The purpose of the Bushcraft and Camping/Bivouac aspects of the Cub Scout program is to introduce the Cubs to the enjoyment of being in the bush and to give them elementary knowledge of eating, sleeping and cooking away from home. Proper preparation and planning of a bush camping trip for Cubs will result in it being a great experience for both the Cubs and the leaders.
Camping out with no prior bushcraft training is not advisable, which is why Cubs, especially younger Cubs, are often given their first camping experiences in a cabin environment, with the chance to learn some bushcraft skills on the same camp. It is no fun for the leaders to arrive at a campsite and then have to set up 6 tents because the Cubs have no idea how to put up a tent or light the cooking fire. Thus an effective programme includes a chance for the Cubs to learn and practice things like correctly putting up and packing a tent - preferably as a six.
Although not many younger kids appear to drink tea nowadays, learning how to make a billy of tea is still a good idea - if only to ensure there is always someone on hand to make a cuppa for the Leaders!
Going on a hike? - take a billy and a handful of tea leaves, then show the Cubs how to boil a billy on the trail and make tea. If time and circumstances permit, you could even make damper twists one the same fire as a trail-snack.
A hike or camp in the bus gives us the chance to point out to the Cubs just what is there. From the shapes and oddities amongst the trees, to thecliffs and crags of the rock-face. The tiny specks of colourful flowers hidden amongst the grass and leaves, to the majestic red of the Waratah.
We also get the chance to discuss the environmental damage occiring, both natural and man-infulenced, thus covering aspects of the Boomerang Award Scheme. A weekend of camping is also a chance to cover (with careful planning) much of the World Conservation Badge.
On the trail is a great chance to teach and reinforce the concepts of both compass and non-compass navigation.
Using the sun or stars to naviagate is a part of our award scheme, so being out on the trail is a chance to make it actually mean something, rather than just being theory oin the scout hall.
What happens on a dull day? Can we use the trees to navigate? There is a difference between the "shaded" side of trees and the "sunny" side of trees . Many flowers always face towards the sun, so even with the sun hidden by clouds, there are ways of telling direction.
At the risk of being flamed for sexism, men generally believe they can navigate by intuition, and I have found this to be generally true over the years. However, many men have never fully developed thier internal compass when young, so being on the trail is a chance for us to help the cubs to do so. "Even girls" can learn the skill, if they get training and practice. (a side note- women are generally not as good at navigation as men, and I wonder if perhaps this is possibly because they were not given the chance to learn the skill and build on their natural potential when younger. If so, the more girls that get the chance to develop this skill, the better things will be. And before you flame me ladies - yes, I too have known men who are able to get lost between the front door and the letterbox).
Since I have mentioned carrying a GPS receiver, I should also mention geocaching.
Geocaching could be described as a cross between a world-wide game of hide and seek, and treasure hunting, as it has elements of both. Geocaching, which started in May 2000, involves members hiding a small or large item somewhere, and then logging it's position on a geocache site (either Geocaching.com or Geocaching.com.au.
Other members then look up the location (in the form of degrees and minutes) and locate the position using their GPS Receiver (GPSr). Of course that "Ground Zero" location may be in the middle of the bush or in a city street, so finding the hidden cache, some of which are as small as the tip of your little finger, may be quite a challenge. Once found, the finder has the chance to claim a prize from the cache and to leave one themselves for the next finder.
Back online, the find is logged, and comments can be left.
You would be surprised how many there are in your home town and where they are hidden. If you have a GPSr, have a look into it, but be careful - you may get hooked. I took our cubs caching during a hike, and now they ask about them every hike we do.
The ideal site is as smooth as possible, with all twigs, stones etc removed, and free of any ant nests. The ground should be soft enough to easily use tent pegs, but hard enough to hold them in place during use.
It should be generally flat, with a gentle slope away from the tents so water runs away (and not towards) the tents. NB- If setting tents on a slope, they should be positioned so that the campers heads are on the UPHILL side when they are sleeping.
being under trees will provide some protection, but avoid being under trees with Dead branches, as these could break and fall overnight, crushing a tent...
The wind should generally be blowing onto the rear of your tents, with your fire placed well downwind of the tents.
today's tents are generally dome shaped, with lightweight fibreglass poles included. The only time most Cubs will see a cottage-style tent is likely to be at a Cuboree or Jamboree. However if you have one available in your hall, it would be beneficial to ensure the Cubs have seen how to put it up, and preferably to have had practice at doing so. It will make setting up at a Cuboree or Jamboree much easier for them too.
correct fireplace settings - cleared ground, hole on ground, rocks of correct type around it, spare wood placed well clear, etc....
Note - the Bigger the Fire, the Bigger the Fool (D.Breen, 1957)
During a bush camp, it is probably not generally practical to have an entire six cooking at the same time, so one or two should be allocated the task of cooking, with the others being allocated tasks such as collecting firewood, washing up, fire-monitor etc. Just make sure the jobs are rotated for each meal/day if possible. The sixer probably can assist here in the allocation of duties.
Sadly, the days appear to be gone when we could take a group camping, pick a spot somewhere out in the bush to set up camp, and light a cooking fire for each Six. However, we still have many opportunites available, as long as we look for them.
This information is based on many sources, including