When it comes to camping, hiking, and backpacking, everyone starts out a beginner. Here are five common mistakes that everyone makes–even club directors.
Mistake 1: Packing too much! There’s nothing wrong with having a few luxury items. One of the easiest ways to cut excess gear is to tell everyone what your luxury item is. This might be something you could share and that way they don’t have to bring one as well. For example your club probably only needs one axe or hatchet for a weekend camping trip.
Mistake 2: Foot abuse! Sounds obvious but shoes are important. When you walk a lot, your feet swell a bit, which is normal because of increased blood flow to your legs and feet. Your shoes need to be adjustable and have about a thumb width of space beyond the toes.
Mistake 3: Aiming too high! Wait. What!? Yup, that’s right. Often people push themselves too hard and fail because their pace or goal was not achievable. Slow down and enjoy the experience. If your body starts to hurt, take a break! Many leaders try to push youth to keep hiking. For short day hikes this isn’t really a big issue. But for multiple days of camping, hiking, and backpacking, this will become a problem.
Mistake 4: Too much food. When you eat a big meal, you really just want to take a nap, right? Eating small meals keeps your energy up. When you get home or back into a town, you can enjoy some extra food. Your body can handle not being stuffed for a couple days.
Mistake 5: Over planning. Now I just made a couple directors have a heart attack. Sure, on a weekend campout you need to have a schedule, but be flexible. Weather happens, accidents happen, and most importantly it’s better to have fun. If you don’t have fun, you’re not going to do it again. On longer trips, planning too far ahead leads to pushing to hard to meet goals and deadlines, which can lead to injuries and worse.
To learn more about what you need to be a smart leader check out the requirements for the Outdoor Leadership Honor.