden carry handles that can be bolted on at an angle to form legs. Those are good for base camping.

          4. Our previous Scoutmaster made all of the patrol boxes in his shop, and painted the boxes different colors. The pots and pans have their handles painted the same color so that the patrol gear doesn't get mixed up.

          Comment


          • #6
            Has anyone come up with a design for a lightweight patrol box? When I was a Scout my old troop made patrol boxes to take to jamboree and used them extensively thereafter. They were build out of 3/4 ply with steel legs and weighed a ton. Fully loaded they took at least four people to carry. But they were really great to use. Each patrol customized their box with the things they liked to have on campouts -- spices, hot sauce, gear they like to use, etc. The door also dropped down to form a nice work surface.

            My son's troop uses plastic tubs, but they only hold the basic pots, pans and utensils. They are are difficult to keep organized.

            It would sure be nice if there was some compromise between the two.

            Comment


            • #7
              We have used wooden patrol boxes for at least the 10 years that I have been with this troop and they were not new when I started.

              They hold one 10 qt dutch oven, 2 cast iron skillets, a nested aluminum pot set, utensils, and the various condiments that the patrol wants. They also store the paper towels, Crisco, aluminum foil etc, etc etc. They can be carried by 2 scouts and have seperate metal legs that they stand on. They do not include plates, silverware or cups, those are the responsibiliy of each scout.

              Food is transported in coolers and dry boxes, each patrol has their own to use and care for.

              Lightweight camping is done also but that gear is usually the responsibility of each scout to acquire or borrow from those of us who have extra.

              They work great and have so far stopped all raccoons from getting into them. Have had some of the plastic bins opened by some (talented ones tho)

              yis

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              • #8
                We use patrol boxes, they work for us. To counter the weight problem, an ASM made a two wheeled cart to haul two boxes at a time to the campsite.

                The prototype cart is made with a 2x2 frame with a 1/2 inch plywood base to add strength to the frame. The wheels are two 20 inch bike rims/tires that are held on the axle with a cotter pin. The bike tires allow for hauling over most terrain.

                We have a dad that works in a machine shop, and if he ever has a free moment, he'll try to make a stronger "production" model either at cost, or the boss may make a donation.



                Comment


                • #9
                  There were several mentions of rain and rotting wood.

                  Most boxes I have seen had a coat or two of some clear finish. I would probably use a marine varnish if I were to make one but it seems any decent exterior house paint or other exterior grade finish should prevent rotting wood.

                  It seems that patrol box with legs could easily be covered by a BBQ grill cover to keep rain off and out of the box. Inexpensive and easy. Throw the cover over the box whenever through with cleanup. If you get liquid sunshine, then the cover keeps the box dry. Even a simple tarp tossed over the top would seem to address the water infiltration issue.

                  What am I missing?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    We used an old backpack cover over ours to keep the rain out. The kind with elastic all the way around the edge. It didn't go all the way down the side, but it did the job quite well.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Yes they work! And in many different ways!
                      Yes they are heavy but if you have two boys and the box has built-in handles it... is NEVER a real problem (usually have to stop small boys from trying to lug it by themselves...instead of teamwork/buddy).
                      Many of our boxes are OLD -12 to 15 years old and still holding up! Most fit in a car trunk or SUV or pickup bed so trailers while nice are not required...(although we have two real dinosaurs from when the troop did 'troop cooking'...they are now 'adult kitchens'. I am at a loose for the need to be waterproof or weather proof...a little water here abd there doesnot hurt wood that is painted...if allowed to dry...unless we are the only troop in this thread that 'sets' a rain fly upon reaching camp which we always do! Even when backpacking!...Our boxes rarely GET wet????

                      QM should not do clean up-patrols do that...each year the patrols also have a oportunity to redecorate their boxes along side the NEW SCOUT PATROLS, patrol logos, even names of the scouts...fresh colors, paint, clear coat; it can be fun!
                      OUR Patrol Boxes contain a few non-perishable staples,and in compartments hold cook set, utensils, stove, hose, trash bags, 3 small wash pans, box of zip locks and a zip-lock with matches, salt, pepper etc. our Dutch Ovens are stored separately in the trailer.
                      Like most 'posts' here, our car-camp food travels in 'patrol' rubbermaid boxes, with snap down tight lids and coolers...and consumed. NOte that cardboard boxes do not pass muster at many National Parks now days. Many require all foods stuff to be stored in fairly weather/small animal-tight containers...or your unit may be asked to leave ..or worse...ticketed!

