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Troop Tents or Personal Tents

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The Troop I made eagle in had its own dome tents that lasted us for about 3 years. The troop I am now a leader in also has its own dome tents (coleman) and they have lasted two years so far. I would suggest a Troop wondering if they should have there own tents take a piece of paper and fold it in half ... and then on one half list the pros and on the other side cons and then talk about which option is better for you in your case...


Hope my wacky 2 cents was of help...



Scott Robertson


Helping leaders improve Scouting one resource at a time.

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  • 3 weeks later...


you may know that we Germans are a pretty old-fashioned bunch. Otherwise, we wouldnt still be using the Kohte tent.

If youve never seen one, punch Kohte into Google pictures and have a look:



The Kohte consists of four shelter quarters, one top cover sheet and several stakes. You can rig it up with one center pole or two outer poles or pull it up hanging tree style with a rope thrown over a tree branch. Some outfitters are selling take-down poles, too, campgrounds usually have poles available.

The beauty of the Kohte is that one houses a full patrol (6-8 people) including their kit and you can entertain a fire inside, just like in a teepee.

On a trek, the load can be evenly distributed among the patrol.

There are no zippers on the Kohte quarters, only buttons, loops and toggles.

With the help of additional Kohte quarters, other types of tents can be constructed as well.


I think it is good for the team to share the same patrol tent and it really makes a difference at any camporee when your troops patrols arrive and set up their Kohtes without the typical running around, screaming, hassling, falling down butt over teakettle of the tenderfoot gang.

Well-trained patrols do it within ten minutes without uttering a single word.

Okay, I admit, thats showing off, but it leaves a good first impression on everybody.


The dreaded chatter in troop tents doesnt seem to be much of an issue here. In my troop, lights out is at midnight and that is also when the first watch begins.


Altogether, Im an advocate of the troop tents.


Best regards,



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We own or tents fundraiser trivia night, bought 20 4 man Eureka dome tents not sure the model. We have been using them the last 2 years both adults & scouts, we are going to do another fundraiser because of the troop growth to buy more. It is quicker to set up one scout could do it but 15min and thier ready to move on to dining flys. If you can I recomend getting your own it does add some load to the quarter masters but when you set up at a camporee you look good, not mismatch sizes and colors.



Doug Buth

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We still have a few troop tents, but encourage boys to have their own equipment if they have it. I''ve found that they take better care of something they have to answer to Mom & Dad over than they do something they check-out of the QM shed.


It was the same thing with school-owned instruments when I was a HS band director... We spent a small fortune each year on repairs, to the point where the district was considering cutting off funding altogether...


The other advantage of using personal equipment: when our boys leave Scouting, they have usually ammassed enough camping equipment that they can continue to enjoy it during their high school and college years regardless if they''re still active in a troop, crew or team.

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Our troop doesn''t own a single tent, we require boys under rank of first class to tarp camp. We provide the tarps. In the past the troop tents have always been torn, broken, etc and required maintenance and lots of money to keep working. Now with tarps, the boys enjoy camping just as much, learn a great skill (creating a shelter with minimal materials) and have a very good appreciation for tents once they''re allowed to have one in the troop. We encourage families to give tents as gifts to those boys that reach 1st class or higher.


Downside, none of the tents are the same, but that''s ok, the only time that comes up is when we''re at camporee. Our troop looks weird next to one that car camps all the time and has troop issued equipment. Our kids get a kick out of it.



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On my previous post in this thread I spoke from my uninformed knowledge of the issue regarding the model of our tent.


Correction follows: Ten Eureka Timberline, 4 person, 4-season, Outfitter tents.


On the other hand, the Troop has used six of the same ten original purchase tents for TEN YEARS. Four were replaced after being stolen from our storage facility four years ago but were in good condition when they were taken. Cost over time about $24 a year or roughly $1.09 a night with a low average of 22 nights a year for the Troop outings as a whole(real average probably 26-30 nights a year for any given tent) over the ten years without the theft replacement.


These tents run +/-239.90 now from Campmor. Which is a $100 more than the T2XT and $50 more than the T4XT but, ALL tents are still in good shape.(I can't tell the replacements from the new.)


And we do use them the way that was previously described, and treat them as two-man tents with plenty of storage, makes using a real backpacking tent a joy when we do the HA trips, I'm told.

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I think it's important for a troop to have troop tents. Our current troop just bought a bunch of new ones, because we've gotten a bunch of new scouts, and there has been some loss and damage. So it was time to do it.


Often the older scouts will buy or be given matching tents, so they can use their personal tent, but they will look uniform.


The adults have a variety of tents, if it's going to be a crummy weekend, they will use a couple of big ones, because it is nicer to deal with.

