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Survival Camper is a badge earned to Girl Scout Ambassadors. It is featured on the back of Girl Scout S'mores cookies.

When a Girl Scout Ambassador has earned this badge, she will have planned and gone on a survival camping trip with a group of Girl Scouts or family members.

Step 1: Plan a survival camping trip Edit

Survival camping means heading out with no pre-made shelter (like a tent) and challenging yourself to camping with limited equipment. (Safely, of course!) Once you’ve answered the questions in the “Before You Start This Badge” box, talk to an expert in survival camping. Here are some of the questions you might ask, if you don’t already know the answers:

  • What type of permits, if any, will we need for our trip?
  • How have you created your own shelter on survival camping trips?

What methods worked best?

  • What’s the best way to purify water?
  • Did you forage for safe foods to eat?
  • Have you experienced any kind of emergencies on survival camping trips? How did you handle them? What do I need to know to be safe?
  • What do you think of our budget? Is there anything we missed?
  • What do you think of our gear list? Is there anything we missed?

CHOICES–DO ONE:

Talk to a survival camping expert. Learn from the experience of someone who has done this kind of camping. She or he could be a Girl Scout volunteer, older Girl Scout, teacher, parent, or an adult friend of your family.

OR

Visit a sporting goods or outdoor retail store. Talk to an outdoor retail expert about what you’ll need for your trip. Get their planning suggestions and ask any questions you may have. Just remember that this person is a store employee, and they may see you as a customer—you don’t have to buy anything just because they recommend it!

OR

Talk to a ranger. If there are rangers or other staff members in the area where you plan to camp, they can be excellent resources. Reach out by phone or email to see if someone can talk to you and your travel group and answer questions about your trip. Make sure you bring a trusted adult along, of course!

Step 2: Gather your gear Edit

Even if you’re an experienced camper, this badge is your chance to take your skills to the next level. Survival camping comes with its own unique challenges and requires extra-special attention to your supplies. In Step 1 of this badge, you talked to an expert about the kind of gear you’ll need for your trip. If you haven’t done it already, make your packing list. (See the box on this page for some essentials.) Then choose one of these options to complete this step.

CHOICES–DO ONE:

Build your stamina. Maybe you’re a star athlete at school, or maybe you’re not usually much for exercise. Either way, camping can challenge your tness in new ways. You want to be able to carry your gear, explore your surroundings, and go on hikes or other adventures without getting too tired or sore. Practice carrying your full backpack (make sure it is no more than 20% of your body weight, to avoid injury) for 15 minutes a day, and build up to an hour. If you’ll be wearing hiking boots on your trip, wear them—it will help break them in and get your legs used to the extra weight. Make sure you’re challenging yourself to some hills, too—your camping area probably won’t be exactly at!

OR

Compare-share-repair with your camping crew. Since you’ll be traveling with a group, make gear a group effort! Get together to compare packing lists, see what’s missing or what can be shared between girls, and clean or repair any items that need some extra love. Talk about the challenges you want to try on your trip—whether it’s trying to start a re with a jackknife, steel and int, and a mirror, or using knots to lash a shelter—and make sure you have the necessary gear, along with backup materials for safety.

For More FUN: Hold a gear demonstration for younger Girl Scouts. You could show them how to pack for a camping trip, set up a tent, or how to use rst aid supplies.

OR

Plan gear for side hikes. Research your camping area and see what’s available nearby for hiking or other excursions. With your group, decide what you’d like to do and when, and make sure everyone has the necessary gear. Add any additional items to your packing lists.

Step 3: Plan and prepare your trip meals Edit

If you’ve been in Girl Scouts for a long time, you’ve probably perfected your s’more technique. If you’re ready to kick your camp cooking skills up a notch, a survival camping trip is the perfect opportunity! Get together with your camping buddies and plan your trip menu, making sure it avoids any food allergies and ts within your budget. Check your kitchens to see if you have any items already, then shop for the supplies you’ll need.

