Going camping with friends is one of the most unique and enjoyable parts of one’s Scouting experience. Earning the Eagle-required camping merit badge will equip you with the skills needed to lead your patrol in safely planning a successful multi-day campout. Are you prepared to take your next steps on the road to becoming an Eagle Scout?
Having an understanding of useful camping techniques and practices will make for more enjoyable campouts in the future. This guide will walk you through each of the requirements and step-by-step solutions that you’ll need to know to complete your merit badge worksheet, learn how to camp the smart way, and earn your Camping merit badge! 🙂
Before we get started, if you have other Eagle-required merit badges to earn, I’d recommend checking out my Difficulty Ranking Guide to Every Eagle-required Badge. There, you’ll also find the links to my other merit badge guides, as well as a description and summary of each badge’s requirements. I’m certain this resource will be helpful to scouts on their road to Eagle!
Also, remember that ScoutSmarts should just serve as your starting point for merit badge research. In school, we’re taught not to plagiarize, and the same is true for Scouting worksheets. Answer these questions in your own words, do further research, and I promise you’ll gain much more from every merit badge you earn!
Before we dive into things, I need to warn you that camping comes with its own set of risks (which we’ll be learning about very soon). I’d highly recommend purchasing a reliable first aid kit to take along to all of your future camps. This Survival First Aid Kit on Amazon not only provides all of the medical equipment you’ll need, It can also save your life if you’re stranded in the wild!
Did you check it out? Awesome! Then it’s now time to start learning. Let’s begin by thoroughly reading through each of the Camping merit badge requirements!
What Are The Camping Merit Badge Requirements?
What we’ll be covering in this guide are the solutions to many of the knowledge requirements for this badge. Before we dive into the details, let’s discuss what you’ll need to do to earn the camping merit badge. You’ll be required to explain, demonstrate, and act out many skills related to camping which you’ll be learning in this guide.
The most dependable path to success is to know exactly what you need to do, beforehand. Planning is crucial! Take the time to read and fully understand the camping merit badge requirements outlined below:
- Do the following:
a. Explain to your counselor the most likely hazards you may encounter while participating in camping activities and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, and respond to these hazards
b. Discuss with your counselor why it is important to be aware of weather conditions before and during your camping activities. Tell how you can prepare should the weather turn bad during your campouts.
c. Show that you know first aid for and how to prevent injuries or illnesses that could occur while camping, including hypothermia, frostbite, heat reactions, dehydration, altitude sickness, insect stings, tick bites, snakebite, blisters, and hyperventilation.
- Learn the Leave No Trace principles and the Outdoor Code and explain what they mean. Write a personal and group plan for implementing these principles on your next outing..
- Make a written plan for an overnight trek and show how to get to your camping spot by using a topographical map and one of the following:
a. A compass
b. A GPS receiver
c. A smartphone with a GPS app
(If a GPS-equipped device is not available, explain how to use one to get to your camping spot.)
- Do the following:
a. Make a duty roster showing how your patrol is organized for an actual overnight campout. List assignments for each member.
b. Help a Scout patrol or a Webelos Scout unit in your area prepare for an actual campout, including creating the duty roster, menu planning, equipment needs, general planning, and setting up camp.
- Do the following:
a. Prepare a list of clothing you would need for overnight campouts in both warm and cold weather. Explain the term “layering.”
b. Discuss footwear for different kinds of weather and how the right footwear is important for protecting your feet.
c. Explain the proper care and storage of camping equipment (clothing, footwear, bedding).
d. List the outdoor essentials necessary for any campout, and explain why each item is needed.
e. Present yourself to your Scoutmaster with your pack for inspection. Be correctly clothed and equipped for an overnight campout.
- Do the following:
a. Describe the features of four types of tents, when and where they could be used, and how to care for tents. Working with another Scout, pitch a tent.
b. Discuss the importance of camp sanitation and tell why water treatment is essential. Then demonstrate two ways to treat water.
c. Describe the factors to be considered in deciding where to pitch your tent.
d. Tell the difference between internal- and external-frame packs. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each.
e. Discuss the types of sleeping bags and what kind would be suitable for different conditions. Explain the proper care of your sleeping bag and how to keep it dry. Make a comfortable ground bed.
- Prepare for an overnight campout with your patrol by doing the following:
a. Make a checklist of personal and patrol gear that will be needed.
b. Pack your own gear and your share of the patrol equipment and food for proper carrying. Show that your pack is right for quickly getting what is needed first, and that it has been assembled properly for comfort, weight, balance, size, and neatness.
