For the last couple of weeks, I’ve devoted a few posts to camp cooking, inspired by a camp training I took in early May. And while a number of posts have gone into the making and use of that scotch (or box) oven, the truth is that was only a small part of the training we received.
It would take many weeks’ worth of posts to go into detail about the rest of the training — and I’m getting the personal urge to move on to other topics, so I’m going to wrap up the camp training this week with two blog posts that summarize the many other badge tasks tackled during the training, through both the home study materials required for certification as well as the campground training.
It’s safe to say we covered work to meet some of the task requirements for a number of badges, including: Camping Together, Outdoor Cook, Outdoor Creativity, Outdoor Fun, Your Outdoor Surroundings, Girl Scouting in the USA, Girl Scouting in My Future, and Model Citizen. So instead of going task by task, let me summarize some of this work thematically…
Yep, you gotta plan for the trip. Camping with a group means planning menus and sharing the responsibilities for shopping and bringing the cooking and camping gear. The menus for our trip included no-cook snacks and side dishes, as well as main courses to be cooked on a propane stove or in a dutch oven, and a really excellent chocolate confection perfect for baking in a box (scotch) oven.
Camping with two or more people brings an opportunity to share responsibilities–more hands make lighter work. Scouts use kaper charts to assign all of the tasks that need to be done around a meal. By fairly dividing the workload between the patrol members, then shifting the responsibilities from meal to meal, each camper experiences different tasks — setting the table, cooking, serving, cleaning. A kaper chart could look a little like this:
Caring for the Environment
A core theme of the training was responsible stewardship and respect for the environment in which we leave no trace behind. It means if we bring it in, we take it out. It means we leave wildlife and plant life intact. It means we leave the campsite better than we found it.
- With a group? Someone should be in charge of first aid. By yourself? Make sure you’ve got a good first aid kit and know how to use it.
- Kiddos on the trip? Make ’em pick a buddy. Those kids shouldn’t even be going to the latrine on their own — especially at night.
- Hot outside? Drink gobs of water.
- Cold outside? Stay layered, and keep those extremities dry and warm.
- Camping overnight? Extra batteries for the flashlights. Better yet, get a headlamp — they rock.
- Know what poison ivy looks like? You should — as well as any other poisonous plants, snakes and insects in your area. Naturally, Texans enjoy the company of four poisonous types of snakes.
- See that last bullet?? Wear close-toed shoes.
- Gathering wood? Roll the logs toward you with a stick first. That way, any snakes or critters hiding beneath the log will move away from you?
- Got bugs? There are plenty of repellents out there, and more and more brands are offering plant-based alternatives to hard-core pesticides like DEET.
- Camping in a large group? Agree to a “gather” sign — a loud signal from a horn or bell that will call everyone to an agreed to, centralized location.
- Got a plan for evacuating the site in case of emergency? When you check into any campsite, check in with the park rangers and check out their advice about a quick departure in case of fire, flood, or other emergency.
Fires and Fire Safety
I covered the basics of starting a fire with tinder and a match in this post, as well as using this fire starter. Here are two other things you can make in advance and have at the ready for quick fire-starting:
- Fuzz sticks: shave “curls” of wood over the length of a stick using a pocket knife. Those curls will catch the flame and start your fire.
- Kisses: small chunks of paraffin wrapped in waxed paper.
Not all fires need a cord of wood; we only need a small fire to brew up some coffee. If we’ve built ourselves a fire, we’ve got the responsibility to put it out. Use a rake and shovel to help put out the embers. Keep that bucket ‘o water around and sprinkle it over the embers until you’re certain there’s no chance of the fire spreading. And, of course, it shouldn’t need to be said, but if your region is suffering from drought like ours is, then stick with propane and charcoal for cooking.
Everyone involved in the training took part in three “ceremonies,” and here’s a bit about each:
- Flag Ceremony: The ceremony teaches girls respect for their country through learning the etiquette for handling. No need for a traditional flagpole — a tree, a rope, and a flag are all you need. We started the day with a flag ceremony and lowered it at dusk.
- Campfire Ceremony: With the sun down, the campfire ceremony builds community by having some fun at the end of a long day of activities. It’s inclusive — everyone participates with songs, skits, stories. Even in a drought where campfires are banned, the ceremony can be easily performed in a circle around lanterns.
- Scout’s Own Ceremony: This ceremony (which I really don’t remember from my youth), pulls everyone together for about 20 minutes to reflect upon and share their big takeaways from the camping experience. Scouts offer up poems, readings, songs, or their own thoughts, generally built upon an agreed-to theme.
That’s it for today’s post — in the next post, we’ll wrap it up!