US/UK Girl Scout and Girl Guide Camping Compared


It has been interesting reading the different comments on tents and the different attitudes to "camping" between UK and North America. Here in "bonnie" but very windy Scotland we only use canvas patrol tents. One point we have to bear in mind is stability in bad weather - the old-fashioned ridge tent is still the most stable type to use - unless you are going to spend "megabucks" on mountaineering-type tents. When I returned to guiding after a gap of many years in the "wilderness" of boy scouting, I was amazed that guides were still using the type of tents that I had used as a young guide. In fact many of the tents were probably as old as me!! I was lucky enough to be given a substantial sum (#1,000) to buy new camping equipment a couple of years ago - so I researched every type of tent I could find determined to "modernize" our equipment. After 4 months of research guess what ended up as the first choice - good old patrol tents.

They may be heavy but the canvas lasts for years and can be repaired. They are not too difficult to put up - most patrols can erect and peg down their tents in less than half an hour. They are very stable - at one of our camps this year we had gale force winds and rain during the night - all the tents were watertight and did not budge in the wind.

"Leave only memories" - the ground is not damaged as we braille the tents during the day, ground sheets are lifted and bedding and belongings stacked up on bedding racks. This leaves plenty of room for the girls to use in the tents during the day plus their belongings are kept dry.

Each tent sleeps a patrol of six girls plus all their gear.

The tents will last for at least twenty years - we are still using one purchased in 1954!

What was the point of this mailing? Nothing really - just enjoying the differences - lightweight tents are fine for lightweight use - 6 girls for several nights in rain and wind is not "lightweight".

Jan Bain
Guide Guider, Banff & Buchan, Scotland


Following this post, Jan was asked to explain some of the terms she had used.


Bedding rack - simplest is two poles laid across forked sticks (quite often spare tent pegs) so that they are parallel to each other with about 12 inches gap between. Bedding rolls (we roll our sleeping bags, blankets, pillows up each morning in a ground sheet or strong polythene sheet to keep them dry and out of the way) can then be laid across with rucksacks piled on top of this, the tent groundsheet is then folded up on top of the pile. The poles are the length of broom handles maximum. This means that everything is about 3 or 4 inches off the ground and the grass is getting aired during the day. There is also no problem in wet weather (we get a lot of that :-)) ) of walking in and out of the tent with wellies (sorry Wellington boots - now come on you do call them that don't you - or is it galoshes!!!).

Brailling - now this is a difficult one if you don't use the same tents as us - that is patrol tents. However - we will try!! I am assuming you know what I mean by a Patrol Tent - I think you call them "Round up Tents". The sod cloth is the part at the base of the tent wall that tucks under the ground sheet. Where the tent wall joins the sod cloth are small loops of guy at regular intervals which are called "brailling loops" - these are pegged down by - yes you've guessed it - brailling pegs. During the day we roll up the sides of the tent on the inside so that this roll is well under the roof overhang and tie the tapes (which are attached at the point where the tent wall ends and the roof begins) in slip know so that if necessary (and it is very often) we can drop the walls. This allows air to circulate round the tent. Oh - forgot - we "half braille" the tent until the sod cloth is dry - that is we tie the brailling guys (remember them) loosely to the brailling tape on the outside of the tent so that the sod cloth is a few inches off the ground until the canvas is dry from dew fall (always assuming that the dew is falling and not rain - a 50/50 chance in this part of Scotland at camp!!).

Jan Bain
Guide Guider, Banff & Buchan, Scotland


Well done Jan :-) the only thing you missed was telling them that the brailling was rolled under the eaves of the tent - eaves are where the roof meets the wall. - In tents as in buildings.

Eileen Kermode
Guide Guider, Maghull, Liverpool, England


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This page last updated December 23rd, 1997