Had all the stoves out today and it got to be about lunch time… Well…
Here’s some Bonus video of a nice lunch meal on the trail… Oh and the Cheese cake (left over from the Cheese Cake factory).. a great bonus to the lunch. YUM!
Enjoy and Have a Great Scouting Day!
Had all the stoves out today and it got to be about lunch time… Well…
Allow me to play devils advocate here for a minute. There has been quite a bit of discussion lately via email and in Scouting circles in which I find myself regarding Scouts in our programs. One argument is that Scouting is for every young man, the converse is that Scouting is not for everyone.
Boys enter our program with certain expectations and needs. Those Scouts have parents that also have certain expectations and wants. What I have seen and heard lately is that some parents and Scouts are not getting what they thought they would out of Scouting. I have been in discussions in which parents believe that their son is not having fun in the program. The question that I ask is simply, is Scouting really for everyone?
I submit for the sake of discussion that maybe Scouting is not for every boy. It may be that what Scouting offers is not what they want or need. It may be that the boy is not ready for the adventures that Scouting offer and well-intentioned parents do not really understand what Scouting is all about. It is also true that many Scout leaders do not know what Scouting is all about and therefore have promoted a program that misses the mark when it comes to achieving Scouting’s aims. This has led to young boys joining troops that quickly disappoint or fail to deliver on the expectations they and their parents had on the join night.
Scouting at its core is about adventure and when a boy joins a unit that is full of adventure he may not be ready or willing to participate. Now, some would argue that participation is really not something that is of real importance in Scouting, but it is through participating fully in the program that the Scout gets the most out of Scouting. I had a mother say to me the other night that her son does not attend winter camp outs because he did not have a good experience during last years winter camping season. Why? Well, maybe he does not like camping in the winter.. I am ok with that. But does that paint the whole program as a negative thing? No, but maybe the Scout is not ready or willing. Once a boy starts down the road of picking and choosing those activities that he does not wish to participate in he will find it easier to reduce the level of activity he does. This is not true in all cases, remember that I am not suggesting anything here other that this is a question that we should ask. Maybe Scouting is not for everyone. Here is what I am saying…
Scouting is not for everyone. Scouting should not change to meet the Scouts needs. Scouting needs to stay the course on being an organization that has values, ideals, and adventure. Scouting should not “dumb down” to allow for boys to have a club to join. There are plenty of clubs out there that he can find a place in. Now, before you all jump on me let me say this here and make it very clear that I am not talking at all about Scouts or I should say boys with disabilities. This discussion has nothing… I repeat nothing to do with disabilities. That is another discussion and I think that needs to be addressed another time. I will say that there are ample opportunities for boys with disabilities to participate in Scouting and I encourage every young man who shows interest to try Scouting no matter the “ability”. I will also say that no.. I do not consider ADD, ADHD, Autism, and a lack of focus a disability. Not when it comes to Scouting and the Scouting program. We prove over and over again that Scouts that have been diagnosed with ADD, ADHD and Autism can participate in Scouting and high adventure activities. My Troop is proof of this. Moving on…
Scouting should not promote that everyone will be an Eagle Scout just because he joins and has a pulse. Scouting should continue to push the Scout to discover his world and find his limits.. then push them outside of his comfort zone. If Scouting decides to become the YMCA or Boys Club it will no longer deliver the promise. It will just become another after school club and that is not Scouting. That is not what Baden Powell, William Hillcourt, James E West, and the rest of the men that founded and established the direction for Scouting had in mind. We can met Scouts where they are, but we can never get away from the intent of the Scouting movement. We can not stray from the methods that lead us to achieving the aims and we can never allow Scouting to just be another club.