CHOICES–DO ONE:

Research and talk to an expert about survival nourishment. You might ask about edible plants, starting res without matches, and how to use solar water collectors. After your research and conversation with an expert, talk to your parents or guardians to see what they’re comfortable with you trying on your trip. Do not try any survival nourishment methods without their permission.

OR

Challenge your camp cooking skills by creating a menu that uses three different cooking methods. You can use any three methods you like, but you will need to factor in what’s allowed and safe for the area you’ll be camping in. Some possible options are a no-cook meal, a dehydrated meal (you’d need to dehydrate your food at home rst), a meal cooked over a camp re, or a solar-cooked meal. If you choose cooking over a camp re for one of your methods, make sure res are permitted where you’re camping. If you want to try solar cooking, research it to see if it’s recommended in that climate zone—and if so, be sure you are taking all precautions to avoid food poisoning.

OR

Make and use a box oven. If your survival camping trip will be based at a campsite, you may be able to bring and use a box oven—check your campsite’s policies to make sure. If it’s allowed, and you won’t be too weighed down by the supplies, a box oven is a fun and effective way to cook your meals. Research different methods for making these ovens, and choose the one that works best for you.

Step 4: Learn a survival camp skill Edit

In Step 1 of this badge, you talked to an expert about building your own shelter and purifying water. Next up: Expand your survival camping resume by adding one of these skills.

CHOICES–DO ONE:

Practice starting a camp re with only your jackknife, steel and int, and a mirror. Have an adult who’s experienced with this method show you how it works. (This could be the same person you talked to in Step 1 of this badge.) Then practice the method yourself, and try to use it on your trip—always with an adult present, even for practice. It is dif cult to start a re this way, so don’t get discouraged if you have trouble! Just keep trying. You’ll bring matches on your trip for backup.

OR

Find your way—using only landmarks and the sun. One of the trickiest—and most useful—wilderness survival skills is nding your way without a compass or map. It could make the difference between being lost in the woods and nding your way back safely. It’s an advanced skill, but you can start practicing now! Research different methods for navigation, then pair up with an experienced adult and practice. You don’t want to actuallyget lost, though—always bring a topographical map, compass, and cell phone for backup. Remember never to assume you will have cell service.

OR

Strengthen your knot-tying skills. Practice any knots you already know—like the square knot and clove hitch—and add some new ones, like the snake lashing or half hitch. Once you’ve practiced and have several knots down, use the knots to create a lashed shelter. If possible, re-create the shelter on your trip.

Step 5: Go camping Edit

Now it’s time for your survival camping trip—you’re ready for this! Once you arrive, start by setting up your camp in three separate areas: one for sleeping, one for washing, and one for cooking. Since you’ll be making your own shelter, choose your sleeping area carefully. You want to stay as warm and dry as possible, and make sure the area shows no signs of insect mounds or animal tracks. Find secluded spots for a backcountry bathroom at least 200 feet from the trail or water source.

CHOICES–DO ONE:

Keep a journal of your trip. You’re guaranteed to remember your trip if you keep a record of it to read later on. You might share sketches, poems, funny things that happened, or things you’d do differently next time. It can be a private journal just for you, or something you share with your trip mates. If you want to share it, you could add photos and make copies for everyone after the trip.

OR

Learn about trail signs, cairns, and their use. Cairns are human-made stacks of rocks that have been put in place to guide hikers and mark trails. In order to Leave No Trace, do not touch any cairns that you see, or create your own. Do the research before your camping trip so you’re comfortable with trail signs and understand how cairns are used. Then, while you’re on the trip, split into pairs and use trail signs for the other girls in your group to follow. See if you can spot any cairns on the trail. Just be sure to take your trail signs down afterwards, so you don’t confuse other hikers!

OR

Plan a survival challenge game for your camp mates. It could be an endurance test, a cooking contest, a shelter-making challenge—anything that puts your survival skills to the test. Get creative with both your game and the prizes!