Choosing A Backpack

Before you buy a backpack, you need to decide what type of backpacker you want to: A traditionalist who carries 30-50 pounds of gear on a weekend,  or a more modern, lightweight backpacker who carries smaller, lighter and smarter gear, lowering their weight to a comfortable 15 pounds?

Try Before You Buy

Always rent or borrow before making your purchase. REI rents packs at a reasonable price and you probably don’t know what you (or your son) needs until you try them in the field.

Once you have some experience backpacking and get a good feel of the gear you plan to take, then it’s time to consult an expert. Continue reading

Letting Scouts Lead

JTP-lead-decision-backpack-scout-1 copyI admit–when I first learned about the Patrol Method, “Scout led– adult run,” I felt a little nervous; a lot like the first time I let my son barbecue our family meal on his own.

The thought of allowing Boy Scouts to take the lead and make decisions is not always easy, especially when there are times when I think father knows best.  

As my understanding of the Patrol Method deepened, I quickly discovered that at times, what looks like chaos is Continue reading

Is Less Better?

Proper planning helps avoid heavy loads

When I first started as an Assistance Scout Master (ASM) with our Troop, there wasn’t a strong emphasis on backpacking. Backpacking was one of many events the boys participated in; some Scouts embraced backpacking while others dreaded it.

Not that there wasn’t an interest in backpacking, there simply was not an emphasis on decentralized, self-sufficient camping.

Recently, however, a few enthusiastic leaders among the Troop surfaced which has seemed to kick-start the backpacking program into a higher gear.

In the last few months, over 25 Boy Scouts have gone on at least one of the backpack trips I’ve led and show interest of going again. Out of the 25 boys, at least half of the group want to explore ways to reduce their pack base weight Continue reading