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A wagon on a backpacking trip

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On our troop's last backpacking overnight several adults decided that a wagon would be a "necessary vehicle to facilitate advancement for cooking requirements."

As one of the parents of one of the older scouts I received a letter from the outing leader (not the scoutmaster):


"A wagon, borrowed for the outing, was damaged to the point that monetary reparations may need to be made to the owner of the wagon. I need help making the decision requarding who should pay for the damage. I beleave that the damage to the wagon should be paid for by one, or a combination, of these three principals; myself, and/or the three scouts... and/or the troop.

...the three older scouts (were) handling the wagon during the most sigificent damage to the wagon."


The three older scouts 1 Eagle and 2 Life volunteered to go along to help the younger scouts. They brought their own equipment and only helped the younger scouts when asked. The new scouts could not push it up the hill to the campsite 2 miles from the paved road. The older scouts said that they had never saw a wagon on a backpacking trip. They also said they did not intesionally damage the wagon and it was hard to stop from tumbleing down the trail.

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Just a couple questions, I guess rhetorical:


- why did they need a wagon (and I presume you mean one of those "radio flyer" type wagons we used to pull our kids around in) to haul the stuff in for cooking requirements? All the 2C and 1C cooking requirements can be met with foods easily cooked over a fire or with a small backpacking stove...


- if the menu plan required dutch ovens, griddles, lots of bottled gas, whatever, why didn't they plan it for an overnighter that wasn't a backpacker?


Anyway, water over the dam...without complete information, I think it would be a noble thing if the adults who thought the wagon was needed in the first place stepped up and made this right...





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I agree with KS. If I decide to bring an item (Appropriate or otherwise) camping then I am responsible for its care. This really comes down to a matter of planning...If the damage were intentional that would be different. I think the parents who made the wrong decision about bringing a wagon shoudl cover the cost of repair/replacement

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The whole idea of backpacking is to haul on your "back" everthing you "packed". If the scouts ever go to Philmont, you can bet there will be no wagons used. If it was damaged maliciouly, those damaging it should pay, if the troop knew the wagon was comming along and it was "approved" then the troop is repsonsible. If it just appeared, then those who brought it are responsible.

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The wagon was a pull type with big tires and high sides (good for garden work). Yes the adults who were on the hike had discussed bringing the wagon prior to the outing. Here is a little more info on the "Wagon Incident"

Here is another quote from the letter sent to the parents:


"All ot the boys on the outing considered the wagon to be, as much a toy, as a tool. For example, some of the younger scouts were very excited about how many times it tiped over during a run to collect water.

I had seen the older three scouts use the wagon recklessly the day before. Because of these my observations, I was aware that the three scouts would not respect the wagon, but I did'nt anticipate the damage outcome sufficiently to stop or supervies their journey...

Summary: I cannot decide my responsibilty verses the culpability of others. I cannot balance the values of letting boys have fun holding them responsible. Please help me decide what should be done."

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Anything with wheels will be seen by boys as a "toy".


Did these adults warn the boys to be more careful? Did they point out the wagon could be torn up?


Sounds like the adults need to take the responsibility of replacing the wagon. Also, perhaps the campsite selection was not the best for the activities planned -- pushing a wagon up a 2 mile hill and needing the wagon to go get water?



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I agree with OGE with the restitution aspect.


Let me understand this. The adult responsable for the wagon SAW the boys fooling around with it, didn't correct them immediately and then let those same boys be "responsable" for it? That same adult couldn't tell the difference between fun and destruction or potential destruction?


LNT #1 Plan ahead and prepare.

This includes knowing what not to take. At the very least someone needs to learn what are appropriate activities and equipment for a backpacking trip. Wagons are not appropriate and your situation is a good example of why they are not.


Did anyone consider that in the vast majority of trail systems, unless the trail is marked as mixed use that includes biking, that wheeled convayences such as bikes, wagons ect. are illegal and will result in very stiff fines? Also if the trail isn't mixed use that is usually because the treadway is softer and more prone to damage by tires causing erosion.


I sure hope that aspect was checked before you went.

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A wagon for a "backpacking trip??? I believe that the wagon should have stayed at home.


I see that there could be several options for this trip. One was to leave the wagon at home or in the car??? Could you put the wagon's contacts in every one pack? Or the trip should have had a base camp or a dump camp.



It sounds like that not everyone had agreat time.