Not everyone wants what Scouting offers. Numbers, while they drive much of what the professional Scouters track are not the program. A great program that stays the course will bring in the numbers of boys that seek adventure, values, and ideals that are the hallmark of the Scouting program. Numbers for the sake of numbers will be just that and we see this play out each year with amount of boys that leave our units. They don’t want to play the game with a purpose and we should not make them. A football player is not allowed to join a team and then make up the rules of the game or change the team uniform. He joins and plays the game that has been established. Not everyone can or wants to play football, not everyone can or wants to be a Scout. I recently sat with a group of Scouts and asks a few simple questions. The first I asked was if they thought Scouting was nerdy. They all said that they did not think so, but their friends at School did. I asked what they thought the ‘nerdy’ part of Scouting was.. aside from wearing the uniform. I figured I would take away the obvious answer. They all said that their friends really didn’t know what we do. I asked them if they ever tell them what we do. They all pretty much said, no. They did not want to bring it up so they could talk about something else. Then I asked why not? Why not tell their friends that we rock climb at Smith Rock, that we snowshoe and build snow caves. That we have hiked the Oregon Coast trail, shoot shotguns and paddle the Deschutes river. That we backpack miles of the PCT and go caving in some cool volcanic caves. That we spent a week hiking in the Canyon country of New Mexico and that we have gone across the country to tour our Nations Capital and camp with 70,000 other Scouts. I asked why all of that sounds ‘nerdy’. They couldn’t tell me. But these are the guys that want to do all of that. These are Scouts and they want to be Scouts. Their friends could not nor would they be willing to do all of that, even given the chance. One of the Scouts spoke up and said that his friends thought Scouting was all about doing good deeds and being in Flag ceremonies. His friend said he didn’t want to be in a club that did crafts and sang songs. So I asked this young man what he told his friend. He had a great answer, he told me that he said to his friend that “yeah, we sing songs, but it’s out in the middle of the woods at our campfire at the end of a day that was full of fun”. But then again, that’s a kid that wants what Scouting has to offer.
Ok so what’s the point here. The point is simply this. We beat ourselves up to make sure that every boy joins Scouting. Why? If they join great, but if they quit, did we fail? Did Scouting fail? No.. they just did not fit in our program. I have seen many Scouts come and go from our Troop and I can honestly say that the ones that left did not want to be there. It was nothing we did to chase them away, they just did not want to be in Scouts.
I have said it many times, I would rather have a Troop of 10 motivated boys that want to be there than have a Troop with 50 that don’t.
Am I not supporting Scouting by saying this? Nope I am delivering the promise of Scouting to those that want it.
Once again, I am a fan of the writing of William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt. I have a copy of something he wrote way back when regarding the 10 Essentials of Scoutmastership. It goes like this.
A belief in boys that will make you want to invest yourself and your time on their behalf.
A zeal focused upon one point-the boy’s happiness through his formative years- “A happy boy is a good boy, a good boy is a good citizen.
An immense faith in Scouting as the program that will best serve to mould our youth into fine men.
A realization that to the boys Scouting is a game – to you, a game with a purpose: Character, building citizenship training and physical fitness.
A knowledge that to your boys you are Scouting. “What you are speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say”.
A steadfastness of purpose to carry out a planned program with energy and perseverance, patience and good humor.
A willingness to submerge yourself and make boy leaders lead and grow through and effective application of the Patrol Method.
A desire to advance in Scoutmastership by making use of training offered and material available on the subject.
A readiness to work hand in hand with home, church, sponsored institution, school, Local Council, National Council for the good of the individual boy and the community as a whole.
A love of the outdoors in all its phases and a vision of the hand that created it.
With an effective program that offers the “want to” so a boy joins, stays, and grows in Scouting we can see that Scouting is a great program. But that is not for everyone. If you as a Scouter can honestly read the 10 essentials of Scoutmastership and apply it to your unit you will create that environment. If you do not feel that you can do that, well then you prove the argument, that nope, Scouting is not for everyone, to include adults.
Before I get lots of hate mail… I am playing devils advocate here, but the point for me is taken well. I do not think that everyone needs to be in Scouting. I think those boys that want to be in should and once in we will do everything in our power to deliver to them the very best program.
Now, I do want to hear what you think. Please leave your comments, I would not ask if I didn’t want to know.
Thank you all for all you do in Scouting!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
This weeks Sunday Coffee with Scoutmaster Jerry is full of coffee and adventure..
This weekend our Troop camped out up at White River on Mt. Hood. It was a great time and lots of skills practiced and learned.
