Forest Rec Summer Camp

FOR 422C: Park and Wildland Management Camp

Destinations List (Working)

Dates: Monday, May 15th 2023 to Friday, June 9th 2023.


Week 1: Monday, May 15th 2023 – Friday, May 19th: Local, mostly day-trips.

(Current Covid-19 measures: no formal travel restrictions)

  • Shawnee National Forest: U.S. Forest Service
  • Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  • Giant City State Park: Illinois Department of Natural Resources
  • Federally-Designated Wilderness Areas in Illinois:
    • Bald Knob Wilderness Area: Shawnee National Forest: U.S. Forest Service
    • Bay Creek Wilderness Area: Shawnee National Forest: U.S. Forest Service
    • Burden Falls Wilderness Area: Shawnee National Forest: U.S. Forest Service
    • Clear Springs Wilderness Area: Shawnee National Forest: U.S. Forest Service
    • Crab Orchard Wilderness Area: Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
    • Garden of the Gods Wilderness Area: Shawnee National Forest: U.S. Forest Service
    • Lusk Creek Wilderness Area: Shawnee National Forest: U.S. Forest Service
      • Equestrian trail management
      • Visitor conflict and terrorism management
      • Federal agency vs. landowner conflicts
    • Panther Den Wilderness Area: Shawnee National Forest: U.S. Forest Service
  • Southernmost IL watershed & levee sites
  • Little Grassy Fish Hatchery: Illinois Department of Natural Resources
  • Cache River Valley cooperative interagency land & water mgmt.
  • Olmsted Locks & Dams: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
    • Billion-dollar hydro capital project site


Friday, May 14th to Monday, May 17th

(Current Covid-19 measures: no formal travel restrictions)

  • Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area: U.S. Forest Service
    • Turkey Bay OHV Area
      • Forest recreation mgmt: world-class off-road 4-wheeling, jeeping, mudding, rock-crawling/wallcrawling, etc.
    • More than a hundred pioneer – modern cemeteries onsite
      • Urban forestry: Tree care
      • Forest resource management: historic forest road provision & maintenance
      • How to manage public lands well when former private landowners are nearby and mad
    • Intensive whitetail, turkey, etc. hunt mgmt. sites & compartments
      • Wildlife habitat management: managed game hunting
    • Pro-Tier Sport Fisheries: Tennessee & Kentucky Lakes
    • Controlled burn units
    • Nature Station Wildlife Rehab & Education Center
    • Selective cut compartments
    • Home Place 1850s living farm
    • Bison and Elk Prairies, Reintroduction 
    • Horse Camp
      • Forest recreation management: huge equestrian facility integrated with miles of riding trails
  • Montauk State Park: Missouri State Parks
    • Fly fishing nursery & intensive sport fishery mgmt.
  • Ozark National Scenic Riverways: U.S. National Park Service

Western Itinerary starts below; scroll down for Northeastern itinerary


Week 2 – 4: Sunday May 22nd 2022 to Friday June 10th 2022; likely returning a few days early (weds or thurs instead of fri).

(Current Covid-19 measures)

  • Comanche & Cimarron National Grasslands
  • Pike & San Isabel National Forests
  • Florissant Fossil Beds
    • Petrified cycad stumps the size of a 2-car garage
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve (photos)
    • Massive sand dunes
    • Elevational transects for forest structure & senescence
    • Bear, mule deer habitat mgmt
    • Incredibly rare antidote migration in Medano Creek
  • Pagosa Springs, Colorado
    • Forestry Wildlife careers: Outfitting & guiding big game hunts
  • Rio Grande National Forest
    • Snowpack forest hydro mgmt at Zapata Falls (photos)
    • Public/private partnership land management
    • The Nature Conservancy: Not-for-profit land management
    • Wolf Creek Pass & Treasure Falls: landscape-scale vistas, high-angle forest mgmt. (photos)
  • Durango, Colorado
    • SIU Forestry alums Careers in adventure rec 
    • Whitewater rafting on the Animas River
    • Excellent fish tacos!
    • Decent new & used gear shops for emergency field replenishment
  • Mesa Verde National Park: U.S. National Park Service
    • Cliff Palace / archeology interp rangering

