Preventing Gear Buyer’s Remorse

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In the next few months, your troop will hopefully enjoy an influx of new members as Webelos Scouts graduate from Cub Scouting and cross the bridge into Boy Scouting. As soon as they join, many of those boys will drag their parents to the nearest store that sells camping gear and stock up on all the wrong items: bulky cotton sleeping bags, uncomfortable rubber boots, tents that leak when the dew falls, and more.

To avoid such problems, I always recommend to new troop families that they not buy any equipment before their first campout. That first campout should be a pretty tame affair, and most new Scouts can cobble together enough gear from home to get by–especially if the troop has its own tents or some basic gear members can borrow.

Spend some time on that first campout showing your new Scouts different kinds of tents, sleeping bags, and other equipment and teach them what features to look for at the store. (For example, you can generally gauge the quality of a dome tent by how close the rain fly comes to the ground.) Also help your Scouts prioritize their purchases. If you live in a fairly temperate climate, for example, Scouts may not need a “real” sleeping bag until fall. If you go backpacking a lot, a good backpack might be the first item to buy.

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