by Glenn Cockwell
Camping at Haliburton Scout Reserve can be an adventure for both scouts
and leaders. Unfortunately this statement can be taken many ways. This booklet is meant to
give you the little hints and tips that will help tilt that experience to the positive. It
is not meant to be an absolute "you must do this" directive but rather a sample
of what I have found to work after 25 years of camping at HSR.
The scout motto was never so true than when applied to your camping
experience at HSR. If you come prepared then you will spend less time dealing with the
basics of living and a lot more time enjoying all the wonderful opportunities that are
Living outdoors for a week is quite different from surviving a weekend. If
the weather turns inclement on Monday there will be no hot showers and home-cooked meals
to fix it tomorrow. Plan for all possibilities and if weather stays good and everyone
stays healthy then you can say that you planned well.
Saturday, Getting to the Camp
If possible plan to arrive at HSR approximately 12:00PM. The only access
to the campsites is by barge and as each group registers they are put into the queue for a
barge. Please be patient. Remember that the barge crews have probably been ferrying the
previous weeks campers out since 7:00 AM and are trying their best to get you to your
site as soon as they can. You cannot check in until all of your party is there, and
registration is not open until 12:30 1:00PM. Bring a picnic lunch to eat while you
When you register you will need all the paperwork that was sent to you,
filled out. At that time the day and time of your participation
in the various programs will be confirmed (Note: New for 2004 you can
book your program on-line before you go to HSR!). The secret of
a good program at Haliburton is to use the facilities that are there to their fullest.
Here are some guidelines that I use in planning the timing of events.
- Schedule archery and rifle range back to back
- Sailing works better logistically if scheduled in the afternoon
- 9:00AM events are very hard to get to. If possible select 10AM as your earliest start
- Do not schedule wet events (kayak, snorkelling) ahead of sitting events (trapper's
- Do not schedule events Thursday morning (Thursday afternoon is regatta day and you will
need most of the morning to get organized)
- Try to schedule most of the events as early in the week as possible. If an event is
rained out there is a possibility it will be reschedule later on.
- Allow a sleep-in morning the day after the star hike.
You will must also schedule when you want your canoes on
Sunday. I suggest that you schedule this as soon as possible. Ideally the canoe lesson and
the scouter's meeting should overlap so that you can return to your site together.
You will be asked your preferred time to leave the following Saturday
morning. If parents are coming to meet you at the dock then pick a takeout time that fits
with their arrival time. Remember that to reduce congestion, the sooner you can get your
gear off the dock the better.
When you load the barge for your trip to the site, make sure items that
can survive getting wet are stowed at the front. This is especially true on windy days
when there is a bit of a chop on the lake. Personal gear should be put on last. When you
unload at the site have everyone take the gear well away from the dock to a single
dropping spot. This will speed up unloading and ensure you know where to look for missing
articles later on.
What you will find
Each campsite has a supply of picnic tables, several ½ barrels with
toilet seats attached (to be used for your kybo), and an in-the-ground cooler. After that,
you must bring everything with you. For first timers, there are some items that you might
not think of.
- Grey water cannot be poured on the ground. A wetpit will last longer if you line it with
a tall (5 gallon) bucket with its bottom cut out. This prevents erosion each time you dump
in dishwater. Put a stick down the centre to allow any stray mouse to climb out.
- Ensure you have enough boxes (wood, plastic or sheet metal) with fasteners to store your
food. The raccoons and skunks are very aggressive and will investigate everything except
tins (even jars)
- If you do any fishing and plan to eat the results, come with a supply of freezer quality
zip-lock bags. This will let you store the filleted fish on ice without affecting the
other items in your cooler.
- Drinking water is available from several spots on the lake and must be transported by
boat to your site. Bring enough 20 litre (5 gallon) jugs to last at least 1½ days
(remember that dishwater can be taken from the lake!).
- Bring a waterproof container (plastic jar) for matches.
