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  • iPods and the "Real" Patrol Method

    AZMike writes:

    "I'd fill the time by listening to podcasts and music on my iPod....It was good training for the hikes with my troop. "

    One of my Wood Badge buddies, a young and athletic District Commissioner, often backpacked with my Troop. I was shocked the first time I realized he was listening to an iPod on the trail!

    But then I realized that the Troop's no-electronics policy I had inherited when I became Scoutmaster was stupid. Most active young adults listen to music or spoken media while walking, hiking, backpacking, paddling, rowing, biking, etc. Is there is any reason that Boy Scouts should not do the same?

    Baden-Powell's version of Scouting is based on walking:

    Ranks are a series of Journeys and Expeditions, and (like Green Bar Bill's "Real" Patrol Method) B-Ps' Patrol System includes at least one monthly Patrol Hike.

    I wonder what the correlation might be between "modern" sedentary car camping Troops, and adult-imposed "no electronics" policies.

    Do ANY hardcore backwoods Troops here ban iPods on the trail?

    Yours at 300 feet,


  • #2
    We lost that battle a couple of years ago.

    Now, instead of wasting energy smuggling, the boys are trying to figure out the most dependable way to maintain battery life (e.g. how to rig solar panels, dynamos, etc ...) To do that for any length of time requires teamwork because you need to know what device gets priority relative to how much juice it consumes.

    Of things that get in the way of us forming "real" patrols, electronic devices are way down at the bottom of the list.


    • #3
      Back in the day, my troop banned radios and videogames. Don't know if the rule staretd with adults, but the scouts enforced it and continued it. Part of the reason was that we wanted folks to know what was going on, and we allknew of instances where folks walking just stopped paying attention and things happened. Also we wanted folks to work as patrols an not get too tied up in the electronics.

      While I did not see this problem on the troop level, I did on the summer camp level. I knew of a camping director who was so tied up with his satelite TV and video games, that the program director got caught up into it as well, select area directors got tied up into it, and things were nto really getting done. Staff morale suffered, and camp suffered.

      While I prefer the no electronics rule for a variety of reasons, it's a youth run program. If the PLC wants them, let them have them until problems occur. Then let them deal with the problems.


      • #4
        One of the most memorable moments that I had in Scouting was when I was at Double H ranch in New Mexico and four of us went for a hike up a mountain. About half way up, I parked myself down in the foothills, took off my hiking boots and relaxed to a fantastic vista as the other three continued their climb. In about ten minutes I thought something very strange was happening and then it hit me - no bugs, no birds, no cars, no humans, no wind through the trees, no running river, no aircraft, no electronic audio - pure silence! I have to say, it was the only time in my life that I had that experience and it was strange - but enjoyable.

        Now, I love my iPod and took it on outings - and I was the Scoutmaster. My "rule" was that I didn't want to see the device in camp. So, feel free to have it in your tent but Scouting is not a lone activity and while I think there is nothing inherently wrong with such devices, it does tend to be distracting and Scouts do lose focus on the activity at hand sometimes.

        Double H High Adventure Base, located on the Plains of San Agustin near Datil, New Mexico, was a satellite program base of the Boy Scouts of America's (BSA) Philmont Scout Ranch from 2004 to 2009. With no established trail system, and no naturally occurring surface water, the Double H is considered by many to be a true rugged, southwestern experience. Crews were given opportunities to hike through canyons, navigate cross-country using a map and compass. Scouts will also get the opportunity to use a GPS device while Geocaching. Base camp was located at over 7,000 feet. Significant elevation changes occur as crews hike through the open ponderosa forest and participate in the program. In addition to ponderosa forests, participants had the opportunity to see many varieties of cacti, pinon trees, juniper trees and elk.


        • #5
          My troop has a "No Electronics" policy that the PLC decided on.
          I only enforce it when the electronics become a distraction such as texting during a Scouts Own Service (remember that incident Kudu?)
          IPods while hiking is not a problem form me, IPods while the Patrol Leader is planning the next outing with his patrol is.


          • #6
            This discussion reminds me of what happens in my office.

            With the abundance of wireless internet, people in my profession always bring their laptops to meetings. Then they proceed to leave them open during meetings - checking emails, surfing the web, etc... Focus on the meeting at hand suffers - you get lots of "what did you just say" or "are you talking to me". Every once in a while a strong willed leader takes command of the room and asks everyone to close their laptops. Most people listen.