New Mexico

(Current Covid-19 measures)

  • Aztec Ruins National Monument: U.S. National Park Service
    • Chacoan culture Dendrochronology
    • Paleo forestry and ag practices in the Americas
    • Effects of climate shifts on cultures


(Current Covid-19 measures)

  • Monument Valley, Utah
    • Native American land mgmt
  • Manti-la Sal National Forest: U.S. Forest Service
    • Forest soils: collect ultisols / kaolin clay with oxides & make dirt shirts with natural clay dyes while learning about how forest soils drive everything growing atop them


(Current Covid-19 measures, Current Tribal Lands Covid-19 measures)

  • Glen Canyon Dam: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
    • Western watersheds, hydro management
    • Forestry & Rangering with the Corps of Engineers
    • Native American / First Nations (Navajo, Ute, many others) forestry and wildlife habitat mgmt.
    • Antelope Canyon guided hikes
  • Horseshoe Bend / Page, Arizona
    • Risk in forestry
    • Landscape-scale forest management
  • Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness
  • Grand Canyon National Park: U.S. National Park Service
    • South Rim village
      • elk / human interactions everywhere,
      • urban forestry in parks
      • Wildland fire mgmt.: pile-haul-burn vs. onsite vs. human health impacts vs. wildfire risks
  • Wilderness canyon hike options
    • North Rim
      • Old-growth Ponderosa
      • Bison herds, elk
      • Elevational contrasts between Kaibab plateau vs. Coconino plateau forests

Utah Part Two

  • Zion National Park: U.S. National Park Service
    • Highcountry pinyon / juniper forest & fire mgmt.
    • Canyon hydro/watershed mgmt.
    • Angel’s Landing: world-famous dayhike
    • The Narrows: world-famous slot canyon
    • SIU Forestry alums
  • Bryce Canyon National Park: U.S. National Park Service
    • Frontcountry rec mgmt.
    • Slot canyon overnight hike options
    • Dark Skies Initiative / light pollution’s ecological and human health effects
    • Pioneer-era forest land use history / old growth remnant stands
  • Fishlake National Forest, Dixie National Forest: U.S. Forest Service
    • SIU Forestry alums & careers
  • Capitol Reef National Park: U.S. National Park Service
    • Petrified forest exploration
    • Wildland overnight backpacking options
    • Geology and topography environmental interpretation
  • Petroglyph & rock art interp
    • Pioneer-era forest land use history
  • Arches National Park: U.S. National Park Service
    • (Wiki, Park map pdf)
    • Many of the largest and most densely-arranged natural stone arches anywhere the world
    • Rec rangering & frontcountry Search and Rescue
    • High-use forest & rec mgmt.
  • Canyonlands National Park: U.S. National Park Service
    • World-famous slot canyon exploration options
    • Backcountry / wilderness ranger career examples
    • Bear encroachment mgmt.
  • Greater Moab Area / San Rafael Swell: Municipal, Private, Bureau of Land Management
    • BLM rangering and forestry
    • World-famous rock climbing areas, thousands of routes
    • Wildcat Tank
    • Open range jeeping, humvee-ing, rock crawling, canyoneering, machine-gun ranges, microbreweries, you do you
    • Ed Abbey: formative writings on the American West 
    • SIU Forestry alums working with BLM as rangers

Colorado Part Two

  • Arapaho, Roosevelt National Forests: U.S. Forest Service
    • SIU Forestry alums
  • Rocky Mountain National Park: U.S. National Park Service
    • Elk, caribou, bear wildlife management
  • Subalpine forestry Pine beetle / climate change / mass die-offs / wildfire mgmt.
    • Denver Service Center of National Park Service
    • SIU Forestry alums

End of Western itinerary; Northeastern itinerary follows

Virginia + West Virginia

Week 2 – 4: Monday May 16th 2022 to Friday June 3rd 2022; likely returning a few days early (weds or thurs instead of fri).

