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rickb
05-08-2018, 02:20
A lot of effort went into this.....

https://atcamp.org/

LittleRock
05-08-2018, 08:39
Interesting. I like the concept, but it's not really useful until people start using it. That will take time.

Gambit McCrae
05-08-2018, 08:39
Interesting for planning but I think it will be under utilized by large margins...

Just Tom
05-08-2018, 08:49
Our Boy Scout Troop has been using it for about a year, as soon as it went public.

Sarcasm the elf
05-08-2018, 09:50
Our Boy Scout Troop has been using it for about a year, as soon as it went public.

My first thought was that this could be very useful for groups.

Just Tom
05-08-2018, 10:10
In theory it is a great tool. One of my biggest fears when we do our AT trips is showing up to a group site and having it already occupied. Having the reservation won't solve that if no one uses the system, but we print it and bring it anyway just in case it would help convince the occupants at least let us squeeze in too. At least CT has designated group sites though, I know many (most? all others?) don't. That helps us as a troop.

linus72
05-08-2018, 10:23
the main benefit of it is to prevent overcrowding at a site. so if someone registers for a site like a troop for instance, and another troop goes in to register to stay there they will see that there are already say 10 people there, so it might be a better idea to pick a different site so everyone has a pleasant and not overcrowded experience... and minimize impact to the site as much as possible. other than these scout groups and a few others it hasn't really taken off quite yet.

QuietStorm
05-08-2018, 10:38
I just used it for the first time. I like the concept and hope it helps over time to reduce the impact on the trail and shelters.


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Starchild
05-08-2018, 12:26
I just used it for the first time. I like the concept and hope it helps over time to reduce the impact on the trail and shelters.


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For better or worse it seems like it's a further step towards smartphone usage on the trail and perhaps reserving as one goes. It's not there y-e-t, but could easily be implemented in this vein. I'm sure I am not the only one who thought if there was a app for that, and perhaps that is part of the thought process long term.

Also I do wonder if people will use it to see where the crowds are at, not to avoid crowds but to join them. Thru hikers are often very communal and know each other and form a traveling community, part of the 'modern' thru hiking experience.

Slugg
05-08-2018, 12:43
I used this for the first time a couple months ago. I wouldn't use it to definitively plan, as in counting on a shelter to be open because it's not reserved, but at least this can help you know which places will DEFINITELY be full.

Just Tom
05-08-2018, 13:05
IIRC, this was *only* for Groups in early 2017 when we first used it.

bayview
05-08-2018, 18:21
Problem with groups like Scouts, the leaders are pompous and donít follow rules. We ran into one group last year on a section hike from 19E to Erwin. The guy had his kids spread all over without regard to the scouting patrol method. Invaded other peopleís space and did not practice LNT

As a former Scout Master and an Eagle Scout I was embarrassed for scouting

Just Tom
05-08-2018, 18:51
Heck, we even split up our scouts into crews of 8 or less (plus two adults) and run them on entirely different sections to ensure we follow guidelines and don't overwhelm a site.

greentick
05-09-2018, 20:05
Interesting. I got a pile of kids, this could be useful. I don't get over to the ATC site often, thanks for pointing this out.

Sarcasm the elf
05-09-2018, 20:19
Heck, we even split up our scouts into crews of 8 or less (plus two adults) and run them on entirely different sections to ensure we follow guidelines and don't overwhelm a site.

I really do wonder if I’ve bumped into you and your troop on trail over the years.

Just Tom
05-09-2018, 21:31
Our troop is just into its 5th year in existence, but we do hit the AT twice a year as a troop, typically in June and September (not always in CT though). Occasionally a subset might be out for specific requirements separate from that. I actually ran into Gambit when he was passing through CT a couple of years ago!

My guess is there are a number of really good troops doing good work and teaching good things on the trail in our corner of the AT (and elsewhere). I know we have bumped into many other troops. No offense to the poster earlier, but I'm saddened by the overgeneralized statements about the poor quality of scouting. Even the worst troop someone sees is still doing great things for the youth, and the leaders are expending hundreds or even thousands of volunteer hours each year with no reward other than the impact they can make. I'm only an ASM and I probably put in 60 hours a month, the scout master is easily over a 100. (Sorry everyone for the rant).

LittleRock
05-10-2018, 08:39
I'm saddened by the overgeneralized statements about the poor quality of scouting. Even the worst troop someone sees is still doing great things for the youth, and the leaders are expending hundreds or even thousands of volunteer hours each year with no reward other than the impact they can make. I'm only an ASM and I probably put in 60 hours a month, the scout master is easily over a 100. (Sorry everyone for the rant).
A scout troop is only as good as its leadership allows it to be (I'm an Eagle Scout myself). I've seen both troops with very good leadership and well disciplined scouts (camped 200 ft away from an AT shelter, and I barely even noticed they were there), and troops with very poor leadership and undisciplined scouts (leaders stayed in an AT shelter, scouts camped all around it, and I moved on). Sounds like your troop is more like the former. :-)

BuckeyeBill
05-10-2018, 23:32
This is similar to the departure registration that the ATC started a few years back. As linus72 mentioned, it was a was to prevent over crowding on the trail especially during the popular dates to start. Then the ATC started asking hikers to consider flip-flop hikes as a manner to prevent over crowding. These are all great ideas IMO as I am not a big fan of large groups or the "party crowd".

