Most new Scouts don't really know how to select and pack clothing for an outing. During Beaver and Cub days, their parents did this task for them. By the end of a camp many Beavers and Cubs can't put their clothes back into their pack and inevitably seek leader assistance.
Teaching Scouts how to select clothing and pack it requires effort -- both on the part of youth and parents. However, using our method, by the start of their second year most Scouts have acquired a good set of skills for selecting and packing their clothing. One year's exposure to cmaping in the four seasons is enough to make them competent.
We begin by asking parents of new Scouts to our second meetings in fall and winter. Here we describe our program and familiarize them with the equipment requirements for the year. A leader brings a fully loaded pack and explains in detail what items were selected, why, and how they are packed.
Many parents have only experienced summer camping, so we give new Scouts lists of equipment and clothing appropriate for our four season outings. Then we discuss each item touching on each of the following messages.
Each fall we start the season by camping near home. Leaders monitor all members to make sure they have the necessary clothing. If some Scouts ignore our packing lists and bring inadequate clothing (going without a jacket is a teenage favourite), they can always borrow or, at worst, call home and parents can bring the missing item. (This last option is the one most dreaded by youth. It happens only once!)
Our parent and youth discussions provide mostly theoretical information. The best educator is always real life experience. A long hike with full gear is a great way to drive home the need to pack correctly, but let your Scouts practice packing before your first trip. Spread some gear out on a meeting floor, discuss the clothing needs, then let them pack it. Nothing works better than hands-on experience.
In no time, your Scouts will be knowledgeable hikers, able to pack and carry their gear into the best camping sites. Happy trails!
Scouter Tim Leitch helps pack 10th Whitby Scout packs, ON.
"Reproduced with permission of the Leader magazine and the author."
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