Wednesday, October 17, 2012

No, You May Not Bring That Suitcase on Wheels

Packing for camp
Our girls are getting ready for their fifth camping trip as a troop. (Let's just say I've been on a few more than five and leave it at that ...) It's nice because they seem to think they're getting to be old pros at it. They still have a lot to learn, but they know what to expect and how things will generally go, which makes things go a lot more smoothly.

But I still remember when we getting ready for our first camping trip - their uncertainty, their questions, their nervousness. We had been on day hikes before and held a backyard camping trip, but a weekend away at camp was an entirely new experience. So we spent a lot of time preparing them for what to expect. The first step was talking about what to pack. Here's the personal packing list that we use for most trips. (It may need to be adjusted for your climate and activities - i.e. when we went horseback riding, we added the necessary boots.)

But just handing out a packing list isn't always enough. Even after several years of camping as a troop, we still have parents who try to pack for their daughters, instead of with them (my personal pet peeve). Here are a few of the activities we've tried to send the message home.

1) Split the girls into a few teams and give each a bag with a variety of items. Some of the items should be items that you would bring to camp (clothes, poncho, insect repellent, flashlight), while others should be clear no-nos - candy, cell phones, curling irons, etc. Give them a set amount of time to pack their bags and then have them explain their reasoning for the items they chose. This is great to do before their very first trip, and their answers may blow your mind. We thought this would be too obvious, but we learned just how much work we had ahead for us.

2) Play roll-a-bag relay. Split the girls into two teams. On the word go, two girls from each team run to the front of the room and roll up a sleeping bag. Once completed, they run back and the next two girls come up, unroll and re-roll. We allow them to do it two at a time because we've always taught that they can work together. In fact, we won't let a tent come down for breakfast on the last day until all their sleeping bags are rolled. I would much rather they ask each other for help than come down to a leader whining that they can't do it. Tonight, we taught our girls how to tie bedrolls so it will be fun to try this again using this newly learned method.

3) Dress for the weather relay. Put a variety of clothes into two bags. Divide the girls into two teams and on the count of go, call out a type of weather - rainy, hot, cold, snowy. The girls need to run up and select the appropriate apparel. If this pick the right clothing, they can score a point.

4) Once the girls have packed for a a few trips, test their memory. This year, we gave each girl a sheet of paper and 10 minutes to create the perfect packing list. Then we reviewed their answers to see what they had missed - I was pretty impressed because they weren't too far off.

Honestly, either as a result of our efforts or just our dumb luck, our girls are pretty good packers. It also probably helps that we've camped during some of the worst weather, so they know we aren't kidding when we say to pack a poncho.

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