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Basementdweller

BSA and Backcountry Ethics

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Back country snob that is a new one........Heck I can get more solitude backpacking here in ohio than I can get on the AT. I probably passed 100 people on saturday on the AT, here in Ohio I passed zero, even covering roughly the same distance.

 

How many times have you arrived at a state park and they ranger says, don't move the picnic tables, don't take up the shelter, the boys must have supervision at the showers, don't dig holes, don't dam up the creek, respect the quiet hours on and on and on.

 

 

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This past week, I had a couple of non-scouting youth on separate occasions if I've ever hiked the AT. Just goes to show how popular it is.

 

We have to be prepared to "educate" on trail. Chances are the one's who need it will not have read this thread!

 

In fact, the more I think about it. Most of the stuff I've learned about hiking, I've learned while hiking!

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actually Jhawkins has it right. This area seems to have it's share of back country elitists and NIMBY's. try asking on that same website for any information on the Bathtub lakes.

 

to be fair though it's not just Scouts. they hate all kids. Also balloons, campfires, and Dogs. NWhikers would be elated if all were banned from the earth.

 

 

I don't know if it is the same in other regions. I always chalked it up to the type of people that flock to WA & OR (most of the elitists are non natives)and the political climate that breeds this attitude.

they really believe that they are saving the world if they restrict access to land to only themselves and nobody else. their impact doesn't count.(This message has been edited by beardad)

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Okay. So, if our reputation is so tarnished (unfairly or fairly), what can we do about it? Volunteer to undo damage caused by campers? That's where my mind is going. It sounds like an excellent OA service project. I think that would go a long way towards burnishing our image in the eyes of the outdoor professionals who maintain the back country, whether or not our troop is responsible for any damage.

 

The elite is always going to look down the Scouts...because we're not "elite." We're a bunch of boys. And even worse, we're a bunch of squares who still believe in God and country.

 

Based on BD's experience, I'll be prepared to ask some pointed questions if another troop tried to run me off. And then I would shoot some letters to their council, district, committee and chartering org. Maybe they're ALL rude and won't care what this troop did, but I doubt it. The results aren't the point. They need to know.

 

And maybe to the forest service (or other government agency), too. A troop that runs off campers from public shelters is not sharing the land. Maybe they should take a "time-out" the next time they want to go camping there.

 

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I realize the irony of me taking the position for BD and against the Scouts, given that I posted long ago about our troop running off some "creepy guy" who pitched his tent in our already-established reserved campsite.

 

But the etiquette of the AT (as far as I understand it) is that shelters are first-come, first-serve, and no one has the right to expel someone else.

 

Maybe the troop thought BD was a "creepy guy." Tough. He was there first. Nobody has reservations. If the troop was so bothered by it, they could have moved on to the next shelter and ...dealt with the "creepy" people who were hanging out there.

 

BD, what was the conversation? Were they abusive? Did they attempt to intimidate you?

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ya know garrison.....I could have been that creepy guy, but I was in the shelter first and if that was the case they should have moved on.....Let me see I was 4 days out no shower or shavin......Ya I looked fairly rough. Far as creepy goes, drinking coffee and waiting for my bacon mashpotatos to rehydrate, not sure how creepy that is......

 

 

But the Appalachian Trail conservancy guidelines say very specifically that large groups should not use the shelter system.

 

http://www.appalachiantrail.org/hiking/hiking-basics/families-groups

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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! ... The troop camped next to us was running around screaming until 1 in the morning and lighting off firecrackers!

 

Yah, I think this is da reality, eh? It's not "backcountry snobs", nor is it folks who just get annoyed by da normal activities of boys. There are some of those, but they mostly just grumble a bit. Da thing that really hurts our reputation is stuff like this, eh? We have a good fraction of our membership that just "ain't goin' to do that sissy liberal Leave No Trace stuff" and leaves behind campsites trashed and broken. Da BSA LNT folks have considered eliminatin' all saw and axe requirements, partly because land managers have taken 'em on tours of group campsites where BSA users have left no tree unmarred.

 

We are da nation's number one user of public lands, and the leading wilderness educator in the country. We should be the elite. Our boys and adult leaders should be conspicuous in settin' the example for others of how to be the best citizen users of our wild lands. We should stand out to other travelers as being outstanding, not as a group yeh have to cringe at and worry about because they believe good citizenship is snobbish.

