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What is "Boy Scout Camping?"

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Looking at the OA membership qualifications you have the camping requirement - 15 days and nights of Boy Scout camping, etc., etc.

We do a lot of different camping - tent, Adirondack, cabin, laying on the ground, etc. I like the think variety is good and it would all count towards the OA requirement.

The kicker is, when I ask the gal who keeps the information vault known as Troopmaster for the OA eligibility printout, it separates the camping into "cabin nights," and "OA eligible nights." What's the deal with that?

The OA guide book offers no help that I can find defining exactly what a night of Boy Scout camping is.

So here's the question: What exactly is Boy Scout camping? Should it be separated into tent and cabin with the cabin nights being discarded, or is Troopmaster just another flawed and/or outdated software program?

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Mostly when we speak of 'boy scout camping', it means camping under the auspises of the BSA: ie, its with the troop or some BSA group. Camping with your family, friends, other groups, doesn't count.


What you define as 'camping' is another matter. Under canvas or out in the open I would view as camping. Using a cabin isn't that much different then going to a hotel room (or using an RV), and I really don't think of it as camping.


But its up to the Scoutmaster (not the lodge) to determine if the candiate has met the requirements. If the SM views cabin camping as ok, then its ok. End of story.


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"But it's up to the Scoutmaster (not the lodge) to determine if the candidate has met the requirements. If the SM views cabin camping as ok, then it's ok. End of story."

That's exactly what I said last year. I guess part my difficulty with this is why is it so important where you spend 6 to 8 unconscious (sleeping) hours? Also there are things to be learned particular to whatever type of camping you are doing, so isn't a variety better?


And just to clarify, when I say "cabin" camping I don't mean some resort type place. For instance last summer at scout camp we had "cabins." They had windows but no glass, doorways but no doors, and wooden bunks no better than a wooden tent platform. Like an Adirondack they were more open to the weather than a good tent. And speaking of Adirondacks, in what category should one put them?


I guess I'm wondering why Troopmaster discriminates at all. It just leads to disagreement and confusion.

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I have a question for all you guys in the OA. I am not in it yet, but I had a question reguarding being in it. I heard that with the OA you are a youth member until you are 21. So I was wondering, do the females that get into the OA have to have the same requirements as well as the guys? For example, can a female leader from a boyscout troop who is between the age of 18-20 be in the OA? Because technically that would make them a youth in the OA but a leader for boy scouts? I was just curious on how that process works. And also, do adults in the OA get selected the same as the boys do? Thanks.

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Troopmaster has an option to count cabin camping towards eligibility.

Many of us consider the standard from the Camping MB as the definition, but it is up to the unit if they will accept cabin camping or, I guess, sleepovers.

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I think the definition in the Individual National Camping Award is reasonable:


What Counts As Camping

Sleeping in tents.

Staying in rustic cabins (no electricity).

Under the open skies.


What Doesn't Count As Camping

Luxury motor homes.

Campers with electricity.

Lodges, motels, cabins with electricity.


Based on this, an Adirondack would be a rustic cabin with no electricity.

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We do use a Cabin Camp once a year.


However, it is an uninsulated bare wood framed shelter. It does have a wood heater that is also a cook stove. No toilet facilities, have to bring in(truck from Meeting place), carry(about a mile) or pump and purify water(about 300yds.). I and the rest of our adults DO NOT think of it as hotel camping.

We only use it once a year and only in the depth of winter - when our ice storms typically occur.

Our program is active enough(our average over the last five years runs around 34 day and night opportunities) that it would be a rare occasion that I would need to consider including those nights for even a semi-active Scout. But I think I wouldn't have a real problem doing so but only due to the rustic nature of the cabin in question. Haven't had to yet.

(edited for spelling error)(This message has been edited by Gunny2862)

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Hello Mike,


Technically, the OA requirements do not say "Boy Scout Camping". They say camping "under the auspices of the Boy Scouts of America." This could be significant because the Boy Scouts of America includes Cub Scouts and Venturers.


As a minimum, I would say that it would include.


- Troop short term camping

- Troop long term camping

- Troop high adventure camping

- patrol camping with no adults present if approved by the Troop and foreknowledge of the Troop adults


I would say that it would also include any camping done with a Venturing Crew although the election would need to be through a Boy Scout Troop.


