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Number of campouts required for First Class will double in 2016

Get ready to roll up the tent, stuff the sleeping bag and grab the flashlight. Because in 2016, Boy Scouts will do more camping than ever.

In a nod to the BSA’s century-old emphasis on preparing young people to spend time outdoors, the number of campouts required for First Class in Boy Scouting will double beginning in 2016.

This ensures that First Class Scouts will have enough camping experience to develop and improve on the outdoor skills promoted in Scouting. 

Here’s the deal. Although the number of troop or patrol activities remains the same (10 total for First Class), the number of campouts required has doubled — one for Tenderfoot, two more for Second Class, and three more for First Class — for a total of six overnight campouts. That’s up from three overnight campouts.

This is the latest in a series of posts where I take an in-depth look at changes coming to Boy Scouting next year.

I’ve already blogged about service hour requirements increasingScout becoming its own rank and Boy Scouts telling about their duty to God at each rank. You can read more about changes to Boy Scouting (and, for that matter, Cub Scouting and Venturing, on the Program Updates page.)

New Boy Scout camping requirements

Note that these nights are cumulative. The key words are “since joining.” A boy needs one night for Tenderfoot, two more for Second Class and three more for First Class.

Tenderfoot, requirement 1b

Old: One night

New: One night (no change)

Spend at least one night on a patrol or troop campout. Sleep in a tent you have helped pitch.

Second Class, requirement 1a

Old: One more night, for two total since joining

New: Two more nights, for three total since joining

Since joining, participate in five separate troop/patrol activities, three of which include overnight camping. These five activities do not include troop or patrol meetings. On at least two of the three campouts, spend the night in a tent that you pitch or other structure that you help erect (such as a lean-to, snow cave, or tepee).

First Class, requirement 1a

Old: One more night, for three total since joining

New: Three more nights, for six total since joining

Since joining, participate in 10 separate troop/patrol activities, six of which include overnight camping. These 10 activities do not include troop or patrol meetings. On at least five of the six campouts, spend the night in a tent that you pitch or other structure that you help erect (such as a lean-to, snow cave, or tepee).

What counts as camping?

On at least five of the six overnight campouts used toward First Class, the Scout must “spend the night in a tent that you pitch or other structure that you help erect (such as a lean-to, snow cave, or tepee).”

That means the sixth night could be spent in a cabin, for example.

What about Star, Life and Eagle?

There aren’t camping requirements for those ranks, because to become an Eagle Scout a young man must earn the Camping merit badge, which has its own camping requirements.

Requirement 9a for Camping states:

Camp a total of at least 20 nights at designated Scouting activities or events. One long-term camping experience of up to six consecutive nights may be applied toward this requirement. Sleep each night under the sky or in a tent you have pitched. If the camp provides a tent that has already been pitched, you need not pitch your own tent.

All campouts since becoming a Boy Scout or Varsity Scout may count toward this requirement, including those used to fulfill the requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class.

Learn more about Camping MB requirement 9a here.

When do you use these new requirements?

Follow this transition guide.

109 Comments on Number of campouts required for First Class will double in 2016

  1. I think that will make it harder for scouts to get to first class in 1 year’s time, unless that is no longer a program goal – which would be OK with me. We are in Wisconsin, so if a scout joins us in March, he will have already missed our winter campout. We then camp in May, June (summer camp), July, and October. I suppose technically they could make it to first class in a little over a year, as they could attend our winter campout and then the May outing to get to the six required.

    • Your troop should be camping once a month

      • I suppose in a perfect world with infinite time and resources and that would be true. But the months we are not camping we are doing other things

        March – 2 weekends spent supporting Scouting for Food
        August – 2 weeks our scouts spend at Wisconsin State fair providing service to the fair.
        November – 3 weekends selling wreaths at our charter organization, which is the only fundraiser we do so we can focus on other things the other 11 months of the year.

        April and December are not exactly the most conducive to camping in Wisconsin – frozen ground and/or mud, and no snow for quninzees.

        In addition, our scouts drive the program, and they have opted for a mix of camping and other activities. For example, in addition, to the three weeks of wreath selling this month, they still fit in a 12 mile hike along the Ice Age Trail, will be attending the commissioning ceremony for the USS Milwaukee, and supported an Eagle Scout project for one of our scouts. So, I am quite satisfied with what our scouts plan for their year.

        • Ed the world of Scouting is what the troop makes of it. Again, the promise made to the boys is to be in the outdoors. Troops should be camping each month. Cabin camps count if the requirement doesn’t say you have to pitch a tent. But get the boys out camping; not just doing a bunch of service and fundraising projects. This isn’t school, this is Scouting!

        • Camp at the fair. Camp at the church one of the fundraiser weekends to promote why you are fundraising. Camp somewhere to promote scouting for food.

          The camping doesn’t mean cooking and day activities and everything else. The camping requirement is pitching a tent and sleeping in it. It is a push, but circumstantial to your area one could stretch that to a potential tent indoors scenario.

          Point is as adults it is our place to help the boys run their program and give them the resources to do so.

        • Ed, you can still have your scouts drive the program. However, there is nothing wrong with adult leaders giving the scouts a goal of camping monthly. Then the scouts can decide on where to camp (within reason). Our Troop sells wreaths and popcorn but we let the boys decide on how to sell those items. Most go door to door. Some gather in small groups and set up tables outside of businesses or religious institutions. We prefer to leave the weekends free for camping. That leaves us 3 weekends a month for other activities.
          There are probably many members of your charter organization that actually enjoy buying wreaths. Why not ask them to put down their name/telephone number, etc. on paper for next year’s wreaths. Some will some won’t. Next year, instead of spending 3 weekends selling wreaths you can have your scouts spend 3 hours calling last year’s buyers. Some boys will be great at making sales over the phones. Tip: If they bought 1 wreath last year, have the scouts ask them to buy 2. You never know. Then the scouts can argue about who sold the most wreaths while they are camping. Good luck.

        • We use Scouting for Food as an introduction to camping. We pass out bags and flyers on Saturday morning and go to camp in the afternoon. It gives the new scouts a chance to get their feet wet.

