Our Boy Scout troop was camping a few weeks ago and a couple of our younger scouts had each forgotten a few important items. They were very frustrated with themselves and really beating themselves up and the Scoutmaster and I offered some kind words of advice. They didn’t need to be thumped on, they were doing a good enough job of that on their own.
One of the things I suggested was to use a checklist. I explained to them how, over the years, whenever I went camping and I had forgotten something or needed something I didn’t have, when I got home after the trip, I modified my checklist. It didn’t take long before I had some comprehensive checklists.
I’ve always been a firm believer in checklists. I use them at work, at home, in scouting, and for this blog. There is something very satisfying about being able to check a box that a task is done or an item has been packed. It makes packing for a camping trip go much smoother and faster because I don’t have to think about what I need. I just work from my list and my decisions are quick and efficient as to what I need to pack.
Checklists also provide comfort and take away a lot of worry. In the car ride, I don’t have to second guess myself as to whether or not I packed something. My camping trips are more enjoyable because I have everything I need. And, I’m better prepared for what Mother Nature throws at me because a Scout is Prepared.
So, after that camping trip, I came home and looked at my camping checklists with the intent of sharing them with my Boy Scouts and here on my blog. I fine tuned them once more and I gave them a face lift. I originally created them for my daughter’s Girl Scout troop many, many years ago and they were looking a little outdated and girlie!
My personal gear checklist is geared for scouts and includes things like a handbook, uniform, etc., but I actually use this list myself when I’m packing for a camping trip. It’s not so much a checklist of everything I always take with me, but serves as a reminder for when I’m packing. I treat it like the Pirate’s Code, which “is more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules.” I tell my scouts to consider the weekend’s planned activities and the weather forecast, and use common sense when deciding what to bring.
My outdoor cooking gear checklist is also not so much a checklist of everything I always take with me when I’m cooking, but serves as a reminder for when I’m packing for a trip. And, some of the items on the list are there for when I’m cooking for a crowd and need things like chafing dishes to hot-hold foods. When people are relying on me to feed them, I hate getting to camp and discovering I’ve forgotten to bring an essential item that will compromise a meal or the whole menu!
This is a fun form to help you plan your camping menu and I actually use this form myself. I start in the left column and plan my meals and note in my Supply List and Prep List (right column) what special supplies I will need (like which Dutch oven I’ll be using) and what I will want to prep at home before I go (like dry mixes, chopping vegetables, etc.). I use the middle column to build my shopping list. I reference this form when I’m packing to ensure I don’t forget anything, which is easy to do when some of the food is in the freezer, some of it is in the pantry, and the rest is crammed into an already crowded refrigerator.
Packing these items whenever you step into the backcountry, even on day hikes, is a good habit to acquire. True, on a routine trip you may use only a few of them. You’ll probably never fully appreciate the value of the Ten Essentials (or the wisdom that went into building the list) until you really need one of them.
Whether you’re at home or out in the wilds, a good night’s rest is important. Here are some tips to help you sleep snug as a bug in a rug! This one isn’t a checklist, just some good tips to help you get a better night’s sleep when camping.
So, these are some of my favorite checklists and they are posted on the Resource Page. Feel free to print them and use them when planning and packing for a camping trip. Or use them as a base to make your own, personalized, checklists. And, if you think I’ve left off something important, let me know and I just might have to modify my list…again!
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