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Park Rangers and Scouts?????

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In his post stated


"+ Understand why most park rangers dislike Scouts; avoids behavior which has created this situation"


Please enlighten me, we have a fantastic relationship with all of the state, local and scout camps we visit. I have heard that scouts are generally disliked in public campgrounds and was wondering why.

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Yah, GAH is sadly right on this score.


Our reputation among most of the land management agencies is not a good one. It is particularly poor among the federal land managers in the western states (which have a higher number of federal lands).


Our reputation among other wild lands users is also not that great, eh? Leastways, it's not uncommon to see critical comments directed at Boy Scouting in forums and magazines that serve other outdoor recreational communities that one would expect would otherwise be friendly to scouting.


The reasons are complex, eh? I'd suggest these as being the major issues, in order:


1) Lack of LNT practice. We are almost universally considered "bad users" by the land managers for our lack of commitment to LNT practice. This is particularly da case out west, where there have been a lot of bad incidents includin' destroying or defacing national landmarks or important sites. But it also applies in da east, where folks find a lot of axe/hatchet/knife tree damage, poor fire practice, and just plain "wear and tear" after we camp.


2) Lack of skill and preparation. In some of the outdoor communities (paddlers comes to mind), there have been a lot of incidents of other recreational users needing to assist or rescue boy scout units that got in over their head. Our reputation is that we are ill-prepared for da situations we take kids into, and that we rely on or impose on others as a result.


3) Too many kids acting like kids. When yeh put a bunch of youngsters together they're just going to be loud, eh? They're going to run around and shout, they're goin' to climb on things. Whether it's hikin' a trail or sharing a camping area, if da other recreational users are older folks looking for a peaceful, quiet wilderness experience our presence is goin' to ruin that for them. I reckon in some ways this is a LNT issue too... courtesy to other visitors, group size, trail etiquette, etc. But it's also just the nature of kids.


We're seein' a lot of regulatory response limiting group size on trails and campsites in a lot of areas. Some land managers will even admit that if they could just ban boy scouts instead of doin' it by making group sizes small, they'd do it.


A big part of this of course is that we're a large organization, eh? So our units that behave poorly are remembered and added together, where other folks who behave poorly are just "isolated cases." Reputation is like that, eh? Even if yeh do a lot of good and are good citizens most of the time, your reputation can be spoiled by the few times you are remembered as jerks.


Beavah(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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Beavah, I totally understand that!

I live next to Camp Lejune. It's a USMC amphibious training center. And just like with the BSA, 1 marine goes to a bar and acts like an ass, and the whole Corps gets the credit for it.


But I understand it from t5he Rangers view too. While as an individual family - mine or yours - goes camping, there may be a footprint or two mashed into the natural grass or the sand/dirt environment. Not that big a deal and possibly no worse than what a deer. bull, buffalo or whatever natural wild life that lives there would leave.

But then add 35 or 50 more kidsm their parents, that many tents mashing grass flat. Some kids dig holes, some climb tres and break all the branches. Others spill coolaid and cola everywhere!


I may have a small camp fire and the damage is almost non existamt (almost). Now add 40 other campfires.


Does the campsite look like the site of crop circles even after all "Leave no trace " efforts were taken?


Yeah, it totally sucks that one group of rouge scouts can ruin it for all, but the sheer size of any scouting group also does damage, at least in a ranger's mind!


Even the ones in national parks were clear cuting is allowed thanks to laws and policy by congressmen who have paper companies filling ther wallets!

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I do not know where you get the idea there is a general problem out West. Yes, like anything scouting, if something bad happens, it makes the papers. But scouting in our area has very good repoire with most of the federal agencies. Most units DO leave things better than they found it; they do try to be considerate of others, but groups will make more noise than two people; we do regular trail maintenance in the local forests and parks, as well as Eagle project. When one of our groups does do something out of line, or becomes known for bad habits, they generally are made aware of their errors. Our High Adventure committees teach all levels of camping and backpacking, including wilderness first aid, and they are also involved with the Trail Boss program.


So, I am not sure why you would make such a broad stroked comment in the negative.

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You will also not usually find a group of 35-50+ folks (Scouts or others) camping together in the public campgrounds of a County, State, or National Park, unless they have the entire campground rented out. In which case the park manager will be strictly overseeing everything.


That is what the parks have "group" and "youth group" camping areas for.


We have never had a problem with Park Rangers and our Scouts while camping. In fact, the Rangers usually go out of their way to help in what ever way they can.





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Depends on your location, and the collective experiences of the rangers and fellow campers at the park. For every troop that respected the other campers, there's another troop that showed up and raised cain...scouts being rowdy at all hours, while the SPL and adult scouters sit in their lawn chairs and let it happen. Many people go to parks to have a quiet weekend...if they've ever camped next to a loud scout troop, they'll never forget it.


In my days as ASM and SM, I always advocated camping away from high-use public campgrounds for that reason. Scouts will be scouts and even the most disciplined troop will make a bunch of noise at times.


Whether it's camping or just standing in line at a fast food joint, you can tell well-led troop right away. There may be 30 scouts, but if they are led properly, they conduct themselves like gentlemen and are welcome anywhere. For the undisciplined troops, there may be only ten scouts, but if the are acting like fools, every citizen sees it and it goes on BSA's tab, for good or ill.

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While it's been a while since I was with a unit that has used state or national park land, we have never had any problems, except maybe staying in the bike lane on the Natchez Trace.


