When backpacking, how you pack your pack is almost as important as what you pack. An off balance pack can become very uncomfortable down the trail. During our pre-trip training classes, we teach the ABC’s of packing your pack: Accessibility, Balance, Compaction.

  • You need items accessible. If a sudden rainstorm comes up, you do not want to be digging through the bottom of your pack for your rain gear and pack cover. If you have a medical need, you need to be able to get to your first aid kit quickly.
  • Balance is important for comfort and carrying a large load. You want your heavy stuff in the center of your pack and close to your back. The lighter items are placed around the heavier items. This keeps your pack balanced and the weight closer to your body.
  • C is compaction. You want to be able to stuff and compact your gear to take up as little space as possible. We also teach to put the big items in first. Your tent and sleeping bag are the primary big items in a pack. It is easier to pack around these larger items than try to fit them in after you have filled your pack with smaller, lighter items. These are also two of the most important items in your pack. They keep you dry and warm and can be lifesaving during certain times of the year.

Planning your time is much the same as packing a backpack. You need to make time for the big things first – God, Family, Friends, School/Job, Community. If you don’t, the little things in life will fill the space of your time. Things like TV, video games, and Facebook can quickly suck up your time leaving you with little to spare for the important things in life. In his book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen Covey calls this “Put First Things First”. I think it is becoming more difficult for kids these days to “Put First Things First”. They have such easy access to social media and other screen entertainment that they get caught up in the lure of easy entertainment. I had a student tell me on a canoe trip this summer that if she had not been canoeing she would be watching Netflix all day, which is what she usually did.

While in many ways technology has expanded our world, it has also made it much smaller.

Instead of getting out and spending time with friends and family, kids are drawn more and more to their devices. While they may be connecting via technology, they are doing it from a lonely place. That is what makes programs like Camptown so important. We take kids out of their comfort zone, away from the pressures of life and convenience of withdrawing to their technology and show them a new, exciting part of the world around them. Not only do they get to experience God’s creation, they get useful lessons such as managing their time by learning how to pack their pack. They come away with a new appreciation of the world around them and a new way of looking at how they live their life.