Sunday Morning around 4:00 AM our Troop encountered an unexpected attack. We typically camp on the other side of a creek that flows adjacent to the White River snow park. This is a good location as this camp out is always the first Winter camp out in snow for the new Scouts. The location provides a good bail out plan and the comfort that the cars are not to far if we need them. Anyway… this year the snow bridge was gone so we picked a camp site a bit closer to the parking lot. We have camped there before, but this year was different. At 4:00 AM the Oregon Department of Transportation snow crew cleaned up the snow park. They plowed the parking lot and then sent in the snow blower Now I don’t know about you but I had never felt the wrath of 100 lbs of snow shot from a cannon before.. until this morning!
Hope you enjoy the video.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
There has been much said, yeah.. even here on this blog, about how Scouting has changed to meet the needs of the lowest common denominator. A greater emphasis on merit badge work shops and staying within an arms reach of a cell phone. Sometimes I wonder if we in Scouting are still delivering the promise.. you know the promise of Scouting.
I find it interesting that when we look back in the not to distant past that Scouting was much different. Even as far back as when I was a Scout there were not the concerns of life as we know it in today’s Scouting world.
Now I am a believer that we do need to bring Scouting to where the boys are.. but sometimes we should take the boys back to where we came from.
Baden Powell once said “By the term Scouting…is meant the work and attributes of backwoodsmen, explorers, hunters, seamen, airmen, pioneers, and frontiersmen.”
The 1947 Handbook for Scoutmasters goes on to add, “The word ‘Scout’ opens up to the boy the picture of open spaces, woods, rivers, and lakes, mountains which are to be his playground and where he will have his fun.” It goes on to say, “It is this promise of adventure, of camping and life in the outdoors that lures the boy into Scouting. We MUST keep faith with him by giving him that adventure – not just to satisfy him, but because it is the best way we have of holding him.”
There is more written in the Handbook for Scoutmasters that reinforces this idea of adventure and the promise of Scouting, I wonder when we stopped talking about that. There is no mention of it in the current Scoutmaster Handbook.
We have allowed lawyers to dictate that adventure. We have allowed video games and laziness to dictate our levels of activity and we worry about Scouts leaving the program because we need the numbers.
I believe that every boy should be in Scouting… but not for merit badges or bobbles and beads. I think they should be seeking adventure! Like we did when I was a boy. Adventure! Parents need to allow this to happen.. that’s where it starts.
You know, there were just as many creeps in the world in the 70′s and 80′s as there are today. The world really is not more creepy.. the difference… we have 24 hour news now and this wonderful thing called the internet.
We rode our bikes to and from Scout troop meetings. Heck, we rode our bikes everywhere. We were told not to talk to strangers and never to take candy from them.. and you know, we came out alright. Every day in the summer we left in the morning and came home in time for dinner. Looking for adventure.
In Scouts we found adventure. We camped with our Patrols, we did not need… nor did we want, all the adults hanging around. The fewer of them the better. Our parents were concerned about us, but knew that we would be ok. We trusted our Scoutmaster and the skills we were taught and we looked for adventure at every turn.
Not every Patrol got a ribbon at Camporee.. but then again, they were not all about competing either.. they were about skills and discovering new things.
Our PLC had a blank check to plan the next big adventure. I remember when I was a Tenderfoot Scout we had the biggest adventure ever. Our Troop was dropped off in Belgium to take a ferry across the English channel. Once we arrived in England we took a bus to the Baden Powell house and stayed there for a few days. We explored the local area and got to camp at Gilwell Park. 2 weeks from when we left home, we boarded the ferry and back we went. We only had 2 adults with us the whole trip and it was an adventure of a life time.
The old Handbook for Scoutmasters suggests that we can retain Scouts because “it [adventure] is the best way we have of holding him.” The best way! I firmly believe that if we just allowed it, we can get back there. I don’t think that boys have changed much… it is the parents that did the changing. You know.. I can’t remember one kid when I was growing up that had peanut allergies.. now you can’t even say the word peanut without some Mom yelling that her son is allergic. I think it’s time we give our boys their adventure back. I think it’s time that we go back to actually delivering the promise and not just Eagle Awards. I think it is time that all of us Scouters ask the simple question.. are we still delivering the promise?
Just my buck and half.. curious to hear you thoughts. Weigh in.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Today’s Sunday coffee is gear heavy. eerrrr light.
This week I once again received a few pieces of the Birthday list. Dutch Hooks to add to the z line for the tarp and my new stove the solo stove.
Here are the links to see these items close up.
