Troop Winter camping just confuses me. Actually the troop confuses me.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-26-2002
Troop Winter camping just confuses me. Actually the troop confuses me.
Fri, 01-11-2013 - 9:55am

Our Boy Scout troop had had an annual winter camping trip (on the church lawn) in January for several years.  It's used to test equipment and boy's preparedness in a location where mistakes can be easily rectified (such as not being warm enough).  So, tonight is the night.  I know you can't plan for weather, but it's going to be rainy today and tonight and tomorrow wake up temps will be around 45 degrees with the day tomorrow getting close to 60 which is just weird for here.  That's not my problem right now.  What I'm concerned about is that they've only had 1 meeting (to discuss/plan food) and just this past Monday they started to discuss what might be needed for personal equipment and clothing.  This wouldn't be bad, but NO info has come to the parents (who mostly have no idea how to help their kid prepare for cold weather camping).  There are a possible 17 brand new Boy Scouts in this troop from the webelos who moved up in the spring and in November.  Most are doing this sleepover (or at least until they chicken out due to the rain).  But us, as parents have not been told that they should have a ground pad to keep a barrier between the sleeping bag and the cold (or suggestions on which ones work- or the time to go buy them).  We have not had the talk that the boys had about layers and how to keep feet warm and dry... or at least keeping the boots dry, but they will probably need to change their socks several times due to sweating.  Part of making Boy Scouting successful would be making sure the kids parents are well informed too.  This has just not happened from day 1.  So, after camping out for the night, they are going to hike to the park (about 2 miles away) and spend the day there doing various activities... scouts could also just show up for this part Saturday.  Breakfast, then totin chip, then round robin stations taught by older scouts of compass skills, measuring height and distance, and something else.  Then lunch, then i'm supposed to work with them on orienteering skills for 45 minutes before they do some sort of thing set up by the one assistant scoutmaster... but he hasn't shown me what he is doing with them, so I'm not real sure how to prepare them. It also seems a little repetitive if they have these same skills in the morning.  Anyway, after the compass course, they have something else, then a potluck dinner brought by parents (so I have to make something for dinner while also being there while also getting my younger son to a game and getting my older daughter ready for her 8th grade semi-formal dance).  Then after potluck,  it's court of honor for 30 minutes then it's something for another 90 minutes then it's clean up then it's go home... weird scheduling and it's going to be really difficult for me to deal with.

And then, I had asked about the district winter camporee (which is my son's birthday weekend in February and at the closest park to us).  I was expecting to be there and they are also opening it up to camp to webelos 2's and then for Saturday for a few hours to all cubs... and when I asked the scoutmaster about it- he told me that nobody wanted to go.  I was baffled.  Sean doesn't remember them asking about it.  We, as parents have gotten no info regarding it to see if our kid would even be available that weekend.  It's supposed to be a Yukon Gold Rush theme with several stations during Saturday where patrols encounter themed challenges and earn gold nuggets and I've heard so much stuff about this that I was really excited myself and had told my son about different things they would be doing.  So, how did the scoutmaster seem to think that nobody wanted to go?  Well, we are going to go at least for the cub portion and games/activities even if the scout troop isn't going.  It just sounds like so much fun.  And I hope to have at least 2 or 3 of the other cub scouts from our pack go with us... and the older brothers will just be den chiefs and work with them instead of doing the scout level stuff.  I think it will still be good enough fun.

