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Basementdweller

BSA and Backcountry Ethics

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So it is ok to take a troop of 40 boys into the back country or trail??????

 

I guess I don't want some of these areas to start to look like our over utilized, beat up scout camps

 

 

 

 

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Basement, I find solitude on the AT by aiming at mid-week, preferably during cold rain or sub-freezing temps. Mice are a hazard regardless of where you are.

 

I'm not sure what you mean by 'backcountry'. I don't consider any place east of the Mississippi to be 'backcountry' and not many areas west of the Mississippi for that matter. If you mean 'places away from urban areas where people might seek quiet solitude', that's another matter. I wouldn't take 40 boys there. I might consider taking perhaps 10 selected boys (selected among them, not necessarily by me). I might not take any. It depends on the boys, the destination, and my mood. As for the ethic, the golden rule is sufficient in my book.

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Some people are jerks and no rules will ever change that.

 

Seems like they already made a decision to ignore Helpful, Friendly, Courteous and Kind. They would also ignore your three rules.

 

As for your rules. Ten is generally a good maximum size, it may even be on the large size. There have been times that we will exceed that, especially on a day hike. I would be reluctant to tell scout number 11 that he could not go unless there was a hard limit on a permit. Even then we tend to break up into smaller groups.

 

Unless there is a way to reserve a site or shelter then a person should realize that they cannot count on it being available for exclusive use and an alternative plan is a good idea. But why should a scout group not use it at all? That is, why should a scout group be penalized? How is that an ethical choice? It seems that it is perfectly ethical to use a shelter that is available. You had no issue with making use of the table. How does this change for a group of scouts?

 

No, a group should not be so large that they overwhelm the resources.

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Even in the 70's the shelters were not a pleasant place to overnight. Beaten down ground, dusty and critter happy. You were afraid to go behind a tree within 50 yards for fear of who else had been there recently.

 

Those folks did you a favor, although I'm sure it didn't feel like it at the time.

 

10 people makes 'Backcountry' a population center. 2 used to my favorite number for camping. Now it's 4.

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The thing is, our outdoor best practices already encourage smaller groups. The building block of Scouting is the patrol - and though reducing our impact wasn't what BP was thinking about, it certainly plays a role today. And Leave No Trace already says: "Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups." That said, it's not always practical to do so in remote situations, especially now that Irving cut patrol expeditions off at the knees.

 

I understand your frustration, Basement, but I don't see how another rule is going to fix it. The same basic principles that apply to our conduct and practices in the city should apply to us in the backcountry.

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I really don't think we are looking at LNT or Boy Scout Backpacking here.

For me this about a couple of twits being rude.

Sad as it might be stuffing a twit in a Scout uniform doesn't change the fact that he is a twit.

How each of us deals with rudeness? Depends on lots of things.

I have a few friends who can without missing a beat come back with really cleaver and smart replies.

I know a couple of guys who might want to give the person or people being rude a swift kick in the pants.

I've found that killing them with kindness works best!

By the time I'm done being "Nice" they feel so bad that they just can't apologize enough.

Ea.

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I don't understand the point of the discussion. If the scouter didn't ask you to leave Basement, would you still have started this thread?

 

I have personally witnessed scouts behaving badly and we did report it to their council. Don't know if the council did anything.

 

I remember the Canadian authority our crews had to visit on the Boundary Waters to get permission to enter Canada and use their campsites. Once all our paperwork checked out and we paid all the fees, she pulled us all together and proceeded to lecture our crews that Boys Scouts were her worst enemy because they are so destructive to the Canadian campsites. She then handed us a photo album with dozens of pictures of campsite destruction. I personally don't believe many of the pictures were the results of scouts because there was some evidence of hunting and fishing gear. But she was bigger and meaner than any of us and we weren't going to go up that stream. But she still must have had some bad experiences with Scouts to have the feelings she expressed toward us. I should have asked her if she felt this was a BSA problem or a Canadian Scouts problem, but we were ready to move on to our first portage.

