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Troop Tents Pro or Con?


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#1 Rock Doc

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 09:53 AM

Several years ago, our troop decided to invest a small windfall into a fleet of Kelty Gunnison backpacking tents. In the early days, the scouts took great care of the tents; kept them clean and dry, and respected what they were given. These tents have shown to be remarkably durable, they're lightweight for backpacking (when shared between 2 or 3 scouts), and until recently Kelty took care of most repairs. However, Kelty has just informed us that they will no longer provide warranty repairs, and we're on our own to keep them serviceable. I don't doubt that many of them will last several more years, but we're now faced with what to do going forward. Managing a fleet of troop tents can be a chore, but if it means we get more scouts camping, and especially backpacking, I think it's worth the effort.

 

So, my long-winded question is, do many troops provide tents, and if so do you opt for backpacking-style (full coverage fly, <5 lbs, etc) or heavier outfitter-style tents suitable for tail gate camping? And as a follow-up, does your Quartermaster take the lead on managing tent inventory and maintenance, or is there significant adult "support" involved?


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#2 Col. Flagg

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 10:23 AM

We opted for an ALPS tent that is just a bit heavier than the standard 2-man backpacking tents, but lighter than the average "plop" camping tent.

 

We use tyvek for the ground cloths. Much lighter and durable than the regular footprints. We add grommets so they can double as trail flies when not used as ground cloths.

 

We swap out the stock tent stakes for lightweight ones

 

Split between buddies the total weight per two-man pair is just under 8 lbs.


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#3 Cambridgeskip

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 10:51 AM

Like most groups this side of the pond we have our stock of tents. We have two sets of tents. Light weights, most a mix of Vango Omega and Eos 350, that we would use for weekend camps. Our oldest ones are about 5 years old. We've sent a couple away for zip repairs and replaced a couple of poles but over all they seem pretty durable. This is what they look like up

 

And heavy weight canvas patrol tents. In theory they are 6 man tents. In practice that means 6 cubs or 5 scouts, 4 if you want some wriggle room. We typically use them for longer summer camps although they are also nice and airy so sometimes for weekend trips. Certainly not a backpacking tent. This is what they look like up They are old and smelly but built like tanks. The last time we decided a canvas was beyond repair we think it was knocking on the door of 45 years old!


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#4 fred johnson

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 11:09 AM

Our troop has troop tents.  Timberline Eureka 4XLT Outfitter version.  Image.  Troop tents have many positives, but does add a few headaches and cost.


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#5 qwazse

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 11:57 AM

We have scouts invest in their own tents and hand them down as needed.

The cons are lack of uniformity. It does make setting up and taking down a little rougher for newbies. QM is only tracking tarps and patrol boxes.

The pros are boys getting wider experience helping each other with a variety of tents. They learn to care for their own gear. More ingenuity with tarps and hammocks, etc ...And (what I missed from growing up in a troop who supplied the tents) a boy graduates and has his own tent/tarp/netting -- ready to face the world.


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#6 Col. Flagg

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 12:43 PM

This from Boys' Life. Timely!


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#7 Sentinel947

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 01:38 PM

Our Troop has a fleet of flop and drop tents by Coleman. They are probably like $50 each.

We also have about 6 Kelty Salidas for patrols that want to go backpacking.

Adults provide their own tents.
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#8 walk in the woods

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 01:39 PM

We did a mix.  The troop had a few tents for scouts to check out but many of the older scouts bought their own.  Pros: It required less expenditure from the unit and the boys took better care of their equipment.  Cons: When we car camped we ended up with a 1:1 ratio between scouts and tents.  

 

I'll second the recommendation on the Taurus AL 2.  My son had one that was pretty durable.  We used it for a variety of trips (plop, canoe, winter) without issue.  Same footprint as the REI half-dome but much less expensive.


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#9 Torchwood

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 07:37 AM

We have Troop tents- mostly Kelty Gunnisons and some MountainSmith dome tents. My personal tents are ALPS, and I highly recommend their Taurus Outfitter line for Troop tents, even though they are a little heavier than the standard Taurus. I have one of their Chaos tents that I use when tenting alone, and a Taurus for when Mrs. Scoutmaster joins me (which happens more often than not- she is on the Troop Committee and is a Merit Badge Counselor too).


