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Is parent participation camping normal?

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Many many changes for boy scouts for me to adjust to over a 20 year absence. Is it normal to have parents (one or both) along on a camping trip who are not part of troop leadership? I don't know if it happens every camping trip in the troop I'm involved with, but it is happening this month. I can see where that would have never worked with the troop I grew up in, we all enjoyed our time away from our parents a little too much to have them stay with us in a camp.

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Normal or not is irrelevant. What is important is that if parents want to go, they need to be allowed to go and they need to understand the constraints.


1) This is not family camping, it is Boy Scout camping so the "rules" of Boy Scout camping apply, not the family rules.


2) Boy Scouts camp in patrols. The parent is not part of their son's patrol, therefore, they do not camp with them in close proximity.


3) Boy Scouts do menu planning, cooking and eating by patrols. Therefore, you will not cook, clean, comment or necessarily eat with your son. You may be invited to eat with your son as an invited guest - find out ahead of time.


4) Don't expect to be helping out your son on the outing. Talk to the Scoutmaster and clarify your role. Expect your role to be that as an SA (Assistant Scoutmaster and do the Scoutmaster's bidding).


5) Most important of all, if your sons asks for your help, repeat this phrase - "Why don't you ask your patrol leader." Again, because this is a very difficult concept for most parents to absorb, repeat - "Why don't you ask your patrol leader." It is suggested that you practice this phrase repeatedly for at least a week before the outing.

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I like the trick my old SM would pull: he'd bring along two chairs to every campout - one clearly marked for himself and one clearly marked as "SPL". Then he'd always have a third handy for when a visiting parent would be there. He would make a big deal over it, mark the chair with the adult's name on tape on it. Then he would make the adult sit there while he got to know the parent better and squeezing in discussions about the philosophies and methods of the boy lead troop. Kept the adult away from his little Johnny and helped teach another parent how Scouting worked. By the end of the weekend, he usually had a new ASM.


Don't miss the opportunity to do some recruiting.


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"Is it normal to have parents (one or both) along on a camping trip who are not part of troop leadership? I don't know if it happens every camping trip in the troop I'm involved with, but it is happening this month."



It is a troop by troop decision about parents camping. I would never tell a parent they can not come. But I would tell them they must not interfere.


I in my troop have two issues. First is with parents not registered as adult scouters. They usually come once or twice, and either stop camping, convinced the troop will care for their kid just fine, or they join as adult scouters.


The second issue is with adult scouters with boys in the troop. They (and I was in this boat before my son turned 18) will try to see to it that the kid participates and is a well behaved angel. They will also try to minipulate the schedule so the advancement stuff their kid needs is what we do next. And, they try to "Help" the son do the chores and learn the outdoor skills. I have to pull these people back, and get them to work with another patrol that their is not in. I have to tell them "Let the quartermaster unload the trailer...Let the grubmaster cook the pancakes....let the tenderfoot put up the tent....let the hiking master pick the correct trail for the hike." Handling parents is not what I read about in the training materieals. It should be covered.


I think I like the idea of putting a chair out for visitors to sit in (and stay put in), but I think I would have to do that for the adult scouters as well.


When I was a kid (around 1972) we had an SM and mayby an ASM go camping. But not always. When they came out with the 2 deep leadership rules, which saved the BSA from being sued into oblivion, troops needed more registered leaders in a pool to cover the 2 deep leadership requirements for every activity. So if we take five, ten, fifteen registered adults, we achieve the goal of preventing child abuse, but open up other precedural problems. It opens a troop up to being a merit badge mill, since you will find something for those adults to do like tach a merit badge. 2-Deep and merit badges done in troop meetings are the biggest changes from when I was a kid.



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" Is it normal to have parents (one or both) along on a camping trip who are not part of troop leadership? "

My little darling went all through Boy Scouts without having to put up with me at any Troop Camp.

I was the SM of the Jambo Troop he was in back in 2001.

I knew his SM very well and most of the other adults who served the Troop he was in.

While I might not have always agreed with what they did and how they did it, I knew that the last thing he wanted or needed was me being there.

So it wasn't normal for us.


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First, in our Troop the adults act as a Patrol of their own, so the adults do cook and are set up away from but within sight of the boys. The boys are left to cook in their Patrols on their own.


If an adult is not registered but wants to go on a campout with his/her son, then the first time, they are a guest. They are informed that for the most part, it's hands off; no helping son set up tent, no cooking for son, no agonizing over son dying from eating what's prepared, etc. Most importantly, observe from a distance.


The second time, they are invited to help the adults with the adult meal preparation and keeping the coffee going and such. If they don't respond to an invitation to help, they are given a task to do, like, "Please go get some water and make some coffee."


The third time that parent comes, they are encouraged to help out the adult "patrol" even more. Also, by the end of the outing, filling out an Adult application is discussed with them.


Usually, the parent is only curious about what goes on at a campout. Most do no visit a second time, but if they do they have to know that we believe in everyone helping out. If they come back again, it's our feeling that they must have more than just a casual interest and are ready to join as a registered adult.


This past weekend our Troop went to the Illini Jamboree. If one of the parents had not been going, we could not have gone. My ASM daughter and I were the only adults going. Since she is 18, she cannot drive youth, so we simply did not have room enough for all the boys to go. This Father was very good about letting the boys do their thing and not interfering. It was a great weekend.



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Take them out on nature hikes and teach them plant and tree ident. Then they can become Lisabob's amatuer naturalist and serve a function. That should keep them busy for a couple of campouts. Then move them to dutch oven cooking. That will kill off a couple more trips.

USR, I'll have to remember the chair trick.

Luckily our troop is soooo small that all the fathers are CM's. But then again we have the problem with that they all like to cook. That's a topic for another thread.

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Good point! I just looked and not only could she have youth passengers, but even 16 yr old youth drivers can have youth passengers under the conditions outlined. I really thought this was not allowed (especially the 16 & 17 yr old drivers).


Anyway, my point still stands, as the practice in our unit is that two adults from the same family do not constitute adequate 2-deep leadership...



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