Buying gear

It's easy to go overboard buying camping gear. There's a lot of great stuff out there and the prices can be pretty expensive. Remember beginning (and young) campers can be pretty rough on equipment so you want to buy things with an eye for value and durability. You can also buy items gradually over time to reduce sticker shock. Sure a $25 mess kit that packs into itself is nice but a plain plastic plate and bowl work just as well for car camping--and you don't have to worry about losing it.

Cook groups

Scouts going on a camping trip will be divided into cook groups. As a group you will plan a menu for all of your camp meals and elect a cook group leader. The cook group leader is responsible for buying all the supplies. Remember to pay him afterwards! At camp you will cook and eat your meals together. If you run out of food or don't like what you brought, don't expect help from anyone. It's your responsibility as a cook group to feed yourselves. That's part of being a Scout.

Going on your first camping trip

There are two main types of camping trips: car camping and backpacking. Car camping is the easiest, since you park near the campsite and don't have to worry about how heavy all of your gear is--or how you carry it. Backpack camping is more technical, since you need to carry all of your gear on your back for several miles before you reach your campsite. While there are some easy backpacking trips that are a great way to get started with backpacking, for your first camping trip car camping is the easiest.


Camping gear

There's a lot of stuff you should bring on a camping trip and it's easy to forget things. That's why it's useful to make a checklist so you don't forget anything.

The ten essentials

  1. pocketknife or multitool can be handy in a wide variety of situations. It’s useful for tasks as large as building an emergency shelter or lighting a campfire with poor fuel, or as small as repairing a damaged backpack. Keep you knife sharp and clean, and don’t forget to first earn your Whittling Chip (for older Cub Scouts) or Totin’ Chip (for Boy Scouts).
  2. first-aid kit can be a lifesaver. Literally. A few items will allow you to treat scratches, blisters and other minor injuries. They should also allow you to provide initial care while waiting for help for more serious injuries.
  3. Bring extra clothing to match the weather. Multiple layers are better than a single massive jacket, because layered clothing is adaptable to a wide range of temperatures.
  4. Rain gear is very important. Rain can come in a hurry, and getting your clothes drenched is more than just uncomfortable, it can lead to hypothermia, a potentially fatal condition.
  5. flashlight, headlamp or a rugged penlight is important for finding your way in the dark. Bring extra batteries, too.
  6. Trail food is good for maintaining your energy. Bring more than you think you’ll need in case you get stuck (or lost) in the woods.
  7. Water can prevent dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Use a lightweight, unbreakable container with a secure lid.
  8. Matches and/or a fire starter may be used to light fires for heat, or for signaling for help. Store matches or lighters in resealable plastic bags.
  9. Sun protection might include sunblock, sunglasses, lip balm and a wide-brimmed hat.
  10. map and compass are probably the most important tools you can carry in case you get lost.


Other gear

  1. A backpack or bag to carry all of your gear. Usually a backpack is recommended to make it easier to transport from one location to another. Make sure it's sized appropriately and not too heavy.
  2. You will share a tent with at least one other Scout. Once you determine who that is, decide whose tent you will use and for backpacking trips who will carry which parts of the tent. The troop has some tents they can loan if needed.
  3. A good sleeping bag will keep you warm at night. Bulky ones are okay for car camping but you'll want something that packs down smaller and lighter than that for a backpacking trip.
  4. Either a foam or inflatable mattress to cushion you from the bumpy ground. For snow camping you need something with a high R-value for insulation.
  5. Enough clothing for the duration of the trip. Don't forget a jacket for night time!
  6. A mess kit that has a plate, bowl, cup, spoon and fork.
  7. A toilet kit that has a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and washcloth. A comb and other items may also be useful.


Sample checklists

Here are some sample checklists you can use as a starting point when planning for different activities.