Ask the Expert: Interpreting Camping merit badge Requirement 9a

When it comes to life-changing experiences, there’s no substitute for camping.

And when it comes to the Eagle-required Camping merit badge, there’s no substitute for Requirement 9A.

It reads as follows:

9. Show experience in camping by doing the following:

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.

That one paragraph has caused a few Scout leaders some consternation. Bill, a district-level training chairman, sent me this e-mail:

“There seems to be a lot of interpretations of Requirement 9a (number of nights camping) of the Camping Merit Badge and if more than one long-term camp can be counted. Also questions about what exactly a long-term camp is. If you haven’t already, can you put up a blog article on it?”

I can answer that last question: Yes, I will write a blog post about it.

For the rest of the answers, I turned to Chris Hunt of the Advancement Team. He writes:

This requirement was recently updated, and one of the problems we face is that many are probably working with the former language. Find the most recent version of the requirements here.

Here are some key points:

  • The requirement begins with “Camp a total of 20 nights.” That means 20 overnights, so a weekend trip from Friday through Sunday is two nights.
  • Next it says, “at designated Scouting activities or events.” This means the experiences are held under the auspices of some level of the BSA, and that “Scouting” happens on them. For example, an individual family or a couple of Scouts and their parents heading off into the woods doesn’t count.
  • A long-term camping experience is defined as at least five consecutive nights. One of these experiences is allowed, and up to six nights may count toward the requirement. For example, Sunday through Saturday. If a Scout goes on a 10-night trek, only six of those nights counts.
  • If a Scout goes to summer camp twice for a total of 12 nights, only one of the summer camps will count — for up to six nights.
  • The remainder of the camping nights must be accumulated through short-term camping — normally weekend troop campouts. The long-term camping experience must also be a “designated Scouting activity or event.” This could be at a council summer camp or on a troop’s own 50 miler, a Jamboree, high-adventure base, etc.
  • All 20 nights must be spent under the sky or in a tent, so nights in cabins don’t count.
  • If camping is done at a camp that provides tents that are already set up, then all is good. If tents are not already pitched, the Scout must pitch his tent. If he is sleeping in a two-man tent, then it would be reasonable the he and his buddy set the tent up together. Sleeping in a tent that Dad or the Scoutmaster, etc., pitched doesn’t count.
  • I’ve heard feedback from parents with Scout in troops that don’t do very much camping. They can get in the long-term outing, but it takes a long time for their troop to get out on enough campouts to make up the other 14 nights. As a workaround they suggest they will send their son to summer camp, but then take him home after four nights so the experience will not count as a long-term camp. This doesn’t fulfill the requirement. The short-term campouts provide variety in both preparation and experience, and the Scouts are more likely to have to set up their own tent and take more responsibility for outdoor living skills. A long-term summer camp is still a long-term camp even if the Scout is there for only a portion of the time. It’s an entirely different adventure and usually doesn’t call for the same level of self-reliance required for a short term camp.

The biggest issue we face in these kinds of questions is people trying to read more than what is written.

Hope that clears it up, Bill. Thanks to Chris for taking the time to respond. If you have a question you want me to find the answer to, e-mail me and use the words “Ask the Expert” in the subject line.

Camping merit badge, requirement 9B

Q: Requirement 9B states that “On any of these camping experiences, you must do TWO of the following…” Do those need to be done on the same camping trip?

A: Key wording is, “on any.” This means the two activities can be done on any of the experiences you count for 9A — as opposed to on just one experience. If the requirement intended for the two activities to occur on one experience, it would be worded, “On one of these camping experiences, you must do Two of the following…”

Related post

Ask the Expert: Can merit badge progress begin before a Scout gets his blue card?

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145 thoughts on “Ask the Expert: Interpreting Camping merit badge Requirement 9a

  1. In our Troop I try to steer the boys towards having several of the different types of outings each year. For us this normally means
    1. Non-motorized Float Trip (white water or canoe)
    2. Hike gaining 1000 feet
    3. Backpacking of at least 4 miles
    4. Cycling Trip of at least 15 miles

    The Rappelling and snow camping experiences are pretty hard to accomplish. The rappelling will normally be met if they take climbing merit badge or their is an open climbing night at Summer Camp. Snow camping experiences in our part of NC are by pure dumb luck. As a Scout growing up in PA snow camping experiences were somewhat easier to come by.