- Do the following:
a. Explain the safety procedures for:
—I) Using a propane or butane/propane stove
—II)Using a liquid fuel stove
—III) Proper storage of extra fuel
b. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different types of lightweight cooking stoves.
c. Prepare a camp menu. Explain how the menu would differ from a menu for a backpacking or float trip. Give recipes and make a food list for your patrol. Plan two breakfasts, three lunches, and two suppers. Discuss how to protect your food against bad weather, animals, and contamination.
d. While camping in the outdoors, cook at least one breakfast, one lunch, and one dinner for your patrol from the meals you have planned for requirement 8c. At least one of those meals must be a trail meal requiring the use of a lightweight stove.
- Show experience in camping by doing the following:
a. Camp a total of at least 20 nights at designated Scouting activities or events.* One long-term camping experience of up to six consecutive nights may be applied toward this requirement. Sleep each night under the sky or in a tent you have pitched. If the camp provides a tent that has already been pitched, you need not pitch your own tent.
b. On any of these camping experiences, you must do TWO of the following, only with proper preparation and under qualified supervision:
—I) Hike up a mountain where, at some point, you are at least 1,000 feet higher in elevation from where you started.
—II) Backpack, snowshoe, or cross-country ski for at least 4 miles.
—III) Take a bike trip of at least 15 miles or at least four hours.
—IV) Take a nonmotorized trip on the water of at least four hours or 5 miles.
—V) Plan and carry out an overnight snow camping experience.
—VI) Rappel down a rappel route of 30 feet or more.
c) Perform a conservation project approved by the landowner or land managing agency. This can be done alone or with others.
- Discuss how the things you did to earn this badge have taught you about personal health and safety, survival, public health, conservation, and good citizenship. In your discussion, tell how Scout spirit and the Scout Oath and Scout Law apply to camping and outdoor ethics.
Do the following:
1a) Explain to your counselor the most likely hazards you may encounter while participating in camping activities and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, and respond to these hazards
Use your Scout Handbook to identify common Scouting hazards and their treatments. Some of these hazards are outlined in requirement 1c, while other types of injuries could include broken bones, sprains, and burns. All first aid hazards are covered in the advancement requirements from Tenderfoot through First Class (links are to my rank guides!), with solutions appearing in your Boy Scout handbook.
The most typical hazards you’ll encounter while camping are:
- Unexpectedly Cold Weather Conditions
- Insect Bites/Stings
- Dangerous Wild Animals
- Excessive rain/Flooding
- Heat-Related Injuries
- Accidental Injury From Knives or Fire
Many of these issues can be prevented by being prepared in your packing and can be responded to by removing the affected person from the hazardous environment, then treating them accordingly. For more information on responding to medical emergencies, check out my full guide to the first aid merit badge.
1b) Discuss with your counselor why it is important to be aware of weather conditions before and during your camping activities. Tell how you can prepare should the weather turn bad during your campouts.
Weather and terrain are two important factors to consider when planning a campout. Although you should always be prepared in your packing, it is important to also be aware of potentially hazardous outdoor conditions and to respond accordingly.
Weather conditions such as warnings of heavy rains, snowstorms, strong winds, or any sort of natural disaster will require you to cancel your planned campout. These situations can be extremely dangerous and make it easy for Scouts to be separated from the group. To reduce risk during any camp, stick with a buddy at all times.
Always have a plan to evacuate. If the weather should turn, be ready to store your belongings and ensure that everyone is accounted for. In the event of heavy storms or natural disasters, be sure to have access to a Scout leader with a phone so that emergency services can be contacted if necessary. When in doubt, don’t go out.
1c) Show that you know first aid for and how to prevent injuries or illnesses that could occur while camping, including hypothermia, frostbite, heat reactions, dehydration, altitude sickness, insect stings, tick bites, snakebite, blisters, and hyperventilation.
In the case of all of these injuries and illnesses, a good general rule of thumb will be to separate the person from the hazard and bring them to shelter. When they’re no longer at risk of further injury, assess them for any life-threatening conditions while they rest. Make sure they’re hydrated and be on the lookout for any signs of shock.
Hypothermia is caused by one’s core body temperature falling below 95°F. While symptoms of mild hypothermia include shivering and confusion, in more dangerous cases the victim will not have enough energy to continue shivering and may fall unconscious.
If you notice someone is experiencing hypothermia, immediately warm them using extra clothing, fire, or through body heat. Do not suddenly re-warm the victim by placing them in a hot shower, as this could lead to rewarming shock.
