Scouting has meant a lot to me, and I estimate that I have spent about a year's worth of nights camping or backpacking as a scout or as a scout leader and hiked over 2000 miles on scout or scout alumni trips. Having two sons 16 years apart made it possible for me to have a long career, and when I started on my second stint I promised myself that I would take of every opportunity to provide a challenging outdoor adventure. If a troop doesn't have an outstanding outdoor program, it is going to be hard to retain a boy's interest over the long haul.
This became apparent to me when my grandson joined a troop that by all the standard measures was an outstanding troop - lots of boys made Eagle rank, was well funded and with efficient and well trained adult leadership. Unfortunately he dropped out in his third year due to a less than stellar outdoor program. As a committee member I tried to change the culture, but was stymied by comments such as "this is a boy run troop", etc.
Our troop was branded as Troop 24 - the High Adventure Troop, and our adventures bear that out. We had one of the best, if not the best outdoor programs in the country. Even today, more than a decade after they graduated from Scouting, we still try to have at least one backpacking trip every year. We've hiked in Washington, California, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Utah.
In 2001, when my son's group graduated, there were 24 boys in the troop with 4 or more years in scouting. For their scouting careers they had amassed 2011 nights of camping between them for an average of 14.9 nights per year per scout. Ten boys had more than 100 nights of camping, with one having 152 nights in 7 years and another 147 in 5 years. Those same boys racked up a cumulative 9183 hiking miles for an average of 69.1 miles per year per scout.
Nineteen of those 24 scouts had more than 200 hiking miles, with 10 scouts having more than 500, and with 2 having more than 700. Seven scouts averaged more than 90 mi/yr over their careers with one scout having an amazing 788 mi for an 157.6 mi/yr average with 209 miles in one year alone. And this wasn't easy hiking either, 10 scouts had more than 100000 feet of cumulative elevation gain, with one scout having almost 174000. Of the 24 boys, 23 of them completed their Eagle requirements. The one that didn't was proud to be a Tenderfoot for life as he was only in it for the hiking and camping.
I did a similar study for my grandson's troop. For a similar time range (2005-2012), there were 25 scouts with 4 or more years in scouting. For their careers they had 1418 nights of camping for an average of 9.5 nights/yr per boy. Only 4 boys had more than 100 nights of camping, with the maximum being 109 nights. When you compare hiking totals, the difference is even more revealing - 1898 hiking miles for an average of 12.7 mi/yr per scout. Only 4 boys had more than 200 miles with the maximum being 283 miles.
Every year I make calendars for my hiking companions with photos from our hikes. This album is a collection of those photos, and I think it shows "What Scouting Should Be". I'm making slow progress scanning in negatives from our hikes over the years (I only got a digital camera in 2006) so more will be coming. I use them as rotating wallpapers for my desktop. Photo albums for our backpacking trips may be viewed if you CLICK HERE.
If you want to save any of these photos to use as wallpaper on your computer, click the box under the thumbnails of the photos that you want to download. Then click the "Download" button at the top of the album. Pick the size you'd like to download (Original is best)and the photos will be downloaded to a folder of your choice. Save as many of these as you like.
I use Evjo Wallpaper changer to change my background every 10 minutes. Click here to download this program.
Check back every now and then as I'll add additional photos as I scan them in.