Camping is an integral part of our curriculum. Our Pack in all probability will camp more than any other unit. Therefore, it is very important that we have some defined guidelines to keep our Scouts and each other safe. As with any quality program, we learn as we go and I surely will be revising the list of “no-no’s” as we progress through the year. I truly want each person to get the most out of camping. It is an opportunity that most boys have never experienced before and they need to be taught how to keep themselves safe. Your assistance in enforcing these rules will help everyone’s camping experience be its best.
Please, Please, Please, if you see an unsafe situation developing SPEAK UP!!! As unit leaders we will do our best to keep our head on a swivel but the ultimate responsibility for your child lies with you, the parent. Every parent is responsible for knowing where their child is and what they are doing AT ALL TIMES. The unit leaders also have their own families to attend to and run the camping events. We need your full cooperation and help to assure everyone is safe and has fun.
I attended a training seminar and they reiterated several important rules for family camping.
During family camping: A scout has three options when it comes to sleeping arrangements: Two scouts max may sleep in the same tent. A Scout may sleep in his own tent (age appropriate). A Scout may sleep with his parents and family together. Scouts are not allowed to sleep in a tent of another scout with the other scout’s parent. Scouts may not sleep solely with anyone over 18 that is not their parent or guardian (even a brother or sister). Family camping in reserved for “families”. This means brother sister, father, mother. A Grandparent (not in guardianship), aunts, uncles, cousins and neighbors are sometimes welcome to visit for the day with prior approval but may not stay overnight. Please check ahead of time. Non married couple may not sleep in the same tent. The buddy system must be observed at all times. A scout must never be allowed to go anywhere alone.(even the bathroom). Parents are responsible for the actions and whereabouts of their children at all times. We will have organized events with designated leaders from time to time during a campout but, it is the parent’s responsibility to approve participation of the activity and attend to their children at all other times. Common showering and restroom use with adults is not allowed. Most modern facilities are single occupancy. In the event that an open facility is present, adults should not shower in the presences of children and vice versa.
Some of the best camping advice I ever received was to “relax”. This doesn’t mean to sit in a chair and let your kids run wild. What is does mean is prepare ahead so you don’t stress. When camping you will want a good night’s sleep. If you are not mentally awake, you cannot react and function efficiently. So sleep comfortably. Invest in a good air mattress or upgrade to a cot. Bring a tarp just in case to stay dry and to place under your tent to prevent water wicking. Next, plan not to stress. Think light and cheap when packing. Make a list and stick to it. If you forget something, don’t panic, the Pack will most likely have an extra or you will work around it. If you buy a $100 spot light and it gets broken, you’ll stress. Buy a $1.00 flashlight, who cares when it breaks. Don’t buy high dollar items when a cheap version will do. Don’t bring something you will get upset over if it gets lost or broken. A huge tent looks cool but takes forever to set up and put down. When it gets wet, a small one can dry in your garage. Bring blankets from home instead of buying a sleeping bag, later if you love camping you can upgrade. The Boy Scouts have a rule that if an item is packed twice and not used, it doesn’t get packed a third time, this is a very good rule. Put your kids to work. Don’t cut them loose and set the tent up alone. This is when most injuries occur as they are unfamiliar with boundaries, hazards and you are pre-occupied. Put them to work. They need to realize that being a good scout has some responsibilities and helping you is one of them. They can carry items from the car, set up chairs and help you in many ways. Older scouts should be able to set the tent up alone and in fact Webelos need to for rank requirements. When it rains (notice I didn’t say if), focus on keeping yourself dry. I guarantee your Scout doesn’t care if he is wet and if it’s not lightning would love to play in the rain. Don’t stress, keep yourself dry and comfortable. You’ll then be mentally awake and clear minded. You will enjoy camping so much more if you just… relax.
Fire: A camping trip wouldn't be complete without a nice campfire and some story telling while everyone gathers around. Unfortunately this is another spot where allot of injuries occur. Boys have a natural attraction to fire and curiosity. Mr. Joe’s’s rule number one; Nothing goes in, nothing comes out. If you see any boy breaking this rule, speak up and remind them what the rule is. Please don't use your marshmallow as a torch. Our campfire must be monitored at all times and have a ten foot clear area raked back. The last adult leader up each night will be responsible for extinguishing the fire to cold out. Each time our unit leaves our fire ring, it must be cold out or a designated fire tender assigned. One fire in camp, in the designated fire pit or ring at a time will be allowed. Please do not build your own private camp fire. Multiple fires only segregate the Pack and make it difficult for everyone to participate in campfire events and monitor the scouts for safety. It also means that the designated fire tender has an additional 30+ gallons of water to carry to put another fire out to – cold out. Some parks require a “burn permit” to camp in the youth areas. If the ranger checks on us, and they will, and sees multiple fires, I will be in trouble for your actions. Please keep help keep us in good standing with the parks and me out of trouble.
Shoes: No bare feet, open toe, flip flop or sandals. We are outside and these camping grounds have numerous hazards for little toes. Glass, nails, sticks, you name it. Wear good soled shoes or hiking boots. Many of these sites have a long history and you will find all sorts of foot hazards around
Drug, Alcohol, and Tobacco Use and Abuse:
Straight from the book...
