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  • high adventure troop requirements?

    We're planning on hiking Yellowstone in 2015. I want to make sure that any adult volunteers for the trip are fully trained and registered (obviously). I also wanted to set some training criteria for the boys (and adults) as well though. I have a couple firm criteria, must be 14 yrs old or older, must be an active fundraiser for the trip, must commit to the trip first meeting of 2014, everyone is responsible wholey for their own gear in their backpack, and must attend the training backpack trips.

    We'll be backpacking approx 10 miles a day while in Yellowstone.... for 4 or 5 days. I want to make sur ethe boys and adults are ready for the trip. I'm thinking 2 progressively longer backpacking trips per month over the 9 months leading up to the trip. But, what if a boy misses a training trip? What if an adult misses a training trip? What other criteria should be put in place?
    Obvious items such as backpacking gear, and knowledge how to use each piece of gear, packing lightly, etc etc should all fall into place during these training trips. We're a good backpacking troop as it stands now, but there is always room for improvement.

    I guess I'm looking for help developing a program that will weed out those that aren't really ready for the trip. I'm also concerned about some of the adult volunteer's I've received. I know these adults aren't ready right now, but just want to go because it "sounds cool to do". I think some boys arent' ready too, so I want to make sure the boys are ready to make the commitment for this trip.

    What kind of criteria do your troops have for a high adventure trip such as this? In a nutshell, we're backpacking in the back country of Yellowstone (yes I'm familiar with backpacking in bear country), we're looking at approx 10 miles per day, for up to 5 days.
    I don't want to be too strict, but I want to make sure we're all ready and committed to this high adventure trip of a lifetime.

    thanks all! I appreciate any thoughts on this.
    Mike B
    Scoutmaster T-31
    Last edited by Exibar; 10-14-2013, 03:30 PM. Reason: Edited as I put in only 2 trips leading up to to Yellowstone, I meant to state 2 per month for 9 months.

  • #2
    I'd make the first shakedown basic for gear, and the second shakedown hike an extended distance, say 15? 15 in one day will point out to the adults any weaknesses for 5 x 10.

    Comment


    • #3
      I edited... I meant to say 2 training trips per month leading up to it.... anyone thing that's too much? We'd have at least one outing per month anyway, but I'm thinking an extra backpacking trip for the boys and adults going to Yellowstone.... the younger scouts would be optional for these treks...

      I also want to bestow upon some of the adults that have volunteered (read NOT currently scout leaders) that this is a serious commitment to the troop and not just a one time deal... My "core" leaders are all committed, trained, etc, and honestly that's all I really need, or ever had for backpacking trips too.... but I dont' want to turn away anyone that is committed, but I need a display of that commitment... I dont' want to rely on an adult being there and have them back out last minute, or worse for them to be a hindrance, or get hurt due to lack of training during the trip

      Comment


      • #4
        Age is such an arbitrary measurement. There are some 12 year-olds out there that are more mature than some 45 year-olds.

        There are some 14 year olds that can handle the rigors of a hike better than MOST 50 year olds.

        There are some sofa scouts that can't handle a thing as well.

        Each boy needs to be evaluate according to a set a criteria that is set to help the boy, not hinder him.

        Okay, he's 14, active in sports. Works his butt off on fundraising and attends all the shakedown hikes, but his Body Mass Index puts him into the Overweight category. Oops, sorry, you can't go. Of course the BMI is a bad indicator because the kid is a football player and it is heavy muscle mass, not fat.

        Be careful in what rules get made up for the event, they may come back and bite you.

        So the 14 year-old mentioned, can't go and so his 3 buddies figure that without him they might as well hang out at home with him. So now you're down by 4 scouts. Oh, by the way two of them are your PL's. So you can domino yourself into abandoning the trip.

        While this scenerio may not seem plausible in its entirety, maybe some of it might.

        My suggestion would be a few guidelines and a review board of 3 boys, 3 adults.

        Is the boy physically able and mature enough to handle the trip? What kind of financial assistance will he need to get the costs covered? Then have a SM conference with the boy and then to "keep it honest" have the boy review the issues with the board. The general rules can be set up to guide the board, but nothing locked into stone that because he has all the requirements except one for FC he can't go, and that one requirement may have nothing to do with hiking or HA trips. And because Joe can't go because of something, but Pete's parents are putting the pressure on and he's woefully short on everything, and but he's allowed to go because the parents threaten to quit.

        Whatever you do, don't fall prey to the possibility of "painting oneself into a corner".

        Notice none of this advice locks into stone, just some things to think about.

