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Gold Winger writes:


I don't think that we ever went to a campground where it would have been possible to put the patrols 300 feet apart. With six patrols, you'd need to have campsite about 400 x 500 feet.


Really? What kind of campgrounds do you go to?


If you have reasonably light-weight equipment, you can spread out in any east coast National Forest or Scout camp that I have ever gone to.


If fact the High Peaks area of the Adirondacks limits Troops to Patrol-sized units that must camp at least a couple of miles apart at night.


Our Patrol Leaders detested Camporees so the only place where we didn't have room was summer camp, and even there we could sometimes camp 300 feet apart in August or late-July when adjacent Troop campsites were unoccupied.


Of course Baden-Powell's rule that Patrols always camp 100 yards apart was based on Troops having a maximum of 4 Patrols.


Obviously if a Troop has more than four Patrols, a carport central dining fly, and a bunch of heavy Patrol equipment that they lug around in a Troop trailer, then they are going to camp in family campgrounds that make that degree of car camping practical.



(This message has been edited by Kudu)

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Most wilderness style scout camps make provision for this type of camping with patrol sites widely separated and minimal facilities. Regular camps not so much and you might be able to approach it at some parks but it would cost a bundle to rent extra sites. We won't camp at the same campground more than once per year in order to stay on budget we sometimes have to cram the troop into fewer sites at the more commercial campgrounds.

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Yah, Kudu, difference between backpackin' and car campin', eh?


It can be easy to do backpackin', or even required as you suggest. Not always easy, though, if campin' is limited to designated sites and you have a fair number of lads. Logistics becomes a headache.


Car campin' it's pretty hard. Most state parks and national park group sites are too small, and commercial sites for sure. Takin' up individual sites gets pricey, and sometimes runs afoul of adult-must-be-camped-at-each-site rules. Plus you'd have to go out of your way to reserve sites spread out around the place.




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So camping close together in a tourist-style campground (like at a Camporee or BSA summer camp) is the norm for most people and not the exception?


Is it actually a common experience to never once the entire time you or your Scouts are members of the BSA to follow Baden-Powell's rule to keep the Patrols separated by 300 feet, even as a experiment?


How common is that?




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I don't see how this would be consistently compatible with LNT camping. In some situations you would spread out to adhere to LNT principles. In other situations you would jam people together.

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" follow Baden-Powell's rule to keep the Patrols separated by 300 feet,"

This 300 "Rule"?

Has never been applied at Gilwell Park. There just isn't enough space.

Even the Patrols taking Wood Badge (Back when the UK still used Patrols) on the Training Grounds never camped like that .




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Gilwell Park & Jamborees are not normal camping, are they?


Likewise Wood Badge is not normal camping, it is training. Although when I took the course our Patrols were all at least 1/8 mile apart.


What a different program we would have in this vast country of the United States if everyone who went to Wood Badge--if for only once in their life--had the opportunity to try the Patrol System out at night, without distracting from the important buisness of learning how to be a manager during the day, of course!


Object of Camping


The object of a camp is (a) to meet the boy's desire for the open-air life of the Scout, and (b) to put him completely in the hands of his Scoutmaster for a definite period for individual training in character and initiative and in physical and moral development.


These objects are to a great extent lost if the camp be a big one. The only discipline that can there be earned out is the collective military form of discipline, which tends to destroy individuality and initiative instead of developing them; and, owing to there being too many boys for the ground, military drill has to a great extent to take the place of scouting practices and nature study.


So it results that Scouts' camps should be small -- not more than one Troop camped together; and even then each Patrol should have its own separate tent at some distance (at least 100 yards) from the others. This latter is with a view to developing the responsibility of the Patrol Leader for his distinct unit.


B-P's Outlook


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Gilwell Park & Jamborees are not normal camping, are they?


Gilwell was normal camping for us and a lot of other Troops from the London area.

If you look back at most of the camp sites owned by the Scout Association (With the exception of Great Tower) most were not very big and due to having so many campers, were very crowded.

Back in the time of BP, while many Troops did use trek-carts to move their equipment, it was by no means light-weight.

Even when I was active on that side of the pond we used six-man patrol tents for normal Patrol camps (Using light weight gear for hikes and that sort of thing.)

The 17th Fulham (Pioneers) had 14 Patrols!!


While Walton Firs was the camp we used most (Mainly because I was a Service Team Member)

Gilwell was handy for Patrol Camps, as the Scouts could get there on the train from Liverpool Street to Chingford and the carry their gear the last mile or so! To the site.

I'm sure for Troops that were located in the countryside things might have been very different.

Due to the amount of gear it took to get the entire Troop to camp, we really pushed Patrol Camping.

