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  • Burned out with Pack Camping

    I am burned out with pack camping, I mean I am at the end of my rope.

    We have a large pack, about 90 scouts total and on most camping trip we will have 125-150 people. Getting the parents to help out with anything is a chore and even if you get them to agree to help they just don’t show up when it’s time too. They don’t watch their kids (some do of course) letting them run all around the camp and tents, thru the fire ring, swinging on the flag pole, etc. Honestly it feel like I’m parent to all 150 people.

    I signed on as a den leader when my son joined as a Tiger and now he’s a Web I, I’m also Assistant CM this year. I have set up and taken down the pack kitchen and other gear at every camping trip, along with the Cub Master and a couple other dads, always the same ones, and I’m done I don’t honestly think I can handle any more pack camping trip.

    I feel an obligation to attend and help out, particularly since we are the Webelos now but I just don’t think I can handle it anymore. I just want to go camping with my den and have way less stress and do fun stuff with the scouts.

    Just venting a little, the trip this last weekend sort of did me in.

  • #2
    Do other leaders share your concerns? Food for that many people can be a all day job with all of the meals. Simplifing meals may help. Foil packs cooked on the camp fire is an easy clean up. Require people to bring their own mess kits , reusable plates. They are resonsible for cleaning their own dishes.

    Another option is to make the dens responsible for their own food. How structured are the activities? Do you plan both den and pack activities? A structured day seems to work better than just winging it. Kids are going to run around if there are not activities where they get to run they are going to run through camp. An option would be to look for a site where you can have a tent area and a play / running area. If people are not staying out of the fire ring, it might be time to stop the camp fires. You don't need a camp fire at every camp out (although you would need it for the foil packs)

    I have been involved with a pack of 150 (Tiger and Wolf) and 60 (Bear and Web 1). In my observation the amount of people volenteering do not increase with the larger group. You will get about the same number helping out with any task. I have also found that if you tell someone you need help with something they will not say no.

    Comment


    • #3
      Our pack was hsyr as huge (150+) and this is how we dealt with it:

      1-We only did 2 or 3 Pack campouts a year. We did do other activities. Dens were encouraged to family camp other times.
      2-Dens had to tent together and were responsible for their meals. Occasionally we might provide at (most) one meal--usually hot dogs, etc.
      3-We expected our Webelos, especially W2's, to be helpers in setting up tents, keeping a lid on running, cleaning up.
      4-We sent a warning message with a sign up sheet telling folks we would send them home if they were difficult. We rarely did but the expectation is there.

      I think with such a big group you got to spread the tents out.

      Renax I think you are just burning out, Tigers to Webes is a long road (I did it too). Concentrate on your boys first--you want them to have a good time and hopefully cross over. I feel your pain..

      Comment


      • #4
        Pack family camping stinks. I really hate it.

        When I started, it was a small group of about 10 families. All were active and involved with their scouts, None were relaxing around the campfire. It was a good time.

        The last Pack campout, the unit leaders rented a cabin with a flush toilet and shower, I spent the entire weekend unstopping the plugged up toilet. the someone ripped the bathroom door off the hinges and then broke the flusher on the toilet, we were blamed for a broken window, but it was noted on the inspection sheet when we arrived. cost $150 and a day off of work to repair the damage, a cheapo hollow core door would never hold up so I bought a solid door and a toilet flusher valve kit.

        So why didn't the pack leadership do it? No idea. I fixed the stuff because it was the right thing to do......The Pack committee refused to repay me for the cabin repairs during the following pack committee meeting. that and the behavior of the parents on that trip, it will be my last trip with the Pack.



        so your not far off with burning out on it. Move on with your scout and don't look back, you have done your time.

        Comment


        • perdidochas
          perdidochas commented
          Editing a comment
          That sounds like a nightmare. How are you related to the Pack?

        • Basementdweller
          Basementdweller commented
          Editing a comment
          I was the previous CM and I am a committee member currently. They are the Pack that feeds my troop that is why I am interested.

