In a medium-size, day-hike type backpack (such as a big school-size backpack), please pack the following essentials (with your name printed on everything; we can help supply these items if you contact us in advance):
Giant Black Plastic Garbage Bag or two, for waterproofing yourself and your gear.
Full Water Bottle. An inexpensive one (like bottled water from the grocery store) is fine, but if you are attending our backpacking week, or if you want to get the best type, buy an unlined, stainless steel water bottle (the last thing you will ever want to leave home without after being trained in survival skills). In fact, the best thing to get is a wide-mouth, unlined Kleen Kanteen. Backpacking water filters screw right onto it, and you can also boil water in it.
Gallon Zip Lock Bag labeled with your name and containing:
• Toothbrush, toothpaste & floss in small zip-lock bag.
• Two Feminine Pads (which double as first aid bandages), and Small & Large Bandaids in small zip-lock bag.
• Small Sunscreen Tube (we’ll have extra) in small zip-lock bag.
• One Tablespoon of Salt in a small zip-lock bag (no more as critters like salt, and no less as salt is critical to hydration)
• Toilet Paper (enough for 2 uses – we’ll resupply) in small zip-lock bag.
• Small package of Handi Wipes, or baby wipes.
• Any medicines you need in a small, zip-lock bag.
Small LED Headlamp with new batteries.
Spoon, Fork, Cup & Metal Pot, with no plastic parts and preferably with a lid. Ideally, the pot should be big enough to keep the cup, spoon and fork inside, but small enough to fit inside your large packing bag/backpack. The pot will be used for boiling water, cooking food over a campfire and eating out of it. We recommend stainless steel (check Goodwill and other used stores first, then search online, visit sporting goods stores, housewares departments or depending on your budget and future use, go to REI, etc.) because it is durable and healthy to use when cooking, often has small handles which is nice for usability, and most important, isn’t as toxic (unlike aluminum) when used over the long term. Titanium is an excellent option for backpacking, but it is very expensive. Bottom line: any sort of metal bowl and cup will be fine; getting the perfect pot takes time and usually money, so just grab the oldest thing you have at home if you want.
Wool or synthetic hat for warmth.
Sun hat – baseball cap is fine, but full brim yet packable is best. You can also use a bandanna.
Leather work gloves (leather because it is safe for working with tools/knives, for warmth, and around fire) although these are hard to find in kids sizes, so check online or let us know if you can’t find any. Probably won’t be needed at Film Camp, the Wildlife Safari or Wild Chefs & Healers, but absolutely required at Backcountry Leadership, Wilderness Survival Camps, Fishing Camp and of course Ancient Archers & Artisans.
Pack the following, with your name printed on everything, in a larger, soft-cover bag that’s easy to throw into our gear trailer. For our backpacking week, you are required to have an internal-frame backpack, but for other weeks, a large laundry bag, large duffle bag, soft suitcase, etc. is fine: (please note that with the exception of our backpacking camp week, we won’t be backcountry hiking/camping except for short overnight trips, so you will always leave your larger bag at base camp, while bringing your essentials in your daypack).
Sleeping Bag that fits into a semi-small stuff-sack to save space, speed packing, and add some water resistance. The mid-price range kind at cheaper sporting-goods stores like Fred Meyer or Big Five are good enough, and we have some extras in case you can’t afford or don’t have time to get one yourself.
Closed-cell foam Sleeping Pad (although we have plenty of extras of these) preferably the square fold-up type (roll up is ok, too, just bring some string or rope to tie it up) since they are easiest to pack and use. Air mattress pads are not okay unless you have arthritis, since they pop holes easily when we sleep under the stars, and do not provide protection during lightning storms, however rare they are in low elevation Western Washington.
Small fleece blanket to cover your sleeping bag when cold or sleeping out under the stars.
Clothing: We recommend natural colors or patterns, that are not noisy or “swooshy sounding” when moving in them. Earth-tone clothes are best for the camp skill games we do every week, and they may increase chances of seeing wildlife. Please make sure to label all items with your name.
Rain gear if there is any chance of precipitation in the forecast: bring/buy a medium-gauge, $35 rainsuit (jacket and pants). If you already have more expensive or durable rain gear, that’s fine too, but the kind at Fred Meyer / Walmart / Big K / Big 5 are great for what we do. The super inexpensive types aren’t durable enough.
Pairs of long pants: 1) Sturdy but comfortable jeans for working with tools (especially knives) and for moving through sticker bushes; 2) Thinner pants for hiking and moving through brush (offer protection but won’t overheat you on warm days); and especially if any rain is forecast, 3) a pair of polyester/fleece sweatpants, thin wool pants (try second-hand stores) or thick stretch pants are also required (something that will keep you warm/comfortable if it’s raining).
For the Backcountry Leadership camp, Film Camp, Wilderness Survival Camps, Fishing Camp, and if there is any rain forecast for any other camp, then long underwear bottoms or comfortable synthetic leggings are key to warmth at night and during wet weather. Fred Meyer / Walmart / Big 5 / Etc. often have soft synthetic long underwear bottoms which are not of great quality, but they do the trick. Wool or silk long underwear are also great.
2-5 regular undershirts (t-shirts and tank-tops should be tasteful) at your discretion.
