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Revisit of Camp Bedwetting/Tent Sharing

I wanted to revisit the previous discussion:

Since it’s closed, I needed to start a new thread.

I have twin boys, about to turn 12 years old. The original thread caught my eye because one of them does have an occasional bed-wetting issue. At home, it’s normally not a problem because we are there to remind him not to drink a bunch in the evening and if he does we wake him up for one last potty break before we go to bed. At camp, he is not monitored and is exhausted. He’s a heavy sleeper to start with (which is part of his problem), so the combination made me very nervous last year at camp.

Fortunately, he tented with his twin brother and there were no issues. I trust that if there WERE issues, his brother would help him take care of it and not tease him in front of everyone else (or behind his back). If the new Guide to Safe Scouting doesn’t allow brothers to tent together, I would be much more nervous. I was actually surprised this weekend to hear my boys say that they planned to tent together again this year and I agree with their logic - you know what you’re getting into, they can change clothes in front of each other, and everything in the tent is coming home in the same car so it’s no big deal if things get packed up or swapped.

I can understand (to some degree) the rules about parents and kids in tents, but to not allow brothers together? Can anyone confirm this and is the general consensus to take it seriously?

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There is no prohibition of brothers not more than 2 years apart in age sharing a tent in the Guide to Safe Scouting.


The key part in @edavignon’s response is “not more than 2 years apart in age”. It is agnostic as to the existence of a family relationship between the youth. In your particular case, the brothers tenting together would comply with the rules, obviously. However, if the siblings were 15 and 12, tenting together would not, AFAIK, comply with the prohibition on scouts > 2 years apart tenting together.

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Whew! Thanks! In the previous thread, I thought it said that family members were not allowed to tent together, including siblings…maybe that was my misunderstanding.

For posterity, (and I should have checked here first before reposting, I know better, but I was caught being lazy), here’s what GSS says:

Separate accommodations for adult males and females and youth males and
females are required.
• Separate tenting arrangements must be provided for male and female adults
as well as for male and female youth.
• Youth sharing tents must be no more than two years apart in age.
• In Cub Scouting, parents and guardians may share a tent with their family.
• In all other programs, youth and adults tent separately.
• Spouses may share tents.

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So, everyone can just ignore me… :slight_smile:

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That might actually have been me, talking about some of the implications of both the 2-year rule and the “outside of scouting” rules. I forget which thread I had those discussions on. Getting old has its disadvantages, but it’s better than the alternative. :laughing:

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There is a waiver for everything…

If the parent or older brother is willing to go on outings, you may request a waiver to policy from your Scout Executive, who may seek the advice of the Youth Protection folks at National.

You must clearly outline the case. If a youth has continence issues that will prevent him from participating in Scouting, and if the embarrassment of events is causing anxiety, then you can make the case for the waiver.

You must also clearly spell out that you will monitor the situation closely. Any parent that takes on this role must be registered as a leader (for the background checks) , but should not count as one of your required two leaders present who are there for the health and safety of all Scouts.

Have a conversation with your Scout Executive. They may have dealt with this kind of thing before.

Ask if they will support the waiver. If yes, then write it up in a succinct email to them, so there is a record of decision.

You never get what you don’t ask for. The worst they can do is say “No,” and potentially lose a young person from Scouting…

My Two Cents,

Scouter Rob

@HerbKraft, it’s always worth it to type it out. If you got confused, someone else surely has.

Why would the parent not count?

It’s a gray area, but as @ScouterRob said, the two registered leaders are at the event for all the Scouts, while a parent at the event specifically to support their child’s needs may not be in a position to provide that guidance/support for all the other Scouts at the event.

Depending on the individual Scouts and adults, I could swing either way on this… We’ve had parents that could manage their own Scout’s behavior issues without batting an eye, and still help with the rest of the Troop at summer camp, but we’ve also had parents in our Troop in the past that probably needed an adult leader to keep them from getting into trouble…


You are spot on. We have a kid with duchenne muscular dystrophy. His dad is at all events with his son. As much as the child has special needs, his dad definitely plays the role of a second adult well (for most events). We know when the child will need additional attention from dad and bring in back up parents when necessary. When we did a hike we brought in several parents to help this child’s dad as well as meet the 2 deep leadership requirement in spirit (as well as in law).


I won’t argue that the parent there to support a child may not be able to carry the same load as another leader. But to be honest, the adult to scout ratio varies by the adults and the scouts involved. There are events where I am happy to simply have my BSA required 2nd adult who spends most of the time being a registered breathing adult. Other events I need more.

Having had campouts with three youth, I can’t imagine that scenario where I would suddenly need a third adult because one was also there to support a continence issue. On the flip side of the coin, I know of a troop that has taken over 100 scouts to summer camp and can’t imagine trying that with two adults.

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The parent could count. That isn’t the point. Having the parent not count as the second adult (and having two other registered leaders present) makes granting the waiver much more palatable to BSA.

Help them help you…

Scouter Rob

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Kirk - suppose that the parent who was there with his special needs child and was your only other adult determined that his child needed to go home. How would you enable the rest of the unit to continue?

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This is bed wetting, not seizure disorder. What happens if I am the second adult on a trip and I make the decision that any one of the scouts needs to be brought home semi-emergently and we decide that we can’t wait for a parent?

This is why we say that you can never have too many registered parents on a trip (as long as all the parents know how to leave the kids to figure things out for themselves).

As already pointed out, the unit packs up and goes home. What happens when I have two adults and one has to leave for any reason? But in the scheme of camping bed wetting is really down on the list of dangers to go home for (in my view). I am more concerned about axes, pocket knives, camp fires, cooking on hot stoves, hot dutch ovens, or simply tripping and taking a bad fall.

The thing is that there is no such thing as life without risk. And two isn’t always enough adult supervision. (I know of a troop that has taken 150+ scouts on a single trip. Can’t imagine that with only two registered adults.) My most serious scouting related injury over the last 10 years is when my son walked into a kitchen bar of another Den Leader. While it wasn’t an immediate trip we ended up in the ER because the poor kid gave himself a concussion. Stuff happens and life moves on.

Personally, I prefer to go with minimum three leaders (where feasible) for trips, so that we have one “spare” leader in an emergency, and the trip can theoretically continue with the uninjured scouts.

Four is better in some senses (two sets of 2-deep), but there are times when the total group size is limited (e.g. Sierra treks often have maximum party sizes and/or daily trailhead quotas), and adding more adults means fewer scouts can go. If I can only have a party of 8, and half are adults, it seems more like a family backpacking trip (i.e. 4 scouts with one parent each…). If I can have a party of 12, then having 4 adults starts being more practical. For a group of 30, 4 adults starts to look like a good idea…

As several others pointed out, sometimes the trip ends because you run short of leaders to meet the minimum number (either statutory or event-safety governed). Other times, it ends prematurely because of other issues outside of your control. My IOLS instructor likes to tell the story of his troop hiking in on a backpacking trip, and discovering partway down the trail that they were walking toward an area that had a significant amount of smoke blowing in from a wildfire. The scouts in the lead element made the call to nix the trip and turn around, so they all headed out. They stopped at the ranger station to let them know the troop had bailed out, and crossed paths with the fire crew that was being sent in to find and evac them, because the fire had turned and was burning toward where the troop was supposed to camp. They ended up finishing out the trip at another put-in point outside the basin where the fire was burning. The moral of the story is to make good safety-based decisions to minimize unwarranted risks, and be prepared for opportunities to recover from unexpected challenges.