        • I always find it interesting how different things are in different places. For example, here in California, Scouting for Food occurs on the two weekends preceding Thanksgiving (now, basically). And due to the weather, we’re camping all year long, too. Good luck in WI! Oh, and what’s this “snow” thing you talk about? 😉

        • We live in Alaska. Our troop stays busy as well but they don’t shy away from winter camping, which is basically half our year. Ground frozen… Yes. Several feet of snow in the ground… Yes. Below freezing temps… Yes. But they come up with orienteering exercises, skills games, Winter Olympics activities, and they have fun. It might be interesting to challenge your scouts to add another weekend or even 1 night of camping each quarter.

        • Karl Badman // December 16, 2015 at 2:38 pm //

          Ed, Our Pennsylvania troop does it’s Scouting-For-Food in November, and add a Camp-out and Court of Honor to the Bag pick-up. We go out on Fri. night and tent overnight, Reveille early enough to have breakfast before leaving our camp for the bag pick-up. Finish that and back to camp for a simple lunch (usually Grilled Cheese & Soup), Clean up from that and begin cooking our dinner (always a full Thanksgiving Dinner (cooked completely in the outdoors (over fire/Propane stove))), after KP, we have the Court of Honor (with families invited, of course) then Taps and into tents for a second night… Obviously, since your SFF is in March the Thanksgiving theme would not work, but the camp-out is an idea to get another night (at least, you could camp Sat into Sun, if that is what works for you) of camping in. — Aug, you could add (at least) one overnighter to the fair weeks (more if you can make the logistics work (that way, maybe every scout can find at least one night to camp)), it shouldn’t be too difficult to get a piece of ground at the fair to set up tents and have the scouts sleep overnight. — November, If your charter Organization has a building, set up a lock in on one of the weekends (maybe even set up tents in the room (if the space allows it) used for the lock in (to count it as a tenting c/o))! —- That adds at least 3 nights camping to your schedule without changing it… — 3/4 of Scouting is (and should be) Outing(s), (literally)!! —– Sincerely, yours in Scouting, Karl, ASM, Troop 90.

      • I used to believe this standard, I really did, and I think it’s a fine ideal to have. However, with experience and over time, it just doesn’t happen, especially in northern climates. We’re just not going to go camping once a month in November, December, January, and February. Yes we do outdoor winter camping but one time sleeping in the snow is fun, 4 times is a chore, and the boys are scouts, not Marines. More than one indoor camp is also something the boys are not interested in and I don’t blame them–not to mention the expense that a council lodge facility entails.

        So, maybe “should be” is the ideal, for a southern troop filled with boys who don’t play sports and have no other interests during the school year than scouts…

        • Michael – As SM for a “Southern troop” we have the opposite issue – heat. Yes, we can camp year-round, but it is just plain unpleasant in July and August. We camp one of those months and make it a water location; river, lake or beach. The other we take off, although the Scouts have been discussing adding that campout back in. We’ll see what the PLC decides tonight for next summer. But the reality is that when it is 105 during the day and mid 80’s at night, it isn’t very fun for anyone.

          And I don’t think I have any Scouts who do not have outside interests; we just camp with the Scouts that are available.

        • Matt Price, Scoutmaster // November 16, 2015 at 11:06 am //

          So I can not fault Ed. The reason is that there isn’t a single adult or youth unless they have absolutely no life at all that can camp all weekends of the year.

          Yes, the OA is supposed to encourage camping. But in one month – say March and April – you have your District Camporee, OA Event, Council Camporee – where does it end?

          It ends within reason. Camping is an outdoor activity – but If that is the only thing that happens during the month – most will opt out of Service opportunities.

          An outing is an outing – if you camp that’s great – if you are in the public in Uniform – that is great.

          But the idea that camping every month is more idealistic than reality.\

        • Nahila Nakne // November 16, 2015 at 11:24 am //

          Respectfully disagree. It is possible for a troop to camp out 12 months a year. You may not get every scout or leader to every camp out, but you can have enough to have a camp out.

          As for southern units, as others have stated, we have to deal with the heat. Heat exhaustion and stroke are issues, and I’ve had to send folks home.

          I admit my current troop historically does not camp in January, having a lock in instead. Reason I was told, and have seen, is that since the troop receives the Cross Overs in December, most new Boy Scouts do not have the cold weather gear needed. We spend January going over gear and how to adapt stuff from home for cold weather.

        • I understand the snow…grew up in NY. Now I’m in Texas and the only month we don’t camp in is August. We move one of our meetings to a local lake and have an end of the Summer party instead. We’re in Fort Worth, TX, so we don’t get much snow, but we do get ice and cold temps. We camp regardless of the weather. Only one meeting has been cancelled under my watch as Scoutmaster (6 years). Schools had been closed for two days due to several inches of ice on the ground. The Outdoor program is crucial to Scouting’s success. I’d encourage everyone to get outside and camp!

      • We have a camp out every month do there is no issue getting the required number in. We live in Mexico,NY lake effect Capitol. In fact on our October camp out this year, we had 9″ of snow that we woke up to on Sunday.

        • Kelly Horton // November 16, 2015 at 11:54 am //

          Yeah, we had those Mexico, NY scouts at Camp Brule’ despite the 3 1/2 hour drive. I hope to see you at the Brotherhood International Camp Out come this fall.

      • We have a weekend overnight every month with the exception of July (Scout Camp), August (Big Backpack), September (Half month), and December (half month). I have found that the level of participation period directly reflects a scouts abilities to advance to 1st Class within a year. It has been a goal for our troop for a very long time, and I keep up that standard now since I have been the scoutmaster for the past 5 years.
        It has always been a battle between schoolwork, sports, and other extra curricular activities.

      • scott richardson // November 16, 2015 at 3:30 pm // Reply

        I agree. I had 32 nights of camping with scouts in the past year and my son has 50. And yes, we also did scouting for food, eagle projects, service projects, troop hikes, orienteering day, etc.
        And the entire troop is in marching band, so we lose two months to that.

      • We try to get our 11 year old scouts to 1st Class before they turn 12 but they can only go 3 times with us so this won’t be possible with the new requirements.

