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LauraMO

Traveling After Dark - policy or procedure?

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Our troop will be implementing a travel policy and as committee chairman, I have asked for the SM, ASMs & Quartermaster to prepare their proposals for me to present to the committee tomorrow.

 

Does your troop travel strictly during daylight per the Guide to Safe Scouting? GSS, "Automobiles:"

 

7. All driving, except short trips, should be done in daylight.

 

Our troop has not found this to be practical because in the fall, winter and early spring the sun sets rather early. We leave on Fridays for our weekend campouts, usually at 6 p.m. from our chartered organization's parking lot. If we were to restrict our travel to only daylight would require most families who work downtown, or across town, to leave work 2-3 hours early.

 

The person who wants our troop to strictly adhere to this rule states, "Guidance from the BSA national risk mgt office is that "short trips" are local; rough rule of thumb is 25 miles or less."

 

All of our campout locations last year were beyond that 25 mile radius.

 

In parenthesis to this person's proposal is his desire to take his pop-up camper to the campsite & set it up in day light. (see my earlier posting about the pop-up camper issue).

 

I'm all for sticking to BSA's rules but No. 7, above, is printed in bold in the GSS which is referred to as a "rule."

 

'Looking forward to your replies and suggestion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We usually leave earlier than you do, around 4:00pm or 4:30pm. But in the winter, that still often leaves us driving in the dark and setting up camp in the dark. I've got to believe that many troops do weekend camping trips and frequently drive in the dark on Friday evening to get to camp.

 

It seems fairly impractical to do otherwise - you'd either need to leave earlier (getting people out of work or school) and/or camp closer to home (limiting the options), or you'd have to wait until Saturday morning to leave. Given that most adults regularly drive after dark, those options seem like excessive responses. This rule is one that really strikes me as a CYA rule from National. Do they really expect troops, especially in the north, to follow this?

 

At any rate, I'd say that you shouldn't plan a 500 mile trip that starts at midnight so that the kids will all sleep through the long trip. But if you're getting in to camp, for example, by 9:00pm after leaving at 6:00pm, I wouldn't sweat it.

 

Oak Tree

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AS OakTree mentions, how would troops in the north, like Wisconsin, Minnsota or in Maine where Moxieman is from do if they didnt travel after dark? I grew up in Chicago and in the winter when we left at 6pm it was already dark. Dont plan 12 hour driving stints, but dont stop camping either

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The G2SS says "should be done in daylight." not must be done in daylight. So, if your unit is travelling a coupld of hours, I'd say OK, but if you were planning to travel 6 or 8 or something, break it up or leave earlier.

 

 

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Yah, LaurelMO.

 

This is the problem with havin' too many "paper" risk managers about settin' rules, eh?

 

I think it's very safe to say that there isn't one troop in a hundred that follows this policy (and if they do, it's probably because they're doin' a lousy job with the Outdoor Method). In the councils of the central region, tour permits for long, out-of-area drives are routinely issued, even when the entire drive will take place after sunset.

 

There are dozens of safety guidelines and black-letter policies in G2SS and other BSA documents that don't make sense in many situations. A Scouter stays Mentally Awake, eh? We all have to remember that our friends in Irving for the most part aren't professional policy writers. They're doin' their best, but they don't always think of all the realities, especially when those realities hit folks north of Texas a bit harder.

 

So submit your tour permits, and when they're approved, show the stamped approval form to your problem parent.

 

At da same time, I wouldn't force any driver who's uncomfortable drivin' at night to do so. I know a few people like that, and they're true hazards on the highway at night. So by all means proceed with headin' out camping on Friday evenings, but take drivers who you know are comfortable doin' the miles.

 

Beavah

 

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Sounds like someone has way TOOO much time on thier hands to be writing troop policies like this. Common sense should be driving this one.

 

Follow the rules as stated by national and the driving laws of your state. Thats enough.

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Daylight only driving means you'll have to start trips on Saturday mornings and end on Sunday, cheating the boys out of fun and advancement requirements. You will also tie up the entire weekend of any driving volunteers who do not camp, if you have them. OGE, I grew up in Maine and all our Nov to Feb outings started after dark ( around 4 p.m.). We usually didn't go too far, but what a good challenge for your troop to set up after dark!

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If I recall correctly, the charter calls for the CO to provide 10 days of overnight camping per year. That could easily be done by leaving on Saturday morning and returning on Sunday for 10 months out of 12 while taking off 2 months for summer heat or winter cold. Now, having said that, please don't get the idea that I endorse it. I'm just saying that the BSA has an answer to how you can accomplish not driving in the dark on a Friday night. You go on Saturday since the CO only has to accommodate 10 nights of camping.

