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Basementdweller

BSA and Backcountry Ethics

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Eagle while I appreciate and respect your enthusiasm for the AT. I am not sure your promotion of it is that great an idea. There is no way an hour talk at the US or IOLS training even remotely prepares an Adult to take a troop on a trek like this. Boy lead or not the 13 or 14 year old that has the skill set to do it is a rare bird.......These adult computer types believe they can read a book and have it all figured out, just like that guy in NH.

 

I believe we need IOLS, AOLS and MOLS....with Master of outdoor leadership skills required for a tour plan to go backpacking on public trail systems, state and national parks and forests.

 

I would have no problem taking a quality AOLS or MOLS course. with that said....it would need to be put on by a professional staff, I just believe volunteer instructors egos and attitudes would be a problem. I remember being taught about backpacking at my own IOLS course by a fellow who never actually went on a multi day trip.

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The perps for the really dirty stuff have almost always involved non-scouts, often on 4-wheelers or some other kind of off-road vehicle.

 

Yah, I've met them. ;). But I've also met Scoutmasters takin' dumps in da stream, all the troops Basementdweller mentions (I seem to keep runnin' into da same units :p), and a few that have tried to kill me or other folks by throwin' rocks and such off of cliffs without a mind for the folks on the trail below. And the fires, always da fires. Seems like many troops can't go anywhere without hacking up wood, building a fire ring, and charring a big hunk of pristine meadow. And then leavin' it all there thinking that somehow other folks will appreciate how they have "improved" the place. :mad:

 

I'm fairly convinced that only a fraction of our units are really good wilderness citizens and LNT campers. Most are mediocre front-country campers who really aren't quite ready to be in da backcountry. Well meaning folk with ordinary, unprepared lads who inadvertently give us a bad name, because when yeh put a group of 20 of those together, their impact just seems so much larger than a small family of similar skill. And we do have a share of da folks who are clueless or obnoxious users. Less than the front country boozer crowd, sure, but still enough to foul da waters.

 

At da same time, it's cold up in these parts right now. We've had dose of snow already. Yeh will only see a very few folk on the trails, aside from those of us in blaze orange ;). But no matter the season, the one thing yeh can count on is that some troop is out enjoying it. And that counts for something, eh? Nobody else is gettin' boys out in the wind and weather the way our imperfect, well-meaning band of volunteers does year in and year out. Those are the lads who will be the future supporters of wilderness, the citizens who do their part to preserve da fields and streams because they remember how great it was to be there with buddies and Mr. Scouter.

 

Hard to argue with that, even when we ain't perfect.

 

Beavah(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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Basementdweller, I am not promoting the AT, don't need to in this area. We are so close to the AT that almost every troop hikes it on occasion. I am also not attempting to prepare leaders to take the trek that I just completed, that is way outside of anything any unit and even the vast majority of individuals are capable of attempting. I am promoting trail etiquette and sharing some insight on how to have a safe and successful trip by sharing my experiences on the trail. Since my return I have been asked by several units to do a presentation at a meeting and do a presentation at our RT. Hopefully some of this will have a positive effect on our units and reduce some of the bad PR we are creating for ourselves. So that's what I'm doing to help address the problem. I like the idea of submitting the question to Scouting magazine maybe you could do that.

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Fair enough eagle. You can give the sermon, maybe someone will take one point away from it. That might give me a reason to go to round table.

 

Speak for a couple of moments on Leave no Trace and Outdoor utilization ethics. Of course that would be if the good old boys at round table will let me. I could see speaking on one point per month for less than 5 minutes and be available for questions during breaks.(This message has been edited by Basementdweller)

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Well, many want boy scouts camping in the back country in the worst way possible and then get angry when they get their wish...

