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Duct tape can be a camper’s best friend

Scouts Council Youth Commissioner Zoey Healey regards camping as a way to reset oneself internally after spending long periods of time indoors. Shown here are the Mount Pearl Lions Scouts at the 2022 Provincial Jamboree at Camp Nor’Wes just east of Terra Nova Park. From left are Matthew Stokes, Jack Doyle and Sam Farrell.

By Chad Feehan / Local Journalism Initiative

Despite our history of getting a surprise sprinkling of snow, the Victoria Day weekend year after year sees countless Newfoundlanders getting out of their comfort zones to rough it in the woods for a night or two.

As Council Youth Commissioner for Scouts Canada in Newfoundland and Labrador, outdoor aficionado Zoey Healey has a few time tested tips for securing an enjoyable experience beyond the overpass.

“Duct tape is a camper’s best friend,” Healey said, espousing the varied usefulness of this toolbox staple.

Its most obvious use is patching up tent holes which can form before a camper even realizes it, due to sharp objects or sticks or errant flankers from a campfire.

“If your tarp is leaking your weekend is immediately ruined,” Healey said. “If you’re wet then you’re cold, and if you’re cold then you’re not going to enjoy yourself.”

Beyond its usefulness for repairing any number of broken and cracked trinkets and do-dads, duct tape can also be used to prevent blisters from forming on a hiker’s feet and even stop existing blisters from further irritation.

Although it may seem obvious, bringing extra warm clothes is also a good idea, despite it being out of fashion in some circles due to a push for minimalist camping.

Although Healey agrees with the minimalist ethic in some ways, she’s a firm supporter of comfort and preparedness, especially when it comes to wool clothing.

“Bring enough so that you’re warm,” she said. “Synthetic or wool clothing will keep you warm even if you’re wet. They’re right up there with duct tape.”

One common mistake by casual campers is misunderstanding the temperature rating on sleeping bags.

It may say zero degrees celsius on the label, but it will likely do little more than keep you alive at that temperature. Alive you will be, comfortable you will not be.

When sleeping bag shopping, look for a rating that will be colder than expected for optimal comfort. Fleece sleeping bag liners will also work wonders to support a cozy slumber.

Although useful, chemical hand warmer packets are not to be used without caution. Never have one going if you think you may doze off as you can be seriously burned in the process.

Healey admits she awoke one time with a hole in her sock because of this.

“Don’t have them near you when you’re going to sleep. You’ll potentially wake up with a burn,” she said.

At the end of the day, Healey maintains camping is about having fun rather than slogging through some self-imposed discomfort. Scout leaders challenge both themselves and their young charges, but they don’t let that get in the way of an enjoyable experience.

“If it’s too hard don’t be afraid to give up and try again,” said Healey. “Don’t be afraid to go get that extra blanket if you’re cold. Just go get the blanket… You do whatever you need to make that a fun experience.”

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