Hiking, going farther afield, exploring new places, is a glorious adventure. It strengthens you and hardens you so that you won't mind wind and rain, heat or cold. You take them all as they come, feeling that sense of fitness that enables you to face an old trouble with a smile, knowing that you will conquer in the end (Baden-Powell).
Although this part refers specifically to hiking, you should realize that the intent of the activity can be much broader. Since one of the fundamentals of Scouting is to help boys become self-dependent, it is evident that man's natural mode of progress, walking, should be one of its basic activities. Scouts must be encouraged to travel and to explore under their own propulsion -hiking (or even bicycling or travelling by small boat). The distance travelled is unimportant compared to what is done on the hike.
Boys are self-dependent when hiking - they are not tied to a parent or other adult for the use of a car or some other mode of transportation. They can set their own pace and, within reason, can go when, where and how they please. It is not the distance covered on the hike that is important so much as the things that they do and see on the way.
Patrols should have at least as many outdoor Patrol meetings, hikes and other activities as they do meetings in the Den. The Patrol Den, like the Troop Headquarters, has its necessary place but Scouting is primarily learning by doing outdoors.
For details of training boys in hiking see Chapter 6 of The Troop Scouters Handbook. Through the training and guidance the Patrol Leaders receive on occasional hikes with the Arrow Patrol, they will learn skills and gain confidence and an enthusiasm for this form of activity, which they will pass on to their Patrols.
You, as the Patrol Leader of the Arrow Patrol, must organize, with your Assistants, regular hikes of this Patrol for training purposes.
The Arrow Patrol exists for training Patrol Leaders and it is necessary to remember what has already been said, namely, that demands on their time for Arrow Patrol activities must not be such that they interfere with Patrol activities - the very purpose for which the Patrol Leaders are being trained. It is important that a Patrol Leader learn 'why' as well as 'how'. As a Scout he may have learned a lot of 'hows' without attaching too much importance to 'whys'. Once a reasonable standard of hiking has been established in the Troop, two Arrow Patrol hikes a year should be adequate to maintain training and ensure satisfactory operation.
The second day is the hardest, physically, when hiking and camping. Because of this, always set a fairly easy target for the second day. After this the body adjusts and one does not notice pack or distance. For this reason get your Patrol Leaders on lightweight hike camps of more than two days duration as soon as possible. Otherwise they will think every day on a hike is like the second day and thus will never discover the joy and vigour which comes afterwards.
The importance of careful preparation cannot be overemphasized.
Because hiking places physical demands on the body for which most boys are ill-prepared, it is important to introduce training gradually so that feet and muscles may be toned up.
Patrol Leaders may have to be reminded that recruits joining their Patrol may not be at the same standard of physical preparedness as the other members and therefore should not necessarily be expected to keep up with the Patrol at first.
Adequate footwear is essential - no boy would think of playing hockey or football without the appropriate equipment and any who tried would receive little respect from their team mates. Not many boys will be able to afford proper hiking shoes or boots, but they will appreciate the economy of buying a shoe strong enough to stand up to hiking as well as serving for school wear. Encourage the wearing of two pairs of woollen socks. A person allergic to wool should wear cotton next to the skin rather than nylon.
The boys should understand foot hygiene and the problems peculiar to their own feet. While it is necessary to know how to treat blisters and other symptoms of misuse, it is far better to know how to prevent their occurrence.
Right from the beginning, encourage boys to carry a small pack on their back when hiking. At first it will probably contain nothing more than a waterproof coat and a lunch, but it will start to condition the body for carrying heavier packs as the boy grows older, and in any case, a back-pack is less cumbersome than taking equipment - even a lunch - by hand. Also, if it is on one's back, it is less likely to be put down and forgotten.
Be prepared. Carry a simple first aid kit and know how to use it. The usual casualties are cuts, grazes and insect bites. There may be blisters, chafing or strained muscles. Every boy should carry a few bandaids in his pocket.
Each boy should carry a small pocket emergency kit (See Page 414, The Troop Scouters Handbook.) which he has made up himself. He must use it only in an emergency.
Every boy should be trained in a 'lost procedure' - this may vary a little according to the terrain and time of year.
Drinking water is essential and if a source of known purity it not available, boys must know how to purify any doubtful water. Every hike party should carry some halazone tablets for such an occasion.
On a hot day a lake can look very inviting. Within the framework of Rules 391 and 392 in P.O. & R., the Patrol must have clearly defined rules for boating or swimming on hikes.
Starting a forest fire is not a good way to learn from a mistake. Adequate training and instruction in fire precaution must be given. Make sure Patrols have up-to-date information on local 'fire' conditions before starting on a hike.
Most hikes are born at Patrol-in-Council and often result incidentally from some other idea (see Page 136, The Troop Scouters Handbook).
