Preventing Scouts from leaving campouts early

In Scouter J.C.’s troop, parents often pick up their sons from weekend outings before the process of breaking camp begins. Here’s how to ensure your guys share and share alike.


Break camp first, everything but the cooking equipment, so that the boys who leave early can help. This might also convince some parents to stay for breakfast, letting you show off your camping program..

Assistant Scoutmaster K.E.V.
Batavia, N.Y.

Call parents in for a meeting. Explain the patrol method and why their sons need to contribute and not use Scouting as just playtime. You might also start camping farther from home and tell the parents you will return to the chartered organization at a specified time.

Assistant Scoutmaster P.N.
Nottingham, Md.

If parents plan to pick up their sons early, have them notify you before camp starts. That way Scouts who leave early can do more setup, while those who stay later can do more packing up. The Scouts who stay will think of the workload as more equitable.

Aurora, Ontario, Calif.

First, refocus on the patrol method so that each patrol is responsible for its own gear, food, clean-up, and transportation to and from camp. Second, have parents drop off their boys and pick them up at the troop meeting site instead of the campsite. This would require a few more vehicles to haul gear and boys to the camp-outs, but it would encourage more adult/leader involvement.

Assistant Scoutmaster J.R.
Hollister, Calif.

Ask that boys leaving early take home a tent for drying or a grub box for stocking and cleaning.
When my sons leave early to serve Mass, I make sure that they take home a tent.

Assistant Scoutmaster J.W.
Jessup, Md.

The solution depends on the patrol of the Scout who is leaving early. If it’s not a problem for his patrol leader and the rest of his patrol, it shouldn’t be a problem for the Scoutmaster and troop committee. If the patrol sees it as a problem, have the patrol leaders’ council discuss it. Remember: It’s the boys’ program.

Chartered Organization Representative W.W.
San Antonio, Tex.

Our family participates in religious services on Sunday mornings, so we pick up our Scouts early. But they do something extra to compensate at the start of the camp-out: shop for food, organize troop gear in the vehicles, etc. Or perhaps there could be two teams — one for setup and one for teardown — and the Scouts would commit to at least one of them.

Pittsford, N.Y.


  1. Plan your camp outs 3-4 hours away from home!

  2. First, Parents are not allowed to go on camp outs with the troop( I wish they could- we might have more involvement from them). Also, scouts have to ride together with the Troop. To the destination and home together.

    • How does your Troop recruit exclusively non-parental leaders? 95% of the registered adults in my sons’ Troop are parents of the Scouts.

  3. Our family needs to attend religious services at 10am every Sunday, so noon returns have always been a hardship for us and have sometimes forced us to choose. I agree with the above posters; our boys bring home what they can to clean, or they plan and buy the food beforehand. It’s not fair to assume that because a parent wants to pick a boy up early, they’re just lazy or they want to get out of work. When my husband and I are part of the planning, we make sure to either have minimal activity Sunday am (Scouts Own, breakfast, clean up, go home), or we (we’re usually with cubs, but substitute “the boys” for “we” for boy scouts), or to volunteer for the bulk of set up, and share clean up with someone who maybe can’t come during the first portion.

  4. We actually have more trouble on the start end of a campout. We have a number of scouts who often arrive to the campout late. It does make more setup work for those who can leave on time, especially setting up tents.

  5. Our strategy is to maintain a rule that we camp at least a mile from a car – typically more – backpacking in for our overnights almost exclusively.

    Tough to leave early when your ride is a hike away.

  6. When my son was in a troop we would have the boys leave from the Charter Organization or the Scoutmaster’s house and return there. Phone calls are made when the boys are about 30 mins from the pick up spot telling parents to be there in 40. This gives the boys time to get gear put away. Only when it is a family campout where every family is responsible for their own gear do they leave early. If a parent goes to camp to pick up their son early they are taken aside by one of the Asst. Scoutmasters and visited with. If the youth must be taken early the Patrol makes sure the boy has done his share of cleanup. If it is an emergency then that is a different issue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.