To quote an early edition of the Boy Scout Handbook, "Scouting is Camping." Camping and outdoor adventure are two of the main parts of Boy Scouting today. In addition to monthly weekend camping trips, members may attend a weeklong summer camp, attend a Youth Leadership Training Conference, or participate in one of many special events sponsored by the Otetiana Council.
Our troop generally participates in tent camping, backpacking, and the occasional cabin camping trip.
Regardless of where you're camping, here are some items you should never be without:
• Sleeping Bag - Make sure it's a camping sleeping bag, and not one designed for little kids to have sleepovers! There are different types available, but make sure it's rated for cold-weather camping. You can always unzip if it gets too hot!
• Sleeping Pad - Generally just a foam pad will do, but some prefer an air mattress. Get one that's a little bit bigger than your sleeping bag. The goal here is to lift you off the ground, providing insulation from the elements.
• Ground Cloth - All troop tents have a ground cloth for under the tent, but it's important to have one on the inside of the tent floor too. Tarps generally work well. The goal here is to provide yet another layer of water protection.
• Flashlight - Any kind will work, but experienced campers will tell you that a Maglite is probably the best. They're a little pricey, but they're indestructable, waterproof, and work when it's really cold out. If you do manage to break it, Mag Instrument offers a lifetime warranty.
• Pocketknife - Every scout should carry a pocketknife at all times. Safety training will be provided as part of rank advancement. Make sure it's not a sheath knife.
• Rope - Scouts should carry a 6 foot piece of rope in their pack. Rope is invaluable when camping.
• Duct Tape - The handyman's secret weapon. The troop always brings duct tape camping, but some scouts like to bring their own roll. Duct tape can fix leaks, prevent clothes from tearing, and do many other things you probably weren't aware of.
• Pack - If you're going to do any serious camping, you should really get a good frame pack. Some scouts manage well with duffel bags, but a frame pack allows you to carry heavy items without feelling them. It's hip belt transfers potentially dangerous weight off your back to your leg muscles.
• Raingear - Ideally, you would buy a poncho. Ponchos can fit nicely over a backpack while you're wearing it. Inevitably, it will rain on the one campout where you forgot your poncho.
• Mess Gear - Many scouts will tell you that anything can be eaten with a cup and spoon. However, most of us prefer silverware and a plate. Any camping store, like Campmor, will sell interlocking silverware sets and unbreakable plates. Or just use a (clean!) frisbee and some cheap plasticware that you don't mind losing.