    I try to have at least 2 of these per year. Also in our Troop Scouts normally earn Camping Merit Badge at Summer Camp their 2nd or 3rd year at base camp. So any Scout that is relatively active in the Troop will meet both 9a and 9b by the time they earn Camping Merit Badge at summer camp. Mixing up the types of outings keeps the program interesting for the older Scouts keeping in mind we’re taking 11 year old first year scouts with us as well. This past year we went mountain biking on an weekend outing at a local county park. We attempted a float trip, but the river was too high to safely canoe, so we moved to a lake only to have to abandon that when the wind picked up too much. We spent the day playing around with the canoes in a protected cove. It won’t count as a float trip of 4 hours but the boys had a good time on the water. We also did a backpacking trip where we also gained 1000 feet, only counted as the backpacking requirement.

    We begin counting the nights of camping from the time they join the troop. I’ve never had a scout be short on nights of camping by the end of their second year in the troop. Any Scout that participates in the multi-day 50 miler backpacking trip ought to have enough nights of camping long before he attempts that trip. That isn’t something for a first year scout.

    I’ve found over the years that too many leaders try to read more into the requirements than the BSA put there. A former scoutmaster wouldn’t count a whitewater trip because “you just kind of sit there”. The requirement says “Take a nonmotorized trip on the water of at least four hours or 5 miles.” There wasn’t a motor on the raft, and having been whitewater rafting I wouldn’t say you just sit there and do nothing.

  2. First and foremost “show experience” this is done by:

    1) Camping at least 20 nights
    (max 1 long term > ~ 3 nights ie Fri to Mon)
    (if it a continuous camp ie NYLT, use common sense it is still a continuation of same ‘event/activity’)
    (under stars – Survival Merit Badge or tent ‘you’ pitch hmm)

    For those legalistic and stuck on the work ‘you pitch’; patrol method is an Aim of Scouting…

    2) Do some minimal adventure on the camping experiences, hike a mountain, backpack for a day, mountain bike or bike to the beach to camp, go on a canoe for an afternoon, try extreme cold weather and understand how to really prepare for risks involved (key word – ‘PLAN’ and ‘carry out’; however, sometimes the risks do become too high or unexpected and you must abort – it counts/common sense again – but try again later) [yes, I was on an experience where a Scout was airlifted], rappel 30 feet it is a short distance go up a little and come down – it is about showing you can prepare for ‘reasonable’ risks (but don’t be stupid and say I am doing this no matter what because, “I have to for the ‘requirement.'”), understand environments and DOING (not just once either)!

    3) Finally, give back by doing conservation project(s). Doing 20 nights you likely had done many of them. If not, start asking where you are camping. And if it is after you camp, it counts. You showed experience in what it means to give back in conservation.

    Do not read between lines. Just do it and do not do the bare minimum, either. The Merit Badge may be a requirement – it is about showing you have experience in planning.

    And about getting an application for merit badge goes back to Aims of Scouting and ‘Adult Association’, not a power control or having to go to a court hearing with a Scout to advance.

    Have fun and enjoy the experience!

  3. My question is about the young man about to turn 18 who has worked hard in the troop but has unfortunately had serious family issues that excluded him from many of the camping events over the last 6 years (I agree that members of an active troop should not have trouble meeting the requirement- this is an exception) . When he was senior patrol leader 2 years ago, he was very active and did a great job and is quite a good leader and it was at this time he was able to participate more. He attended our 6 night 50 mile hike last year. Can we not count any of those nights toward the camping merit badge (he has attended the long term summer camps, so long term camping is already accounted for)? Our 50 miler was a hike through the Desolation Wilderness, and by the spirit of the requirement, I don’t think it’s right to deny him any camping nights for this endeavor. The appropriate number seems like it would be 4 nights for this outing.