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#10 fred johnson

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 08:16 AM

Here's a reason I like troop tents.

  • Responsibility to each other
    • Provides a reason for scouts to coordinate and work together.   Scouts learn how to work-together by learning how to take care of the set of troop tents.  
    • This is the opposite of having their own tents and looking out for themselves and their own gear and who can bring the best tent versus the kmart blue light special.  
  • Using the same "style" tent
    • Promotes a troop identity.  This should not be undervalued any more than wearing the scout uniform.  Whether scouts admit it, they take pride in their troop.  
    • Allows re-use of piece parts if individual parts fail.  Instead of having a dead tent, you can piece part it back together.
  • Standardizing on a smaller tent
    • Avoids massive cabin-tents that are often problematic on camp-outs.  My experience is problems occur when larger number of scouts are together in one tent.  Keeping it to two or three keeps the energy down and allows scouts to go to sleep.

 

The biggest con is you will have cost when scouts ditch their responsibility.  But I'm not sure that's a bad thing.  So you average one lost tent a year (mold, damage, loss, etc).    I think the learning from the interaction and coordination are worth the cost.

 

Another con.  And I'm on this one.  People like using their own tent. 


Edited by fred johnson, 21 June 2017 - 08:17 AM.

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#11 qwazse

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 08:31 AM

For those of you starting from scratch or rebuilding a battered inventory ... I would just like to point out that $160 buys a whole lot of tarp, netting, chord, and parts.

 

If you have one volunteer with a quilting machine and another with a good rivet tool, think long an hard about your options.

If I were a scout, I would rather spend more time making and less time fundraising.

 

This achieves a lot of Fred's objectives and offsets the problem of ditched responsibility.

 

Plus, if I cross paths with a unit whose tents have a silk-screen logo with the tagline "Handcrafted by the boys of Troop/Crew ___", the leaders can expect my personal delivery of espresso and biscotti. :happy:


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#12 Col. Flagg

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 08:31 AM

The biggest con is you will have cost when scouts ditch their responsibility.  But I'm not sure that's a bad thing.  So you average one lost tent a year (mold, damage, loss, etc).    I think the learning from the interaction and coordination are worth the cost.

 

Good points, Fred. But the boys can use the Patrol Method to put in checks and balances to ensure no single point of Scout failure.

 

Our unit has the Patrol QMs inspect all tents before being taken down to make sure they are dry, clean and notes any repairs needed. The PL make sure the QM does this. The SPL takes up the PLs equipment report (usually a piece of paper). The Troop QM checks in the gear and records the status of each tent (simply noting returned as-is, needs cleaning, needs drying, needs repair). At the garage the Scouts who used the tent are re-issued the tent to bring home and clean (and given the tent cleaning/care guidelines to follow).

 

Does this always work? Nope. But it has greatly curtailed the number of tent replacements and repairs we've had to do. It also puts the onus on the boys (where it should be) for equipment care and maintenance.


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#13 fred johnson

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 09:37 AM

Good points, Fred. But the boys can use the Patrol Method to put in checks and balances to ensure no single point of Scout failure.

 

Our unit has the Patrol QMs inspect all tents before being taken down to make sure they are dry, clean and notes any repairs needed. The PL make sure the QM does this. The SPL takes up the PLs equipment report (usually a piece of paper). The Troop QM checks in the gear and records the status of each tent (simply noting returned as-is, needs cleaning, needs drying, needs repair). At the garage the Scouts who used the tent are re-issued the tent to bring home and clean (and given the tent cleaning/care guidelines to follow).

 

Does this always work? Nope. But it has greatly curtailed the number of tent replacements and repairs we've had to do. It also puts the onus on the boys (where it should be) for equipment care and maintenance.

 

Sounds like same for our troop.  Usually works.  We lose one tent every year or two because of loss, mold, damage or other.  IMHO, the benefits of the scouts working through the issues is worth the cost.  ... Otherwise to be honest ... it's the parents that usually make sure the family tent is still good.  


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#14 KenD500

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 10:09 AM

We opted for an ALPS tent that is just a bit heavier than the standard 2-man backpacking tents, but lighter than the average "plop" camping tent.