Then again in the dark ages before LNT there were this idea of "leaving a campsite better than you found it," and later "Leave only footprints, take only memories." the only way you could tell we were in a campsite after we packed up was the ground areas that didn't have dew on them. We took care of the campsite, and policed after ourselves.

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I find very little problem with getting along with the powers to be in the parks.


Our boys found a nice little city park in the area where we canoe because the DNR camps nearby were full. We were the only ones in the park and our boys loved it. When it came time to leave, they put their fees in the envelop and dropped it into the slot and thought nothing more about it.


When it came time to leave, we cleaned up our camp area and then noticed that we would be leaving trace by leaving a site which was noticeably cleaner than any place else. By the time we got done, we had cleaned up the whole park. We had a competition to see who could fill up their 55 gal drum fastest.


We did receive a letter a few months later indicating that after we had left it was much appreciated by the city council and that if we were to clean up the park each year we camped there, there would be no fee for the boys' camping. Just leave a note saying that Troop XX stayed there that weekend, and they would not have to assign any city people to come and do the annual cleanup.


Each time one does these Good Turn activities, somewhere along the way someone notices. If they don't, that's okay too.


Cooperation with park officials is a two-way street and if the boys start first, there never seems to be much of a problem, but if there is, it's never as serious.



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I have had the opposite experience.


Rangers have been very cooperative and we have never had a bad experience. Not only do we leave a campsite cleaner than we found it, we have a troop policy of performing a service project as part of any high adventure trip.


So, if we go to a national park, we coordinate with the rangers in advance to perform a project they select and supervise, giving them the labor of 30+ scouts and scouters for 4 hours or so. Since most parks are cash-strapped and under-staffed, we have found the rangers not only supportive but grateful.

On our last high adventure, the national park rangers asked when we could come again since their experience was so good.


Local (state parks) in a neighboring state frequently waive camping fees for us for the same reason.


However, I find your comments on the noise created by a large group of boys to be spot-on. The cure here is good planning. There is usually no reason to camp the scouts in a family camping area. It is up to leaders to find that group or isolated area not next door to the retirees in their Winnebago.


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Not to disagree with anyone else's opinions expressed here, but thus far, our interactions with park rangers has been positive. We have a designated state forest (organizationally separate from the State parks, just as it is on the national level) near here with several camps including youth specific campgrounds (not campsites). We like to use these facilities as well as State Parks, especially those with "separate" youth camp areas, for both the noise levels and a way of keeping the noise level away from the family/rv campers. When possible, we perform a service project, and often have our camp fees waived accordingly. Nice for the scouts to learn this. Likewise, it keeps us in good with the Rangers.


We do not do a good enough job of promoting LNT camping in the troop(in my opinion), and I am working with the PLC to change that. Not that we tear up campsites, but more that some scouts act in a disrespectful manner; something they need to learn the consequences for. One step at a time; this one is next on the list. For the next month, until the Webelos join, we will replace the Scout Oath/Law opening with the Outdoor Code. Hopefully that will put the core scouts in the right frame of mind as they ready to teach the new scouts.

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we've never had trouble, but we have seen other troops leave a campground pretty messy. Our scouts cleaned it up. Our PLC had a policy that we volunteer to do some kind of service project when we used their campground. They never turned us down.



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Never had a problem here with Rangers, and we've dealt with them separately in three different national forests/parks in the last couple years. They have never said a bad word to us.


And in fact, tomorrow I'm going to meet with a ranger at a forest to pick up gear because the following weekend the scouts of our troop had said they wanted to do a service project at the forest where we've camped for free before. I mentioned it to the rangers, and they said they had a trail that could use cleaning up, so our troop is going to spend Saturday clearing the trail, cutting brush, and re-blazing the trail with paint.


I also asked about camping near the trail so we could work before lunch, then stop for lunch at the camp site. The ranger told me that there were no official camp sites, so we were welcome to stay anywhere we wanted, at least 150 feet from the trail, and leave no trace.


Anyone who wants to join us in the Uwharrie National Forest (North Carolina), just drop me a line!

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Again,I completely understand Beavah's responce.


What is even better is that it sounds like things are changing for the better, as it should be.


Again, I reference living 5 minutes from the "World's most complete amphibious training center" as my proof:


Living that close to such a large military base, I have seen 35 Marines behave like perfect gentlemen. Then 1 marine, who isn't associating with, hanging out with , or even near the other marines - act like a jerk. The next thing you know, all the non marines are looking at ALL the marines as if they are guilty by association or just because of their uniform.


I have been chided, disrespected and the target of many insults because my flat top haircut caused people to think I was a marine. As soon as they found out I wasn't, their attitude turned 180.


So..their entire oopinion of me wasn't based on me or how I acted, but rather on a pre concieved idea of what I might be.


So what is my point?


The view of scouts varies. Wether or not scouts were bad, the impression could have been bad.


While your troop may have perfect rapport with a ranger, others may not even if they did no wrong.


As far as the West part of it, I believe that to only mean that the east tends to have more urban and cities than the western part of the US. We don't have a Yellow Stone or Grand Canyon on this side. Yeah, we have Mountains but we don't have groups like Tahoe or the Sierra groups that have protected our resources. I only mean that some of our best resources have power plants, diamond mines or other industry right in the middle ( not all though)


But again, What I hear is great news...sounds like the perception of scouting is changing for the better!

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