    • You have to realize that even the best kids fall short of Eagle Scout from time to time due to circumstances beyound their control. Such is life. I am not being mean or hurtful, but we don’t hand out college degrees to folks who were good kids, but had issues in life? If you can’t pass Camping-101, should you really be an Eagle Scout? You also have to remember it is not mission of the Scouting movement to make the boy an Eagle Scout.

      • I agree, but telling a boy that camping on a 50 mile hike doesn’t count at all, I stress at all, is like telling someone that passing calculus isn’t enough because they needed to take algebra. The rigor involved in a camping trip of this magnitude should at least count for 4 nights. Why should the boy be penalized because we decided to stay in the wilderness for an extra 2 nights. Should we artificially make all of our events no longer than 4 nights to satisfy this requirement?

        • One long-term camping experience does count, Gene. A Scout just cant use more than 6 days of it. I am very surprised any boy has difficulty completing this merit badge within his first 2 years. An active Troop should be tent camping at least 15 to 20 nights a year. I am an Advisor for a Crew in Michigan. Most of our weekend activities are from 20 to 40 dollars, all inclusive, and our big summer activities never cost more than $400, even when traveling to Colorado and Wyoming. If a Scout can’t afford a weekend, we find the money and rides and other ways to help, and we try to schedule our overnight trips around the local high school plays, marching band competitions, proms, etc.

        • I agree Gene, all “long term” camping is not equal. If they are hiking and breaking down and setting up camp each night as well as the cooking equipment, that should absolutely count. It is WAY more work and learning than a reg 2 nighter. How can anyone justify that not counting? I wouldn’t care if it was 5 or 10 nights, if the intention and spirit of the req is to get camping experience, that is fulfilled. I see a forrest AND I see the trees!

        • Perhaps the point of the short-term camping requirement is to have a variety of experiences and to participate in multiple troop outings.

          Also, someone going on a 50 mile trek should already have substantial camping experience and probably already have Camping MB. They should be using that outing to complete Backpacking merit badge. The shakedowns plus the track are just right for that.

          All those nights count for the National Outdoor Badge.

          Finally, advancement is only one of the eight methods of Scouting. All that outdoor time counts toward our goals, and probably matters a lot more than one merit badge.

    • Unfortunately I do agree that even a great scouter must follow the rules of the badge. It could be taken that the 50 mile hike would count but sleeping in the already set up tent at summer camp is the trip that doesn’t count. I take a bunch of kids with mine where the kid is gung-ho but the parents are zippo. There are ways to push through with an active scoutmaster staff.

  4. Can a scout use both Summer and Winter Camp for his 20 night requirement? Winter Camp is 4 nights and Summer Camp is 6 nights.

    • Tim,
      As long as winter camp isn’t cabin camping it would count as a short term camp since it is only 4 days long. Long term is 5 nights per the requirement.

      “A long-term camping experience is defined as at least five consecutive nights. One of these experiences is allowed, and up to six nights may count toward the requirement. For example, Sunday through Saturday. If a Scout goes on a 10-night trek, only six of those nights counts.”

  5. A review of the Journey to Excellence requirements will clarify that troops should be offering a significant number of short-term campouts. In addition, Order of the Arrow events often involve short term camping. The camping merit badge is Eagle Required for a reason … it takes time to earn it. Over the course of earning advancement ranks, a scout who is active in his troop should have no trouble completing this requirement.

  6. I just read most of the comments on this topic… I didn’t see anyone say maybe the 20 nights requirment is a little stiff… any thoughts? Would 15 be more realistic?

    • Honestly, I think it is pretty light. Our Troop averages about 30+ nights a year. Many of the boys in my Troop are 2-3 years in, 100+ nights of camping, mulitiple 50-miler expeditions, Jamborees, Summer Camps in and out of State, and of course, weekend trips of 2 nights or more (depending on long weekends).

      Take them camping! I can’t stress it enough.

