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Modern v Old School

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  • Modern v Old School

    This might seem an odd topic for some. I'm in need of some new camping gear. I've always camped using modern gear during my many years in BSA, but I've also camped more primitively while doing living history events. I'd like to have a positive camping influence on the boys I'm involved with who are all city boys currently transitioning from a Lone Scout pseudo-patrol into an official troop. I'm weighing the options to go with modern gear or semi-primitive gear, i.e. tomahawk, tarp, cook kettle, large tin cup, wool blanket, knife, haversack/knapsack, etc.
    Anyone else gone the primitive route on a regular basis? I've had some Scouting friends in the past who were also living history types who have done it with a select number of boys in their troops.
    Opinions, experiences?

  • #2

    I'd go for the modern gear, but still have a few campouts where you break out the primitive gear for fun.


    • #3
      I always worry about SM's or ASM's who do things with a select number of boys???

      So is it a troop or a private club?

      Your lucky if your boys can chose what kind of gear they want to camp with. My boys camp with what they own, some with blankets and others with down bags.


      • #4
        I enjoy both schools of thought, but then again I can't always afford the new stuff. Of course it all depends on a variety of different issues. I remember once when we had a horrendous downpour and all the boys were soaked in their modern tents. My canvas tent with no floor was the only place in camp that stayed dry. I had a cot, rubber bin and fold up chair inside my tent and everything stayed dry except the ground where about 2" of water flowed through for most of the night. What flowed through my setup, was caught up in the floors of the modern tents. I guess 50 years of camping experience is often more valuable than the latest and greatest from REI.



        • #5
          First, decide how you personally want to camp. No matter what the boys are doing on the opposite side of the field, set your site up to suit your style. Keep in mind that you'll have to be prepared to emergencies (e.g. someone forgetting to pack a sleeping bag, or back-up first aid kit) in a way that you would not necessarily think about when solo camping.

          Second, the boys need to get together and decide how they want to look in the field. My boys (and girls in the crew) take pride in using their own gear, so we are a hodge-podge of high-fashion tents to jury rigged tarps to natural shelters to open sky. We have patrol cook gear from over the years, but often boys use their own gear or I let my crew use my family camp box. Other troops acquire uniform tents/tarps, always set them up in a specific configuration and take pride in the leftover "postage stamp" of trampled grass when they break camp.

          "City boys" is an inadequate description to me. A lot of what you will do depends on the boys' social status and their parents' attitude about sharing from whatever they have. My troop (50:50 city:suburb boys -- with the occasional country bumpkin) is able to operate the way it does because we have a hand-me-down culture that boys adhere to even after they leave the troop. Other troops have parents who fret about being fair to every boy materially, so the troop winds up acquiring it's own gear and keeping careful account of it. And there are hundreds of variations.

          Your best bet is to get to know your boys, let them know about various options. Help them to understand the cost of things as best you can. (Cost includes maintenance, by the way.) And, give them a chance to decide for themselves how they want to operate.


          • #6
            Son A goes old school and like heavy surplus military gear. His motto "got knife, got flint...what else do I need?". Son B likes modern ultra-light gear. What he can't afford he makes. I do a bit of both. They say hike your own hike so I say camp your own camp.


            • #7
              I'm with you Tampa. A little of both. I've got an external frame pack (it's hot enough, I can't imagine how much heat I'd build up in an internal frame back). I hammock (DIY tablecloth hammock). I used to have an old Coleman 442 dual fuel for backpacking, but after the leak of white gas, I decided to go 21st century with a canister stove.

              In terms of our troop campouts, we have a combination of gear. We have a set of uniform 4 person dome tents (generally sleep two or three in them), a couple of two man semi-backpacking tents, and boys are free to bring their own tents. They range from a one man backpacking tent to four man domes to hammocks with tarps (well, only one so far of the boys (my oldest) and myself). Our former scoutmaster either camped out under the stars in a blue tarp burrito, or in his large 4 person dome tent. We have another ASM who likes to sleep on picnic tables if available, again in a blue tarp burrito sort of thing.


              • #8
                The idea often proffered here that the early forms of scouting are the only true outdoor and scouting models is nonsense. In the earliest days they used what was available, including new ideas and equipment. Most camping was done with carts, wagons, or beasts of burden; they did not carry stuff like we do today for the most part, though a few did on occasion. They took trains often if they could "hop" them if scouts in the city; they sometimes reconnoitered the surrounding areas for food sources or barns in which to sleep; while they might have used flint and steel or bows, matches were the norm and the fire requirement was 2 matches, not other fire modes; many only had pieces of uniforms, usually starting with the neckerchief and hat. Much of what is done today would be found to be absolutely amazing by them and they likely would want to participate in the modern program available for high adventure. Scouting is an ever changing model that adjusts if it can and more often than not finds the best way for its particular group. Some would embarrass the old time scouts, and some would look like the have become, the "parlor scouts" of the early days. "The more things change, the more they remain the same." Scouting USA is NOT Baden Powell's program completely, nor that of other founders and important contributors; it is a collage of them all, some better than others.

                Do your best; simple as that. Have fun along side your scouts; just do not forget why adults are there.


                • #9
                  Perhaps I wasn't completely clear. I'm certainly not trying to force my camping style on the boys. I was simply asking for experiences of adult Scouters camping styles, and what influence it may have had on the boys.
                  By "city boys" I mean that all of them have grown up in large urban environments in upper-middle class/fairly wealthy families. Most have been involved in Scouts for less than a year. Their outdoors experience so far has been going on well organized trips with another, fairly large troop of boys with similar backgrounds, which usually plans expensive outings with lots of travel.
                  I'm no newb to Scouting and I've seen my share of differing types of gear and boys from all socioeconomic backgrounds and how they/we make it work.
                  I've mostly made up my mind now that I'll be going with modern versions of primitive gear and camping by example to show the boys another alternative. If they still want to pile 4-5 boys into a huge dome and cook on a big camp stove, that's fine. BTW, the other adult leader that goes on almost all campouts also uses modern backpacking gear.


                  • qwazse
                    qwazse commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I think you have a good plan.
                    It sounds like the biggest decision (or sets of decisions) for you all are how much gear will be acquired by individuals, and how much by the troop. If your boys are like mine, they will come to appreciate the benefits of accumulating gear on an individual basis. Not the least of which is that when they are 18, they'll be ready to grab their gear and go wherever with whomever however they need to.

                    But as you grow, especially if you get a dozen newbies at once, you may need to acquire more gear that will be held in common. It will be interesting to see what kind of gear the boys decide that should be.