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What to Expect when you Go Camping!

People go camping for many reasons. But for Scouts it is all about Nature and learning how to be self sufficient. For those parents who have never spent the night in the great outdoors. Relax it is not a terrible thing and if you keep a positive attitude you will have a great time. Remember there are three things you will encounter on your camping trip. First up is dirt! You, your cloths, your gear and your car will get dirty. So do not worry about it, just accept it and put it out of your mind, it will not go away!

Second, you will encounter critters. Some will be cute and fuzzy others may not be. Remember this is all about being one with nature. Just be aware of the critters around you. While raccoons may be cute and furry they are in the bear family and are best watched from a distance. This holds true for all encounters in the outdoor world. Teach your children to observe and learn about the wild animals they encounter safely. A snake can be fascinating to watch and keeping a distance will not only keep you safe but also avoid alerting the snake to your presence. Taking the pack/troop for a hike will always make a memorable trip. Especially if you prepare with some research on the local fauna and wildlife. For older children a moonlight hike can bring new dimension to a hike. This was a favorite of the Bear and Webelos Scouts in our pack in south Florida. We would have the boys keep the flashlights off and walk as quiet as possible (tough for a bunch of 8-11 year olds) to get glimpses of the nocturnal wildlife.

Third, you will fight the bugs! There is no getting around it. All you can do is prepare, prepare, prepare. And, grit your teeth and...well you know! It all boils down to who you are. I have come to think that body chemistry and personal hygiene habits like scented soaps and perfumes are the most important factors. I have notice some people are barely bothered while I get all of the bug's attention.

I will try to share what works for us. Remember, these little buggers are kind of fussy. Temperature, humidity and wind all can effect the presence of our uninvited buzzing friends. We use DEET products with caution as my son and I seem to have a bad reaction to them. My wife and daughter however find they work exceptionally well with no ill affect. Deep Wood OFF is the heavy-duty product that we will use on our trouser legs and shirt collars in deep wooded ventures. There are many natural products out there that are reported to work well so if you're concerned seek them out. Consider different soaps and deodorant when you will start your venture. I have heard this works well and have tried variations with some success. Experiment and find what works best for you. An alternate tactic might be to manage the environment. Example, instead the secluded wooded site pick a sunny open spot. Keep your fire burning, but plan on keeping a mind on the fire. Citronella candles may help and always add a nice camp smell to the surroundings. At night keep your lantern some distance from you're gathering, this can effect your evening comfort drastically. Finally, remember this is about Scouts, so for the den meetings leading up to the camp out have the boys come up with some form of bug control. Make a contest of it and have judges determine which dens bug deterrent worked best. A winning idea came from a Tiger den in our pack. They took 2 liter pop bottles cut the top off just at the top of the widest section and turned the top over then glued it to the top of the base of the bottle. Now they covered the bottle with black paper. Boiling water and adding some brown sugar to the water then letting it cool. They filled the bottle with the sugar water and then placed the bottles around the edge of the site. A small amount of yeast in the bottles started a reaction. The CO2 given off was a super conducting mosquito magnet. By morning each bottle was full of mosquitoes and we had a relatively peaceful night! Chock one up for the tigers and their fearless leader! Finally it all boils down to mind over matter, If you don't mind them it won't matter.

Well that is it.... ahhh maybe not! I almost forgot the rain. It's not if it rains but rather when it rains. If you go camping with any regularity you will spend a night feeling the wet weather. Do not fret! The rain does not have to end the fun, in fact it can bring on the most memorable camping experiences. The trick is to keep dry and comfortable and you will be half way there. This can be a challenge if you arrive and need to set up in the rain. Here is where good planning and a lot of team work comes to hand. We always bring two tarps on camp outings. One to cover the ground under the tent and a second to use as cover for gathering if a pavilion is unavailable. This large tarp is pitched first above the tent location to offer cover during pitching. This keeps most of the rain out and keeps the tent dry until the rain fly is in place. Then the tarp can become the front porch of your home away from home. Just remember safety and the well being of your family is of utmost importance. Camp safe and have fun.

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