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I'm really confused by this. What sort of equipment could you need on a backpacking trip that would require a wagon? Were you taking dutch ovens?


In any case, if the troop authorized the borrowing of the wagon and the damage was due to stupidity and not malicious behaviour then the troop should pay. If the troop didn't authorize the borrowing of the wagon then the fool that brought it is responsible.



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Im glad to see that mine is not the only troop that had had a "wagon incident."

Now, Ive never seen one on a backpacking trip, and I think thats the real problem here, but we take our troop wagon to summercamp and most other cabin camps.

Two years ago at summercamp some first year boys decided to ride down a heavily wooded hill in our beloved troop wagon. Luckily no one was hurt (except the wagon) and after they all served theyre time dishwashing we now are able to laugh about it.

Our second "wagon incident" I have to admit was my idea. The 3 oldest youth in the troop, the leadership patrol built a 2-story Polar Bear shelter on a winter campout and we wanted a picnic table for our "livingroom". So we got our fixed up wagon, brought it over to the next vacant campsite and proceeded to lift a 300 puond oak table onto the radio flyer. It all was going swimmingly until we hit one of those camp-road potholes and shot the axles right through the floor of the wagon! With some scout ingenuity and 2 leathermans we were able to fix it though and it still serves us loyally today. In fact, this week the boys are out at summercamp for "Go West" week, the wagon has become so much a part of troop lore that it even gets its own theme costume. We built a frame and a canvas cover to make our own mini prarie-schooner.

So thats my tribute to the wagon. Anyone else have wagon stories? But I agree, its definitely not appropriate for backpacking.

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In the future your leaders should put some reasearch into the type of camping you are about to venture into. Obvousely they did not relize that a backpacking trip is no place for a heavy, in-the-way "wagon" or wheelbarrel...If it cannot be carred on ones back it has no place on a backpacking trip..period. As for the money situation. The leaders who decided that it would be "neccessary" are the ones I would consider responsoble. They decided to bring it, borrow it, and to make or let the boys handel it.



Eagle Scout


Alpha Phi Omega, Delta 1237

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Another $.02 worth....


I have a bad back - therefore i don't go on backpacking trips.....


But... some of the campsites at camp are pretty far back on some pretty rough paths, and you can't always get our troop's bus - or even a van or truck, back there. So I always bring my "big wheel" two wheel dolly. Once my stuff is back at camp, the boys are welcome to use it to haul water jugs, equipment, etc.


After our first week at summer camp this summer - with our new (and heavy!) 7 gallon water jugs - I left the dolly on the bus for the next week of camp after ours. The boys really appreciated it. It came back just fine - I think - it's still on the bus, actually. But if it were broken, someone would have told me - and if it is, well, I choose to let them use it without my supervision, didn't I?


i have quite a bit of camping equipment that i will take and "share" on campouts. And I am pretty particular about caring for my equipment so that it lasts. But if it's really valuble, or I'm afraid it might be mis-used, then I don't take it or let the boys use it without my supervision. If i leave it with them, unsupervised, like i did with my dolly - well then, if it's lost, stolen or damaged - it was MY choice to risk it.


And I've broken my share of my stuff, and even troop stuff. Accidents happen, things get old, or aren't really suited to the use - which sounds like the situation with this wagon.


Also, boys are BOYS, not adults, and even an eagle scout may not have had experience that would tell him that this plastic wagon would not hold up to the weight and roughhousing the boys were giving it. heck, it sounds like you might have been better off with a metal Radio Flyer! LOL!


I'd say that if they sent it, they have to accept that it might get broken. Give 'em a receipt and tell them it's a tax-deductable "donation" to the troop!


My feeling is also that somebody should have reconsidered the planning of the trip - if the boys could not carry the necessary equipment to the site.

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I'm not a lawyer and I don't play one on TV but there is a precept of the law that says you are required to use ordinary care when you borrow or rent something. This means that you aren't responsibe for reqular wear and tear but you still have to safeguard it and take care of the item.


When you borrow my hammer to install cabinets in your kitchen, I should not be surprise when the hammer face has marks on it or the label on the handle is rubbed off. However, if the handle is broken because you decided to use it as a lever to move the refrigerator, that's another story.


It's great that you don't mind if people trash your stuff when they borrow it but I do mind. If you let the boys off scott free and tell the owners of the wagon to "lump it", you are sending a message to the boys that they don't need to care for anything that they borrow and you are telling the adults in the troop that they shouldn't loan anything to the troop.




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