    • So if a scout joins in March and misses winter camp and the next camping opportunity is May what do you do in April? What do you do between July and October (August and September)? April through October would give 7 opportunities. Things change and we have to learn to adapt.

      • H. David Pendleton // November 16, 2015 at 8:47 am // Reply

        Not all troops camp 12 months of the year. There may be some very small troops that only camp quarterly because there are only 5-8 Scouts and only a couple of adults that are active. Maybe the 2 active adults cannot camp more for a variety of reasons.

        Not all troops are the same and that’s a good thing about Scouts.

        • David, To augment Allen’s ideas above, some of your area troops might take your scouts in on their trips. we do this on occasion. Your council should also provide camporees, etc to help with the required nights. We’ve taken Lone Scouts in as renegade scouts in the past.

        • When I was the Scout Master of a small troop 6-12 scouts some times we only had 3-4 scouts on a camp out but we still had it and we camped every month except December. And yes it gets cold in the mountains of Colorado but if you are prepared not bad. We also typically had another day outing each month, service project, day hike, bike ride, …

          The youth attended what they could and many could make First class by the time we went to Summer camp in July. With this new requirement would they be first class by July probably not, but is that bad? Not necessarily. They may even become first class at Summer camp.

    • May=2 nights, June (summer camp) = 5-6 nights, July= 2 nights October = 2 nights. That is 11-12 nights of camping. If the scout goes to summer camp and a couple others he’s made it.

      • It’s number of camp-outs, not number of nights camping. Instead, you would count it as May, June, July, and October. That’s 4 camp-outs, and it would not meet the requirement.

    • jeannie Hernandez // November 17, 2015 at 5:02 pm // Reply

      If your boys camp at scout camp the first time, there’s 6-7 nights right there…even if you camp every other month there’s 12 more! 😉

      • Nahila Nakne // November 17, 2015 at 6:03 pm // Reply

        Summer Camp would only count as 1 camp out.

        requirements

        http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/2016BoyScoutRequirements_8.14.2015.pdf

        Tenderfoot : Spend at least ONE NIGHT (emphasis) on a patrol or troop campout. Sleep in a tent you have helped pitch.

        Second class: Since joining, participate in five separate troop/patrol activities, three of which include overnight camping. These five activities do not include troop or patrol
        meetings. ON AT LEAST TWO OF THESE THREE CAMP OUTS spend the night in a tent that you pitch or other structure that you help erect (such as a lean-to, snow cave, or tepee)

        First Class: Since joining, participate in 10 separate troop/patrol activities, six of which include overnight camping. These 10 activities do not include troop or patrol
        meetings. ON AT LEAST FIVE OF THE SIX CAMPOUTS, spend the night in a tent that you pitch or other structure that you help erect (such as a lean-to, snow cave,
        or tepee)

    • Personally, I am NOT a fan of setting goals such as “First Class by ….” This was a big push a while back in BSA because “studies show” that Scouts who earn First Class in their first year are more apt to stay in.
      However, I have found (through talking to many people, and especially Scouts), they don’t necessarily stay in because they earn the rank in a year … they stay in because the Program is built to keep them busy and give them the opportunity to earn First Class in a Year. Ed, your Troop can plan 6-8 campouts each year (remember, these don’t have to be two-night/ full weekend campouts, just one night is sufficient, AND, this includes Summer Camp). And this still gives some monthly activities for cabin camping, Adirondaks, lock-in or just a one-day event (whatever your PLC chooses).
      If the program is planned and opportunities are offered, and if a Scout participates in all the activities your PLC develops (with oversight and guidance from the SM), then that Scout should be able to earn First Class with no problem. The point to keeping Scouts is the Program offered, not the rank earned. Don’t focus so much on advancement as on the skills and experiences for the Scouts.

    • I understand not every troop can do an actual campout each month depending on circumstance, but failing to have one every other month is kind of failing the boys in the program. When I joined Scouting in 2001 until I aged out in 2008, I only missed 2 monthly camp outs. (We camped every month.) If you only camp 8 times a year and boy doesn’t attend 6 do to sports, marching band, etc. that is their choice.

      I played soccer and ran track, but I planned soccer and track around Scouts and even missed the occasional game to go camping. I’m glad that for once the Scouting program isn’t getting easier. I am also glad they are putting more emphasis on the on the “outing” of “scouting”.

      The Scout program draws boys in with their promise of the outdoor program, then teaches the boys leadership skills. However, failing to allow them the chance to utilize these skills in the outdoors is failing to provide the service promised to them and their parents.

  2. Doug DeMeritt // November 16, 2015 at 8:30 am // Reply

    I think he has a good point and one I considered when reviewing the new requirements for winter bound scouts we don’t always camp in a tent they pitched. We are in Massachusetts and last year we had “snowmageddon” For example last March we slept in open lean to’s not a tent so that wouldn’t count as sleeping in a tent you pitched. We camp once a month or go on a trip if the scout is active they will meet the requirement. Just Northern scouts will have 2-3 months of the year that might not always be in a pitched tent but could still be out in the elements.

    • Why don’t you count the lean-to campouts? the requirement as stated in the article above is: “spend the night in a tent that you pitch or other structure that you help erect (such as a lean-to, snow cave, or tepee)”

      • I’m located in MA. Our troop sleeps in lean-tos for one of their campouts almost every year (the first campout for new scouts because we require a parent attend and we don’t have enough tents for everyone). The lean-tos we use are standing structures that have a solid slanted roof, two triangular walls and concrete pad at one of the Boy Scout camps nearby. They accommodate a large number of people.

    • Lean tos, snow caves and Teepees do count the same as pitching a tent.

      • Ted – how do you define a lean-to? I personally think an Adirondack would count – but the tradition in our troop is to not count sleeping in Adirondack’s for the camping merit badge because it has a hard roof. So I’ve honored our troop’s standard. We do count igloos and snow caves as qualifying, and as far as I know, no one in our troop has spent an evening in a tee-pee while scouting.

        • ah, never mind. I see the requirement. A lean-to is something you have to erect. So an Adirondack would be classified as an open cabin?

        • Dave – I use this as my guide ” or other structure that you help erect ” in your case the Adirondack would already be built so I would not count it. If the lean to is made from a square tarp and the scout erected it then it would count. We count hammocks if they also have a tarp over it.