                      Our Patrols keep their 'tuff tainers' (or whatever) at the grubmaster/patrol leaders house.
                      Each Patrol cooks for itself in it's own Patrol area under a rainfly. At many camps we have 5 to 7 distinct campsites 'set' (including the separate 'adult' kitchen'. The patrols, not QM, keep everything organized and clean with just a little oversight from the SPL and Quartermaster.

                      ps. utensils are patrol responsibility. Each New Scout Patrol, as part of it's first "shakedown campout" purchases staples and the utensils that it will use for the next year (at least)...Lose them and the patrol replaces...not the troop.

                      hope this helps...
                      anarchist

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hi All

                        We have eight very nice patrol boxes that we quit using about seven years ago. It's funny, the adults had them made with love and care. Seven years ago we decided I wanted to move to a backpacking troop because that forces more personal responsibility on scouts. The PLC and adult decided to experiment and ask the patrols to not use patrol boxes every other campout. After the first campout without the boxes, the patrols siad good by to the boxes and never looked back.

                        Our patrols put all their patrol gear in a milk crate. That includes a two burner backpacking stove, lightweight rainfly, cooking gear, rope and I can't remember the rest. I agree light weight gear does have a cost, so over a couple of years we slowly switched stoves and rainflys as fund raisers helped us make the switch. It's the same gear we use on our high adventure treks like Philmont and Northern Frontier.

                        As for the patrol boxes, we gave four away to help a new troop, and the patrols can use the other four anytime the want, which they never have. Our guys say the milk crates are much simpler.

                        I love this scouting stuff.

                        Barry

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                        • #13
                          We've got 5 or 6 wooden ones in our trailer. Not all of them are stocked properly though. In fact, I doubt I could truly tell you what is in each one or what should be.

                          We probably have close to 10 or more Rubbermaid containers in our trailer as well. These included boxes for food, we do keep some styrofoam and paper products, some dry foods, etc

                          Also, our first aid supplies fills a container though that needs to be gone through because most of it is probably outdated. Finally we have a container in which we keep single burner stoves and water purifiers in for backpacking and canoeing adventures.

                          Our troop normally does "car camping" though I'd prefer if we added more adventure, but our boys tend to be lazy and find this Scouting stuff a joke.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            We use two plastic boxes with lids that are meat trays as their designed role in life. One for gear, the second for the overflow and food. Lanterns, cylinders, tents etc are carried separately.

                            Each box is moveable by two small Scouts.

                            They stack in the trailer, and in the store room.

                            They can be sat on if the lid is secure.

                            Everything is stored in them and that saved sorting time as we head out for camp.

                            We spend half the year going lightweight and that gear is yet to find a storage solution.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I am a great lover of Patrol Boxes. We played around with different designs till we found one that worked. It worked because we built it around the equipment that we were putting in it.
                              We /I never liked the aluminum cooking sets, mainly because as a Scout I remember sitting for hours with a Brillo Pad and cleaning the darn things! We found nice sets of black enameled pots that fit inside of each other.
                              The big thing about the boxes and the equipment were that they "Belonged" to the Patrol. Patrols painted them, signed them added stickers and all sorts of stuff.
                              At camp the equipment came out and they were used as larders or pantries. Patrol members left their plates and mugs in the box, that way they never forgot them and over time even if they did they knew that there were extras in the box.
                              Once a year we had a big clean up/ clear out.
                              We also had troop lightweight equipment for hikes and that sort of thing.
                              We never went in for trailers but had mini vans with custom built roof racks. Getting the boxes on and off the roof was always a hair raising activity, but we seemed to manage. Outside the Scout HQ we had a two car garage that was packed with camping equipment. Pete our troop QM had worked in the stores in the RAF. The garage was his domain, he ruled it, he ran it. We had 15 patrol boxes, getting all of them and the tents to camp was never easy even with four 15 seat mini vans. We did buy an old van to tote the equipment in. It worked for a while, but fell apart one year while we were camping in Ireland.
                              Eamonn

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