      Oh, and for the people who say, “they don’t have time because of sports, band, school, etc.,” I say this: Most of the boys in my Troop play sports, are honor students, go to church, play in band, do the robotics club, etc., Want to know the difference? We have a comprehensive camping program that encompasses 1st year Scouts, experienced Scouts, and High Adventure activities. We have a 30 member committee, a highly active and trained, and empowered PLC, and Scoutmasters who expect the very best at all times. Also, our COR is involved and so is the IH. You want to know what we call it? We call it Scouting.

      How about for 2013 and on we the leaders stop looking at ways to make the program easier and look ourselves in the mirror and realize we are hurting the youth of America by letting them slide on everything and not holding them accountable?

    • I think 20 is on the low side also. My son crossed over from Webelos earlier this year. He already has 9 nights of camping(Jan-2, Feb-1, Mar-2, Apr-2, May-2) & will pick up 2 more nights this coming weekend for the June campout. In July, the Troop goes to Camp Bartle which is 11 days (10 nights) long. 6 of those nights will count so he will be up to 16 days before the end of July. August & September will be 2 days each so he will have his 20 nights in before he has 9 months in the troop. By the way, he is going to another short term camping out of council (3 nights) at Camp Jayhawk. He’ll be sleeping in tents where they normally do their long term camping so I will have to see if those nights count towards the 20 or not.

      I know other troops do not camp out 12 months a year, but with 1 long term camp (6 nights), a Scout has to average less than 5 nights a year for 3 years to meet the requirement.

  7. I’ve read every post, looking for a definitive response to this question and have not seen the question. Here goes: What is SHORT and LONG term camping? I’ve seen the response that LONG term is five nights or longer. What about SHORT? Our council designates long term as longer than 72 hours, as mentioned on the old med forms when requiring Part C. Several neighboring councils follow the same crirteria. What is the CORRECT criteria and WHERE is it written?

  8. Rick,
    “A long-term camping experience is defined as at least five consecutive nights. One of these experiences is allowed, and up to six nights may count toward the requirement. For example, Sunday through Saturday. If a Scout goes on a 10-night trek, only six of those nights counts.” Therefore four nights or fewer would be considered a short term camping experience. For the camping merit badge requirement don’t read more into it than the actual requirement. The medical form isn’t the criteria for camping merit badge.

    I’ve never had a problem with a Scout not having enough nights, when my son first joined we had a challenge getting enough variety. The Scoutmaster at the time didn’t think a whitewater rafting trip qualified as a “float trip” because “you just kind of sit there” The troop did one backpacking trip a year in February. A great time to introduce an 11 year old to backpacking when he needs an extra 5 pounds of clothing and a heavier or much more expensive sleeping bag (NOT!). When I became Scoutmaster I worked hard to encourage the Scouts to plan 2 or 3 of the different types of outings into the calendar each year. So we’d go biking, hiking at Hanging Rock State Park to gain 1000′, backpacking, and try to have have a float trip. Having the variety also will keep the program more interesting than doing a “flop and drop” 100 feet from the trailer every month. My Scouts can normally take Camping merit badge their second or third summer camp and have fully met the camping requirement for number of nights and variety of experiences. My son aged out last October with 130+ nights of camping including 10 days in Alaska, 7 nights at Sea Base and 10 nights at Philmont, all while doing 2 or 3 high school sports each school year. I’m not far behind him in nights camping having been to all the big destinations and several weeks at summer camp in addition to countless weekenders. I didn’t camp much his first year in the Troop wanting him to experience it without me hovering overhead. Our troop typically camps Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Sep, Oct, and Nov. In December we do Luminaria as our fund raising activity and don’t camp. In January we typically go skiing and stay at a church. The July outing is a week at summer camp. We also try to do a high adventure camp most years if we have enough interest. We’re a mid-sized troop with 24 registered Scouts. I think size makes a difference as well, a rather large nearby troop (120+ boys) does mainly flop and drops at Scout camps because it is difficult to take 50-75 boys on a backpacking trip and to do a float trip requires an armada of canoes, trailers and tow vehicles.