- Cover the picnic tables in the eating area with table clothes. This will allow you to
properly wash the tables after each meal. The table clothes can be as simple as garbage
bags slit open and taped in place with masking tape.
- Bring sufficient tarps to cover the cooking area, the eating area and any craft area.
- Each patrol site (and leader site) should have a container for drinking water, a wash
basin, and a cloths line
- Supply each patrol with a ball of binder twine for camp gadgets (see the discussion on
- Each tent should have a whisk
- A supply of plastic page protectors and clipboards will allow you to post duty rosters,
the daily schedules, and other items without worry of moisture or dirt.
- You will need a wet/dry board with 3 parts; a wet (swimming), dry, and boats. This will
help you keep track of the campers.
- Come supplied with waterproof tape and pen and put the camper's name on their life
jacket and paddle.
- Your kybo will need some type of enclosure with a roof. The easiest way to do this is to
cut the bottom out of a tourist tent. An adult should be able to stand up in the tent.
Include with each kybo set-up, a basin, and a large empty coffee tin with lid for the
- Bring a large walk-in tent for supplies. A prospector tent is ideal.
Meals can consume a great deal of time if you let them or even want them
to. On the other hand there are so many opportunities to participate in other activities
that you might want to reduce most meals to the minimum of time and effort so that you can
indeed "get on with it".
For items you intend to buy from the country store, give them your
anticipated daily order as soon as possible. If they do not have any particular item, they
can get it from town. They will also thaw out your meat if you ask. This is critical for
the hot dogs if you intend to cook them over a fire. Alternately you can pick up the meat
the day before and ensure the thaw yourself (probably the safest).
The chef makes great pies. Order these as soon as possible. Here are some
- Give out liquorice as daily "prize" for neatness etc. Black liquorice acts as
a laxative and is needed early on to encourage the youth to use the facilities. Change of
diet, water, and routines seems to encourage constipation.
- Keep a large cooler filled with fruit drink. Activity in the sun will dehydrate the
- Secret for good hot chocolate
- Add 1/2 cup of powdered skim milk per 1 cup cold water (normal recipe calls for 1/3
cup). Heat and add chocolate to taste.
- When you cook pasta put oil as well as extra salt in the water. If you do not the
noodles will congeal into a solid mass because of the local water.
- Sandwiches are the easiest lunch. For a cool wet day try canned spaghetti on toast.
Roasted hot dogs over an open fire works well if you do a day hike.
- One day do open fire cooking. Include a cake.
- Instant pudding and canned fruit can be used anytime for dessert
Although the days seem to roll, one into the next, as the week progresses,
there are some special considerations for some of the days.
Saturday, At the Camp
As a group, tour the site and plan where you want to put things. Keep the
eating area and central activity area close to the dock.
Reconvene back at the picnic tables and give everyone a can of pop. This
will settle them down a bit so that you can now go over the basic safety rules and
- Fires only in central fire pit
- The bush around the lake goes forever. Only enter it with a buddy and try to keep the
lake in sight. If you get lost STOP. Do not wander about. Listen for the sound of boats.
The standard rescue technique is to run a high-powered boat up and down the shore. When
you think a rescue attempt might have begun or that there might be others in the area
yell. Do not wander. Ideally everyone should carry a whistle (three blasts means
- Establish the rules concerning the use of the "wet and dry" board.
- Ensure that all food including personal snack food is stored centrally in one of the
closed boxes. No food should be stored in a sleeping tent at any time of the day.
- Swim only during supervised swim periods in the marked swim area.
- Life jackets must be worn when in any boat.
- Do not drink water directly from the lake.
- All medical problems, even the smallest scratch must be reported to a leader
Establish patrol sites
Establish schedule for rest of day
Put up sleeping tents
Work through "Saturday Job Jar". Post this on a clip board.
THE SATURDAY JOB JAR
DO THESE JOBS FIRST!
- Set up patrol tents.
- Set up supply (quartermaster) tents.
- Stow personal gear in tent.
- Stow food in supply tent.
- Dig kybos and set up shelter.