      • #5
        Just curious........how much camping does your pack do? You do realize that while it is perfectly fine to do so, it is not the norm. We have some packs that camp more than others, but I believe the majority of our packs take advantage of our district day camps, council cub resident camp (summer) and our council spring (May) and fall (October) weekend camps. Those all come with a camp and program director and camp cooks. Most packs are just not geared up like troops are for frequent camping and they are not broken into patrols where the boys are mature enough to take care of themselves. Many cub parents look at cub camping like a trip to the lake. Time to relax while someone else does the work. I'm not trying to discourage you. Cubs need to be exposed to camping, but I personally believe it needs to be in measured doses. Back when we were in Cubs, we had those who camped and those who wanted nothing to do with it. They were active and supportive families who loved the program, but they had no desire to camp. When crossover time came, you had a pretty good idea who was crossing and who was leaving based on who camped and who didn't. When they move to Boy Scouts, they will be camping 12 months per year for up to 7 years give or take. While you want a Cub familiar with camping, you don't want them burned out by the time they crossover. I believe in our pack, the Webelos had about 5 to 6 camping opportunities per year. The 4 I mentioned above, a Webelos Den campout and maybe a trip with a prospective troop to crossover.




        All of that being said, it sounds as if you need to take a page from the Boy Scouts and more or less form patrols for the adults. Base it off of their den. Lay down some basic camp rules or meal times, lights out, physical camp boundaries, cooing, KP, latrine cleanup, etc. Make a roster and give everyone a job. Buld the campout around program and keep them busy. A sound argument can be made to the parents about the need for organization and using the campouts to help with advancement requirements. Thos who want a lazy weekend staying up until 3 AM or worse yet.....letting their kids stay up until then, can decide whether they want to go on an organized pack campout or do their own thing at the lake during the summer.

        Comment


        • Basementdweller
          Basementdweller commented
          Editing a comment
          We do 2 campouts a year with the Pack. Plus day camp and webelos resident camp. Day camp did not happen this year because we did not have an adult with a youth in the Pack volunteer to drive them back and forth or be a den walker.

        • Tampa Turtle
          Tampa Turtle commented
          Editing a comment
          We also found many of the younger cub parents had NEVER camped. This was a source of much anxiety especially Mom only households. So we had a special tutorial at our pack meeting on what to take and what not to take--with props. (Take: Sleeping Bag, Tent, Flashlight. Not to Take: Guns, Fireworks, Booze). We showed how to set up a simple tent and said Webelos and Leaders would be available to help newbies setup. Stressed the 10pm lights out. Did our awards at the campout to boost attendance and fill time.

      • #6
        When I was a den leader, on Pack campouts, we would generally do hamburgers for lunch, cooked on buddy burners made by the Webelos. We would follow that with a dinner of hot dogs, and whatever else came in (chili, etc.). Breakfast was family by family, or sometimes den by den, depending on the choices of the den. Usually, we did family by family. It seems that people have a lot more choosiness when it comes to breakfast--ranging from donuts/pastries to eggs/bacon/sausages/grits, so we did it that way. There was usually extra coffee to be had around the campsite. The interesting thing to me in Pack camping was how little most Cub Scouts were expected to do. Most of them did nothing but play. My sons weren't that lucky (or possibly they were luckier in the long run). They helped me in every stage of work to their ability. They helped set up and take down the tent. They helped load/unload the car. They helped cook and clean. Kind of interesting, but Boy Scouts was an easy transition to them. Their main frustration in terms of campsite work is that the other boys aren't pulling their share.

        That said, the main problem with Pack camping is all of the adults involved, with skill/equipment levels ranging from nonexistent to experts.

        Comment


        • Tampa Turtle
          Tampa Turtle commented
          Editing a comment
          Agree folks were pickiest about breakfast--so I saw Pop-Tarts/Cereal all the way to heart stopping " Full American." We always told folks about the hot dogs so if they were vegetarians or picky they could bring an alternate.

      • #7
        It's always the 20% (or less.... around 5-10% in our case) that get the stuff done.
        I'm happy to say that I too am among the doers in my son's pack...... and I feel your pain Renax127

        I have noticed that there's a lot of folks, leaders included, that are always conveniently gone by the time it comes around to folding up the pack kitchen, stacking chairs, or whatever..... We have one leader particular adept at playing hot potato. He is great about helping when asked. He may be chairing a particular event or chore, but as soon as another leader asks a question of steps in to help.... leadership suddenly shifts to that person, whether or not that 'helper' knows that they are now the leader. I think It's really bad in a way, but at the same time admire the smarts...... he gets "credit" for helping and seems like a hero, and yet skillfully gets out of a lot of nuisance stuff by sharing the load.