    • Thanks, Jeff. That’s how I see it as well. We, our troop, do quite a bit of camping. As Outdoor Chair, I ask the scouts what they wish to accomplish through out the year and then research everything. They have been fortunate enough to do practically all they ask for, with camping wrapped around everything, doing at least full weekends, and some three and four day ones as well, especially when we went white watering. The only time we don’t camp is during our fund raising period during September and October. It’s easy enough to get twenty nights in a year.
      The main reason for asking was to see if any one agreed that one week of camp was allowed. I think it’s because at summer and winter camps, the scouts aren’t actually participating in the spirit of what camping really is. These camps are nothing more than weeklong class rooms where the scouts spend the nights in tents instead of rooms. No real hikes, no cooking over a fire, no real experiences other than making sure to change their underwear each day before reporting to classes. Instead of “applied”, the word should be “allowed”.
      As a merit badge counselor, I tend to look at the camping itself. If a scout shows up at the campout in time to hit the sack and leaves early the next morning, and does so repeatedly, I have a problem ackmowledging this as camping. I wonder if he thinks camping only means spending the night. I do not. What are your thoughts? One disadvantage we have is that we experienced two years without Webelos crossing up so most of our older scouts have Eagled and several have aged out. We have had two groups cross up the last two years and will recieve a third next month. The younger scouts don’t have the experiencd scouts to look to for advice. I want to make sure we get it right. Any thoughts?

      • I’ve spent a lot of time with advancement policy as I approve Eagle projects through the recent advancement changes and clarifications.

        When you define “what camping really is” with additional restrictions, that violates BSA advancement policy. From page 2 of the 2011 Guide to Advancement, “No council, committee, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to, or subtract from, advancement requirements.”

        Judge the requirement as written, or stop being a merit badge counselor.

        Summer camp is a different kind of camping. Our troop does almost all backpacking, so troops with chuckboxes and dutch ovens don’t look like “real camping” to me. But they meet the requirement.

        If the troop is routinely allowing sleep-and-go campers, then maybe the unit program needs to be changed. But don’t punish the Scout for a weakness in the troop program.

    • Just a thought, but no troop SHOULD be taking 50+ kids on a camp. That’s a jamboree. A troop that size should mainly be patrol camping with 1-2 patrols going out camping so all the boys have a better experience. Maybe once a year have a big camp.

  9. Walter,
    I’m with you, don’t read more into the requirement than the BSA put into it. When I was a Scout growing up in Central PA we could hop on the Appalachian Trail at probably 5 different starting points within a half hour or 45 minutes of our Troop meeting place so my friends and I did a lot of backpacking. It was our outing of choice as a troop. Here in the Raleigh area we need to go 90 minutes away to Uhwarrie National Forest to get in a decent backpacking trip so we don’t go backpacking as often as I would like, but then I’m not running the show. My goal while Scoutmaster was to have variety, not every kid is going to like backpacking or canoeing or mountain biking or road cycling so if all we did was one type of trip we might lose the ones that don’t like that kind of outing and I think the purpose of Scouting is to have the Scouts try new things.

    I think the BSA fully understood what the summer camp experience was about when they made the camping merit badge requirements the way they did. They want Scouts to experience summer camp but they also want them to experience other types of camping as well. For all the discussions about whether Philmont should count having been to Philmont as an adult I’m not sure I’d want to take a Scout to Philmont that needed to count 1 night at Philmont towards camping merit badge. I’d expect any Scout heading to Philmont would have far exceeded 20 nights of camping long before he went to Philmont.

  10. I have a question. Our troop is planning several campouts this spring and summer. On these, the scouts will fulfill their camping requirements as well as those for the Hiking merit badge. Can these hikes also be used to fulfill requirements for the Backpacking merit badge?

    • “Can these hikes also be used to fulfill requirements for the Backpacking merit badge?”

      Assuming the hikes actually DO meet the requirements for both badges, there’s no reason you can’t “double dip” and have one activity count in both places. This is specifically allowed in the 2013 Guide to Advancement (page 30, section “Fulfilling More Than One Requirement With a Single Activity”).

