Meridian – Alpha District for Camping

A few weeks ago we sent a questionnaire to Scout Troops in the Meridian District to find out more about their camping programs. Specifically we were trying to understand their level of activity, whether there any issues, and to identify the most popular places for day trips and overnight camping. Added to the “official Meridian District Camping Report,” the information provides a unique and detailed profile of one of the most active Scout Districts in the entire country.

The “average” Meridian District Boy Scout Troop that responded* goes on 2.6 outings per month. This includes overnight camping (usually one a month), cycling, backpacking, and day trips. Three Troops reported that they typically conduct four or more outings per month. In addition to long-term backpacking trips, four (4) Troops attended two summer camps in 2009 and seven (7) plan on attending two summer camps next year.

Many locations were reported as favorite sites for Troop overnight camping, but the ocean is a popular destination. Specially mentioned as Troop favorites were: Sunset Beach (3), Manresa Beach (2), Dillon Beach (2), Monterrey Bay Kayaking (2), Sonoma Coast, and New Brighton Beach. Mt. Diablo, Lake Chabot, Sunol, Lake Del Valle, and Sugar Loaf are favorite local camping spots. Further afield are favorite sites in Yosemite Valley (3), Angel Island, Bear Valley, Camp Noyo, and especially Pinnacles (4).

About half the Troops say their favorite day outings are hikes, often practice hikes for 50milers. Popular locations are Sunol (4), Las Trampas (3), Mt. Diablo (2), Marin Headlands, Mt. Tam, Briones, and the Rim of the Bay series. Other Troops say their favorite day trips are at Touchstone Gym (4), Moaning Cavern (3), Midnight Broomball (2), Go karts (Umigo and Boomers), and iFly (indoor sky diving). Ski trips (Sugar Bowl and Bear Valley) and whitewater rafting are popular for both day trips and overnights.

Scout Climbing at Touchstone Gym

Scout Climbing at Touchstone Gym

Within the past five years, an “average” Meridian Troop has completed 3.4 long-term backpacking trips. Thirteen (13) Troops and 124 Scout hikers completed a long-term backpacking trip in 2009. Over the past two years, Philmont/ Double H is the most popular destination, followed by Emigrant Wilderness and Yosemite.

All but two Troops have Patrol boxes, usually plastic. They are stored with Patrol Quartermasters (3), the adult Quartermaster (3), or at a location supplied by their sponsoring organization (3). Most Troops take their Patrol boxes with them when car camping. Two units pull just the equipment they need for an outing and leave their Patrol boxes at home.

The problem reported most often was keeping tents in good condition after being used and packed by Scouts. Second biggest problem is getting more adults to go on the outings or getting them to commit early enough to make planning easy.

Almost all Troops support a Meridian District sponsored “equipment and uniform swap.” Some Troops already collect uniforms and make them available to new Scouts.

More than half (6/11) of the Scout Troops have an adult Outing Mentor on their Troop Committee to help Scouts make reservations and plan successful outings. Every Troop that responded has their own website.

When asked if they needed District help with their camping program, the most common answer was, “No Thanks.” Some Leaders did suggest a repository of expensive equipment (canoes, kayaks, satellite phones, snow shoes) would help.

Information about the campsites and day-trip locations will be added to this site in the coming months. If you want to recommend additional locations, just post them. Subscribers to the site (upper right column on this page of the blog) will receive new information automatically.

*Eleven Troops provided written responses to the follow-on questionnaire.

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