"I joined Scouting to go camping and to get outside."
When we ask youth why they joined Scouting, this is their typical response. Camping and the outdoors has an irresistible appeal to young people. Perhaps it's the freedom, fresh air and exciting scent of adventure in the wind. But camping requires proparation and at least "fair quality" equipment to ensure that Cubs, Scouts, Venturers and their leaders have a safe, enjoyable experience.
If youth's first camping trip is uncomfortable and miserable the odds are high that he won't want to try it again -- at least not in the near future. The success or failure of an outing can depend on the quality of your equipment, as well as it's proper care and maintenance.
When purchasing camping equipment, you can spend as much as you want (like most other things today). Recognizing that, in many cases, dollars may be limited and hard to get, leaders should seek to ensure a quality experience without breaking the group budget.
Before setting out with your Scouts for the local camping store, make a list of some questions to help determine your needs. Ask the youth what questions are most important. Let the group categorize them. The following should be on your list:
Choosing where you will buy the equipment is also very important. Look for an extablished store carrying products with manufacturer warranties, and having knowledgeable, professional sales staff. Scout Shops provide a convenient, one-stop comping location for just about all your outdoor needs. What they don't have in stock is readily available through their catalogue.
Youth join Scouting to experience more outdoor exhilaration. No Scout ever left the Movement saying, "Ah, we spent too much time hiking, camping and canoeing".
Good equipment can make that time more comfortable and fun.
"Reproduced with permission of the Leader magazine and the author."
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