Can you smell the campfire? Taste the s’mores? Fall is “back to troop” and great camping weather! As scout meetings kickoff and hikes are planned, don’t forget to pack a bandana in with your gear. Scouts have worn and used bandanas since time immemorial. Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts wear neckerchiefs as part of their official uniforms (although for Boy Scouts it can be optional, voted on by the troop), and I dare you to find a troop of Girl Scouts camping without many of them wearing bandanas over their hair.
Ever wonder why the bandana is such an integral part of scouting and outdoor activities? When Lord Baden-Powell wrote the book “Scouting for Boys” in 1908, he included a neckerchief or scarf as part of the uniform, similar to what he had worn during his military service. Neckerchiefs are also practical in the wilderness for use as first aid bandages.
For early Girl Scouts, scarves/neckerchiefs were also part of their uniforms and had a number of practical uses including learning semaphore and tying knots.
In my troop today, we wear bandanas to keep campfire sparks and ticks out of our hair. They also make good pot holders and trail markers, and they can be fashioned into an arm sling or used to collect dew for water if necessary.
During World War II, sailors often carried navigational charts printed on cloth for survival in a life raft, and many airmen’s survival vests included fabric escape maps when flying over enemy territory.
Bandanas are a durable way to carry information with you, such as maps and safety and first aid tips, and with so many other practical uses, a Safety Bandana is the perfect compact addition to any camping or hiking trip, including wiping up that little bit of s’more off your lips!
Weekend camping, scout camping and summer camp all have different requirements, but there are some items that make your adventure a little easier. After you pack your sleeping bag, clothes, shoes (rain boots if it’s wet out), toiletries, food, water and s’mores supplies, here are a few more essentials to make it easier and more fun.
1) Rope. From creating a run for your dog in between trees, to tying a clothesline for hanging up your dunk bag or any wet clothing, rope is super handy. Bring a knife or scissors to cut it with.
2) Scrubber. An inexpensive kitchen scrubber along with some environmentally friendly soap (Ivory, anything biodegradable) makes dish and pan washing much easier.
3) Dunk bag. After washing your mess kit (or plate and cutlery), you can place it in a drawstring mesh bag and hang it up to dry by looping the string over a clothesline and using a small stick to hold the loop in place.
4) Bucket. Always have water near a camp fire for safety. If you heat up dish water in a metal bucket next to the fire, you can just dunk your mess kit in warm soapy water and then dunk it in the bucket of hot water to rinse. Dunking your mess kit in a third bucket or tub of water with a capful of bleach will disinfect it. And a bucket can also help when you carry toiletries to the showers.
5) Games: deck of cards, UNO, Yahtzee, Mad Libs. None of these take up much room, and they can be a lot of fun in the evening or if you’re stuck inside because of rain.
6) LED lantern. Flashlights are essential, but a small lantern makes evening a bit easier.
7) Glow necklaces to indicate the way to the latrine. Hang them on tree branches to mark your path at night (but still bring your flashlight).
8) Song book. Especially if you’re camping with scouts. Singing the Princess Pat, Make New Friends, or Taps by the campfire makes for some special memories.
9) Hand sanitizer and paper towels. Because there aren’t a lot of sinks when you’re camping, and paper towels are always handy.
10) Trash bags. Carrying your sleeping bag and pillow, hanging up a trash bag at your camp site, putting your muddy shoes and clothes in… Bring a few.
11) Pitcher. To mix up some powdered lemonade or bug juice (powdered fruit drink) for your campers.
12) Coffee pot. A camping coffee pot is a lifesaver for grownups. You can use it on a camp stove or campfire grate. Bring mugs, ground coffee, cream and sweetener as well as a pot holder.
13) Emergency radio and batteries. Either for weather reports or some evening music without killing your phone battery.
14) Camp chair or sit-upon. A lightweight camp chair by the fire is a great way to wind down, but a sit-upon is easy to make and hang on your backpack. It’s anything you can sit upon, like a stadium cushion or a homemade sit-upon, using waterproof fabric and newspaper or plastic grocery bags inside as the cushion. Our scout troop had fun making duct tape sit-upons with inexpensive reusable shopping bags.
15) First aid kit. Small or big, you should at least have some adhesive bandages (Band-Aids), antibiotic ointment, antiseptic/alcohol wipes and tweezers.
16) Yarn. You can finger-weave, finger-knit, braid bracelets or necklaces. You could also use it to mark a trail or play a yarn toss teambuilding game.
17) Sharpie. It’s waterproof and writes on almost anything. Useful for writing names on plates, cups and towels.
18) Ball or Frisbee. There are endless games you can play back at camp after a fun day of hiking and activities.
19) Small binoculars. Great for spotting critters up high and off in the distance while hiking.
20) Paper and pencil or crayons. You can make leaf rubbings, write camp journal entries or letters, and create solar prints using colored construction paper, leaves and other outdoor objects.
21) A Safety Bandana to help you identify poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. And it has first aid, outdoor safety, weather, camp fire, shelter, food, water, and getting found tips, plus a list of backpack essentials.
If you don’t have a bandana in your backpack or your pocket, you should! They have so many uses, plus they’re light and compact. You never know when it will come in handy, so why not be prepared?
Fold a bandana diagonally and tie over your hair as a head covering. If you’ve ever seen a group of girls wearing bandanas on their heads and singing, I guarantee they’re Girl Scouts. It keeps your hair safer from campfire sparks and ticks.
Roll or fold diagonally in a headband. It holds back your hair and sweat, and is also stylish!
Cool off by wiping a wet bandana on the back of your neck and face.
Tie diagonal corners of the bandana across your shoulder for an arm sling.
Fold into a diagonal strip to make it longer, and wrap an injured ankle.
Tie sticks along an injured limb to make a splint.
Tie as a mask over your mouth to avoid breathing campfire smoke.
Tie to a stick and use as a flag to signal for help.
Use as a potholder while cooking.
Use as a dishrag to clean your mess kit.
Tie it to a tree for a trail marker.
Filter debris from water by pouring it through a clean bandana (and then purify the water with tablets or by boiling).
Make a hobo pack by tying the corners together diagonally.
Twist the bandana tightly diagonally or rip off strips to use as rope or cord.
Reference the outdoor safety and first aid tips on a Safety Bandana anytime you camp, hike or bike.
Safety Bandanas are for scouts, hikers, bikers and outdoor lovers!
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"Received our order much sooner than I expected. They're great. Bought them for my son's Cub Scout den. The mothers were all oohing and aahing over them. They have so much useful information. They'll be great in their backpacks. One mom even suggested hanging it in their camper."
- Christie in North Carolina
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Available in free US shipping two-packs for $19.98 (code TWOPACK) and discounted family ($39.99, code FIVEPACK) and troop packs ($69.99, code TENPACK)! Enough for all the family, friends, scouts, and pets you want to keep safe.