Z line (Spectra)
Dutchware – Dutch Hooks
2QzQ – Grizz Beak
The Ultimate Hang by Derek Hansen
I will be doing a complete review of both the Solo Stove and the Book “the Ultimate Hang” in the very near future, but at first look and read they are both items that you need to add to your gear bag and book shelf.
This week I have been away from the blog a little too much. It has been one of those weeks, but rest assured all is well.
Next week some time I will be posting my final podcast with PTC Media… then it will be up in the air as to how I keep the podcast alive. Suggestions, let me know.
OK.. enjoy the video.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
I have been getting a lot of feedback about the quest to reduce pack weight. Some of it is good, while others, mainly from other Scouters is not. To be honest, up until our Philmont trek, I was in that camp. I doubted the fact that a backpacker could be as safe and as comfortable going light.
A few years back the PCT Trail days gathering was held in Portland. A group of us went to the event to catch some speakers and of course check out gear. While we were there, we met the folks from Gossamer gear. I sat in the room and listened as Glen Van Peski talked about how he backpacked and his philosophy. He showed us his gear and I thought to myself.. no freakin’ way. I am not going to sacrifice comfort and safety to have a light pack. After all.. this backpacking thing is for fun right. I don’t want to be in pain and struggle to get miles in. I want to sleep and eat well and have a good time out on the trail. Then we went to Philmont. I fell in love with the Sange De Christo mountains and had the time of my life on the trail. What I hated was my pack. I left base camp with a 55 lb pack. Never again I promised myself. When we got home I started taking a real long hard look at why my pack weighed so much. I started to research gear and how to pack better. Now, I have been a backpacker for years. And looking back over the those many years, I realized that I have morphed and changed gear many times, but never really getting away from heavy loads and lots of gear. About 20 years ago I did a week-long trip up in the Wallowa’s in Eastern Oregon. We started climbing from the trail head one morning and our packs looked like something a mule should be carrying. I think my pack was about 70 lbs on that trip. No resupply, no drops, and everything to include the kitchen sink in my pack.
Well, as you can imagine something had to change in my backpacking style. The trip to Philmont taught me that I am getting older and still love to backpack.. so do something about it.
My research kept leading me to Lightweight backpacking sites and Ultra light backpacking web pages. I quickly closed them thinking that I really don’t want to go down the “UL” road. That’s not for me.. and it really isn’t. Light weight on the other hand is right up my ally.
And so I started on this journey to lighten up. The more I read and played with my gear, the more I listened to backpackers talk and write about Light weight Philosophy. Philosophy? What the heck.. this is just walking in the woods right? And that is where I started to get it. It is a Philosophy and when practiced… it will keep you safe and comfortable. Let me share with you some of the common themes in the Lightweight backpacking philosophy. Note that I am NOT talking about Ultralight and I suppose that right off the bat, I should point out the biggest difference in the two.. and that is the weight we are talking about.
When we define Ultralight backpacking we are talking about Base Pack Weights of 10 lbs or less. Typically Lightweight backpacking can be defined as Base Pack Weights of 11 to 20 lbs. So with food and water you are talking about 25 lbs in the lightweight set up. There are Super Ultralight backpackers out there that try to achieve 5 lbs or less. That is not even on the radar for me. Can’t see the need nor the desire to go that light.
So the Lightweight backpacking philosophy essentially is this;
The backpacker needs to really take a hard look at packing habits in order to fine-tune minimum packing needs and aggressively seek out the right gear available to satisfy those needs. That gear needs to be lighter, have multiple uses, and of good quality. To accomplish this hard look and refining of or fine tuning of gear look at the gear, clothing, and food that you take, shoot for lighter options and doing with less. A key is that simple is better. Gadgets, while fun, add weight and typically are not needed or even used.
Less volume, lighter-weight, high-quality/high-performance gear and clothing is a goal to strive for and will instantly reduce weight in your pack.
Pack clothing and gear that can serve multiple purposes.
Educate yourself on backcountry travel and safety, being well prepared for changing weather, wildlife encounters and whatever else may happen. Get trained in Wilderness First aid and Leave No Trace. In short, learn and Be Prepared. Know how to use the gear in your pack and know what to do when out in the woods.
