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What Constitutes a "Campout"?

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On the Bryan's forum, SMMatt revealed that his SPL/PLs were deadlocked and came to him for a ruling. Thus, his post. Well, my advice was based my standard "never ask for a rule" shtick.


It's really hard in our metric-oriented society to come to a committee meeting with "Scoutmaster's report: This month, encouraged the PLC to keep the conversation going regarding FC requirement 4e. Would ask all adults to patiently sit on their hands while the boys sort this out."


SPL vs PL deadlock? - Time out!


If this was the problem in my troop we would not be discussing any camping requirement! We would be discussing a heavy dose lesson in Servant Leadership.


The SPL is there to support and help the PL's be successful, not lock horns with them and argue. In my troop the final say-so in that situation would be decided by the PL who is responsible for the welfare of his patrol and is responsible for signing off on T-FC advancement.


If the SPL and PL came to me for breaking a deadlock, they would do it only once and after getting a lesson in Leadership they would still have to work out the problem on their own.


A lot of times we tell everyone to go talk to the PL and yet we don't follow through when they go over the PL's head. I had one boy say he had done a requirement and the PL hadn't marked it off in his book. I had him show me and I said it looked good to me. He then asked me to sign the book, but I said, No, he had to go back to his PL and show him again just like he showed me. Which he did and got it checked off by the PL who was unaware of my little conversation with the boy. Like I said, sometimes the PL's are a bit zealous and really stick to the requirements more so than even more so depending on their interpretation of the wording. Isn't that what we're doing here, now? Why wouldn't the PL's be dealing with the same dynamics?



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SPL/PLs were deadlocked


Unless there is only one PL present and voting, an impasse can only result if at least one PL is voting with the SPL. With more than one patrol, unless a PL votes with the SPl, there is no impasse. The SPL simply got outvoted.


A good opportunity to teach how to solve conflict with mutual respect.

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So, just to boil the frog a little longer ...


Say a PL gets his boys astronaut certified and they hitch a ride to the space station and spend a couple nights in one of these inflatable space habitats. (Just for the sake of argument let's say the tenderfoot installs and expands the thingamy using robotic controls. And let's assume that any of the survival training he would have gotten to be flight-ready was done before he joined the troop so those nights wouldn't count.)



  • It is kinda-sorta canvas ... just like most land-base tents these days.
  • The boy kinda-sorta pitched it. If they had spaced-walked to do it, the safety committee would have had a fit. (I'm sure there's some COPE regulation about climbing above 200,000 feet.)
  • There's bound to be a cool patch for it.


  • Technically, it's more over the open-sky than under it.
  • There'd be a lot of engineers involved. The equivalent of helicopter parents ... except helicopters in microgravity are probably more like torpedoes!
  • How many nights? Sun sets every 90 minutes.

Maybe far-fetched. But fun. And let's face it, any six of them might make less of a payload than any three of us!

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You'll find that the BSA often doesn't define terms like campout - it is their preference that units make that determination on their own. You can see based on the discussion that there are a lot of nuance that can be read into things. Is sleeping in tents in the SM's back yard really a campout? I personally don't consider RV camping to be true camping but what about pop-ups? They're mostly canvas tents on wheels. 3-sided shelters? I'd consider than camping. Holiday Inn Express? Of course not, but maybe a Motel 6. Sleeping under the stars in a hammock or on the ground without a tent? Seems to be an obvious yes but if you bring the BSA Handbook in to it, the handbook suggests that maybe it isn't so obvious since the handbook suggests a tent is required.


Would I consider an overnight lock-in at the church or in a museum a campout? Probably not. A Submarine? Probably not. A cabin in winter? Maybe.


For me the decision on if the cooking requirements are met if they are done in a winter cabin or not rests on this - Is there really a significant difference in the process. I'm more apt to say it wouldn't count if all the cooking is done on a modern stove with a modern oven and perhaps a microwave oven and toaster available. If the cooking is done on the same stoves a Scout might usually use on any other Troop outing, then I'm prepared to count it. Done on a wood stove? Yeah, probably. Keep in mind that no one is likely going to ask about the circumstances on how and where the meals were prepared to satisy the first class requirements. It's really up to you folks to make the finaly decision for your scouts.

