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Troop Camping

Troop 281 has heard it over and over again. "I like Scouting because I get to go camping." We plan at least 6 Troop campouts a year, to include a week of summer camp.

Most campouts have a theme. So part of Saturday usually has events around that theme. However, most of the weekend has plenty of free time to enjoy the great outdoors. Adults do not micromanage the campout. This is the first time for many scouts to enjoy deciding what they will participate in during weekends. So, they have the option of what activities to participate in on a campout. There are some organized events on a campout. However, we make sure much time is available and a variety of events to let the scouts enjoy themselves with what they like to do. For first year scouts, there is always time spent on the campout with Trail to First class activities focused on signing of their requirements to advancement.


Patrol method for campouts

Scouting is based on the patrol method, which provides 6-9 scouts the opportunity to work together as a team. Each patrol camps and cooks together on a campout. This gives the scouts the opportunity to learn new skills, such as pitching a tent and cooking in a safe environment where it is okay to learn by making mistakes. The patrols are required to have a duty roster to help share the workload. The adult scouters on the campout also operate as a patrol and camp and cook separately from the scouts. Adults are not allowed to tent with scouts per scout policy.


Youth leadership

Troop 281 is a youth-led troop. This means the decisions and leadership are with the scouts. Each patrol has a patrol leader and assistant patrol leader. The troop has a senior patrol leader and assistant senior patrol leaders. The adults are there to provide guidance and ensure safety. Decisions about where to go for campouts are made by the youth leadership of the troop.


What about safety on scout campouts?

Troop 281 adheres to the "Guide to Safe Scouting" policy published by the Boy Scouts of America which documents acceptable practices. We have a strong safety record of avoiding serious injuries. Camping is in the great outdoors, so sometimes injuries happen. We are prepared by having a designated "Medicine Man/Woman" on each campout with a well-equipped first aid kit. Furthermore, we travel with a copy of the medical information of each scout and scouter. All scouts learn basic first aid as part of training and advancement. The adults ensure the "Guide to Safe Scouting" is adhered to. Hazing or bullying is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. Scouts are required to adhere to the buddy system and must be with a "buddy" to leave the camping area. Scouts are not allowed to use knives or axes until they have earned their "totin' chip". The adult scouters practice the two-deep leadership method. At all times, adult scouts have an adult partner when working with or interacting with scouts. This is a national scout policy and is for the protection of youth and adults.


Who teaches the new scouts how to camp?

Each new patrol has a troop guide (older scout) assigned to them on campouts to teach them how to cook and camp and ensure safe practices. The primary role of teaching is for the older scouts to teach the younger scouts. This provides a great experience for both of them. The leadership style for teaching is the EDGE method. This allows youth to learn through experiencing themselves. They are old enough to do it themselves instead of having everything done for them.

E – Explain

D – Demonstrate

G – Guide

E - Enable


How well supervised are the scouts?

One of the goals of scouting is to give young people the opportunity to learn on their own with guidance. The patrol method helps guide scouts. However, Scouts BSA is different from Cub Scouts in that the adults are in the background instead of making every decision as in Cub Scouts. This "letting go" of direct control is often difficult for new scout parents who have been in the Cub Scout program. However, the adults are always ready to step into an activity to maintain safety.


What about food for the weekend?

Each patrol has a grubmaster who is responsible for purchasing and cooking the food for that weekend. Normally, the cost for a weekend of food will be $10-15. Money is collected the Tuesday before the campout by the grubmaster for that weekend. The troop provides cooking stoves, propane, lanterns, cooking equipment, dutch ovens, and a table for each patrol from the troop trailer. Equipment is checked out from the quartermaster at the troop trailer at the campsite. Furthermore, the adults of the troop set up a proper washline to clean and sanitize dishes after cooking. This is used by all patrols. A scout must bring their own utensils, plate, and water bottle.

The patrol plans the menu the Tuesday night before the campout. If you have questions, contact the assistant scoutmaster for new scouts.

Important note: No Food is allowed in the tents. Do not send extra snacks. Ants and small critters like to come into the tent to share this food.


What about adult scouters?

All adults are welcome to attend a campout. Sign up at the troop meeting to know you are coming. You will be eating with the adult OGP patrol. The OGP (Old Goats Patrol) has a grubmaster, just like the scout patrols do. Bring your own eating utensils. If a parent attends the campout, remember, you are an adult scouter for the weekend more than you are a parent. Give your scout plenty of space to learn and experience without you doing for them. If they need help pitching a tent or cooking, you need to direct them to an older, experienced scout in the troop rather than doing work for them. If you can resist the temptation to "do it for them", they will learn much quicker and you will have a more fulfilling experience. One of the methods of scouting is to allow your child to have interaction with other adults. Thus, you will be in a background role with your scout and allow them to learn how to interact with other adults. The adults also practice the national policy of two-deep leadership with any interaction with scouts. This means each adult must have an adult partner when working with or interacting with the scouts.