 

There just ain't any excuse, and we should stop letting our members off the hook by pretending that there is.

 

Beavah

 

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Nice post Beavah.

 

I will say that scout camps are in much better shape than when I was a youth. I remember my home camp all of the campsites were basically fire pits, completely covered in ash and when it rained it you were a black mess.

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That is an interesting website Basement.

 

It does not have the usual copyright notice on the bottom.

 

Whois information shows the domain registered to "Northeast Region Venturing".

 

It does not appear to be a National sanctioned website.

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" We should stand out to other travelers as being outstanding, not as a group yeh have to cringe at and worry about because they believe good citizenship is snobbish. "

 

So how do we get there from here?

 

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So how do we get there from here?

 

I've got some ideas. It involves addressing tbe issue Beavah mentioned when he wrote "... 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". And that means (in addition to other things) bridging the gap Beavah also mentioned between the LNT folks and the "...good fraction of our membership that just "ain't goin' to do that sissy liberal Leave No Trace stuff..."

 

It comes down to doin a better job with our outdoor training. Retooling LNT a bit and upping the amount of outdoor skills we expect from adults. I think there are things we can do in how we present LNT to defuse the "sissy liberal" reaction (accepting the existing of "backcountry snobs" and distancing ourselves from them is one important step - BSA isn't the only organization that gets tarnished by association with a few bad apples). And is it really a surprise that an organization where the old outdoor training was replaced with corporate leadership training finds itself with fewer competent outdoorsmen?

 

How's this for starters?

 

1) Replace LNT with "Backcountry Citizenship" and give the program a (argh) mission statement of "Fostering responsible camping and hiking to ensure the protection, beauty, and continued public access to our backcountry" or some such. I know this creates some problems since LNT is a program shared with other outdoor folks, but I think it's sort of misfired a bit and acquired a taint that impeeds acceptance. Mabye we can salvage the name and the relationships, on the other hand, it might send a signal considering pulling out of the program because we're having trouble getting acceptance of it from the largest single group going outdoors, and the organization introducing the outdoors to "...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." (I probably owe Beavah a royalty for quoting so much of his posts).

 

2) Include actual pictures, statistics, and documented evidence of degraded trails and wilderness in the "BC" training. That would help to convince people of the need, plus it also defuses the "sissy liberal" reaction because frankly, claims of the need with vague or missing evidence rightly sets off alarm bells in folks. Even stuff that ought to be common sense we should be willing to back up with evidence, just to establish a tradition of openess and accountability. You want people to change their behavior, be willing to show why and never resort to claiming only an idiot wouldn't go along with you. Even if only an idiot wouldn't go along with you!

 

3) Have formally separate Frontcountry standards (e.g. stop this LNT for the Frontcountry nonsens) that discuss etiquette when in larger groups. I've never seen a campfire built in a ball field at a campsite, but maybe folks need some training on how to find the campfire ring. Sheesh. This is probalby where we can make the most PR gains, since this is where most people will run into Scouts. Seems like regardless of our backcountry standards, IOLS isn't cuttin' it for dump camping either.

 

4) Have something more than IOLS for backcountry trips, with some sort of well-thought out test-out so we don't just pile on more training and run off volunteers. Seems like BSA is on the verge of (or perhaps already is, depending on how you read the rules) requiring WRFA training to go into the backcountry.

 

5) Celebrate the proper use of the Axe and Saw, while more strongly pointing out what "proper" means and that there are only specific places where their use is indeed "proper." Beavah says "Da BSA LNT folks have considered eliminatin' all saw and axe requirements..." and that would just, of course, convince even more folks LNT was sissy liberal stuff. Personally, I've never seen any signficant damage from axe and saw-weilding Scouts, though really it would just take one irresonsible Troop. Seems to be carving initials into trees with pocket knives is far more wide-spread.

 

Okay, family members to hug and turkey to eat. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

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Oh I can see the website hosting the evidence.....The BSA Backcountry bad boys......complete with the cops theme song.

 

 

So would the additional training be needed to draw a tour plan for backcountry excursion????

 

Unless it is required at for something people will not get trained it is that simple.

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