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Cheerful Eagle

Pack camping -- how far?

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As a young scouter (I've been accociated with two packs now), I feel that I've been exposed to two extremes when it comes to family Pack camping, and I'd like to hear from other's experience. So here's the question:

 

When you plan a Pack Family camping trip, how far away do you consider going?

Is distance a consideration?

If, due to terrain, the closest option was 75 mi away, would that change the traveling distance you'd be willing to consider?

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I don't know about distance, but time wise I think around 3 or 4 hours would be my absolute most traveled. and that would have to be a pretty spectacular place.

 

I think normally about 1.5 to 2 hours away is my norm.

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Depending on the roads, you can get pretty far in an hour and a half or you might not make it 20 miles.

 

Base it on time, not distance.

 

 

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Cheerful Eagle,

 

Our pack has done trips near and far. AFAIK, the farthest we've gone is about 2 hours by car to the White Mountains of NH (we're about 20 miles NW of Boston as a starting reference).

 

This winter, we did a cabin camping trip to a Boy Scout camp that was only two towns away, which ended up being a good choice as we had a fairly significant snowstorm the night before.

 

I think 2 hours is probably a good cut-off. Farther than that, and I think families are going to balk, and cub scout age kids are going to get seriously antsy. The only factor I can think of that would alter that is wintery driving conditions.

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I've been a Cubmaster for 8 years and for most of those years we have gone on atleast 1 Pack camp-out a year. We try to keep it within 1 to 1 hours away. (Just like the others said.) We are very lucky in that in So Cal, there are many regional Parks that offer overnight camping. We have been able to actually camp in the next city over. Keep it simple and close. The kids and parents will have a great time!!

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3 or 4 hours would be my max too. I took my daughter's gs troop to a service unit camp one year that was 6-7 hours away and swore I would never do that again. It was too far. I don't think even having families come would have made it better. The service unit tried to plan another one this year at about the same distance and got no interest. (Of course, it may be due to the fact that the last time we had a service unit camp, one of the vehicles was in a head on collison on the way home)The trips we have taken in the two hour range were much more pleasant. However, here there are plenty of choices in the two hour range. If there weren't, I might be willing to travel farther to have different choices. We adapt to what is available. Growing up, I never thought twice about travelling the 30 miles to go shopping at the mall because there were not many options in town. Now, I think twice about travelling the 10 miles to the mall because there are plenty of choices between me and it.

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What are freeway speeds around 6PM in Southern California anymore?

 

Let me think..

 

Gaviota, Refugio El Capitan and Carpenteria State Beaches in Santa Barbara County all used to be less than 90 minutes from the San Fernando Valley.

 

Closer in was Leo Carillo and McGrath.

 

Here in Flyover Country, we've got camping facilities within 30 minutes of dead center of Kansas City, and even crossing the metro, I can't think of a reason not to be at a camp within 90 minutes of the lead driver rolling out of the gathering place.

 

Why would anyone want to put 8-9 year olds in the car for 4 hours for a weekend campout, short of a supercalifragulisticexpedaliosis kind of place to see?? (Trip to the State Capital for instance...)

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I pick places that are at a maximum, 2 hours away. Most are just about 1 hour.

 

My purpose is that we encourage Pack families to come out for the day's activities if they do not want to camp overnight. Anything over 2 hours is to long for a day outing.

 

 

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We do about four outings per year. We'll typically have one of them real close (within a half-hour) to make it easy for new families to try out. Then there will be two or so that might be middle distance - something in the one to three hour range. And then we'll often do one that's even further away. We've had lots of families join us for these trips. We once picked a national park that was seven hours away for a summertime campout - and had surprisingly high turnout. Sometimes the more dedicated campers are more likely to come if you put something really interesting on the agenda.

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Remember that pack family camping is car camping -- the campsite s/b close enough to "civilization" so that families can make a run to the local Wal-Mart for anything they might've forgotten.

 

Cub Packs don't "rough-it" when they camp, at least not in my experience. The purpose of the camp is to make it fun for the families, not to teach wilderness survival.

 

With that in mind, you should look for public campsites with running water (and all the other BALOO criteria) that are within a relatively easy drive for the families. As others have said, less than 2-3 hours is a good guide.

 

But not everyone is lucky enough to be that close to a public campground. When in doubt, contact your local OA Lodge -- they (in most cases) maintain a list of campgrounds suitable for packs and troops.

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Our Pack had a tradition of staying in the opposite corner of our county, in two Yurts at a county park (about an hour away). It is pretty cool for a Cub Scout to sleep in a Yurt. We had a pretty good turnout, but there are still people that can't make the Awards Ceremony part of the event. For next April, we are going to travel 10 minutes down the road to Cub World (nice to be close). Hopefully we will have a larger number camping and some that will be able to attend the Awards, even if they aren't going to spend the night.

 

I don't think we would get many to travel more than 2 hours.

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