Cosmo
05-12-2018, 12:17
AT Camp in it's present form is intended for groups. It is not a RESERVATION, but a REGISTRATION which helps folks like me (Overnight Site Caretakers, Ridgerunners, Shelter Adopters, etc) manage Trail use in our area.
We can:
--Reach out to the group before their hike and provide info and advice and review regulations (if any).
--Meet the group at the site and provide some educational opportunities about how to visit the AT responsibly and with respect.
--Avoid having two groups plan on visiting the same site on the same night.
--Suggest alternative itineraries if the group is considering a site with limited capacity.
--Gather real-life data about campsite and trail use to inform future management decisions.

Groups are often the way youngsters first experience the AT and living out doors. We want their experience to be positive, as they are potential future stewards of the Trail. We also want to reduce any negative impacts that groups could have on the experience of other hikers. Expertly led groups are an important future Trail resource--poorly led ones degrade the Trail for everyone else.

Group use is a big deal on the Trail (in New England, anyway). One camp in Mass has 44 nights scheduled between July and mid-August. College groups are at nearly every campsite in Mass, CT and S. VT the first week in September. Through my volunteer work, I have about 12 encounters with scouts, school and camp groups on the AT in Mass every year (there are other volunteers and paid RR that have a similar level of contact). Generally, one or two are pretty negative, most are great. Unfortunately, the ones we don't get to meet are the ones that seem to have the most negative impacts, and we never get an opportunity to have that conversation.

A good group experience begins with good management and planning from the "office", and finishes with good management from the leaders in the field. If leaders disrespect regulations and recommendations (group size, quiet hours, tenting instead of in the shelter, dishwashing, food storage, etc), it sets a poor example to the participants, who then continue in that now validated behavior in their future Trail visits.

Please encourage any outing groups you are aware of to use AT Camp--at present, it's the best tool we have to connect with this important segment of Trail visitors.

Cosmo



A scout troop is only as good as its leadership allows it to be (I'm an Eagle Scout myself). I've seen both troops with very good leadership and well disciplined scouts (camped 200 ft away from an AT shelter, and I barely even noticed they were there), and troops with very poor leadership and undisciplined scouts (leaders stayed in an AT shelter, scouts camped all around it, and I moved on). Sounds like your troop is more like the former. :-)

Just Tom
05-12-2018, 12:50
I observe the website was upgraded with sections for thru hikers and section hikers, but I have not explored those links to see what, if any, registration options are are in there for them.

I agree the site is a great tool for group planning. But I do have a complaint in regards to the college groups, since my experience so far is they are not using the same system. I could be wrong, but as I mentioned we have used this system the moment it was opened and we have never selected a site that already had a group registered but we have definitely had college groups at the site when we arrived.

Cosmo
05-12-2018, 20:18
Yes, I wish ATC would strongly promote this. Its difficult to find on their website and they make no real attempt to reach out to groups, including colleges. In Mass we have our own group notification effort: http://amcberkshire.org/atgrouphike, but it would be enhanced by more universal adoption of ATCís system.

Cosmo


I observe the website was upgraded with sections for thru hikers and section hikers, but I have not explored those links to see what, if any, registration options are are in there for them.

I agree the site is a great tool for group planning. But I do have a complaint in regards to the college groups, since my experience so far is they are not using the same system. I could be wrong, but as I mentioned we have used this system the moment it was opened and we have never selected a site that already had a group registered but we have definitely had college groups at the site when we arrived.

Shady Bill
08-28-2018, 20:11
Problem with groups like Scouts, the leaders are pompous and donít follow rules. We ran into one group last year on a section hike from 19E to Erwin. The guy had his kids spread all over without regard to the scouting patrol method. Invaded other peopleís space and did not practice LNT

As a former Scout Master and an Eagle Scout I was embarrassed for scouting

Iím also an Eagle Scout and current Scoutmaster going on my 14th year. I apologize for the group you crossed paths with but I guarantee you that their behavior is in the minority. Iím not an expert on the AT. In fact my first hike was a month ago for only 2 days. I drove from Chicago and my 25 year old Eagle Scout son drove from Columbus Ohio and we had a blast. Our Scout Troop follows LNT and many other good practices. In fact if you saw us on the trail you would smile and think to yourself what a nice group of kids. Unfortunately one bad group is what people tend to remember and talk about.

