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ASM59

Open toe shoes

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I have seen several comments about the ban on "open toe shoes" lately on the forums. Our local Council, as well as neighboring Councils, has officially "banned" any open toe shoes at least while at Summer Camp and presumably while on Council property for weekend campouts. Most of the comments that I have seen are negative with regard to banning such footwear, but I have seen the result of what can happen when wearing open toe shoes in areas that are not well groomed.

 

About 5 years ago, I witnessed an adult walking across an area that was cut grass with many trees. Because of the trees, there were small sticks (twigs) lying about. As he was walking, he kicked up a stick which got lodged between two of his toes. As he moved his foot forward, the stick impaled his foot between the toes. Because of this experience, I personally believe it is a good idea to avoid wearing open toe shoes at most Council Camps. Most have many trees and as a result have many sticks lying around which could cause a similar accident. Now, I realize that the chances of this happening are probably not that high, but certainly the chances are higher in places with many sticks lying around.

 

I have no problem with sandals with closed toes which have come out in recent years and I have even worn these at camp. I dont really have a problem with open heel shoes either as there is much less likelihood of such an accident occurring at the heel.

 

I also am not an advocate of hiking boots being worn on all outings all the time. Good hiking shoes/boots are great if you are hiking for some distance, but for around Summer Camp a good pair of tennis shoes is just fine.

 

What footwear do you suggest to your Scouts when heading off to Summer Camp?

 

Does your local Council camp forbid open toe shoes?

 

What about open heel shoes?

 

ASM59

 

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Same thing happened to me!! I was on a week-long river trip in southern Utah and put a stick right between my toes while walking around our camp in the evening in bare feet. Ouch!! And I've seen family members smash open toes when hitting a sharp rock in flip-flops. Lots of blood and wailing!

 

The incidents above would have been completely prevented with closed toe sandals or shoes.

 

So, yes, I'm a believer! Our summer camp has closed-toe rule, as does our Troop. Needless to say, I fully support these rules.

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A good pair of lightweight hiking boots or trail shoes (I consider boots to have ankle support - and trail shoes to be hiking boots without ankle support) for most of the day. A second pair of boot or trail shoes, or a pair of gym shoes for banging around in camp. The purpose of the second pair is to allow the first pair to dry and air out. Finally, I bring a cheap pair of tennis shoes - the canvas cloth type for wear at the waterfront, canoe/raft/kayak trips, river & stream walks (haven't done this? Why not? Instead of walking on a trail alongside a stream, walk in the stream). Ever since I cut the bottom of my foot open at a summer camp waterfront, I've always worn shoes when swimming at a non-pool waterfront.

 

Open toe/open heel shoes? Unless you're camping in the backyard and walking nowhere more challenging than a shopping mall, then nope - not going to wear them.

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After 55 years of camping I have had only one foot injury. I was at the beach, in the sand and there was a hidden piece of quartz just under the surface. 10 stitches, I was barefoot. I was about 10-11 at the time and have never walked the beach without hard-soled shoes since. That makes 40+ years without an injury while camping. I have seen the effects of the angle iron and now wire stakes, re-rod stakes, and hot stones, sharp sticks, etc. over the years and fortunately for me they all occurred on people who refused to comply with the shoes only rules of camping.

 

I know first aid and use it a lot but saying "I told you so" doesn't cut it for most boys. If Mom can't get them to clean up their room, how does one expect the SM to keep them in shoes?

 

The nice thing about it though is that after 40 years of youth work, I have never had a repeat offender. :)

 

Stosh

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I became a believer one year at summer camp. We sent the boys to bed at 11:00 and I put on my sandals and headed to the shower. The shower was just50 feet from our camp, and I had to pass a group of 3 trees.

 

I felt a sharp pain on the top of my foot. It felt like a bite, but the pain was searing. I hobbled back to the camp in agony, the other adults looking at me like I was crazy. In the light of the camp I could see two puncture marks on the top of my foot.

 

Our scouters and the camp staff searched for the snake and found a baby copperhead not far away. I had stepped on it on the path to the shower. Over the span of 8 hours my leg swelled to twice its normal size. I did not have to have snake antivenom because the swelling did not reach my body cavity.

 

If it had been a scout, my God, what a catastrophe.

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This past weekend, one of my sons was on a patrol campout and we were all standing around the fire. A small log broke loose and rolled off the fire toward one of the scouts. It stopped a foot or so in front of him, wearing sandals.

 

I just stared at him. He looks at me and says "I know, no open toed shoes." I just said "Yup, that's why. Don't let it happen again."

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I live in sandals in the summer and wear them at camp. If we are going to ban open toed shoes let's ban shorts, too, for the same reason - because something might happen.

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My main camping shoe is a pair of old Timberland work boots. Durable and less expensive. Another leader has a pair he will be using for his second Philmont trek.

 

My wife introduced me to Keen sandals years ago. This style of shoe does fine for me in camp, hard soul and closed toe. I have never seen an issue with the open heel. I find them invaluable as my in camp shoe. There are many other kinds of sandals that have these features as well.

