Jul 15, 2011
By Matthew Van Dixon, Director of Education
It is summertime again, and that means camping season! It is a time where families can fill their photo albums with memorable camp experiences. It is a time where children head off to week-long wilderness camps and come back with new fond memories and handful of newly developed friendships.
Camping season means more to some folks than others. For example, take the Boy Scouts. Boy Scouts, throughout the fall and winter seasons, long for this time of year, because it gives
them a chance to show off their newly developed skills they gained in their merit badge courses, and it is a time when they can earn a few more.
The Boy Scout motto declares, you must always be prepared, so our Education Department came up with some useful suggestions to assist scouts in preparing for their camping trips. Here is a list of to-do’s that will ensure your troop’s camping experience is safe, organized, and most of all, fun!
Pack proper clothing:
Be sure to bring a variety of clothing options: shorts, pants, sweats, long-sleeve shirts, short s
leeve shirts, jackets, etc. If the weather is warm, shorts will be fine but if you have some hiking planned, take along a pair of long pants, because you can easily scrape your legs on protruding limbs along the way.
Evenings might be chilly so bring a sweatshirt or light jacket, because in Oregon, rain is always a daily possibility. If rain is in the forecast or you might want to invest in a rain poncho. It is lightweight and durable. They offer the best overall protection from the elements and allow the highest degree of maneuverability, and they don’t take up much space when packing.
If hiking is planned, take several extra pairs of socks. During hiking, if your feet sweat, you can change into a dry pair of socks, keeping your feet as comfortable as possible. Also bring comfortable shoes, boots or sneakers, or one of each, to ensure you are prepared for the terrain you decide to explore in.
If you will be near a swimming hole or lake, don’t forget those beach towels, swim trunks and most importantly, sunscreen.
Food & food storage:
Be sure you pack a lot of water. On those long hikes, it is necessary to hydrate yourself properly. You can never have too much fresh water on a camping trip.
No matter if it is a short camping trip or long amount of time; you don’t want to take foods that will spoil easily. Meat products tend to quickly spoil. Peanut butter, nut bars, and good old pork & beans are great substitutes for protein.
Fresh fruits aren’t good items to take, unless you plan on eating them in a day or two. They also spoil quickly and are heavy and bulky to pack. There is a way, however, for you to have your fruits and vegetables. If you are able to dehydrate your fruits and vegetables, they stay fresh and still retain all those vital nutrients.
Probably the best foods to take while you’re camping would be ones with lots of carbohydrates, because carbohydrates keep your energy level up and activates your metabolism; and soup, of any kind, offer a simple and tasty meal. Sandwiches are great for a quick lunch or snack, but if you’ve ever been camping, you know that bread can become moldy if moisture sets in.
Just remember, when picking out your food you must remember that you’re carrying it in with you and your carrying it out with you.
You want to make sure you also pack a fun and tasty treat; there is nothing like a gooey melting s’more to devour.
Just as important as what to bring to eat and drink, is where can you store your food. A cooler packed with ice cubes or cold packs will keep things properly chilled for several days.
If you are camping for the weekend, that is probably enough time. If you are near a river or stream, you can put canned drinks and juices actually in the water. Or if you have a watertight food chest, you can submerge the entire chest in the water. Just be sure you anchor it properly so it doesn’t float down stream; that has actually happened to me before, it was seriously fast food!
If you don’t have an ice chest, you can choose from a variety of freeze dried foods that need only be prepared with water.
The tent is the focal point of most camping trips and pitching a tent is what I consider the most fun activity of the overall camping experience. If you’re a beginning camper, there are a variety of different tent options for you to consider.
First and foremost, you should practice pitching your tent before you actually get out to your campsite. Try pitching it up in your yard at home, it is good practice, and being able to do it quickly and effectively is extremely valuable. When looking for a place to pitch your tent, always look for soft, flat soil, somewhat of a “natural” bed of ground – and avoid the bottom of hills or valleys, that is where the remnants of erosion and falling rocks are. It is always smart to set up a waterproof tarp below your tent to avoid potential damage to your tent or absorption into your sleeping bag!
One last bit of advice for scout campers. No matter where you go, or the places you see, take lots of pictures, leave lots of footprints, and remember that summer camping is a magical time of your life, so embrace it!