The Alamo Area Council strives to tell the greater San Antonio community wonderful positive Scouting stories. We are thankful for the many stories our units share about our Scout youth within
Recently, our Director of Outdoor Adventure, Linda Dieguez, Outdoor Adventure Executive, Christopher Payne, and myself had the opportunity to host a ZOOM video call with SA Express-News reporter, Rene A. Guzman. Rene wanted insights from us on a story entitled, “COVID-19 pandemic expected to close or delay summer camps, but you can create your own”.
Click HERE to read the full SA Express-News article. Below is our Top 10 DIY Backyard Family Camp Guide for Non-Scouters that we compiled in support of our call. What would your Top 10 list be if a non-camping person friend asked for your insight? While you create yours, please share ours.
You don’t have to be a Scout or “camping person” to lead a great outdoor experience. To the masses of aspirational first-time campers who want to make sure their kids still spend valuable time outdoors despite COVID-19, the Boy Scouts of America, Alamo Area Council has created this:
Top 10 DIY Backyard Family Camp Guide:
- Be Prepared – Create a Family Camp Plan that includes the Patrol Method: The methods of Scouting are the ways that Scouting’s aims of developing character, citizenship, and fitness in youth are achieved. One of the methods is “the patrol method”. A patrol is a small group of Scouts BSA within a troop. They elect a patrol leader and function as a family within the troop. They divide up the chores to be done and work together as a group to meet their goals. Parents can be Scoutmasters and kids can take on camp leadership roles (Senior Patrol Leader, Assistant Patrol Leader, Chaplain, Quartermaster, etc). Work together to set your camp plan agenda to include when you start and end, what’s for dinner and who cooks and cleans, what major activities are planned including any camp skits or storytelling, and what’s the camp goal. A popular family camp plan goal is for each patrol member to have fun safely as well as learn something new.
- Patrol Name, Yell, and a Flag: Develop patrol spirit and take pride in your accomplishments as a team. Start by creating a Patrol name, a yell, and a flag.
- Fire Rings and Restrooms: Organize your campsite around a campfire site and its path to the restrooms. Use an existing fire ring, order one online, or make one with bricks and stones. Even a table with a large candle would work for starters. Campfire safety and etiquette include never leaving a fire unattended, having a water hose or bucket of water nearby, ensuring the fire is completely put out when finished, and following any local regulations and burn bans before, during and after a fire.
- Adhere to the Outdoor Code:
As an American, I will do my best to –
Be clean in my outdoor manners.
Be careful with fire.
Be considerate in the outdoors.
Use “Leave No Trace” and “Good Turn” Scouting principles to keep things clean and safe. This means that you leave the area better than you found it.
- Scout Sign to Keep Order – Instead of yelling at each other while planning or trying to enjoy your family camp, consider borrowing the Scout sign to get someone’s attention. The right arm held up at a right angle, palm open and three fingers pointed up is the signal to STOP what you’re doing, be quiet, and listen. It also represents the three parts of the Scout Law. Note this is a silent signal and should not be accompanied by a “shush” or a battle cry.
- Invest in some camping equipment – Popup tents, sleeping backs, and a propane camp stove are a good starting point. You get extra points if you buy a dutch oven, charcoal, and the ingredients to make a tasty campfire cobbler topped with vanilla bean ice cream.
- Tents and Hammocks: Look for hazards like steep drops, overhead tree limbs, and poisonous vegetation. Set up your tent away from these hazards and make sure your camping party knows to avoid them too.
- Choose a level spot that drains well. If you’ve pitched your tent in a low spot and it rains hard enough, groundwater may flow into your tent.
- Remove stones and sticks, but don’t disturb the natural ground cover.
- Always look for signs of creepy critters and stay away from them.
- Spread out your tent’s footprint, or ground cloth, to protect the tent floor from moisture, sharp objects, and dirt.
- Unfold the tent on top of the footprint. Pull out the corners of the floor and stake them to the ground, then assemble the poles and put them in place.
- Use taut-line hitches to tie the free ends of guidelines around stakes you’ve pushed into the ground, and pull the lines tight.
- Put a rain fly over the tent, and stake it down.
- After camping, remember to air out your tent before packing it away. Ensuring it is dry will prevent mildew.
- Campfire Skits and Songs – There are tons of online resources to find comedic skits and fun songs to do around a campfire.
- Duty to God – For Scouts, Duty to God is defined as “Adherence to spiritual principles, loyalty to the religion that expresses them, and acceptance of the duties resulting therefrom”. For your family camp, maybe this simply means being thankful for your family and the experience, good or bad, of your backyard adventure. Hug your family a little tighter. Look up at the sky and make a wish upon a star. Tell your family you love them.
- Roses Thorns and Buds – Scouts are routinely encouraged to identify one positive experience (Rose), one negative experience (Thorn), and one new goal or insight (Bud) following any outdoor adventure. Sit in a circle with your family and do that same. Plan your next successful backyard family camp by including these insights.
Include these simple insights and imagine the sense of accomplishment you and your family will get from properly preparing then executing a wonderful backyard family camp experience.