The last week of July I went to Pennsylvania with my old Boy Scout troop. We ran our own summer camp in order to do more crazy ourdoorsy things (whitewater rafting, mountain biking, caving, etc.) than we would otherwise get to do at an official BSA camp.
With that in mind I present here a list of things that you should have in order to remain connected to it all while getting away from it all.
1. Wifi! If we’re going to keep the parents informed about what their kids are doing we need a way to keep in touch with the outside world. We’re not going to let our technological demands dictate where we camp though. So whether we go to an island in the middle of a lake in Canada or a mountaintop in Pennsyvania, we will bring the wifi with us. For the past couple of years this has taken the form of a hacked iPad with an AT&T SIM card. It’s not the fastest thing ever, but we’re uploading blog posts, not streaming movies.
2. Cameras. Lots of cameras. We send out five patrols of kids a day to do various things. We don’t just want stories, we want pictures to show that these things actually happened. WIth that in mind we had two guys (myself being one of them) with big DSLRs with multiple lenses. Throw in a few waterproof cameras for those hiking down the middle of a river and we’ll be covered for pictures.
3. Laptops! Of course, we need to sort photos, write blog posts, and occasionally watch LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem Featuring Kim Jong Il.
4. Smartphones. Most of the scoutmasters had iPhones as their weapon of choice. One consequence of this was that we all installed Find My Friends and could keep track of each other. It’s a handy trick when a scout asks where the scoutmaster is and we can say “Oh, they’re in the next town over picking up the caving guys”. On the drives to and from Pennsylvania we could also figure out who we were in front of and could engage in races. Magic.
5. Ham radios. They don’t actually connect us to the outside world, but they make it easy to communicate across the two camps. “Scout camp, this is adult camp, we’re doing our debrief down there tonight. We have too much mud up here”
6. A website. Those blog posts I mentioned? We have our own website that we post to. It’s kind of kept together with duct tape and hope. I still remember when the computer acting as our server literally caught fire.
7. A generator. We may well be camping with backpacking gear and making cakes on little white gas stoves, but that doesn’t mean our electronics have to be constantly low on charge. A two kilowatt generator was plenty enough for the piles of electronics that we have.
8. A printer. Sometimes we just needed a paper map of things. Other times I needed to print the results of our Hogwarts style points system out. Very important things.
9. Rain protection. Oh is that a necessity. It rained, it poured, it collapsed our food tent (the food was safe and we made the remains of the tent into a drying rack). We know how to rig our personal tents well and kept things nice and dry. There was a rain fly specifically set up for the electronics. Sure, there were no walls, but there was no sideways rain either. If there was, we would act quickly. The only casualty of the week was one fellow’s iPhone being run over by a car. It broke the screen well and good, but it could still take calls and we recovered all of its data.
10. Why? Because we can. We’re a bunch of engineers and hard science guys out camping. Go big or go home.