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    • NONE. Only 1 long-term camping of a maximum of 6 nights can count. If the 1st year Scout goes for 6 nights his 1st year, he has to get the other 14 from short-term camping.

  12. The purpose of the requirement is to give a scout experience in camping.

    However, I fail to see how a five-day canoe trek, six-day NYLT camp, or a Philmont adventure is the same as summer camp. All these are new experiences to the scout. I agree that going to summer camp for four years should not count towards the twenty days, but if every long term campout that is different like the ones I listed I will count it.

    It is about the quality of the experience, not how many days.

    Sorry, but I am not punishing the scout.

    • “Sorry, but I am not punishing the scout.”

      Actually, you are.

      By not holding him to the same national standards as other scouts you are cheapening his experience. You’re giving him an Eagle-required merit badge that he didn’t really earn, and diminishing his accomplishment.

      You are, in effect, telling him that the rules don’t matter because you don’t like them. By breaking the clear rule you’re also tarnishing the ideals of Scouting in the process. I’m not sure that’s the example you want to set for your troop.

      • NYLT – $250
        Philmont $1750 low end
        Canoe trek – $250
        Summer camp at $250 a week plus
        Extra council experiences.

        Sorry, but if a scout is paying that kinda money to experience scouting – he’s getting credit for it.

        • I agree with Daniel. I think saying its “punishing the scout” is out of line. If you go by the letter of the law, there are plenty of ways to “punish the scout”- although I don’t believe anyone willing to put time in with our young men is punishing them if they get a positive experience out of it. The issue is living up to the spirit of scouting. You can easily complete the camping merit badge by the letter of the law with only one or two “real” camping experiences. That’s NOT the spirit of scouting. NYLT, Philmont, and other such events give such a great camping experience, I think its wrong to just categorically disallow them. They live up to the spirit of scouting and what we want the boys to get out of camping. If you actually realize what’s important for the boys, you realize how important these events are towards learning and experiencing of camping.
          I also don’t think that anyone in this thread should be accused of “punishing the boys”. That is out of line.

  13. 20 nights is only one summer camp plus seven weekend campouts. If your troop isn’t offering that in a single year, then you need to find a new troop.

    If sports, band, robotics, or whatever means that you don’t have the time for Scout camping, well, you’ve made your priority decision. If you’d rather do those other things, sure, do them… but don’t expect Scouting to cut you slack for it. How would the leaders of those other activities react if you told them “I’m going to miss a bunch of your events so I can go camping”? Make your priority decisions, and live with the results.

  14. Here’s my question… If a boy is participating in his 2nd “long-term” summer camp (5 nights each), can the 2nd summer camp count for any nights of camping? Can it be counted as at least one overnighter, or how many nights credit can be given?
    To me, it seems at least some credit should be given. The technicalities seem to override the spirit of the requirement.

    • Just a quick follow-up question if only one summer camp or 6 nights is allowed: If a boy goes to two 5 night summer camps, can one night from the 2nd summer camp count towards the permitted 6 nights of long-term camping?

      • No. Short-term camping is short-term camping. Long-term camping is not short-term camping.

        If you have a number of Scouts that aren’t getting enough short-term camping nights, take a hard look at the amount of camping the troop is doing. Talk to your SPL about helping Scouts reach the camping requirements.

        We had this problem one year in our troop. All our campouts were one night, and Scouts weren’t getting enough nights out. For the next year, we scheduled more two-night outings.

        • From the article above:
          •If a Scout goes to summer camp twice for a total of 12 nights, only one of the summer camps will count — for up to six nights.

        • Thank you for replying. Our church (sponsored organization) doesn’t permit Sunday camping, so it’s challenging to get additional nights in. Still, we do camp every month except December.
          Any thoughts on allowing the 6th night from 2nd long-term camp count?

        • I completely agree with the 12 nights and one summer camp opinion. To me, that feels appropriate.

