Meet the Experts

 Byron Ensor

Experience: 4 Years Backpacking, Scoutmaster for Troop 55 since 2011.

High Adventures:  Philmont, Seabase, Northern Tier, Adirondacks

 

 

 

Luke Ensor

Experience: 4 Years Backpacking, Assistant Scoutmaster for troop 55 since 2011.

High Adventures: Philmont, Seabase, Northern Tier, Adirondacks, Algonquin.

 

 

 



 

David Gaffney

Experience:  11 years backpacking, Committee Member for Troop 55 since 2011.

High adventures: Colorado (3 times), Okpik, Algonquin, Philmont.

 

Gear Reviews

Backcountry Camping

 Backpacking and Scouts

While there are many philosophies in the BSA how to run an outdoor program, we have found the best way to teach scouts leadership skills and responsibility is to take them out away from civilization, and force them to rely on each other for a successful outing.  The best way to accomplish this is backpacking.  One doesn’t need expensive canoes or trailers to provide a good program.  With a few small investments a troop can easily start up a backpacking program.  

 

Why backcountry?

Backcountry camping does two things first it gets the scouts and adults out of the mindset that they can just do a quick run to the local Wal-Mart or grocery store to pick up some item they forgot.  This forces the Scouts to be prepared for most contingencies.  When a scout forgets and item that he needs the next time he remembers to bring it.  The next thing it does it takes most people away from their comfort zone.

When a group is forced outside of their comfort zone they tend to stick together and forge better group dynamics that persist even when they return from the backcountry. 

The last thing it does it reduces gear requirements and waste by requiring better planning.  Troops no longer need to rely on Cast Iron cookware, large camp stoves, trailers pavilion and other large expensive and heavy items.  The troop becomes more efficient.  Trash becomes minimized and less impact is made on the environment.

 

Cost of Backpacking

Backpacking does come with costs.  To start out backpacking most of the equipment can be utilized from your existing supply.  Most of us already own a rain jacket of some sort, clothing, knives and a sundry of other minor gear that is required for backpacking.  The three main things that need to be purchased when starting out are: a backpack, a Sleeping Bag, and a Sleeping Pad  you can buy great examples of these for less than $300 dollars total.

 

Complete Starter Package for Under $300

Backpack

Osprey Atmos 65

$198

Sleeping Pad

Therm-a-rest Zlite Closed cell Foam

$30

Sleeping Bag

Slumber Jack Ultimate 30

$60

 

 

Troop Investment

A Boy Scout troop should make the necessary purchases for group equipment like tents, dining flies, stoves, and water filters.  When purchasing such equipment durability, longevity and weight all need to be carefully considered.  For a troop that spends more than half their outings in the backcountry longevity and durability is a must; a tent does no good if it only weighs 2 pounds, but needs to be replaced every other trip.  The good news for a troop is that equipment becomes more efficient and is cheaper in the long haul compared to heavy “tailgating with scouts” equipment.  A dining fly for example costs 50 dollars compared to a 250 dollar pavilion.