Scouting Primer

Scouting is a process that includes spirituality, magic, and science. Among the sciences that apply are hydrology, geology, botany, biology, sociology, ecology, anthropology, archeology, topography, scatology, and unfortunately, political science. No experience is necessary to participate, and new blood is always needed.

Historically, the July 1-7 annual gathering and most regional gatherings have been held on public land in the US National Forest system, and never in National Parks or State Parks, due to legal issues. US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land is also public land and could be an option for gatherings.

Be self-sufficient: Have a dependable vehicle and/or gas money to donate to someone who does. Be ready for harsh conditions. Be ready to hike in the rain uphill for hours. And (disclaimer) this is not the only way to do scouting!

Do some map work: but remember that things arenít always as they appear on the maps.

What type of maps?: Topographical maps of the entire state (aka Gazetteers), Forest Service maps that show all the 15 Minute Series Quadrangles (quads) in a specific National Forest, USGS quads for each potential site.

Where do you get maps?: Copy them at libraries. On the internet use AcmeMapper (it uses Google Earth and USGS maps together). Purchase quads at hiking/outdoor stores, Forest Service offices, or online.

Site Criteria:
A good site will meet most of these:

Elevation: below 8,000 feet

Water: enough for drinking, cooking, and washing needs of thousands of people. The best drinking water comes from a spring that can be tapped and piped, then it can filtered or boiled. It should be away from the main gathering area with nothing to contaminate it from above, like runoff from livestock , mining, buildings, roads, etc. A rule of thumb: One gallon a minute per 1,000 people.

Open meadows: One large and open enough for daily Dinner Circle, away from parking, vehicle access, and camp/tent sites. Other smaller meadows for councils, pageants, tipis, etc.

Camping areas: Plenty of flat spaces, preferably shaded by trees, for setting up camps. They should be least 100 feet away from surface water.

Plenty of wood: for fires and for building kitchens. Only dead and down firewood may be used; there will be no cutting of green vegetation.

Roads: Look for safety issues: room to pass, clearance, parking for thousands, safe for busses, etc. Ideally there are two roads into the site, a front and a back entrance. Desirable: no road access into the main gathering area, which cannot be seen from the roads.

Parking: Large open spaces with safe access and egress for thousands of cars. If such space are not available, vehicles may be parked along the side of roads, where parking is allowed by the forest rangers. They must be pulled off of the road as far as possible. At a minimum, there must be one and half car widths (approx. 10-12 feet) of clearance on the road itself.

Accessibility: Walk into the site from the parking lot, considering how it will be for the youngers and the olders, and the alter-able people. Look for a way for everyone to get into the gathering easily.

Other issues:

A Spring council site (to be found by those who go scouting!)

A good spot for Bus Village

Other activities nearby, like livestock grazing, logging, off-road vehicles

Buildings/structures that could be damaged, fragile wildlife, archeological issues, private lands embedded in public land.

Beyond the site: nearby hospitals, local farmers markets, cheap gasoline, closest grocer, etc. Just notice and remember things and be ready to share what you have seen.

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