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mrkstvns

Do immigrants camp?

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I read a lot. Sometimes I come across things that make me pause. Such was the case today when I came across an article about a Parks Canada program to teach camping skills. The article made a couple assertions that give me food for thought:

1. Immigrants don't have a camping tradition, ergo they should be taught camping skills so they can enjoy the parks like everyone else.

2. Tent camping has been declining in popularity and teaching camping skills might push the trend line in the opposite direction.

The point about immigrants might be true in a very broad sense, but my own experience is that it varies considerably by the individual family. I know many immigrant families who engage fully with scouting and who camp regularly, and I know others that aren't as comfortable in the outdoors. It depends...but that's true of families in the community as a whole, so I'm not convinced this is a significant differentiator.

I do think that tent camping has been down, but I don't see that as a problem. It's probably elitist of me, but if fewer people pick up backpacks and tents, there will be greater solitude in the backcountry and better experiences despite the problem of disappearing wilderness.  Why do we really want more people filling up the parks?

Any thoughts?

The article:
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/05/world/canada/opening-up-the-land-of-forests-lakes-and-campgrounds.html 

Edited by mrkstvns

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I live in an area with a fair number of immigrants. It's more of the skilled-labor, engineers, and computer scientist types from Europe, India, China, & Japan. Many are here for a few years and have plans to return home.

It does seem that my Asian families don't particularly want to camp, especially not rustic camping. It may also be due to weekend obligations that take precedence over Scouting. Since a lot of families do plan on returning to their home country, they want their kids to learn that culture, so they have them enrolled in a cultural school on weekends (Chinese School all day Saturday for example).

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This is a great post. The reason why we need more people exposed to the out of doors is votes. 

I think immigrant camping comfort is widely varied. In many parts of the world, camping is not recreational but a survival mechanism often linked to stressful or strife torn events. I think scouts can be a great way to assimilate some of these families into American style camping for fun and get them interested in our  commitment to the outdoors and unspoiled places. We all wish for more solitude but the reality is there are fewer people here who are interested in the outdoor lifestyle or in preserving anything. One of the main reasons I am committed to scouts is because I support anything that gets kids out of doors and appreciating the outdoor lifestyle. 

 

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As an Immigrant myself from Italy

idea of camping in Italy and most of Europe is different than US,

in Italy there is almost no public lands that you can just set up a tent and few places that is allowed is highly regulated

European national lands is more like US national and state  parks as opposed to US and state forests

its mostly caravan(camper) camping and that is very limited

excursions into the forests are day trips whether for hunting foraging or just hiking

I have family through out Europe, while many of them are outdoorsy none of them camp the way we do in the US

 

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2 hours ago, Pale Horse said:

I live in an area with a fair number of immigrants. It's more of the skilled-labor, engineers, and computer scientist types from Europe, India, China, & Japan. Many are here for a few years and have plans to return home.

It does seem that my Asian families don't particularly want to camp, especially not rustic camping. It may also be due to weekend obligations that take precedence over Scouting. Since a lot of families do plan on returning to their home country, they want their kids to learn that culture, so they have them enrolled in a cultural school on weekends (Chinese School all day Saturday for example).

I am part of a pack in Chinatown most of the pack is Chinese, many choose activities for the kids that will benefit them academically, school school and more school

after school classes, weekend classes, summer  school classes, there are probably 2-5 afterschool centers per block in Chinatown, that is their priority

they do not put an emphasis on scouting like they do on academic activities, if it doesn't help their 6 yr old get into Harvard or Yale they wont put the time in

yes there are some that take advantage of scouting and outdoor opportunities but they are a small percentage of the population

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Aside: [@mrkstvns,  use your quote button and clip the relevant passage from the article. Some of us aren't divulging personal info to get behind a "free" paywall, and we won't be stopping by the library until later in the week!]

The author won't admit it, but his reference is to "acceptable" immigrants from "civilized" countries. Like @Terasec mentions, there is a certain "orderliness" about how Europeans go about things now vs. how they used to. You can catch hints of this evolution in the scenes in Roling's writings vs. those of Tolkein. I've seen some of his observations about Asian families, but it varies widely by country. Then there's folks from the more awesome parts of the world:

  • I can find you a Syrian immigrant child who put in more nights under the stars with meager rations than a lodge of Arrowmen combined. :(
  • Same for my adopted Ugandan great-niece. She can light fires like nobody's business.

But it's not always out of necessity ...

  • My Kuwaiti friend told me his clan has a camping season. They are all about the tent cities.
  • A Pakistani friend was a scout, and he said trips to camps in the mountains were par for the course.

It's a big world ... lots of folks with a wide variety of experience.

