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Troop Tents at Summer Camp?

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This is one of those things that doesn't matter to me much, as long as I get to go camping. I draw the line at low quality tents though, but I can use my own. I don't like to see Scouts in low quality troop supplied tents. Invariably they get one strong rain, and invariably someone's Scout Handbook gets soaked.


Many of my summer camps have sites with tents on platforms, and sites for troops to provide their own tents.


I do think the camps need to keep some canvas a-frames in stock for things like NYLT, where it does look nice with those canvas tents.


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Getting one's Scout Handbook soaked has nothing to do with the quality of any tent. It's called a ziplock bag and taking care of one's own responsibilities.


Whenever we go camping, I offer to allow any boy on the activity to toss my backpack into the nearest body of water.... But I get to toss in theirs. The boys have been trained. If their stuff gets wet, they get no sympathy from the adults. If my stuff gets wet I don't go whining to the boys, why should they be allowed to come whining to me?


My boys know that when they go to summer camp and use their canvas, bring duct tape! It'll get you through the week. Ropes missing.... we have a roll of twine. Stakes? get out in the woods and cut some. If the boys get dealt enough of these challenges, they begin to look forward to the new and unexpected that will arise next year. It was totally a blast to see the boys after their first trip to a new camp. They had asked for the camp-provided stoves thinking they were going to get Colman's. When the wood-burning shepherds stoves appeared in the supply tent they had no idea even what they were! :) Now they fight over who's going to be cook and get to use the cool stove!


The more diversity of situations the boys are exposed to the easier it is for them to develop a strong problem-solving leadership style for the other boys. My boys are considering having a new motto... they were kicking around the idea of: "I bet you don't do that again."



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Yes, we are trending away from camp supplied tents for the reasons stated - the time involved for staff to set up and tear down, the maintenance and storage involved. Troops can sure use the tents, but they will set them up and tear them down themselves, which relieves a whole lot off the staff.


We have at most 23 hours between camp sessions, and sometimes it is only about 4. I find my staff functions much better if they have a little free/down time, and not having to manhandle the canvas goes a long ways towards that.


Our Troop always uses our own tents, anyway. After living through an incredibly rainy season last year and seeing what happens in high winds, both kinds come down in the right kinds of storms (seen a canvas tent wrap around a flag pole!) and gear gets soaked in both.


I agree with whomever said they dislike cheap Troop tents. They don't hold up well at all.

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Our council's newest camp is multi use, but mainly overnight Cub camp. Scout Troops can tent camp in the rough back acres, and

arrange to eat in the dining hall, if they wish, but the "real" camp sites have, I think, 10 - 10 by 8 platforms (built to spec by OA on various ordeal, brotherhood and work weekends). Woodbadge courses are scheduled to use the camp in spring and fall, before and after summer camps. The canvas tents are put up and taken down by WBers(usually WB staff). The tents sleep 4 campers, with room for trunks. The last time I was there, (April 2009), 1/2 the canvas was new.


I would think that the wall tents are desirable for the usual summer camp experience, a base camp, long term camp. When the Scout Troop of my youth sponsored our own summer camp, we bought Baker type, semi wall tents. We slept on the ground, on foam pads and air mattresses, and some of the older Scouts (the "staff"), even had short legged cots.

I would view the option of BYOT as a possible consideration,

but , again, what is the Troop looking for? Saving $20 for the privilege of bringing my own $150. tent might not be the best bargain. Even as a much shorter (then I am now) Scout, I still remember thinking I wish I could stand up in my tent when it rained.

And , hey, where is all that FoS money going, if not for canvas?

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My council has two camps, one was BYOT pre-merger, the other provided wall tents. At merger the BYOT camp became the only Boy Scout camp while the other was for Cub Scouts and training. Eventually the canvass rotted away in a barn, and so that was a total waste since it could have been moved to the other camp.


Now 16 years later the Camping Committee is looking at supplying tents for an extra fee to units that want it. We have many troops that refuse to come to our camp or are at least reluctant due to the BYOT policy.


The truth is canvass is terrible expense in money, staff time, work project time, etc. The stuff doesn't last all that long and must be kept rather carefully to avoid being eaten by mice/rats and rotting. I suspect if you do a long term evaluation, it would be found some basic cabin could be built on a lower life cycle cost basis than equipping a spot with wall tents for the same length of time. Which is why those camps in our region doing very serious total renovations are moving to basic patrol sized cabins. That and the things make marketing your camp in the off-season and to non-Scouting groups is much easier.


Finally, FOS does not pay for your camp. That is a fiction in almost all cases, but since all council funds are fungible it can't be readily falsified. Nearly universally what FOS pays for is your DEs, SE, and council service center. Your camp is going to have to make it on its own revenue and very often is asked to turn an operating profit.

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I beg to differ. Canvas can last a good long time if taken care of properly. That does take work - it has to be put away dry (even the slightest hint of damp will kill a tent over the course of the nine months it will sit folded on a shelf), checked regularly for holes, stored in a dry, critter-free location, etc. A barn presents multiple problems! Proud Eagle, your camp's property manager was guilty of tent malpractice. Unfortunate.

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The staff time, energy, storage arguments don't really carry any weight. When my boys show up for camp they get a long ridge pole with holes, two poles with spikes, a tent, 2 floors and a 30 gal bucket of wooden stakes.