  15. In the north, we rely on winter cabin camping from November – March. This allows just 5-6 possible weekend tent camping opportunities, to fulfill the extra 14 camping nights beyond summer camp. While I understand and appreciate the “rules”, clearly they are complicated by your climate. Add family weekends, other activities, and it takes most boys in our group 3 years to get this badge. Everyone makes a big deal about getting the “3 month” merit badges — this one is “3 years”! I wish someone had explained this years ago to me – I never would have “wasted” weekends on cabin camping. For what?

  16. As both a Camping MB counselor and a SM, I consider the term “long-term camp” to refer to a residence camp where the Scout sets up or moves into a tent and remains there for the duration of the camp. A trip to Philmont or Northern Tier is not a long-term camp but a series of short-term camps. That said, a Troop which does not offer enough camping for a Scout to earn the 20 nights for the Camping MB within a year simply is not doing its job. Two short-term nights a month and a summer camp offers your Scouts 30 nights a year. Even under the most restrictive definition our Troop has never dropped below 25 nights of eligible camping in the dozen years for which I have complete Troopmaster records. If Scouts are having a hard time meeting the requirements for twenty nights of camping it should be a reflection on them instead of the Troop.

    • “That said, a Troop which does not offer enough camping for a Scout to earn the 20 nights for the Camping MB within a year simply is not doing its job.”

      I’m going to call that bullshit! I’m sorry but most of us have a job, a wife, and kids, Good for you for going on that many trips. I think its judgmental and poor taste to suggest that if a troop isn’t doing 20 camp outs in a single year that they aren’t doing their job.

  17. There must be a bunch of gung ho scout masters that read this blog and who live and breathe scouting. I’ve read the comments on how they feel 20 camp-outs is weak and think it could be increased. Kudos to the guy who goes on 30 camp outs a year. I don’t think there are enough of you guys around to support the number of scouts in the program who are as gung ho as you guys are. I would wager that the majority of the scout masters think it’s bit much but just do it because it’s a LDS ward calling. I’ve been doing this for a while now I personally feel that 20 camp outs is a bit much. Not for the boys but to ask that of the leaders.
    It’s not the easiest to dedicate a weekend once a month, a whole week of paid leave and time for scout camp and then one or two nights a week for a scouting activity of some sort. Don’t get me wrong. I love these boys and enjoy helping them grow into men, but I think it’s a bit much to ask. I like having a healthy marriage and hangout out with my kids. I have full time job and the requirement is a bit much. If I were to change the requirement I would make it 12 overnight campouts and then at least one campout lasting 5+ days. We try as a troop for one a month, but usually end up with about 8 to 9 overnight camp outs plus one week at scout camp. I’m sorry, but I have a job, limited leave time, a wife and kids. I think asking for 20 camp outs is a bit much.

    • I don’t have a problem with 20 days.

      I have a problem with not having multiple long term campouts counting.

      I think it is sad that a scout pays $250 for NYLT and it doesn’t count and it is pathetic that going to Philmont won’t count either even after paying over $500.

      In my troop, anything after summer camp counts as long as the scout tries.

    • Craig, I think your reaction is a little strong. (Didn’t need the BS either). You do understand these troops are doing 20 NIGHTS a year and not 20 campouts, right? We too try to plan one campout a month except in December and usually end up with 8 or 9 as well, plus our week at Summer Camp. Our winter “campouts,” Nov-March, are usually in cabins so they don’t count towards camping MB, and yes we struggle to find adults to go on all of them, even at that “meager” number. Yes it is difficult to maintain the family life and keep the yard work up even with just that much going on. Each leader has to do what works for them and their group.
      After my son aged out of Scouts last year I turned around and discovered I had a 14 year-old daughter too who wanted/needed/deserved to experience some of the same things her brother did over the past 7 years. So we formed a Venture Crew! Now I get to do it all over again!

      One thing that changed and I wish hadn’t is that now those required nights have to be on Scout events. You used to be able to count family camping nights as well.

      So, do what you can, don’t be a drop and run parent, take your daughter(s) camping before they get too old, and Thanks for all you can do!

