Planning and Preparation are the keys to a successful anything.
We are in the process of planning an preparing for our next canoe trip…
There is much to plan for and preparations for a canoe outing is extremely important, especially when you are in Scouting.
Some of the considerations when planning and preparing for a canoe trip are:
In our case we are treating this like a backpacking trek. So we are planning for cooking in buddy teams and taking prepared meals. Freeze dried foods, and pre cooked meats always last longer and are easier to prepare on the trail. The weight is reduced also and there is less garbage. Remember, that a canoe trip is very much like a backpacking trip in that we still practice leave no trace and we pack out what we pack in.
Where are you going to get water. You can haul your water in the canoes, but you add weight and risk the balance of the canoe being compromises, especially when taking younger Scouts or novice canoers out.
How about pumping your water using a filter. You are on a canoe.. in a river.. water all around you. Pump it, you have an endless supply that does not weigh anything in your canoe.
Its beginning to get warmer and warmer, and hot days on the river require less gear. Its time to put away the cold weather stuff and break out the shorts and t-shirts.
Fleece is still a good idea in the evenings, but you can put away the heavy sleeping bag and parkas.
Water proofing your gear is essential. You want fry gear when you get into camp. No matter how hard you try, water gets in canoes, water proofing your gear will keep it all dry and secure for the float.
Lets go back to clothing. Clearly the season will dictate the clothing you wear. As we approach summer we can adjust to summer clothing. Remember however that we want to wear clothing that protects us from the elements. Severe sunburn can occur on open water. Light cotton clothing or tech fabrics to cover the skin will provide a light weight protective layer that will ensure comfort and keep you from getting burned. And make sure you wear a hat.
Life jackets are required and need to be worn by youth and adults when canoeing.
Put in and take our points. Consider where you are going to put your canoes in.. how far you want to travel (per day), where you are going to camp, and how you are going to recover the canoes once you pull out of the river.
Transportation plays a major role in canoe adventures. You will have to plan a lot of coordination between cars and canoes.
If you are planning a weekend float. The canoes can be dropped and the cars will meet you at the end. How may cars do you need to get the Scouts there? How many canoes and trailers?
These are all need to planned, mapped and agreed upon before setting off down the river.
Always check the weather before you go… and a few days before you go. Have contingency plans for “worse case scenarios”. What happens if we dump a few canoes? Do we stop get dried off… or do we keep going and dry at camp? What happens if loose a paddle? What do we do if we over shoot our camp area? How do we communicate with the car and trailer crew? Sit down and make yourself a list of ever possible thing that you can think of that can go wrong and try to answer it. You may have to dig for a solution, but you need to have the solution in mind before something happens.
Canoe Trips can really enhance your Scouting program. They are fairly easy to plan and locations are easier to find. The Scouts love it and even on bad trips, they have fun… and thats what its all about.