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#40014 - 04/22/05 01:04 AM Boy Scout Outdoor Essentials - Additions?
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2115
Loc: NE Wisconsin
The Boy Scout of America Boy Scout Handbook lists the following as Scout Outdoor Essentials:

First aid kit
Extra clothing
Rain gear
Water bottle, with water
Trail food
Matches and fire starters
Sun protection
Map and Compass

I've read various additions on internet Troop sites, including:
Whistle - I'll suggest a Fox 40 or WindStorm
Insect repellent
Toilet paper (multi-purpose paper)
Large trash bag - multi-purpose, but can also be used to hold trash :-)

I'm wondering if anyone would have additional suggestions - keeping in mind that these are 11-18 year old boys. Many troops prohibit butane lighters.

I was thinking of adding:
Brightly colored bandana - could be a neckerchief
Plastic signal mirror (Star Flash)
Parachute cord, two 25" lengths

I've also thought about including a few water purification tablets (Micropur), but these probably should only be used by older boys.

#40015 - 04/22/05 06:13 AM Re: Boy Scout Outdoor Essentials - Additions?
Chris Kavanaugh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/09/01
Posts: 3824
Several years ago a boyscout became seperated from his troop on a hike. As I recall he simply dawdled while they marched on. There was a massive search . We found his candy bar wrappers and disposable camera with a few self portraits. Yet he vanished without a trace with the lights of Los Angeles twinkling below. The scouts periodically get poked at over gay scoutleaders and scouts who do not wish to include religous observations. Everytime I look up at those mountains I want to poke every scout to carry a basic survival card such as the STOP acronym or Doug's instructions in his PSK. We need to look out for each other in these relaxed hikes with relaxed guards. If Hobbits can do it why not us <img src="/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />

#40016 - 04/22/05 07:56 AM Re: Boy Scout Outdoor Essentials - Additions?
johnbaker Offline
old hand

Registered: 01/17/02
Posts: 384
Loc: USA

I think our suggestions may depend on the purpose for which you seeking the information. For instance, if you are a father whose son is about to join a Boy Scout troop or even one who is still looking for the right troop, then the questions might be most usefully and informatively put to the leaders of the troop(s) as to what gear your son would need. You should probably attend several meetings/functions of the troop to see how well it meets your expectations.

Any prohibition on butane lighters would appear to be a local one, probably restricted to that individual troop. You should consider all rules as to gear for scouts since they may manifest the outlook, as well as the probable behavior and kinds of outings pursued by the troop. Fortunately the restriction seems not to have reached my politically correct part of the country yet. And I will do my best to make sure that it not afflict my troop.

If you are already a scout leader who is trying to develop a checklist for the troop, then you should be guided by the principles and information on this website (ETS). The BSA list of 10 essentials is a good start towards a plan for carrying important gear, but only a start. Don't forget that regardless of how good your list is, you still need to make sure that the boys have the gear, actually carry it, and know now to use it. They also need to have earned their Totin Chip and Fireman's Chit to qualify to carry a knife and fire starting equipment.

Let us know more of what you have in mind.

Hopefully we'll hear more from some of the other scouters as well.


#40017 - 04/22/05 12:32 PM Re: Boy Scout Outdoor Essentials - Additions?
KG2V Offline


Registered: 08/19/03
Posts: 1371
Loc: Queens, New York City
I was going to post a long post about how to make scouting work, but nevermind

I will keep in short - there is an easy way to make sure the kids carry the stuff they are supposed to carry. It's called inspection

Done right, (and if you seperate "rank" from "leadership") soon, your patrol leaders and leadership corps will make it so that the parents don't have to do it

USE the old paramiltary stucture that the scouts used to have (don't know if they still do) to your advantage. Your "cadre" should be able to train the younger kids
73 de KG2V
You are what you do when it counts - The Masso
Homepage: http://www.thegallos.com
Blog: http://kg2v.blogspot.com

#40018 - 04/22/05 01:00 PM Re: Boy Scout Outdoor Essentials - Additions?
AyersTG Offline

Registered: 12/10/01
Posts: 1272
Loc: Upper Mississippi River Valley...
I agree with what John wrote. Here are a few random thoughts:

The boys tend to add things to their pack as they aspire to whatever nifty gadget some adult has. Unfortunately, they tend to NOT remove items they are already carying... the first year ready pack is about right, the second year pack is 50% heavier, the third year pack is larger and at least twice as heavy... this is all exacerbated by well-intentioned parents who purchase, well, really wierd stuff as well as unservicable look-alike junk. Plan to deal with those problems.