        Renax, maybe you need to start taking the lead from the 80 percenters, and at least from time to time, conveniently having someplace to be before it comes time to stack the chairs. I'm trying to figure out how to do this myself!

        Basement, unless it was me or my son that did the breaking.... if they refused to reimburse me for something like that, I'd be done with them too! Ridiculous! What was their reasoning for not reimbursing you?

        Comment


        • Renax127
          Renax127 commented
          Editing a comment
          I'm not taking the lead in anything with the pack any more, I'm gonna ask them to find a different Assistant CM. My job is to teach my Webelos how to be Boy Scouts and that's all I really am concerned with at this point. It's time for some other parents to step up.

        • Basementdweller
          Basementdweller commented
          Editing a comment
          They claim the door was broken when we arrived, It was not. There are several storys circulating as to exactly what happened, they all revolve around the Webelos den leaders son and his buddy, Some how the lads foot ended up thru the door and in the tussle the hinges detached themselves from the door.

          The toilet who know what happened. maybe age....

          I was waiting for the boys to rip the exterior door off the hinges. they were playing inside the cabin and holding and slamming the door shut.

        • King Ding Dong
          King Ding Dong commented
          Editing a comment
          My boys know how steam starts coming out my ears when they start the door games. It happened about a year ago. Result is they lost their bedroom doors for week.

      • #8
        My current pack only has one Pack campout a year and I am trying to up that to two. We have Pack activities but meals are coordinated and cooked by den. Cooking for 100 people is a pain and is called catering not camping. . If turnout is low some dens will combine, this keeps the size manageable and parents involved. You may want to consider lowering the pack campouts and increasing the Webelos campouts. I personally think camping should be mostly on the den level anyway especially with larger packs, though the guidelines don't like that.

        Comment


        • Renax127
          Renax127 commented
          Editing a comment
          We have 5 pack camp outs scheduled for this year (the one last weekend was Cub-o-Ree) and I'm pretty much done with them. I have no plans to attend any more. I will be planning a lot of den camping trips so that my Webelos can actually learn something and hove some responsibility.

          Most of my scouts are tired of pack camping as well, thye like the freedom they have den camping. They also like being able to cook for themselves, etc.

        • dedkad
          dedkad commented
          Editing a comment
          5 pack campouts a year? No wonder you are burned out. There are so many other fun weekend outdoor pack activities you could do without the hassle of planning a campout. Use those weekends to do other activities like service projects, bike riding, hiking, game day, etc.

          Our pack does one campout a year. Two would probably be ideal, but one is what we've always done. It's just a one-nighter. Dinner is a potluck dinner with hot dogs provided by the pack as main dish. It's not too hard to find a couple people to man the BBQ for hot dogs, or the kids can roast their own on sticks over the campfire. I wouldn't even bother with a pack kitchen. We use this website for people to sign up for the potluck and other needed items like charcoal, wood, soap, etc. https://www.bringit.bz/ Everyone is responsible for their own breakfast. Our only planned activity is our advancement ceremony and skits around the campfire. The rest of the time the boys are free to do what they like to do best, which is run around and come up with their own games, which usually consist of zombies and glow sticks. Super easy, everyone has a great time, and nobody feels dumped on.

        • Tampa Turtle
          Tampa Turtle commented
          Editing a comment
          We had a great Pack but we found the "natural demand" to be 2.5 Campouts a year. So we eventually moved to 2. One thing we did was have a Pack obstacle course and each Den contribute part of it. Setting up and running it kept a lot of folks occupied. Did a "carnival" with a similar set up the other time. Got to have some planned activities. 5 is too many. Do not want to burn them out before Boy Scouts.

      • #9
        On a positive note, I am dang proud of my scouts. At the Webelos games (run by the Boy Scouts and OA) we had several SPL's ask if my scouts were coming to their troop for a visit. The were respectful, organized and well behaved. They were encouraging and helping each other at every station. My denner took the lead and got them organized and from station to station with me just making sure nobody got too crazy.

