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anotherguy

Beyond car camping

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I was never a Boy Scout, but I did earn my Arrow of Light many years ago. As a kid, our pack never spent much time outdoors. All hiking and camping experience I gained was outside of Scouting.

 

My son's in Cub Scouts and he really enjoys it. As a leader, I'd like to make sure that our pack does spend more time outdoors. I've seen how important it is to get the boys outside having fun together.

 

Problem is, some of the outdoor experiences we've experienced in Cub Scouts haven't been very adventurous. Don't get me wrong, we enjoy and attend all the Council day camps and weekend summer camps. Our pack also does an annual campout, which is essentially a car camping experience with lots and lots of bulky heavy gear. The campsite is a 20 step walk from the gravel parking lot, leaders lug in heavy cast iron dutch ovens skillets, haul in 100 pound patrol boxes and rubbermaid tubs full of groceries, etc. We have fun but it's nearly identical to tailgating...only with more trees around. Overnight, most folks sleep on bunks inside cabins although a few sleep in tents outside. This style of camping is fine, just like RV camping is fine, but I know there's more adventure out there.

 

For those of you who are in packs that emphasize the outdoors, what kinds of things do you do that venture beyond parking lot camping? I'm not looking to swing completely to the opposite end of the spectrum with ultralight hike/camping (because of the gear required and expense), but I know there's a middle ground.

 

How can I start to introduce a little more outdoor adventure?

How do I ease those with zero experience into giving the outdoors a try?

How can I convince the experienced car campers to venture out a little more?

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Since they are cubs the options are perhaps somewhat limited. When my older son was a cub we had a couple of 'outpost' experiences which essentially included boating out to one of the local islands and spending the night. The kids thought it was great, and this encouraged lighter packing, more spartan cooking and meal planning ideas. Perhaps you could locate a camping site that has a short hiking component to encourage lighter packing. As I watch people move through scouting it is almost always the same. People start out with a full set of mattresses, cookware, pots and pans and as time moves on they show up with less and less. They learn that setting up the full kitchen and tearing it down takes a lot of the fun out of the experience and that they really don't need the full sleep setup to be comfortable. I think the best way to ease people in is to make sure they have a full list of needs, make sure there is a comfort element for the parents (coffee) and make sure there is entertainment, skits or games, squirt gun fight to rein in busy boys and a treat like s'mores or popcorn to look forward to.

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I think the best motivator to move beyond the car camp, is the destination. At the next car-camp, schedule a hike to a location where is would be way cool to camp. when there, make the comment about how cool it would be to spend the night here. It doesn't even have to be very far from the original camp. Then do it for the next time. Each time, explore farther and farther away from the car and find a cool place to camp. Eventually use a map to find the cool places to suggest. The gear changes follow as no one want to carry the heavy gear. People will sacrific the dutch oven to camp near a waterfall as one can still cook well.

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I was never a Boy Scout, but I did earn my Arrow of Light many years ago. As a kid, our pack never spent much time outdoors. All hiking and camping experience I gained was outside of Scouting.

 

My son's in Cub Scouts and he really enjoys it. As a leader, I'd like to make sure that our pack does spend more time outdoors. I've seen how important it is to get the boys outside having fun together.

 

Problem is, some of the outdoor experiences we've experienced in Cub Scouts haven't been very adventurous. Don't get me wrong, we enjoy and attend all the Council day camps and weekend summer camps. Our pack also does an annual campout, which is essentially a car camping experience with lots and lots of bulky heavy gear. The campsite is a 20 step walk from the gravel parking lot, leaders lug in heavy cast iron dutch ovens skillets, haul in 100 pound patrol boxes and rubbermaid tubs full of groceries, etc. We have fun but it's nearly identical to tailgating...only with more trees around. Overnight, most folks sleep on bunks inside cabins although a few sleep in tents outside. This style of camping is fine, just like RV camping is fine, but I know there's more adventure out there.

 

For those of you who are in packs that emphasize the outdoors, what kinds of things do you do that venture beyond parking lot camping? I'm not looking to swing completely to the opposite end of the spectrum with ultralight hike/camping (because of the gear required and expense), but I know there's a middle ground.

 

How can I start to introduce a little more outdoor adventure?

How do I ease those with zero experience into giving the outdoors a try?

How can I convince the experienced car campers to venture out a little more?

 

Cub scout camping isn't for adventure. It's to get families that don't camp to try it.

 

Have patience, and when your boys are old enough, they will get that in Boy Scouts (make sure you find a troop that is that way). Camp more adventurously with your son on your own.

 

Our troop is primarily car camping. We do an annual backpacking trip, and we are going to try to encourage the boys to do a canoe camping trip.

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I grew up camping with my grandpa and mom and one of the best memories I have of Cub Scouts is of the time when my Webelos Den went car camping at Lake Allatoona in North Georgia. My grandpa was asked to come along and help our Den Leader, who wasn't necessarily a camper, get the hang of the outdoors thing. It was a total success and prepped us for Boy Scouts.