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Before Baden-Powell borrowed the term "Boy Scouts" from the popular comic books of the early 1900s, the term he used when jotting down notes for his new game for boys was "Boy Patrols."


The idea behind the Patrol System is very simple! From England, to Africa, to India, wherever B-P had traveled he observed that boys naturally form themselves into small gangs from which a natural leader always emerges. To teach Citizenship (the sole Aim of Scouting) B-P merely took this natural society away from the street-corner and into the woods to practice "real camping" in the natural environment in which Scout Law becomes a practical necessity.


kb6jra writes:


"Our troop doesn`t own a single tent, we require boys under rank of first class to tarp camp."


This is an impressive example of what Baden-Powell meant by "real camping" when he wrote:


In Scouting we know that what appeals to the boys, and is at the same time an education for them, is real camping--that is, where they prepare their own encampment even to the extent of previously making their own tents and learning to cook their own food [baden-Powell, Aids to Scouting, Part II].


In real Patrol Camping, the Patrols camp at least 300 feet from each other and decide on essential matters such as food and shelter for themselves:


The object of a camp is (a) to meet the boy`s desire for the open-air life of the Scout, and (b) to put him completely in the hands of his Scoutmaster for a definite period for individual training in character and initiative and in physical and moral development.


These objects are to a great extent lost if the camp be a big one...


So it results that Scouts` camps should be small -- not more than one Troop camped together; and even then each Patrol should have its own separate tent at some distance (at least 100 yards) from the others. This latter is with a view to developing the responsibility of the Patrol Leader for his distinct unit. [bP`s Outlook; October, 1909].


The opposite of the Patrol Method is the "Troop Method" where (as anarchist notes) "we train our [Troop] quartermasters to be `really anal`."


The best example of this Troop Method camping can be found in the exact opposite of Patrol Camping called the "Camporee." This is where Scouters can take great pride in impressing their Wood Badge buddies with the degree to which they have subordinated the Patrol Method to the Troop Method in their own units:


"When you`re at a camporee, which campsites stand out and seem to say "This is a Boy Scout Troop." I`ll bet most of us will say the unit with tents and camp equipment that are uniform throughout."


"The very first use was at a district camporee and the pride of the boys in setting a camp that really looked like a unit...a REAL BOY SCOUT TROOP was evident. One older scouts remarked that our neatly ordered camp made it actually look like the troop knew what we were doing...whether or not we actually did!"


"Adults occasionally use troop tents (usually at Camporees) but may use their own if they desire. What I have found is many of the parent now own their own Timberline tents...so they can look like they belong...to the troop."


"If you can I recommend getting your own it does add some load to the quarter masters but when you set up at a camporee you look good, not mismatch sizes and colors."


This war between Troop Method Camporees and Baden-Powell`s real Patrol Camping dates back to 1912 and is the origin of the term "Parlour Scouting":


And the direction in which James E. West (soon to be Chief Scout Executive) began to take the Boy Scouts of America was one Baden-Powell deplored. West was not an outdoor man, which was not his fault since he had been born with a deformed foot, but his obsession with bureaucratic control was a different matter...Almost as bad was West`s encouragement of vast `community gatherings` [Camporees], which left no scope for a sense of adventure... Baden-Powell described such highly organized camps as `Parlour Scouting`" [Tim Jeal, Baden-Powell, Chapter 15].


To his credit, it was James West who finally introduced the BSA`s version of the Patrol System (called the "Patrol Method") eleven years later (September 21, 1923) as "a radical change in the management of troops." It was James West who hired William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt who brought with him --from his native Denmark-- valuable practical experience in the Baden-Powell Patrol System. It was James West who gave Hillcourt the power he needed to turn the BSA around.


The Patrol Method became the organizing principle of BSA Scouting for almost 50 years until it fell to the Troop Method demands of the new business resume "Leadership Development" Method in 1972, and to an increased emphasis on resume Advancement to Eagle which was better facilitated by Troop Method canvas town summer school housing and Troop Method cafeteria food for the convenience of Merit Badge summer school class schedules.


I was shown a pattern school boy camp not long ago where there were rows of tents smartly pitched and perfectly aligned, with a fine big mess marquee and well-appointed cooks` quarters. There were brick paths and wooden bathing houses and latrines. It was all exceedingly well planned, and put up by the contractor. The officer who organised it all merely had to pay down a certain sum and the whole thing was done. It was quite simple and businesslike.


My only complaint about it was that it wasn`t camping. Living under canvas is a very different thing from camping. Any ass, so to speak, can live under canvas where he is one of a herd with everything done for him; but he might just as well stop at home for all the good it is likely to do him...


