Summer camp packing list for adults

checklist_200June is here, which means troops will be heading off to summer camp starting this month. The annual pilgrimage always involves making sure everyone has what they need in order to have a successful week at camp.

There are many lists of what Scouts should bring to summer camp – clothing and personal gear, forms, handbooks, camping essentials and outdoor equipment, to name a few. As an example, here is a list (PDF) from my troop. I put it together a few years ago, with input from our experienced youth campers, and offered it to Scouts and their parents, with the advice that the Scout should pack his own gear.

That list covers what Scouts will likely need at camp, but what about adults?

The adult list is different, as you might expect. No Scout books or merit badge pamphlets needed, of course. Much of the same advice on clothing and personal gear pertains, as well – the difference being that adults will actually wear all the underwear and socks they bring.

Here are a few additional things that should go on the adults’ summer camp packing list:

  • A tape measure – preferably one that’s 100 feet long. This will make it easier to measure the 300 feet between the Scouts’ campsite and yours.
  • Your favorite camping coffee mug. You’ll probably be waking up before the Scouts do, so you’ll want to get dressed and hike down to the dining hall to enjoy the crisp morning air and savor a fresh cup of coffee there, while you wait for the Scouts to get themselves up and come down for breakfast.
  • A comfortable camp chair. You’re going to be spending a lot of time sitting in it, not doing anything but just watching the Scouts as they go about taking care of their own affairs. There will be no need to deal with equipment and tents, schedules and duty rosters, or camp chores. The Scouts will be doing those things.
  • A good book or two. Bring ones that you started reading at home but never had time to finish. You’ll have plenty of time at camp to read, while the Scouts are busy finding their way to program areas, cleaning the latrine or inspecting their tents before the commissioner comes around.
  • A comfortable cot for your sleeping bag. One of the privileges that an adult has in camp comes around just past lunchtime. Our camp commissioner used to call it SNAP time. The S stands for Scoutmaster, and you can figure out the rest.
  • Copies of the list of the Eagle-required merit badges your son needs. They make great tinder for starting your adult patrol’s campfire. You could even squirt them with a little vegetable oil so they’ll burn longer.
  • Pants with pockets, so you can put your hands in them instead of into the middle of the Scouts’ activities.
  • And a pair of binoculars so you can keep an eye on the Scouts from a safe distance.

Summer camp is not a time when adults take over so that things run smoothly. It is the culmination of the youth leadership experience. It gives the Scouts a chance to put into practice everything they’ve done in short bursts on weekend campouts – getting themselves up and dressed, to meals and program areas on time, and to decide for themselves what to do with their free time. I hope this “packing list” will help you to better see the adult role in the summer camp process.


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4 Replies to “Summer camp packing list for adults”

  1. So what I’ve been doing is walking around camp and observing from a distance. I feel it lets me get a better understanding of our troops scouts and see how other troops scouts act / interact. Additionally I’m looking for how “this” camp runs compared to other camps to help with camp selection next year. (We mostly pick a different each year.) Additionally I’m also getting random pictures of our scouts “in action” for posting to let the parents know that their scouts are having a great time.

    That seems (feels?) better than just sitting around camp hoping that things are going smoothly. I’m also getting fresh thoughts for scoutmaster minutes : )

    1. John,
      This is kind of what I do on the first day or so. (I do take advantage of the SNAP thing.) The rest of the week our camp offers both the First Aid AED training and wilderness first aid class, and the Scoutmaster specific training class. I usually alternate each year between the two trainings. There is still plenty of interaction with the scouts. I can usually count on one new scout who is so homesick he is near to tears all the time, and I walk him down to the trading post in the afternoons for an ice cream sandwich and a listening ear. Good times.

      1. Allan,

        It’s great when camps give the adults something to do too, especially when it’s something useful like training. It helps keep the adults occupied (and out of the way) while the Scouts are doing Scouting stuff.

        There are always one or two Scouts who get homesick – particularly the first-year campers. The first-year program at most camps usually does a good job at keeping them occupied – it’s those “free time” idle moments when they start thinking of home. It’s satisfying to help a Scout through his tribulations and watch as he cheers up and thrives, eager to come back next year.

        Thanks for the comment!

    2. John,

      It sure sounds like you make good use of your time at camp, especially with your troop going to a different camp each year. Besides being able to compare camps for your own troop’s purposes, your observations would be valuable to other troops in your district that would be looking for information on the camps your troop attended.

      Photos sent home from camp (hopefully lots of smiling faces!) are a reassurance and comfort to parents as well. Great thoughts. Thanks for your comment!

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