2-3 thinner long-sleeve shirts (for layering, especially if rain or cooler weather is forecast). 1) One needs to be synthetic, but those thin “Body Glove/Under Armour-style” tops are not good for our climate except when swimming or to keep sun off during hot days, so better are warm ones like softer polypropylene, merino wool, etc. that are more expensive at places like REI, or just get an extra wool/fleece shirt (button-down, sippered or pullover) at Goodwill / Value Village for wet weather and cool nights/mornings as described in the next paragraph. 2) The other long-sleeve shirt should be a comfortable cotton shirt that would be good for moving through underbrush in warm weather.
Two Outer Tops that are good in cold/wet weather: Wool Shirt like a button-down shirt from Goodwill / Value Village / St. Vincent de Paul or fleece jacket/pullover. We do have some extra fleece pullovers, so if your budget is limited, just tell us in advance to bring one for you. Please note that cotton coats are worthless when wet. Don’t bring any. Cotton is very comfortable, and can be tightly woven like jeans to provide some protection when working with tools and moving through sticker bushes, but again, don’t count on it if you ever need to stay warm in Western Washington. Remember that it gets cold and wet by the water, at higher elevations, and at night, even in the middle of the summer!
3-5 pairs of underwear, or use your discretion.
4 pairs of comfortable socks, plus at least one pair of wool/insulated socks are required, 2-3 wool/insulated socks at Backcountry Leadership, Wilderness Survival Camps, and if any rain is forecast, then also at Fishing Camp.
Swimwear, a raggedy beach towel and also required is a pair of water shoes, aka water moccasins, water socks, water shoes, crocs, closed-toed keens, etc. The water shoes are required to prevent cuts when walking in/on the wild shores we visit. Sandals that strap on are fine, flip-flops are not. See next paragraphs for more info.
Footwear: Waterproof hiking boots are always required for the Backcountry Leadership camp, and if there is any chance of rain during Wilderness Survival Camps and the Wildlife Safari. Proper footwear is the only thing we recommend spending money on if a person also plans to hike in the outdoors regularly in the coming year. Otherwise, you might want to wait for growth spurts to pass before spending what it takes ($100-$200) to get truly waterproof, sturdy but comfortable hiking boots. Having 2 or even 3 changes of cheap, comfortable shoes ready in a backpack can be just as effective (albeit heavier), so a relatively cheap combination of footwear might include: $25 hiking/work boots, $20 sneakers, $15 rubber boots small enough to pack, $10 water moccasins, and as many pair of $5 wool socks as you can get. You won’t find prices like that at REI etc. where you should go for quality hiking boots, but if you go to army surplus, big-box, second-hand, or sporting goods stores, that’s where you’ll find the cheap, one-summer, pre-growth-spurt supplies. Last, but very important, be sure you have broken in all footwear well in advance to avoid common blisters!
Also pack another pair of shoes to change into when running around in camp (tennis shoes, day hikers, etc.). Remember that crocs and closed-toed Keen’s can double as water shoes and are a comfortable addition to camp footwear. However, when we are moving through brush, hiking, etc., campers are expected to change into fully enclosed shoes to protect their feet (unless we are doing barefoot activities).
Food: In a separate, zip-lock bag, you can bring snacks like jerky, gorp, and other good camping/hiking items that don’t have excess packaging, but DO NOT LEAVE THEM IN YOUR BAG unless going on a day hike because critters like to get into stuff. Instead, put your name on your zip-lock and after check-in, we your group instructor will collect and keep them organized in our trailer so you can access it whenever you ask. No junk food is allowed at camp, however, so again, recommended items include jerky, dried fruit, nuts, and the like. We’ll take care of the s’mores. 😉
Required depending on your camp week
Tent: Bring your own tent if it has a rain fly that goes all the way to the ground. Otherwise, we will have tents available for you to share with campers your own age.
Knives: It’s fine if you bring a swiss army knife with spoon, fork and knife for eating, but we rarely allow campers to use knives brought from home for carving unless you are a Wolf Camp alumni who received one at a previous camp. Instead, we will supply and train you on the Mora of Sweden brand, fixed blade knife with finger guard. If you have a favorite carving knife, you can show it to us at check-in but we may or may not allow you to use it. If you pass our knife safety test, you’ll also need a belt to carry your knife.
Sunglasses (only required at Backcountry Leadership, the Wildlife Safari and Fishing Camp when sunglasses are important, but they are also very helpful at Wild Chefs & Herbal Medics and sometimes other camps with field trips) with strap in small zip-lock bag or case to prevent scratching – we recommend not getting the kind with movable nose pieces because they break easily. Rather, get durable plastic sunglasses. We recommend amber lenses with UV protection because they enhance colors rather than the dark lenses which dim vision.
Mirrored Compass (only required at Backcountry Leadership, Wilderness Survival Camps, and the Wildlife Safari) – You can get an inexpensive mirrored, map compass for about $10 which is perfectly fine to learn on, such as the “Orienteering Compass by Rothco” on amazon.com. If you want one that is absolutely accurate and very durable, then spend $30-$50 for the Silva Ranger, Brunton 15TDCL, or Suunto MC-2. Please note 1) that you need a “map” or “orienteering” compass: one whose base is clear so that you can place it on a map and see through to the map, 2) the mirror greatly improves sighting accuracy and doubles as a signaling device, and 3) your camp itinerary may not include a lot of orienteering, but using a compass is important; we have extra if you can’t get one, but let us know in advance.
Tiny Sewing Kit (only required at Backcountry Leadership) is often helpful when camping along with safety pins.