  • Shenandoah National Park: U.S. National Park Service
    • Dense population of food-attracted black bears, protecting them from visitors and vice versa
    • Scenic Skyline Drive: world-class landscape design by Frederick Law Olmsted
    • Urban forestry view shed and vista management
    • Airspeed particulate pollution
    • Urban-proximate forest management
    • Appalachian National Scenic Trail runs through this entire national park
    • Interdicting the Southeast Asian wild ginseng black market

Virginia + Maryland

  • Greenbelt Park
    • Urban coyote wildlife habitat / range adaptation behaviors like using the light rail metro system to travel
  • U.S. Forest Service national headquarters
    • Forest Policy
  • U.S. National Park Service national headquarters
    • Getting out ahead of climate forcing and destabilization
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife national headquarters
  • U.S. National Mall
    • Washington Monument
    • Lincoln Memorial
    • Cherry orchard
    • War memorials
    • Smithsonian Institutes (web)
      • National Museum of African American History & Culture
      • National Museum of African Art
      • National Air & Space Museum / Annex Udder Hazy Center
      • Smithsonian American Art Museum, Freer Gallery of Art, Archives of American Art, Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Design Museum, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, National Portrait Gallery, National Postal Museum, Renwick Gallery of American Art, Sackler Gallery, The Castle
      • National Zoo
      • National Museum of American History
      • National Museum of the American Indian / George Gustav Haye Center
      • Arts and Industries Building
      • National Museum of Natural History
      • Urban Forestry at the Smithsonian Gardens
  • C & O Canal National Historic Park
    • Lock and Dam hydro engineering by George Washington and others
    • Subsistence fishing next to one of the richest neighborhoods on Earth
    • Extreme flooding management
    • Rock climbing management and lichenology
    • Law enforcement rangers and counterterrorism in American national parks
    • Visitor compliance near non-charismatic rare / threatened /endangered biological community sites
    • Urban-proximate float craft and whitewater management
  • Gettysburg National Military Park: U.S. National Park Service
    • Military archeology and historic interpretation
    • Forest stand clearing and maintenance vs. white-tail deer population dynamics
    • Transportation and use dynamics in protected areas


  • Acadia National Park: U.S. National Park Service
    • Forest understory non-timber products: foraging for delicious edible fiddlehead ferns
  • Forest soils: lichen primary soil generation on naked granite
  • Visitors clearing and damaging trails in national parks
  • Sustainable trail routing on bedrock (Leave No Trace: travel and camp on durable surfaces)
  • Peregrine falcon habitat management along popular cliff hikes
    • Ocean kayaking, whale spotting, tourism
    • Insect parasitism of boreal forest species: black spruce, balsam fir, etc.
  • Managing visitors who want to feed the wildlife you’re working so hard to protect
  • Beehive via ferrata trail vs. topography vs. North Atlantic weather & climate
    • Non-timber forest products: wild Maine blueberries, maple syrup, cranberries
    • Coastal and montane / boreal forest ecosystems
    • Ecoacoustics in air and salt water
  • Talk with National Park Service rangers about getting federal employment

  • Baxter State Park: Maine State Parks
    • Mount Katahdin, northern terminus of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail

New Hampshire

  • White Mountains National Forest: U.S. Forest Service
    • Inland boreal forest ecosystem and habitat management
    • Moose management
    • Presidential Traverse alpine backpacking trip
  • Pemigewasset Wilderness
    • Subalpine backpacking trip
  • Hubbard Brook Research Watershed
  • Mount Monadnock State Park: New Hampshire State Park
  • Crawford Notch State Park: New Hampshire State Parks
    • Appalachian Trail Conservancy, coordinating local volunteer groups to maintain a 14-state national park system unit
  • Pinkham Notch
    • Managing skiing, hiking, and mountain biking in forests
  • Small New England town forestry, including Crawford, New Hampshire