Cost for camping

Normal weekend camping trips have no additional cost other than the Grubmaster food cost. There are occasional campouts that have costs that are known in advance and payable before the trip. Money is collected at the meeting before the campout.


Do not go out and buy a lot of new expensive equipment when your child is new to the troop. As they grow and learn what is needed, you can buy equipment. Also, camping equipment makes great Christmas and birthday presents. We have a more comprehensive list at the bottom of this page.

  • Flashlight (Headlight or Handheld)

  • Personal First Aid Kit (see Scout Manual)

  • Personal grooming kit (soap, toothbrush, comb)

  • Poncho

  • Change of clothes (underwear, pants & shirt)

  • Sleeping Bag

  • Eating Gear

    1. Medium-sized unbreakable bowl and plate
    2. Medium-sized unbreakable cup

    3. Nalgene or similar water bottle

    4. Fork, spoon, and knife


Do not send anything you cannot afford to lose.

Mark all equipment and clothes with your scout’s name.


What to buy later after a few campouts

  • Camp stool

  • Folding scout knife (no sheath knives)

  • Backpack (ask for advice)

  • Compass

  • Hiking boots

  • Hiking Socks

  • Tent


Items not allowed:

  • Knives that do not fold

  • Electronic gadgets (games, cellphones) ((get locked in a car))

  • Aerosol cans


Tips on camping equipment

One of the first (and most important) questions every parent of a new Scout asks is: "What do I need to buy for my child?" Good question! Unfortunately, this critical topic is handled in only very general terms in your son's Scout Handbook and Field Guide. Every Scoutmaster has seen his share of beginner Scouts absolutely atrociously outfitted despite the expenditure of hundreds of dollars by well-meaning parents - a financial disaster for the parents and a physical disaster for the Scout! It is not enough to know that your scout needs a sleeping bag or a flashlight - the specifics are vital - and you also need to know what not to buy. Herein is a summary of thoughts on how best to proceed in outfitting your Scout.


Lesson Number One: Your scout is going to lose things! Most items that are small, dark-colored, or (sadly, but true) extremely desirable to Scouts in other Troops tend to have unusually high mobility. Therefore, it is in your best interest to: A) Customize all gear with name tags or specific markings (yellow paint, etc.); B) Buy bright-colored, lower-quality substitutes for younger Scouts (ages 10 through 13); C) Avoid camouflage or other dark gear that blends into the scenery; and D) Keep your patience.

Lesson Number Two: "Buy to Size." Don't subject your scout to a "Bataan Death March," although you'll be tempted to buy oversized equipment ("He'll grow into it") or surplus military gear, don't do it! Overweight or oversized gear will run your child right into the ground - and a few months later, you'll be yard selling everything off at 5 cents on the dollar because: "I really don't like Scouting very much."


Troop versus Personal Gear

What the Troop provides: Basically, all group-oriented gear is bought, maintained, and replaced by the Troop. This includes dining flies (tarps), cooking gear, wood cutting equipment (axes, saws, etc.), stoves and lanterns, propane tanks, ropes, a full-sized First Aid kit, and tables. We occasionally get donated camping gear which is available for use.


What the Scout provides: All personal gear; this includes (at a minimum), a duffel bag (eventually a backpack), a three-season sleeping bag, a foam pad (full size for the sleeping bag), personal eating gear (bowl, fork and spoon, cup, canteen), a flashlight, proper clothing, proper footwear, rain gear, standard personal Scout gear (a decent knife, a compass, eventually a personal first aid and personal emergency kit) and items for maintaining personal cleanliness.


Understand immediately that proper outfitting of your scout requires time, effort, and (of course) money! There are a few shortcuts that are not short-changes, but they are limited! Taking the philosophical view, however, dollars spent now can lead to a lifetime of enjoyment and satisfaction - on a relative basis, camping gear (and Scouting) can be a pretty good bargain.


Obviously, however, on the short time scale, certain compromises between quality, expense, and the simple reality of a rapidly expanding Scout must be made. Unless you have several interested kids in your family, it is difficult to justify purchasing costly equipment that will be outgrown in 18 months or less; on the other hand, you don't want your scout to suffer in the great outdoors with defective junk!