 

The problem scouting faces is the number of scout campers compared to the number of non scout campers. Our troop typically hikes trails where we don't run into too many other folks. But when do, its a 50/50 chance that they are another scouting group. With that many scouts out there in the back county, odds are nonscouting folks are going to run into some unscout like behavior. And once a person has one experience, the rest of us are painted the same color. Even Basementdweller appears to think less of scouts after his experience.

 

Not sure what we can do about it. I really believe using the Scout Law fixes most problems, even big group situations. Our Troop breaks up our bigger groups to keep them small just so we don't sound like a herd of bears running from a fire. But it is a learning experience. I still struggle to get scouts to hold a low tone on the Boundary Water lakes.

 

Barry

 

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2 comments...

 

First I will have to agree with others that the Scout Oath and Law, LNT, and the Patrol Method do more to resolve this situation than any other rules. If "Scouters" don't follow our highest Law they will not abide by any other rule set by national.

 

Second, On the subject of complaints. I will tell you that if anyone calls the Council with a complaint, it is at least discussed. They are always passed to our Council Exec and Commissioner. If the complaint is about a specific district activity it is passed to the District and discussed at the Commissioner and Committee meetings (I always share these with my SMs). If it is about one specific unit it is passed to the UC specifically. I have had 3 meetings thus far in my career with the SM, CC, and COR of a troop that had a complaint lodged about their unit. One was a misunderstanding, one led to some re-training, and one led to the removal of a Scouter.

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Personally, I think this is the problem that most non-LDS Scouters have with LDS Scouters. I think most LDS troops are just fine, but being the largest CO (albeit by only one and a half percentage points), having only a small amount of bad experiences with LDS Scouters might turn off those non-LDS Scouters who have only experienced the unfortunate tip of the iceberg.

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Basementdweller,

 

So the incident that you described was due to the adults and you only described a single unit. In fact, you described several units being very helpful, courteous, and kind. So provide us more information. Was the issue that the units were too big and that one set of leaders were not living by the Oath and Law? Are there other issues? Please provide the breadth and depth of your concerns.

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From the ATC website "They (shelters) are intended for individual hikers, not big groups. If you're planning a group hike, plan to camp out or to yield space to individual hikers who may not have the resources you do." I would have told the SM two things 1. pound sand and 2. I snore really loud so no one is going to get any sleep here! Also would have asked for his tour plan.

 

A few years ago I did an online survey at www.whiteblaze.net for research on my theses for my U of S Doctorate. My topic was Scouting and the AT. Got some interesting comments from the hiking community on their experiences with Scouts. As a group we certainly have a PR problem.

I thru-hiked the AT this year (yes all 2181 miles) and met many Scouts along the way. I didn't have any problems with the units I met.

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Yep, BD you did these boys a disservice.

 

1. You did not ask where this unit (if indeed it was a BSA unit) was from. You weren't friendly in spite of their lack of courtesy.

2. You did not take it upon yourself to explain the rules of courtesy along the AT. The simplest being: first-comers get dibs. The more nuanced being: give the old guy a little space for cryin' out loud!

3. After having read all of Kudu's posts, you didn't take time to educate this group on the patrol method (groups of 8 at least 300' apart).

 

So thanks a lot. I'll probably be sitting on a boulder someplace 100 yards away from my youth and this outfit is going to troddle along and tell me to bugger off! And because you let them have their way, I'm the one whose going to have to set them straight.

 

There are plenty of rules on the scouting books for this sort of thing. Folks just need to be reminded of them.

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I stand corrected. What local troops do hiking and camping is great and good. The BS oath and law are adequate training and code for such situations.

 

Far as confronting three guys bigger than myself in the back country is stupid in my book, scouts or not.

 

I hold myself and the groups I am involved with to a higher standard. I will take what I experienced and apply it to these groups.

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You look them in the eye, you tell them you have no intention of sleeping in the shelter, that you will finish cooking and eating dinner before you leave - then when you leave, you cheerfully say "Have a good night, don't let the mice bother you during the night, I wonder if the area is safe from the Hantavirus" then toddle off to your own campsite and let the leaders deal with the sleepless night ahead for half the Scouts.

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