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resqman

Do Patrol Boxes Work?

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http://www.troop679.org/patrol_box_plans.html

 

The above is one plan that I've found although I have not really studied it nor can I recommend it. I am not sold on the idea of chuck boxes as a useful item for Patrol camping. I think a large plastic tote is a good way to organize and store camping and cooking equipment. In use a chuck box to be useful needs to be designed with a lot of care so as to be stable. Cubbies need to be designed around specific items so that evey thing has a place without wasted space. My biggest two issues with chuck boxes is the weight and portability and that they are really only useful IMHO for car camping.

 

All that said I have a camp kitchen box that I use with my personal wall tent. It measures about 24" x 24" x 8". It features a detachable lower shelf, splayed legs, and ajustable table surface. Loaded with cookwear it weighs about 25 lbs.

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Yes, big and heavy. However, a part of the tradition of scouting. They emphasize the patrol working together. The boys have to work together to set it up. Plastic totes break. A good patrol box is stable, wind-resistant, fairly water proof and animal-proof when closed up.

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Eagletrek writes:

 

"Well Kudu once again you miss the point. I never said that scouts shouldn't do lite-weight treking. That said, I think that scouts should also be allowed to "plop" camp when they desire."

 

The "point" is that light-weight camping equipment can be used for BOTH treking AND "plop" camping.

 

Why buy TWO sets of equipment?

 

Eagletrek writes:

 

"From your posts, it appears that one cannot properly execute the Patrol Method and to some degree the program if they don't go lite-weight."

 

By Baden-Powell's standards, the Patrol System requires at least 300 feet between Patrols so that Scouting is an adventure. Before light-weight equipment was invented, Scouts used "trek carts" to transport the heavy stuff into the backwoods.

 

Eagletrek writes:

 

"I'll never limit the spectrum of camping for my scouts."

 

The correlation of heavy equipment with NEVER camping 300 feet apart (or even 30 feet) is probably 100%. Forcing teenagers to camp in the corners of a small camping plot is to reduce them to Wolf Cub camping. There is nothing wrong with Webelos III for a change of pace like a Camporee or a "lock in", but to impose heavy equipment on Scouts is to keep them barefoot and tied to your apron strings.

 

Eagletrek writes:

 

"I'd love it if every camping trip we ventured out on took us to those majestic places potrayed in the Scout Handbook but being from Central Texas that isn't always possible."

 

Baden-Powell's point is that is when you separate the Patrols, camping requires REAL responsibility and even the most mundane locations are full of adventure, especially after dark.

 

Scouter760 writes:

 

"Yes, big and heavy. However, a part of the tradition of scouting. They emphasize the patrol working together. The boys have to work together to set it up."

 

Most Scouts would rather "work together" in a Wide Game with the time they save by camping light :)

 

See:

 

http://inquiry.net/outdoor/equipment/lightweight_camping.htm

 

and:

 

http://inquiry.net/outdoor/games/wide/index.htm

 

Scouter760 writes:

 

"Plastic totes break."

 

A $7 Rubbermaid tote will last more than seven years with typical Patrol use.

 

Plastic totes are good for Troops that do not want to lock themselves into the significant weight of wooden boxes, but can not picture using lightweight equipment on monthly campouts.

 

"A good patrol box is stable, wind-resistant, fairly water proof and animal-proof when closed up."

 

Just put something heavy like a Dutch oven or water jug on the top of the totes, or use straps.

 

In bear territory food should be kept in a bear-barrel. If you store food in Patrol boxes, expect a long night of crashing pots and pans as the bears roll the boxes until they break :)

 

Kudu

 

 

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I built the patrol box using the plans from several posts up (troop 679).

 

It is huge and heavy. The plans call for 3/4 plywood for all four sides. I changed the two flop down sides to 1/2 inch to cut the overall weight. You better have a trailer if you plan on building more than one. They take up most of a minivan. The legs becoming carrying handles is a great idea but even so it is a massive box that is exceeding heavy empty.

 

I put laminate on the fold down sides and the top. This way food can be easily passed from side to side over the top and cleanup is easier.

 

I made the box for my sister and her Girl Scouts about 5 years ago. Now her youngest son is a Bear scout. My sister reports that no matter where she goes, that people come from far and near to marvel at the patrol box. The nice part of both sides folding down is one side can be prep and the other cook.

 

Instead of the propane tree in the plans, she stores a piece of metal electrical condut with an eyebolt on one end. There are a couple of pipe clamps on the end of the patrol box. She can slide the pole into the pipe clamps and hang a lantern from the pole. It raises the lantern above eye level and illuminates both sides of the box instead of blinding people if it were simply set on top of the box.

 

Measure your stove BEFORE you assemble the interior. My sisters stove is a hair smaller than the intended slot. 1/4 inch would have made a big difference.

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Scouter760 writes:

 

"Nothing wrong with light weight equipment, but if you're talking about having dutch ovens and bear barrels, you are not doing light weight camping either."

 

The basic idea behind buying light-weight equipment for regular "plop" camping is that (for instance) Patrols use MSR WhisperLite stoves (as detailed on pages 226-265 of the Boy Scout Handbook) for regular monthly campouts, rather than Coleman two-burner stoves with typical propane trees and bright glaring lanterns.

 

Investment in light-weight equipment does not rule out ad hoc variations such as lugging along Dutch ovens if the Patrol wants to.

 

However, I would agree that light-weight alternatives do work very well. At my last Okpik winter backpacking trip, I was surprised at how well back-packing ovens work for baking even in very low temperatures.