        • Scouter Mom // November 18, 2015 at 1:18 am //

          You could count it for the one where you could count cabin camping. Helps a little.

  3. I think this is a good idea. It takes several campouts to learn the skills needed for First Class, and it’s better to teach them in a practical environment than to do it at a meeting where other things need attention. 6 campouts would not be that difficult to achieve in a year’s time for most troops, who should be camping once every month to two months.

  4. It sounds to me as if his troop is active each month and Service Projects count as activity. While camping once a month is ideal his scouts appear to have been empowered to make their own decisions. What works for his troop may not work for yours.

    To the topic at hand – more camping nights. For some troops (as discussed above) this may make it more difficult for scouts to make First Class in a year. For my troop I don’t think it is going to make a difference. We don’t camp each month either but we do camp most months of the year. Where I live in Southern Illinois (that’s the lower half, not just south of Chicago 😀 ) our climate is conducive to camping most times of the year. We do get rain, etc but we make the best of it.

    However, a scout aiming for First Class only has to camp 6 times in 12 months. Perhaps in the primary example given those patrols which have First Class aspirants could do their own camp out – with qualified adult supervision – separate from the Troop? The Scout Handbook suggests that such Patrol level activities are allowable. the PLC should help to ensure Patrol activities complement the goals of the troop. The 2 goals are not mutually exclusive however.

  5. I know that it will be difficult for our scout to become first class in a year, being in the North East most of our late fall/winter camping is done in cabins (for practical reasons) and we don’t have the ability to camp every month, due to over booked schedules for kids and adults.

    And if your response is they should make the time, please feel free to send a handful of your spare adult drivers my way.

    • Cabin campout can count for one of the 6 campouts. So we are talking about 5 campouts in a tent within 12 months. Should be doable in an active troop.

    • Just an idea. Our Troop is also from the Northeast. We have had many scouts over the years sleep in tents, whenever possible, outside of the cabins during the Winter cabin trips.
      This helped them achieve the 20 tent nights needed for the Camping MB. This can now also help scouts with the new requirements. Good luck.

    • We are talking six nights in a year. One weekend camping trip could be two nights – Friday night and Saturday night. Throw in one multiple night Summer camp and they are done. It is only some troops that limit their younger scouts to one night away from home at a time – sort of like a sleep over. Those troops will have to organize more camping trips.

      • I read that as six activities, with a minimum of six nights camping … one campout of two nights only counts as one activity. Did someone read something different??

        • Bryan Wendell // November 17, 2015 at 5:34 pm //

          You’re right. A one-night or two-night (or five-night) campout would count as one campout. “Since joining, participate in 10 separate troop/patrol activities, six of which include overnight camping.” The key word is separate.

      • It’s six camp-outs… not six nights.

  6. Our Troop is probably a bit unique. We are located in Upstate NY we get ice, snow and cold-cold weather. Our guys have the opportunity to camp each month. They also have the opportunity to backpack as well (at least 6 BP per year giving the scouts at least 18 opportunities to camp) Not all of our scouts(or adults) go on every campout. We may have 20 scouts and 8 adults or 5 scouts and 3 adults. Some go for one night most for both. Our guys look to get their year-rounder each year. Two of our Eagle Scouts just aged out each with their 7 year rounder (they are still camping with us as adults). One of our Scoutmasters retired with a 14 year rounder. Our current SM has a 10 YR. I am working on my 6 YR….I am a female Assist. Scoutmaster. Our youth (and adults) have plenty of other interests, sports, teams, clubs and school, We do plenty of service projects, and fundraisers, it’s a balancing act but it is possible to get it all done and enjoy it

  7. In our troop we camp 11 months out of the year with December being the only one we do not because of the holidays.

  8. Brian, you may want to clarify what you wrote here regarding the requirements. The requirements talk about going on 6 CAMPOUTS, while you mention in the comments about 6 NIGHTS. Two different things there.

    It should say, “That means the sixth CAMPOUT could be spent in a cabin, for example.”

    I don’t think we want troops to mistakenly think that they could do three 2-night campouts and be done with the requirements.

    Your note on First Class, for example, should state: “New: Three more CAMPOUTS, for six total since joining.”

    • Good call on the language used on the requirements. The “sea lawyers” out there could have a field day with 2 two night camp outs counting as meeting the new Tenderfoot and Second Class camping requirements of camping out 3 nights.

  9. Nahila Nakne // November 16, 2015 at 9:58 am // Reply

    My thoughts.

    1) There is to much focus on FIRST CLASS, FIRST YEAR, and not enough on program.

    I remember reading about OPERATION FIRST CLASS back in 1989, and asked why don’t the stats show how active the troops are that are producing First Class Scouts in a year? “Hiking and Camping Troops” with an active outdoor program will produce First Class Scouts in a year of so, and will have better retention. In fact, I’ve seen outdoor oriented troops retain Scouts and 18-20 year old leaders a lot better than those units that focus on advancement. William “Green Bar Bill” said it best: “OUTING is three-fourths of ScOUTING.” (And he is misquoted in the current BSHB)

    2) Time manangement is an important life skill for Scouts to learn. Also my troop has camped out after doing service projects and during fundraisers. I vividly remember camping out at the Cajun National Drag Racing competiion while we did the trash detail as a fundraiser.

    3) Part of Scouting is mastering outdoor skills in all environments. Can this be difficult, yes. Growing up in SE Louisiana, I’m still getting use to the cold. But BSA has resources out there to assist in training adults and Scouts on how to camp in the extreme cold. Don’t let the cold keep you inside.

    4) How will this affect LDS units that the 11 year old patrol only camps 3 times a year?

    And remember Green Bar Bill’s other quote: ” SCOUTING IS OUTING!”

    • The recommendation in the guide to advancement is to try to get the boys to First Class within 12-18 months of joining the troop. That should really be doable in an active troop.

      • Bill,

        The recomendation in the G2A comes from 1989’s OPERATION FIRST CLASS. Stats showed that Scouts who got First Class within a year of joining stayed longer. As part of OPERATION FIRST CLASS, national did away with the time requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class. So theoretically it could take about 2 to 3 months to get from Scout to First Class.

