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Lisabob

questions about long trips with scouts

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Our troop is planning a lengthy trip next summer and I have a few questions. Any input and feedback would be great.

 

1. I've heard several variations on the driving rules, including that one driver can't drive more than 8 hours a day, that the entire troop can't travel more than 8 hours a day, alternately that either of the above is 10 hours/day, or that it is 500 miles/day. Can someone point me to a source where I can find the right answer?

 

2. No matter how we slice it, this is a two day drive. Any preferences on driving half-way vs. driving something more like 2/3 or 3/4 of the way on day one? We don't need to be at our destination until the morning of day THREE. But I've never planned to travel with 40-50 boys before so maybe one of the above is better than the other.

 

3. We're looking for things to do along the way, either for one or two afternoons/evenings. We'll be traveling to NC from the midwest, passing near Pittsburgh (about 1/2 way), Baltimore, Wash DC, and Norfolk VA. Beyond the obvious (visit the capitol!), any thoughts on easy, exciting side trips/activities? Also any thoughts on who makes this choice (does the committee choose? the PLC? both? Can the committee define the options for the PLC to choose from?)

 

4. How would you feel about taking your troop to an amusement or water park on the way? Good/bad/ugly? We're a big group with a lot of young scouts and there are some reservations about safety and about losing track of people at such a place. Are these well founded, in your view?

 

5. If you've done trips like this with your troop in the past, what have you done for accomodations while traveling? Does anybody seek out local troops to camp with? For that matter, do you camp? Do you stay in the cheapest motel you can find?

 

6. About gas milage...how do you handle this? Have everybody pay a flat fee? Reimburse drivers for actual milage? If you were planning for a trip 8-10 months from now, would you pick a target gas price (say $3/gallon) and build that into the cost of the trip up front? Or would you add a fuel charge down the road when you had a better idea of what gas might cost in reality?

 

Thanks many times over for any input. I've been accused of being a little, shall we say, concrete sequential from time to time, but I want to turn this over and consider as many sides of it as possible well in advance to avoid nasty last-minute problems.

 

Lisa'bob

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The G2SS says 10 hours driving per day, and to not drive at night.

 

I'd recommend getting the booklet Tours and Expeditions #33737. It talks about organization, transportation, overnight stays, eating, budgeting, among other things.

 

 

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G2SS does say 10 hours. We have an ongoing debate in our committee on how to interpret that though. Does a day trip that requires a 2 hour drive to the event, 6.5 hours at the event and a 2 hour return trip violate the 10 hour rule? If so, every ski trip our troop makes is in violation. Or is it 10 hours consecutive driving? Or cumulative drive time in a 24 hour period? What's the required down time between driving sessions? When is the clock reset? Midnight? Can I put in 6 hours one evening, pull over for 3 hours shut eye at a campground or reststop and put in another 8 hours the next morning? Many questions.

 

Having driven cross country several times towing boats, I know why the 10 hour rule is a good one. We just need clarification on how to impliment it.

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Health & Safety training also talks about this.

 

Please be aware that H&S training is based on the G2SS, NOT on the Health & Safety booklet! (that would've made far too much sense . . .)

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Here is a suggestion on a place to stop.

Would a side trip to the Gettysburg Pa battlefield work? You might be able to camp nearby.

This maybe too far out of your way but other Cival War sites could be on your route.

 

Also check if you will pass near any BSA camps. Spend a day just exploring that area.

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I forgot about the night driving restriction. My bad.

How do troops in northern lattitudes deal with this in the winter months? Suspend outtings?

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Those of us in the cold and dark regions of NNY just continue to mudle along. We donot cancel outing cause its dark when we get there

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Sounds like an ambitious trip. Good for you and the unit you serve!

 

Based on our experiences;

 

On question 1, from my experience I would not want to spend more than 8 hours driving time on any given day with a group of scouts. On trips we have taken, this gets us in the neighborhood of 400 miles plus per day. This has allowed us to pull into a campground around 3:00 - 4:00 pm, allowing time for the scouts to set up camp, cook a decent dinner and use up some pent up energy. We don't stay in motels, were Boy Scouts for cryin' out loud. In short, we have not pushed travel time. The longest trip we have taken was from Mass. to the Blue Ridge Mountains Scout Reservation about 700 miles or so. We went 400mi. the first day and 300 the second day allowing us to get to our mid-afternoon check in time without draining the scouts or drivers. We took a long lunch break both days, bringing cold cuts, sandwich makings, snacks and drinks with us, trying to avoid the fast food scene when we can.

 

This past summer our unit visited DC, with side trips to an Orioles game and Hershey Park. Our group is not nearly as large as yours, we typically have 15 - 20, with plenty of adults. So far we, havn't lost any scouts at these events. We find having all wear either the field uniform or a brightly colored Troop activity shirt makes it easier to find each other in a crowd. This was a 7 day trip at a cost of about $300 per person. Camping and cooking ourselves. Fuel costs were estimated prior to the trip and included in the trip fees paid for by both adults and scouts. This summer we did have to add a fuel surcharge just prior to the trip due to the increase in gas prices.

