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Boys planning trips by themselves is a great goal. It doesn't happen all at once, it's a gradual process.


I think we want boys to learn how to plan a trip so they can do their own adventures later in life.


Starting at 11, they should be planning their menus and buying food with their patrol. It builds from there.


Adults have a role to play in this process, we don't just walk away and say "do it". We need to coach them through the process and make suggestions, provide support materials when needed, etc.


We had a trip to Cancun a few years back and ran a contest to see who could find the cheapest airfare. I didn't win, a boy did.


With the internet as such an important research tool these days and with teenagers having good computer skills, they can suprise you with the information they can gather.


We had a trip to Hawaii last summer. Our Troop Scribe presented hiking adventures to the guys and that's where we hiked, plus a few other things that came up from locals after we arrived.


The boys planned all the meals and purchased the food. I did arrange flights and auto rentals, as well as overnight accomodations. The boys don't have credit cards. They were involved in the decisions and the process though.


It needs to be a learning experience. I want to support them on THEIR trip, not have them tag along on MY trip. They should have ownership of the program and strategic planning is a big part of that.


We're doing a 400-mile Iron Man bike trip next month. It's part of a plan developed by some 13-year-olds ten years ago. They wanted to bike across the USA, north/south and east/west. Each summer they did a section. Our current boys are taking up that challenge after a 3-year hiatus. It's their choice, and their program.



Cliff Golden

Scoutmaster Troop 33

DeKalb, Illinois

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Well said Cliff!


The adult positions are really teaching positions in the Troop or Crew. One continually has to re-teach the lessons of logistics, planning and making things happen to new youngsters when inevitable breaks in the youth leadership occur. One of the things that I've noted is that many kids when asked to sit down and plan some adventures is that they don't even have a good idea about what to do! It is the lack of experiencing a wide variety of adventures that limits their imaginations. So our role often has to be to teach, talk up, and help them set up as wide a variety of adventures as possible, along with the technical skills necessary to run the trips, or to find some knowledgible adult who can.


That said, a common problem is that many, if not most, adults in Scouting are also not well versed in the many things that can easily be done by themselves either.


My only suggestion is that we adults need to research, try out, and practice the adventures ourselves - and then sometimes get the kids to come along and learn the skills and go on the adventure too. I would propose that we adults get together to set up and run new adventure oriented trips for ourselves so that we have that capability to pass on to the youngsters. I'd be glad to try to teach some of these skills and play too.


My Troop/Crew is just now putting a push on to teach water safety and rafting skills over the next three weekends to prepare for a primier raft trip that will consist of rafting skills, camping skills, cooking skills, and logistics which we adults will have to be both trainers for most of the kids, and as coaches who will help groom our potential youth leaders so that they can do it themselves later. That difficult tightrope is the one we have to walk. Another good thing that this discussion has done is to remind me to plan for some subtile 'grooming' too.


Ah, after a phone conversation literally as I was writing this, I got to do that. My outfit is teaching high and low angle mountaineering rescue tomorrow for aother climbing guiding outfit. In addition to us teachers, we have one of our Scouting fathers, one older scout (easy groom) and an ex-scout (potential ASM material and groom for the raft stuff starting Sun) to help with the class. And due to this discussion...I just called a smaller kid to play the "victim" whom we will "rescue. He will get to observe this class, feel part of the mission, and get excited about this kind of thing, which will groom him as a future youth leader. Guess this forum has reminded me to practice what I preach, thanks to you guys!


BTW...one skill I don't have is long distance biking, another whitewater kayaking. Ah well.




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Very good comments, John Bowen!



I've done a fairly wide variety of outdoor stuff over the decades, from rowboat cruising to climbing and bicycling. When discussing outings, I tend to draw on that experience. I wonder whether that's always a good idea.


The plus side is that I have some real expertise and experience which offers added safety to an activity. But I also tend to suggest trips, routes and such with which I'm familiar, which tends to relieve Scouts of the responsibility of doing that kind of leadership work.


Your post suggested a possible option --- selecting a type of outing which would be new to both Scouts AND adult leaders. If no one is familiar with canoeing, perhaps canoeing skills could be learned ----REALLY learned, at summer camp by both adults and Scouts. Scouts might be able to decide on trips by talking with summer camp instructors, Scouts in other troops who have done canoe trips and such.


Then the Troop could grow by doing a series of canoe trips in which skills and experience are developed over time.


I think canoeing because two senior Scouts in the troop proposed a canoeing trip in August. These two boys have the canoeing merit badge and a trip or two under their belt. But most of the rest of the troop (and adult leaders) lack experience in that skill and I discovered Tuesday most lack the swimming ability to do canoeing required by the Guide to Safe Scouting (First class swimming).



Ahhh. Life involves complicated choices. I'm not sure how to square that circle, and I don't think the Scouts can do it either!


