As you are fully aware by now, I like gear. I have had many discussions with parents of the Scouts in my Troop that my obsession with gear is rubbing off on their sons. Half jokingly I often reply that it’s a good thing. I say “Half jokingly” because I think that gear is an important part of the camping experience… Well no duh right?
A long time ago in a Scouting world far far away I had a Scoutmaster that would talk about having the right gear for the type of camping that we were doing. He would wax on about taking care of that gear so that when needed it would be there for you. “If you take care of your gear, it will take care of you” he would say. And I believe that.
Later in life as I started to get back into camping and backpacking, I began to toy with different types of gear. Cook kits, stoves, backpacks, sleep systems, tents, hammocks, gizmo’s and gadgets that make camp life fun and easy.
It seems that the more you play with gear, the more you find your likes and dislikes, what works for you and what doesn’t. In the backpacking community there is a saying online when offering advice, gear reviews, and opinions. YMMV. That’s.. Your mileage May Vary. Meaning, to each his own and what works for me, may not work for you or you may get different results.
So back to our Scouts. Now, I don’t want to break their bank, but I do want them to start learning what they like and what works for them. I understand that I do have an influence on these young men and that when I come out with a new piece of gear or start playing with a new camp gadget, they tend to watch and learn. I do want these guys to develop a habit of exploring what works for them. I want them to try new things and not just gear that someone says is a must have a piece of equipment. Developing that habit now will keep them interested in being outdoors and hiking. It is a way that will test them and keep their minds thinking about different ways to accomplish different tasks. I assume that my old Scoutmasters wanted me and my Troop mates to develop an appreciation for the outdoors and that is what I wish for my Scouts. Gear is a big part of that.
When your gear fits, works, and is fun to use, you have a tendency to want to go out and use it. A backpack that is ill-fitting and squeaks a lot is not something you want to take on the trail. A comfortable pack will keep you on the trail longer. If you are cold at night because you got a cheap Walmart sleeping bag rated for slumber parties, you won’t want to be in after your first miserable night. Spending a little more up front though and getting a good sleeping bag makes for toasty comfortable nights of good sleep and you want to be out in it more.
It seems that I have turned a lot of our Scouts in to gear junkies. And that may or may not be a good thing for their parents, but it’s a great thing in my opinion for the Scout (YMMV).
With the fast approaching Holidays coming up, I am encouraging our Scouts to get their list together. Ask for a new pot set or stove. Maybe that single person tent you have been eye balling or better yet, join the hammock way of a great nights sleep. How about some new gaiters or winter boots? New rain gear is aways in vogue here in Oregon. Maybe it’s just a new spork that tops your Christmas list, either way this is the perfect time to add to your backpacking gear loft.
Thanksgiving a time to be with family and give thanks for all we have. It’s also a great opportunity to corner Grandma and Grandpa and slip them a copy of your gear needs. Or you can slip it into the Dinner conversation. “Grandpa, can you pass the gravy? You know, there is this pot set that I have been looking at that would be awesome for making biscuits and gravy while on our next camp out.” You know, be subtile, but get your wish list in where ever you can.
The other side of the gear collection is what you can share. As I collect new gear I have two bins. One for the stuff that I really love and can’t part with and the other for the stuff that I have tried, didn’t really fall in love with, but there’s nothing wrong with it, just not my cup o’ tea. That stuff usually ends up going home with one of the Scouts. This last camp out and set of rain gear that my boys out grew a set of gaiters, and some odds and ends made their way into the packs of a few of our Scouts. I don’t mind sharing (giving away) gear that I’m not using. If it helps with meeting their gear fix needs than I really find it nice to be an enabler.
So parents, understand that yes, I am trying to turn your son into a backpacking gear junky. And yes, I am trying to develop in them the habit of discovery. And yes, they are doing a great job in joining the cult of Backpacking gear guys. You don’t have to worry about them wearing uniforms.. errr wait.. scratch that.. You won’t have to worry about them hanging out in gangs.. ahhh.. scratch that too… Ok.. yeah, they will be with their partol and they will be in uniform, but you will never have to worry about them wearing foil hats and chanting to the golden pogo stick. They will be out in the woods having the time of their lives, comfortable, cooking great meals, singing songs, and exploring a world of adventure. And all that great gear is going to help them in their journey!
Thanks for being patient and understanding.
Now I have to go play with my stove and put new guy lines on my tarp.. you know we have a camp out in January I need to prepare for.
Oh and my list of gear that I need…
A new wind screen for my cook kit. An underquilt for my hammock. Griz beak doors for the Tarp. Oh, I can go on and on.. after all, if it’s gear, I want it.
Whats on your gear list for this Christmas. Leave a comment and share you gear needs and wants.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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