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Banned Items on Camping Trips

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PopTarts, because if all you're doing for breakfast is opening an envelope and eating cold crap, you have missed all the benefits of preparing and eating a meal as a patrol -- teamwork, cooperation, fellowship, problem solving, learning basic life skills, leadership -- all those things we claim to teach and hold in high regard.


Same for Rama noodles, although we make an exception for backpacking or if the nooles are used as a base for a better dish.

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Boy-led means nothing is banned, but they have to live with the consequences of their actions. We have lost boys due to cell-phones and that has reduced their use in the troop. Poor meals have produced boys not wanting to eat with their patrols and so that has improved as well. I find that the boys are beginning to see why some adults get concerned about certain aspects of things needing to be "banned" and once they make the mistake of experiencing a poor choice, they tend to avoid it next time.



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The PLC in my troop did ban radios and video games back in the day. Upon reflection I don't know who initiated the ban, youth or adults, but I do know that every time the issue came up to allow them, it was a resounding "NO!"


The rationale given is that they cause major distractions when you have other things to do. Grant you I never expereinced that since the ban was inplace prior to me being a PL and continued until after I left. Also we were pretty busy doing things and never really noticed. No radios in cars, except the car radio of course, was also in effect. Rationale was so that patrols, yes we carpooled by patrols as much as possible, could work things out on the drive there. 99.9999% the only noise you heard on the return trip was the snores of exhausted scouts ;)


Now there was an exception to the radio ban was summercamp. The SPL, and any scouts who were on staff, could bring a radio and that was played in the evenings after the campwide games while folks were settlign down. and or prepping for classes the next day. It was also used for getting the latest news.

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We too have some items that were banned before I became SM and since we're boy led and the boys have not seen it necessary to make changes these items remained banned:

Radios, Ipods, etc.

Cell Phones (except on certain occasions)

Sheath Knives



I caught one of our kids with a 16oz. can of Monster. That stuff has the caffeine of 6 cups of coffee and he doesn't need any more energy! I asked him not to bring it on trips any more. Not an all out ban but just a request.


Of course drugs, alcohol, smoking, pornography is totally unacceptable and has never been a problem for us (Thankfully!).


We allow PopTarts for a breakfast if we need to make a fast Sunday morning get away or for backpacking. The SPL reviews menus for a variety and balance so it's his decision.


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We tended to discourage and limit use for such items as personal electronic devices - much like a public school. Can the Scout bring an iPod on a camping trip. Yes, but as Scoutmaster, I didn't want to see him with ear buds in his head 24/7 and constantly distracted, worried about theft, etc. So, if he wanted to discretely bring an iPod, listen to it in his tent - I had no issue.


The only thing we outright banned were certain food items, mostly for cost. The boys didn't bear the brunt of the cost for grubmaster items. So, when one grubmaster started bringing individual Sobe bottles for drinks - at about a $1.50/bottle cost, I said enough! The individual patrols didn't pay for the food, the troop as a whole did. That lead to a "no juice boxes, soda pop cans, etc." ban. There was no "learning" experience to the Scout when mom and dad just coughed up the dough.

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Canned beverages of any kind. Powdered drinks or fresh milk (if they want to carry in the cooler) are okay.

Sweet rolls, or pastries,donuts and such UNLESS they are cooked from raw ingredients at camp prior to consumption.

Electronic goodies. Adults may have a cell phone for emergencies. Ipods etc. left in cars at the trail head.

Our annual family camp in the fall tries to follow the same guidelines.


Concerns: Nutrition, excess weight, lack of Scoutcraft practice, ecological, distraction from what's important and loss/breakage problems.

Sneakers are discouraged in favor of hard sole shoes.

NB: We are going winter cabin camping soon, and board games (Monopoly type) are eagerly sought out by the boys. We do hike and orienteer during the day...



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No bans yet, I'm considering the ramifications of Banning Det cord, PETN, Semtex, Dynamite and any and all ammo - but that might make them think they needed those things... ;)

Edit: "Oh, and how then would we go fishing?"(This message has been edited by Gunny2862)

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Well, they are not "offically" banned, but we tell our cubs that their will be no radios , gameboys, psp's or such brought on camping trips.


IPODs? Well, if they want to listen in their tent at night before bed. That's up to them.


