Gear and Uniform Acquisition for New Scouts
New scouts are given Boy Scout Handbooks by the troop. Please put your names in the book, and in marker on the sides of the book so it is clearly known who owns which book. Also please bring your Scout handbook to every meeting and camping trip.
Below is a guide for obtaining camping equipment and uniform items.
Boy Scout Uniform:
The website http://bsauniforms.org/ does a good job breaking down what is required for a Boy Scout uniform. You can purchase items online or in person at one of the local Scout shops detailed below. The site gives a description and photos of what the uniform looks like and where the insignia can go and provides a link to the online scout shopping resource: www.scoutstuff.org Scoutstuff.org also has a store locater for physical stores.
The big items needed are:
- the tan shirt (with olive green shoulder loops)
- green slacks
- scout socks (the long version can be worn with boots on camping/hiking trips)
- Patches: purple world crest patch, troop numbers “3”, “8” and “0”, the council patch for the National Capital Area Council (this is definitely available in stores, but may not be available online)
Camping List: There is a list on Pages 292 and 293 of the handbook. Items like swim trunks and fishing gear are not normally required so please do not go out and get those. If the troop has any aquatic activities planned you will be notified well in advance.
Additional gear is described on Pages 264 through 276, including specific clothing guidelines for certain weather conditions.
Boys’ Life, the official Scout magazine, has a great website with information on buying the camping items listed in the handbook:
Troop 380 Advice
For Scouts to be happy on camping trips, you need to be warm, dry and comfortable. The troop provides much of the gear to make this happen, so only focus on acquiring your personal gear. Much of the gear can be supplemented by things you already own. For example, a plastic spoon and Tupperware can serve as a mess kit and a sport water bottle with a screw on cap is a great canteen.
There are some things that you may need to buy. In priority order, we would recommend the scouts obtain:
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping pad (more important in cold weather)
- Backpack of some kind (the troop has a couple we can loan out)
- Rain coat or poncho
- Hiking Boots
Sleeping Bag: For sleeping bags, different bags are rated for effectiveness in different temperatures. Sleeping bags that are better in colder temperatures will be more expensive than summer-style sleeping bags. Since it is getting warmer now, investing in a very expensive, sub-zero temperature bag is not necessary. However, investing in a quality sleeping bag is a great long term investment and they last for many years.
It is sometimes also useful to have is a bed sheet or blanket to wrap up in inside the sleeping bag.
Sleeping Pad: The sleeping pad retains body heat, which would otherwise be lost directly into the ground that your boys are sleeping on. A foam pad is fine to start. Thermarest mats are the standard.
Backpack: Our troop differs from many troops because we emphasize backpacking. By requiring scouts to carry their gear, we encourage them to leave unnecessary things at home. And because we drive out to many locations, space is at a premium in cars. A backpack is essential for a comfortable hike.
For the first few years, any backpack sold at a store like REI should work, but speak with the staff at the store for fit advice. Look for a pack with plenty of room that is comfortable on a scout’s back. While many older scouts and adults prefer an internal frame backpack, a more basic external frame pack is fine for now. We would recommend scouts avoid older military equipment which is uncomfortable for scouts. If you have any questions please, don’t hesitate to ask. The troop also owns a number of packs we can loan out.
Rain gear: Some people prefer a poncho because they are cheaper and keep your legs drier. You can also use it to keep your pack partially dry. Others prefer a rain coat and rain pants. As the boys grow, it is tough to invest in a nice rain coat, but it is essential the scouts have something more than a non-waterproof winter jacket or fleece for a rainy weekend.
Boots: Again, as the boys grow out of shoes quickly, it is tough to have a nice pair of hiking boots. However, it is important on many of our trips that the scouts have a decent pair of boots or trail shoes.
You need to find the right balance between ankle support, water resistance, hiking comfort and use in cold weather. Boots that breathe really well work great until they get wet; the breathing part will not keep feet warm in the winter months either (we’ll review socks soon). Rubber-bottom boots work great in the rain, but are miserable to hike in if they do not have good traction. In short, a decent pair of leather boots with rubber tread is great and preferable to heavy “duck” boots.
We will try to have the scouts bring in boots that they have outgrown in case a younger scout can find them useful. Whatever boots you do buy, please have your boys wear them around a lot to break them in before the next trip. Depending on the type you purchase you can get supplemental waterproofing spray for the outermost shell.
Socks: Socks should be long enough to reach over the end of the boot to prevent chafing. If the weather is cold then wool socks work great. If we are hiking then two socks on a foot may help best to prevent blisters.
Water bottle / canteen: There is no need to go out and buy a Camelbak or other “hydration system”, but if you have one, that works too.
Flashlight: For the flashlight, please make sure it is durable enough to be dropped occasionally and waterproof. Many campers also prefer a headlamp.
Pocketknives: Knives are usually not required immediately, but will make great holiday or birthday gifts. Knives with a locking mechanism are safer but generally only come with the blade and no other tool. Pocket knife safety is covered on Pages 402 and 403 of the Scout handbook. Sheath knives are not permitted.
Do not feel compelled to buy the following items listed on the Boys’ Life website (they are not needed): binoculars, a camp stove, tent, bike, helmet, running shoes, camera, radio, GPS, rock climbing gear, ski and snowboard gear, bike and skateboarding stuff.
Packing for Camping:
Some quick guidelines for packing for an overnight trip:
A wet Scout is a miserable Scout: Compartmentalizing clothing with plastic bags will ensure all gear stays dry. Once clothes are worn/dirty/wet they can be packed away without contaminating the rest of the clean clothes. Two small plastic shopping bags can fit over feet inside wet boots if the boys get desperate.
Packing: Scouts should pack their own backpacks, otherwise you will not remember where your gear is or how to pack it back up when it is time to go home. Parents may help, but please do not do it for them.
Carry in / Carry out and Leave No Trace: When we go camping we want to leave the site better than we found it (i.e. no trash, no visible disruption of the area). We carry out all trash with us. If you come with new gear please make sure it is out of all the original packaging to minimize the chance of trash.