 

 

In contrast my son went to Williamsburg, VA with the school band last year to perform and go to Six Flags for 4-5 days. They stayed in motels and ate at restaurants. Trip cost was over $1000 per head and that didn't include a subsidy paid by the band booster club. They had a 12 hr bus ride down and another 12 hour bus ride back. The kids hated being cooped up that long.

 

 

If we had a group as large as yours we would look into chartering a bus with a driver.

 

If you have time, I would second the idea of stopping at Gettysburg. It might give your unit ideas on another destination trip in the future.

 

Good luck.

 

SA

 

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I did this sort of thing for 6 consecutive Summers years ago and we put in about a 12-13 hour day, but drove no more than 600 miles. At that time 600 miles was the rule and if you specified more than that on the National Tour Permit it would be turned down. In that 12-13 hour day we had a breakfast and lunch stop before we got to the days destination. All costs were built into the fee. Back then you didn't have to worry about gas costs increasing like now, but your idea of picking a number and basing it on that is a good one.

 

With a group as big as you will have (40-50) accomadations will be a major problem. You would need at least 10 rooms at a motel, state/national campgrounds would require many campsites depending on the rules of how many tents per site you could have. I would look for a Scout Camp along the way that might let you pitch tents in it or maybe a church that has a gym that you could use. Camping and cooking along the way probably isn't a good idea.

 

As far as evening activities, for the boys yes to let them burn off unused energy, the adults will probably be tired and just want to rest. Side trips along the way are good. In PA you have Philadelphia with Independence Hall, Gettysburg, Valley Forge.

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1) G2SS (Chapter XXI: Transportation/Automobiles/11) and the National Tour Permit application (#4419 Transportation 6c) limit driving time to 10 hours of driving (not including rest stops) per day. There is no mileage limit. But da real answer to your question depends on the age of the kids (old kids are better on longer drives than young ones), and the experience and comfort level of your drivers in the weather and road conditions you're drivin'.

 

2) Don't go less than half way day one. Everyone is more tired day 2 (yeh know the adults aren't goin' to sleep as well on the road, you know the kids are goin' to stay up later, etc.). So it's best to go farther day 1 and shorter day 2.

 

3) This is a troop right? The Committee shouldn't have any involvement in the itinerary. That should be done by the youth leaders with da help of the unit leaders (SM/ASMs). The SM may ask the Outings person on the committee to help get some information or make reservations, that's about it. I don't know that part of the country, but I expect it depends on the time of year, eh? There's good mountains for skiing/whitewater/hiking south and east of Pittsburgh in PA, WV, or MD.

 

4) I've been with scouts at amusement parks dozens of times. It's also a regular thing for middle school youth programs. Normal precautions - Reinforce buddy system, designate "where to go if you get separated", "we all are meeting for lunch at 12 at the roller coaster, don't be late, etc." and let 'em have a good time.

 

5) Local troops are usually very helpful and will find you a church floor. Or camp, just like always. Hotels? Bah. Hotel rooms split up the patrols and create supervision headaches.

 

6) How do you handle gas for other trips? I encourage units not to make it an accountin' nightmare. Take your best guess, make it flat fee.

 

As for us in northern climes, I don't know of any active troop, crew, or even pack that follows the G2SS nighttime driving restriction. If we did, we'd have no outdoors program for half the year, eh?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I just read the on-line version of the G2SS from the BSA website - the night time driving is a "should" not a "must" -

"7. All driving, except short trips, should be done in daylight."

 

Good thing - like other northern groups we would continuously be in violation of the G2SS. Nephew came home from a Camporee at the other end of the state - 4 hour drive, got home at 11pm....lots of night driving there.

 

YiS

Michelle

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1. I think this has been answered. Common sense should prevail.

 

One option, if you have access to a bus (church or otherwise) and a couple of CDL drivers, you can usually push on for more hours. We haven't done that yet, but I know some troops that have.

 

 

3. Side trips are great and break up the monotony of the trip. Some of the guys may grumble, but historic tours are a great way to enrich the boys and expose them to some things they would have otherwise missed.

 

 

4. Sure, use the buddy system and checkpoints. Designate a first-aid location as the rally point for lost/injured/sick scouts. Then check there periodically through the day. (I remember doing this one time with a church group and walked in to find one of my chaperones and one of the teenagers both in there throwing up).

 

 

5. Church floors or military places work great. Since 9/11 you pretty much have to have someone in the military traveling with you to get those accomodations.

 

We have done the cheap hotel route. It does take an extra level of supervision (turn off those pay-tv channels!).

 

 

6. For longer trips we usually reimburse the drivers for whatever they spent on gas. We factor that into the cost of the trip.

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Sounds like you are heading to the Outer Banks. If so, that is a great destination - definitely lots of fun stuff to do there.

 

If Pittsburgh is half-way, then DC will be around half-way from Pittsburgh to the Outer Banks and should be a great place to stop. You can easily fill a day in DC, so I am not sure how many little stops you would want along the way. Best place to camp in the DC area is Greenbelt Park (http://www.nps.gov/gree/) or you could shoot down the road an hour or so after spending the day in DC and stay at Lungo Park on Quantico Marine Base (http://www.quantico.usmc-mccs.org/SemperFit_Rec/lunga_park.htm). This is right next door to the FBI Academy, which will give you a tour if you talk real nice to them (best to go on a weekday when they are training in the mock town or doing evasive driving on the track or shooting machine guns on the range).