Use lightweight techniques to keep travel through the backcountry low-impact on both yourself and your environment.
Use products that provide the level of comfort you desire, even if they aren’t the absolute lightest available.
(this philosophy is common among lightweight backpackers, I found most of this from the website Lightweight backpacking 101)
For Scouts and Scouters, this philosophy is not out of the ordinary and should be easy to adapt. It basically reinforces the ideas of Being Prepared.. through education and practice and Leave no trace. It does not discount safety at all. When the backpacker knows and understands the risks, the skills, and his ability, they can have a wonderful back country experience with a simple load on their back.
Cost of gear and changing out old gear is a consideration. I am not suggesting that you rush out and swap all of your gear. Take a look at what you have. Start with the big 3. Your shelter, your sleeping bag, and your backpack. That is where the bulk of the weight comes from. Trim it down a little at a time. Consider alternative gear and see about making your own gear. The rest will fall into place.
My first bit of advice if you want to jump on this journey of comfortable backpacking is to weigh everything. This was very hard for me to get on board with. Being a gram weenie was for those UL guys that wear one pair of socks for a 14 day trip and count the bristles on their tooth-brush. But, once I started getting that critical eye on the gear, most of which came when I started weighing it all, it was an eye opener.. and the journey launched.
Now, I’ve been sharing with you all my steps on the journey. I have replaced little things, and I did get a new pack. I thought that was an important part of this process for me. That may not be the case for you.
I suppose the point of all of this is simply.. Think.
Develop or use a philosophy that best meets your backpacking needs and style. Hike your own hike and have fun with the adventure. I share this with you because this is my way of helping me get lighter. Putting it all into words is helping me refine my load and reach my goals.
I never thought, I would have to get so mentally heavy to get my pack light!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
The picture for this post is of me standing on top of the Tooth of Time at Phimont Scout Ranch.
Yeah.. so I like to talk about gear… it’s what I do…
Hi, my name is Jerry… and I am a gear junky..
Hey folks, ever since I was a young Scout I was told to take care of your gear and it will take care of you.. I think that is very true and with that comes messin’ with your gear. Always looking for the ‘next best thing’ or a simple way or cooler way to do this or that.
Sometimes I am a bit apprehensive about showing gear or a way I do something because give it a week.. it may change.
As you know I am a hammock camper and use a tarp over the hammock. Real hard to get a hammock in a tent.. although I have seen it done. But I have not always been a hammock camper and enjoyed camping none the less. Hammock camping was introduced to me at the 2010 National Jamboree and I have been hooked since. I find it an extremely comfortable way to sleep and it gives me new opportunities to tweak gear. It seems that with hammock camping came a whole new way of camping. I started getting my gear lighter. I started to look at new ways to set up gear and find it challenging in the way modifications can be made and gear can be set up.
I am in no way shape or form trying to get anyone to convert to hammock camping. I could really care less how you camp… as long as you camp. You gotta get out there in the woods and enjoy nature. It is a must. I encourage… nay demand that you camp!
But yes I talk a bunch about hammock camping and show that style in my videos and gear tips and tricks.. why? Because it is what I do. What I know for sure is that I just like to talk gear and I like to share. The other thing that I know for sure is that I am not the ultimate authority on camping and everything associated with it.. but I do know a bunch, I have ideas, thoughts, and certainly opinions and once again… I like to share.
If hammock camping is not your thing than I can deal with that. Maybe you can find a tip here and there that you can work into tent camping or on the ground tarp camping. Maybe there is a tip out there that you can share with your Scouts to make their outdoor experience better. Maybe, just maybe, you will be intrigued enough to try something new or motivated just a bit to step outside of your comfort zone, what ever that looks like.
So here’s the deal. I’ll keep talking gear and changing my stuff every time the wind blows and I’ll keep sharing with you, my trusty reader. You know I love ya… right?
So here’s a couple of thoughts on gear.. lessons learned you might say.
***NOTE*** What I am about to write does not comply with the Guide to Safe Scouting!
Fuel. On the last camp out I noticed that my Denatured Alcohol took some time to warm up and light. It was nothing that would cause alarm and after a few minutes under my arm pit, the fuel was warm enough to light and get some water boiling. The fix. Today I went out and purchased a little 3 oz. squeeze bottle. It is a bottle recommended to carry fluids on an airplane, essentially to get through TSA. I wrote in RED Sharpie all over it FUEL! The plan (and I am going to test it tonight) is to keep it in my sleeping bag with me at night. Then in the morning, it will be warm and ready to use.