      • Hey Tim,

        Thanks for your reply. My apologizes. I could have been more tactful. I do understand that its 20 nights, but to assume that if you don’t do 20 nights of camping IN ONE YEAR you’re not doing your job is insulting. That is my point.

        Let’s play the number game. The average person in the USA gets 10 vacation days a year. You can google it. Some say 16 in some reports but that counts holidays. Now, if you take 5 of those 10 days and apply them to scout camp that leaves you with 5 vacation days a year. And that counts for 5 NIGHTS camping. Now, let us assume you go camping once a month. Let add 12 more days. That gives you a total of 17 NIGHTS. Now the largest sponsor of faith based groups are the LDS church and they do not want you camping on Sunday. So that means you will have to take off another 3 days of work to arrive at your 20 nights. So, if I take off another 3 days from work to achieve the 20 nights that leaves me with 2 days of vacation a year. Scoutmasters already give a lot besides what they do on the camp outs. I just think that the expectation of 20 a year is excessive. So, if you agree with taking away almost all average Americans vacation away from his family so he can take scouts camping. That’s fine. We can disagree.

        Right now I’m doing 8 to 9 over night camp outs a year and we attend a scout camp. That puts me at 13 to 14 nights a year. I feel that is more than enough.

        I think this merit badge for camping needs to be lowered eased up on a bit. I don’t think this merit badge has to be earned in one year. It can be earned over the course of several years.

        I agree with you that we need to do the best we can. I just found the comment a bit insulting and high mighty. I agree, the one thing I wish they had not changed is that requiring the camp outs to be with the troop.

        • Craig,
          Points taken and I agree with most of them. How each person/family chooses to use their vacation time is up to them and they should not be faulted by others for their (your) choices. (I prefer to think I’m donating my vacation time rather than it being taken away from me though!) Kind of live and let live is my motto.
          Not sure why/if there seems to be a push to get the Camping merit badge done in a year except for those young men who have procrastinated it and need to beat an age imposed Eagle deadline. But that should give them 7 years or so to get the requirement done!
          I am not part of an LDS sponsored unit and don’t know all of the intricacies of the restrictions they place on camping and traveling on Sunday. Something I will have to research just for my own knowledge. I do imagine that can be a frustrating thing to only be able to get one night in on a weekend campout. Most of ours are Friday evening to Sunday noon, so we get credit for 2 nights.
          And I am lucky enough to be able to take a half day of vacation or only an hour or two so I can do that and be ready to go by 6pm which is when we usually leave for a weekend campout. I know most people don’t have that flexibility.
          Healthy, civil discourse on topics helps us understand the world and people around us. Glad to get to know you through the blog!
          Take Care!

  18. I still believe that at least a few nights credit should be given for additional long-term campouts.
    Also, what about overnighters within a long-term campout? Sometimes we go on an overnight canoe excursion, overnight hikes, or the scouts might build a shelter for an overnight Wilderness Survival merit badge requirement.
    To me, there seems to be too many technicalities and not enough of considering what’s in the best interest of the boys.

  19. Who said camping MBC had to be done in a year? Most of our boys take 2 or more years to complete. I have always pointed out to them just get it done before your Eagle B of R. And any work done before your blue card counts. It’s apply the requirements and complete, not play “got ya!”

  20. It’s been my experience that fulfilling the number of camping nights usually takes care of itself over the course of a scout’s general pursuit of ranks. Although some gung ho boys might finish in a couple of years, most take at least three years. One summer camp or high adventure trip and just three weekend tent camping trips each year would accumulate more than enough nights.

    Gene, while I sympathize with your Senior scout who had family issues, it would be wrong to “bend” the rules so he can “make Eagle”. My biggest pet peeve about scouting is the pervasive feeling that if a Scout doesn’t make Eagle, it’s a big failure. Your scout by your description has become a fine leader, and (I assume) a Life ranked scout. That’s an amazing accomplishment given apparently poor home support. Eagle or not, he’s obviously benefited greatly from Scouting, and I hope he is held up at a Court of Honor as a young man to be admired.

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