Camping is intended to be fun. Sometimes it’s about kicking back and relaxing or cooking a great meal fire-side. Sometimes it’s simply about getting outdoors and experiencing something new.
As Scouts, one of our mantras has been, “Hey. We’re Scouts. We can figure this out.” Through my love of Scouts and going outside, I have learned there are things that can make life easier and more fun at the campsite.
If you are looking for something to give a Scouter this holiday season, here are a few great ideas to consider:
(Click to read more on each gift down the page.)
- Camp Lighting
- Kabob Skewers
- Smokeless Fire Ring
- A Big Griddle
- Shade Tent
- Patrol Box
- Pizza Oven
- Ice Cream Maker
- Mapping App
- Power Source
1. CAMP LIGHTING
One thing we can overlook is lighting for any campout. Having good light to share provides time to finish up those last card games and aids in safely navigating camp. Here are two options for lighting to consider.
One of the best lanterns on the market is Coleman’s Northstar Lantern, kicking out 1500 lumens. It’s bright and a solid light. The igniter button is notorious for breaking (you can use a stick lighter), but the lantern is otherwise reliable and bright.
There are several solar options that exist today with options on the amount of lumens. My guidance is to look for something that charges by the sun and also plugs into a car charger. Check out this USB Solar Camping Light with a Remote Control.
2. KABOB SKEWERS
Food can make or break the camping experience and Scouts and Scouters like to put their own flare in a meal. Hobo Dinners are essentially a bundle of chopped ingredients wrapped up in aluminum foil. Each camper gets to tailor-make their own packet for cooking over a fire or on the stovetop.
Another option frequently overlooked is kabobs. One frustration with kabobs, however, is food falling off or not turning with the stick (essentially rolling so the cooked side is always against the heat). The trick is using a skewer that is flat and has some width. Consider upgrading your skewers and kabobs might be something you prepare more often on campouts or at home. Option 1 or Option 2
3. SMOKELESS FIRE RING
It could be cold outside or maybe it’s the end of the day and you want to gather around the fire. None of us like smoke in the face. Today, there are several options for finding a smokeless fire ring. You can even find ways to make one yourself. Often we are tasked with bringing our own, so why not get one that is smokeless?
4. A BIG GRIDDLE
A griddle is one of the most useful cooking surfaces both at home and on any campout. French toast, pancakes, sausage, bacon, hashbrowns, eggs, etc. Put them on the griddle, at the same time, and serve a warm breakfast where the food is finished and served together. The key is having a griddle big enough.
5. SHADE TENT
A canopy to be out of the weather can be essential. Too much sun, rain, snow, and cold are reasons for a good shade tent. The issue with an instant shade tent is wind. A simple way to counter the forces of wind is using gravity. Staking the tent down, weights on the corners, and a heavier shade tent are important.
The first thing to consider is how much the tent weighs. There is a direct correlation between price and how much the tent weighs. If you want a better, longer-lasting instant shade tent, then you are going to spend more. Consider looking for the shipping weight and how the tent center raises. If there is a locking system or crank for the center, the tent will typically weigh more. Consider also looking for one that is commercial grade. Many tents can come with side walls, windows, and panels with doors, which are great for keeping the elements even more at bay.
6. PATROL BOX
A box to haul all the cooking gear for a patrol is critical. For many years, a patrol box has been seen as a big, heavy, wooden box that has to be built.
Consider looking at a large portable toolbox like DeWALT’s. The large portable toolboxes have wheels and are extremely tough. Granted, a downside is the door is on the top. (With the wooden patrol box, the door is on the side and lays flat for counter space.) A large plastic table should go with any toolbox. Consider reenvisioning how to store and move your patrol equipment.
7. PIZZA OVEN
We’ve all tried to cook a pizza – or something that looks like a pizza – on a campout. A Dutch oven can work but it takes forever when you have to cook more than one. Placing pizza directly on the campfire cooks one side – or burns the bottom by the time the cheese on top starts to melt. Wrapping it in tin foil doesn’t work regardless of where you cook it.
When camping with Scouts, we need to cook more than one and pop them out quickly. Pizza methods while camping have changed vastly with new products over the last couple of years. Consider a pizza oven that is portable, goes on your camp stove, or goes on a grill.
8. ICE CREAM MAKER
There is something special about sitting out on a hot campout and eating ice cream. Even better is when you make it yourself. Take a look at getting ice cream makers. An option with a hand crank means you can make it regardless of a power source.
9. MAPPING APP
When discovering a place for a hike, sometimes you need help locating trailheads or understanding the route. It’s becoming challenging to find paper quad maps for trails while apps for mobile devices are becoming more detailed and easier to acquire and update. Granted, an app on your phone may mean needing additional power. Take a look at some reviews for trail apps.
10. POWER SOURCE
Staying connected is a challenge. As stated above, sometimes it’s important for us to keep our devices charged. Other times, we want Scouts to put their phones away and concentrate on real-world experiences around them.
Whether for convenience, safety, or emergency preparedness, it’s common to need power while camping. There are two forms of power for consideration – Solar and Battery. There are pros and cons to both, and sometimes the better option might be to get a phone with a bigger battery.
Yours in Scouting,
Director of Field Services