Ground tarp (optional: 2nd tarp for inside tent also, minimizes dirt and wear on tent floor!).
Sleeping Bags (consider optional fleece liner! Can double as light blanket!)
Sleeping Pads / inflatable mattress (provides comfort & insulation from cold/damp ground. Optional: inflatable mattress air pump).
Camp or Folding Chairs, Scouts & adults.
Flashlights (LED style is best).
Lantern (battery operated is recommended)
Light Sticks (optional; for use as a “backup” night light)
Head light LED (optional, very useful to keep hands free)
Personal Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, hand towel, soap, etc).
Day pack / camp bag.
1 Complete change of warm clothes (and socks) for each person camping.
Bring clothing layers appropriate for the weather forecast. Fleece, rain shell / windbreaker.
Sleeping: change prior to going to sleep (in mild weather shorts and t-shirt, colder weather consider Long Johns / long underwear; warm socks; sweat pants; hooded (or regular) sweatshirt or fleece; have warm hat and gloves / mittens on hand).
Warm coat (to wear during dinner / campfire in case it gets cool at night).
Teddy Bear, etc. (mostly for the kids).
Enjoy the great outdoors!
(Please, keep the electronic games at home and minimize the use of cell phones around the Scouts)
Tom Williams, District Commissioner
Tents for kids and/or their stuff, siblings, etc., $22, Walmart. At that price no tears need be shed when the tent gets some rough treatment. Great option when the kids get thrown out of your tent after lights-out, or for someone else's lost kids during the rain storm. Can also double as the "illegal" I.T. haven when the kids need their electronic fix.
Mid-sized 4 person tent, $39.97 at Walmart. Got this one for the Webelos. 4 person means 3 kids max and their stuff stacked in a tangled pile at their feet. The big plus is its just small enough for THEM to setup... (wishful thinking!), good practice for their future in Boy Scouts! I'll have them write a review after their big camp out on October 19... maybe add some photos of what's left of the tent. (Don't forget the 2 tarps! Ground cover and inside protection). Post note: the tent survived nicely, and they actually set it up AND took it down themselves!
Family tent, sleeps 4, great value, $56, Walmart. (I have this one! Curiously however, mine was not $55 at the time... ). Note: pay attention to how the tent & fly are folded when you first open it... because when you're done, it has to all fit back into that cute little storage bag. Don't go "BIG TENT envy" the first time... you still have to carry it AND, we assume, set it up... usually by yourself. These medium size tents are quite manageable, and if it rains you will head home with a wet tent which will need to be set out to dry... somewhere? (never pack and store a wet tent - it will get mold, and it will never be the same again!) The big 12-person apocalypse size tents are too much for these fun little outings.
Ground tarps (I recommend 2, one for under the tent to protect it from ground dirt and sharp objects, and one for inside the tent to protect the inside tent floor from dirt and annoying Scout use! Get the sizes to best match your tent footprint size).
8-Ft. X 10-Ft, $6.68 Walmart.
Note: Use a permanent marker to 1) initial your tarps, and 2) mark them as "ground" and "inside" so that the next time you go camping the clean-ish one goes inside. I use different color ones so its obvious.
Air beds. Coleman inflatable airbed, twin, Walmart $23. Because sleep is a beautiful thing! In my own opinion, don't mess around with other brands - everyone eventually owns the Coleman's... 1) start with twin sizes rather than double, because you don't want to feel someone else shift positions all night long on the same mattress! 2) Get the Coleman brand air pump to match (Walmart, $17), don't mix mattress and pump brands... they won't work well together, no matter what the box says. Don't forget the batteries, it works better with them. Don't store the pump at home with the batteries in it, they will deplete, and possibly corrode the contacts in the pump unit.
Pillows... for "day camping / car camping" just bring ones you like from home. Truly, one of the best joys of camping is sinking into your own pillow at nighty-night time! If you want ultra-light, then get a "backpack" pillow (I have Kelty).
Sleeping Bags! Take your pick... or more like it, pick what's left. If you approach the sleeping bag topic with a "layers" (fleece liner) point of view you will be in good shape. Frankly, the Ozark Trail 40-60F Sleeping Bag (pictured here) is a great steal at Walmart for $15.97. (Apparently the "Ozark Trail" brand is Coleman's "Walmart" produced line. Bottom line is it works, and you can't beat the value).
Note: I recommend getting a bag with a nice nylon interior - rather than the tempting fuzzy flannel - because the nylon won't "cling" to your clothing in the restricted zipped-up bag as you shift sleeping positions during the night. The flannel lining is downright wonderful in the double size bags, but that's a different topic. It's better to sleep with light "jammies" (boxers & t-shirts, for example) in a WARM layered bag than with jeans and layers of street clothes.
Fleece Liners (can also serve as a blanket when needed!). Ozark Trail 50 Degree Fleece Sleeping Bag, Walmart, $10. Great when it's too hot for a "real" bag, priceless when it's colder in your tent then you possibly imagined - stick it inside your "real" bag as a cozy little liner, and your evening turns into a warm retreat till sunrise coffee time!
Camp chairs.... take your Walmart pick. I like the cheapest & LIGHTEST ones at $6 each (since YOU will end up carrying it all anyway), AND, after sugar induced campfire-time shenanigans, they will get beat on with ash soot and bits of burned melted marshmallows. So don't bring your prized folding titanium alma mater set. And use your permanent pen markers to initial these too, as camp chairs seem to be the first noticeable items to "disappear" at big group camp outs.
Flashlights. Stick to the less expensive LED type, and expect to have them lost in the most interesting circumstances. The headlamp style is nice for hands-free use in a range of other circumstances that don't need to be detailed here. Don't ever "loan" your good LED headlamp to your scout... you will be disappointed. Get the 6-pack of LED flashlights so you don't have to be cross as your inventory declines.
My favorite camping light (Coleman, of course...). 3 years, same batteries! Walmart, $9.88. Hang it from your belt, on a line in camp, sit it on a picnic table, or hang it from your inside tent roof loop to read yourself to sleep with "war and peace".
Pack 7 Cub Scouts, New Canaan, CT