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anotherguy

Beyond car camping

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My personal view is that Cub Scouts makes a mistake (particularly in Webelos I & II) in not doing at least a little camping. "No outdoors" is frequently the #1 complaint I get from Webelos when I interview them before they cross over and camping is the #1 thing they are looking forward to. I wonder if we lose boys in Cub Scouts over this.

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'Gipper,

 

I feel for ya. I actually lost a TIGER (emphasis) becasue the pack didn't camp enough for the family ( 3x/year). I know my troop did a "wilderness survival" type campout for Webelos needing an overniter to introduce them to the troop. What started out as an accident, all of our gear being destroyed and finding out the night before the overnighter, became a tradition as the WEBELOS ATE IT UP! (emphasis, ok maybe a little shouting with glee ;) ) When I suggested that a troop do that with the incoming Webelos, one of the CS mom's freaked out and said there is no way the Webelos could do that. When I told her we use to do it every year, she looked at me like I had a thrird eye.

 

Anotherguy,

 

If you look at the new requirements, every level has some type of camp out is required. Don't know how the LDS units are going to del with that.

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I actually enjoyed the Cub Scout family campouts immensely. Yes, they were messy, noisy, children all over the place, no way to deny any of that. And it had no resemblance to what I do backpacking. But these were families trying out something new or else doing something they already do fairly often and are there now to have fun with their children...and that's what we did. My favorite moments: 1) sending a pack of cubs over the hill to wake up the Boy Scout troop, 2) watching the boys learn how to catch snakes and frogs at the lake, 3) watching them terrorize their moms and sisters with snakes and frogs, 3) Watching women vainly trying to apply makeup on a campout!, 4) listening to the mom ask where the bathroom is...and the look of shock and horror when I point to the woods. "Holler if you need help."

Yes, it's the simple things that bring the most pleasure.

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4) listening to the mom ask where the bathroom is...and the look of shock and horror when I point to the woods. "Holler if you need help."

Yes, it's the simple things that bring the most pleasure.

 

Maybe it is just me but I would rather dig a cathole than use a latrine or porta-john that has been used by a bunch of scouts that have questionable aim.

 

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I can't agree with you more Packsaddle, which is why I love Cubs so much more than anything!!! I love at night the boys looking for the Yeti! Throwing rocks into the woods helps this effect

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Maybe it is just me but I would rather dig a cathole than use a latrine or porta-john that has been used by a bunch of scouts that have questionable aim.

It's a toss-up.

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"Maybe it is just me...", lol. The moms of whom I write would be mortified either way. I suspect they were hoping for a stall, a flush and a light. I gave them a lot of credit for putting up with the family campout in reasonably good spirits. They tried really hard and managed to make it for two nights with the knowledge that in just a few short hours would be a hot bath....and a real toilet.

 

Edit: Oops, did I say "short" hours?

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I think you are losing sight of what your ultimate goal is: What is best for the scouts and the scouts having a good time.

 

Adventuring farther from the car and not carrying a lot of gear sounds like something you think would be fun and adventurous. For an 8 year old, staying outside with mom, dad and all his cub scout friends IS adventurous, even if the car is 10 feet away.

 

And the ONLY way you are going to consistently get that kid out there in the wilderness over and over again is to make sure MOM AND DAD ARE COMFORTABLE AND HAPPY! Because if mom/dad don't have a good time and find it miserable trying to make do without their 40lb cots or their electric coffee pot or some other modern convenience, you wont be seeing that scout quite as often if ever.

 

You can grow their love of the outdoors during your daytime activities, hike away from the parking lot into the wilderness and show them the cool stuff then.

 

Its entire families you are trying to march through the woods in cub scouts, not just the boys, so you have to make sure its comfortable and convenient to where people want to attend your campouts over and over and have time to enjoy the fun stuff without any loss of creature comforts,

 

(Our pack goes camping twice in the fall and 3 times in spring, not including a special overnighter at the battleship or zoo or aquarium or other indoor place). We drive right up to where we camp, drop our gear, and then park our cars out of sight of where we camp at so its not too parking lot-ish, but still extremely conveinant for the parents. Maybe try something of that sort? drop gear and drive car out of site? We use our council's camp and this works well for us. We are in the "woods" but with our cars..

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... And the ONLY way you are going to consistently get that kid out there in the wilderness over and over again is to make sure MOM AND DAD ARE COMFORTABLE AND HAPPY! ...

Its entire families you are trying to march through the woods in cub scouts, not just the boys, so you have to make sure its comfortable and convenient to where people want to attend your campouts over and over and have time to enjoy the fun stuff without any loss of creature comforts,

...

 

Well, a little "mom squeamishness" amuses the boys. ;) But, you're right, chronic stress on parents does rub off on children. So, you need to balance that. One disadvantage of cubs in our nearly nomadic society is that your parents really haven't gotten to know one another.

 

Get to know your people. Understand their comfort level. Do you have den chiefs who will cheerfully haul gear for some of those moms and their boys? Is there an empathetic adult who can handle "parent panic"? Does one adult come with an "adults-only" picnic set up, (e.g., tarp away from the kids for smokers, espresso pot, classy treats like gourmet chocolates or candy-coated almonds, tablecloth, with centerpiece for wildflowers, etc ...). Have your dens experienced enough rigorous activity (e.g. resident camp) to come to expect a little bit of hiking, bugs, weather, etc ...? Have you shared a camp meal at a pack meeting?

 

All of these factors determine where and how long you want to camp.

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Thanks everyone for your thoughts on this. You're probably right that Cub camping is an intro to families who haven't camped before. The problem I see is that the brand new families to our pack's campouts get a pretty strong first impression of what "camping" is. I think this first impression of "camping" may turn some folks away. First, to support one of our pack car camping trips a lot of gear and "stuff" is required. That means volunteers are needed to inventory, haul, unload, setup, etc. all this stuff. It requires a big effort from a number of folks, and I think that's daunting and off-putting. Second, most of the participants stay in cabins which do have some home comforts, but they're also loud (with squeeky bunks, slamming screen doors, and snoring men). My point to all this is that although Cub camping may be an intro to Scout camping, what are we really introducing them to?

 

I agree with a number of your comments and appreciate your points of view. jc2008 may be right that I'm losing sight of what the ultimate goal is. DuctTape also gave some advice that especially resonated with me: Emphasize the destination.

 

I'm motivated now to look for more "destination" type day hikes that could have future potential as camping spots. Adding on a few outdoor skills activities (fire building, way finding with a map and compass, plant/tree identification, etc...) would make the destination even more fun.

 

Thanks again for all your input. There's some really good ideas in here... keep 'em coming!

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As others have stated Car Camping isn't inherently a bad thing with cubs. At least with my unit, I can't wait for the day we become a car camping unit. That will be 100 steps in the right direction compared to what we were doing when I took over as CM. For those Packs that have longstanding traditions of camping perhaps venturing out a little and being a bit more adventerous isn't a bad thing as long as your parents know ahead of time and are fine with it. The important thing is to find out what the parents are comfortable with. If they are accepting of what kind of camping you are doing, the boys will be fine with it.

 

just my 2 cents

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