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Proudeagle

OA Camping Qualifications

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With regard to camping nights for O/A, not much has changed since the 90s. Several stipulations that existed solely to exclude girls have been lifted. But, the quandary about boys who volunteer to camp with a pack would still be there.

With regard to rank advancement, several requirements have been added. When you earned Eagle, Cooking wasn't required, you didn't have to explain pedagogy to anyone, and workbooks weren't nearly the leviathan contracts that they are today.

What did change? More adults are advancement experts, and fewer boys are joining just for reasons other than advancement.

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On 1/11/2019 at 6:09 PM, ParkMan said:

I'm all for setting the bar high for membership in the OA.  I get that we all want it to be BSA camping - but it's not what's written.

A mild defense of having it not be just bsa sanctioned camping:

I would think the goal with scouting is to teach the youth to act wisely in all that they do, but especially in the outdoors. By the time a scout is first class, he/she should have a reasonable grasp of setting up a tent, planning a menu, following lnt, etc. Allowing OA qualifications based on camping outside of the BSA seems to follow in that mindset, that you should use this knowledge outside of just scouting.

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1 hour ago, qwazse said:

With regard to camping nights for O/A, not much has changed since the 90s. Several stipulations that existed solely to exclude girls have been lifted. But, the quandary about boys who volunteer to camp with a pack would still be there.

With regard to rank advancement, several requirements have been added. When you earned Eagle, Cooking wasn't required, you didn't have to explain pedagogy to anyone, and workbooks weren't nearly the leviathan contracts that they are today.

What did change? More adults are advancement experts, and fewer boys are joining just for reasons other than advancement.

Even though it is a different topic I can answer your question.  Your right, when I earned Eagle I did not have the cooking merit badge.  However, I cooked all the time at home, did try cooking on campouts etc so for me it would have been no more work!  We did not need Merit Badge workbooks to work on Merit Badges but still went through each requirement thoroughly.  Today I see many MB counselors and leaders "teaching" the material, say at a Troop meeting and signing off the requirement and NOT following the Learn, Test, Review method.  Too many adults are afraid to "fail" a Scout and ask them to study some more and retest.  I have recently seen Life Scouts that have never used flint and steel to start a fire, cannot tie lashings or knots, and cannot repeat the Outdoor code.  I just took over as SM and we had a Life Scout move to the troop in July last year and turns 18 this year.  He has not held 1 qualified Leadership position ever, but his dad signed it off for Star.  After talking with him to try and give him the opportunity to hold a qualified position as Life Scout (which he has not fulfilled properly) before turning 18, his dad wanted to argue.  Some might roll over but I will have not sign the Eagle Application and will be happy to explain all this to Council.

The SM conference should involve some testing of the basic requirements, otherwise these Scouts are slipping through the cracks.  BSA has a hypocritical Uniform policy.  The Scouts need it, but cannot be required.  We ALWAYS had uniforms, and did not question it!  We are not able to require uniforms for SM Conference or BOR?  If we are following the 8 Methods of Scouting, Uniforms should be required.

Today, many troop are more Glamping than camping.  They have gas stoves, benches, tables, plastic "mess kits", fancy dining fly's.  The parents are buying Taj Mahal tents for "backpacking" trips.  What happened to the basics, cooking over fire, enjoying the outdoors?  Luckily my son loves the basics and the cold weather camping and keeps asking when we are going to do it.  Well I am now SM so these ideals will be implemented to one degree or another.

These are just a few of what has changed, maybe not on paper but how the Program is being run!

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This ...

3 hours ago, Proudeagle said:

...  Today I see many MB counselors and leaders "teaching" the material, say at a Troop meeting and signing off the requirement and NOT following the Learn, Test, Review method.  Too many adults are afraid to "fail" a Scout and ask them to study some more and retest.  ...

Indeed, the culture has shifted around us. Some of the new requirements are effectively legalese for the sake of hair-splitting parents. Others are because parents have unwittingly opened the door to strangers via new media. With some justification for victims rights, lawyers have assaulted free-range kid culture. Cheap labor abroad and the low costs of imports have created a new normal where uniforms seem too expensive to wear for rough service.