So far, we only tell them this:

" If you do not mind losing it and never seeing it again, go ahead and bring it. But if you lose it, we are not gonna help you look for it, nor are we responcible in any way."


So far, that has worked.


Usually, myself or somebody else will bring a portable radio. Mine is a DeWalt jobsite radio. We turn it on with the volume set so you can hear it, but low enough that anybody can talk over it. It's set to a mix/top 40 radio station. Get alot of weather "updates" on the hour too.


We do this at meals times because it seems to help the boys talk less , chew more and calm down while eating. Translation: less spilled food and drink, less horseplay, less chance of somebody choking on the food.

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We've told the younger boys in the troop they can bring their Ipods and game systems in the cars on the way to a campout, but they do have to leave them in the cars when we hit the campsite.( I'd rather hear the clicking of game boys for 4 hrs, than 4 hrs of the same song the SPL has taught the troop :p ) The older boys usually have an Ipod or their phone with them, but they know not to use it during the campout, and to keep it in their pack. If it's out, they risk having it confiscated by the SM. That includes the SPL and ASPL's.


Pop-Tarts have been excluded from meal planning, but I'm starting to see the bags of powdered or chocolate donuts show up now for Sunday breakfast. I thought the SPL approved that meal plan at the last Troop meeting? Hmm......


We do let the boys plan 1 campout a year, when they can bring game systems and play them when they go back to their cabins for the night, after the evening campfire. Yes, I said cabins, GASP,AARGH! The adults also cook for them that whole campout too. That has been the troop tradition since the troop started. Our boys work hard all year, so we let them play hard for a single campout.


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//Eagle793 remined me of some other items that were banned; "Anything you wouldn't want your mother to see you with."//


This all I remember banning. PLC didn't like hand held video games and while the adults agreed, it was the PLC that created and inforced that restriction. I never asked why. Cell phones were just coming in then and not yet a problem.


Food wasn't to much of a problem because we require all meals except lunch be cooked. Soda pop was a bit of a problem for a little while, we fixed that by requiring it be brought only in 2 liter bottles. We are basically a back packing troop, and 2 liter bottles are hard to transport and keep cold.


I don't like to restrict scouts, I like them making choices. Kind of funny with the soda pop, because of the hassle of 2 liter bottles, patrols eventually quit bringing pop. Scouts two years down the road just thought it was restricted from campouts.




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Yeah, Stosh, that's the Rational Actor Model which is great in theory but doesn't always work with adolesent boys. Unfortunately, when you're 13 the consequence of not eating as well as you could doesn't necessarily outweigh the effort a decent meal may require. Boys don't factor-in those side benefits we see, like teamwork, fellowship and learning something, but they frequently consider things like mom will have a big lunch when I get home, the "cool factor" of having gotten by with something or the notoriety of playing the jackass.


I think part of my job is to provide a level playing field to make sure the positive outcomes have a fair chance.


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Just a thought - but WHY such a hatred for PopTarts?


I know they are an easy, no cook meal, but if its only for ONE breakfast or a snack, I just don't see the issue.


Do the units that ban PopTarts also forbid canned tuna or tuna packets? What about ANY type of freeze-dried backpacking food? One could make the same argument about these types of foods. What about cheese and crackers? When I was a scout - it was a novelty to bring canned sardines, mustard and crackers. Can they still vent a Dinty-Moore stew can and cook it directly on the coals? Not much prep / teamwork there, but I can remember doing this most every campout as a kid.


Same thing with the iPods. I understand video games because they are HUGE distractions, but I can't imagine driving a carload of scouts to or from a campout with a constant argument / discussion about what type of music to listen to on the radio. I can't imagine being a scout and riding to a campout without my walkman, or having it to listen to after lights out. Unless they are constantly plugged in - daytime hours, not listening or participating, then I don't see a need to ban - yes restrict the time of use.


Ban to me just seems like a CHALLENGE to a scout to try and sneak something. I'd save banning for the big no-no items: Alcohol, tobacco, non-folding shealth knives, porn, etc...


Try to control the environment too much and it is no longer boy-led. Plus, you're almost asking for a rebellion of youth. Suggest items should not be used / brought and WHY... then see what happens. Do an after camp review and as part of it discuss what impact (if any) any items / foods had a negative impact on the overall quality of the campout - then let the scouts decide.

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