        Stosh

        Comment


        • #5
          also I'm thinking requirements such as:

          14 years old
          First Class or higher
          physically able to hike 10 miles per day for 5 days
          Orienteering badge
          first aid badge
          camping badge
          wilderness survival badge
          only able to miss 1 of the training trips (reasons for missing more than 1 will be considered)

          Comment


          • jblake47
            jblake47 commented
            Editing a comment
            Whereas this is not in undeveloped area, a certain amount of pre-education is necessary. A boy well versed in FC should be able to do map/compass and basic first aid without having to do a full blown MB on it. When I went to BWCA canoeing, I expected, swimming MB and canoeing MB, but both applied directly to the trek.

            I'm thinking the shakedown treks are good, but nowhere near important is the DAILY personal treking necessary to build the conditioning of muscle and weight endurance. Going out on treks 4 Saturdays in a row is not the same as 10 miles a day, 4 days in a row. How you get the boys to do daily, on their own condition is vital and virtually impossible to measure.

            By the way, did you know Central Wyoming Council has a BSA summer camp 6 miles outside the east entrance of Yellowstone? The whole troop could go, do summer camp there and the older boys could go on into the park for HA. Just a thought.

            Stosh

          • Bando
            Bando commented
            Editing a comment
            Our troop did a trip out to Yellowstone many years back and stayed over at Camp Loll, which was a camp for one of the Idaho councils. Breathtaking camp at the bottom of about two miles of switchback roads (perfect for trailers!). Worked really well as a last stop base camp before we headed into the park.

            That's a great idea to involve the whole troop, Stosh.

        • #6
          If you are doing 2 backpacking trips a month, I would ramp up to 15-20 miles a day. Learn to do without all the extra weight. Since your next to Sea Level, I would make sure your hiking as high up as possible to have the Scouts/Adults understand altitude. That's your big issue.

          Where are you hiking in Yellowstone? What entrance are you coming in at? I spent 4 summers working there.
          Since you are doing 18 hikes, one or two misses wouldn't be an issue. Though, towards the end you might want to make sure the final ones are attended.

          Comment


          • Exibar
            Exibar commented
            Editing a comment
            Huey,
            I'd love to chat off list with ya as you certainly have inside information about the park that would be HUGE to help plan the better routes there are... Would you mind sending me an email with your email address?
            Mine's exibar@thelair.com

            I couldnt' find a way to private message you through this site :-(

            thanks!
            Mike B

        • #7
          Two training trips a month for nine months? And why the 14 age limit? Two weekend trips with a couple of one day hikes is plenty for everyone to learn their gear and their physical limitations. Our troop is a adventure troop for all scouts, we only limit scouts by age when required at BSA camp like Philmont. We don't even use the BSA camps in the Northern Tier so we can take youngers scouts. A scout should be limited by skills and physical/mental maturity, not age or rank. We provide twice the training weekends required incase someone can't make a training trip. We do a progressive payment plan withe a deposit at the beginning to get commitment at the beginning. On average we experience about a 40 % drop out rate for various reasons on long range planned trips, so we also sign up alternates who pay and train with the crew. We have never left an alternet home. I do encourage fitness training at home, especially the adults. We have found that fitness training is hard to enforce. But most boys are pretty fit and can do OK if they did ok on training hikes. Adults on the other hand need to do some fitness training. I would also suggest you plan the first day to be a 5 mile trip, it allows the body to adapt to the gear. I think 5 days is a perfect for a trip like this. If you are thing 50 mile award, add a couple longer days. Be careful not to take the fun out of it.

          Comment


          • #8
            How Many Boys do you Have Total in your Troop?
            How Many Will have the required Merit Badges By then?
            Sounds like Your trying to Limit the Group...Sounds like You may leave out plenty of Scouts in your Troop..>Start Excluding to many people from Treks and You may Find your troop dying...It is Boy Scouts not training for Special Forces.

            Comment


            • #9
              Keep in mind that yellow stone has maximum group sizes for back country treks.

              Philmont doesn't require anything beyond 14 and first class and the BMI.

              Merit badges don't prove a thing other than the boy can run a check list and if they were earned at summer camp then he was at least semi conscious when the subject was broached.



              Something seems odd here.

              So are the adults planning this?

              I would like to discourage you from taking a large group into the backcountry.

              I think your trek training is overly ambitious. So you have two trek trips a month plus the normal troop outing.....That leaves the boys and their families one weekend a month together. I know that I would have a rebellion on my hands.

              Comment


              • #10
                I always get a bit nervous once people start making up rules for the boys.... It's a totally obvious "flashing red" sign "with warning bell/alarm" of an adult-led program.