        In fact when they did away with the time requirements, none of the literature stated how you could conduct a BOR for a Scout going for multiple ranks on the same nite. So I sat on 3 BORs in one nite for a Scout who was with us for 4 months. We did his Tenderfoot BOR, got another Scout in, got the original Scout in for Second Class, to another scout in, then finally did the Original Scout’s First Class BOR. Yep, he went from Scout to First Class in one nite.

        And even with the old time requirements, for an active troop is was doable. Only reason why it took me 13 months to go from Scout to First Class was the SM wanted me to use a specific First Aid MB counselor at summer camp. It was worth the wait as it has been the best class I ever took.

      • We chucked that recommendation several years ago, and have generated twice the fun and just as many Eagles (most if whom weren’t 1st class until their 4th year)!

  10. Here in the keys we have small troops. No more than 15 per troop and only 5 troops within our district. My unit is currently at 10 boys and 3-4 of them are in some sport year round. Adults is a rarity here so over the years I’ve made a commitment to work with the troop to my north and south. We augment each other 3-4 times a year. Mainly for just one of the 2 nights we camp because someone works weekends and can only get one night off or their daughter is in the school play and they want to go see that. Both troops are about 30 minutes away.

    We don’t camp 12 months a year and I doubt many do. I was just inquiring on the gaps between the months Ed’s group did camp and trying to give suggestions on how to work around the new requirements.

    I think that with the change the PLC should be informed and then allow them to ‘worry’ about it. They may want to adapt and add campout choices or they may not care too much as some boys do not care as much as many adults on rank progression. The boys should progress, but at a pace that is comfortable to that scout.

    • No worries – I have no issue with adding to the camping requirement. In fact, I completely agree that camping is important. I’m just saying that for our troop’s current approach, it will be a challenge (but not impossible) for a new scout to make it to first class in the year they join. But, we camp enough over a 12 to 18 month period for scouts to make it in that time frame, and our non-camping outings lets them take care of the other requirements. Our PLC will be meeting in the next three weeks to plan 2016, and the new advancement requirements will be one of the bits of information they will be given to guide them.

      I like the idea of setting up tents at the church for one of our scouting for food weekends. Would the scouts have fun doing this – yes. Would it give them another night under canvas for their advancement requirements – yes. Is this really ‘camping’? Personally I think it is a stretch to call it that, just like it is to say that using an existing trailside shelter on a multi-day backpacking trip is not camping because a tent was not used, but the requirements need to be read as they are.

  11. In our troop, the average number of nights camped per scout per year is around 14. We have some scouts who camp 30 nights per year. (Last year, we had one scout who camped 40 nights) And we have others who have not camped at all in the past year. Camping six times in order to reach first class is very reasonable. Camping only 3 times so we can make it to first class in the first year was a pretty lame standard.

    There are some months we’ll have more than one campout planned. But the goal of the PLC when putting together the annual calendar is to have at least one campout per month. About five or six years back we had to add more to the winter months as some traditions of camping in foul weather had slackened in our troop. There wasn’t anything besides staying in a cabin in December through March. So we worked on finding some additional places to go. One campout was added that is in the rain shadow of the mountains. Another was added that is at a state park with a nice covered shelter in the group camp site. An early backpacking trip to the canyons in the dry, eastern part of the state was also added. A campout to go sledding and snowshoeing and pitch tents on snow was added. Three of these are now annual traditions because the scouts enjoy them. Help the scouts figure out something that will keep them dryer in the winter months, and they’ll manage to have fun, whatever the temperature.

    • H. David Pendleton // November 17, 2015 at 12:33 pm // Reply

      Our troop is similar. Most of Scouts in our troop camp around 14-15 nights a year. My son crossed over in February 2013 so has been a Boy Scout for 33 months. Last weekend marked his 99th Day of camping since becoming a Boy Scout so he is averaging 3 nights a month. Our Summer Camp is 9 nights, however, so that helps and we camp every month. Most months it is 2 nights, but for December or January it could be only 1 night.

  12. I feel sorry for the LDS youth this affects. 11 year old LDS scouts are only allowed to camp 3 night a year, so they won’t be able to reach 1st class in their first year anymore. Most LDS units I’ve associated with aren’t major campers. Weekend camps are only 1 evening with everyone home before 10 a.m. Barely enough time for dinner, sleep and breakfast. If the BSA really wanted to improve the camping skills, they would have set a requirements concerning the duration of camps that fulfill the T-1st advancement. Even if an LDS boy is in a troop that actively camps once a month, he’s only reaching 1st class at the same time boys from other units are Star or even Life.

    • I agree. Our bishop has said no to over night camping for 11 yo Scouts unless Dad is present. That adds to the difficulty of getting the camping nights in.

      • Maybe your troop should find another sponsor that won’t dictate the requirements for your Boy Scout troop. I can see the Bishop saying no overnight camping for his Church’s youth activities, but the troops are only sponsored by the Church. There is no rule in Boy Scouts that limits the activities to no overnight camping unless the child’s Dad is present (not even the Mom?) for 11 year olds.

    • Our troop welcomed a guest Scout from the local Mormon troop when it went on camping trips and even Summer camp. His parents believed in the value of camping, backpacking, hiking. Our troop did all of this extensively, including snow camping, white water kayaking, rock climbing trips – it seemed that there was some troop or patrol trip every month. His troop did little of this, so he would quietly join our troop for these trips all the way until he finished High School. There’s a way, if the parents want it.

  13. Guess my first comment went to the ether. This requirement is nights camping, and if a troop goes to summer camp, only leaves 4-6 nights to do. In our area many weekend camps are 2 nights, and so is camporee, and often winter camp which is in tents. Not a huge difficulty; and who says a bit of effort and commitment are not good.

