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Selecting State Park Campground

Our Council lists our State Park system as a suggestion for a place to camp. In general, our troop tries to reserve the primitive sites when available. In the event the primitive sites are not available, is it okay to reserve a regular drive-up camping site? Some parents are concerned if we make a reservation like this, we can’t control who camps around us. Wondering how you all have handled situations like this. I’m thinking of calling the campsite to request a buffer between the troop and others if at all possible. I looked up in the Guide to Safe Scouting but didn’t see this as a specific topic. TIA

@HollySutcliffe - our troop and pack have camped at State, county and private campgrounds and it has never been an issue. Most often at state campgrounds we have used the group sites.

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It’s never really been a problem. If it’s not prime camping season, there are usually plenty of spaces, so there’s room between us and neighbors. Sometimes we’ll purchase two adjacent spots to ensure we have enough room for all the tents, kids and vehicles.

The only problem has been making sure the kids don’t get too loud and bother people.

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I’ve never felt the need for a buffer separating my scouts from other campers. Meeting other folks in the wilderness (or near wilderness) can be a great part of the camping experience.

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Camping with scouts does not mean that you need to be interacting exclusively with scouts. If a neighbor is crossing a line into illegal or dangerous behavior, then that is what rangers are for.

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Kevin is right on that one. We had camped at a scout reservation once many years ago and like many facilities, you can rent/camp there even though you are not a scout unit as we found out. There was a college fraternity that rented out a large building across from where we were and were up into the late night making noise, so a call went to the ranger.

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In short you can’t control who camps around you. But for whatever it is worth, I have had far more positive experiences than negative ones with nearby campers. One time our troop camped in such a spot to find that we were near another troop, a pack, and a Girl Scout troop. And we had great interaction with all three.

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I would also add that it can act as a recruiting tool and a reinforcement of the value of scouting.

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Our first year instead of going to scout camp we took the kids to a state park for a week. Of course we were concerned about safety and it was a good opportunity to show why the buddy system is needed. Somebody else posted about good requment tool and I agree. We had plenty of people ( more of the older folks) stop by on there walks and watch us retire the flag every day and many stopped and talked to the kids.

If it’s available, look up the campground map online and use that to choose the sites you want. Maybe you want to have your sites backup to the wilderness. Maybe you want to be at the end of a road. Or maybe you just want to be near the restrooms. After you look that up, then I suggest looking at the satellite view of the campground in Google Maps. This will help you determine how much space really exists between sites, and how much shade (or lack of) your preferred sites have. Lastly, I have used sites like Yelp and Campsite Photos https://www.campsitephotos.com/ to help choose a good site. (Use sites like Yelp carefully; I have seen 1-star reviews because the campground is dirt and not a lush lawn.)

From my experience, it is usually a very positive experience in a public campground. One time we had a neighboring camper wander near the campsite in the morning to watch the scouts put up the flags. Turns out he was retired military and was very complimentary to the scouts and their reverence in raising and lowering the flags each day.

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I concur with all of the above. Most folks are good neighbors and love seeing scouts in action. Most scouts tucker out by 10 or 11 and will respect quiet hours after that. So generally, a troop is one of the better good neighbors to have in an adjacent lot. (Pro tip: most rangers want to know about folks who aren’t being good neighbors. They will evict promptly if someone is disturbing the peace.) Sometimes your scouts and another youth group may join in a common activity or share a campfire. Those times are really fun.

So, the decision largely depends on the maturity of your youth. Because our scouts are brought up in segregated programs, the biggest problem I’ve seen is the opposite sex. Some scouts don’t know how to handle themselves well around the opposite sex. As a crew advisor, I’ve lost sleep over neighbors or scouts who were trying to be “too friendly.” Obviously, being the person who is ever present and alert doesn’t earn points with such people, but it means a lot to your scout’s parents.

So, I prefer to make primitive sites the rule, and public sites the exception. When you do get a more public site, be prepared for more interaction: mostly very positive, sometimes a little negative.

My experience has been that the most powerful tool I have had was to remind scouts of the expectation that they were to uphold the scouting ideals. My scouts know that after I do my “final” check there is a strong expectation that they will only come out for the restroom for the rest of the night. And I wouldn’t hesitate to call a parent to fetch the one who violates said rule (right at the time of violation). I figure the parent having to come late at night will probably nip that one in the bud.

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State parks the great for scouting. The use of primitive vs traditional tent or RV sites is usually preferred for a host of reasons.
Primitive (or “Group”) sites are typically cheaper. RV & tent sites also normally have restrictions on the number of tents. The primitive sites are normally more secluded, which lends to the wilderness experience.
Commercial campgrounds are trying to maximize /sqft and typically you loose lot's of privacy which state parks tend to balance better the /sqft and nature.

Sure, we’ve all warned of the “iron fist.” But our neighbors have never heard that warning. Most have never taken YP, and one or two have unfettered access to gramps’ beer cooler.
Immature youth who don’t seem to stand up to peer pressure will change my campsite selection. They simply wont be given those options.
But, there are far more good folks than bad out there. And as my scouts prove themselves, I open more doors to them.
Most State Park locations are great choices.

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