Overnight Camping -the Basics, some rules and gear ideas.

Pack 735 Camps overnight several times per year. Camping usually takes place in our Reading Town Forest (Old Council Ring or Scrub Hill aka ScoutHill) OR at Camp 40 Acres in Andover/Wilmington. Both offer our Pack unique, safe and close Camping options. This gear list is a general “best practice” but the RULES are the RULES-it is your responsibility to adhere to them and uphold BSA Youth Protection policies and Pack735 safety requirements

These resources are unique to our town and a privilege which must be respected and protected. Most Towns do not have these wonderful resources. All of Reading’s Scout Packs and Troops feel great pride and stewardship esp for our Town Forest and our friends on the Town Forest Committee. Each space must be “booked” and carry their own requirements and permits for use.

It goes without saying, we have a deep respect for nature. We leave no trace, we leave spaces better than we found and we are mindful of rules and charters that govern our use of these spaces while following the Guide to Safe Scouting and BSA’s Youth Protection Training requirements.

What to bring -the essentials

  • Tent w/ Rain Fly and tent stakes (need ideas? see bottom of page) -You must bring a waterproof tent for your family.
  • Tent pad/tarp – placed under your tent as extra layer of water protection.
  • Sleeping Bag/sleeping gear  Please note, every sleeping bag has a temperature rating. That rating means it will keep you warm to the stated temperature. Example: a 50degree bag will keep you warm down to 50degrees but not lower. Any cold weather camping requires gear check.
  • Sleeping pad (note, yoga mats are awesome for cold weather.. Air mattresses will make you colder…avoid those unless you have an insulated air mattress rated for cold weather.
  • Camp Chairs -for your family 
  • Backpack that includes: Rain Jackets for you and your Scouts, two winter hats for sleeping, extra clothing, 1pair extra hiking socks, Lights with new batteries and Cub Scout Six Essentials. 
  • Water!!!!- Each person MUST bring two large water bottles…per person if camping in Reading Town Forest or One labeled bottle per person at Camp 40 Acres.. This is very very important..please come prepared
  • Snacks – bring your own snacks… we won’t provide snacks beyond camp dinner and smores. Please, limit wrapper mess and don’t forget your “trash pocket” – if you see trash, pick it up.
  • Hot Drink Cup. if you want coffee or tea or hot chocolate you must bring a cup with your name on it…we don’t provide cups.
  • Mess kit for each participant…this is what you eat with…basically a plate/bowl, fork or spoon.
  • Three Large, unscented trash bags and one Sharpie. These are for your gear in case it rains. Trust me, this will be one of the best things you learn…
  • Above are minimums… There may be specific items required of different events or locations.

Important bits, rules and your responsibilities

Build your tent before you arrive. Assure you tent works and has all needed to function properly.

Check your gear before you leave home. Scouts are prepared. Be prepared. Do your best.

You are responsible for your own gear. We do not provide tents or sleeping bags.

We do not provide snacks (in most cases). Bring any snacks your fam might require…no sharing due to pandemic

Please label everything you bring...hats, packs, cups, sunglasses, chairs..not kidding at all!!!! You must take home what you bring to our camp outs. Our Volunteers are parents just like you…spending time tracking down owners of forgotten gear is a serious drag following events.

  • If you are experiencing any COVID symptoms, do not attend. If you are in quarantine, do not attend.

Also, as always:.

  • No pets- I love dogs but they are a safety distraction. Leave them at home.
  • NO BOOZE or Smoke – leave the adult things at home please. If you can’t last half day without a drink, please don’t come. Secret booze is a ticket home. I trust everyone will be respectful of these rules.
  • No cursing. Keep it Scout appropriate. Do your best.

Last thing, the only Dens who can camp as Den’s are Webelos Dens (4th and 5th graders). Have questions about this BSA rule? Contact your Pack’s Chairperson or Cubmaster.
Not to worry, we camp as a complete Cub Scout Pack often. This is both for YPT, SafeScouting, Safety and to teach/show the way for new campers. Youth Protection Training requirements, BALOO/Leader minimums must be met to camp.

Gear Wisdom and Ideas:

  • Tent- Don’t go big. Big (size) is hard to handle, time consuming to set up and in a cold weather, colder. for Scout Plus one Parent, a 3person tent is very roomy. Also, be very careful when purchasing low cost tents. …search Youtube for low cost tent reviews to find out why. If it’s crazy low cost, it won’t stay dry.
  • I highly suggest everyone purchase TWO 6′ x 8′ tarps (5-8bucks ea) and label them with family name. One goes under your tent and one can either go over your tent or inside your tent (if inside, keeps floor clean, dry and warmer). Great habit for inclimate weather. plus if you get a silver lined “insulated tarp” will aid in warmth greatly. 
  • If car camping or new to camping… assure tent has a sturdy “pan” floor that wraps up sides to keep you dry and look for tents where the rain fly covers the tent closer to the base. Staying dry matters. …always place a tarp on ground under your tent… tarp should be same size footprint as your tent or slightly smaller to reduce water pooling under tent
  • If want an all purpose backpack tent, I use an REI Half Dome 3, 2 or 1. The numbers are number of people it fits. I will be camping with our Half Dome 3. I can set up in about 5min with no help. Downside to Half Dome line has proprietary tent pole system that can damage easily.. plus it’s lightweight which means my kids have to be careful not to tear or damage it.
  • Coleman has some bombproof tents but please note, low cost tents have fragile poles and construction… bring duck tape if you get one of those tents.
  • Sleeping….
  • Sleeping- warmth is all about the pad and insulation between you and the ground plus the socks on your feet and having your neck/head covered..and dry.  When car camping we’ll bring yoga mats…two layers are superb (inside of tent). You can also get insulated camping air matresses…just make sure insulated for cold weather… air circulation can make you colder if not insulated. 
  • My kids sleep in a fleece hoodie. why? lightweight by warm, and covers neck and head..really important pro tip to stay warm!
  • Socks- fleece or wool socks…double them on your kid if worried. Socks are important cold weather sleeping items.
  • Sleeping bags. Bags come with a temp rating. The specified temp means you’ll be warm to that temp. So a 50F bag will keep you warm from 50F and up…  if it is 40F that night…a 50F bag wont be warm enough. You can find great bags at REI and decent bags at Target or Walmart.
  • People often use fleece liners to increase warmth on bags… a fleece liner can increase warmth significantly. … plus it’s comfy…get a “fleece bag” for foot warmth.
  • Sleeping hats- pack a winter hat to put on and sleep in. 
  • Don’t use cotton pillow cases..they are cold. Use fleece. You can even use a fleece towel to cover head at night if gets cold. I actually wrap a fleece towel around my backpack and use as a pillow…packs don’t slide away like camp pillows.
  • Last pro tip- bring camp sandals or slippers…like Adidas Slides for your Scout. Trust me on this..and label them please

Because we usually car camp…I’d rather see you over prepare to keep your kids warm… if you don’t know your bag’s temp rating please bring a few extra blankets to cover over your sleeping bag/kid. 

  • If you really worry about overnight temps then have your kid sleep in winter jacket and pants. 

Put everything in water proof trashbags. Makes packing out waaaayyyy faster and cleanerLabel EVERYTHING… literally everything you bring needs your last name on it…everything.