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Camping Social Distancing

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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Being a rural Troop has it’s advantages. We have required the boys to sleep in their own tents unless they are close family (brothers or father-son). Cooking hasn’t really been a problem over a campfire setting. Normal hygiene along with making sure the fire is between the cook and any assistants unless necessary seems to do the trick. We are fortunate enough to have a generous patron who has a private ranch with a stocked lake. He has provided us with access to the lake as long as we inform him about it. We haven’t missed a monthly campout yet. We aren’t a large Troop either so that helps with distancing around campfires in the evening. We are blessed also with a very low rate of covid 19 cases also. The entire county has a count of 160 with no fatalities as of yesterday.

Most troops have 2-4 weeks between campouts, so I assume all live viruses are dead.

In reply to:

Myth busters, (WHO)

International and national advice appears to vary, The above WHO advice applies to outdoor exercise. One meter is about three feet. The social distancing standard of 6 feet is about 2 meters. Local health authority may require wearing a mask.

Thanks to your post, I went to the CDC website and in addition to what you have mention, it has a really good section on camping:

CDC Suggestions on Youths, Camping and Summer Camps

Hope this helps! :+1:

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Thanks. This is good information. Much of it I can cut and paste for communication with the troop.

For tents, I am thinking of assigning scouts the same tent for the entire season or bring your own. While I believe the virus will die off in between trips … better be safe and at least, easing the minds of parents and scouts.

Why not just have one scout per tent? Does the troop not own enough to cover?
Then if you want to assign one tent per scout for the season, it makes sense to me.
If you are worried enough about the virus lingering in the tent between camp outs, how you are you sentencing exposure to scout who shares the tent with the positive (hopefully asymptomatic) scout?
I would never allow my sons to share a tent with anyone besides a family member, and no one would call me a germophobe…

I’m guessing you’ve never been to the Petri dish called summer camp… :laughing: Some Troops are on tight budgets and need to share tents. I can’t imagine in unit leader not allowing a Scout to camp in his or her own tent if requested.

Until things settle down with this virus people will be taking extra precautions with exposure. With that said, we can’t live in a plastic bubble forever. We all have to take the information we know and do the best we can to navigate the challenges.

I’m personally into having each Scout own their own tent. If your family can’t afford there are ways to step up and help. I think people in general will take better care of things they own rather than what they are borrowing.

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I think I said in a previous post…one scout per tent unless they are brothers residing in the same home.

My thought would be to have each scout assigned the same borrowed troop tent for the entire year. Sign out the tent at the beginning of the year and bring it back at the end of the year.

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Not every unit can afford a tent for each Scout, and not every family can afford their own tents.

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Interesting story is that many in my troop had made note of the amount on a campout just before we went to a huge council wide campout. On the council campout we used paper plates and disposable flatware. But… we also reduced the amount of our trash at the same time. The secret was we reduced the amount of packaging the food came in.