This weekend we went camping specifically to test the readiness of our family’s 72-hour emergency kits. We spent 24 hours with little else at the gorgeous Old Mill campground in the Spring Mountains area. I thought this would be my best opportunity to do the first three requirements for the rank I’m working on.
1. Present yourself, properly dressed, before going on an overnight camping trip. Show the gear you will use. Show the right way to pack and carry it. I dressed for warm weather for obvious reasons, with a pair of old work boots I rarely wear, which I now realize are too small and need to be switched out for a real pair of hiking boots. I’ll check at Deseret Industries for some. As we packed our backpacks with the relatively sparse supplies that would constitute our emergency kits, we discussed what was essential, including our tent and sleeping bags, our food and water, and our tools. The packing was difficult and taught us a lot about saving space and making priorities. I tried to make my bag look like the picture in the handbook. Good packing is a lot like playing Tetris.
2. Spend at least one night on a patrol or troop campout. Sleep in a tent you have helped pitch. It was a very enjoyable campout, though since we were trying to skimp on supplies, we didn’t have any padding for our bedding. I was surprised to wake up not very sore at all. I pitched the tent myself since my wife was busy preparing lunch and watching the baby. Did you know that seven people can sleep almost comfortably in a 9’x7′ tent? It helps when five of them are children, and nobody minds snuggling up.
These are supplies we’ve been building up for years, by the way. We just got our own sleeping bags last month; until now we’ve always borrowed from my in-laws. I got the tent as a bargain at a sporting goods store a couple of years ago. The saw I used to cut some firewood from dead trees in the area was a gift from Santa last year (though most of our wood just came from the kids scavenging for sticks and chunks of wood from all over–it worked terrifically). We’ve tried to make stocking up on such supplies a priority over time. Did you know that lint from your laundry’s dryer is great for starting campfires? Seriously, save some up and try it.
3. On the campout, assist in preparing and cooking one of your patrol’s meals. Tell why it is important for each patrol member to share in meal preparation and cleanup, and explain the importance of eating together. I brought our little propane stove (my other big Christmas present last year), and heated up some soup on it for part of our dinner. As we ate, my family patiently endured my little lecture to complete this item, which basically said this: those things are important so that we can all feel closer and feel the satisfaction of contributing (and so that no one feels left out or taken advantage of). They also endured hearing me do this:
7. Repeat from memory and explain in your own words the Scout Oath, Law, motto, and slogan. I spent the day repeating the Law in my head, and muttering it under my breath, until I felt ready to repeat it. I found that the best way to memorize it was to divide it up into six pairs of words, and remember the logical order of their topical flow. Here, I’ll do it now: A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. I did that without looking. You’ll just have to take my word for it.
By this point, the kids were asking–a few times–why Dad is doing all this Boy Scout stuff. I told them that I want the skills and experience. They didn’t have much of a reaction, but I’ll tell you that I haven’t been able to sign off the other item I’ve been working on–#4, the knots–because whenever I practice it, all of the kids want their turn looking in the handbook and working on my little nylon rope. It’s been fun watching them get into that, but I need time to master that darn tricky taut line hitch!
Our 72 hour kits are in pretty good shape, by the way. I do need to store more water, though.