                Stosh
                Last edited by jblake47; 10-15-2013, 10:26 AM. Reason: Sorry, missed a couple of adjectives....

                Comment


                • Eagledad
                  Eagledad commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Well maybe, but how do they know if they have never done it before. That is what forums are for. That is why he asked. Boy Run is an aquired taste, very few adults do it right their first time. Barry

                • jblake47
                  jblake47 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Totally agree, but if one has a great boy-led program, This rule-making attitude could be a slippery slope that could wreck a great program.

                  Stosh

              • #11
                Am I the only one who sees the that this will damage the rest of the troops program???????

                Two weekends a month backpacking with the unit PLUS a regular troop outing. I imagine the regular troop campouts will suffer.

                Comment


                • Eagledad
                  Eagledad commented
                  Editing a comment
                  What I'm saying is you are basing your rant from a vivid imagination. Sure, if it were your troop, the OPs plan would likely be destructive. But you really don't know. If you want the discussion to go that directions, (and I think it is a good discussion) then lead into it without implying or attacking the OP. Barry

                • Basementdweller
                  Basementdweller commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I don't see it as a rant,

                  I was making a statement.

                • King Ding Dong
                  King Ding Dong commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Yeah, that was rather tame for BD. Only 7 question marks and one shouted word. No personal attacks, name calling or other unscout like behavior.

                  BD, to be more exact. 1 question and 1 statement.

                  So Exibar, that is a lot of scouting time. Do your participants normally put that much time into scouting ? My wife and cub son would have an issue.

              • #12
                My sons troop attends Northern Tier, Philmont and Florida Sea Base on a rotating basis. Troop of about 40 boys. They are able to send a crew of 10 boys and 2 adults to one of the bases each summer. The trip of the year is announced. Those interested attend an informational meeting where the approximate costs are outlined, list of gear provided, and a list of tasks that need to be accomplished reviewed. Two attendees must take and past Wilderness First Aid, first aid kit needs to be developed, someone has to make travel plans, someone has to be crew leader/asst crew leader, crew chaplin, payment schedule adopted, physicals due by date, etc. Parents attend because the costs usually run $2000-$3000 per scout. Fund raising opportunites are discussed. Attending and participating in all the fund raisers MAY get the scout close but only through lots of hard work. Parents need to know there will likely be out of pocket costs.

                Troop calender may include some troop outings that tend to favor the trip of the year. Maybe a canoe trip, or a backpacking trip will be included in the calendar. The troop does what it can to help but does not completely change its focus because a few scouts are high adventuring. Son went to Philmont 2 yrs ago. All the scouts were at least 15 yr old, Life or Eagle, and the adults had been active ASMs for 4+ years. Only just to explain that they all had experience. The only restrictions were those imposed by Philmont (14, BMI, Valid Physcial, and pay). The philmont crew had maybe 4 backpacking trips the year they went to Philmont. I believe only 1 trip was part of a troop outing. The others were weekend trips the crew took as training trips. They bought and packed food as similar to Philmont as feasible. Most scouts made most outings. Adults did step up their personal exercise regieme to make sure they were not embarassed on the trail. Everyone knew who would be the problems and who would be the solutions after the first trip. No surprises. The boys had been patrol and troop mates for years. A few stepped up who typically would falter. Everyone had a bad day or did at least one stupid thing. Thats life.

                The first trip all were tired. A map reading error took them on an extra mile or two. Too much stuff in a few guys packs. Not enough water for others. Typical stuff. By trip three, most of the issuess had been worked out. They took a strenuous trip. Baldy, Tooth of Time and about 65 miles. Everybody made it back alive with no incidents that more training trips would have prevented.

                All that to say, 18 backpacking trips in the 9 months leading up to a 1 week trip is significant overkill. 10 miles a day is about 4-5 hours of backpacking. A 14 yr old, 125lb scout should be able to do that with no problems after three training weekends. The training will pare down the weight in the pack and teach them how to pace themselves. Just make sure that after the first training trip, that all other trips include at least one day 15 miles or longer with the other day being at least 8-10 miles. The longer distance stresses emotions and reserves and you see who sucks it up and who folds.

                For money, I would recommend you require a non-refundable down payment of $100. This weeds out the half-hearted. They may have the opportunity to "sell" their down payment if they can find another scout to buy their spot. Limit the trip to X number of participants. All money must be paid in full by date Y with minimum monthly payments due until paid in full. Only partial refunds because trip funds will have been spent on first aid kit, WFA training, travel arrangments, group gear, etc. As a troop leader you already know who will likely be slow payers based on past summer camp and other expenses. Offering camperships is a possibility if you have benefactors willing to help.