    Also, keep in mind that the goal is a monthly outdoor activity, not just camping; so hikes of various sorts and service projects in the park or forest. Bit thing is these are goals, not set in concrete. And it is not necessary for a scout to make First Class in a year or less; many would say two years time is a good amount, which allows more than just checking off stuff. Rank, even Eagle, are only supposed to be tools, not the end goal. By using these tools, you hopefully find scouts becoming better, more rounded individuals, and learning real life coping skills, which is really the ultimate reason for the program, as I have always understood. Have had numerous scouts never go past First Class, a couple not even that far; but they stuck around and became helpful to the younger scouts, and some even appear off and on to help out. One of those is a Lt. Col in the Army, approaching retirement; all this Ranger talks about is the fun he had, especially camping and hiking. He learned a lot, even though never going farther than he did. We were part of his family in the most important years of his life, filling a gap that needed filling.
    We need to not forget the ultimate truth; Scouting is a game that if played well, will return citizens and family men that never forget the tenets of the Oath and Law, and are better prepared to meet the world challenges than most of their peers; that is whether or not they ever go “all the way”, or simply hang around for the fun and comradeship; and if we are lucky absorb the basic tools for good citizenship and adult success.

  14. Grandpawof2girls@yahoo.com // November 17, 2015 at 9:01 am // Reply

    Back in the day 60’s we camped out all the time at least once a month with big old army tents that were donated and camped anywhere from a old farm to a parks, we hicked to every camp site, even did a 50 mile hike in a week and got the 50 mile patch (leather patch) and a mile swim in a local lake (patch) did several winter camp outs, once it was 18 degrees that nite and heated rocks in the fire that day and placed them in metal buckets for our tents that nite, stayed nice and warm.
    Those were the fun days back then, been told they can’t do that stuff anymore, yea that is disappointing we learned to survive, and from those experiences I learned, I taught my boys and hope to team my grandkids. I believe Survival isn’t taught anymore except from books I miss those days as I grow older and am DAV………..

  15. And what about freezing weather? No cold weather clause? National needs to wake up that we don’t all live in Texas. Make 1 snow cave required and let’s hear them complain down south 😉 how about indoor camp outs count when outdoor events would be canceled?

    • Every boy should learn how to dig a snow cave and sleep in it overnight. Northern California troops drive up to the Sierra Nevada every year to do a Klondike Derby for 2 nights/3 days. 6 nights in one year is not difficult. One or two 2 night camp outs and a trip to Summer camp and you are done.

      • H. David Pendleton // November 19, 2015 at 12:19 pm // Reply

        That’s going to be a long drive for a troop in Key West Florida, southern Louisiana, or south Texas. That’s why there are options because every troop is not 60 Scouts, 2 parents with the family in the top half of the income brackets.

        • Ryan Kelly // December 3, 2015 at 2:57 pm //

          Then Winter camping shouldn’t be a problem for you. This was an answer for people who think that snow would prevent camping out in the snow during the Winter. The Klondike derby is located in a county park for free, the campers sleep in tents or dig snow caves, cook over outdoor fires, etc. I don’t know why you think that this is an elitist activity.

  16. I’m surprised at the dismay of camping in the winter months – there is no bad weather, just bad gear. Our troop camps every month, rain or shine, snow, sleet or hail. In the last year we’ve bailed once, after setting up camp, when rain dumped 3″ in a half an hour and flooded the camping area.

    For those troops that do not camp monthly, why not encourage your patrols to camp on their own in those months? For the troops doing activities in some months, maybe consider camping at some of them?

  17. As an Eagle Scout and Dad of two Eagles- and multiple time District Chairman- I applaud this. We always camped 1-2 nights per month in addition to community service projects. I think I had well over 100 nights of camping in my time, including summer camps and Philmont- probably more now that I think about it. I also always advanced to the next rank in the minimum amount of service time required. In today’s busy world with Athletics and school functions- it is important to keep the boys ACTIVE in Scouting!

  18. We camped no matter the weather- got polar bear awards almost annually. Builds character and teaches proper planning for clothing, etc.

  19. Slightly confused: THREE nights camping in one year is daunting for some troops?

    I understand that snow is a plausible limitation for some northern troops, but a weekend campout (Fri and Sat night) in September and October puts you over the line. Add another pair in April and May and you’ve offered EIGHT nights of camping where a Scout only needs THREE.

    What am I misunderstanding?

    • It is what scouting has become. I applaud the effort to restore Boy Scouts to its original focus.

      • It seems you’re misunderstanding two things:

        First, it is not NIGHTS camping, but ACTIVITIES. A two-night campout only counts as one activity.

        Second, it’s not three activities now, but six–one for Tenderfoot, 2 more for 2nd Class, 3 more for 3rd Class. Your proposed schedule only gets you up to 4.

        • Wow, my brain’s asleep. 1st class has apparently been relegated to 3rd…

  20. Thomas Buhrke // November 17, 2015 at 4:42 pm // Reply

    I was a Scoutmaster for about 5 years We were a backpacking troop, Parked trucks and hiked in at least 5 miles. Camped all year, sometimes 2 times a month. We had about 30 scouts. Was a busy troop, but fun times! New rules not a problem if I was still in scouting. I miss all of the troop! Happy Scouting everyone!

  21. Jim Whitmore // November 17, 2015 at 6:20 pm // Reply

    Can we allow verified camping with families or non-scout camping events toward these requirements? For advancement and merit badge.

    • Nahila Nakne // November 18, 2015 at 7:37 am // Reply

      For rank advancement the answer is NO (all caps for emphasis) as it must be with the troop or patrol. Being a Den Chief and camping with the pack would not qualify either.

      Tenderfoot: Spend at least one night on a PATROL OR TROOP CAMPOUT. Sleep in a tent you have helped pitch.

      Second Class: Since joining, participate in five SEPARATE TROOP/PATROL, three of which include OVERNIGHT CAMPING. These five activities do not include troop or patrol meetings. On at least two of the three campouts, spend the night in a tent that you pitch or other structure that you help erect (such as a lean-to, snow cave, or tepee).

      First Class: Since joining, participate in 10 SEPARATE TROOP/PATROL activities, six of which include OVERNIGHT CAMPING. These 10 activities do not include troop or patrol meetings. On at least five of the six campouts, spend the night in a tent that you pitch or other structure that you help erect (such as a lean-to, snow cave, or tepee).

      As for Camping Merit Badge, again NO as the rewquirement states

      a.Camp a total of at least 20 nights at designated SCOUTING ACTIVITIES OR EVENTS.* One long-term camping experience of up to six consecutive nights may be applied toward this requirement. Sleep each night under the sky or in a tent you have pitched. If the camp provides a tent that has already been pitched, you need not pitch your own tent.

