scouts bsa Troop 11 | Houston, texas

How to Organize a Camping Trip (aka: Be a P.I.C.)

A Person-in-Charge (PIC) is an important role within the troop. Without PICs, there are no campouts. There are a lot of details that can be overwhelming so we came up with this how-to document that lays out what to do every step of the way.

The Guide to Safe Scouting is the final word on what activities we can do and how we must conduct them. Failing to follow these regulations is not only dangerous, but can expose leaders — including PICs — to personal liability for incidents that occur as a result.

    Planning Phase

    1. Get assigned
      Every year, the troop goes through a process to decide what activities to do the next year. The outcome of these discussions is a wish list of activities and/or destinations. One or more persons-in-charge volunteer to coordinate each trip. If you are reading this, you likely are one of these volunteers.
    2. Get help
      Find a new parent who has never been a PIC before and have them tag along with you as an Assistant Person-In-Charge for this event so that they can see what’s involved and how to do it. They can also help share the workload to make it easier on you.
    3. Get specific
      You probably have a general idea of the desired trip (something like “tubing in New Braunfels in September”.) The next step is to identify specific destinations and dates for camping and specific activities to do (i.e. Rockin’ R Tubes on the Comal, camping at Palmetto State Park, over the weekend of September 9-11, 2016.) Resources to find good places to camp are on our How to Find a Place to Camp page.
    4. Get rough numbers
      Estimate the likely number of participants (Scouts and adults) based on similar trips in recent troop history. Talk to other leaders or gather data from records of previous trips. That data will be found in three places: the camping Google Drive, Eventbrite, and Wild Apricot. The troop’s Camping Chair can help with this. Create a rough budget based on expected attendance and planned expenses like transportation, food, and activities. Determine a registration fee that covers the cost -- usually $40 unless there is some specific expense that justifies a higher or lower price.
    5. Get reservations
      Make reservations as early as possible at the selected camping and activity locations using the estimated number of participants. The normal procedure is for the PIC to pay for these deposits then submit to the Troop Treasurer for reimbursement (which is usually quick.)
    6. Get a schedule
      Given the basic outline for the trip, figure out a schedule of activities that includes arrival/departure times, making camp, cooking, eating, cleaning, advancement activities, group events (campfires), games, and the primary activity of the trip. Key to figuring this out is to determine what merit badge or advancement opportunities exist to help scouts get to First Class (refer to the Scout Handbook) and what activities may exist for older scouts who already have First Class.
    7. Get in front of potential problems
      Identify and note any constraints (these might include the number of people, number of vehicles, vulnerabilities to weather conditions, special equipment or leaders required, etc.) Determine what, if any, special training needs to occur at troop meetings prior to the campout (examples: backpack packing or the BSA’s Safety Afloat program.) Contact potential leaders who have the ability to lead any special events (specifically applies to shooting, climbing, any activities in/on water, or flying) to confirm that they have the necessary certifications and are willing/available to help out. 

    Promotional Phase

    1. Write a one paragraph-long description that would encourage a parent to send their Scout on this trip. (The scouts rarely read this description.) As you draft this text, imagine that you are putting words into the parents’ mouth when they ask their teenager if he wants to go. Make it sound awesome.
    2. Find a good photo of the destination using Google image search.
    3. Combine that paragraph and photo with the schedule to create the invitation in Wild Apricot.
      1. Make sure you have Event Manager rights on Wild Apricot which allows you to create an event. If you don't (or if you don't know) contact Stephen Cullar-Ledford at camping@tr11.org.
      2. Click on the little person icon in the top-right corner of the any page on this website to log in using your normal login details.
      3. Under the Events menu, go to Event List.
      4. At the top of the screen, click the green "Create New Event" button.
      5. For any event that does not require registrations, use the "Simple" event type. For events that do require registration, select "Advanced". These instructions only cover Advanced events. Creating a Simple event is pretty self-explanatory.
      6. Enter the basic information and description for the event
      7. (...still being written. Call Stephen at 917-856-2809 for assistance in the meantime.)

    Gathering Phase

    In the days leading up to the last troop meeting before a trip, you’ll have a pretty good idea of who is going. It’s time to make final plans (though you still need to allow for uncertainty with the final numbers.)