Now some of you are going to say.. well that is not setting a good example. Ok.. but then again, I am not afraid of teaching Scouts how to do things right and even if Denatured Alcohol leaked in their sleeping bag, there would be no harm. Fact is 3 ounces of alcohol would probably evaporate before they woke up. As long as they are not sleeping with a lit torch in their pants I am sure they would be just fine.
I am not going to rehash the comments I made about teaching Scouts and allowing them to act their age and skill level. Is that not setting a good example… well to some. One day the BSA will again allow skills to be tested. That day will come when we don’t teach to the lowest common denominator and lawyers leave us alone.
I have often said that I will never compromise Safety and Propriety.. A 3 ounce bottle of Denatured Alcohol does not compromise either… besides, what does it matter to some of the car campers out there? Enough said on that.
(Please know that part of me is joking here.. the other part of me is really pissed)
Next. Gear needs to be tested. This goes for Scouts and Scouters. You need to know your gear. You need to know the limits of the gear, the capabilities of the gear, and how to use it. There is no better place to do this that your backyard.
Tonight, I am testing some gear out in the backyard.
1. My new under quilt from Hammock gear. Hammockgear.com I got this for Christmas, but since they make to order, I just got it on Friday. Tonight I will be in it and my Big Agnes Encampment 15* bag. It’s supposed to get chilly tonight, so we will see how that goes. The best part is that if I get to cold.. my bed is about 50 feet away inside the house.
2. Dutch Clip on Tarp pull outs. They pull the walls of the tarp out to give you more room as well as keep the tarp off of you in the snow and heavy rain. I have them on the tarp tonight. Mainly because I wanted to see how easy they are to put on and take off… really easy as a matter of fact.
3. I am testing.. or more to the point playing with a stove that a fellow Youtuber sent me. It is an alcohol stove… looks a lot like the white box stove. I’m gonna fire it up and have some hot chocolate tonight and my coffee in the morning.
I also did some more tweaking on the tarp. I found that if I tied a bowline at the end of the guy line, then synched up the line using the prusik it was super easy especially with gloves on. There will be no need to until the bowline and will help in take down also.
So the tarp and hammock are up in the backyard and ready to be tested… now that’s the kind of testing I can get behind.
Today I took another look at my first aid kit and got it all in a small LOCSAK. This will make packing just a tad bit easier and I still have everything I need. Reworked my ‘toilet kit’ too. Added Wet Ones single packs to it. Feels nice on the tush when cleaning up in the woods.
Ok… so did you all get that I like to talk about gear?
That’s it for now.. should have a video out tomorrow. The Sunday Morning coffee will be built into the tweaking of the gear.
As always, I am curious to know what you think. Keep in my that the tag line of this blog is “Helping to Deliver the Promise of Scouting.” Do not forget what that promise is.. a large part of that promise is fun and adventure. I’m just sayin’.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
I left you in the last post talking about the “Big 3″ The Pack, the Sleep system, and the Shelter. Now we discuss the “Next 3″. The “Next 3″ components of your gear consist of the Cook kit, the First Aid kit, and Rain gear. Now in most articles that you will read and in most backpacking forums and circles the Sleeping pad is listed in the “Next 3″. But since I like to put the sleep pad in with the sleep system, and since my target audience is typically Scouts and Scouters, I think that logic would dictate that the sleep pad go with the “Big 3″. Regardless I think it is important that the First Aid kit is placed in with the “Next 3″.
So let’s get into these “Next 3″ components.
First, the Cook kit. When I say ‘Cook kit’ I am referring to that gear that will be used to prepare the meal, eat the meal, and clean up after the meal. This would include your cook pot, your stove, your towel, soap, fuel, lighter, utensils, eating ware (bowl, plate, cup or mug). For a backpacker, these kitchen items really need to be small and fully functional. Most meals require a single pot so a full cook set really is unnecessary. A small stove such as the Snow Peak Giga Power is enough to get water going and can even be used for frying up eggs. Keep in mind that you don’t need to bring the kitchen sink. The essentials of a Cook kits are:
Stove, bowl, pot, towel, scrubber, camp suds soap, wind screen, lighter, spoon or spork, cup or mug.