 

Perdidochas, is right. The adventure will come eventually in a Troop. Car Camping is probably the best thing for the group as a whole right now. But you and your son can go out now and try some of the adventuring stuff you are looking for. How cool would it be to start a culture of camping in your own family? Then, when your son crosses over he'll be doubly prepared--he'll know and knowing is half the battle!

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... But you and your son can go out now and try some of the adventuring stuff you are looking for. How cool would it be to start a culture of camping in your own family? ...

 

That's basically what I did with my family (2 Sons and Daughter). Every other vacation was under canvas. Some of the ones that were "under a roof" were in cabins. Others (for my dear wife's sake) were to visit Gram and Gramp and see the nearest theme park. We often shared the outdoor vacations with another family of similarly aged kids. It worked out well and prepared them for life in a troop and an outdoor-oriented crew.

 

Sometimes you can hit it off with another dad in the pack. For Son #1 when he was in Webelos, his best buddy, his buddy's dad, and I took them on their first backpacking weekend.

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Let me tell you about the differences between Cub Scout camping and Boy Scout camping :)

 

Seriously, as others have said Cub Scout camping is designed more for families that do not camp or do very little. Object is to get them comfortable in the outdoors and HAVE FUN! ( and yes I am screaming HAVE FUN! ;) )

 

It may get a little more 'adventorous" as a Webelos as he will be preparing for Boy Scouts.

 

The fun in the outdoors really starts as a Boy Scout when they do thinggs on your own without adults meddling about.

 

And you can do stuff on your own. We have one dad and lad who are VERY outdoor oriented. The Webelos has already done a section of the AT and another trail!

 

LeCastor

 

You forgot the "G.I. JJJJOOOEEE" at the end of your comments. ;)

 

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LeCastor

 

You forgot the "G.I. JJJJOOOEEE" at the end of your comments. ;)

 

I figured someone would get that reference. Thanks, Eagle94. :D

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I get your pain AnotherGuy- I am an avid outdoorsman, and a DL and a LNT Trainer. You can only make recommendation, and hope you have some followers. So parents are not ready for real backcounty camping, hell even some Boy Scouts aren't ready. In saying that if you are wanting to have those moments with your son don't wait for the pack to catch up with you. Do it yourself.

 

I am taking myself and Web1 son on a 12 miler, do you know I couldn't get one Boy Scout to participate.

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Yep, Cub Scouting is just the start.

 

It is about getting the families who have never camped, have no experience, and no equipment, outside.

 

If you can hook them, or at least their Scouts, on camping during the Cub years you will have done well.

 

As they say - ages and stages. Camping for Tiger - Bear Cubs is basically intro camping. Webelos can camp on their own, and get a bit more adventurous. Boy Scouts are much more independent, and older Scouts can do high adventure stuff.

 

Make sure your Pack families have FUN camping.

 

Take your family out on your own FUN adventures.

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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.

 

In many cases they may not be big enough (even if they had all the gear) to carry a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, tent, cook kit, food, etc. Some level of car camping may be required due to this. However, you have to evaluate the individuals in your Den, figure out what gear they have (or don't have) and work with what you have. Car camping is better than being inside all the time. Let them do the maximum they are capable of achieving.

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In many cases they may not be big enough (even if they had all the gear) to carry a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, tent, cook kit, food, etc. Some level of car camping may be required due to this.

 

The Gipper! Yes, you can't expect that all Webelos-aged boys will be capable of lugging all the gear out to the deserted island. ;)

 

Just last night I was reading a little paperback book I inherited from my grandpa. It's called Campcraft and it's obviously aimed at the young boys and girls of the late-50s/early-60s who wanted to taste the adventure of the outdoors. It works through campcraft skills slowly and gradually so you build up that confidence with bedrolls, jackknives, fires, and eventually cooking some meals on your own--without adult supervision! In fact, there are levels of achievement listed when you begin as a campcrafter and then progress to a pioneer, a woodsman, and finally a frontiersman. The "requirements" pretty much match those of the Boy and Girl Scouts of the era.

 

The key that I saw in that book was the gradual introduction of outdoor adventure. Once you mastered the basic campcraft skills you then moved into a new category where you felt more comfortable. If you went out and did these activities with your dad, grandpa, mom, grandma, aunt, uncle or whatever, you'd be set for those Tenderfoot-First Class requirements. If anyone is interested I can scan the "requirements" section of the various skill levels.

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Thanks for all of your thoughts and suggestions. I admit I'm probably a bit impatient with the Cub Scouts camping idea. As a family, we will venture a little further beyond the parking lot. For the pack, I think I'll suggest a few more day hike outings to provide some "lite" adventures.

 

I hope that the long-awaited new Cub Scouts program will emphasize the "outing in Scouting". Looking forward to it!

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It's called Campcraft and it's obviously aimed at the young boys and girls of the late-50s/early-60s who wanted to taste the adventure of the outdoors... The "requirements" pretty much match those of the Boy and Girl Scouts of the era.

 

By any chance, is that author William Hillcourt? I know he wrote a few non-BSA books on the topic.

 

 

 

 

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