 

Another style of shoe I have seen being used as a camp shoe while backpacking is the Crocs. They are the lightest you can get. Have closed toe and solid enough soul. I would recommend the strap on the heel. These would also be a good choice for summer camp to get to the showers or the water front.

 

The main type of shoe that I do not recommend are flip flops, the thong style or the athletic slip on style. They have no support and little to no protection and can come off to easy.

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We use Crocs or generic similar almost exclusively - in addition to their other properties if they DO come off, they float.

They don't really have to dry because they don't absorb water, the strap makes them easy to attach to the outside of a pack for stream crossing (save those boots).

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" If we are going to ban open toed shoes let's ban shorts, too, for the same reason - because something might happen."

 

I'm with Ed. All the stories above could happen in your back yard, and I'm certainly going to wear sandals or no shoes out there. Most boys would do the same.

 

I have been bitten by one snake in my life and I was wearing shoes, albeit boat shoes. Luckily, it was nonpoisonous. My shoes would have passed muster at summer camp, but I still got bitten. Most snakebites are above the ankle.

 

The difficulty in enforcing all these shoe regulations far outweighs the safety factor, IMHO.

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Like morality, one cannot legislate stupidity with rules. If people aren't going to protect themselves, then all the rules in the world aren't going to make one bit of difference. All the rule does is fills in the legal "fine-print". "I told your son he needed to wear his shoes and he didn't so now he's got 10 stitches in his foot." You may be off the hook, but sonny boy is on crutches for the rest of the summer.

 

I wear my red, wool jac-shirt whenever I'm around fire unless I'm reenacting, then I wear a wool uniform coat. I have small burn holes in the arms of both. But I don't have burn scars on my arms. I wear boots around camp, maybe sports shoes on occasion.

 

In snake country I wear leather gaiters, and yes they are hot and uncomfortable, but they have deflected snakes twice.

 

Am I paranoid? or cautious? or stupid? The jury is out on all three, but I haven't been hurt camping for many years now. Last time was I twisted a knee while reenacting. Now I wear a leg brace, which like gaiters is uncomfortable, but I haven't hurt myself since.

 

Lead by example... ? As long as all the first aid I do is on other people who aren't paranoid, cautious and stupid, I'm a happy camper.

 

It's not going to be too far off in the future that I'm going to be needing a walker, crutches or wheel-chair. I'm just not in any hurry to move it up on the calendar.

 

Yes, one can still get hurt with shoes on. I distinctly remember the day when I was out playing in the field across the street from me and looking down and seeing the nail I stepped on poking up between the laces of my shoe. It turned out to be a bummer day.

 

Stosh

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" If we are going to ban open toed shoes let's ban shorts, too, for the same reason - because something might happen."

 

No. It's not the same thing.

 

The probability of a serious injury to the foot while wearing a shoe or sandal that exposes the toes is far different that a leg injury when exposed to common trail conditions. I've worn shorts doing all kinds of outdoor activities - hiking, scrambling, rock climbing, bouldering, bushwhacking, and orienteering, and have come home or back to camp with all kinds of cuts and bruises on my legs, but have been just fine to enjoy the rest of the trip. My legs still work and can carry me A-Ok.

 

However, speaking from personal experience, I can sincerely testify that toes smashed in to a rock, or a stick in the foot (above), is very painful and also can make getting around very difficult. A serious and painful foot injury can really ruin a trip for the injured person, and everyone else on the trip too - especially if medical help is many miles away.

 

To me it's just not worth it. I like my toes and feet as comfortable as possible, but well protected as well. Open toe shoes are just way too much of a risk.

 

As far as enforcement goes, the Scouts keep each other in line at summer camp and on week-end camping trips. Someone wandering around with flip-flops or bare feet will get called out and sent back to his tent - more often than not by other Scouts. They know and understand the rules - it's not a problem.

 

 

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I will never understand when it became acceptable to wear flip-flops anywhere but the beach. I grew up 10 minutes from the shore and you would never have found me or my friends wearing flip-flops on a camp out.

 

Besides all the mentioned possible problems, I have noticed people who walk in these devices are a little more clumsy than they would be in regular shoes. Can make someone more prone to injury beyond just the foot.

 

Yet, I have never noticed shorts to make a boy stumble or walk goofy.

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No. It's not the same thing.

 

Yeah it is. You can cut your leg real quick while hiking through the woods in shorts. And if you have open toe shoes! Then total disaster is imminent! ;)

 

And while we are at it, we might as well ban knives! Someone could get hurt!

 

Ed

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I paid my way thru college as an aircraft mechanic and their was a saying in the shop The Right Tool For the Right Job.

 

I guess this discussion comes under using the "Right Equipment for the Right Activity".

 

The shorts thing reminds me of my sons friend who was in a different troop. He at the age 12 vowed with his patrol to never wear long scout pants, only scout shorts, to all Boy Scout activities. His Scoutmaster thought the patrol was crazy, but the whole patrol earned their Eagles, was very very active in OA at a national level and stayed active with the troop until they left for college. And they never wore long scout pants.

 

Barry

 

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