When we go Cub Scout Camping we always seem to forget something. It seems as though every campout adds another item to the list of things needed to make our camping experience that much better. This past weekend we went with our cub scout pack to Pipsico Scout Reserve in Virginia and we had a rainy weekend. There were many scouts and parents that were not prepared for the rain even though the forecast called for nonstop rain. We were in a Big Agnes tent, under a tarp awning evaluating the other Cubs setups which led to this post
Prepare for the worst. When you are planning your Cub Scout Camping experience look at the weather for the time frame you will be in the woods. These numbers and predictions are always subject to change so you need to keep that in mind. Let’s take this past weekend as an example. It was calling for rain every day starting Friday and ending Wednesday evening. As seasoned scouts, we knew that we were going to need certain things to keep us comfortable. We looked at the weather and planned for a twenty-degree shift in temperature and also a shift in precipitation. Here are a list of your must-haves and why. For more recommended items click here.
1.Tent: I know many people think a tent is a tent but that is the furthest thing from the truth. When you are looking at the weather you have to determine if your gear is up to the task. Is it going to rain? Will the rain be heavy? Does my tent have the ability to keep us dry when we are in the rain? These are all questions you want to be answered before you are woken up at 2:00 AM in a pool of water. You should also take into consideration the season in which you plan to Cub Scout Camp. You don’t want an easy up cabin tent for a winter of a cool weather camping trip if you can help it.
2.Tarp: This should be plural when it comes to tarp selection. You should have a ground tarp or footprint for your tent that keeps the bottom of your tent from directly contacting the ground. When you have the tarp under the tent it creates a moisture barrier that will limit the condensation that can form on the floor of the tent. This ground tarp should never extend past the tent. If it sticks out it will act as a funnel and water will pool under your tent and eventually be in your tent. The second tarp should be available for a covering in bad weather. You can use this tarp to make an awning to shield you from many things like rain, snow, and sun. This is cheap insurance that will keep you comfortable in most situations.
3.Sleeping Bag: This is one that will make or break a campout for sure. If you look at the weather and it is going to be in the 40s you don’t want to trust a 40 degree rated bag to keep you warm. The rating on the sleeping bags in my experience is chosen for the rating you won’t freeze at. You also won’t be comfortable but you will survive. I always like to carry a bag that is rated for the coldest situation I will encounter on the trip. The thought process is, I can always unzip the bag to cool down.
4. Sleeping Pad: This is one that I will not camp without. I have used all types and recommend getting one that will keep you off the ground and warm. The military foam pads will keep you warm but not as comfortable as you would like. You can use an air mattress, this will provide the maximum comfort but not warmth. The perfect middle ground would be an inflatable ground pad with internal insulation providing comfort and warmth.
5. Camp Chair: Some camping areas will have a picnic area or even some sort of seating. It will be easier for you and your CubScout to have your own seats. This is best when you are working your way around the campfire to avoid the smoke. Comfort will go a long way to making your trip a memorable one, in a good way.
6. Clothing: Seems like a theme but check the weather. Dress in layers for the winter and always change your socks before you go to sleep. I see many parents and CubScouts that go camping in their school clothes. These clothes might be good around the house but will not make for a comfortable outing. If your Scout has on their Sunday best they will feel bad if they get anything dirty or damaged.
7. Footwear: I know this falls under clothing to a certain degree but I felt it needed its own section. When the Scout go camping we do many things that your feet will pay for later. If you are not wearing the proper footwear you can cause more harm than good. If you choose a quality waterproof hiking boot that will allow for a multi-season Cub Scout Camping trip, your scout will thank you.
8.Cordage: You can never have enough rope in my opinion. With the proper knots and cord, you can create almost anything. Using a paracord or rope you can use your secondary tarp as a shelter. You can create a seat using a cord and wood. There is any number of uses for a quality rope or cord.
9. Towel: This is a bit of an odd one, but hear me out. I have had long hikes that have left us sweating and it was always good to dry off before bed. If you are caught in a rainstorm and you get in your tent the first thing you want to do is get dry. Having a towel will make your night so much better.
10. Pillow: I see many Scout parents bring pillows from home. Large pillows straight from their beds and now on the floor of a dirty tent. You can get an inflatable pillow for under twenty dollars and it is much easier to pack.
11. Rain Gear: This is one that you will appreciate the money spent during a downpour. I personally like the Frogg Toggs, the way they fit and breath make the rain an experience instead of an inconvenience. I would also recommend having an emergency poncho as well. Having this poncho will ensure you are always ready for the elements.
12. Flashlight: When I pack for camp I always have a few different lights. I like to have a headlamp and several other light options. The reason for multiple options is so if one fails you are not left in the dark.
13. Bug Spray: Bugs can be a real nuisance and that can ruin a campout. I like to have some bug bands and spray to help keep the bugs away. Many bugs can carry diseases that have long-lasting effects. By using repellent you can limit your chances of catching something and have a more enjoyable experience.
There are many things you can get to make your experience amazing. Some you need and some you just want to have. I know how cool it is to get the newest gear but I would recommend getting the basics before you get the latest gadget. Cub Scout Camping should be fun and if you are comfortable you will have fun.