Scoutmaster Musings - Prepared for Everything?

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Scoutmaster Musings

Prepared for Everything?
When we talk about being prepared and getting ready for treks and campouts, the newer scouts (and their parents) will sometimes ask HOW prepared scouts need to be, always in regards to gear and clothing. It's a great question and the answer depends on how much discomfort the scout is willing to endure. We don't need to be prepared for Everything, but definitely for most things we're likely to encounter.

I've yet to meet a scout that overpacks. In the mind of many a scout, a toothbrush, change of underwear, and food are all that's needed for a weekend campout - and the toothbrush and underwear are just for show. These scouts believe they are willing to endure any hardship because they feel nothing is going to go wrong. It won't rain, get too cold, too hot, too buggy, or too dirty. On the front end, they have no hardship at all because they have the bare minimum of items - but they are doomed to misery sooner or later, usually sooner.

On the other hand, helpful parents heap the hardship on the scout at the front end in anticipation of every improbable thing that might go wrong. Three pairs of pants, just in case; Two extra hats, just in case; another pair of shoes, just in case; a gallon size bug spray, just in case. The poor scout is doomed to misery before he takes his first step out the door.

Somewhere in between is the balance we seek. Based on the expected and probable weather, the activities to be performed, and the length of the trip, a minimial amount of gear can be determined. This becomes a recommended packing list and is used as a starting point. This gear list is adjusted as a scout becomes more adept at knowing what has been used on past trips and what can be improvised in improbable situations.

The Scout Outdoor Essentials is the core that should never be cut. In addition to those basic items, the weather makes the biggest demand on what gear to take.
Having checked the weather forecast, a seasoned scout sees the expected low temp is 55F and probability of rain is 30% so he gambles and leaves a heavier fleece at home knowing his poly undershirt, light sweater, and hooded raincoat will be ok. If it drops to 45F and rains all weekend, he recognizes he might be cold but not in danger.
On that same outing, a new scout might show up with a duffle bag bigger than the scout, packed with two fleeces, two sweatshirts, two pants, gloves, and mittens, but only a rain poncho. And, he'll wind up still being cold and miserable because he gets wet.

We don't expect scouts to be prepared for everything. A good scout plans ahead and prepares for what is most likely to happen, gets ready to improvise for what might happen, and doesn't waste time on what is highly unlikely to happen. The best way we can help new scouts pack adequately is to provide a simple packing list and the instruction that it is a starting point they can modify as they see fit.

Scout On
Posted: 16:27 12-15-2008 380
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