Next let us dive into the First Aid kit. Everyone needs to carry some sort of First Aid kit. It need not be big, but it needs to be able to provide the essentials to do First Aid. Gloves, band aids, ace wrap, gauze pads, prep pads, mole skin, tweezers, and aspirin are a good start. All of that will fit in a zip lock bag. I would also consider throwing in some butter fly closure strips and tape. The Scout handbook and the internet have lots of resources to give you tips on what to put in your kit. Just have one that will first serve you.. and then a buddy.
Rain gear wraps up the “Next 3″. This is important (not just here in Oregon) to keep handy. Rain gear serves more than just to keep one dry. It can be an outer layer of clothing. It is a great wind stopper, can be used as a ground cloth. Rain gear is essential in preventing hypothermia. Yes, even in the summer a hiker exposed to the elements can fall into those conditions. Staying dry and clean are some of the reasons to carry rain gear. Poncho’s are nice as they can serve multiple purposes. However I don’t recommend them to Scouts as they quickly become capes and provide less protection than Rain pants and jacket. There are some inexpensive, light weight options out there. Frogg Toggs makes a rain suit that retails for $20. It needs to be taken care of, but the weight and protection pay for itself in one rain storm.
So that’s the ‘Next 3′ components of the packing list.
Those 6 items make up the bulk of your gear. What’s left.. pretty much your little stuff and clothing.
“The Little Stuff”
Most new Scouts come out of Webelos ready for their day hikes with their 10 essentials. Moving to the “Big Pack” the 10 essentials get spread out within the contents of pockets and gear in the pack. You still need all 10, but they will be displaced throughout your gear. A great idea is to build a ditty bag to catch-all your “Little Stuff”
Matches or other fire starting materials, your compass, head lamp, small lantern, duct tape, extra cord, hand warmers, lip balm and sun block and a bandana just to list a few items. I keep all my “little stuff” in a ditty bag where I can find it and have access to it when needed.
Then you need to break down your clothing. This pretty much is the most variable of your gear items. Weather conditions, temperature, and length of trip will dictate your clothing choices. The most common error is taking too much. Give a serious look at the clothing you take. See what you really need versus what you want and try to get all your clothing in a single stuff sack.
So there it is. The Big 3, the Next 3, the little stuff and clothing. That’s your gear in a nut shell. Gear Glorious Gear. Develop your gear lists and kits that you are comfortable with, you can use, and you want to carry.
Any questions, comments, or suggestions.. give me a holler!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
After our last camp out we noticed that many of our younger Scouts seem to have been over looked when it comes to their gear and gear selections to include packing that gear. Now, let me explain here because if you have spent about a day browsing this blog and you know our Troop, gear is one of those subjects we talk about like it was a merit badge… ahhh.. maybe that’s not a great example… talking and teaching about gear is like teaching first aid.. yeah.. that one works better.
We believe that gear is essential in a great camping experience. Not a lot of gear.. but the right gear. And it seems that as of late we have been a bit lazy in really getting into the nitty-gritty about gear with some of the Scouts of the troop.
Now in all fairness, the Scouts that immediately take interest in the gear they have and show excitement obviously get into those discussions with us. And parents that see that enthusiasm in their son make it a point to talk about gear choices with us.
Having said all of that…
After the last camp out the Assistant Scoutmasters and I evaluated some of the processes we have in place to teach and talk about gear. Seeking a solution to the issue we concluded that we needed to go back to square one with some of the Scouts. We identified that the group of Scouts that have not yet completed all of the requirements for First Class was our target.. and more to the point.. their parents.
We have decided that in “starting over” with these Scouts and their parents we would demonstrate what it is that we consider the gear needed to support their Scout. To do this we are going to do a full lay out of 3 sets of gear. Mine, representing average gear that is on the lighter side. Bryce, one of the Assistant Scoutmasters, will lay his gear out which will show the middle of the road gear, very affordable and easy to use. Finally Ken, another of the Assistant Scoutmaster’s, will lay out his “heavier set up” with higher end items.
