Reader Poll — Attending Mass When Camping …

… Reader poll at bottom of post.

Am I completely off base to expect a Boy Scout Troop, affiliated with and sponsored by a Catholic Church and made up predominately of Catholic boys and leaders, to plan mass attendance into camping trips?

My feelings are, as a Catholic troop, the boys should automatically include going to mass in the itinerary when they plan these trips.

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Take for example this past weekend.

They could have very easily planned Saturday vigil mass or early Sunday morning mass with little interruption to their plans. Two, count ‘em two, Catholic Churches were on either side of the state park where they were camped. Each one a total of six miles away.

I can totally understand if they are camping in the middle of nowhere, on top of a mountain, and had to hike 10 miles to the camp site – which they have in the past.

But on weekends where they are pretty much car camping at a state park… c’mon.

As a Catholic parent it’s my duty to instill in my son the importance and obligation of mass attendance. If I can make time for he and I to attend mass when we’re on vacation is it unreasonable for me to expect his troop to do the same?

Also… I believe in oaths and obligations.

Scout Oath

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

Scout Law

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly,
courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty,
brave, clean, and reverent.

I mean really? What’s the point of having the boys earn the Ad Altare Dei medal if we can’t even teach them the significance of regular mass attendance… even when it’s slightly inconvenient?

So what do you think? I am off base here or not?


Should Scouts Plan Mass Attendance Into Their Weekend Camping Plans? free polls 

Now I have to wonder if the next Troop outing will be group confession… cause mortal sin.

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  • Kim Whelan

    At our school/parish the scouts’ trips usually coincide with getting back in time for a Mass. It is always nice to see dirty smelly Boy Scouts at Mass as I know they are just getting back from a camping trip and that they have their priorities straight.

  • Mr. WAC

    I am a life-long scout/scouter and former District Executive. As a youth, I was frequently left without access to the sacraments because I belonged to a Protestant troop in a mainly Protestant part of the country. If your troop is predominantly Catholic or chartered by a Catholic organization, it should engage a priest as the official Chaplain and ask him to offer Mass on camp outs insofar as he is able to, considering time, distance, scheduling, etc.. My experience tells me that most priests are happy to to this – they like offering mass in the woods.

  • Mr. WAC

    In fact, when I was 17, I once had to go to confession to a Greek Orthodox priest before leaving civilization for a solid month working at summer camp. No Catholic priest in town was available.

  • Neil Leslie

    I can imagine a situation where the camp site might be a great distance from the nearest Catholic church, but in today’s world that would be pretty rare. If the troop is sponsored by a Catholic parish, and most of the Scouts and leaders are Catholic, it doesn’t seem too unreasonable to make arrangements for the Catholics to attend Mass.

  • Awkpearl

    You have probably already done this, but if your son has not gone to Mass yet, take him to a weekday Mass ASAP. You can’t substitute a weekday Mass for a Sunday Mass on your own accord, but it would help to teach your son about the importance of the Mass. You could even explain the situation to your pastor and ask him if you could substitute the weekday Mass this time, as it was not your son’s fault that he couldn’t make it this past weekend. Your pastor can make such decisions. Yes, a Catholic troup should make every effort to get the boys to Mass.

  • David J. White

    My Scout troop was sponsored by our parish. We had our courts of awards in church, with the priest handing out the awards, followed by Benediction. We always tried to make sure that a camping trip would not prevent us from attending Mass. There is a parish down the road from our local Scout camp, and they have long been accustomed to having groups of grubby, unwashed Scouts show up for Mass on Sunday morning. Sometimes a priest would come out to camp and say Mass for us. If nothing else, our parish had a Sunday evening Mass that those who missed Sat. evening or Sun. morning Mass could attend after they got back from camp.

  • Eugene Edward Yeo

    If your scout troop is sponsored by a catholic church, your sponsoring rep has the responsibility that the troop is living up to their side of the agreement and to make sure that the sponsoring body is living up to theirs. Is the priest willing to take HIS car to the campsite and administer the sacraments to the members of his parish? Is he willing to assign and train Lay Leadership to perform a Liturgy of the Word? What steps has your priest taken to remind the scouts of their obligations, and who has been reporting to the parish the status of the troop?

  • Stu

    Not off base. Spot on.

  • george-a

    Are you off base? No. Absolutely NO. You are quite correct. Unfortunately, you are not alone in this. Our scout troop, thousands of miles away from you, does the same thing.

