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Best comfort items & traditions for summer camp

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What are your go-to “comfort items” for summer camp, both personal and for your unit? I’m thinking of things like a hammock, good pillow, paperback book, etc., but also ones like an assortment of lightweight board / card games. Linked to this, do you have any great troop or patrol summer camp traditions like a surprise snack box one night, a night hike, or leaders cooking a special dessert? Thinking of things that would jazz up a new unit’s experience. Thanks!

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Daughter always had a deck of waterproof cards in her pack.

I have a range of mocha pots (and demitasse cups), and choose the one most suited for the number of espresso drinkers and type of trip.

Our crew was known for its night time winter hikes.

My patrol growing up became all about the chocolate fondue.

These are things that kids stumble upon the more they camp together. It will be neat to hear what yours come up with!

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For the unit, a game bag...chess, checkers, Uno, etc.  Nothing electronic.  It's great to see scouts socialize and play the games for hours.

For me, a small rug from the dollar store.  Good to stand on it in my tent, vice the dirt or old wooden tent platform.

Edited by desertrat77

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A small battery-operated fan can make hot sticky nights bearable.

I like the idea of a deck of cards --- that was a favorite when I was a scout and my son's friends still never tire of a card game in the evening. Small and easy to pack. Timeless fun!

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I like to always pack a small fan, kindle, and folding chair.  Oh, and if we go somewhere with trees, then a sleeping hammock is a must.  

My boy and his fellow scouts always bring a few decks of cards.  Whenever there is downtime, one can always find a least one group of boys playing whatever card game is currently in vogue.  Sometimes, a football or frisbee.

We have one asst. scoutmaster who is a whiz at cooking dutch oven desserts at least once during the week.  Layer chocolate chip cookie dough, Oreo cookies, and brownie mix. Once done, it is topped with vanilla ice cream.....yum! 

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Oh summer camp!  A few thoughts come to mind.  Years ago you could buy an official scout harmonica (I still carry one today).  Some scouts play musical instruments and can bring them to camp and use them within reason.  It also is fun at a camp firering.  They may be good enough to play taps or reveille.  Some scouts may only be musically talented to use sticks or a triangle, but jump right in too.  Comfort items of a couple solar lights on the way to the latrine can help.  I place one beside my tent so they know where 911 sleeps.     

As most of my scouts spent their week's worth of scout bucks at the trading post in the first couple of days, I always had a troop snack stash available.  Items were given each morning and they ate or traded them during the day.  If you give snacks at night, you have critter visitors.  Lights sticks of different kinds can be a double edged sword.  They are great fun, but can be opened causing a mess.  They also can be a lot of trash when they expire.  I have a few glow in the dark Frisbees that are good for night capture the flag, or other games.  Most of the time during summer camp, it gets dark so late, the scouts are tuckered out and don't do much after its pitch dark.       

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Troop always brings a sturdy cornhole game, the boys organize tournaments.  Decks of cards are good also.

The one we bring is one a leader made, 2 x 4 frame and at least 1/2" plywood deck.  It can in fact support a Boy Scout standing on it (though we do discourage that).  Hard part was finding bags that would stand up.  Found some on-line made of sail cloth that seem to stand up

 

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A deck of Uno cards is usually a hit.  Most of the younger kids can pick up the rules quickly, so it is easily something that all the youth can play together.  A parent donated an outdoor checkers game (similar to this: https://www.amazon.com/Checkers-Reversible-Classic-Indoor-Outdoor/dp/B07H8XSD5H/ref=sr_1_12_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1548951238&sr=8-12-spons&keywords=outdoor+checkers&psc=1) which is good, and if they leave it out when it rains it isn't ruined.

As far as desserts in-site, I would suggest looking at what the camp you are attending has scheduled.  If they have an ice cream social one night (a pretty common thing that the OA lodges put  on up here at camps in New England), obviously you want to plan around that or it's just sugar overload if you do yet another dessert (and leaders dealing with kids with bellyaches or being wired when it comes to lights out time).   Also can be about timing in general of program.  If the evening program goes until dusk/9:00 PM, you probably will not find a lot of scouts hanging around the campsite until then.  for us, the gaga ball court is usually forcibly shut down by the camp staff- the kids will stay up there and play by flashlight otherwise.

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Interesting about all the desserts people are talking about. None of the summer camps my son has been to in California allow food in the campsites because of the critters.

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4 hours ago, dedkad said:

Interesting about all the desserts people are talking about. None of the summer camps my son has been to in California allow food in the campsites because of the critters.

@dedkad, our patrol's fondue was a weekend camp activity.

We never considered doing it at summer camp because by the middle sessions the critters were all too familiar with boys and the snacks that they snuck in.

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6 hours ago, dedkad said:

Interesting about all the desserts people are talking about. None of the summer camps my son has been to in California allow food in the campsites because of the critters.

Yes, it's mighty inconvenient when the squirrels and chipmunks get into your snack supply...

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No joke. A friend was planning a mom's weekend away. They hiked into their site and before they finished setting up their tent, a bear lumbered in and made straight for the smellables which were sealed in a dry bag. They didn't even have a chance to get it out of their packs, he did that for them after tearing everything apart because - well, he couldn't smell exactly where the food was.

There's no way he tracked them to their sight. He probably didn't even smell the food! He just knew to make for a campsite along a trail as soon as he heard weekend cars and motorcycles winding up the valley. Dinner was being delivered! If he waited too long it would be tucked up and away.

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I remember my son's first summer camp experience.  He was in a hammock overnight and some other scout got a food package from home.  A racoon stole the package and decided to eat right under the hammock.  Freaked my son out and the other scout was upset at the other scouts for stealing his food.....

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In recent years there have normally been several sets of "exploding kittens" floating round camp. I don't know if that has made it to your side of the pond yet. It's quite addictive :)

 

We normally take a volley ball net with us as well and sling it up in a convenient spot (remembering to take it down at dusk. There was that one time.....)

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On 4/24/2019 at 10:13 AM, qwazse said:

No joke. A friend was planning a mom's weekend away. They hiked into their site and before they finished setting up their tent, a bear lumbered in and made straight for the smellables which were sealed in a dry bag. They didn't even have a chance to get it out of their packs, he did that for them after tearing everything apart because - well, he couldn't smell exactly where the food was.

 

Too bad the bear didn't have the courtesy to wait until your friends got their food hung up in a bear bag. 

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