Camping for All

The definition of Scout Camping is very broad. It ranges from a sleepover, all the way to a weeks-long mountain climbing hiking adventure. It’s important to know some of the basics. Now one of the things that I covered a long time ago was the “camping mode” on a cell phone, it’s known as the Off Button. A lot of people don’t know it but that’s exactly the camping mode that’s preferred when you’re out camping. When you’re camping, you’re camping. You’re not surfing the internet. Most of the time there’s no Wi-Fi available. There’s nothing around and the signal is very weak so just turn it off. You might turn it on to record a squirrel or take pictures or something of that nature, but most of the time it should be in camping mode which is called off.

Keep in mind that all of your Scout Leaders, all of your adults, and parents that goes camping should take and have current Youth Protection Training (YPT). No matter what you’re doing in Scouting you will always need a minimum of four Youth Protection Trained adult leaders. The reason you need that is that two of them may need to go somewhere being “two deep” leadership.  You always have to have two, minimum in camp. 4 is what you need in case there’s an emergency, but we need to make sure that all adults that are in camp are Youth Protection Trained.

If you’re in Cub Scouts, I highly recommend that all the parents do the Youth Protection Training. It has two big benefits. You don’t run into a situation where you run out of people (leaders) that are qualified to do two deep leadership. It also benefits the parents, because they know what we expect of the other adult leaders. This is critical for parents, it sets their minds at ease knowing that their youth are going to be safer than ever before, because of YPT.

Cub Scout camping is challenging. It can be done, I know of many units that are very successful at doing Cub Scout camping. Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Orientation otherwise known as BALOO training is critical. You need at least two in a camping situation. More would be great, but at a minimum, you need two. Now in a pack camping situation, it’s also known as “family camping”. The more BALOO trained leaders you have the better. It would be great if the Cubmaster and the Den Leaders all had BALOO training that’s great. This is open to all adult leaders including Committee people.

That’s another thing in family camping so we want to make sure our Cub Scouts are safe. Of course YPT (Youth Protection Training) falls right in line with that. Those rules still apply throughout all camping. That still applies to District Cub Camping. It’s set up similarly to Family Camping, but each unit should keep up all of the default training in mind that’s needed to do camping on their own. Because it’s a District event doesn’t mean that those rules are waived. It is important that your Youth Protection Training is enforced and that all of those requirements of BALOO training are kept up to date. You should always have people available that have that training.

Of course, there are Cub Scout families that go family camping. This is NOT a Scouting related camping situation. Whether it’s a single family, or with friends, I recommend that all of the stuff that we do for all the other kinds of camping should also apply. However, that is optional because you are in a non-scouting situation. That’s the thing, if it’s a Scouting event those rules apply. If it’s not a Scouting event you’re just personally seeing the national parks and spending a night at a Yellowstone campsite. Having that training is going to be helpful. But not required in Non-Scouting situations.

Troop camping for beginners in a Troop can be very challenging especially if they’re not used to Cub Camping.  Say for instance you have some Arrow of Lights Scouts that have crossed over into a Troop.  They have never camped before, so that’s going to be challenging. You need to make sure that the Introduction to Outdoor Leadership Skills (IOLS) has been done with a minimum of two adults. You have trained leaders on that campout and throughout any of the Troop camping environments. You need two or more that have done IOLS. Generally speaking, you need to have the Introduction to Outdoor Leadership Skills for at least two adult leaders that are on the trip. Now, of course, all of your Youth Protection Training applies here. That all of these rules are followed.

Summer Camp is a little bit different. You’re going to have anywhere from beginner campers all the way to advanced campers. The advanced campers they’re probably going to be fine, it would be advantageous to make sure that your IOLS and your youth protection (YPT). All that stuff will be checked when you check into camp. They’re going to check those things at every Scout Camp that’s certified. They make sure that this stuff is there. You need to know that before you go and a lot of times if you don’t have the minimum, it’s not like they’re going to turn you around, but they’re going to go into an intense training immediately with you. So that is very important to have up-to-date when you go to Summer Camp.

Advanced Troop camping. This is often referred to as Patrol Camping. You will need two or more IOLS-trained leaders and of course, you’ll have to keep within the youth protection training in regards to the gender requirements. Now that we have Scouts BSA where we have boy troops and girl troops. you have to keep those guidelines in mind. Very few troops do Patrol Camping. This is very rare… It’s actually an incredible camping trip if you do it as a patrol. The fellowship that you get, the teamwork that you get out of that Patrol is amazing. Think about it. Patrol Camping is possible. You still need adult trained leadership. You still need to use those guidelines. You still need to have those things there for them to even do Patrol Camping.

But you could also do it as a patrol that you put together just for one campout. As let’s say the Green Bar Patrol. These are all of the Patrol Leaders the Assistant Patrol Leaders, the Scribe the Quartermaster, and even the Bugler. All of the troop youth leadership. Your Patrol Leaders Council known as the PLC. They could go camping and do training at the same time. This would be an awesome weekend, but all of the requirements the IOLS the YPT all of that stuff still apply.

Now just like the Advanced Camping for a troop… when you’re dealing with a Venture Crew. When they go camping Venture Crews can be for all youth  (co-ed), with boys and girls. You have to keep your YPT enforced. You need to make sure that that’s enforced. These are the older Scouts, they might be on an adventure, they might be on a big hike or a big campout or something. You need to keep within the guidelines for the Venture Crew. They have IOLS for Venture. Look into that in many Districts, and many Councils. They might have that available, so look into it.

Now let’s talk about High Adventure Camping. The Cub Scouts really don’t do that. They’re not gonna go on a 50 miler canoe trip. They’re not gonna be doing that.  There’s nothing wrong with parents that want to do something like that. It’s very challenging, but that would be on their own. It would be a non-scouting kind of event. Cub Scouts, really don’t do High Adventure.

Now in a lot of places they have age requirements for their High Adventure Base, you name it… if it’s the Summit they do have younger Scouts 12 and up. If you’re going to Philmont, it’s 14 and up and certain physical requirements are there. We’re talking Advanced Camping. There may be additional requirements. You’re going as an adult leader and may need to take Wilderness First Aid training, This would be in addition to all the IOLS and all the YPT training is still enforced.

Now a lot of times they will assign an adult Ranger, somebody, that knows the camp. Who knows the ins and outs of all the different departments that are in that camp. That Ranger that’s assigned to your unit and you work with them. They might even go with you for a few days, so that’s something on a big trek. They could be at Philmont, Northern Tier, and Sea Base. These are some of the requirements you need to check.

To make sure that you’re up to date on all of these things. The Scouting Adventure goes on. You could do all kinds of stuff. There are Overseas Journeys that you could do. You could go to World Jamboree. You can go to NOAC which is often a big thing for the Order of the Arrow. These are things that happen but you got to keep in mind that there are certain training requirements.  This is there for a very good reason. The number one reason is SAFETY. That is our job as adult leaders is the safety of our youth. We want them to have fun. If you’re not being safe… that’s not fun, that’s dangerous.

You could run into some really terrible situations. We must keep them safe and we keep ourselves trained and certified in all of the required departments. Making sure that you know all those things is incredibly important. We do so much work and you don’t want to jeopardize all that. You want to make sure that your Scouts are having fun and that’s the key. I want you to keep doing all the hard work that you’re doing. I’m so glad that you’re volunteering for Scouting. Scouting is the best thing that the youth have out there. We need to tell others about that. YIS⚜