The easy way out is to do easy trips that everyone can do. But that tends to be boring for senior scouts interested and able to take on greater challenges.




Seattle Pioneer

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This thread really caught my interest. Although I've been to Philmont twice, neither my troop nor my crew has been, and they don't seem all too excited about going. We're in SoCal and have the Sierra just a few hours away. The terrain is just as challenging and the scenery more spectacular. (It's also a bit cheaper.)


True, Philmont has some exciting activities along the treks, but we found a place last summer that fills that bill too. It's a BSA high adventure program run out of White's Landing on Santa Catalina Island off the coast of LA. They offer mountain biking, backpacking, kayaking and SCUBA. Their guides teach LNT everyday and present daily programs geared to leadership and team building development. Great program.


Here's the link: www.catalinahighadventure.org



Bill Scarberry

Troop 824

Crew 824

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HI Seattle and Bill


Yes we have tended to pick a type of outing, then plan where to go with it. In the summer, which I am now limited to by jobs, we tend to concentrate on rafting, climbing, backpacking and caving. The challenge is finding new places to practice these, and we seem to have only scrached the surface in the 10 years of doing this stuff. I've been interested in learning canyoneering as well, which might be an easy sell as a type to the kids. It seems to combine climbing, caving and water skills. Here in WY there is just too much to choose from.


One thing that I would suggest for Seattle's canoe trip is to try kayaks. Most outfitters in the OK area (which has far fewer choices for fun) and which has in the past been entirely canoe, have them for rent. These recreational or sea kayaks are much easier to control than canoes and are much more stable. The all important J stroke is not necessary, and the center of gravity is below the water rather than above. For me, I don't have to sit on my knees anymore! Try this out!


However, there is nothing that will help you more than a real comprehensive river course. It has all the characteristics of flat water but adds movement. I took a great course from Canyonlands Field Inst. in Moab, and we teach a watered down version (ie...not complete whitewater rescue, but more river skills).


One pleasing find is that in OK (which has a temperate climate) you can go boating all year round, and that on the OK flatwater rivers NO ONE IS EVER THERE!!! Its a patch of wildness just out the back door.


BTW, we will see how the new light kid will take to the rock rescue class as 'victim' in only a few hours. He is the real winner for this thread today. I'll take some pictures, but don't know how to place them here. Suggestions?



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Out troup did a Double H trek in July of 2005 and we had a wonderful time. We were 8 adult leaders and 16 scouts organized into two seperate crews. We hiked via different routes but ended up near one another for camping each afternoon.


Double H was perfect for our troup. We are an enthusiastic group of pretty rugged rural Missourians. Our scouts and leaders enjoy trekking without a lot of restriction and pre-canned activities. Double H was perfect for us.


Over the 7 days we hiked in excess of 50 miles; 13 miles being our longest one day hike. Our guide gave us almost complete freedom. We chose our own route which was preplanned the evenings before by the scouts themselves. On more that one occassion we left our preplanned route and went directly over the top of mountians.....just so we could say that we had done it. Our guide remarked that we often took him places and via routes that he had never before experienced. At the end of our trek....he commented that we had "worn him out" at times. He returned the challenge once by tricking us into taking a very difficult, direct route over an 8,700 foot peak.


The temp. averaged in the mid 90's during the daytime with upper 50's at night. One day was 110 degrees and we experience hail midday the 6th day out. We drank lots of water averaging about 1 liter per hour when hiking. The water was often nasty, with moss and crud growing in the tanks. However our filters worked well and we drank fully. We did have problems with the filters getting clogged up but took plenty of extras.


We saw a cougar on our last evening;several rattlers some Elk and small game. The evenings were relaxing. After dinner almost everyone would head off on hikes around various peaks and bluffs nearby adding another hour or two to the day's hiking. Complete freedom which others have said is not possible at Philmont.


The food was good and plentiful with the exception of dinner, which never seemed quite enough. We only ate hot food at dinner. We chose cold breakfast and lunch.


There were a couple of brief rain showers and one marvelous afternoon of thunderstorms, shortly after arriving in camp. It stormed for a couple of hours with powerful thunderclaps, heavy rain and a lot of lightning. Everyone stayed in the tents for safety; except for myself....who chose an alternate viewing spot. Maybe not the best idea....but the highlight of the trip for me.


Our packs weighed about 50 lbs. Mine was 52 lbs. including 5 liters of water. At 58 I was the oldest of the group. However all of the adults and most of the scouts had spent months getting in shape for the trip. We trekked with ease after a day of adjusting to the altitude. One scout developed altitude sickness and had to be removed from our trek. Everyone else did fine. No blisters to speak of and only the best of spirits.


We were tired and dirty upon completion but would have turned around and done it again. It has honed my appetite for backpacking and hiking. Everyone came away happy and proud of our endevour.