Yes, you can do this without bankrupting yourself. A recommendation is to purchase the high-quality equipment that you can whose use is not dependent on the size of the scout -- Keep Lesson One in mind.


For equipment that will be outgrown - pack, sleeping bag, rain gear, outdoor clothing, etc., you should buy moderate cost. Check garage sales.


Now for the specifics:

The Backpack: You can generally hold off on this until your scout actually wants to participate in backpacking events - usually a year or two down the line, although some want to jump in immediately. When you do go for it, get an external frame backpack that fits your child. Firmly resist buying oversize! Make sure it has a padded hip belt, padded shoulder straps, and support webbing across the back. Internal frame packs are great to carry a lot of gear. However, external frames are much easier to tie tents and sleeping bags to. If you're buying a used backpack, make sure that there are no cracks in the welds (the one thing that can't be repaired)


The Sleeping Bag: Get a three-season bag (rated to about 30° F; weighing less than 4 pounds) and (if desired) a flannel or fleece liner; the latter can be easily custom-made by anyone with a sewing machine. Get a synthetic (Hollofil II, etc.) bag as opposed to down; they are less expensive, nearly as warm, nearly as light, and - most importantly - are still reasonably insulating when wet (down is useless when wet!). The flannel or fleece liner is for very warm nights (use it alone on top of the sleeping bag) or very cold nights (inside) and is conveniently removed and washed (which extends the life of the bag). Most bags come with a waterproof nylon stuff bag; if not, purchase one - they're usually inexpensive.


The Foam Pad: Avoid a cheap (beach) air mattress; they weigh far too much, are easily punctured, and are extremely cold in the winter. The latest (and greatest) are the new "Ridge Rest" (or equivalent) foam pads; they provide about a 15° F differential between the ground and the sleeping bag, plus they're very light. They come in two sizes (48 and 72 inches); they last forever, so you're better off buying the full 6-foot version unless you've got younger boys to eventually inherit the 4-foot version. Therm-a-Rest are self-inflating and marvelously comfortable, but much more expensive.


Pillow: Not really necessary! Buy a small cloth stuff bag (commercially available, or make your own) for your scout to fill with clothing or a jacket. If you insist on an inflatable pillow, still get a small cloth stuff bag that it will fit into; otherwise, it just slides away (plastic on plastic!). Most camping stores now sell a "backpacker's pillow," which you may prefer - again, not cheap.


Eating gear: Don't bother buying the old army/Boy Scout Mess Kit - no one uses them anymore. Everyone can more than get by with a medium-sized bowl and cup - both in durable plastic (lightweight, much easier to clean, and plastic doesn’t transfer heat like metal). Likewise, avoid the classic "knife, fork, and spoon" kit; instead, get the heavy-duty Lexan polycarbonate utensils (fork and spoon only!) – Lexan is lightweight and virtually indestructible. All of these can and should be marked with indelible pens - mixed-up gear is a perpetual headache at campouts. Use fingernail polish or scratch initials; indelible pens work fine for virtually all plastic but will need occasional renewal.


Water bottle: Get a translucent plastic 1 quart Nalgene bottle (easy to see how full, whether it's got a flavored drink in it, and also whether or not they picked up any interesting items (leaves, etc.) when filling it at the last waterhole!). Avoid metal canteens (too heavy, react with some acidic drink mixes) and opaque plastic models.


Flashlight: Buy a small LED flashlight or headlamp


Clothing: Seemingly trivial but actually the toughest subject to address! Most beginning Scouts carry A) Far too much, and B) the wrong type of clothing. Briefly, synthetics and wool clothing are much better than 100% cotton fabrics; hot weather clothing should be light colored to reflect sunlight, cold weather should be dark; avoid pullovers - use button-down shirts instead, they can be unbuttoned for cooling; in cooler weather, dressing in layers is far more versatile than using heavy duty one piece clothing (the latter has only two options: Broil or Freeze!). Blue jeans and blue jean jackets (or any other heavy-weight cotton clothes) are extremely poorly suited to outdoor use; cotton is actually a negative insulator when wet - meaning you're better off wearing nothing at all rather than wet cotton. All clothing should be packed into nylon stuff sacks to keep them dry; bring one extra empty stuff sack to separate used from new through the weekend.