 

Given the track you are taking, Gettysburg may be a bit out of the way (north), but Antietam (Sharpsburg) and Harpers Ferry are right off of Rt. 70. The AT runs thru that whole area and you could do a quick jaunt on that or on the C&O Canal towpath. There is a youth hostel in Harper's Ferry that may be able to accomodate your group as well ( http://members.aol.com/hiyb/hostel.html).

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Lisabob

As I'm sure you know you will have to file a National Tour Permit.

The 10 hour rule is a good one.

However, we have a problem with the night driving. We attend a lot of weekend activities that are a five or six hour drive from home. So in the winter we have to drive at night.

For very long trips I like to make a very early start. The trip to Savannah this year we were on the road (loaded and last minute bath roomed) by 0500. Of course this did mean an early night for the drivers!!

I like to get as close as we can to our final destination, so I'd opt to go 75% of the way.

I have to admit to not being a great fan of the Amusement Park thing.On the way out it seems to take away from the excitement that the Scouts have about where you are going.

You don't say what sort of vehicles you are using? Trying to do anything with a large group becomes a little like herding cats! A ten minute bathroom break becomes thirty minutes and fast food isn't that fast.

We found that giving each driver a free hand works best! We used to have planned meetings along the way, places where we would all meet and then take off again. The idea was to make sure everyone was OK. Kinda silly when you stop to thin about it, in these days of cell phones anyone who isn't OK will call and meeting at a rest stop isn't going to fix anything. We now plan only to meet at where we are going to stop. Trying to herd a group of 14 or 15 Scouts in less trouble than herding the big group.

As for the stops.

I think the PLC and the adults need to take a long hard look at why you are going to where ever it is you are going?

Is it a sight seeing tour?

Is there a defined purpose for the trip?

Any big stop (Washington DC?) is going to add a day to your trip. Even if you only plan to stop for a few hours. Adding an extra night might seem like the way to go, but it might be hard on the people driving.

Having young Scouts spent the night in Motels can be a nightmare!! I'd avoid it at all costs!!

Scout Camps are a good idea.

As for the budget.

I charge everyone the same amount.

Gas costs are hard to guesstimate, as are the gas mileage that different vehicles will get. It is far better to over charge and give a refund than undercharge. Once I have worked out what I think it's going to cost I add 15% for emergencies.

We ask all drivers to start with a full tank. As a rule they pay for the gas and turn in the receipts when we get home they fill the tank again and turn that receipt in. The total amount spent on gas is divided by the number of people attending and that's the cost.

If you are using private vehicles, it is a good idea in as nice a way as possible to let the owners know what the Troop is paying for ahead of time. We had a problem once where a parent needed to replace a tire and thought that the Troop should pay. (Needless to say I didn't.) This might be a consideration when you are planning. Rental cars/vans when they break down are less hassle.

Eamonn.

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Wow, wish I could get my Troop to consider such an expedition. Some considerable considerations to consider:

 

* Bus charter is a good idea, but don't forget the driver will need accomodations, too. He/she might not want to camp! Rental vans are another possibility. Check out the family vans insurance and coverage, just to be sure.

 

*Cell phone number exchange and /or walky talky use is a good thing.

 

*Remember, DON'T CONVOY. Arrange for periodic meeting places each day.

 

* I am constantly amazed at the lack of knowledge among Scouts of the Hosteling movement. Used to be called Youth Hostels, now just Hostels. Good, cheap, simple accomodations , very often near your destination. Try www.hiusa.org . You need to be a "member" or have an "organization membership", but it is well worth it, believe me.

 

*There's a very nice recently renovated Hostel in Baltimore. The Inner Harbor is a great place to tour, the USS Constellation ( 2nd oldest US warship afloat) gives Scout tours and overnight accomodations (!) with sufficient lead time. Baltimore Aquarium. Maryland Science Center. USS Taney, WWll Coast Guard Cutter. USS Torsk, last WWll submarine. Fort McHenry will surprise your Scouts about the "Star Spangled Banner" and its history. Google them.

 

*On your way south, the new BSA Camp William B. Snyder might be a consideration, about 20 miles west of Washington DC on I66 near Haymarket VA. Again, with sufficient lead time, depending on the season, they can provide bare ground camp space or a ready camp site, tent platforms and fire ring or even dining hall access. try www.boyscouts-ncac.org/pager/18_camp_william_b_snyder.cfm

 

* I have known Troops to camp at Little Bennett State Park, north of Gaithersburg (off I270) MD and then motor on in to Washington DC for the Day, or use the Metro Station at Shady Grove (end of the line), and then TRAIN in to DC. Google that.

 

Wow, what an exciting trip. Is Hatteras included in your NC destination? I'll tell my Father in law to expect you... when? I just KNOW he'd LOVE to have 40 Scouts camp in his back yard! (maybe)

 

YiS(This message has been edited by SSScout)

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