First Time Camper's Guide
"Leave No Trace"
Each family is expected to leave their camp site in the same (or better) condition they found it.
The first thing you'll need is some basic equipment. The following list should get you started. Don't worry, you don't need to head to a wilderness outfitter for your gear. Most items below can be found at larger Targets and Walmarts as well as local sporting goods stores. Check out a suggested packing list.
- Tent - Scout camping is tent camping. You will need a tent of some sort. Since families camp together in Cub Scouts, how big a tent you get will depend on how many family members will be camping and what other gear you plan to bring. (see below) At camps, you will see everything from 2 person backpacking tents to 2 and 3 room tents that can sleep 10 people. Most people opt for 4 to 6 person tents. Once you get a tent, put it up and take it down once or twice at home, so you know how all the pieces fit together. Most tents these days can be put up easily by one or two people, but you don't want to be trying to assemble a band new tent for the first time in the dark at camp.
- Tent stakes - Many new tents come with stakes that are basically L-shaped pieces of 3/8 inch metal wire. They feel sturdy enough in your hand, but the first time they hit a rock, tree root, or other hard object, they will quickly turn into a bent, twisted mess. If your new tent comes with this type of stakes, I'd highly recommend purchasing a couple packages of heavy duty tent stakes as well. They can be found in packs of four for around $5.
- Hammer or mallet - In many places, you can push stakes in with your foot, but it's nice to have backup when you need it.
- Sleeping bags - When purchasing sleeping bags, there are two things you'll want to consider, size and temperature rating. Size is pretty self explanatory. Make sure the bag is big enough for the person sleeping in it. There's nothing worse than being cramped up in a sleeping bag that's too small to stretch out in. Every new sleeping bag you look at should have a temperature rating listed. This is supposed to be the temperature down to which a person should be comfortable sleeping in that bag. I have had it freeze over night on a camp out with the pack in January, so my advice is to go for a 30 degree rating, and/or plan to bring extra blankets if the weather is cold. If the weather is warm, a light sheet may be all you need to sleep on top of the bag.
- Lanterns and flashlights - It's recommended to get a battery powered lantern for use inside your tent. Your Cub Scout should have a small flashlight of his/her own and one for each adult is a good idea as well.
- Rain gear - Ponchos in kids and adult sizes are cheap and easy to carry. You can find "emergency ponchos" under a dollar each.
- Sleeping pad / air mattress / cot - Personal preference here. Many people bring air mattresses. Some use collapsible cots. Some use foam pads. Some use nothing but their sleeping bag. If you opt for an inflatable mattress with a battery powered pump, make sure your pump is charged or you have extra batteries on hand. Whatever you get, please make sure it will fit in the tent before you bring it to the camp.
- Pillow - Some people bring regular pillows from home. If you prefer something smaller, inflatable or stuffable camp pillows are good options.
- Chairs - Collapsible camp/sports chairs are great for camp site use and can be carried to camp fires, etc.
- Hand broom - Very useful for sweeping out the tent before packing it up.
- Marshmallow sticks - If you prefer a metal stick to finding a wooden one.
- Personal first aid kit - The pack carries a well stocked first aid kit, but it never hurts to keep a few band-aids and wipes in your tent for minor scrapes.
- Reusable water bottle - Always a good thing in Florida.
- Duffel bags or day packs - Cubs Scouts don't generally hike to camp, but the distance from car to tent can still be a 100 yards or more. Packing in something you can carry easily will make the trek easier. Small suitcases can work, but make sure you have room for them in your tent.
- Cooler - If you plan on bringing any food of your own (see below), a cooler with a tight latch is a good idea. It will keep your food cool and safe from any animals in the vicinity.
These are things you would use every day: clothes for the weather, closed-toed shoes, extra socks, toothbrush & toothpaste, floss, a wash rag and small towel, soap, bug spray, sun screen, hat, extra toilet paper, etc...
Food - The pack and/or the camp generally provides three meals on Saturday. Friday night, there may be food available, or you may before you come or get something on the way to camp. If Sunday breakfast is provided, it will generally be light. (fruit, bagels, etc...) Snacks and extras are up to you. Meal details do vary from one camping trip to the next, so pay attention to announcements at pack meetings and ask your child's den leader if you have questions.
Cub Scouts must earn their Whittling Chip before they are allowed to carry or use a pocket knife at any Scouting event. The scout must sign and carry the Whittling Chip card whenever he has his pocket knife. An adult leader may ask a scout to see his card, and if it can not be produced, may confiscate his knife until the event is over and/or return it to his parent. A pocket knife may also be confiscated if the scout is observed using it in an unsafe or un-Scout-like manner.
What Not to Bring
- Electronic games and toys - Please leave them at home. Camping is about getting back to nature.
- Alcohol - Not allowed at Scouting events.
- Weapons - Personal fire arms, including BB, Airsoft, and paint ball markers are not allowed at Scouting events.
What to Expect at Camp
Most camp outs run from Friday night to Sunday morning. Arrival Friday is usually some time between 4 and 7 PM and departure Sunday is usually between 10 AM and noon.
When you arrive at camp Friday evening, you'll generally set up your tent first thing. Check with your den leader or the Cubmaster to make sure you're in the right area before setting up. If you need help with your tent, don't be afraid to ask. Toilet facilities vary by camp site. If they're not obvious, just ask your Den Leader or the Cubmaster.
At some point Friday evening the schedule for Saturday will be posted. This will include meal times, and any events during the day. The pack Quartermaster will request several adult volunteers from a different den to help prepare each meal. Lights out is generally either 10 or 11 PM. Everyone is expected to set their own alarm for the morning to be up in time for breakfast.
Saturday there will be events of some sort mixed with free time. There may be a camp fire program or ceremony scheduled Saturday evening. Lights out is generally either 10 or 11 PM.
Sunday morning is for packing up and preparing to leave. If breakfast is provided, it will generally be light. (fruit, bagels, etc...) There may be a closing ceremony and/or a non-denominational religious service scheduled. Most of the time you'll be leaving camp some time between 10 AM and noon.