The boys unroll the tents, check them over for holes, tears, etc. and then put up. Toss in the floors, and reverse the process on Friday.


The staff only delivered and picked up the tents at the beginning and end of the week. I can't see how this is such a drain on staff time and energy because they have to do check in/check out inspections anyway.


If the canvas was wet at the end of the week, we left them up for either the next troop the following week, or staff to take them down once they dried if no one was going to be staying in that site.


Camps with a ton of specially built platforms in neatly arranged layouts and tents that stay up all summer long, then at the beginning and end of the season it's going to be a big job setting them up and taking it down. But if the campers put up and take down tents, then staff may in fact have to take down maybe a dozen tents all summer long.


Like I said I don't see how this constitutes a major drain on the time and energy of camp staff if done right.


I have attended camps where the troops had to provide their own tents, even with 4-man tents, they were cramped and crowded for the week. I would hate to think of what that site would have looked like with 2-man tents. I brought an A-Frame tent that held a cot, bin/table and recliner lawn chair. I wasn't hurting for space, but I had less space than the standard BSA wall tent of the camp we attend now.


In the long run, I think there are minimum tent size requirements for boys camping long-term and most troop tents may not fulfill that requirement. I know when we went, our 4-man tents did not.


Your mileage may vary,



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The standard BSA wall tent has a ground footprint of 56 sq ft (7' x 8'), that is sufficient for two cots with a small floor space between them.


In fact, the Philmont Scout Ranch website has the engineering drawings for this standard tent platform.


I have to admit, when I first took my son to our Scout Reservation, my first words were: "TENTS???!!!??? FLOORS???!!!??? COTS???!!!??? This isn't camping, this is Scout Hotel!"


When I was a youth member (1968-73 or so), Camp Whitsett in the San Fernando Valley Council was "bring your own tentage."

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It wasn't the ranger's fault. Trust me on that.


As for resources, like just about everything else the more that is invested up fron the less the long-term outlay will be. If your camp uses cheap floor pallets and lowest cost poles, those will wear out much sooner than a well built permanent platform that never gets moved. Further, if you really want to do it right, pour concrete pads and build metal frames that can stay up permanently like Philmont base camp does. Plus it makes ADA adaptation much easier.


Look, to provide a tent for two Scouts costs over a grand.


Patrol size cabins can be put in for under 8k with space for 8 scouts.


The tent will last several years, the cabin several decades. No one needs to set up the cabin each week or season. From a long-term view, tents are not a good investment for a permanent site.


Now if tents is what you want and think best suites the program, that is all fine and good. I happen to like going to camps that have wall tents, in good condition, on good platforms. I think that is near ideal for providing the right atmosphere, but it is not perfect.


As someone with considerable experience with this, many troops don't want to haul gear to summer camp, particularly when going long distances. Most of the troops at my council's camp are out of council, and brining their own tents is a frequent complaint. Also, we have two sites with cabins (built be troops on their own) and these sites always book up first. There are always troops asking if they can get into the cabins next year that we must inform that those sites are already booked.


Interesting factoid: The Czech Scout programs highest award requires building your own traditional camp shelter and staying in it for a week. The shelter looks like a cross between a fronteer log cabin and a wall tent.

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As to storage of wall tents, you really need a tent loft, much like a sail loft, so that the tents can breeth, stay dry, and not be eaten by the prolific rodents around camp. If you are just dumping them on a shelf for 9 months, that is not quite ideal.


As for staff time, if you issue the tents each week, do you issue them from a central point? or do you deliver them to sites? Same with check-in? Obviously some sort of transport is going to be needed to make this efficient.


Then as you mention there are wet tents. I don't know about your area, but the tents would not be dry enough for long term storage more than perhaps one week in three around here.


If you have your staff do set up and take down of all tents you are looking at cutting into the already limited time available for training the staff to run the program. At a camp without tent set-up it is a tight squeeze to get the staff and program areas ready in a full week before campers arrive.


To have tents at camp, either you are going to have to increase available funding or decrease expense elsewhere. Is it a trade-off that works in many cases? Yes it is. Does it make sense in every case? No, certainly not.



Your off season marketability increases greatly if you have either tents or cabins available. With housing available you can better host your own training events, maybe host NCS or NLS, plus attract those non-Scouting groups more easily.



There are screen kits available for wall tents now through non-BSA sources. There are even wall tents with screens and floors and zippers built in from the start; and even non-canvas wall tents made with modern materials.



Anyone else notice that Philmont (at least circa 2001) was not using BSA standard wall tents but using a different model of the same size in a brownish color with only one door?

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Our church camp program recently built new cabins at our prime site. !2x12 approx. County /state regulations required two entrances, stoops at the doors, fully screened in (we reinforced the screen for kid proofing), no windows/shutters, they are fully "vented", large roof overhangs. No electricity. They sleep 10 on double level bunks, plus a counselor. I am told, $12 to 15K each, with some volunteer labor and professional direction and plans.


As I said before, the platforms and tents at our new Cub camp fit 4 cots, with room for a trunk each. Our WB staff used a site, and were comfortable, even with a rain storm midweek. The tents are set up, a site at a time, as needed, starting in May I was told, and stay up thru the summer season, taken down (dry!) in September. Camp ranger said he expected a tent to last at least three seasons or more if put away dry.

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