Add a small sewing kit and extend that into a small repair kit. A little duct tape, a little 7 mil electrical tape, a small piece of hot melt glue stick, and a bit of dental floss (the bobbin from inside the container) paired with a stout needle will get used. (Or purchase inexpensive bobbins from fabric store and wind carpet thread on them with a sweing machine) But keep the sewing/repair kit small and functional - and protected from soaking. Oh, a thimble is useful (metal - the plastic ones rarely survive a boy's pack)

Make a habit of treating their minor injuries from their personal FAK and check to be sure they replenish used items. The best way to do that is to stock frequently used items at the Troop and sell at calculated cost back to the scouts, even if it's 6 cents for one bandaid.

I am not a fan of parachute cord as the sole cordage in a ready pack. I have carried and used paracord for 30 years and still do - usually about 50' - 60' total, most often broken down into several lengths. There are various arguements for what lengths are most useful, but the versitile range is about from 6' to 12'. If you let boys carry longer lengths, they tend to custom-cut, say, a 3' length for some chore instead of using a pre-cut length.

What I prefer the boys to carry is the white-and-pink polyester (Dacron) cord, again pre-cut. It is far better for a number of scout-related skills (learning knots, lashing, measuring, etc.) Keeping in mind that they should always be in buddy teams, you can start them off with 2 lengths of about 10' - 12'. Use a Sharpie permanent marker to turn one or both of them into a useful tape measure. 4 - 5 pieces will handle about anything they might need to tackle. You can toss in a 10'-12' length of paracord also, but I suggest that is part of an on-body PSK rather than a ready pack item.

Maps, maps, maps. When the new phone books come out each year, rip out the local maps (including indices). Go to any large business and they have pallets of them. Go to a visitor center when convenient and pick up the three most-likely state highway maps (Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana, perhaps?) If you have a map of any sort of your local scout reservation, add that. Go to Terra Server and laser-print B&W aerial and topo maps if nothing else. Put all the above, folded, into 1 qt or 1 gal ziplock bags and hand them out.

More later - got to do some work for a bit.



Crew 258 Troop 258
Illowa Council

#40019 - 04/22/05 03:25 PM Re: Boy Scout Outdoor Essentials - Additions?
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2115
Loc: NE Wisconsin
What diameter polyester cord would you recommend?

#40020 - 04/22/05 04:11 PM Re: Boy Scout Outdoor Essentials - Additions?
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2115
Loc: NE Wisconsin
I am a Den Leader just finishing our Webelos I year, and giving some advice to Webelos who will just begin camping with Boy Scouts. In the next two months we actually have three different camping opportunities (Webelos Woods, a Pack overnight, and a Council weekend w/ family), so I am putting together a weekend camping list for the boys - based upon what is given in the Boy Scout Handbook and also upon what I've found in dozens of on-line Troop packing lists. Obviously not all of the things on the list will be needed as a Webelos though, and much of it will be accumulated over time.

We seem to have lots of troops in the area (6 or more) that we'll be camping with next year, so we'll learn a lot next year.

Over the last two years I have been teaching the boys (and parents) what to do if they get lost outdoors (or indoors for that matter). I went through some of the Hug a Tree and Survive materials with them (no one in our area to make the official presentation) . I tried to emphasize that even in our relatively suburban area there are plenty of areas where a boy could get lost, and that it can and does happen.