Frostbite occurs when extremities, such as fingers and toes, begin to freeze. Skin in the affected areas will turn blue, then white. If you notice frostbite setting in, evacuate to a warm area. To avoid frostbite, wear gloves, socks, and hats in cold weather while camping. Avoid prolonged exposure to below-freezing temperatures.
Try not to wrap the frostbitten area, as this could cause some of the tissue to be killed off. A better way to warm the frostbitten area is by running it under cool water, then, slowly increasing the water temperature as the injury defrosts. If you’re frostbitten while camping, use the heating within a car to warm yourself; seek medical attention.
There are 3 main types of heat reactions:
- Heatstroke: Heatstroke occurs when one’s body temperature exceeds 104°F. If untreated, heatstroke can lead to seizures, confusion, loss of consciousness and even a coma.
- Heat Exhaustion: Heat exhaustion can be caused by either water or sodium depletion. Symptoms include thirst, headache, dizziness, vomiting, a feeling of weakness, and loss of consciousness.
- Heat Cramps: Heat cramps are sudden muscle spasms that occur when the body has insufficient salt or water. These are minor, and will typically subside within half an hour once the victim is hydrated.
In the case of heatstroke, contact emergency medical services by calling 911. To treat other types of heat reactions, rest the victim in a cool, shady place and have them drink lots of fluids with sodium and electrolytes. To prevent heat reactions, stay hydrated, wear sun protection and refrain from strenuous activity during the warmest time of day.
Dehydration occurs when the body does not consume enough water. Some symptoms of dehydration include a flushed face, lack of sweat, or feeling of weakness. This is a potentially fatal condition that can result in lowered blood pressure, dizziness, and fainting. To treat dehydration, encourage the victim to rest and replenish their body with water and electrolytes. Hydrate the victim slowly, avoiding drastic rehydration.
When camping, water will likely be harder to come by, and you may not be able to hydrate as often. Therefore, you’ll need to focus extra hard on drinking enough water. Experts recommend you drink at least 1 liter of water every 2 hours to avoid dehydration. That means constant, easy hydration is key!
Altitude sickness occurs when a person moves to a higher elevation too quickly. At heights exceeding 8000 feet above sea level, the air will contain significantly less oxygen, putting you at risk for altitude sickness. To treat altitude sickness, descend to a lower elevation immediately (ideally below 4000 feet).
Common symptoms of altitude sickness include nausea, headaches, dizziness, a loss of appetite, and feelings of weakness. To avoid getting altitude sickness, climb to higher altitudes slowly (this is called acclimatization). Sleeping at the lowest elevation possible also reduces your risk of altitude sickness.
In most cases, insect stings are not dangerous and only result in minor swelling and itching. If stung, remove any stingers left in the area. To treat a sting, wash with soap and water, then apply a cold compress. Taking an antihistamine may also reduce later itching.
In individuals with allergies, certain insect stings can result in a fatal reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylactic reactions cause immediate and severe swelling in the neck and face, as well as difficulty breathing, and can prove fatal if left untreated.
Most people with severe allergies carry an EpiPen. When used by removing the safety cap and pressing the needle into the victim’s thigh, an EpiPen can counteract an anaphylactic reaction. However, the effect of an EpiPen is temporary and the person must still quickly receive medical attention.
Ticks can be commonly found in fields or forests in some regions, and are small parasites that burrow into your skin. If you find a tick on your body when camping, immediately remove it. Using a pair of fine-tipped tweezers, grasp the tick as close to your skin’s surface as possible. Then, gently pull the tick straight out. Be sure not to twist the tweezers to avoid having parts of the tick break off under your skin.
Gently wash the affected area with warm water and soap, applying alcohol to the wound to prevent infection. Save the tick in a container of rubbing alcohol. Several weeks following removal, if you develop a rash or fever, immediately visit a doctor and show them the tick that you saved.
Luckily, only about 20% of snakes are venomous. However, if you’re bitten by a snake, you should immediately call 911 and describe the situation and snake. If there is burning pain at the site of the wound, call an ambulance ASAP. Most emergency rooms and ambulances have anti-venom drugs which could prove life-saving.
Keep the bite below the level of your heart and try to remain calm. If possible, try to identify the shape of the snake’s head. Venomous snakes typically have triangular heads and slit-like eyes. To avoid being bitten by a snake, watch your step in tall grass, keep your tent closed with your belongings secured, and never provoke the wildlife
Blisters typically come from the friction of material rubbing against the skin, which can be caused by poor-fitting shoes or other clothing. Camping in wet clothing can also cause blisters. Blisters appear as bubbles under the top layer of skin. They can be filled with pus, water, or even blood, and could be quite painful.