 

I'd give the policy writers in Irving a little more credit. You may have to go different places to find things out, but they seem to have an answer for everything. It seems that the left hand (G2SS) knows what the right hand (Charter agreement) is doing.

 

For long trips during short days, we often send an "early crew" with the trailer who is tasked with getting camp set up before the "late" arrivals show up.

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I've never heard that rule before and it obviously isn't something that our council worries about since they know most troops leave about 6:00 and they plan camporees 2 hours away. I'm in Arkansas and outside of late May - October anything over an 1 1/2 hours away you are going to be traveling in the dark so that covers most camping areas. I've never had it brought up when getting a Tour Permit approved.

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> Our troop will be implementing a travel policy

 

The others have addressed your question pretty well, so now I'm going to ask one- why do you need a policy? Packs, troops and teams do not need rules, regulations, policies, guidelines or by-laws- they are already in place and documented in the various publications. If you are trying to interpret the existing policies, then that is an open ended road as folks interpret your interpretations.

 

The only unit with by-laws is the Venturing crew, and that is mainly to create their identity and vision.

 

Ed

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Gonzo nailed it. Should be not must be. Big difference. It is a suggestion not a rule. And it does sound like someone needs to get out more!

 

I always thought "Rule of thumb" was a guideline not a hard & fast rule!

 

Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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In response to ePalmer84, above, the previous scoutmaster established a policy in October following a campout where a couple of adults left the campsite and took the road less traveled in stead of sticking to the established route. These adults happened to be travling with cell phones containing dead batteries. (Yes, lots of problems with that scene.) The scoutmaster was left waiting for about 2 hours at the home destination point trying to locate these wayward campers. Lack of communication was obvious here. So, the scoutmaster sent an e-mail establishing, in short, that the troop will depart from the same place at the same time.

 

As the new committee chairman, I took it upon myself to begin reviewing our troop handbooks to make certain the content matches our troop practices and goals and vice versa. I wanted to add our travel policy to it. That's when the new SM stepped up with his idea of a family friendly (bring the whole family along), come and go as you like practice, and he wanted to be the advance party for every camp out so that he could set up his pop-up camper during daylight per the G2SS policy about traveling during the day. There was much disagreement with his ideas so I solicited proposals from the SM, ASMs & quartermaster to present to the committee.

 

Last night the committee nixed the "advanced party" idea and agreed that there just wasn't any way to comply with the guide of only traveling in the day. No one was interested in beginning our camp outs on Saturday mornings. Only one person had a question about the "advanced party" idea but following discussion, that person voted against it. The committee adopted the previous SM's policy to be incorporated into the handbook.

 

Thank you, everyone, for your comments!

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Err... Laura, your SM is sleeping in a pop up camper and bringing his family with him? Has he been to training yet? If not, help him locate a training session pronto! If so, maybe you & previous SM can sit down with him and get him onto the straight and narrow.

 

Glad to hear you no longer have a problem re: the daylight/darkness thing though.

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Gonzo nailed it. Should be not must be. Big difference. It is a suggestion not a rule.

 

Yah, yeh gotta be careful tryin' to parse any BSA document as though it was written by pros with a careful attention to word choice. Here's some other G2SS "shoulds":

 

"The unit should inform the Scout executive about all incidents that result in a physical injury or involve allegations of sexual misconduct..."

 

"Discipline used in Scouting should be constructive and reflect Scouting's values."

 

"For unit swims in areas where lifeguards are not provided by others, the supervisor should designate two capable swimmers as lifeguards."

 

"All participants should know, understand, and respect the rules and procedures for safe activity afloat."

 

"Adult leaders should support the attitude that young adults are better off without tobacco."

 

"[Except for law enforcement/Venturing hunting], firearms should not be in the possession of any person engaged in camping, hiking, backpacking, or any other scouting activity other than those specifically planned for target shooting."

 

The whole thing is a compilation and guidebook tryin' to be a helpful resource to units. I think it's best not to try to read it as though it were carefully crafted legislation. Some of those "shoulds" are really pretty firm, eh?

 

Beavah

 

 

 

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Should, shall, must, guideline, policy, require, procedure, rule, bold print, interpretation. Discussions about the meaning of these words begin when someone doesnt want to follow what the written page is saying.

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