Electronics: All televisions, game boys, video games, computer, dvd players and radios should be left at home. This is an outdoor experience and we should enjoy the small time we have outside and all it has to offer. Also, sound travels surprisingly well in the woods and is a disruption to others. Not everyone enjoys the same music or cares to hear it when camping. You or your son will have ample time at home to use these devices. Weather band, communication, gps and emergency radios are permitted.
Boys are not allowed to carry knives unless they have earned their Whittling Chip (Bears and Webelos) and have it on them. Anyone who abuses their knife privilege will have their pen knife taken away (the Cub Master giveth and the Cub Master taketh away). Remember, Kinnan has a zero tolerance for knives. Do not, under any circumstances, bring your knife to school.
Sign in and sign out with the Cub Master at all camping events
Scouts cannot be left at a campout. They must have an adult present at all times. If you have to leave for some reason, for a short time, please arrange for another adult in your den (not the leader) to be responsible for them. You must give contact numbers, and expected time of return.
Buddy system: No Scout, at any time should venture away from camp alone; even to use the rest room. Scouts should go by twos to the restroom and fours anywhere else with prior approval. Scouts may never be alone with any single adult other than their parent or guardian.
Lights out: All Cub Scout (and sibling) lights out shall be 10:00pm Any Scout who must use the restroom after such time must be accompanied by a parent. Scouts found roaming at night will be brought to their parents and may lose future camping privileges.
Quite hours: 10:00pm to 8:00 am
Privacy: Scouts should not be allowed to enter other people’s tents or to take food or drink from others coolers.
Cub Scouts follow an Outdoor Code and a Leave no Trace policy. When we depart the camp ground, we must leave no trace that we were there. EVERYONE is responsible for the campsite, not just those who are the last to leave. Scouts caught purposely tossing garbage or defacing property will be handed a bag and put on garbage patrol. During the last morning of the camp out, ALL scouts are expected to police the area for any and all debris.
Pets: Pets are not allowed on campouts. Almost all of the youth campgrounds sites prohibit pets in the youth area. We also spend hours away from camp at a time that the animal would be unattended. Please make arrangements to leave your pet at home and avoid potential problems for the pack.
Open Water: No one is allowed in or near any water unless it is a scheduled event with lifeguards and leaders present at all times that are trained and qualified for such activities. This includes skipping stones, fishing or wading. Alligators are a constant threat in Florida waters and more drowning accident occur in shallow water then deep water. Leaders, Safety afloat and safe swim defense training is available on line, please update your training to allow more activities.
Meals: Our pack generally cooks for themselves. Please bring your own utensils, plates and cups. Be prepared to provide you own food and drink for meals. Please bring extra water to drink. We are very active and will push fluids to keep the boys and you hydrated.
Security: We are generally in a safe and secure area designated for youth groups. Many of these sites have a gate. Please close the gate if you see it open to discourage curious people from entering our site. Keep all valuables locked in cars. Do not discuss any details about our group with strangers and report any suspicions persons or activity immediately to a leader or Park Ranger.
Medication: Remember to pack any prescriptions you may need. Notify your leader if you or anyone has a propensity to allergies or reaction to bites, stings or other exposures.
Gas lanterns: Only propane cylinder lanterns or battery lights shall be allowed. Gas, white gas or liquid fuel sources are not allowed do to the high risk of spillage and fire.
Critters: We may encounter all types of animals while camping or hiking. This can be an exciting and sometimes once in a lifetime occurrence to see animals in their natural habitat. Always maintain a safe distance and do not approach, pick up or harass the animals. As I have told the boys before, you wouldn't want a big turtle poking a stick into your bedroom window so please don't do it to him. This logic seems to set pretty well with the Scouts. State law and park rules prohibit the feeding of wild animals as it makes them acclimated to humans and creates dangerous encounters. Besides, potato chips are not good for raccoons. Speaking of raccoons, they are clever critters and can easily open a cooler. I suggest using bungee cord or keeping coolers in a vehicle. Although they don't usually figure out the zipper on your tent, they do like to make new openings with their razor sharp claws so don't store food inside your tent. Leaving them in the tent only encourages them to get in and they may destroy your tent doing so. Stay out of the tall grass and brush. This is the home of many critters you don't see, rabbits, armadillos, snakes and more. As a general rule, they are more scared of us then we are of them and will flee if approached. When surprised, cornered or a nest is threatened they can act unpredictable, so stay to the trails.
Common sense: Above all, use your head. If it looks dangerous, it is. It is EVERY person’s responsibility to look out for each other. The leaders will take an active role in safety but they have a family and Scouts they are participating with too. You are responsible for yourself and your children. Your help is needed to ensure we all go home with great memories and are injury free.
Tick check: I recommend applying bug spray when you arrive, The Scouts love to play in the woods. Sometimes ticks are active. Check everyone, including you for ticks each night. They like to get increases in your skin like your waist line; they generally pose no danger and are easy to remove if spotted early.
Note: Unfortunately, the shower facilities for the youth areas in state parks do usually lack allot to be desired and put a new spin on roughing it. Cold water is probable. Some of the showers are older, none have ac, and so do not expert hotel style showering and bathrooms. There will not be any electrical power available.