                If you think the troop will continue to particpate in trips like this, then the troop can buy the group gear back at the end of the trip to reduce overall costs to the scouts. For instance, backpacking stoves, group first aid kit, map cases, GPS units, dining flys, backpacking tents, etc. Son's troop goes every year but has no troop gear that goes on the trips. Some how the group gear gets dispersed between the attending boys. My son completed his Triple Crown this year having attended all three bases. Only thing we have is a backpacking stove we bought so there would be enough for the crew.

                Recommend you have a specific adult be the contact point and overseer/advisor to the scouts leading/planning the trip. The scoutmaster does not have time to be both an SM and trip planner/leader.

                Comment


                • jblake47
                  jblake47 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Or a specific scout looking for POR could be the contact point so that the troop can move more towards a boy-led troop.

                  There is enough track record for this troop to start putting some of that boy leadership to some useful purpose.

                  There's a ton of sub-leadership opportunities, gear retention - Quartermaster, etc.

                  My apologies but when I read about such programs, the half-hearted need to be weeded out because they really aren't invested in the idea. Sounds good, but when the rubber hits the road, they are history. Why is that?

                  If all the boys were rolling up their sleeves to make it happen, there wouldn't be any half-hearted boys involved and one would not need a $100 deposit to figure that out.

                  Stosh

                • Exibar
                  Exibar commented
                  Editing a comment
                  wow, Reqman, thank you very much for your reply this was *very* helpful!
                  This was exactly what I was looking for, how another troop does this type of thing and not criticism or rants or "well your troop should be more boy led and not adult led".... My troop is boy led, and it's the BOYS that are asking for help planning this trip of a lifetime. I'm helping them with the finer points so that next time they can plan completely on their own and simply present their plan to me to see if they missed anything. Afterall, my job as Scoutmaster is to help and guide the boys right? :-)
                  Thanks again!!
                  Mike B

              • #13
                The reason Stosh is because a lot of priorities can change over two year time for both busy adults and teen boys growing into men. I hate planning that far ahead just for that reason. Like resqman, we also learned to require a non refundable down payment to help the participants through their buyers remorse periods. Some treks have more scouts than slots like Boundary Waters, so we want first dibs to the more committed scouts. I also liked teaching scouts a real life responsibility of accountibility. I agree that scouts should be responsible for planning; my last SPL before I retired as SM planned 100% of a week long backpacking trek in Montana. That was always his dream and the crew had a great time. The adults did absolutly nothing except drive and hike. He was special, but all our adventure treks require a scout to initiate the trek and find a crew (adventure patrol) which includes two adults before presenting their plan to the committee. If the committee thinks it a reasonable plan (they always have), then that scout is responsibile for the trip happening. He doesn't have to do all the work, but he does have to delegate responsibilities. And that youth can be any age. We once had a 12 year old learning handicapped scout plan a weekend of visiting amusement parks to ride roller coasters. His dream was to become a Roller Coaster Engineer. His parents were very proud, but that took some doing because of his handicap. We had another 12 year old plan a biking trek. Besides learnring the basic skills of planning, the thing about scouts doing the planning is that young scouts learn by watching the older scouts that they can do whatever they dream. Our troop averages about four adventure treks a yearof various activities from snow skiing to scuba in Mexico. My goal as a scout leader was to create an enviroment where a boy could live out his wildest dreams. I know of no other youth organization that does that like a Scouting Troop. Barry

                Comment


                • Exibar
                  Exibar commented
                  Editing a comment
                  so true!!! there are limits or boundaries that have to be imposed, but nothing hard set in stone... the scouts have to learn to be accountable, they can't say they'll do something, and then not do it and expect zero consequences...
                  some of the best trips are started and planned by the boys :-) I'll plan maybe one outing a year for my troop, helps to give the boys ideas of what's possible... the rest are on the boy's shoulders (aside from our annual Turkey cook campout... that's a given every year and all hands on deck!)

              • #14
                Jumping in here a little late... we did a Yellowstone trip back in 2009. We set a few rules, 14 and/or first class, if not, then an adult would have to accompany the scout. With regard to adults, the best way I found to weed them out is to insist on a non-refundable deposit up front, say $100 or more.... or state that the deposit must be received 3 months prior to the trip... The way we handled fundraisers is that we track hours the scout participates in the fundraiser and he receives an appropriate share to his scout account - use if for anything they want, including the deposit.

                Best thing is lots of communication and education up front. Emphasize the physical requirements of the hike, especially with the out of shapers and be honest but kind.

