Jeremy Zweiacker is a KISMIF.org guest blogger from Oklahoma. He is a Tiger Cub Den Leader, an Eagle Scout, and a long time Scouter.
A couple of weekends ago, our pack went camping in the great outdoors — the first Scout camping experience for some of our Cub Scout families.
I’d like to share with you some of what I think made it a great campout.
Planning the Pack Overnighter
We began our campout planning several months in advance. In August, we set the date for the campout and started telling our Cub Scouts and the parents about the plans.
In the fall, a page on our pack website was devoted to camping. We shared information about the importance of camping in the Cub Scout program and in helping boys prepare to be future Boy Scouts. The page also includes information about camping rules and safety and helpful hints like storing your sleeping bag in a pillow case instead of the stuff sack and more.
Since we did not want Cub Scout families wasting money buying new equipment, we worked with local Scoutmasters to see what camping equipment the boys would be able to continue to use when they become Boy Scouts. Suggestions included headlamps over traditional flashlights and that a Frisbee makes a great plate!
Then, in early March, pack leadership spent the weekend getting the required Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Orientation (BALOO) training.
Our Pack Campout
Finally, the big weekend arrived. Despite constant drizzle and a location change, we had a great turnout, and our Cub Scouts had an awesome time.
We began our campout Saturday afternoon and everyone headed out to go fishing to start the weekend. As soon as everyone arrived and the tents were set up, we headed to an open field to work on the kickball belt loop. We also worked on the hiking and flag football belt loops. We let everyone have some family time, and of course we ate!
Saturday night, we held a short campfire that had some songs and skits by the boys. We then performed a flag retirement ceremony.
Sunday morning we had biscuits-on-a-stick and held a short outdoor worship service. A parent brought a guitar to play along as everyone sang.
After the service, we picked up the campsite and left it cleaner than we found it.
Keys to Our Successful Campout
Here are some things that helped make this campout go well:
- Opportunities for everyone to be involved and learn, including siblings.
- An agenda that was developed that took each minute of time so that Cub Scouts would not be bored. We even scheduled downtime for the families so they could explore the museum and displays where we were camping.
- A nearby playground helped. We had some Cub Scouts who were only 6 years old. When the younger Scouts lost interest in kickball, and older Scouts wanted to keep playing, we could do so and keep everyone going because we could use the playground.
- Opportunities for cool outdoor scout things like the adults cooking desert in a dutch oven.
Idea for Future: Pack Box
Our pack has not traditionally gone camping, but we are working to improve our outdoor program.
One idea we have is to build a “pack box” (like a patrol box). If one of our parents had not remembered to bring a spatula, we would have been removing the hamburgers from the grill with our fingers.
Our pack box will include things that are traditionally stored in a patrol box like the first aid kit, cleaning supplies, cooking tools, and miscellaneous supplies. The box will be kept by the Cubmaster and available for use at pack overnighters and Webelos den campouts.
We also will begin to build a second pack box that will store outdoor game equipment. In it we will store footballs, kickballs, rubber bases, plastic cones, and other outdoor play equipment.
Sign of Success
When my Tiger Cub and I were headed home, he leaned over to me and asked, “Dad, can we do this again?” I think I have him, and his fellow Cub Scouts, hooked on camping, and I could not be happier.