OVERNIGHT CAMPOUT EDITION

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1 OVERNIGHT CAMPOUT EDITION Vol. 4, No. 9 In this Issue: Where to Go What to Take Sleeping Under the Stars Flies, Tarps, and Hammocks Just Desserts An overnight campout is one of the BSA's best adventures. New Scouts can get a taste of the outdoors and practice planning, organizing food, and choosing equipment. For veteran campers, overnight trips can be quick and easy ways to have fun with Scouting friends. Where to Go The backyard of a Scouting family can be a terrific setting for Cub Scouts to roll out sleeping bags. If the weather turns bad or mosquitoes are thick, everyone can go indoors. Many Scout troops and Cub packs have favorite overnight spots that don't require much travel. Lots of community and county parks offer campsites. So do state and national parks and forests. Find out ahead of time if reservations are required, if there are limits on group size, and whether open fires are allowed.

2 What to Take You'll want clothing and equipment to match conditions you expect to encounter. The Scout Outdoor Essentials form the basics to consider every time you set off on an outdoor adventure. You might not need them all for an overnight campout, but it's good practice to have them ready. Find these essentials and plenty of other terrific gear at That's also where you can order your copy of the Boy Scout Handbook. Its pages explain everything you need to know for successful overnight campouts, and for many bigger adventures, too.

3 Sleeping Under the Stars Autumn is a terrific time for camping in the open. The heat and bugs of summer are gone, and winter's cold has yet to arrive. On a clear evening you can lay your sleeping bag over a pad with a ground cloth underneath, then crawl in for the night. Before dozing off, gaze up at the stars. Can you pick out the Big Dipper? From it you can find the North Star. The Boy Scout Handbook will guide you to more highlights of the night sky. A star chart like this one from is a handy map of the constellations.

4 Flies, Tarps, and Hammocks Overnight campouts are ideal for gaining hands-on experience with different kinds of shelters. Even if your shelter leaks, you'll be home soon with exciting stories to tell. The patrol fly is a simple shelter big enough for you and your buddies. Available from it has a collapsible metal pole for easy setup and good stability. Pitch it close to the ground as protection from surprise rain showers and morning dew. Backpackers eager to lighten their loads can use a small fly instead of a tent. Setting it up on overnight campouts is a great rehearsal for longer journeys. Where native materials can be used without harming the environment, you might want to build a lean-to shelter like those described in old Scout manuals. Instead of fashioning the roof with evergreen boughs as Scouts used to do, tie a tent fly or tarp to the framework you've lashed together.

5 While you're experimenting with different campout sleeping systems, why not try a hammock for an afternoon nap? Bowline knots are a good choice for securing hammock ropes to trees. If the hammock swings too close to the ground, loosen the knots and take some slack out of the ropes. Just Desserts Campouts are full of possibilities. Playing games, observing nature, and practicing Scouting skills can all be part of spending time in the open. Where campfires are appropriate, sitting in the glow of the coals while telling stories with your friends can be among the most memorable campout events.

6 S'mores are a legendary campfire treat for Scouts of all ages. There is nothing easier to make or more delicious to eat. The origins of s'mores are lost in the campfires of long ago, though the recipe first appears in print in the 1927 book Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts: "Some More" 8 sticks for toasting the marshmallows 16 graham crackers 8 bars plain chocolate (any of the good plain brands broken in two) 16 marshmallows Toast two marshmallows over the coals to a crispy gooey state. Then put them inside a graham cracker and chocolate bar sandwich. The heat of the marshmallow between the halves of chocolate bar will melt the chocolate bar a bit. Though it tastes like "some more," one is really enough. Makes 8 servings. Start planning now and before you know it, you'll be having the adventures, friendships, and joys of overnight camping. Just one night under the stars (or beneath a tarp, fly, or tent), and you're definitely want s'more.

7 (This edition of the Be Prepared Newsletter was developed and written by Robert Birkby, author of the current editions of the Boy Scout Handbook, Fieldbook and upcoming Eagle Scouts, a new book celebrating the 100 year history of the Eagle Scout award.)

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