    1. Transportation capacity to gather
      You know approximately how many people are going and you know who can drive. Figure out how many seats you still require to determine how many 15-passenger vans will need to be rented. Make arrangements with PV Rental [5810 South Rice Avenue, Houston, TX 77081 Phone: (713) 667-0665]  Be sure to rent a van with a trailer hitch receptacle (we have hitch balls.) Be sure that there are vehicles going on the trip that can tow the necessary trailer(s).
    2. People to gather
      1. Drivers
        Drivers for personal vehicles and for rented vans
      2. Medicine (Wo)Man
        Best if this person is first aid and CPR certified, even better if they have Wilderness First Aidtraining. This person goes on the trip and is primarily responsible for administering medications as directed or as needed.
      3. Grubmaster supervisor
        Does not need to go on the trip but does need to attend the menu planning troop meeting to ensure compliance with BSA/MyPlate nutrition guidelines. This person also meets the grubmasters to shop for groceries at 7:00 pm at HEB on Buffalo Speedway at Bissonnet on Wednesday night before departure. (Max $10 per Scout. Normal routine is for this person to pay for the groceries and get quickly reimbursed from the Troop Treasurer.)
      4. Quartermaster supervisor
        Does not need to go on the trip but does need to meet the patrol and troop quartermasters on Wednesday night before departure. Tents need to be rolled and stowed in the red trailer, troop gear and patrol gear (mostly cooking supplies in the patrol boxes) need to be loaded as well.
      5. Specially trained adults
        Any required for specific trip activities
      6. Adults
        Recommended ratio is no more than ten Scouts for each one adult. Closer to five to one is better. Three adults is an absolute minimum in order to maintain YPT compliance in case there is an issue or emergency where one of the adults must take a Scout away from the rest of the troop.
      7. Prairie Chicken Feeders 
        The Prairie Chicken (adult) patrol usually assigns responsibility for one entire meal to one participating adult. This person purchases the food, brings the food, and prepares the food for that meal. Make sure that someone is assigned to each meal.
    3. Paperwork to gather
      1. Payments
        Only if anyone chose to pay by check
      2. Valid medical forms
        All participants, Scouts, adults and guests, are required to have current BSA Medical Form parts A and B on file. The Medical Forms Chair can verify that everyone is current. If the trip is high-adventure or lasts longer than 72 hours, part C (which requires a doctor’s exam) will also need to be completed. These forms are good for one year and are kept in a binder in a waterproof case that must travel with the Troop on trips. The Medicine (Wo)man should be responsible for it and should ensure its safe return to the Medical Forms Chair after the trip.
      3. Proof of completion of YPT program
        All participating adults must have completed the online BSA Youth Protection Training program. For trips longer than 72 hours, Texas requires adults to complete the in-person version of Youth Protection Training. The Training Chair can verify completion of these courses prior to departure.
      4. Data for BSA tour permit, float plans, etc.
        For all trips to non-Council events, you need to file a BSA Tour Permit. Depending on the activities planned, other plans might also need to be filed.

    Departure Phase

    1. Arrive at the Scout Shed early (5:00 p.m) to open the doors
    2. Use the Eventbrite Neon app to check everybody in (this is required tracking for advancement purposes)
    3. Make sure that nobody has been left behind and that the shed is locked before the last vehicle leaves.
    4. Checklist of things to have in-hand
      • Medical forms binder
      • Get it from the Medical Forms Chair
      • Medications
        All medicines that Scouts will need to take, along with dispensing instructions and a list of any Scouts with medical conditions or medical requirements (collect from parents at departure, provide to the Medicine (Wo)Man for the trip.
      • State Park Youth Pass
        This will save a ton of money if you’re going to a state park. Kept in the Medical Forms Binder. MUST BE THE ORIGINAL CARD to be valid. Please be careful with it — it is very hard to replace it.
      • Payment method (If fees are due at the destination or activity)
    1. Checklist of things to distribute to participating adults
      • Address, directions and maps for how to get to destination(s).
      • Map of park and instructions for what to do in case the office is closed
      • Plans for what to do in case of an emergency (think through the most-likely hazards and plan a response.)
      • Contact information for emergency services (usually 911, but not always)
      • Printed rosters, organized by patrol, with leadership titles indicated. If patrols are combined for cooking purposes, indicate this on the roster too.
      • Driver contact information and start a driver group text

    Return Phase

    1. Just before departure from the campsite, send an e-mail to parents of all participating Scouts with an ETA for when the Troop will be back at the shed. (Best to do with Eventbrite but acceptable to send to the members@tr11.org list.)
    2. Make sure that nobody has been left behind at the campsite.
    3. At the shed, distribute any leftover food (don’t leave food for the critters in the shed)
    4. Return the medical forms binder and State Park Youth Pass to the Medical Forms Chair
    5. Pick up any lost-and-found items to return at a troop meeting
    6. Ensure that someone returns vans, clean and with full tanks of gas.
    7. Ensure that someone closes and locks the shed.
    8. Send a report listing all participants and the number of nights camped to the Advancement Chair.


    Scouts BSA Troop 11
    First Presbyterian Church Houston
    5300 S Main St, Houston, TX 77004

    Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software