We put together little fanny packs with a large heavy orange plastic bag (and instructions/demo on how to tear a hole for their face), a whistle on a wrist band, and a small LED light. The main focus was to stay calm, stay put, stay warm & dry (orange bag), and to make yourself as "findable" as possible (thus the orange bag & whistle). The lights were available at very low cost so I added them as a comfort factor in case of darkness.

The boys are asked to bring their survival packs whenever we will have an activity in a park or rural area. They really like the kits, so they usually bring them.

Through the last few years we also made small Cub Scout-level first aid kits. We started by focusing on the boy treating themself rather than others. The kit included soap, bandaids, tweezers, antibiotic ointment, and sting-swabs. This year we added latex gloves, 3" gauze pads, and a small roll of adhesive tape.

Through the years we also played several games using compasses. We started by playing a pin the tail on the donkey type game using a compass with the boy covered by a sheet (the fog rooolls in). The boy would get a chance to take a bearing on a target on a wall (initially with LOTS of help from an adult), then he'd be covered with a sheet, and spun around in place. The task is to "box the needle" and use the compass to find the right direction and place a Post-it with his name on it on the wall. We always walked with them to make sure they didn't go headfirst into the wall. It was lots of fun and they got the idea fairly quickly. We've repeated this game each year since then.

Last year we ran a small three or four very short run orienteering type course where we gave them bearings and paces and let them follow the course. They had lots of fun.

While we've discussed maps of all kinds (school layout, street maps, satellite photographs, topo maps - both paper and on-line) and even GPS's, we haven't yet put the maps together with the compasses yet. Maybe next year.

As for the pocketknives, all of the boys in my Den have earned their Whittling Chip card, which gives them the right to carry a pocketknife to designated Cub Scout functions - with the approval of their parents. Right now my recommendation has been to stick to the official Boy Scout Pocketknife or a similar SAK.

#40021 - 04/22/05 06:45 PM Re: Boy Scout Outdoor Essentials - Additions?
AyersTG Offline

Registered: 12/10/01
Posts: 1272
Loc: Upper Mississippi River Valley...
Lehigh is probably the most commonly available retail brand in our part of the country and the 3/16" diameter diamond braid polyester cord has worked extremely well for us. http://tinyurl.com/89537

#40022 - 04/23/05 03:28 AM Re: Boy Scout Outdoor Essentials - Additions?
Be_Prepared Offline

Registered: 12/07/04
Posts: 530
Loc: Massachusetts

It's great that you're trying to provide some guidance on what your new scouts need to bring. There is a lot of great information in the handbook, and fieldbook, and it's a good place to start. Like anything though, having a list of items doesn't always mean you'll have the "right" version of the item. "Extra Clothes", for example, is a real wild card for some boys.

One thing that has helped our troop is to engage the parents of our scouts in the preparation process, in addition to the boys. For example, I sent an email to the parents before our first winter trip of the year, since we had a lot of new scouts who hadn't done any cold weather camping before. I think "lists" are important, but, I also think that some elaboration about the items on the list is also vital to success.

If I can find it, I'll enter portions of that email as examples of what I mean in a follow-up post. It's like many concepts discussed here, having the gear is only part of the problem, knowing how to use it, and what's appropriate for various scenarios is at least as important.

- Ron

#40023 - 04/23/05 03:47 AM Re: Boy Scout Outdoor Essentials (WARNING: Long)
Be_Prepared Offline

Registered: 12/07/04
Posts: 530
Loc: Massachusetts

Here's an example of what I mean about making sure people understand a little more about what's on your list. This is an example of an email to the parents of boys in the troop going on their first winter camping trip. Your situation will vary, it's just an example. It's also kinda long, so I put a warning in the subject... read on at your peril! Best regards - Ron

Parents, I had mentioned at our meeting tonight that I would share some thoughts on Winter Camping in preparation for a campout after the Klondike practice this coming Saturday. For some of the new boys, this may be their first time camping in cold weather. There is great information in their Scout Handbooks that I would encourage you to review with your boys, for example:

- Page 204, Cold-weather clothing checklist
- Page 224,225 Personal camping gear checklist
- Page 226,227 Patrol/Group camping gear checklist
- Pages 322-24 Cold weather related first aid

The checklists contain very good starting points for making sure the boys are well prepared for winter conditions. At the end of this message is a small checklist you might consider using as a starting point, but, I recommend you tailor it to your needs. Follow the suggestions in the Boy Scout Handbook for the most part. There are some things Iíd like to mention, again mostly for people who might have boys doing a sub-freezing campout for the first time. These are not meant to replace the checklists in their handbooks. I hope other leaders in the troop will share their thoughts and experience as well.