 

How do you control a national organization of volunteers? Many of us told Engineer61 in no uncertain terms that parent are not relegated to the sidelines and then someone comments the unit they serve takes care of an issue by not allowing parents to come on trips. So, we are telling someone the National Rules we are supposed to follow while another is blithley ignoring them. Is this unit terrible rotten and awful? I don't know, I assume their "rule" is the result of experience and is the way they decided on the local level to handle an issue. Unless we were there, we don't know if it was right or wrong

 

We want scouters to deliver the program, and delilver it right and just how we define right is the issue. The problem is, none of what BD describes is in any way shape or form acceptable

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Well if you don't preach the sermon no one will listen.

 

When I was a youngster there was no such thing as Leave No Trace. We trenched around tents and no cat holes, just kick some leaves over it. Now we constantly preach LNT, some of its got to sink in!

 

Teaching simple trail etiquette would go a long way. Example; uphill has the right of way. I can't tell you how many times, sometimes several times a day did I saw people ignoring that simple courtesy.

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Ive chuckled as I scanned this thread. There is some kind of odd ball perception that as soon as a boy puts on a uniform he is an expert in the outdoors. Scouting is a turn-key youth program and the adult volunteers that make it up many times are equally inexperienced in outdoor manners. My 20 year old son is a guide at NT. He mentioned that it takes several days for a unit to understand the courtesy and nuances of water trail manners during portages.

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MM,

 

You are not joking when you say that folks expect scouts to be experts in traditional scouting skills, even the brand new Scout whose crossed over a few days before is expected to have mastered first aid.

 

I guess the key is to have all of your camp outs do what you would do on a big trip. treat every cmapout as an adventure and keepthose LNT practices in place everytime as it should be.

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Even with several thousand miles of backpacking and climbing, I've seen few of the examples of bad outdoorsmanship of the kind described in this thread along Pacific Northwest trails.

 

The one example that really stands out in my memory was a rustic backcountry ranger cabin I ran across in the Paysayten Wilderness, east of the Pacific Crest Trail right up near the Canadian border.

 

Every single eve on the cabin was festooned with a big plastic sack of garbage! This was an area frequented by horse packing outfits, and I imagine thats where all the trash came from.

 

On the bright side, I came back to this spot in the middle of the winter on a nordic ski camping trip, and all the trash was gone. The cabin was pristine in the snow, and was beautiful.

 

 

 

 

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hardy.....Fair enough. In thinking about the trip there were some fairly small guys, but not 10 or 11 years old. So I am going to say that most of these scouts had more than a couple of years under their belts.

 

this trip is not the sort of thing I would not take a 10 or 11 year old new cross over on. 1st most of them are not 80 lbs soaking wet, so they cannot carry all their own gear let alone food or their part of the shared gear.

 

OGE.....I am not opposed to going into the backcountry with a troop......Most of the troops I encountered did a nice,no, great job. I am guessing inexperience or NO experienced adult leadership and as a result no trained or poorly trained youth leadership.

 

Just reading a book does not give you the needed skills.

 

sort of like kudu, I am working on creating a webpage dedicated to guiding Boy scout Leaders, youth and adult, in best practices, etiquette when it comes to sharing trail systems, campgrounds and facilities with the public.

 

No the oath and law don't cut it. Remember the post of one troop renting a shelter only to be displaced by another troop who rented a nearby campsite because they showed up first. The discussion about boy scouts and picnic tables. On and on and on.

 

Of course the folks that would read such a guide probably would not be one of the problems anyhow. But if you reach one leader with a new idea it is worth it.

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I can tell you here in the PNW the hiking community doesn't have a favorable view of the Scouts. go to nwhikers.net and search for boy scouts. it isn't pretty, and a lot of it is just what basement is talking about. if you register to post, I wouldn't admit that you are affiliated.

 

Y'know, it's also worth considering that there are elitist snobs who don't like sharing stuff with other people, even other people who make an effort to be good neighbors. They're still "in the way" and "ruining the experience."