Our two week Summer camp was at times like trying to move a small army!!

We loaded the gear on vans and found ways of transporting the Scouts, normally by public transport.

We camped in Ireland, Holland, Switzerland and had one summer camp here in the USA. Using a Council ran Summer camp for one week and spending one week in Canada with borrowed equipment for another week.

Wood Badge at Gilwell was supposed to be about how things are done in a normal everyday Troop!!

We did camp as Patrols and were treated as if we were Scouts.

Maybe BP was right in the days before WWI? But as we know things changed a lot after WWI and even more so after WWII.

I kinda think if BP were around today he might have to have a rethink.


(I was trying to see if I could find more information about early Scouts going to camp.

I did find some in An Official History of Scouting by Paul Moynihan a book I don't have!! I just ordered it from Amazon!

I'll let you know what I think of it, when it arrives!)


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At the camporee we attended and unveiled our new homemade patrol flies, as far as I saw, we were the only unit where the patrols had their own flies.


Our two patrols weren't 300 feet apart though. Is being 300 feet apart as important as having the patrols function separate from one another? All I know is that having separate resources sure made a difference.

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Here are a couple of other benefits that I think that physical separation adds:


Patrol members dont "borrow" cooking utensils, etc. from another patrol because doing so is easier than looking for their own that a patrol member misplaced.


Patrol members are not distracted by activities, antics, conversations etc. of members of other patrols.


A mess left by one patrol is ignored because it is not obvious which patrol created it.



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MarkS writes:


Is being 300 feet apart as important as having the patrols function separate from one another? All I know is that having separate resources sure made a difference.




300 feet is the next step, and you will find the difference just as remarkable! If you only have two Patrols it should be easy enough to find an opportunity to try it out as an experimental adventure.


Eamonn writes:


I kinda think if BP were around today he might have to have a rethink.


I think he would marvel at how easy it is now in the States, given the availability of light-weight equipment and the enormous amount of suitable space in any BSA Boy Scout camp in which I have ever camped.


He would point out that if you purchase such equipment to use for both car camping and backpacking, you can easily "backpack" it 300 feet away in a Scout camp or National Forest.


True, heavy wooden Patrol Boxes were designed to be transported to remote Patrol Sites with trek-carts, but tough, large $7 Rubbermaid plastic boxes can be carried 300 feet by Scouts in any car-camping Troop.


Perhaps National Forests are different from National Parks. In the Allegheny National Forest you can camp almost anywhere as long as you observe the "Camping Permitted -- 300 feet behind this sign" postings at all trailhead parking areas and paid campgrounds. It is also possible to pay for one $10 standard camping site with a hand water pump and vault toilets, and then set up free Patrol sites 300 feet beyond the posted sign to that effect. We sometimes used the Minister Creek Campground, but other locations in the region had more available flat areas, see:




The only "commercial" campground that we ever camped in was Letchworth State Park, but they had an area for Scouts and other large groups called "The Loop" with plenty of room to spread out in an unmowed field away from the road.


When I took Wood Badge it was run by grizzly old men and no-nonsense women who taught us the real Patrol Method.


Until this week I assumed that everyone who took the old course had the same experience of singing "Back to Gilwell" and "There Ain't No Flies on Us" around separate campfires at night in a Wood Badge Troop where the closest Patrol was about 1/8 mile away.


We Beavers were all the way at the top of the hill, the Bobwhites below us and so on in order to the bottom of the hill 3/4 of a mile below us where the Bears conveniently camped only a few hundred yards from the parade field.


Just as Horizon recounts in the Mega-Troops thread, an SPL or Staffer would have to hike at least a mile to make the rounds of all of the Patrol sites.




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My experience is that National Forests are definitely different from National Parks. National Forests are some of the best possible places to camp if you want to have as few rules as possible. I'm always amazed at how relaxed they are, given how restrictive most other government agencies are. I don't know that I can speak for all national forests, but the several that I've seen have all been very open. Scout camps can be a lot like this as well. You live in a great part of the country for having lots of options.


National Parks can be somewhere in between. Some of them encourage lots of backcountry camping, but others have a lot more rules. The Great Smoky Mountains have lots of backcountry camping, for example, but it's permitted only at designated sites and shelters.


State Parks tend to be "camp where we say it's ok", and commercial campgrounds are even more restrictive.

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"I think he would marvel at how easy it is now in the States, given the availability of light-weight equipment and the enormous amount of suitable space in any BSA Boy Scout camp in which I have ever camped."


The couple times that we used a Scout camp for other than summer camp, the Range said, "Camp here" and we camped there. Another troop had the next site and so on down the road. No creativity allowed.



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