Class List

Dr. ParkForest Rec
Dr. AkamaniHuman Dimensions of Forestry
Dr. NielsenForest Wildlife Habitat
Dr. WilliardForest Hydrology
Dr. SchoonoverForest Watersheds

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What’s the value of Rec Summer Camp?
    • You’ll experience all the concepts we’ve been talking about for the previous three years in your classes—the “mother of all field trips.”
    • Personally, you have much time on the buses and alone in your head while backpacking etc. to sort out important thoughts and feelings on where you’re headed career-wise.  Contemplative solitude is a structural component of this class in a way that it never can be in the classroom.
    • This class cultivates and demands synthesizing several years worth of preparatory classes into wise decisions and careful observations while backpacking, talking to leaders in forestry, etc.  It is an intense series of networking opportunities as well— we visit Salukis working at interesting places from the Grand Canyon to Maine (depending on the year).

  • What specializations get to take this summer camp compared to the resource camp?
    • Rec Camp is for
      • Wildlife Habitat Management & Conservation
      • Forest Hydrology & Watersheds
      • Urban Forestry
      • Forest Recreation Management

  • If this is a class, we’re taking notes and tests and a final exam right?
    • Notes: yes, copiously, early and often.
    • Tests: not really no.
    • Final Exam: not really no.

  • How much does summer camp cost?
    • 6 x [cost per credit hour], to the bursar
    • $500 to 750 course fee (gas, permits), to the bursar
    • $1-2 per meal per day (75-150 total), to the grocery store
    • $10 in quarters for laundry & coin-op showers along the way, to the laundromat
    • $X for spending money, souvenirs, restaurants; to the business
    • $0 to Dr. Park

  • How many students usually go to camp each year?
    • As few as 9, as many as 35 for Rec Camp.
    • Typically 18 – 24 students plus a TA and various professors at the different stages of summer camp.

  • Where should I park?
    • Best answer: have a friend drop you off and avoid the hassle.
    • Next best answer:
      • Email Dr. Park your car’s:
        • Make & Model
        • Color
        • Plate state & number 
        • SIU parking sticker number if applicable
        • We will park precisely here and email your car’s info to parking services.
  • Can I bring / use my own vehicle throughout summer camp, even the long-distance part?
    • Yes, although the gas $ adds up pretty quickly. You’re an adult and this is your choice.
    • Typically, one or a few other students will ask to rotate between the university vehicles and yours for a change of scenery, but you are at all times in charge of your own vehicle and decide who gets to ride with you.

  • Can I bring my dog? S/he is perfect and the love of my life.
    • Hard no. Doges create all sorts of rec impacts when off-leash and pose a sanitation problem to your classmates. I can’t fairly allow you to bring your dog into extended close quarters with them during a professional trip.
    • Ok but seriously my dog is amazing and I love him/her. “lol”
      • Negative.
    • No, you don’t understand; it’s my therapy dog, Dr. Park.
      • Proper, legally trained service animals are always allowed everywhere their companion humans are, under federal law. If it’s a working dog wearing the vest, actually trained, behaving, and assisting you through a medically diagnosed condition, bring it with my blessing. Therapy animals are not service animals and canot join this class. Repeat: not the same creature, not the same role, not coming on this trip.
      • If you got your dog a fake vest on Amazon and try to foist that on us, Dr. Park will be “legit” displeased. Don’t ruin this for the people who need the services of a true trained service animal.

  • What do you do with your cat when you are away? I have a cat.
    • In generally descending order of preference I’d board my four-legged children with:
      • Family
      • Roommates
      • Other willing friend
      • Pet boarding facility
    • …while I’m off at camp.