Letís start with clothing, here are some thoughts:

- Please donít let the boys go out on a winter trip in sneakers. We will probably have to send them home. They must have insulated, waterproof boots. Take some time and show them how to apply waterproofing a few days in advance, itíll pay off. If we are going hiking, some waterproof gaiters that can go over the top of their boots and up their legs will keep snow from getting down in the boot.

- Inside those boots, they should have either wool or synthetic thermal socks. No cotton athletic socks, they will get wet, even just from sweat, and make it hard to keep feet warm. Some silk or polypro liners under the socks can also help.

- Just as important is their base layer of clothing. No Cotton please. Thereís an old saying among search and rescue teams: ďCotton KillsĒ. Cotton soaks up moisture, and it stays there against your skin, which is a big problem and contributes to your risk of hypothermia. In winter, you want synthetic or wool thermal underwear, tops and bottoms. The packages will talk about the wicking properties of good thermals.

- The next layer of clothing should probably be a fleece layer, which traps heat, but, lets perspiration escape. (Some people may have more than one mid layer. A lot of old guides still swear by the traditional Woolrich style wool shirt.)

- The outer layer of clothing should be wind and water resistant, but, hopefully a fabric that can breath, so you donít get soaked in your own sweat. Most modern parka shells and shell pants serve this purpose well.

- Gloves and/or mittens are important to keep the hands warm. Again, you need them to be water and wind resistant. Many people prefer to bring some light gloves for working on setting things up, when they need their fingers, then switch to heavier mittens to stay warm when they are done with setup.

- Last but not least, you need to keep from losing lots of heat through your head. People have their own preferences, but, consider some combination of a wool or fleece watch cap, the hood on their jacket, perhaps a neck gaiter, face mask, or a balaclava. Whatís right will depend on preferences, and just how cold/wet it is.

Ok, so we have suitable clothing, so weíre fine for the day, and now itís time to bed down. We need a good tent, sleeping bag, and pad for under the bag.

- The pad is a luxury item in the summer, but, in the winter itís a must. Your boys will lose a lot of heat to the ground if they donít have some kind of thermal pad under their sleeping bag. The two types that they might be using in winter would be closed cell foam pads, (either rolled, or folded up), or self inflating foam pads, like the ones made by Thermarest, and the many other very good copies of that design. One kind of pad that some people use in summer that is NOT effective in the winter is the classic inflatable mattress. It gets them off the ground, but, has very poor insulating qualities. Also, the moisture from their breath when they blow it up will basically freeze inside the tube, coating it with ice on the inside.

- Sleeping bags have improved dramatically in the past 10-15 years with the modern synthetic fills available. It used to be that you had to go with goose down for a really good winter bag. You can now get a 0 (zero) degree bag from Coleman that will keep the boys plenty warm, and not destroy their college fund. If they get serious about backpacking, and want an ultralight bag in the future, let them pay for it. Often, even a 20 degree bag is fine if they wear a pair of fleece pants and top, along with good socks and a watch cap. They can also line the bag with a fleece or wool blanket to increase the insulation. On that topic, itís important that the boys have something dry to change into to sleep in. Crawling into your sleeping bag with the clothes youíve been wearing all day is not going to keep you warm, or comfortable. Many folks sleep in a fresh set of dry thermals, others will want something more like fleece.