NOW DO THESE.
- Set up dining shelter.
- Stow equipment in supply tent.
- Dig wet pit.
- Set up kitchen shelter.
- Arrange picnic tables.
FINALLY DO THESE!
- Collect wood for campfire.
Although most scouters have their own favourite
techniques and tricks for making a camp work efficiently the following have a
unique advantage when used in a long term camp such as a week at Haliburton:
When the kybos and wet pits are dug make sure the earth is not spread
around. It will be needed later to occasionally cover the contents to lower the smell, and
at the end of the camp you must completely fill the hole.
Use a flag system at the kybo (an old signalling flag works fine). I
instruct everyone to take the flag into the kybo with them and then replace it beside the
wash bowl (another item to bring) when they are done.
Keep all fishing gear in one place. This avoids bare hooks, dead frogs,
etc from being left around sleeping tents.
Put all your food away in closed containers before nightfall. Before you
go to bed secure the lids of your containers and put a big rock on the lid of the cold
Completely clear the kitchen area of soap, Javex, matches, scrubbers, and
anything else that the raccoons may chew on. I stuff everything into my lantern box. Also
check the craft area for edibles (macaroni letters).
Sunday Morning will be taken up with the process of getting your canoes.
At the assigned time a barge will come to your site and take everyone to the hub. There
the waterfront people will give you a brief lesson on paddling and canoe safety. You will
then be allowed to pick out one canoe for every 3 people. Put your site name on each of
the canoes with a big piece of waterproof tape. The good ones tend to wander when they are
left unattended at events.
The scouter's meeting is generally scheduled during the morning about
10:00 to 11:00 AM.
On Sunday afternoon schedule a thorough review of safety. Schedule lessons
on axe and saw safety, fishing rules and techniques, waterfront procedures and rescue ring
toss, and canoe over canoe rescue. A swimming test is also appropriate if you have not
actually seen the youth swim. Have them swim about 50 metres or so and then tread water
for 5 minute. This will give you a good idea of whom to limit during other water
Sunday can be very hectic, but find some time for a Scout's own.
Once you have the camp set up and safety procedures in place take a moment to
stop, reflect, and set the
tone for the rest of the week. Give thanks for the unique experience that is
about to unfold. You will find many more opportunities as the days progress to stop, wonder and
appreciate, but there is something special about the beginning of any adventure
that helps focuses us.
Every Day Routine
You should establish a certain routine so that the campers know what to
expect. If the routine has a point system for the daily patrol competition associated,
these activities will be self starting. The following worked for me.
Flag break and Inspection
Hold a uniform (scarf) flag break every morning and run through the
days schedule. Announce any daily inspection awards and ask for input on program.
Follow the flag break with an inspection of each patrol site. Use point system and award
daily prizes such as liquorice and a total week prize such as a crest. Bring something
unique for the daily winning patrol leader to wear such as a bone that has been lacquered,
and strung from a lanyard. The inspection should include the following.
- Check each camper
- Washed hands, face
- Cleaned teeth
- Unreported cuts and scratches
- Sleep well
- Any other discomfort
- Check each tent
- Bed rolls folded out of the way
- Clean tent floor
- Smell of possible bed wetter
- Clothing put away
- Check area around tent for garbage (one step away the first day, two steps away the
next, three the next, etc.)
- Award points for campsite improvements such as gadgets, clotheslines, patio stones.
- All life jackets and paddles should be accounted for
There are several mass (all campers invited) events that happen
during the week.
The first is badge trading night, Tuesday at the hub. Badge
trading is a subculture of scouting and it is alive and well at HSR. Even if you
are not "into" trading is is worth the trip to the hub to see the
"badgers" in action!