Once the Patrol Leaders have grasped the scope of activities available through hiking and their imaginations get to work there should be no problem about 'where to go and what to do'. (See page 131, The Troop Scouters Handbook for ideas.) Avoid going the same way or to the same place too often.
Hikes provide excellent opportunities for "learning by doing". On a hike one doesn't talk about doing things; one does them so that the purpose and value of the knowledge becomes evident and meaningful. A compass takes on new meaning and a map becomes three-dimensional when related to the surrounding country. In order that more value may be gained from hikes, endeavour to have at least one compass and one map for each pair on the hike. (See "Hiking Along" which follows.)
While a Scout hike is usually planned to go to a certain place for some specific purpose such a~ visiting a place of interest, to meet another Patrol or to carry out a specific activity, it is important to have a supporting theme to provide special interest during a hike or the hike becomes merely a means of getting to a place, and half of its interest is lost. Apart from general observation some of the things which can be done as you hike along are collecting, plaster casting, photography, sketching, and talking to the people you meet. Quite often a background story can be woven into a hike to provide atmosphere and a reason for special observation en route. (See Page 141, The Troop Scouters Handbook.)
One of the special training values of hiking is preparing younger Scouts for camping, thus, an objective for a hike can be tree recognition and fire lighting, cooking, tent pitching, etc. Obstacles on a hike are quite popular too. A Patrol is given a route to follow and certain obstacles to overcome on the way; these might include first aid work, pioneering or ingenuity (e.g. "Because the dam at X has broken, this area will be flooded to a depth of five feet within five minutes. Get your Patrol to a safe place and prepare a hot drink and toast").
The hikes which the Arrow Patrol make must be designed to develop the skills that the Troop most needs and which will tie in with future Troop activities. Patrol Leaders will then conduct similar hikes, based on these activities, for their Patrols.
Patrol Leaders should be trained always to report plans and details of Patrol hikes to you before they leave.
Before leaving for a hike check:
1. Everyone feeling fit.
2. Everyone adequately dressed, especially with regard to footwear.
3. Everyone in possession of essential equipment.
4. Destination and route to be taken known to all.
5. Emergency action to be taken in case of accident known to all.
6. Rendezvous points and times agreed upon in case of separation.
7. Watches synchronized.
A group of six or eight boys crashing through a wood in a body will see very little of the natural life which inhabits it. It also can be very frustrating to be straggled in a long line - the quick ones at the front impatient with those behind and those at the rear constantly feeling they must catch up. While there are naturally times when a Patrol will want to be in a group singing and whistling and being noisily happy, it is usually better for them to hike in pairs - each member being with a companion of similar pace and, if possible, an inexperienced person with someone more experienced. In this way, pairs can set their own pace but they should not get so far away from the pair ahead as to be out of contact with them.
Keep alert. On the road observe traffic regulations and safety rules. Keep a constant eye on weather signs. Forecasts and events have been known to disagree and in this way you can be prepared should bad weather break suddenly. Observe the Outdoor Manners Code. (See Page 129, The Troop Scouters Handbook.) Take time to enjoy every experience as it occurs.
Keeping records of hikes in proper form is a necessary part of training and essential for the First Class Journey, but this doesn't make it necessary for reports to be written on every hike. Begin training gradually by asking for a report on part of the hike or for one particular aspect of it such as an old church, an orchard or so on. Remember this type of report is mainly concerned with facts and should be brief and to the point. Introduced in small doses boys can come to enjoy making reports. Some hikes should be reported on in the manner required for the First Class Journey. See that fellows have a convenient-sized notebook with a hard cover. Incidentally, an excellent place to carry the notebook is inside the shirt. Here it is readily available but never in the way. On some hikes ask for one report from the Patrol and let each member write a section.
Through the First Class Journey, Scouts are introduced to lightweight camping. This is the ultimate in hiking and self-dependence.
As your Patrol Leaders develop their hiking ability they will become more ambitious. In preparation for lightweight camping, they will start carrying heavier packs and they will need training in how to pack a rucsac or pack frame, how to carry the pack on their back and how to adjust their walking action when carrying a load.
It is very important to keep the weight down to a minimum, as one pound feels like five pounds after carrying it for three miles. Take the lightest and least amount of everything to meet requirements - ounces soon add up to pounds. There is no reason why a pack complete with tent and food for two days should weigh more than thirty pounds.
Hikes are an excellent medium for introducing training in food value and cooking. Thirst can be troublesome on a hike so discover the foods which are good thirst quenchers and keep away from those which produce thirst.
Foil cooking is excellent; the food can be prepared and wrapped before leaving for the hike and thus save time on the journey; it is simple and light to carry.
There are many dehydrated foods available which save a great deal on weight and are, therefore, very useful for lightweight camping. Experiment with these to discover the brands best liked. Be sure to supplement with fresh food whenever possible.
Golden Arrow Patrol Leader Training