 

We use tyvek for the ground cloths. Much lighter and durable than the regular footprints. We add grommets so they can double as trail flies when not used as ground cloths.

 

We swap out the stock tent stakes for lightweight ones

 

Split between buddies the total weight per two-man pair is just under 8 lbs.

We currently have Alps Lynz 2 & 4.  After 1 year, the plastic window on the rain flys cracked.  They now have holes in them.  We're getting the alps outfitter replacements.

 

Have you experienced the same?


Edited by KenD500, 21 June 2017 - 10:09 AM.

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#15 Col. Flagg

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 10:40 AM

We currently have Alps Lynz 2 & 4.  After 1 year, the plastic window on the rain flys cracked.  They now have holes in them.  We're getting the alps outfitter replacements.

 

Have you experienced the same?

 

Just the opposite. The guys use them 11 months out of the year. Heat, cold, rain, etc. Backpacking or patrol camping. One patrol with mostly new Scouts I thought destroyed one of the tents. Cleaned and inspected, no damage.

 

Now mind you, we have the Taurus line. No see-through on the rain fly, just fabric.


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#16 krikkitbot

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 10:46 AM

Our troop has troop tents for the scouts and adults usually provide their own. We seem to be of the philosophy that bigger is better. Heck, if the scoutmaster could, we would have a 15-man tent to put all the scouts under one roof... almost did too.  :rolleyes:

 

I tried to propose that we have small 2-man tents and I was met with major resistance because that could lead to higher instances of inappropriate behavior (read between the lines), so the committee wants nothing smaller than a 4-man tent. 


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#17 wdfa89

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 11:40 AM

we went to troop tents a couple of years ago.  like OP we had a good surplus and wanted to do something constructive instead of it sitting in the bank.  kids (and adults) learning the responsibility previously mentioned.  The uniformity, which wasn't a big deal to me personally, does look good when we have a big group.  We also had a problem, prior to going this way, with some scouts not having very good tents leading to less than enjoyable camping experiences.  Yes that is on them and they did learn but the rest of us have to hear about it and deal with them the rest of the campout--a lot fewer issues now.  And it has reduced the costs for our boys who now don't have to buy their own tent--especially for those who are unsure about Scouting.  I am sure the older boys all have their own now which they still use in different scenarios.


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#18 fred johnson

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 02:35 PM

Our troop has troop tents for the scouts and adults usually provide their own. We seem to be of the philosophy that bigger is better. Heck, if the scoutmaster could, we would have a 15-man tent to put all the scouts under one roof... almost did too.  :rolleyes:

 

I tried to propose that we have small 2-man tents and I was met with major resistance because that could lead to higher instances of inappropriate behavior (read between the lines), so the committee wants nothing smaller than a 4-man tent. 

 

I find the opposite is true.  Our scouts seem better when we can keep them to 2 (or 3) in a tent.  Risks are generally reduced by tent buddies being about the same age.  (i.e. no 17 year old scouts sharing a tent with a 11 year old scout).  The trouble I've seen with the bigger tents is some scouts view it as a party environment.  One scout keeps others awake etc.  One scout teaching other scouts bad habits.  It's like trying to get 20 kids to fall asleep in one big room.  There is always one kid wanting to throw shoes or mess around.  The behavior grows and festers.  Divide them up and they naturally fall asleep.


Edited by fred johnson, 21 June 2017 - 02:36 PM.

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#19 Gwaihir

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 06:03 PM

Our Troop had troop tents.  This was primarily because we got some brand new Timberline 4s donated to the troop.   Granted we had a small troop, so we used the Timberline 4s as 2 man tents.  Worked out well for us. 


Edited by Gwaihir, 21 June 2017 - 06:05 PM.

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#20 qwazse

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Posted 21 June 2017 - 09:03 PM

... The trouble I've seen with the bigger tents is some scouts view it as a party environment.  One scout keeps others awake etc.  One scout teaching other scouts bad habits.  It's like trying to get 20 kids to fall asleep in one big room.  There is always one kid wanting to throw shoes or mess around.  The behavior grows and festers.  ....

Oh but the sheer joy of those snowball fights in the circus tent!
(That would be the 24-man donated by the national guard. We used it exclusively for our winter campouts.)
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