And since end of October, I've been telling the scoutleaders about Merit Badge University at Carnegie Mellon University in pittsburgh... they do the girl scout version in the fall and the Boy Scout version in March.  I've forwarded them all the info and the first few updates.  We discussed this at 2 of the committee meetings I attended and they all seem to think it's a good thing.  But they haven't told the parents about it yet nor the boys (to see which class choices they would want).  The nice thing about it is that all the boys could go whereas another one that we have always gone to as well, only allows a maximum of 10 scouts to attend from any one troop.  (Our scoutleaders think they are special and were going to request more spaces and they were denied- and I think that's actually a good thing... they are not above everyone else just because one is a doctor and trains people in first aid at the scout camps and because one is on the district committee.)  So, I just forwarded the latest e-mail to them all again and I got a reply from the scoutmaster asking me what the dates were.  I was just floored.  He should know this.  The website is easily accessible.  We've discussed this MANY times.  And I've never gone to the Merit Badge University before so the questions I just got from the Committee Chair- I was unable to answer- just like I was unable to answer them the last 2 times he asked me.  I once again told him to just e-mail the chairperson of the MBU... they are college students putting on this program so e-mail works best and they are very good at getting back to you... but I can't answer the questions and he just needs to ask them.  Can you tell I'm getting very frustrated with the adult leadership?  I knew this would happen.  I really liked a different troop that we visited.  I knew that my son would want this one due to his friends, but I also knew that it would be the same for adult leadership like we have had recently in our pack.  I think he's going to get lost in the huge number of young boys in this troop and nothing is getting done at the rate I'd be happy with.  Even my son has e-mailed and asked in person about certain things and he keeps getting put off til later.  He's stuck in a group that is still going over Tenderfoot requirements often because not every boy in that group has gotten to Tenderfoot yet (and they moved up in March 2011).  Yes, he's gotten other stuff marked off in his book for 2nd and 1st, but it's really mostly just the stuff he managed at resident camp and not much beyond that.  We were told that they should have that whole group earning 1st class within a year of joining the scout troop.  I just don't see that (especially when they didn't do a single activity between early June- going to scout camp and the end of September -starting meetings again... not a single get together for anything... surely they could have done something in those 3 months!  I'm going to make that change this coming summer!

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-26-2002

Are my expectations too high?  Just wondering.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-28-2000

I don't think your expectations are too high, but then you also listened to me all frustrated when J transitioned to a troop. 

J and DH are at Klondike this weekend.  It's a mudhole & I am sure it will be miserable having to drag all of the gear around camp since there is no way a sled will work in mud. 

The boys only have one meeting to plan a campout.  J's been with the troop for 2 years and there is still confusion when planning.  It has to do with the boys being flaky and the main leadership having a sink or swim attitude.  The main parent who does the email communication sent a letter out after the meeting that the acting patrol leader for each group needs to make sure everyone knows what to bring.  She then attached a list of items that each group would need and a list of individual itmes.  (these are items the boys need to compete in each station)  I just don't understand why the scout master / SPL didn't have the list at the meeting for the boys to use to assign what to bring.  I also don;t understand how the boys left the meeting not knowing who was going to be the patrol leader.  grrrrr.  The boys are dips and the adults are dropping the ball when it comes to leadership. 

J's troop did send out a winter gear list to the parents when we first joined, but we were on our own figuring out what to buy.  How many different sleeping mats are there??? DH has since taken on this aspect of the troop and dealing with new families.  The troop held a parent informational meeting about cold weather gear in November.  We were hoping that the Webelos intending to cross into the troop over winter would come out and get a wish list for Christmas and then been ready to go camping when they crossed in Jan / Feb. 

For the past 3 years the pack has had a meeting for Webelos & parents to discuss warm weather camping gear.  At least half of the boys are dropped at the meeting.  It always amazes me that the parnets who do not stay are the ones without any camping gear at all. 

An aside - I've been told that after the first winter camp when a kid is cold / wet he is unlikely to want to go winter camping again.  I can believe it.  After being in a torrential rain 2 different times while camping I could care less if I ever go camping again.  Give me a hotel any day ;)

My guess about the Gold Rush is that the adult leadership is not interested so they are not offering it to the boys. I think taking a team for the day would be fun.  Your plans sound like a good compromise.

The Merit Badge University would have me frustrated.  That sounds like something I would just register my kid for and leave it at that.  I know our troop doesn't coordinate that for the boys.  It's up to the scout / parent. 

Anyway, it sounds like it is very much the same here.  FWIW, I think most of the groups are this way based on feedback I have received from other parents.