Footwear: Not at all critical until your scout begins to attend backpacking events. Once they do, however, this is your highest recurring expense. Your son will grow out of his boots long before he wears them out; however, you really can't compromise on footwear on the trail. Cheap, shoddy boots cause rapid blister formation and utter hiking misery - a surefire recipe for a horrible backpacking experience! Likewise, you cannot buy used boots unless they were only worn once or twice - footwear that's been broken in on someone else's feet are far worse for you to break in versus a brand-new pair of boots. Look for reasonable quality leather or "High Tech Hiking" (not "Walking") boots that come up to about mid-ankle (for support); the soles should have a fairly aggressive tread design for proper purchase on wet, sloppy trails. The instep should have good arch support - bad boots are usually flat. Buy oversize! - your scout will be wearing a thick pair of socks while wearing the boots (bring along a very thick pair of socks when going out to buy boots!) Careful, most boots are standard width, so if your scout has a wide foot (see below), you may have to special order or look elsewhere. Always wear wool socks (not cotton) with boots. Also, look for a pair of boot-liner socks to go on first before the wool socks. For long-distance, multi-day trail hikes, the trend has moved from boots to lighter, trail runner shoes. Do your research as to what your Scout really needs.


Finally, don't pitch those old, worn-out sneakers (unless they've outgrown them)! This is what the youth wear around the campsite itself.  Keep a pair in the pack in a plastic bag. Open-toed shoes are NOT allowed camping.

Rain Gear: Although everybody hates them, the standard issue poncho is still about as reasonable as you can get. Full rain suits are a no-no; any activity and your scout is just as wet - from condensation and sweat - because they do not breathe. Some of the newest technology raingear (e.g., Gore-Tex) is breathable, but A) costs an unbelievable fortune; and B) doesn't hold up all that well under pack-straps or in heavy brush - Don't bother


For backpacking, most backpacks are moderately rain resistant; rainproof pack covers are available or can be fashioned at need from heavy-duty garbage bags. A good combination includes a windproof, water-resistant jacket, a pack cover, a lightweight poncho, and a waterproof hat with a brim - this is versatile enough to handle up to very heavy driving rains (which we probably wouldn't hike in anyway).


Optional personal Scout gear

Knife: A standard Boy Scout official knife is inexpensive and an excellent choice. Your scout will not need an axe or hatchet. The troop provides these.


Compass: A standard compass is all that's necessary - no need for the gold-plated model with 200 functions. Definitely mark it with your scout's name - most compasses look mighty similar! (Use a magic marker on the case, then cover it with a piece of Scotch tape.)


Personal Cleanliness: This includes a small roll of toilet paper in a plastic bag (wet toilet paper isn't very useful!), a washcloth, small towel, soap (in a small plastic container; some bring a squeeze tube of liquid soap - much more convenient!), and toothbrush. It's much more sensible to purchase separate items and keep them in the pack; if the Scout uses their everyday home materials, they'll forget them in the pre-campout rush. Note: Realistically, all they'll use on a weekend campout is the toothbrush.


Other optional or "seasonal" personal stuff no one ever remembers: Insect repellent, suntan lotion, sunglasses, small sewing kit (with extra buttons), shoelaces and Scout book (for new Scouts working on advancement).


Do not pack: Radios, electronic games, extra food (especially drinks or fresh fruits - they weigh a ton!), anything in glass, any aerosol type sprays (deodorants, insect repellent, etc.), gambling materials, excessive money or very valuable watches, jewelry, or `heirloom' knives.


Do not wear: Any military garb or any clothing with imprinted socially unacceptable logos or messages.


Do not pack in: footlockers (except for summer camp), duffel bags without handles, or suitcases.


Pack In: For non-backpacking camping, packing in a medium-sized duffel bag is perfectly adequate. It's preferable to use the type that zip down the sides, allowing easy access to everything without having to empty the entire bag out at the end. Use the equipment list and check items off while packing!


If your scout insists on a backpack for every event, fine - but keep in mind some of the following "advanced" concepts:


Packing the Backpack: Try to keep the same items in the same place each time you pack; this way, it's obvious when something's missing. Keep heavier items higher and closer to the back; this way, the weight of the pack is more centered above your scout's center of gravity (which makes the pack much easier to carry). Along similar lines, try to match the weight side-to-side in the pack. Use mesh or large, clear plastic bags as organizers; this way, it's obvious what's inside with a glance. The canteen, toilet paper, rain gear, flashlight, insect repellent, suntan lotion, sunglasses, and any trail snacks should be placed in the outside pockets for quick, easy access. Most backpackers tie their sleeping bags on the lower frame and their foam pads on the top. Upon return home, have them unpack immediately; don't let those wet sneakers, candy bar wrappers, and funky clothes ferment for a week or two! Empty and wash the canteen; rewash all cookware and utensils. After everything's been accounted for and cleaned, put it all in one spot (the same spot every time) for the next campout. [Don't, however, pack it all up in a "ready-to-go" mode - let things air out and stay fresh and dry.]

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