Happy Hiking
Schady Bill

Cosmo
08-30-2018, 07:48
I've had quite a bit of experience as a volunteer Overnight Site Caretaker with a number of groups in Mass. Generally speaking, Scout groups either decline to register, or are ignorant of our request to register, and therefore we have no opportunity to help them to understand both the regulations (that is, actual rules) regarding group size and conduct, and the recommendations (not actual rules, but good practice) that will help them have an enjoyable outing w/o negatively affecting the experience of other hikers on the Trail or at campsites. Having said that, there are certainly other organized groups that visit the Trail in Mass that also do not register or contact us, and their behavior shows it. So it's not just Scouts, although I have to say it's a rarity (and a pleasure) to encounter Troops led by folks like Shady Bill.

There are groups visiting the AT in Mass that we work with closely on a regular basis every season. Generally, these do pretty well--although there are occasionally a few incidents, typically due to inexpert leadership or unusual circumstances. We're able to connect with the sponsor and resolve any issues quickly.

Between In June, July and August, we see over 200 group-nights on the AT in Mass--most of them at the same 6 or 7 overnight sites. This includes summer camps, scout group, church groups, recreation programs, college groups, etc. It's definitely a thing.

Perhaps it's the more random nature of Scout trips (they are not out on a regular basis), or that they are also volunteer led--generally by hard working parents who want the best for the kids, but don't have the time, knowledge or expertise to do research and acquire AT-specific skills before the trip. The ethic of "conquering the wilderness" (which was pretty common in my scouting days in the last century--we were still trenching around our tents to prevent rainwater from entering) still seems to linger--scouts (and adults) carry big knives and hatchets, operate with a military like organizational structure, and carry way too many clothes and gear. This is the AT folks, the most developed backcountry trail in the world. All the conquering is internal, not external.

For a great video on conquering the internal challenges check out this video (https://youtu.be/kRLqNk0Ml6Q), it's a great example of the reason why groups want to hike the AT.

Cosmo


Iím also an Eagle Scout and current Scoutmaster going on my 14th year. I apologize for the group you crossed paths with but I guarantee you that their behavior is in the minority. Iím not an expert on the AT. In fact my first hike was a month ago for only 2 days. I drove from Chicago and my 25 year old Eagle Scout son drove from Columbus Ohio and we had a blast. Our Scout Troop follows LNT and many other good practices. In fact if you saw us on the trail you would smile and think to yourself what a nice group of kids. Unfortunately one bad group is what people tend to remember and talk about.

Happy Hiking
Schady Bill

Tundracamper
08-30-2018, 09:06
I agree the site is a great tool for group planning. But I do have a complaint in regards to the college groups, since my experience so far is they are not using the same system. I could be wrong, but as I mentioned we have used this system the moment it was opened and we have never selected a site that already had a group registered but we have definitely had college groups at the site when we arrived.

IMHO, there really are no grounds for a complaint as you elected to use this system and perhaps had some unrealistic expectations regarding what it could provide. You clearly understand it is not a reservation system and should therefore come with no expectation about what you will find when arriving at a site. For a hotel, this sort of thing works great. For the open wilderness, I donít see how it would ever work for individuals - except for planning purposes, and you clearly have had negative experiences in that regard.

Just Tom
08-30-2018, 09:35
We sure did elect to use it, and will continue to use it. First, because it is *the* system the ATC has provided to the public for groups, and part of being a good trail citizen is to use what is provided. Second, it may helps other groups that do use it as a planning tool (which is the intent right, so we all can select a site that isn't in high demand that weekend). And lastly, folks like Cosmo that deal with large group logistics can see where the groups will be and allocate resources as he described.

(And I do agree that when used for single hikers it is not as useful, but my comments were about the group planning feature in the site, which is what it started out as.)

Cosmo
09-01-2018, 19:38
The system has limitations--and is not all that useful for individual hikers (until when some dark day in the future everyone will need a permit to hike the AT, ugh!). It is handy for groups, and for notifying clubs and other entities who are keenly aware of the impacts organized group use can have on the AT--both to its facilities and on the experiences of its visitors.

The issue here (IMO) is not the (flawed) system of registration, but conduct of some groups that use the trail as a resource for the enhancement of their programs. I think that experiencing the AT with a group is a great way to introduce people to the backcountry (it certainly was for me). Some of these people will likely be repeat visitors (and possibly, eventually, stewards). Let's make sure that their early experiences are successful and instill in them the value of what the Trail offers. Let's teach them to respect the physical resources of the Trail (often built and maintained by volunteers). Let's teach them the value of being in close proximity to the sights and sounds of the natural world, and to leave it unimpaired by their visit so others may enjoy the experiences as well. Let's teach them to value freedom, self reliance and the personal responsibility those values require.

Cosmo

George
09-05-2018, 00:21
- people start using it. That will take time.

like right after the sun goes super nova