 

Cheap Rubbermaid totes give a Patrol flexibility if they can not fit everything in their packs, whereas the Patrol box that resqman describes requires an absolute commitment to what Baden-Powell described as "Parlour Camping," more suitable for Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts than for teenage boys whose sense of adventure is better satisfied by the significant separation of Patrols as detailed by both Baden-Powell and Green Bar Bill.

 

Bear barrels are used to store food while backpacking. Bear bags are now against the law in some areas.

 

Kudu

 

 

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I've been reading the comments regarding patrol boxes and find the discussion very interesting. Our troop recently decided to try the patrol box idea instead of the plastic containers that we had been using for so long. The problem as I see it with the plastic containers is the top loading feature. They frequently become a catch all for junk that really shouldn't be in there and they offer no compartments to help organize gear. They are also not strong enough to stack in the limited space where we keep out equipment. When I was a scout back in the dawn of time, my troop had patrol boxes patterned on the old standard with the removable legs, toggle bolts, etc. They were really a pain and very heavy.

When we decided to make new boxes recently, the design criteria had to be as follows:

Maximum weight when empty- 30 pounds

Maximum weight when loaded-55 to 60 pounds

Legs or no Legs? - No legs

Gear to accommodate - Cook kit, dutch oven, cooking utensils, common tools, axe, tarp, some consumables that need restocking such as paper towels, soap cooking oil, salt pepper, etc.

Must be able to load side by side in the back if a minivan or small pick-up. One box must fit in the trunk of a mid size sedan.

 

The reason we decided to not put legs on them is after a review of our car camp history, 75 percent of the campsites have picnic tables. Where there are no tables, the scouts can use poles to lash together a stand that will also fulfill their camp gadget requirement.

 

Well the scouts were able to approve a custom design that I developed and construct the boxes. We tried the prototype on our last campout and it worked great, much better than the plastic bins. Our boys just finished the construction of three more boxes that we will be taking to the next campout and to summer camp. (we are going to camp Baldwin where we cook our own meals)

 

3/4 inch plywood is overkill. We were able to build them with a combination of 1/2 inch and 1/4 inch plywood and with hardwood strips to reinforce the joints. All joints were glued together and they are quite strong. The handles are integral to the design and do not rely on hardware that can fall off or get loose.

 

just another note, we modified one of the boxes to have removable legs just to test the concept. This box has been designated the adult leader box and the higher work surface height is better for our middle aged backs. The leg attachment is simple and requires no hardware. It is very stable.

 

I would be willing send a PDF copy of the plans to anyone who is interested.

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We use Rubbermaid action packers instead of a cardboard box. We store no food in these and haul them in the troop trailer or sometimes pickup truck depending on the campout.

http://www.rei.com/product/634288

 

They contain:

dutch oven

coleman stove

large pot & lid

smaller pot & lid

coffee pot for boiling water (to pour over oatmeal) etc.

basic set of cooking utensils

scrub brushes to clean up

plastic coffee cups for beverage (but they usually all use their water bottles)

 

One larger scout can carry this or two young scouts. It is not too heavy.

 

Each box is color coded so the dutch oven with the red handle goes with the red box. etc. Each campout a patrol is assigned a color. Usually for example the wolf patrol is always red, eagles are blue, etc.

 

Of course when we are backpacking or on a canoe trip we do not use these.

 

We pull out the pots we need for backpacking and use BP stoves instead.

 

Some older patrols use their backpack stoves all the time (their personal gear made from soda cans) since they prefer those. They prefer the fast prearation & fast cleanup of backpacking type food. Their total prep to clean up time for a meal is about 20-30 minutes which gives them more time for play. I don't see any of these guys growing up to be a chef. ;-)

 

(This message has been edited by knot head)

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I use one of those for my own gear at summer camp or when I'm car camping. They are nice containers and waterproof. Our guys really liked the idea of having the boxes made on the more traditional approach.

 

Since the stoves we use for car camping are a hodge podge of sizes, we opted to not put them in the patrol boxes and instead we store them separately. It make the boxes less huge and this helps us in loading them into the vehicles. We use our individually owned backpacking stoves for our backpack trips. Now the scouts want to paint a game board on the top of each box such as checkers/chess, cribbage, and backgammon. They'd like a craps table too but somewhere I have to draw the line.

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Rich,

 

I just sent you a PM, but in case you do not get the message, I figured I would post here as well.

 

I would love a copy of the plans for the Patrol Box. The current design that our Troop uses cannot be carried by less than 4 new scouts. Needless to say, the last Scoutmaster that designed them severly over engineered them.

 

Please send it to the email address I sent in the PM.

 

Thanks,

 

Kurt Bimler

ASM - Troop 111, Elgin

Webmaster - Shabbona District - Three Fires Council

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We use traditional patrol boxes for 'car' camping and haul them along in our troop trailer. They work for us in that respect as they provide a nice organized work area for the boys and with the flip down door as a work surface, they don't have to carry an extra table as many of the places we camp do not have tables. For backpacking trips, the Patrol boxes stay at home.

 

That being said, we are trying to address the issue of bulk and weight with a new lighter design. We're piloting replacing the traditional 2-burner coleman stove with a single burner that screws directly onto the propane bottle. Our Patrol boxes used to carry a full set of dishes and 'silverware' for the patrol but now they bring their own mess kits. The new design is essentially a 2'x2' cube, though we may shorten it a bit. It has worksurfaces on both sides. It needs a few tweaks but if you would like pics and plans, message me.

 

 

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