Even the best-looking troop trailer designs can’t hide ugly insides. You know the ones I mean: cavernous, unorganized spaces into which gear is deposited and never seen again.
That’s why many troops add the Scouting touch to their trailers, installing shelving and other improvements to make storing and finding gear a breeze — even if it’s after dark on Friday night when you pull into camp.
So last month, I asked for troops to send me photos of the insides of their trailers. I wanted to know: How do troops keep things organized and avoid the all-too-familiar sight of 20 boys rummaging through a pile of backpacks, bags, and patrol boxes to find what’s theirs?
Here are five great examples:
Troop 33, Chittenango, N.Y.
Assistant Scoutmaster Jeff says:
We did a low-cost makeover of our trailer. Our finished product isn’t immaculate, but it is much more useable, and everything has its place. It is now much easier to find things, and we don’t have to rely on the scout quartermaster to get everything back where it went.
Heavy goes on the bottom (our large canopy in our “coffin” container, dutch ovens), or patrol boxes or folding and cooking tables on the next level, flags and pioneering poles at the top. We have cabinets up front to hold lanterns, cooking stoves and water jugs.
Assistant Scoutmaster Rhonda says:
We, as many, used wood inside….but it makes the trailer after being loaded with gear, WAY too heavy for a regular truck to pull.
I do like that each patrol has their own colored crate. Inside the grate are items like, lantern (with mesh globe), chimney charcoal starter, gloves, charcoal tongs, lid lifter, propane hose. (ALL marked with same-color electrical tape or spray painted to match crate). All items for each patrol, Propane tank, tree, table,…etc. are all marked with patrol color. Even the chuck boxes have now been color coded. They patrols were able to paint them themselves!
Troop 159, Judsonia, Ark.
Scoutmaster Steven sent in these photos:
Troop 208, Cary, N.C.
Chartered Organization Representative Jeff says:
Here are some pictures of our troop trailer. I took on this project when I became Scoutmaster because I was tired of unpacking everything from our smaller trailer to get to the items I needed when we arrived at camp on Friday night. We had the larger trailer but rarely used it because the troop had shrunk in size over the years.
I’m happy to report that we reversed that trend and we’re at 30 scouts now up from 20 and shrinking. And now we use the larger trailer exclusively, though the smaller red trailer is handy for going to summer camp. It can hold all the gear we need at summer camp. Usually the boys use foot lockers at summer camp and we can carry all of the ones for 20+ boys and adults in the smaller trailer.
The trailer is arranged so we can open up the back doors and get propane, propane trees and lanterns set up right away so we’re not doing everything in the dark. The lantern box even includes matches so we don’t have to dig for those. I standardized on the yellow and black boxes from a variety of boxes. The boxes hold a 2 burner propane stove, a patrol cook kit, some basic cooking utensils , wash up supplies, a mixing bowl, colander and plates for a patrol.
The rack at the front has gone through several iterations to hold our plywood tables. I’ve thought about getting a rack for the propane tanks on the tongue of the trailer, but since we don’t live in the trailer I don’t see a huge safety risk of keeping the tanks in the trailer. I’ve had more problems with disposable tanks leaking than bulk propane tanks.
I got the shelving at Lowe’s. The wider set came as a complete kit, we bought an extra shelf. The narrow set was bought piece by piece. I think if I were doing it again I would have gone with narrow shelves on both sides. As it is we can fit a garden wagon in the aisle that will carry eight of the 7 gallon blue water jugs. This comes in handy on sites where we have to carry gear in from the trailer to a site within a half mile. We have a couple of group sites we’ve used that this becomes the case. The cart also allows two boys to restock the camp with water if the tap isn’t near the site.
The dinning fly poles are stored under the rack and are easily accessible from the back door of the trailer. This was a lesson learned in trailer design 2.0 when I added the second narrower rack. The wider rack was moved from the left side of the trailer where it was further front, to the right side where it goes from the back door to about 18” short of the door. Now we don’t need to unload anything to get the poles out on Friday night. Good thing since setting up the dinning flies is job one when we arrive at camp.
We make periodic tweaks to the design, it definitely has evolved since I did the initial shelving three years ago. As we use it we tweak it to make it easier and more efficient to store gear. I’d say we use this trailer on three quarters of our outings a year. It stays home for summer camp, backpacking trips and certain kind of canoe trips. We have a canoe trip that we camp on platforms in a hardwood swamp and everything is done backpack style, no campfires and small backpacking stoves instead of larger 2 burner stoves.
Scouter Ian sent in these photos:
What do you think?
What details have you spotted that you’ll incorporate in your troop’s trailer? Anything you’d do differently? Share your thoughts below.