Also, while you were "out," Eagle has been oversold. And, I think as a new SM, this is the place will you can make the largest gains. Add value to being a first class scout - the concept, not the patch. Talk it up. It should be a really big deal. It should mean that scout can be trusted to take his/her buddies hiking and camping independently with their mates. For some boys it should take five years to earn, because it is that hard for them to focus and master the material. Then, when you see that those scouts have signed off another scout's requirements, you won't have to waste time testing because, well, trustworthy ... Those 1st class scouts take it seriously.

For your scouts who went camping with their brothers' pack, let them know you want to count night O/A nights where boys acted like first class scouts (regardless of if they earned the patch yet). Ask them point blank, "Did you represent our troop well? Were you in uniform? If those cubs could vote for you based on that weekend your were with them, would they?"

Edited by qwazse

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On 1/14/2019 at 7:07 AM, Proudeagle said:

They have gas stoves, benches, tables, plastic "mess kits", fancy dining fly's.   What happened to the basics, cooking over fire, enjoying the outdoors? 

Part of it is Leave No Trace. It discourages fire rings, clearing to mineral earth, using downfall wood for fires, ad infinitum. 

When you go to Philmont, you WILL use gas or solid fuel compact stoves. It’s not negotiable anymore. 

As far as plastic dining gear goes, I had a plastic mug, plate, and fork/spoon even in the 60s. It was called “manage the weight on your back.”

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The ever-shrinking open spaces means that what forests we have left simply can't sustain groups foraging for firewood and cooking over a fire. As John-in-KC mentioned, practices like fire rings and clearing earth leave permanent scars in a camp area. I've been to scout reservations where some sites would have more than 10 obviously visible fire scars, despite the presence of an iron fire ring or even a stone fire pit in the site. These were made by scouts who were never properly trained in Leave No Trace (or who never really internalized the wisdom).

Today, it's becoming environmentally insensitive to even build campfires using wood that you brought with you. Invasive species is the big problem with doing that. When you bring the wood, you bring bugs (or eggs) with it.  More info about that issue is at www.dontmovefirewood.org

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On 1/15/2019 at 9:36 PM, John-in-KC said:

Part of it is Leave No Trace. It discourages fire rings, clearing to mineral earth, using downfall wood for fires, ad infinitum. 

 Not quite sure what you are reading.  Leave No Trace says:

"Use dead and downed wood that can be broken easily by hand."

"Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires"

Many campsites not in the woods have firepits or grill you can start a fire in.  One of my troops have fire pans that can set onto rocks to raise off the ground. There are MANY options!

As with anything, there are some that ruin it for others.  When I was a young Scout it was quite hard to cook a meal over the with plastic, maybe it is more durable now.

 

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1 hour ago, mrkstvns said:

As John-in-KC mentioned, practices like fire rings and clearing earth leave permanent scars in a camp area. I've been to scout reservations where some sites would have more than 10 obviously visible fire scars, despite the presence of an iron fire ring or even a stone fire pit in the site. These were made by scouts who were never properly trained in Leave No Trace (or who never really internalized the wisdom).

Today, it's becoming environmentally insensitive to even build campfires using wood that you brought with you. 

Again, the Scouts need training and if they are not getting it then the adult leaders are not doing their job.  You are lumping everyone into the "bad boy" category.

As far as wood, it is ok to use downed, dead wood.  I was talking about cooking fires, which those that have them know they should not be raging bonfires!

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Yeah, those are some of the ways we start easing into Leave No Trace....but John-in-KC is right. As you delve in deeper, you start exploring more ways to further reduce your impact on the land, and the things he mentioned are definitely issues that an LNT practitioner worries about.  If you're interested in doing a deep dive into LNT, a good way to understand the mindset is to take the LNT Trainer course (16 hours) or the LNT Master Educator course (50 hours). BSA usually offers the LNT Master Educator course at Philmont and Northern Tier...

There's also some good books about LNT that gets well beyond the basic guidelines that you find in the Scout Handbook.  The BSA Field Book has a better intro to LNT, and you'll find some independently authored books here: https://lnt.org/shop/catalog/books 

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On 1/14/2019 at 5:28 AM, qwazse said:

With regard to camping nights for O/A, not much has changed since the 90s. Several stipulations that existed solely to exclude girls have been lifted. But, the quandary about boys who volunteer to camp with a pack would still be there.