As of July there remained an open question as to the Scouts being allowed to contine hiking there. It is currently limited to 1,000 scouts a year and 2006 is the end of the current contract. Hopefully the Elk Hunters will agree to allow Scouts continued access.


I could not recommend Double H more highly.




Bob Ritchie

Troup 22

Warrenton, Mo.

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This summer my Troop and Crew 136 did a whitewater trip to Westwater Canyon, using our own boats, boatmen and crew. We opened it to some fathers and aunts as well (no moms this time) as well as some adult kayakers for safety. This was a high water year in the Rockies and since we had some new kids that had to be trained, and lost several of our older ones to summer jobs, we had only one Scout to run his own boat.


We did start the summer with a new SM, only to have him have to resign when he finished graduate school!


Prior to the Westwater trip we did training on the Cache Le Poudre river, where one of our ASMs is a professional river guide, to get the boys in shape to paddle the more severe water of Westwater, the next weekend. Unfortunately, we lost two more of our more experienced boys to 4H as well. All the boys were trained in self rescue, and in boat based rescue, as well as flip drills all during our usual swim test.


That next weekend, with only 3 boys left, we went through the flatwater section upstream of Westwater called Ruby Horsethief where the boys could spend some time learning to run their boats themselves, as well as just having some plain wet fun (including 'adolescent riverine warfare'). We got to camp once at the famous Black Rocks campsites where the Vishnu Schist pokes up outside of the Grand Canyon, and after the Westwater Canyon section we got to camp there as well at the bottom of the big rapids.


Westwater has some of the largest rapids on the upper sections of the Colorado, and are easy to get permits for (lucky for us). Our one experienced Scout, Justin now 16 who had rowed this section last year as well at lower levels, rode on my boat which was heavy laden as a cargo boat, and ran most of the big rapids with the exception of Funnel Falls and Skull Rapid. I like to run the big ones too, and was feeling left out. The other Scouts/Crew stayed in the paddle boat which was rigged with a stern mount oar frame, again for safety.


After running Little Deloris Rapid at the beginning of what I called "the screaming mile" which is the 2-3 mile section with the largest rapids, as well as several of the big rapids, I conned Justin into letting me row too. Though we were the lead boat, I didn't exactly know where we were as at the 17800 cfs level, some of the rapids tailed into the next. I wasn't too worried as I have run Westwater many times before and could recognize the largest rapid, Skull, when I saw it. But, I didn't realize that we had gone through the mostly washed out Funnel Falls when I saw that we were actually passing the scout point for Skull Rapid some thirty yards ahead!


You must run Skull on the left in order not to go through the big hydraulic in Skull which then lands you on the "Rock of Shock" with the potential of flipping and/or being sucked into the "Room of Doom." Well, I was on river left and had to make a wild dash with a heavy boat to far right just above the gaping maw of Skull Hole itself (in a wild panic). I dropped over the guard rocks on the left which appeared like an eight foot deep waterfall, but was caught by the v shaped lateral wave that pulled me toward the Rock of Shock! I cranked my stern hard left and pulled back like mad all the way up onto the Rock! I thought that I put some 20 strokes in during those perhaps five seconds, screaming at the top of my lungs (and no doubt scaring Justin who was riding behind me). We slid up on the huge pillow on the Rock of Shock, closer than I have ever wanted to be, and slid slowly (to me) off to the left where I finally eddied out, huffing and puffing.


That was when Justing looked at me with concern and said, "Are you going to have a heart attack?" (Damn kid)


I let him row the rest of the rapids. Unfortunately I ran out of video batteries and didn't get that on film. If you would like to see this video, please go to: http://homepage.mac.com/johnmbowen/ and look at the movie 2005 136 Westwater.


Obviously, we couldn't do this kind of trip if we were not experienced. However, the other ASM/Crew advisor and I are both professional boatmen and the father that ran the other raft is one of my trainee guides as well. Our kayakers, though pretty experienced actually went in the paddle boat with the other three scouts. With the proper experience, as well as extensive planning, careful and constant training of the kids and lots of non-scout practice time for us adults, such high end trips are possible. The advantage to the Scouts that participate is that they can see what it takes to put such a trip together, and shows them that if they train well, learning the proper technical skills in addition to the basic Scouting skills, they also can do these kind of things for themselves. (As proof, you can see them on last years trip running their own boats on the easier tourist run on the Snake River near Jackson, WY).


We still need a new SM though.


Now we have to do the hard stuff - Fundraising - which we are not good at.


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Having grown up in Southern California (Valley Boy), I have to agree: World class terrain and scenery were at hand, making the price of high adventure far more manageable.


As I recall, our HA's had "cookbooks" in the form of the Leaders' Guides, which our SM passed down to older youth. We learned planning by doing the first year, coached the second year, and watched the third.


Personally, if I were still living in CA (or Northern NV), I would not be recommending Philmont at all ... too much to do right at hand.

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