            I find this situation very similar. If boys have ipods, but have not learned when they should/should not use them, then you have the same problems such as lack of attention & stuff not getting done.

            So, I'm all for the boys having them along so that they can learn when to, and when not to, use them. These devices are so common that we're probably doing the boys some good by enabling them to learn how to appropriately use them.

            Just my .02


            • #7
              I love my iPhone and my iPad. I use them.....A LOT! But I know when to use them and when to put them away. One of my biggest annoyances is during OA Chapter ceremony practice when I have guys actually put their ear buds in to zone out and listen to music. Uhhh, we are hear to learn ceremonies. Just because you don't happen to be standing up here right now doing lines does NOT mean you don't need to participate or pay attention. You might have valuable experience that the guy up there doesn't that you could share. I try to stay in the background and let my Chapter Chief and VC Ceremonies handle it.


              • #8
                AZMike writes:

                "I'd fill the time by listening to podcasts and music on my iPod....It was good training for the hikes with my troop. "

                One of my Wood Badge buddies, a young and athletic District Commissioner, often backpacked with my Troop. I was shocked the first time I realized he was listening to an iPod on the trail!
                Kudu, since you spun this thread off from my post on another thread about weight issues, you might want to mention that I was referring to hiking alone, on the sidewalks of my suburban neighborhood, in the wee hours of the morning, for conditioning, just as many do on the treadmill at the gym. I don't think it's a good idea to hike as part of a group setting, with scouts or others, while listening to an iPod. It kind of defeats the purpose of being able to experience the outdoors and the company of friends. It seals you off when you should be open to nature and others.

                For safety's sake, I should probably mention that I use a single-ear pair headphone (that convert a stereo signal to a mono signal in one ear-bud - you can get them on Amazon) when rucking alone for conditioning, and a podcast is quite enough that I still can hear a jogger or cyclist coming up behind me, even with an ear-bud in 1 ear. I doubt a car is going to drive up on the sidewalk and hit me from behind before I could react, and I live in a pretty safe neighborhood, but it's probably best to be able to hear what is going on around you, whether in the suburbs or the Big Outdoors.


                • #9
                  My 2 cents.....

                  Electronic entertainment reduces the Patrol experience. Rather than relating to each other verbally, or interacting with each other, it put's the Scout (or Scouter) into their own little world. Scouting is meant to be a group experience.

                  Electronic entertainment, especially earbuds, reduces the nature experience. You lose the ability to become one with nature. To experience it. Noise in the ears means that you are ignorant of noise in the environment.

                  Electronic entertainment, especially earbuds, reduces the safety of the group. It reduces the ability, usually drastically, to hear warnings about trail hazards, wildlife, etc. Scouting is about managed risk. This reduces risk management.

                  When in small groups, electronic entertainment, especially earbuds, tend to make one not take advantage of opportunities of silence and communing with nature and God.

                  Finally, it is good for our youth to learn (at least once a month) that they can live without electronics and an iPod. To practice interpersonal skills and self-reflection.(This message has been edited by pack212scouter)(This message has been edited by pack212scouter)


                  • #10
                    I grew into the belief that if you are willing to carry it on the trail, you can have it. So an iPod in your tent (not while hiking for safety reasons) is fine, a can of soda if you pack it in and out is fine, etc. I mentioned in another thread boys "checking in" on Facebook from the local peaks where a signal can reach you.

                    For car camping, I didn't want to see it.

                    When I return to the fold of the Troop - I will see what the PLC is doing.


                    • #11

                      "Do ANY hardcore backwoods Troops here ban iPods on the trail?"

                      Eagle732 writes:

                      "electronics become a distraction ... texting during a Scouts Own Service (remember that incident Kudu?) ...while the Patrol Leader is planning the next outing with his patrol."

                      Scouts' Own, Patrol planning sessions, summer camp offices, laptops at office meetings, OA Chapter ceremony practice, I feel your pain gentlemen. To that I would add my own negative visceral reaction to electronics while cabin camping and Webelos III tent camping.

                      AZMike writes:

                      "Kudu, since you spun this thread off from my post on another thread about weight issues, you might want to mention that I was referring to hiking alone... an iPod...kind of defeats the purpose of being able to experience the outdoors and the company of friends. It seals you off when you should be open to nature and others.>"

                      In other words, an anti-electronics policy is "good for their souls." To that I would add Pack212Scouter's sense of silence as communing with nature and God.

                      That is (quite literally), a religious argument.