The second event is the regatta on Thursday afternoon. This is a
"must" event. The excitement and the fun of the event are something
you do not want to miss. Make sure as many as possible (if not all) of your
scouts participate. The memory of participation lasts a lot longer than the
memory of standing on the sidelines, watching someone else win. On cool days I give a cookie to each
participant as they returned from the event. It was what I called a "chittery
bite" and it took their mind off the fact that they were wet and cold. It
also helps if everyone cheers the returning participants even if they come in
There is an opportunity Friday for a youth member of your group
to participate in a rifle competition and another in an archery competition.
Check with the program skippers for the time.
There is a mass campfire Friday night over at the hub. You will
be expected to bring a song or skit to contribute. Please avoid "Victim
Skits". If you have never attended a campfire with 500 people then this
will be quite an experience. You are also expected to return the canoes Friday night
on your way to the mass campfire. You will be barged back to your site.
One of the unfortunate truths is that unless there is an incentive, the
wood for the evening campfire will not "just happen". Assign campfire responsibility
daily by some method you see as fair. The
responsibility for campfire should include gathering wood, setting the fire, lighting it when it is time,
and providing and conducting a simple program. I've found that if the leaders
conduct the campfire the first night it establishes the expectations for the
rest of the week. Put some formality into the process, it gives the day a
visible ending and it also gives the leaders an opportunity to get a feeling of
how the day went for the campers.
I strongly recommend that the leaders bring lawn chairs.
Canoeing to events
You must canoe to the various events around the lake. One leader should
have the responsibility to assign people to canoes and ensuring the combinations will
work. Put a strong paddler in the stern of each canoe. There is plenty of
time and opportunity for friends to paddle together in the free time periods. If it takes
too long to paddle down the lake to an event you will simply loose that time at the event.
In general meals should be as fast and efficient as possible. Except when
you plan a special meal as part of your program you do not want preparation and cleanup to
interfere with other activities. Here are some thoughts.
Cook at the group level. Patrol level cooking simply means you have to
supervise 2 and 3 times as many people, plus prepare your own food.
- A leader should work closely with the cooking crew to ensure proper and efficient
- Establish a rigorous code for eating manners
- No food is served until everyone is sitting at the table
- Everyone remains sitting unless given permission to leave (to fetch something, get
another helping, wash dishes)
- All conversation will be polite and not design to gross each other out
- Post duty rosters the evening before so everyone knows what they are doing the next day.
Keep patrols together
- If possible use a communal set of dishes and cutlery. This avoids individuals looking
for lost items
- Plan the menu ahead but put enough flexibility into the menu to allow changes needed for
- Each individual should wash their personal dishes and the cleanup crew should wash the
cooking utensils and clean off the table and stoves
- In addition to the three-station washing include a prewash (A large bucket with soapy
water to get solids off the plates.)
- The wash-up crew should put water on to heat before they sit down to eat
- When pouring the used dishwater into the wet pit start with the dirtiest, then pour the
next dirtiest into the previously emptied basins. This progressively rinses the basins
ending with the Chlorine water rinsing all the basins.
- Rinse scrubbers and dishcloths in the Chlorine water then hang them to dry
- Put soap and water on griddles as soon as possible (while they are still hot) and boil
soapy water in pots that are badly crusted.
Closing Down Camp
Although it is always sad to close down a camp the smoother it goes the
more likely you will have pleasant memories of the week's experience. Schedule takedown.
It will take most of Friday afternoon to get ready to leave. Here is a checklist and some
- Take down all pioneer projects, gadgets, clothes lines and burn all scraps of binder twine
- Close down all but one of the kybos
- Take down supply and quartermaster tents
- Take down all but one fly
- Organize your food boxes so that the food needed for the next meals is separated and the
rest is packed as compactly as possible
- Close down the wet pit after supper
- Dismantle all fishing gear and get it ready for travel
- Put all the packed gear close to the dock with a tarp over it, ready to load on the barge
Saturday morning plan a cold breakfast. Make a bunch of sandwiches
Saturday morning and pack them in a cooler for a quick lunch before you head home
Kybos and wet pits must be filled in to the point you can stand on them.
Make a cross from sticks and mark where the holes were.
The site will be inspected for garbage, properly filled pits, and general