      • Thanks sharing for this accurate information. I’ll add one more point. Short term camping has been defined as 3 nights or less.

  22. Not enough tents is no excuse. A tarp and some rope is like $6 at Harbor Freight. Our boys quit pitching tents years ago. They build their shelters when they get to camp on Friday night and they are quick to come down on Sunday morning. If it is a cold weather campout then they put more boys per shelter and angle the silver side to reflect the heat of the fire. Usually with a good bag they are fine unless it gets much below zero.

  23. First Class, requirement 1a

    Old: One more night, for three total since joining

    New: Three more nights, for six total since joining

    Since joining, participate in 10 separate troop/patrol activities, six of which include overnight camping. These 10 activities do not include troop or patrol meetings. On at least five of the six campouts, spend the night in a tent that you pitch or other structure that you help erect (such as a lean-to, snow cave, or tepee).

    The way I read this it says 6 nights of camping but on 6 separate troop activities. “10 SEPERATE activities, 6 of which include camping.” So those saying 2 weekends plus summer camp are incorrect. But even our SMALL troop can manage to do this in a year as we usually only get camping 6-8 times, including summer camp and do other activities the other months. We are in the northeast and camp 5-6 times during spring-fall and once in the winter. So I don’t see that this is all that much more difficult.

  24. While I like the concept, and most of our guys will have no problem with the new requirements, I do have a technical question that may impact some of our guys … Our council reservation recently replaced their tents with Adirondacks (essentially 3 sided cabins). Will they count as “tents” when counting nights camping? Summer camp is about the only way our boys make the “6 contiguous nights” requirement for OA, etc. I never thought about this until I read this post.

    • Did the boys help erect the Adirondaks?

      In situations like these, I suggest you call the camp ranger/director and explain your situation. I doesn’t even have to be for advancement purposes. Tell him (or better yet have your SPL make the call), “My boys want to be under canvas or in our self-erected shelters. What can you do for us?”

    • No room beside the Adirondack to pitch a tent?

  25. 1) Many of you are not reading the requirements correctly – summer camping is ONE EVENT, which includes camping – the six nights are irrelevant for the purposes of the requirement. This means that six separate overnight events are needed to meet the requirement.
    2) The LDS Church currently allows 11-year-olds to have three nights of camping, so that they can meet the First Class requirements during that year (it had allowed two nights of camping) – this will mean that LDS Scouts CANNOT meet the First Class requirements in one year.

    • Nahila Nakne // November 18, 2015 at 7:40 am // Reply

      Any chance the LDS church will change their stance on limiting the number of camp outs for 11 year olds, or for that matter having them as an essentially separate unit?

      • The LDS Church released their guidance earlier this year with regards to the changes, and the 11yos are still limited to 3 overnights per year. I’ve never been bitten by following rules, so that’s what I’ll keep our new scout patrol to. They’ll earn their 1st class in 15-16 months instead of 12, as our older patrols camp monthly.

    • Or, don’t worry about it. The boys can earn the badge when they turn 12. When a chartered organization wants boys to make certain things a priority (especially when it only impacts a boy for one year) their scouters should respect that.

      That said, I could see some ambitious 11 year-olds pestering thier families to connect them with a non-LDS troop so they can get those 3 remaining campouts done before their 12th birthday. 😉

    • H. David Pendleton // November 19, 2015 at 12:24 pm // Reply

      I talked to an LDS Unit Commissioner last night at our District Commissioner’s meeting about this very issue (I’m not LDS). As long as the Scout’s Dad is on the trip, their local bishop is not going to prevent the 11-year olds from camping more than 3 nights in a year. Thus, most LDS troops where they try to get their Scouts to First Class in a year after crossing over should be able to do it.

      • That’sounds not going to be consistent. It will depend totally on the local bishops. I’don’t bet most won’the agree because that’she not the policy. It is pretty rarely that the 11 year old Scout patrol should join outings with the deacon-age (12-13 year olds).
        Unfortunately, many wards look at the 3 night rule and apply that to any outings. In reality, the patrol should be going out monthly, just not overnight. They can, and should, be setting up kitchens and having meals on these days outings.
        Like Johnathan said, it’llc just take a little longer. The problem just becomes that’she a long time without recognition. It would be nice to just focus on T-1st class skills, but there’should not really enough material to keep busy for a year, so boys will be sitting in rank with everything complete except for outings. Program planning just gets a little different.

        • *That’s not going to be consistent. Stupid autocorrect.

      • Even if a bishop is a stickler for policy, if the boys are having fun, it’s not a problem. There are still two ranks and plenty of merit badges to earn in that first year.

        The only boys who will notice the change are the current first-years who haven’t earned first class by December and maybe the younger siblings in next years’ groups.

        It will be interesting how this plays out for 12-year-olds in certain LDS troops. Maybe instead of summer camp, they will schedule 3 consecutive weekends overnights. Or one week of three different types of campouts — coming home for a day every other day. On the last event, schedule boards of reviews. Award ranks at the next meeting.

        I’m no fan of “high speed, low drag”, but a program like that might be kinda neat.

  26. not a problem here in Connecticut, we camp every month plus summercamp
    and other outings, camporees. Rain or Snow. 20+ a year

  27. The issue that annoys me slightly is that the new wording requires the use of shelter for at least one night of five events that involve camping. If you are sleeping in the open, you are not in a shelter that you helped erect.

    • It’s rare that a young scout will be comfortable sleeping under the stars.
      However, I’d let a PL count such a night as long as the boy’s site was properly prepared and maintained according Leave-no-Trace principles.

  28. So how does long term (summer camp) in an open air Adirondack count. With no tent, I’d read this as not eligible toward the goal?

    • Nahila Nakne // November 20, 2015 at 7:28 pm // Reply

      You would count it as only 1 activity IF the other 2 for Second Class, and other 5 for First class are in tents or other structures they built.

      • Assuming that the boys did not erect their own Adirondaks!

