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What does it take for you to cancel an outing?

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"I went in for the day to lead a hike and was told that they were having movie night tonight because of weather conditions. The wind is blowing 30-40+ mph all day today. Not safe to have a campfire, storms are threatening tonight. Lost 4 tents due to the winds and damaged 4 more in the winds, probably about $750 in damages. The troop ended taking what was left of the tents down and moving into the recreation building they're camping beside. They are making the best of a bad night."

 

This was a reply to a thread about movies at camp, but when I read it I was surprised there was not one response as to the wisdom of continuing with the trip in the first place. To be fair to trainerlady, I admittedly have no idea as to the circumstances surrounding this event. Weather can be a strange thing and the worst storms can come up out of nowhere. And if you find yourself in that situation, staying put in secure shelter is almost always a better option than trying the roads to go home.

 

But if there was a weather report or two before the trip that would have alerted someone to the type of weather they could face, why in the world would you continue? We can talk all we want about having a "never say die" attitude and never, EVER quitting on a camping trip. Supposedly it would show the boys weakness. But what about showing good judgement and common sense? If the storm was bad enough to cause so much damage, then you surely have a safety issue.

 

And while not even in the same world as important as safety, what about the equipment? The $750 in equipment lost came out of somebody's pocket, and that in itself is not a responsibility to be taken lightly.

 

So for you, what does it take in terms of weather reports for you to cancel a camping trip or outing?

 

And specifically to trainerlady, I want to say again that the scenario of prior knowledge is purely a hypothetical assumption on my part. The fact that you went out to lead a day hike suggests the opposite to be true.

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I remember one time the boys were going to go out with a very skillful leader to learn to build snow caves to sleep in. Temps were reported to be way low, don't remember what now, but definatly below 0 maybe even like -10 or so..

 

Skillful leader canceled, not only due to the cold, they would be in while building their shelter, but also because that extreme cold would have made the snow they wanted to mold into snow cave such a consistancy that they would not have molded.

 

Sometimes freak weather patterns happen, or the weathermen get it wrong.. I also know if I was looking I would look on the internet for rain, and not bother trying to decipher the estimated wind gusts.. Don't even remember News stations verbally making a big deal out of wind.. Maybe it is somewhere on the board to read, but rarely verbalize.. Especially if the wind is only impacting this mountain and the main inner city population would barely notice.

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Always a tough call to make. We cancelled a canoeing MB class when the winds were predicted to be 20-30mph the next day with some storms.

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Well I'm old school, and to be honest I do not know what it would take to cancel a Boy Scout, Sea Scout, or Venturing outing. I've done survival camping in the outerbands of a hurricane at a council level training, Brownsea 22, and had to deal with a sudden cold front dropping temps 20 degrees, bringing on rain and wind on another trip. I also had to deal with parents on a troop camping trip, stopping the troop from doing a hike in the rain for which the scouts were fully prepared for, but the siblings were not. Lot of anger and resentment ove that, esp. since we planned the trip for about a year, and it was a 14 hour drive roundtrip to do the hike.

So I do not know.

 

But I do know that I would plan for emergencies, and adapt to the situation as needed.

 

As for Cub Scouts activities, I am a lot more cautious. I do not want to make a campign expereince miserable for them and the parents as that will turn them off. Also from a personal expereince, I know how difficult it can be to pack up in normal circumstances, can't imagine how it would be in the rain.

 

I know the weekend the pack went camping last year said their was a possibility of severe weather, and remote chance of tornadoes. Since the camp was 20 minutes away, we went on, but modified the shedule so that everything was over before noon, giving us time to get back home. Everyone but me was gone by 11, I left at 11:30, and we had another 2.5-3 hours of beautiful weather. Then the severe weather and tornadoes hit. We planned it well. But I discovered that the local baseball programs were still going on until about 2 or 2:30. basically when the weather service said take cover.

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Son's troop has hiked AT in rain/snow/hail on the same day. His first survivor weekend it snowed 18" right after they built shelters, they all slept out.

The only cancellations I recall:

- too much snow on roads to travel 1 hr to camp

- no snow for Xcountry skiing resulted in switching planned monthly outings

 

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The weather people were calling for the hurricane to strike our area the weekend of our planned campout. We postponed.

 

We had a campout about 2-3 years ago. Several parents started calling the SM's cellphone warning him of thunderstorms wanting to know if he was going to cancel mid-weekend and come home. Nope.

 

Since then, National started offering a Weather online training. The SM and several ASMs took the training. With smartphones, we often have up-to-the-minute weather forecasts at our disposal during outings. Rain, snow, storms are part of camping...as long as the scouts are prepared.

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We cancel when the 2-deep requirement can't be met. Sometimes the other Adult isn't available because of some anticipated weather event.

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In 8 years I can only remember cancelling one campout, an April trip with all the just-crossed-over new scouts. The morning of there were severe thunderstorms in the area and tornado watches issued. I knew our location was either open fields or marginal wooded areas with lots of widow makers. We bagged the campout and spent the day at the hut running the activities we would have on the campout.

