• Valerie Ross

Backpackers in the Age of COVID-19


As Girl Scout councils across the nation revise meeting protocols, one thing is certain – while video conferencing is terrific for planning meetings, we won’t be heading out to the woods with our Girl Scout backpackers any time soon.

Take heart, fellow backpackers! We are uniquely situated to ride this out. We know how to plan and prepare, how to entertain ourselves and self-educate. We are deeply acquainted with risk management skills and understand that prevention is the key to ensuring safety. We understand limited resources and how to make supplies last. And – clearly of great importance lately – we can potty without toilet paper should your local grocery run out of Cottonelle and Charmin (Kula Cloth, anyone?) Maybe it is time to get on with using a backpacker bidet.

Backpackers – while often solitary creatures – also deeply appreciate kinship. Now is a great time to reach out to your training buddies and see who needs help. Our innate wilderness ethic propels us toward helping our tribe. Being available to drop off groceries or dinner (or t.p.) might be an invaluable service we can do for one another right now.

Missing campfire chat? Now, here is a great use of video conferencing, albeit without the flames and smoke. FaceTime can bring together a more intimate group, and for the encampment-style campfire, free Zoom can accommodate up to 100 people. BYO s’mores!

Here are 7 more things to do within your new socially distanced lifestyle:

  • Repair gear or clean out and update your first aid kit. Taking a critical look at your home medicine cabinet might be significant in the coming weeks as well.

  • Spend your REI dividend! The stores may be closed through March 27th, but you get free standard shipping right now.

  • Plan your next backpacking trip.

  • Re-schedule the trip you just cancelled, and maybe choose a higher altitude destination since you won’t be going in springtime. Maybe a win here?

  • Try new backpacking recipes and dehydrate some meals. They may come in handy sooner than you think if people really keep hording beans, rice, and pasta.

  • Take a hike! Meet at the trailhead, keep your distance (don’t share your GORP), get out and feel good, and appreciate that your training regimen is still intact.

  • Reach out – yes, I mentioned this already, but caring is what backpackers do best.

Take care, my dear, fellow backpackers. Practice good hygiene, check in on your fellow backpackers, and be a good buddy. We’ll get through this together.

Valerie is the founder of CAGS Backpackers and a Lead Backpacking Trainer for Girl Scouts San Diego. She has backpacked for over 40 years and spent the last 20 years guiding Girl Scouts on wilderness trips.

Welcome

Editor's Note: Val Ross, our founder, kicks off our blog with her thoughts and reflections on why taking girls into the wilderness is a mission worth our endeavors.

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The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the author of each article and do not necessarily reflect the views of California Girl Scout Backpackers or Girl Scouts of the United States of America.

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