The thing that all three of our set ups have in common are the break down of gear types and the fact that we are pretty much carrying the same thing just in different forms, brands, and weight classes.
Our gear is broken into 3 groups.
First. The Big 3. This group includes the Backpack, the Sleep system, and Shelter.
The Backpack is essential in the discussion of gear. It’s were all of this is going to end up. There are essentially two types of packs that we discuss with the Scout (and Parent) Internal Frame packs and External Frame packs. We used to not recommend Internal Packs for our Scouts, but with the modernization of the internal packs and the technology that has gone into the development of the internal frame pack, it is a far better pack than older versions. The biggest concern with internal frame packs when it comes to Scouts is the packing of the pack. Internal frame packs require a tad bit more thought in packing so the gear will give the wearer a comfortable ride. This is the advantage of the External frame pack. The weight and ride of the pack is distributed on the frame. If a Scout does not pack well, he will, by and large, still have a load that is manageable.
I switched to internal frame packs about 3 years ago and love them now that I have played with them and refined my packing.
We recommend, that no matter which style of pack a Scout gets it has at least 3900 cubic inches of space. Now, all that space does not have to get filled up, but 3900 cube will allow for the Scout to make an easier time of packing.
Next we talk about the Sleep System. Note that I did not say sleeping bag. The sleep system is the bag or quilt and the pad or insulation. When it comes to sleeping bags the sky is the limit on materials, fill, rating, size and shape. The down versus synthetic argument is one that we resolve by saying this. Down is lighter and warm but when it’s wet it is not worth having. Synthetic materials are warm, heavier, and will maintain it’s warmth even when wet. We recommend to parents that if their Scout can take care of it, down is the way to go. Having said that.. I have a synthetic bag.
Sleeping bag liners add about 10 degrees to any bag and are small and light. They are a great addition here in the Northwest to a sleep system and can carry a 20 degree bag well into the teens.
Ground insulation goes beyond a ground cloth. A sleeping pad whether it is a Closed Cell Foam pad (CCF) or an inflatable pad is a must. CCF pads are light and durable and work really well in the winter. Most inflatable pads lack insulation but are comfortable and still get you off the ground. There are insulated inflatable pads out there and they are well worth the extra money and weight. A current trend is to put the inflatable pad inside of the sleeping bag. This maintains the comfort and heat qualities of the pad.
The final component of the “Big 3″ is the Shelter. Again, note that I did not say tent. A lot of Scouts now are finding their way into tarps and bivies. There are advantages in weight savings, ease, and multiple configurations to the tarp and bivy style of camping. Regardless of what you decide to sleep under, this part of the big 3 typically makes up a major portion of the money spent on gear.
Tarps tend to be lighter, and I should clarify that I am not talking about your standard BiMart blue tarp. We are talking nylon or silicone impregnated nylon (Silnylon). They provide good cover and are nice and light. A good tent will last a Scout for ever if he takes care of it. Most Scouts of our troop trend towards a single person tent for a few reasons. First, the ownership. The Scout takes care of gear that belongs to him better than he will if it does not. Second, the weight of a single person tent is a big savings in the pack as well as the volume. And finally, the idea that he can adapt the tent to his style, needs, and he does not have to worry about someone elses gear in there. When he is ready to go to sleep, he can.
Some have suggested that this practice takes away from the social aspect of the camp out. This has not seemed to bare out in our troop. Nylon tents are not sound proof and the Scouts set up their tents pretty close and lay there and chat. They set up tents with the doors facing and play cards in the middle. They tend to figure it out. A two person tent is a great investment also and allows for more room. You will carry a bit more weight, but for some, the added room and the flexibility to add a person.
The key when picking out a good tent is to look for free-standing, easy set up, and good coverage. Whether you pick a tarp, hammock, bivy or tent coverage, ease of use and how much you want to pay is a good way to start your shopping.
Tomorrow on the blog we will talk about the “Next 3″. The next group of gear that includes the components; Cook Kit, First Aid kit, and Rain Gear.
If you have comments or questions please leave them here on the blog.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Here is a video I shot a while back. The first attempt at anchoring in the video may seem not to have worked… but in the interest of time we did not allow it ‘set up’. A regular or snow stake will stay once snow is packed and allowed to bond to the stake.
Have a Great Scouting Day!