                We took 21 people out there from California, rented 2 vans, spent one night at Granpas in Elko, then one at a local scout council day camp in Idaho. Got a group camp in Yellowstone first night, then we split into three groups (max 8 per group) and did separate trips for 3 more nights, then all finished at Old Faithful. Another night at a group camp in the park then drove back, stopping once more in Elko. With our fundraisers, discounts, saving money by staying at Granpas, etc... we had a final cost of $135 per person, which included vehicle, gas, permits, 2 meals, campsites, etc. Backpacking food was left up to each group.

                Make sure you delegate some of the work, preferably to scouts but adults as well.

                Send in your route requests as early as possible. The ranger actually called me and he and I worked out all three trips over the phone, he was VERY accommodating for our group.

                This was an outstanding experience for our troop. We still talk about it.... Good Luck!

                Comment


                • #15
                  wow, guys.... please dont' take this the wrong way you're all a great bunch of guys.. all feedback is a gift, and I appreciate it all, really.... but honestly, many replies to me about how my troop should be more boy led, I shouldn't be planning this the boys should, etc etc... that type of feedback doesn't help nor comes close to answering my question I posed.... some posts had some useful thoughts though and for those i thank you, Resqman hit the nail right on the head though, thank you very much ;-) I see your point about the 18 training trips, which really amounts to 9 additional treks as the other 9 would involve the entire troop and be the monthly outing.

                  all the boys in my troop have backpacking gear, although Im sure more gear/ better gear will want to be purchased, as that is one of our most looked forward to activities. they all know how to use their gear... but I see that many pack way too much, I'm hoping the training trips will help them lighten their load.... we'll have a couple full shakedowns in between during a troop meeting as well, so the entire troop will benefit.
                  I see Resqman's point about 18 being too many.... maybe I'll just work in a couple extra training trips along with having the monthly outing more geared toward trek preparedness...
                  the 14 year old age limit is because I do not want newly crossed over scouts to attend this trek. For the most part they'll be prone to home sickness and in general won't be as prepared. Of course, this is a guideline and if there is a scout that my SPL and I decide is ready and wants to go, and can pay for it, he'll be welcome.... the others will be in scout camp locally for that week....

                  someone mentioned the merit badges don't prove a thing that they're just checkmarks on a list... they do actually... commitment, and mommy and daddy cannot buy them a badge, they have to be earned... I'm thinking that perhaps just Orienteering and First Aid though.... This is not too much to ask of my current scouts to complete in 1.5 years... I dont' care if it's at camp this year or merit badge colleges, or on their own that they earn the badges... I want them to be committed to the trek with something other than having the money to attend... that's also why I want to make the training treks mandatory for both scouts and adults attending... can't make the training treks because you don't feel like it? can't go to yellowstone, sorry :-(

                  I'm in a very affluent town, and some (not all, but some) feel money is the answer to everything... part of our mission as Adult leaders is to teach these boys that hard work, commitment, and accountability will get you further in life than Mom and Dad paying your way.... and we have to be fair to those that cannot simply whip out the checkbook as easily as others...

                  fundraising is big on the list for the trek too... but won't come anywhere near covering 100%.... the parents have been told without fund raising it will be about $1000 out of pocket, but we're hoping to bring the cost down with fundraising, $100 due first meeting in January, $20 each month after that, with the balance due around March April 2015, before we leave when we finalize our airline tickets, etc.

                  In any case, keep the comments coming, I appreciate them all, if anyone has any thing else to add as to how their troop prepares for a high adventure trip that will be in the $1000 range per boy, I'm all ears! :-)

                  thank you all again! feedback truely is a gift, and I have some great thoughts to ponder and to work through with my PLC now! :-)

                  Mike B

                  Comment


                  • Basementdweller
                    Basementdweller commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I didn't see where anyone one mentioned money.

                    Still curious how big the troop is.

                  • Exibar
                    Exibar commented
                    Editing a comment
                    fundraising was mentioned in a comment... but not intrinsic to the original question :-)

                    Troop size is 25 active boys. I have 9 crossing over in March that will be assimilated...

                  • jblake47
                    jblake47 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Kinda reminds me of the 6 year old that approaches his father and says, "I want to go to Disney World." Dad says, "Great, here's a $2,000 check, have a great time!"

                    Are you providing a temporary activity to be enjoyed today or are there dynamics that can be capitalized upon so Dad can plan a trip so his boy can really go to Disney World? I'm sure the $2,000 check, and/or cash, isn't going to get any 6 year old to Disney World even if it's only 5 miles away.

                    Stosh
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