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13 hours ago, Terasec said:

As an Immigrant myself from Italy

idea of camping in Italy and most of Europe is different than US,

in Italy there is almost no public lands that you can just set up a tent and few places that is allowed is highly regulated

European national lands is more like US national and state  parks as opposed to US and state forests

Yes, I think the key is private ownership in Europe, and the space in the US. I mean, our local UK campsite is 7 acres in size (are your acres the same size? Anyway, close enough), the largest one I know of is 400 acres. There's a fair amount of National Parks, but they generally don't allow random camping. There are a fair few scout campsites, and vary from not much more than farmer's fields, to farmer's fields with a toilet block, to all singing and dancing activity centres. Though almost none have mess halls. 

Actually, in Scotland you can wild camp, and there's a test/trail going on in a few national parks at the moment.

Then again in Sweden wild camping is okay apparently, and being on someone else's land is not trespass (in my simple understanding). Meanwhile in France, well, there was talk of us going there and camping, but if you do more than a 5 day camp, you have to get about three layers of approval, you've got to be 200m from any water or ancient monument, there were two more pages of rules and advice, and the local mayor can inspect your camp with the local police and shut down your camp (and arrest and fine the leaders) if they don't like what they see....we're not going camping in France. ;)

 

Edited by ianwilkins

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To add to what Ian said... the thing to remember about much of Europe is population density. It is way above what it is in most of the USA. Where I am in Cambridge we are basically on the northern edge of the south east corner of England where we have around 15 million people crammed into an area about half the size of New Jersey. What land isn't urban is farm land. The West Midlands (centred round Birmingham), the English central belt (Liverpool-Manchester- Leeds - Hull) and the Scottish central belt (Glasgow- Edinburgh) are similar. So in the UK we don't have a great deal of really wild areas to head to, unless you get into the Scottish Highlands and they are a long way from most people. Other European nations are pretty similar although as Ian pointed out Scandanavia is a bit different! Most people don't have easy to reach wild camping areas that they can head to and those areas you can are farely well equipped campsites with plumbed in toilets, water supplies and the like. So camping is very different indeed here.

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Here in Texas, most of the immigrants come from Latin American countries, a fair number from Asia, and a good number from Africa. I see few coming here from European countries. 

My own observations jibe with some of the comments that others have posted here. I think Terasec is right when he talks about Asian families pushing their kids to more academic pursuits: I see that too, although I also see kids from Chinese, Vietnamese, and Indian families participating in the scouting program (in fact, some of the most high-achieving scouts I've dealt with have been the Asian scouts....they seem to push advancement harder and faster and I know of a couple who will be those 14-year old Eagles that some scouters seem to lament). But while the kids can succeed in scouting, I don't see very many of the Asian parents coming on campouts or going with the troop on 10-mile hikes. They support the troop, but they are more likely to do so by being committee members than by doing the hands-on outdoor activities.

We do get a lot of hispanic families. The parents here seem to engage in outdoor activities at about the same rate as the regular ol' American parents. But while we get a lot of hispanic families, it's not at the rate that I might expect given that the Houston area is a hispanic majority population. We might have 20 to 25% hispanic kids while the community as a whole is more like 50% hispanic these days. I don't know why we aren't getting more, other than perhaps the tradition of outdoor recreation isn't as strong south of the border, or perhaps the scouting movement as a whole is nowhere near as strong as it is in the U.S., Canada, or Europe. I did a little poking around to see what the numbers are, and most of the scouting organizations I find in latin America are far smaller than in the U.S. (often orders of magnitude different, far eclipsing the differences in country size and population size).  For example, Scouts of Mexico had about 33,000 scouts in 2011, compared to BSA in the United States, which had about 2.8 million scouts in that same year. Scouting has been around in Mexico since 1920, but it never penetrated as deeply into the fabric of society as it has in the U.S. or the U.K.

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30 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

... But while the kids can succeed in scouting, I don't see very many of the Asian parents coming on campouts or going with the troop on 10-mile hikes. They support the troop, but they are more likely to do so by being committee members than by doing the hands-on outdoor activities. ...

Well, in this Arab American family, my parents and older siblings (i.e. old enough to be my parents) did not come with the troop on any activities.  My dad and his buddies did enough camping right out of high school ... it was called the World War. After that, they got down to the business of working long hours to give their families good things. It was a rare day that they would even visit camp for an hour ... not even to help put up a gateway at the fair grounds for the bicentennial. That was for our SM's to teach, and us to figure out. My oldest brother was a scout! By all reports he still is a swell guy to camp with ... never joined me or my sons and daughter. Maybe if BSA would have let him earn Eagle as an adult, he would have served a troop well.

In my mind ASMs were students from a local college. Only later did I meet ASMs who were parents. Nice people, and great role models for me, but completely unexpected.

Clearly it wasn't just an immigrant sentiment. Plenty of other boys' parents left their kids in the hands of "experts" for the weekend of summer camp.

So, some communities are a little "old school" and feel their presence on a campout or hike does their kids more harm than good.

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