Planning the first camp-out for Cub Scouts can be challenging. Many of the first-grade Tiger Cubs might not have been camping before and their knowledge of the outdoors could be limited.
When planning that first Tiger camp outing, it’s best to first take the temperature of the group. Ask the boys how extensive their camping experience might be, and talk to the parents.
Once you have a feel for how much outdoor experience your group has, you can feel comfortable with planning the right trip for your group of boys.
For that first camping trip, choose a location near your home. This isn’t the time for a high mountain adventure. Save that for a time when the boys are older and more experienced. You want to choose a location that is close enough to home that if anyone needs to leave in the night, he can.
Next, get plenty of adult helpers. At this age, most parents will want to go with their children and that’s ideal. A 1:1 adult to child ratio is always preferred, especially when the boys are this young.
When you plan games and menus, keep the boys’ ages in mind. You want them to be able to help prepare meals, but working over a hot stove, or an open fire might not be the best idea. Instead, the boys can mix up the drinks, set out the plates and cups, and help serve the food. They can also have a hand in planning the menu. Cleaning up should be a job for the boys, with little adult intervention.
At this age, the focus isn’t on surviving in the wilderness, but learning how to simply be in the wilderness. You can take simple hikes and introduce the boys to various plants and birds. Make sure you teach them about the most important plants—poison oak and poison ivy.
Although you are camping with Scouts, and your focus is on the outdoors, don’t miss the opportunity to have some fun. As the boys get older you can focus more on outdoor survival and adventure, but at this age, there should be a good deal of fun mixed in to keep their attention.
Most boys love to play sports in the outdoors. You can get them playing a rousing game of football before dinner or – depending on the size of your group—get a game like “capture the flag” going. Remember, boys this age are not only active but have a hard time settling down, so play games before dinner and keep after dinner activities a bit calmer.
A campfire is a must, however. You can introduce the boys to outdoor cooking by having them help make a campfire cobbler for dessert, or even by sticking to the traditional s’mores.
Finally, make lights out late enough that the boys are sufficiently tired and will go nearly right to sleep, but not so late that they are too tired to participate in camp activities the next day. For most Tiger Cubs, that ideal time will be right between 9 and 10 p.m.