If you find you’re developing a blister, or notice an area that is rubbing uncomfortably, apply a moleskin to the irritated patch of skin. Blisters are naturally reabsorbed by the body, so by preventing rubbing the blister will heal and go away on its own.
Avoid popping blisters unless they’re so large that you can’t get around otherwise. You can puncture a blister with a sterile needle. Popped blisters risk infection, so thoroughly disinfect and bandage the area immediately afterward. Remove the bandage at night to let the popped blister dry.
Hyperventilation is caused by breathing too quickly which depletes one’s body of carbon dioxide. Also called over-breathing, hyperventilation can lead to feelings of lightheadedness, a tingling sensation in one’s extremities, and may even cause the victim to faint. If you notice someone is hyperventilating, have them relax and take deep breaths.
Hyperventilation can result from a variety of situations such as anxiety, severe pain, heavy physical exertion, panic attacks, or infections in the lungs. To treat hyperventilation, have the victim breathe slowly, either through pursed lips or into a paper bag. Bouts of hyperventilation should last no longer than 30 minutes, so seek medical attention if the victim still hasn’t recovered by this time.
2) Learn the Leave No Trace principles and the Outdoor Code and explain what they mean. Write a personal plan for implementing these principles on your next outing.
There are 7 Leave No Trace principles:
- Plan ahead and prepare.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
- Dispose of waste properly.
- Leave what you find.
- Minimize campfire impacts.
- Respect wildlife.
- Be considerate of other visitors.
The Outdoor Code states:
As an American, I will do my best to –
Be clean in my outdoor manners.
Be careful with fire.
Be considerate in the outdoors.
Be conservation minded.
Together, the Leave No Trace principles and Outdoor Code make up the rules that all Scouts should live by whenever out in nature. As a Scout, it’s your responsibility to leave the outdoors better than how you’ve found it. By following these guidelines, you can help to keep camping safe and enjoyable for all!
To implement these principles on your next outing, you should plan some general guidelines that every person in your patrol can agree upon before heading to the campsite. While camping, be mindful of where you are setting up your fires, pitching your tents, and disposing of waste. Before leaving, always scan the area for any loose trash. Look for ways that you can leave the site nicer than it was before you arrived.
3. Make a written plan for an overnight trek and show how to get to your camping spot by using a topographical map and one of the following:
a) A compass
b) A GPS receiver
c) A smartphone with a GPS app
(If a GPS-equipped device is not available, explain how to use one to get to your camping spot.)
Since each location differs, it would be a good idea to speak to your merit badge counselor about this one. They can ensure that you are able to properly use your compass, and point you in the right direction as far as camping areas go. You can use (https://www.topoquest.com/) to find and print a topographical map of the area.
While you’re able to navigate to your camping spot using a compass, GPS receiver, or smartphone, I would recommend you use a compass to complete this requirement. Navigation is an important skill that very few people are capable of today without the use of their smartphones. Once you have your map and compass ready, it’s time to write a trek plan.
In your plan, it is important to assess the distance, terrain, and weather conditions of your trek. Be sure to note all of these factors beforehand, as well as your estimated duration of the trip. This, as well as a few brief paragraphs of your plans and expectations for the camp should suffice.
4. Do the following:
a) Make a duty roster showing how your patrol is organized for an actual overnight campout. List assignments for each member.
b) Help a Scout patrol or a Webelos Scout unit in your area prepare for an actual campout, including creating the duty roster, menu planning, equipment needs, general planning, and setting up camp.
These requirements can both be easily done within your own troop. Take this opportunity to speak with a troop leader and familiarize yourself with how your troop tends to handle their duty roster. On your next campout, ask your patrol leader for help completing this requirement.
This time, you’ll be in charge! After your patrol has met to plan the next campout, note down each of your patrol members’ duties. That’s your duty roster. Make sure to pack it in your bag, because you’ll be referencing it during your upcoming campout.
During the troop meeting right before your campout, you should also be able to complete requirement 4b) by helping plan the menu, evaluating your patrol equipment needs, and helping everyone get organized. After you’ve arrived at the camp, you can finally assist in helping set up!
Congrats on Finishing Part 1 of the Camping Merit Badge!
Great work making it this far :). You definitely deserve a break at this point; give yourself a huge pat on the back! Also, if you’d like a bit more help from me on your Scouting journey, I’ve got the perfect thing for you…
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Once you’re ready to continue on to part 2 of the Camping merit badge (Requirements 5-10) click here.