- We all know the tent keeps you out of the elements. Just remember that in winter, the wind is colder, often stronger, and the snow gets heavy on that tent. Some tents are simply too flimsy to use in winter. They canít handle the wind, snow, or both. Most 4 season tents will have a more substantial pole system to support snow, and a full fly covering the entire tent, perhaps with a vestibule at the entrance. (One of Murphyís Laws is that in the winter, any snow that comes into the tent has a good chance of melting, probably right under your sleeping bag. The vestibule gives you the equivalent of a mud room for your tent.)

I havenít talked about food yet. Itís on the checklists. Iím not going to get into menus here but, there are a couple things to remember:
- You need more food in cold conditions, because your body burns it up to keep warm.
- You need plenty of water, because you can dehydrate easily in dry cold conditions. (Remember, water freezes, so youíll need to have a way to keep the water liquid. Thereís often plenty of snow around, but, youíll get too cold eating snow, and it can be dangerous for other reasons, so you need a stove to melt it, and usually boil it before using it.) You can also sometimes carry water in flexible watertight containers under your jacket so they donít freeze. Keeping a water bottle under, or sometimes in your sleeping bag will keep at least some water from freezing during the night.
- Itís good to have some warm beverages, like cocoa, and warm soups that can help warm up your core. (plus, they taste good)
- Sometimes, conditions deteriorate to a point where itís difficult to ďcookĒ food, so itís always good to have a meal or two that can be eaten without much preparation. That could be as simple as some energy bars, or something like an MRE style ration.

Well, Iíve probably rambled on enough. I wanted to share some thoughts, so that as parents, you could have a conversation with your boys about being prepared for camping in cold weather. My notes are just a few ideas on the subject to start your conversation with the boys. Please make sure they have the essentials by following the advice contained in their handbooks. Those checklists were formulated by folks with a tremendous amount of experience. I have added a summary checklist at the end of this email that can be printed and used to help pack.
Camping checklist

- Knife
- First Aid Kit
- Whistle
- Extra clothing (see Winter Clothing checklist below)
- Rain Gear
- Water containers
- Flashlight w/spare batteries and bulb
- Fire starting gear, matches, lighter, or flint/steel firestarter and tinder
- Sun protection, sunscreen and sunglasses (in winter, sunglasses prevent snow blindness)
- Compass, map
- Food, meals plus snacks (Sufficient for your length of stay, plus at least one extra meal for contingencies)

Backpack with rain cover

Sleeping bag Ė must be suitable for conditions

Sleeping pad and ground cloth Ė pad is essential in cold weather

Tent - Suitable for expected conditions. Typically bunk with another Scout and split up tent and poles in their packs to share the load.

Cook kit: (adjust to your planned meal preparation needs)
- Spoon/Fork/Knife (or just a spork)
- Bowl/Cup/Plate
- Lightweight stove and fuel
- Cleaning sponge/scrubber

Cleanup / personal kit:
- Soap, Deodorant, Lip balm
- Toothbrush/Floss/Toothpaste
- Comb / Brush
- Washcloth / Towel
- Toilet paper / tissues
- Hand wipes

Other helpful extras, depending on your trip:
- Watch
- Camera / Film
- Notebook / pencil / pen
- Repair kit for your gear, things like: zip ties, duct tape, nylon cord, heavy duty needle/thread, safety pins, multi-tool like a Leatherman
- Trash bag(s)
- Small shovel / trowel for digging scat holes (when nature calls)
- Insect repellent (per seasonal needs)
- Handwarmers

Winter Clothing: (remember, in cold weather, you should stay away from cotton clothing)

Note: Depending on the length of your trip, you may need to take more than one of each:
- Long underwear base layer, tops and bottom, synthetic, wool, or silk
- Long sleeve shirt
- Long pants
- Fleece top and bottom insulating layer
- Hiking boots, waterproofed and insulated
- Gaiters for the boots if hiking through snow
- Wool or synthetic insulated hiking socks (polypro or silk liners also for extreme cold)
- Warm hat, fleece or wool. May want to have a full balaclava or a face mask also.
- Rain / Wind shell top and pants. Breathable, waterproof fabric rain gear is best, loose enough to layer fleece pants and top under them.
- Insulated, waterproof gloves and/or mittens. Liners if needed for severe conditions.

- Ron

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