Arguably, if the Scoutmaster so wished, it could include Webelos camping and even Webelos resident camping if that went six days and five nights. If a Scout earned First Class Scout in a year, his Webelos II year camping could be considered.


It would not include, in my opinion, family camping with nothing having to do with the BSA other than one Scout or a couple of buddy Scouts involved.


I have heard this provision interpreted to mean that the camping had to be at a Scout camp i.e. one of the council owned properties. I disagree with that interpretation.


What qualifies is completely the Scoutmaster's call and the lodge will not, or at least should not, question it. Normally on these matters, I give the boy the benefit of the doubt. If he is in the out of doors and just happens to be in cabins, I would probably count it. If it is a Troop skiing trip and the Troop stays in a motel, I probably would not.

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Hi NeilLup,

Looking at the camping requirement you see it is three-fold:


"The youth must have experienced fifteen days and nights of Boy Scout camping during the two-year period prior to the election. The fifteen days and nights must include one, but no more than one, long-term camp consisting of six consecutive days and five nights of resident camping, approved and under the auspices and standards of the Boy Scouts of America. The balance of the camping must be overnight, weekend, or other short-term camps."


Breaking it down:


1. The youth must have experienced fifteen days and nights of Boy Scout camping.


2. The fifteen days and nights must include one long-term camp approved and under the auspices and standards of the Boy Scouts of America.


3. The balance of the camping must be overnight, weekend, or other short-term camps.


If you go to "BSA Camp Beverly Hills" and they are sleeping in luxury cabins does that not qualify? Regardless, the remaining non-long-term days and nights fall under the mysterious "Boy Scout camping" category.


Perhaps they left it vague with the intention that each campout would be judged on its own merits, but it sure would be nice if they at least spelled that out. I have a fellow leader who is stuck on the "tent camping is all that qualifies" wagon, and it's just one more irritation than I like to have.

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from the FAQ section of the National OA site:



Q/A: Camping Requirement Interpretation


Q: Who decides what camping activities qualify for the camping requirement needed for election to the Order of the Arrow?


A: With the camping requirement, as with all other eligibility requirements, it is the Unit Leader's job to interpret whether a Scout has met the requirement.


As stated in the Guide for Officers and Advisers (#34997A, 1999 revision, page 20):


"Unit Leader Approval. To become eligible for election, a Boy Scout or Varsity Scout must be registered with the Boy Scouts of America and have the approval of his unit leader prior to the election. The unit leader must certify his Scout spirit (i.e. his adherence to the Scout Oath and Law and active participation in unit activities). The unit leader must also certify that the nominee meets all specified requirements at the time of this annual election."


Other than defining the length of time needed for a camping activity to be considered a long-term camp*, the National Order of the Arrow Committee leaves the interpretation of the camping requirement to the unit leader.


* A "long-term camp" is one consisting of at least six consecutive days and five nights of resident camping. A "short-term camp" is anything less than that.



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  • 3 years later...

We have come up on this question many times, as well.


We live in Illinois, and for our troop identify the following as "Scout Camping", beginning with the Camping Merit Badge guidelines:

At a designated Scouting activity or event:

(1) Sleep each night under the sky or

(2) in a tent you have pitched


We added

(3) Wilderness Survival shelters, including "undeveloped or non-commercial" caves

(4) Snow Shelters or similar winter shelters.


From our interpretation we do NOT count

(1) Any cabins

(2) Sleeping in a car, other vehicle or camper, RV.


Having said that, our District Execs did state that it was up to the Unit Leaders interpretation.

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My son is an aged out Eagle. A few years back, a friend in the neighborhood asked if he wanted to go camping with his family at a lake. My son said sure. They camped in a very nice 5th wheel trailer with the expanding sides, where they wathced movies on the DVD player, ate popcorm from the microwave and enjoyed the air conditioning. My son really enjoyed it, but informed his friend that they were RV'ing, NOT camping. Boy Scout camping is outdoor camping in a tent or under the stars. When we do OA elections, we work on the honor system. The SM gives us a list of candidates that he says meet the stated qualifications. If he wants to discuss the meaning of the qualifications we have already provided him, we are happy to do so. If we see a glaring "violation" like the SM who once asked for a show of hands of guys who wanted to be on the ballot, we will take him aside and reexplain the qualifications he obviously failed to read. Other than that, we never ask for proof.

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