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Camping Social Distancing

Hi there,

Would like to check out if anyone have any advice or comments on social distancing for camping? How do patrols cook? How do scouts share a tent? etc.


For camping I was to of that if there are two scouts to a tent they must sleep head to toe. They also suggested that everyone brings their own mess kits.
Remember everyone needs to be clean and wash their hands before cooking.

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Have you seen this? It has some great guiding protocols. https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/HealthSafety/pdf/680-693.pdf

many national camping associations are saying 1 per tent and that is what we are doing

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Michigan Crossroads Council’s re-entry documentation says that we have to camp one-person per tent, except for family members.

We are in the process of thinking this thru. We were going on one per tent except family members, but have been struggling with cooking. Foil pack cooking seemed like a good possibility since each individual scout ended up with a very well heated individual serving that would limit the possibility of cross contamination right before eating.


That’s a good idea.

Right now, we’re struggling with finding camp sites… There’s been a LOT of pent-up demand around here


Our troop went camping a couple weeks ago. We went to a county park that is “primitive only” since state parks will not allow groups and had someone get there a day early to hold on to several campsites, since there are no reservations. The scouts were mostly one per tent, but there were a couple that were allowed to share a larger tent head to foot. The food was a bit tricky, but each patrol came up with their own solutions. Everyone used their own mess kit and/or disposable plates/silverware. I would second the recommendation for foil pack cooking. That seems to be the “safest” method.

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DRAFT - revision to follow

BSA restart guidance

(Note: Following appears to be for camp group housing, not individual tents)

❑ Develop tenting protocols for the group:
• Minimize use of fans or devices that stir the air.
• Campers should sleep head-to-toe in bunks or cots spaced as far apart as possible.
• Individual tents, hammocks and bivys may be considered.

From Restart Scouting Checklist, No. 680-693, June 2020 (BSA

Individual Inter-Tent Risks (my opinion)

  • Ventilated tent risk same as a person

Individual Intra-Tent Risks (my opinion)

  • Do not share tent unless required to do so to manage a medical condition
  • Possible 6-foot separation violation can increase risk
  • Sharing a confined area increases risk of inhaling airborne virus and infection via virus on surfaces (bedding and tent)
  • Ventilating tent can reduce the amount of vapor (lung exhaust) lowering risk
    • However this may add pollution (pollen, smog, wild fire smoke, dust, parasite) risks
  • Use of a required breathing machine (e,g, CPAP with water added) increases vapor transmission risk
  • Intra-family risks may be greater than sharing a bedroom

Anyone can get and die from COVID-19 and Safety Tools (my opinion)

MOVED TO: Scouting Tools and COVID-19 - 7/16/2020


More from BSA


Cooking has been on our mind at summer camp ( camping locally at fair ground for the week) we are leaning toward using paper plates silverware cups…we are going to have the scouts cook for the group. Close supervision of clean up after meals. Tents will be single or siblings.

one full day will be trail food that we had purchased as Philmont prep campouts that did not happen, so that is pretty spread out.

Paper plates and plastic ware offer another opportunity for younger Scouts, too… Tenderfoot, 2nd Class, and 1st Class all have Outdoor Code/LNT/Tread Lightly requirements where a discussion of using recyclables vs. reusables would be valuable. Also, 1st Class req 9c is:

Using paper plates and plastic ware for a campout now is a great start for this requirement.

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I’m not an epidemiologist, but I’m not sure sleeping head-to-toe in a tent will significantly reduce the ability to contract COVID-19. Our scouts sleep in separate tents.

No activities are being conducted indoors this summer. If scouts are outside and able to maintain 10 feet between them, masks do not need to be worn. If they break that rule, everyone wears masks for 15 minutes. If they are within that distance from each other, masks need to be worn.

Every scout must have their own (and use) hand sanitizer when washing hands is impossible.

For meals, all meals will be prepared and cooked by adults for the time being, wearing masks and gloves to minimize the chance of contamination. No mess kits either–disposable utensils.

We’re planning on having a makeshift summer camp in August. Some of our older scouts will be working with a leader on their cooking merit badge and preparing meals for the troop. Luckily, an ASM in our troop is the manager of a high school cafeteria, and he will be overseeing them for safety.

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Are you using mask wearing as a punishment? If not, I don’t see how wearing the masks for 15 minutes does any good once they’ve come in contact with each other. Making them wear it until they are able to have appropriate spacing would seem more useful.

Not wearing the mask was a reward for several meetings of maintaining proper social distance outdoors. Having to wear the mask again is a temporary reminder.

This doesn’t seem to be based on science. Masks are either needed or not. Not wearing masks should not be a reward and wearing them should not be a punishment. That isn’t how it works. One could say that no mask is needed if >6 feet away, but not as a “prize” for good behavior.


I’m not a scientist…I’m a scoutmaster!

But it’s my understanding that COVID-19 is spread through droplets that are exhaled when breathing or expelled through sneezing, coughing, or talking. I’ve read that those droplets are heavy enough to not be airborne after a distance of several feet indoors, and outdoors can dissipate more easily, which is why the CDC recommends at least six feet of social distancing. That’s also why masks are almost always recommended indoors, especially when fresh air is not being circulated, but it may not be as necessary to wear a mask outdoors when you’re keeping socially distant from others. Hence our rule: If you can maintain generous social distance outdoors, you don’t need to wear a mask. But if you cannot maintain that rule, we need to go back to masks until we as leaders are confident everyone can be trustworthy, helpful, courteous, obedient, and clean. To the best of my knowledge, we are following the guidelines of the CDC, our state, and our local BSA council.

It’s not unlike the rules the BSA currently has in place at BSA Florida Sea Base: “Facial coverings must be worn anytime a crew is in common areas where they might encounter others, food service areas, retail stores, check-in, aboard vessels with other crews.” But masks can come off when you’re say, in a boat rowing out to Munson Island. So according to the BSA, masks are sometimes needed, and sometimes not.

Likewise, Sea Base offers what some might consider an especially harsh punishment for those who refuse to comply with the rules: “Crews refusing to socially distance will not be permitted to remain onsite.”

So as far as Sea Base goes, you must wear masks when outdoors with others, but it’s fine indoors in the dorms when you’re with your own crew. Now, some may argue that runs counter to what Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis said a few days ago: “As it gets hotter, people are going to want to go indoors more and be in the air conditioning – and the air conditioning is not going to be your friend when it comes to the virus.” But Mr. DeSantis is not a scientist either, like many of us. And we’re trying to make the best decisions for our youth based on the available information.


Well, this response is much more reasoned and nuanced than your other.


I agree with @Matt.Johnson. That last response sounds lot better than the seemingly arbitrary 15 minutes as a reward/punishment.

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For what it’s worth, we do have access to a CDC guy for advice. Three points of advice we were given: one person per tent unless they live in the same home. 2 brothers. Second: no group cooking or handling of food. This includes adults. Third - A policy also needs to be developed for latrine usage. The traditional patrol experience for tenting, food and clean up cant happen. We are having scouts look at it like a backpacking trip and less car camping. You carry all your own stuff in your pack or under your arm. Including your personal food and tent. Freeze dried & foil are two examples. A policy for borrowing troop tents? How do you clean/ disinfect them? Eureka told me Lysol will ruin weather proofing.

My quandary- no car pooling of people who do not live together. Our favorite trips are not looking good this year. Might have to stay local. Thoughts about this would be appreciated. How far is reasonable to ask a parent to drive?

PS. It was also strongly suggested to us… their will be an upswing in the virus starting late summer/ early fall & revisit your plans.

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