  29. Mark Clemons // November 29, 2015 at 1:49 pm // Reply

    As an ADC I see We are getting too caught up in the metrics. The program is what counts. Busy active scouting programs have advancement and retention. I have seen many a scout and parent get too deep into the check list for advancement. They go to a merit badge program and don;t really learn anything but by g they want it to be counted for advancement. . The same is here with the pitch a tent and camp 3 nights and now you are qualified for 1st class. turning into pitch a tent 6 times. A busy troop with learning and fun taking place will survive the new requirements. Even if it takes a few more months to get 1st class, maybe the kid actually learned something that we will . keep the rest of his life.

  30. I fully support these expanded requirements. After all, the outdoor program is a core aspect of Scouting. Also, as we all know, many kids have become too sedentary, and getting them outdoors and relating to other people face to face is a good thing. While other activities, such as sports, help kids be active, I have seen competing interests crimp troop campouts and Scouts’ “duty to God.”. Some Scouts are now leaving campouts early and skipping church to play sports on Sunday morning! Perhaps this is why the BSA is implementing these requirements. One of my pet peeves is Scouts and their parents who leave campouts early because they burden the remaining Scouts and Scouters with having to strike camp, pack troop/patrol gear, and take home equipment.

  31. These new camping requirements are very short sighted.
    Counting sleeping overnight in a tent or under the stars on the lawn by the church to serve donuts in the morning after Mass/Service is a JOKE!

    My background – 10 yrs as a Youth who has attained AOL, Eagle and Vigil Honor; 4 years as a Cub Leader (including 2 as Cub Master). We had a council camp back in the day with numerous ‘cabins’ (4 walls, roof, small pot belly stove, and numerous holes in the walls to observe wildlife, and a nearby latrine aka shanty over a hole in the ground).

    The cabins had electric. Scouts had to hike over a half mile with Jerry Jugs to secure water. Scouts/Patrols had to plan all aspects of their weekend (at least those aspects not planned by the District Camporee). That meant: transportation, meal planning (budgeting, acquiring food, safe storage at camp, …) activities to be done, … All meals were prepared over an open fire. Each patrol had their own plan and fire. If one had a shortcoming the others would help.

    Scouts were only allowed in the cabin after final campfire for the day, to find a leader for advice or to retrieve a necessity (dry clothes, tool, et al). They spent the time OUTdoors.

    Scouts working on the ancient Camping Skill Award or Camping MB pitched their tent and slept outside. Many older Scouts who didn’t wish to sleep with “log sawing leaders” also set up tents.

    Sleeping in a tent for an event and participating in a TRUE camping weekend that the Scouts have planned are two entirely different things. Where you sleep (as long as it is truly rustic and makes you appreciate your bed at home) should not matter.

    My preference would be for Tenderfoot and Second Class candidates to each spend a camping weekend of two days or more to achieve rank. First Class candidates should complete another campout while utilizing a tent AND shall attend a summer camp that is of 5 nights minimum.

    I grew up in the era of Skill Awards. Current rank advancement has similar requirements but has split them amongst each rank. True weekend outings in a rustic environment make advancement easy when well planned.

  32. Ed,
    I am another WI Scoutmaster. We camp, April to November, do 2 cabins, and a trip, d,j,f and then do a JLT the second Scouting for Food weekend. I think your program is great. My Blue Collar families could not afford personal gear for a campout in D,J,F,M here, that is basically grown out of each year.

  33. This will affect LDS Troops. In LDS Troops, young men don’t start in Boy Scout Troops until they are 11 years old. It is while they are in the Eleven Year Old (EYO) Patrol that we focus on them achieving their First Class award. However, during this year, they are only allowed to camp 3 times. At 12 years old, they transition into the main Troop and work towards their Eagle. This new rule will stall the progress somewhat, especially with the mandatory waiting period between Star, Life, & Eagle. For troops that are Scouts until they are 18, this isn’t much of a change, but in our program, when a boy turns 14 he becomes a Varsity Scout and works on their Letter and Pins and the Denali Award, and when they turn 16, they become Ventures and work on the Ranger Award and the Silver Award. They can always work on Boy Scout stuff, but the Eagle is no longer the focus as a group.

    • I have been in BSA long enough to see the difference between 14 year old, 16 year old and 18 year old Eagle Scouts. There is a huge difference. I guess the real question is “What is the point of advancement?” “What is the type of Eagle Scouts the BSA wants to award?”

  34. A good way to improve experience prior to advancement without an onerous requirement. First Class in One Year had a tendency to drive “academic” Scouts with less experience to advance. Now experience counts!

  35. Is it just me? The change is really only asking the boys to sleep in a tent 6 nights to be first class. That’s not really very much no matter what the weather is, Summer heat, Winter cold, get them outside and do stuff, the requirements will complete themselves. LDS or not if they can’t get the 6 nights before 12 so be it, varsity scouts can work on boy scout stuff if they are first class so they are still good. We averaged 30 nights, if you went to everything a year way more. Summer camp 6 (liked to go early and stay in camp solo on Sat night for Sun Check in), Winter camp 4 nights, 2 nights a month for the other 10 months, add the 4+ OA events, an extra practice for Camporee another 2, a patrol campout here or there, camping at Webelos encampment to help as a troop, if you did them all you could get 44 days of camping. Just doing stuff……

  36. Tom Linton // March 15, 2016 at 5:59 pm // Reply

    BSA still expressly allows “lock-ins” as a “weekend campout.” Pretend Scouting.

  37. Our Troop camps every month but the thing that is going to be difficult for my new Scout is going to be the cost of trips. He went to New Scout weekend. The next trip planned was just a couple weeks later and we were not able to go based on our schedule. But, that trip was $75. Next, they are going white water rafting at $150. July is summer camp. He is signed up for that but we had to ask for a campership. I hope that the August trip will be a more reasonably priced trip. The Troop also has a sking camping trip in the winter that is pretty costly. The trip my son went on last fall with the Troop for his AOL was $40. I’m thinking it may average out to approx $100/month for camping. So, it could be $300 ish to complete First Class just in camping? How will his summer camp nights play in to the rank requirement? For the Camping Badge it will count as his one 6 night max trip, he will have 14 more to earn the badge (well 12 since he’s already done 2).

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