How you can prepare to volunteer at summer camp and save some cash on camping gear

Parents spend so much time making sure their Scouts will have the best summer camp possible that they might not be fully ready themselves.

If you’re a parent or leader gearing up to volunteer at a local Scout camp this summer, the first step is to ensure you’re properly registered and trained. Second, make sure you’re physically ready for summer camp. Any physical activity, even if you’re just marching down to the mess hall, can put stress on your body. Third, take advantage of any trainings offered at camp.

From sleeping pads and inflatable pillows to rain gear, hiking socks and more, the Scout Shop is also offering an online-only discount up to 25% on camping gear from May 12-22. Even after the sale, the Scout Shop is a great place to find what you and your Scout will need to Be Prepared for summer camp.

Read some more helpful tips from Alan Sanders, director of support services for the Heart of America Council camps.

Summer camp FAQs from volunteers

How do I ensure I have a great experience at summer camp?

Sanders: Try to participate in all the fun activities — don’t just sit around and attend the meals! Get out of your campsite and step out of your comfort zone. Hike the trails, paddle a canoe and learn things about Scouting and the camp. I would recommend observing a merit badge class with your Scouts; it’s a great way to see and hear what is going on at camp. Be willing to help with advancement at the campsite or be there to encourage the Scouts while they take their swim test. From my experience, the leaders and parents that have the best time participate like the youth do.

What can help make summer camp more fun for Scouts?

Sanders: I recommend doing fun things as a unit on top of everything the camp is already providing. I have seen units do talent shows, corn hole and campsite wood-carving competitions. Activities, like throwing horseshoes and Ping-Pong, can also be a good time. In the past, some units have organized hikes to prepare for Philmont Scout Ranch or have even gone off-site to play golf to earn the Golf merit badge. One of my favorite unscheduled activities is toasting marshmallows and building s’mores for some late-night snacks.

What are must-have personal items I should bring?

Sanders: In terms of summer camp gear, I would bring:

Will there be Wi-Fi if I need to work while at summer camp?

Sanders: Most local Scout camps and high-adventure bases will have Wi-Fi available in key camp areas. For example, Philmont Scout Ranch offers Wi-Fi in all meeting spaces at the Philmont Training Center, but not in the backcountry. The same goes for cell phone reception.

Check with your local council camp beforehand.

What is something unique I should do at camp?

Sanders: Learn the camp’s history and go and see incredible locations at the camp. I would get to know some of the staff, too. Many staffers have served for years, and you can learn a lot from them.