                      My experience with Scouts on the trail has inculcated within me a different religious argument:

                      The only "Real" Boy Scouts are those whose great Scouting passion is to camp out of a backpack or canoe.

                      That's right, I said it:

                      Boy Scouts who love to cover eight miles a day with a pack on their backs or a paddle in their hands, live the Scout Law differently than those who don't.

                      That was Baden-Powell's "Religion of the Backwoods," the mission upon which Scouting was founded:


                      For those who haven't see it, here is what Patrols of older backpacking Boy Scouts with the free use of electronics look like when they set off for a day of unsupervised hiking:



                      The Scout at the end of the line in the first video (our SPL at the time), was disappointed when his Philmont-bound crew started holding conditioning treks. The adult leader forbid the use of iPods. So much for Scout-led.

                      Our older Scouts usually wait until they are a few miles down the trail before listening to music. They say that after a while they run out of things to say, and most of what "listening to nature" amounts to is the crunch of hiking boots and the whine of mosquitoes.

                      Since our Patrols of older Scouts hike without adult supervision, all I really know about their use of electronics on the trail is what they tell me, what I observe in the morning when they set off, later in the day when we meet up with them near the destination, and (when I get back home) the Facebook update photographs they had sent from their phones as they hiked.

                      We do see more of the Patrols of younger Scouts because they hike closer to the adults:



                      The general agreement is 1) they restrict electronics use to the trail during the day, and their tents at night; 2) that they keep the volume low enough to hear each others' voices; and 3) the ear buds come out when someone stops for some reason. Some of them hike with only one bud. As you can see from the videos, use during the day is not very common. I suspect that they save their batteries for their tents at night. I've never seen any downside in their behavior. The backpackers (unlike our Webelos III Scouts) always act responsibly with iPods.

                      As for texting, I know that almost all of them do it (in classroom stealth mode) because after they set up camp, they always know from where everybody else has recently texted: "Marc is with Ryan catching snakes on the other side of the pond."

                      Strangely, the only Scout I have ever actually seen texting is the Eagle Scout with the phone on his chest pictured on the At300Feet YouTube icon.

                      Yours at 300 feet,



                      • #12
                        If I'm exercising in my basement I have to have the TV on, otherwise I'd last about five minutes.

                        But when I go for a hike, I'd like nothing better than to have the sense to leave the electronics in the car. For a long trip I'd have to imagine that it would mirror qwazse's statement about the challenge being battery life. In any case, as long as it doesn't get in the way of the trip, everyone will have their own way of enjoying the hike.


                        • #13
                          I don't understand this need you have to label certain scouts as "Real Scouts".


                          • #14
                            So do any of you have a muisic genre preference or do you just listen to any random type of music or random radio station?

                            I listen to pretty much anything but gangsta / ghetto rap and Muzak.

                            But there are certain songs that put me in a better mood and there are some that make me think deeply, and others that help me work with a better rythm.

                            Know what I mean? Some songs or music will get you in a pattern. Help you keep stride or even help you work a bit faster or slower depending on what you are doing.

                            If a scout wants to wear ear buds for an Ipod while hiking, AND the volume was set just high enough for him to hear the music, but low enough to hear the other scouts talking...then so what?

                            As far as getting closer to nature of making sure somebody gets more out of something - who are we to decide what works?

                            JUst because "X" works for me does not mean it will work the same way with others.

                            Our troop does not care if scouts listen to the music while hiking in to camp or trail hiking. Just as long as the next guy can't hear it, otherwise, it is too loud. Plus as long as the scout can hear me, and understand what I am saying , then it;s okay.

                            But realistically, how often does this happen?

                            We go camping at camporees or such, the only time they really have time to listen is the short hike into our camp on Friday night, the short hike out Sunday morning, and the evening down time after flag and supper. The rest of the time, teh scouts don't have time or are too busy to enjoy it.

                            If we go to the AT and - under the same criteria as I mentioned above - the scout wnats to listen to music as opposed to other scouts jaw jacking and the crunch of boots on the ground......then let them.

                            If this is what makes them enjoy the hiking, then they enjoy it and will be willing to do it again.

                            Take away all the minor things that lets them enjoy hiking, then they will have no reason to come back.


                            • #15

                              Eagle732 writes:

                              "I don't understand this need you have to label certain scouts as "Real Scouts"."


                              Do you understand Green Bar Bill's "need" to label Patrols that hike at least once a month without adult association as "Real Patrols"?