 

Short of a clear and immediate forcast such as that, I wouldn't forsee cancelling a campout based on the weatherman. Personally, I don't change my own plans based on weather forcasts. I may adjust my preparations (an extra change of clothes or extra blankets) but forcasting severe weather is too broad. Here in the southeast, if we cancelled trips based on a chance of thunderstorms, we would never go camping in the summer.

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After rain brought the creek to near flood levels a local church youth group went forward with their canoe trip."we planned for over a year, we cant cancel". Well a 14 yr old girl drowned. Found out later that the fire dept knew about the low tree and there was talk about cutting it down before somebody ...

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We did a camporee once at -5F. One of the mom's asked me what the threshhold was for cancelling due to dangerous weather. I told her that if they are prepared, 5 below is not dangerous. She laughed and her son had a great time. Seriously though, I've told our parents that about the only thing I'll cancel for is solid cold damp rain. Not because it's dangerous, but it's just absolutely no fun. I live in Maryland and there is such a paralyzing fear of the weather here that it makes me want to retch. Part of my job is to break that cycle and that means finding ways to keep the adventure moving.

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Over the years, events have been occasionally canceled for lack of sufficient adult leadership.

 

The only weather related cancellations I have experienced have been due to high winds on open water when we were in open canoes. Fortunately tornadoes or the threat of tornadoes have never been a problem. We get thunderstorms in the mountains during the summer, but those should not result in outright cancellations. If we did cancel trips to the mountains due to the threat of thunderstorms, we would never go. Rather, we execute such outings in a manner to minimize the dangers.

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Yah, hmmmm... canceling just for 30+ mph winds and a "threat" of storms? Surely yeh jest. Better to actually teach the lads how to set up and stake down a tent properly. Mostly I tell everyone that skin is waterproof. :)

 

That havin' been said, I always tell folks yeh should cancel any individual event when yeh feel it's beyond da skills or the gear of the group to handle. That's just prudent. Then yeh should look at what yeh can do to improve da skills or gear of the group so that next time yeh won't have to cancel.

 

One of da things is that some trips are committing and others are not. A backpacking trip is committing, eh? Once you're on da trail you're committed to hike out one way or another on the trail. Some paddling trips are da same. Often a good choice is to change a committing trip into a non-committing one, like a car camp, which gives everyone da experience of that weather with their gear but without as much concern. It helps build skill for da future.

 

There are very few weather events that merit cancellation for teens who are well prepared. They tend to be only da ones that yeh can't be prepared for because they're so rare, or where da hazard is just obvious. Gettin' hit by a hurricane counts. Flood stage rivers or being out on open water in some conditions may count. A cave at risk of flooding fer sure.

 

Of course, there are other times when yeh have to cancel or modify when da weather makes the event impossible, like a cross-country skiing trek when there is no snow. :)

 

Beavah

 

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we have never canceled an event......we have modified the outing or trip....Mainly because of flooding rivers and water in the caves. Ended up doing some hiking instead and going museums.

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"That havin' been said, I always tell folks yeh should cancel any individual event when yeh feel it's beyond da skills or the gear of the group to handle. That's just prudent. Then yeh should look at what yeh can do to improve da skills or gear of the group so that next time yeh won't have to cancel."

 

You know what Beavah, I think this is exactly the answer I was looking for. Thank you, because it makes perfect sense. One troop's group of Life and Eagle Scouts with Philmont experience and gear have a different tolerance level than my new bunch of Tenderfeet (or is that Tenderfoots?) with the Wal-Mart camping section stuff.

 

In terms of the equipment issue, I may be just a little sensitive to the $750 worth of damages. Being new and knowing what we don't have, losing that much makes me cringe.

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To fill in a few of the blanks about our campout last weekend. We were 10 minutes away from our meeting place in a municipal park that is very scout friendly. The weather forecast was for a windy weekend, 5-15 mph with occasional gusts of more. Everything started out well on Friday night, some light winds a bit of rain nothing out of the ordinary for a fall weekend in Michigan.

 

Saturday morning the winds picked up SIGNIFICANTLY with quite strong gusts. The winds kept building as the day progressed. Gusts got stronger too. The skies were partly cloudy, cool but not cold. By noon the wind was howling. The first damage had been done by this point.

 

The four lost tents were what my family calls "condo tents" (the huge sleeps 8+ people kind with multiple rooms). They were never meant to be in conditions like what they were set up in. They were too big, too few stakes, poorly designed flies, you get the picture. The 4 damaged tents were more appropriate to the conditions. Two had aluminum poles bend, 2 had grommets pull out or rip out (these were $300+ backpacking/outfitter level tents).

 

It was our troop's Webelos weekend - a campout for the local Webelos to come to a troop outdoor activity weekend. The weather forecasts were acceptable a few days out, even the day we started, scattered showers, mild winds, cool but not cold temperatures. So no need to cancel. The site was also chosen due to the access of the rec building as a CYA area. As it turned out we needed it.

 

It was unfortunate that we had losses. Some of them are being covered by the tent manufacturers, some of the repairs are not as expensive as first feared. One company even gave us a sizeable discount on replacement parts because we are scouts. Another company is giving the families credit towards new tents at their truck load sale this coming weekend.

 

I don't think we should have cancelled. It was just an unfortunate turn in the weather.

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