        Comment


        • #10
          We ALWAYS had great experiences with the family campouts. But our pack was much smaller, only about 30 or so boys, and the parents were always helpful and motivated. And we only did it twice each year (not counting the Webelos camping with the boy scouts) I guess the perception of the experience depends on a lot of factors.

          Comment


          • #11


            Put up a sign-up sheet at the beginning of the year or maybe Blue/Gold.

            Title: Campout #X Date: __________________

            Chairman: ____________________________________ Phone #:
            Support for Chairman 1: ___________________________________ Phone #:
            Support for Chairman 2: ___________________________________ Phone #:

            Food Chairman: ____________________________________________ etc.
            Support for Food 1: _______________________________________ etc,
            Support for Food 2: _______________________________________

            Meal Cleanup: etc.
            2 helpers

            Camp safety Chairman:

            Campsite Reservation Chairman

            Activity Chairman:
            Etc.

            This process should apply to ALL activities for the year including next year's Blue/Gold banquet.

            You can also do this for each one of the Dens!

            Anything the Pack does gets a sheet!

            Post all such activities with sufficient personnel to do it properly, on the wall of the banquet hall and announce that sigh-up is first come, first served. BUT!!!!! if all the slots are not filled in before we leave, the activity will be cancelled for the year. We are no longer going to do any activities without the boys properly cared for.

            If no one, or not enough sign up, take the sheet, crumple it up and toss into the garbage.

            If people want their boys to have a program, they are expected to sign-up to help make it happen.

            Collect up all the sheets, contact each member on the filled sheets, and get their addresses, contact information.

            Put it into a activity booklet and mail to each person that has stepped up to help so they can mark their calendars and plan ahead.

            1) It puts all responsibilities for the year on each person's shoulders.
            2) Eliminates last minute run-arounds looking for volunteers.
            3) Everyone knows up-front what is expected from them for the year and won't be hassled down the road to do more.
            4) Everyone knows up-front what activities will be done and which ones are eliminated because of lack of support.

            Oh, no one signed up to do the Wolf den! So be it. We won't have wolves this year. Who said it's the CM's job to run around and beg for volunteers?

            I've seen this done in other organizations and once everyone figures out you really mean it, it works like a charm.

            Where's the summer campout going to be? Check with the chairman, he knows who is reservation chairman is and can get that info in just a couple of phone calls. What are they planning on doing? Contact the chairman, he knows who the activity chairman is.

            Better yet send the booklet out to ALL parents and even those phone calls will go away as well.

            Is this a harsh pill to swallow? Yep, the first year, but after that it goes like clockwork!

            Stosh

            Comment


            • Renax127
              Renax127 commented
              Editing a comment
              So they sign up to help out then don't bother too show up, now what. It's what happen last year with Pinewood Derby? I'm not going to tell 80 boys they can't have a Derby because a couple parents can't live up to a simple commitment of a 3-4 hours over 2 months. Any punishment just affects the kid and it ain't their fault. Put anymore pressure on the parents and they just stop coming, what good is that for the boys.

              Anyway it isn't so much the planning of an event as the adults behavior at the events that's got me wound up.

            • King Ding Dong
              King Ding Dong commented
              Editing a comment
              Wow. Derby is the one event we don't have problems with volunteers at all.

              Do you have your people trained ? That can help sometimes.

              My CC has been sending out rah rah emails thanking all the chairs/volunteers for the events in the weeks prior to the event. Kind of puts the spotlight on them.

            • jblake47
              jblake47 commented
              Editing a comment
              Obviously there are always emergencies when people can't do something at the last minute. That hassle is a lot easier than a whole passle of people expecting to show up, never made a commitment to it and of course, don't show up. Now you have a BIG problem.

              It should be, up front of course, announced that if they sign up, they are expected to show up. At least you know you have a workable contingent when you start, things change, adjust a bit.

              Renax127, so someone didn't show up. Well others stepped up and made it happen for the boys. Nothing in the signup program that says that can't be done when someone drops the ball. There will be a few who step up to fill in the gaps that didn't sign up but are still willing to help.

              If not enough people sign up for Pinewood Derby, wouldn't it be a better idea to tell the families up front there isn't going to be a Derby or wait until after everyone's built a car, then disappoint them.

