THE FIRST CAMPING EXPERIENCE
For many boys, the first campout will be their first time away from home. Even if mom or dad is there, it will still be a new experience filled with some wonder and some fear.
It must be fun and it must make so much of an impression on a boy that he will want to go on many more camping experiences. Here are some ideas to make that happen:
- Have an information night a week or two before the campout at a pack meeting. Get a digital projector and show pictures of previous campouts or show a scrapbook with photos. Pass out a packing list to parents and include the leaders’ names and phone numbers for questions. Take lots of time for questions and answers from parents.
- Reserve a cabin for two nights and make it an option to stay one or both nights.
- Reserve the camp’s council ring for a big campfire program. Don’t fly by the seat of your pants. Plan it out with lots of songs, goofy things, and s’mores. Light the campfire in an impressive way. Make memories.
- Don’t give the boys hot chocolate before bed. The sugar will pump them up and they won’t sleep. They may also have to get up to find the scary latrine in the middle of the night.
- Once the boys are in their bunks, stoke the fire and play a CD of Native American music. You could also read them a story, a long story filled with adventure. But, not scary! This can comfort those who may be scared and give the whole group something to listen to as they fall asleep.I actually love this idea. This would have been a great thing to do at Cub World. It was so hard to get them to go to bed and go to sleep, but there were so many boys in nearby cabins that it might not have worked out in the end.
- Attend one of the Council Cub Adventure Weekends. Everything is planned for you.
- Have each boy build his own big tin can camp stove and have him cook his supper on it at camp. This might not be a great idea. Some of the tin can camp stoves that were popular years ago are considered unsafe now.
- Find things for each parent to do on a campout. If parents are bored or feel like they are not wanted, you’ll lose them. You need to get them involved, which will keep the boys involved as well. They did a good job of this at Cub World. They gave us a sheet with a whole list of things to do. If we got enough things signed off, we earned a patch.
- When a Cub Scout shows up for his first campout, present him with his own hiking stick. These can be easily made. Use different wooden brands or other ways to mark each event on the hiking stick. I like this idea, but I know they would have started using them as kung fu batons.
- Impress on the older boys that they must make the younger boys feel welcome.
- Always have a Plan B and Plan C. Many first campouts have been ruined by a cold rainy day with boys cooped up in a cabin with nothing to do.