With regard to rank advancement, several requirements have been added. When you earned Eagle, Cooking wasn't required, you didn't have to explain pedagogy to anyone, and workbooks weren't nearly the leviathan contracts that they are today.

What did change? More adults are advancement experts, and fewer boys are joining just for reasons other than advancement.

The cooking requirement is a good one. 

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9 minutes ago, Proudeagle said:

Again, the Scouts need training and if they are not getting it then the adult leaders are not doing their job.  You are lumping everyone into the "bad boy" category.

As far as wood, it is ok to use downed, dead wood.  I was talking about cooking fires, which those that have them know they should not be raging bonfires!

I agree that scouts (and especially scouters) need training, but most troops don't have any leaders or adult scouters who really understand LNT in the first place. Although "Outdoor Ethics Guide" (formerly known as "Leave No Trace Trainer") is a troop position of responsibility, very few troops actually have such a position.  I'd bet that fewer than 5% of troops in the U.S. have an adult scouter who has taken the LNT Trainer course. In our troop, we have a vocal and gung-ho ASM who has zero clue about LNT telling the boys that LNT means we police the grounds to pick up our trash.  Uhhhh, not exactly....

LNT is really a mindset and a skill set that can take years of discipline to develop. It comes from having a deep-seated love of the outdoors. It's no one thing...

And downed, dead wood isn't really "ok" to use for building fires. While it might seem okay, it actually contributes to species reduction in an area because that downed wood can be a food source for some insects, who in turn are food sources for birds and small animals, who in turn are food sources for carnivores, etc., etc. Downed wood (even little twigs) are also used by lots of species to build dens, nests or other habitat. So when you have an over-used outdoor area (like most state parks), you quickly find that campers use all the downed wood and there's not much left for fire building, let alone for the forest critters who might have been able to survive there if only campers would have used stoves instead of wasting resources on cooking fires...

On the other hand, if it is truly necessary to build a fire, then yes, a small fire built of downed dead wood is preferable to chopping down trees or other practices that were once pretty common, but that are completely unsustainable in today's world.

 

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"If you build a fire, the most important consideration is the potential for resource damage. Whenever possible, use an existing campfire ring in a well-placed campsite. Choose not to have a fire in areas where wood is scarce–at higher elevations, in heavily used areas with a limited wood supply, or in desert settings.

True Leave No Trace fires are small. Use dead and downed wood that can be broken easily by hand. When possible, burn all wood to ash and remove all unburned trash and food from the fire ring. If a site has two or more fire rings, you may dismantle all but one and scatter the materials in the surrounding area. Be certain all wood and campfire debris is dead out."

All scouting is local - those of us that live in colder climates that have very large quanities of downed wood available may make different LNT decisions then those that camp above the tree line or live in warmer climates.

 

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17 hours ago, Proudeagle said:

There are trade-offs and exceptions to everything.  In the end common sense should prevail, but does not always!

That is really the crux of embracing LNT.  (Along with TMSM's comment that "All scouting is local...")

LNT has some basic guidelines that we try to teach younger scouts.  But that isn't the whole story. It's just the prologue...

LNT is really about building a deep understanding of the interconnected natural world and building respect for the natural world so there can be a natural world for tomorrow's boys. 

The article you pointed to had some good points. There certainly ARE situations when building a traditional fire might create a lesser impact on the planet than using a propane stove. There are similar situations where deviating from any of the other guidelines might yield better results. However, MOST people don't make those tradeoffs very well. Hence, we need BSA's Outdoor Ethics program more than ever and we need leaders and scouts to better understand how to make better decisions in the outdoors. 

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On 1/22/2019 at 12:44 PM, Proudeagle said:

"Use dead and downed wood that can be broken easily by hand."

"Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires"

As with anything, there are some that ruin it for others.  When I was a young Scout it was quite hard to cook a meal over the with plastic, maybe it is more durable now.

 

Downed wood:  Amazing how fast in many environments it’s been well scoured. 

Fire rings... I won’t tell you how many units I’ve seen “modify” and enlarge rings. 

Now, for COOKING, I recommend that weight be distributed amongst a patrol. Not everyone has to have all the metal. 

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