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You'll find that the BSA often doesn't define terms like campout ....


t is their preference that units make that determination on their own.


Respectfully, the second does not follow from the first. Individual unit choice may simply be a function of inability to be clear.


Traditionally, control of the program - or a perception that it is controlling the program - has been very important to BSA.

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As others have noted ----why not leave it up to the Scouts?



I would also say it depends a lot on the program offered by the troop and the opportunities a boy has to complete requirements.


Personally, I'd tend toward being pretty slack on interpreting this requirement!

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This is an interesting question because it came up just recently when Scouts were discussing their eligibility for election to the Order of the Arrow. They were counting up their days/nights and including a lot of indoor things. Obviously, I didn't think the electronics lock-in at the church was appropriate. Where it got iffy was the winter cabin activities. The OA team gave their okay and the Lodge Chief was there and he said "sure".


Personally, when we go to the cabin activities I bring along my tent and pitch it outside the cabin. The first time I did that I got a bunch of crazy eyes from the Scouts. But the next year one Scout pitched his tent around the corner and bragged about it to his Patrol. Then, the third year more guys camped outside the cabin in their tents.


As for the electronics lock-in I mentioned before, I made it clear to the PLC that it was no longer to be called the electronics "camp-in" because there ain't no campin' included. Microwave popcorn, PlayStation, and October Sky on DVD--while a great movie--isn't camping. :cool:

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LC, suggestion for troop gear:

  • Cheap video projector
  • White canvas tarp. (a.k.a. screen).
  • Rope
  • Small tarp and poles for the vid. proj.
  • Extension chord.

Yes, an outdoor entertainment system is a compromise. But think of the camp gadgets:

  • Vid. Proj stand.
  • Towers for the screen.
  • Seats for the "screen room."
  • cup holders!
  • Tripod for the dutch oven popcorn.

Game system/dvd player is on the boys.

If you want to really freak the little buggers out, bring a digital TV receiver. Most of them have grown up expecting a cable to be somewhere.


Obviously some power supply is needed. Talk to the ranger about that ahead of time. Or maybe the scouters who aren't shaking their heads right now can offer suggestions!


Disclaimer: our troop does not have these in stock. But once, for a NFL playoff game, I did bring the electronic components and an otherwise lackadaisical scout ambitiously brought everything else.

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I just found in the BSA's "Journey to Excellence" FAQs (http://www.scouting.org/filestore/mission/JTE_FAQs-Unit.pdf) that "lock-ins" and other indoor overnights count as short-term camping for JTE purposes... so perhaps they do count as "campouts" for advancement purposes too.

I would think so, but not for OA or Camping MB though. We try to limit the number of indoor "camp outs" just because our focus is on the outdoor program.

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I just found in the BSA's "Journey to Excellence" FAQs (http://www.scouting.org/filestore/mi..._FAQs-Unit.pdf) that "lock-ins" and other indoor overnights count as short-term camping for JTE purposes... so perhaps they do count as "campouts" for advancement purposes too.


Well, the argument I made on http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2015/03/12/no-app-t-shirt-shows-off-whats-right-scouting/#comment-134747 about what Key-3 would read the JTE FAQ just got dropped in the latrine (or flushy, if you happen to be "camping" near one) ...


Okay, before you go quoting that to your boys, ask yourself: "Who is responsible for signing off on JTE?" then ask "What kind of unit would bother with parsing a FAQ, if not one who knew their program wasn't doing much in the way of outdoor requirements for advancement but their calendar had 9+ weekends blocked out?"


Then ask "Who is responsible for signing off on Trail to First Class?" then ask "What kind of boys would bother coming to you with a dilemma if not ones who want to think through what really defines a first class scout (the concept, not the patch)?"

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People in the JTE bubble speak only for themselves and for JTE. If you think you need backup' date=' ask the district or council Advancement Committee.[/quote']Told District we won't be turning in JTE again until out status changes and we get something out of district. Just more paperwork for us to tell us what we already know, district gives us nothing, only asks for money and takes credit for our status. No thanks.
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