Had a question on the Backpacking Merit Badge come up in our troop meeting tonight, specifically on this requirement:
Do the following:
a. Write a plan for a backpacking trek of at least five days using at least three different campsites and covering at least 30 miles. Your plan must include a description of and route to the trek area, a schedule (including a daily schedule), a list of food and equipment needs, a safety and emergency plan, and a budget.
b. Using Leave No Trace principles, take the trek planned and, while on the trek, complete at least one service project approved by your merit badge counselor.
c. Keep a daily journal during the trek that includes a day-by-day description of you activities, including notes about what worked well and thoughts about improvements that could be made for the next trek.
The question is specifically about the first requirement, and whether the backpackers can use a base camp on their first night after arriving at their chosen location as one of the three campsites in the requirement.
I say yes.
I base that on a quick read of the requirement itself: It doesn't specify that the campsites have to be hiked to. That's implied, yes, but without explicit instruction, I think there's enough wiggle room in the requirement to accommodate this.
I also base my opinion on the nature of the planned outing: Father and son plan to hike the tallest mountain peak in Colorado, then drive to Utah to climb the highest mountain peak there. They're doing a lot of quality hiking, with camping in the mix. If they camp the first night after driving from Colorado to Utah, I'm not going to stand in their way of making that campsite one of the required sites. If anyone wants to quibble, I guess I'll say this: Put on your backpack, hike 100 yards from your car to the campsite, then call it a night.
The intent of the trip is meeting the intent of the requirement.