  • GeekLady

    I don’t have much to add here, except that if I can find a Mass for our family to attend in UTAH (it ended up being a Communion service with a Deacon who drove 45 minutes to get there), your Boy Scouts should have no problem. And I would raise hell over it.

    Also. if you’re having trouble finding a nearby Mass in places Catholics are scarce, the front desk of a resort will, in my experience, help, even if you aren’t staying there. That was what happened at Bryce Canyon. I had tried calling the diocese of Utah, but they were entirely unhelpful.

  • Martha

    Why can’t the parents take the Scouts to Mass when they get home? That way the boys can go to church after taking a shower. Our Scout troop always gets the boys home early enough to have 3 more chances of Mass at our parish. There are later Masses elsewhere. I do think you are off-base in your expectations; Mass attendance is the family’s job, not the Scoutmaster’s.

    • Cliff Towle

      She is not off-base. Recognizing her own obligations, she rightly criticizes the scoutmaster. In the future, perhaps Crescat will attend the scout meetings to insure Mass attendance is the first priority. Alternatively, she will find another troop or quit scouts.

    • Awkpearl

      As this past weekend was Memorial Day Weekend, I assume that they camped through Monday. Therefore, they did not come home on Sunday so she could not take him to Mass herself.

    • Roki

      It is the Scoutmaster’s job to support the family, and not to oppose the duties and obligations of the family. He is like a teacher or a babysitter: when the children are in his charge, he acts as a delegate of the parents and not as some kind of independent authority.

      Especially at a troop based in a Catholic parish, where presumably a large number of the scouts are Catholic, the Scoutmaster should accommodate as much as possible the Catholics’ duties to participate in mass.

      I can understand there being situations where getting to a mass (or even a communion service) would be so difficult as to completely disrupt the camping trip. But in these situations, at least the Scoutmaster could inform the scouts and their parents, and help them gain dispensation from their pastors.

  • Barbara Fryman

    Pretty sure none of the boys committed mortal sin as they did not plan the trip and are not usually permitted to leave a scout camping trip on their own. I don’t think it’s a mortal sin to be a young boy excited to miss mass thanks to the adults’ poor planning, but hey, I don’t read the hearts of young boys. I hear they have lots of spiders in there.

  • David J. White

    If your troop is predominantly Catholic or chartered by a Catholic
    organization, it should engage a priest as the official Chaplain and ask
    him to offer Mass on camp outs insofar as he is able to, considering
    time, distance, scheduling, etc..

    I second the suggestion of asking one your parish priests to serve as the troop’s official chaplain if the troop is sponsored by a Catholic parish. And there is even a nifty Chaplain’s patch you can give him:

  • SallyT

    This was occasionally a difficulty in our (now sadly defunct) parish troop. Our parish is tiny, with one priest; we don’t have the option of multiple masses at multiple times, and so far we haven’t had a priest who can bilocate on Sundays. Meanwhile, our scout leadership was a) not all Catholic, and b) maybe understandably kind of squeamish about making the non-Catholic boys in the troop go to Mass. Leaving them behind was typically not an option because of the need to have two-deep leadership anywhere that the boys were.

    We were pretty squarely in the camp of “go to Mass, no matter what,” as were most of the other Catholic troop parents. Most of the time the trips were planned so that they got back in time at least to make the Spanish Mass in our parish. On the other hand, there was the option of our priest’s offering them a dispensation from their obligation, in instances when this was more or less impossible or unworkable.

    We ourselves asked for this dispensation when our son was going backpacking in the Sierra Nevada (not with the Scouts) last summer — there really was no. way. he was going to be able to hike out of the backcountry to find a church, so we sent him in to talk to our pastor and seek dispensation for the one Sunday when he was going to be out there.

  • Snupnjake

    One of my clearest memories of camping as a girl scout was when Father came on Saturday night to have Mass for us. He used the cooler as a make shift altar. He gave a homily on the dignity of life and respect for all God’s creatures. He then proceeded to kill a bunch of bugs during the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer. Ah memories. As an older Venture scout, my crew was sponsored by a Catholic Church and we were required to go to services if it was offered at the campsite or we were returned to the parish in time for the last Mass. Any troop/crew/post/den sponsored by a religious organization, especially one where the members are predominately one religion, should be emphasizing that religion’s obligations.