              So I'm sitting there figuring I ought to sign up for something. Okay, Blue Gold table decorations. That's it. No one's going to call me every other week asking me to do something else, someone else has that covered. When Blue Gold rolls around, I walk in, decorate tables and I'm done. If my dad dies right before Blue Gold, I call the Blue/Gold Chairman and ask if he or one of his helpers can stop by and pick up the decorations and put them on the table, they are in a box all ready to go. A bit of an inconvenience, but still better than arm twisting all year up until the last minute.

              If anyone likes the way they are doing it, fine, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

              But if you're burned out, this might be a start to look at another alternative to cut down on the hassles.

              Stosh

          • #12
            We ended up with two of them two weeks apart, that was freaking brutal… We are learning who stays and who goes. One camp that we had broken down early, with everyone helping, everything was done in about 10 minutes. Next one we had the boys doing activities and people broken down over time, and the last ones there had a 2 hour break down (in part from being tired).

            We had 3 Campouts last year, 1 Pack, 2 Council/District Activities, and that was a bit light.

            This year we have 6 Campouts, 4 Council/District Activities, 2 Pack, which is seeming excessive.

            The problem becomes what to skip… If we can spread the workload easier, which we hopefully will, this becomes a much easier process. Part of it is getting checklists, we have parents willing to help, they just don't necessarily know how.

            Comment


            • jblake47
              jblake47 commented
              Editing a comment
              "we have parents willing to help, they just don't necessarily know how."

              That's an easy fix. The one who did it last year invites next year's volunteer, to coffee. The newbie takes notes and next year when he has a new newbie, he has his original notes and anything else he added to improve it. This continues on and on and the program never has to reinvent the wheel.

              Stosh

          • #13
            I've gone family camping with my pack before, but it was a council event at a winter lodge. I did not take any responsibility for the other scouts in the group. They all had parents there. Everyone was responsible for their own meals. But our pack is finally getting big. We are going to try some tent camping this summer. It seems like more work than its worth to me.

            Comment


            • #14
              Yes, Jblake, That's an interesting approach. I actually like the idea. Makes sense..... on paper at least.
              I tend to agree with Renax's response though..... most parents aren't there to be strong armed or pressured and would just assume to not be dragging their kids to scouts anyway. On top of that, many couldn't organize their way out of a box and would completely "forget" to show up.
              So, it still comes down to the 80/20 rule. You'll have 20% of the parents that put their names on said sign up sheets, most will likely sign up for multiple positions and for multiple events. Also of note, these are the same people that already are wearing a uniform in some role or another. You may get the odd parent here or there that's not a registered leader because they already have too much on their plate.... and they'll sign up for the odd event because it's the right thing to do. But the 80% will fail to hear the announcement and will not see that giant sign up table by the door as they walk in and out of the room.
              So you we cancel the even because we didn't have a name in the assistant dishwasher spot. Most parents will think, Yippe, I just got my weekend back! The boys are disappointed and miss out, but they get to stay home and play Minecraft so all is good in the world!

              Just my opinion based on my experience.....

              Comment


              • King Ding Dong
                King Ding Dong commented
                Editing a comment
                "The boys are disappointed and miss out, but they get to stay home and play Minecraft so all is good in the world!"

                Lol. Sad, but true.

              • jblake47
                jblake47 commented
                Editing a comment
                blw2 - been there done that, every thing you point out is true except for the 80/20. I have experienced major shifts in those numbers in every organization I have worked this system in.

                I saw one organization do this and the "president" of the group spent a few hours once a month sitting down and doing a phone call to each activity chair asking how things were going and if there was anything she needed to be doing to help with the process. 100% of the time the chairperson "had everything under control". At the last minute if something hiccupped, the president was there to help plug the gaps. That occurred 2-3 times a year and it was not a big deal with any of them.

                However, it wasn't a miraculous fix the first year out of the starting blocks. But after that the numbers shifted to about 50/50 by the second and even better the third year. It might not be ideal but it made a major impact on the 20% that had to carry the load previously.

                Stosh

            • #15
              So if the parents don't want to camp or refuse to volunteer...Can the weekend because obviously no one cares??????

              When I was a Cub, we didn't camp as a pack and I participated in a Dad and Lad campout as a webelo..... I can't say I missed anything.

              Comment

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