 

BTW, I'm not calling Basementdweller an elitest snob! Objecting to bad behavior isn't the same thing at all. Just pointing out that more than a few members of "the hiking community" in any given region would be much happier if they had private access to the public backcountry. Sometimes they convince legislators or bureaucrats to accomdate them too...

 

Of course if they succeed in keeping large numers of young folks (e.g. Boy Scout Troops) out of the backcountry, then in 30 years we'll probably convert our Wilderness Areas into industrial land because only 1 person in a million will have ever been in one and nobody will care.

 

So getting back to Basementdweller's topic. "Ethics" really is the most important thing, but I'm pretty much against a bullet point list of rules. I'm of the opinion that if you only need official Ethics Guidelines if you don't have ethics. Well, at least for the adults. For the Scouts, it's good to have guidelines because they don't know, they're still learning. But so far BDs stories seem more a problem with the adults than with the youts. Anyway, lists of rules have a habit of getting out of hand because there's always someone overeager to have their pet rules, I think I used the phrase in a previous LNT thread, bask in the reflected glow of common sense.

 

Seems what we really need is a commitment from the adult leaders to be courteous to the general public we share our world with, make an effort to understand the impact a group (of whatever size they're taking anywhere, backcountry, front country, or local swimming pool) has on a resource, and pass those concepts on to the Scouts.

 

My biggest personal pet peeve about adolescents (of whatever age) is that they're often completely oblivious to what's going on around them. They don't realize the impact they're having on others. Most kids are decent enough and don't want to intentionally annoy someone else, but so often they don't know they're doing it. We need to help them learn to be observant, aware of their surroundings.

 

What we do about adults like the ones who kicked BD out of the shelter? Well, sheesh, I think the folks saying "report 'em" have it right (though I acknowledge the obstacles - perhaps there's a trip permit filed somewhere that a council could use?). We will have knuckleheads in our organization from time to time - it's in our best interests to self-police as best we can.

 

 

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"I can tell you here in the PNW the hiking community doesn't have a favorable view of the Scouts. go to nwhikers.net and search for boy scouts. it isn't pretty, and a lot of it is just what basement is talking about. if you register to post, I wouldn't admit that you are affiliated."

 

Just out of curiosity I went to the noted link, and it took me forever to find anything about scouts. I finally found a thread about noise in the back country that made some complaints. But, by and large, there were very few really bad comments I could find. Even in the noise thread, most people noted that kids are kids, and suggested it was better to have them out and noisy, than run them off because they disturb someone on occasion. It was also noted that kids and scouts are not the only people causing noise. As far as other issues, I did not find but one; a guy accusing some scouts of stealing stuff from his bear bag, though do not know if he actually could prove that assertion.

 

And, here in my area in So Cal, we have very few complaints about our kids, and I have seen few that do not do far better than most "non scouts".

 

So, make your own conclusion.

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It needs to be pointed out that many folks have said that members of the BSA are NOT the only ones that do not follow rules. However, for the most part, they are: Identifiable as a group and Are the largest identifiable group in the backcountry. If everyone going into the backcountry had to belong to a group to do so, the BSA might actually come out not so bad. That is not to excuse any bad behavior but just to point out that being a recognizable group makes it more likely to be blamed rather than someone who is not related to any group.

 

Also, some folks who complain about the BSA dislike the BSA to begin with and are looking for any reason to bash the BSA. Once again, this is not to be an apologist for bad behavior but to put things in a little different perspective.

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Just got back from a weekend camping trip at a local state park. The ranger asked us not to dig a hole in the middle of the ball field for our campfire but to use the fire rings at the campsite. I asked him "why, did someone do that?" He said yep, the scout troop that camped there last week. They also left Sunday with the campfire still burning! I told the ranger to file a complaint with council. The troop camped next to us was running around screaming until 1 in the morning and lighting off firecrackers! That troop's SM asked me if we put shock collars on our boys to keep them under control. I told him no, we just expect them to live up to the Scout Law.

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