Camping 101




Cub Scout pack-organized camping should be conducted only at sites approved by the local council. Approved sites might include federal, state, or local parks in addition to BSA property. Check with your council service center for locally approved sites before planning your trip.

Selecting a Campsite

Look for the following when selecting a campsite:

·         Try to camp with a south or southeast exposure.

·         Your campsite should be protected from the wind.

·         Camp on level and reasonably smooth ground (even a shallow depression can collect water in a heavy rain).

·         Avoid nearby gullies and ravines as they can be dangerous during flash flooding.

·         Avoid camping near trees with dead or dying branches.

·         Make sure you have a water supply nearby.

·         Don’t camp near swamps, tall grasses or watery meadows.


·         Pitch a tent on smooth and level ground with the tent back to prevailing winds. The slope of the stakes will depend on the condition and texture of the ground. Usually, stakes driven at an angle toward the line of pull will hold in either hard or soft ground. Use a tautline hitch on guy lines. Directions for tying this hitch can be found in the Webelos Handbook and in Knots and How to Tie Them, both available at your local Scout shop.

·         A doormat of plywood or heavy cardboard will help keep the inside of the tent clean. When possible, leave shoes outside the tent.

·         Many campers take along a large tarp or dining fly and set it up as a shelter to provide a covered area for cooking, eating, and other activities outside the tent.

·         Keep an adequate supply of drinking water on hand. It’s a good idea to keep several bottles full of water in the tent at night, especially for children.

·         Always gather firewood during daylight and stack it under shelter. Don’t count on firewood being available. Bring wood, charcoal, or stoves. Many state parks do not allow the gathering of wood for fires. Check local regulations about fires as you are planning your trip.

·         Before turning in for the night, be sure everything is secure and covered for protection from rain and animals. Be sure food is well-covered or hung out of reach. Don’t leave open containers of food in the car. The food may be safe, but animals may scratch the car. Don’t store food in tents.


Living in a tent is enjoyable if you prepare for it, have the right tent, and follow safety precautions.

Here are some pointers.

·         Allow about 20 square feet per person for tent living. Straight-walled tents provide more living area. All-cotton or cotton/polyester canvas and ducks are durable and water-resistant but are prone to mildew. Synthetics are strong, lightweight, and mildew-resistant.

·         Many states have mandated the use of flame-resistant tents. Remember, however, that a flame-resistant tent is not flameproof, so use fire safety precautions. Keep all flames away from the tent. Never use liquid fuel stoves, heaters, charcoal, lanterns, lighted candles, matches or other flame sources in or near tents.

·         Some tent features that are helpful are a floor of plastic-coated fabric, heady-duty zippers, reinforced stitching at stress points, double-stitched seams, and screened windows with inner-sipper flaps.

·         Tent ropes should be clean, strong, and securely attached to the tent. Keep extra ropes available for quick storm rigging.

·         Canvas and rope shrink when wet. Tight ropes can rip your tent in a storm. If it rains, loosen the tent ropes a little.

·         Never pile dirt and leaves against the lower walls of a tent.

·         Never use flammable chemicals, charcoal lighter, spray paint, or insect repellent near tents. These may remove the waterproofing.

·         Clean and dry the tent thoroughly before storing it. Carry and store the tent in a bag, if possible.


Sleeping outdoors is half the fun of camping. Sleeping bags make it easy, and air mattresses add to comfort. Foam pads keep you warmer and don’t deflate. Some campers use a sleeping bag on a cot.


Choose a sleeping bag that suits the season and area. Down bags are the warmest and lightest but the most expensive, and they do not insulate when wet. Several other types are available. Be sure the fabric covering the bag is sturdy.