Where you have a large number of boys in a canvas town you are forced to have drill and special instruction as a means of supplying mass occupation; whereas with a few Patrols, apart from their camp work, which fills up a lot of time, there is the continuous opportunity for education in nature lore and in the development of health of body and mind through cross-country runs and hikes, and the outdoor life of the woods.


My ideal camp is one where everybody is cheery and busy, where the Patrols are kept intact under all circumstances, and where every Patrol Leader and Scout takes a genuine pride in his camp and his gadgets [baden-Powell, Aids to Scouting, Part II].


We took eight of our 13 new Scouts on their first campout this weekend. When the Patrols started to set up 300 feet apart from each other, for the first time a couple of the new Scouts understood what we had meant when we told them to make sure that they are in the same Patrol as their best friends. The problem was solved by letting one Scout switch Patrols. We will continue to allow some additional changing around until all of the new Scouts have been tent camping at least once.


We brought along enough of our Troop tents for everybody, but none of them were used. The new Scouts arrived with a big surplus of personal tents, most of which were three-man (four-Scout) Ozark Trails models. These inexpensive tents all have "bathtub bottoms" which prevents the wet sleeping bags that are so common with our own Troop-owned Eureka tents. One pair of buddies slept in one tent and used the extra tent to store their gear. Two other Scouts slept in their own three-man tents. Three personal tents were never set up. The Patrol Method is so much easier than the Troop Method!


So what does our Troop Quartermaster do? We usually only have one good Quartermaster at any given time. His job is to verify that everything a Patrol needs is in its Patrol totes. Since Quatermasters miss the Troop game during the meeting before each campout, keep track of things during the campout, and are responsible for stowing the gear correctly after the campout, they are exempt from dish-washing and other chores. This encourages volunteers, whom the Quartermaster picks from each Patrol to act as the Patrol Quartermaster. In the rare event that the Troop Quartermaster finds a consistently good Patrol Quartermaster, his Patrol Leader officially appoints him. Our Patrol Quartermasters wear the Troop Quartermaster badge and receive POR credit for Advancement.



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Wow! Patrols 100 yards apart. I don't know that I've ever been to a campsite where that was possible. I like the idea, I just don't see it happening with six patrols.


As for tents. We used to use personal tents. Unfortunately, tents would get damaged and then parents would complain. So troop tents were bought for the Scouts to use. Generally three boys per tent. Each patrol is responsible for cleaning their tents before they are returned. The adults still may use personal tents.


We also have some nice REI two man tents for backpacking.



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  • 2 months later...

As I mentioned before, our troop has several troop owned, Timberline 2 and 4 moan tents. But most of our Scouts have their own tents.


Usually, they use the troop owned tents at first, then later then get their own tents. We encourage this. Using a troop owned tent initially helps keep costs down for the Scouts and their families.


I have never seen much use for the concept of uniformity in troop tents. First, not many campsites we have used are well suited to setting all the same tents up in neat little formations. Second, the tents don't stay uniform long (components are lost or damaged, etc.) Tents models change almost yearly and it is hard to find the same model tent year after year (Although the Timberline is an exception - but expensive). There are many other things a troop can use hard to earn money for - such as other equipment and even more important, the program.


We don't require Scouts to own their own tents, they are welcome to use the troop tents. But most get their own and seem to take great pride in them and take good care of them. They can choose tents to suite their own needs and not the general needs of the troop. Most choose small dome or A Frame tents. They usually wait and look at many tents before buying one. And we get to know which tent belongs to whom so it is easy to locate them.


We do try to have the patrols camp a distance from each other. They usually want it that way. Course at some activities, the campsite assigned to the troop is so small that tents almost could share tent stakes. We prefer our own campouts where we can spread out.



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We use troop tents, approximately 20 REI Halfdome tents purchased with money from troop fundraising events. It's not so that we look "uniform" -- in the three years my son has been in the troop, we have not yet attended a camporee -- but at our Scoutmaster's request, because they are lightweight and easily divided among two boys for backpacking. It also spares expense to parents of our crossovers each spring, who are already suffering from sticker shock for the cost of a decent sleeping bag, hiking boots and backpack. Plus there is the added benefit of interchangeable parts -- at least until REI changed the design of their Halfdome tent this past year. The adults generally use the troop tents as well. Scouts sometimes bring their own personal tents, but not often. As for drying out the tents, we are fortunate to have our own facility, so we have space to set up the tents after a trip. It's actually a pretty ingrained ritual that Scouts set up tents after returning from a trip on Sunday, then arrive early the next evening before our Monday night meeting to take down and put away the now-dry tents.

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