  • I have [insert social obligation here]; can I join rec summer camp LATE?
    • Probably not. Take it next summer if you’re missing more than 1 day. Talk to Dr. Park specifically, directly, and immediately about it.
  • I have [insert social obligation here]; can I part from rec summer camp EARLY?
    • Maaaaybe if it’s along our planned route for this year. Talk to Dr. Park specifically, directly, and immediately about it.

  • Can we take this class twice?
    • Yep!
    • In fact, the second time, just tag along. The logistics, permits, etc. are the same either way so it’d be a nice easy trip for you.

  • Is This Going To Be The Greatest Class Ever?
    • Absaluki!

Gear / Packing List

Helpful gear list video from a previous TA for this course

Gear List Preamble: Common Sense

  1. Replace gear with skill only as appropriate
    1. Share gear among your classmates to reduce pack loadout
    2. First Aid/WFR certs are a great asset
    3. Insects will be an issue on this trip: blackflies, horseflies, and ticks should be “impressive” given the mild winter
    4. When it comes to total pack weight, less is more, but refer back to #1!
  2. Secondhand stores help you save TONS of money on clothing especially:
    1. Goodwill, Salvation Army, thrift closets
    2. Army/Navy, Army surplus stores have heavy duty, inexpensive gear when running sales
    3. REI, Patagonia, North Face all operate refurbished high quality lines now.
      1. REI Used:
      2. REI Garage (Returned Items):
      3. Patagonia
        1. Sale stuff:
        2. Steep and Cheap Patagonia:
  3. Purchase only things you intend to use beyond this class; rent, borrow ALL the rest!

Expedition Pack:

  • Required
  • Internal frame tends to be more comfy; external frame tends to enable a higher max cargo load
  • Padding & support for your load
  • 4000+ in3 (about 65: tight to 90 Liters: roomy) capacity
How to load your pack for safe and comfortable long-distance uses, by former Rec Camp TA Leah Harper
  • Pack rain protection
    • Silnylon (silicone-impregnated nylon) exterior rain cover
    • Park’s Pick: heavy duty trash compactor bags stuffed into your pack and sleeping bag compartment as interior rain barrier
    • Stuffsacks/drybags – Ziploc bags tend to burst open, mesh bags rip easily
      • Ripstop
      • Silnylon or other waterproofing
      • Can use drybags but these are usually heavier rubberized canvas

Basic Safety: Required

  • Cellphone (bring but never rely on electronics)
    • Load any apps you believe you’ll need
      • Preload offline map data into Google Maps, AllTrails, etc. on wifi
    • Charger / inverter
      • Have a way to charge it from a vehicle
        • 12V cigarette adapter: cheap, fast charge, restricted to vehicle
        • Solar panel: expensive, slow charge, but mobile
      • Tip: most smartphones these days charge at 1-2 amp (2-4x draw vs. cheap 500mA chargers)
    • Charging cable
      • Label your charging cable with your name using electrical tape & marker before we go
  • Maps
    • Dr. Park will provide each backpacking group the major maps they will need
    • You can create and print free topo maps for any of our destinations using any of a variety of websites
Basic intro to map & compass land nav by Leah Harper, former Rec Camp TA
  • Compass
    • Fluid-damped is nice but expensive
    • Adjustable declination is nice
  • Flashlight/headlamp
    • Spare batteries
    • Means to charge your headlamp if it has a built-in lithium battery.. typically a USB cable
  • First Aid kit
    • Sterile bandages
    • Triangular bandage, useful for splinting
    • Topical sterilizer/hand sanitizer
    • Polysporin
    • CPR mask for preventing ingestion of the patient’s vomit while providing rescue breathing 
    • Rubber gloves
    • Moleskin
    • Trainer tape for managing blisters and hotspots
    • Do not bring a tourniquet unless you are trained/certified in its use
  • Pocket knife or multi-tool
    • Large, hollow-handled survival knives are notoriously fragile because they lack full tang construction
    • Small Swiss army-style knives are most common for this class
    • Leatherman-style multi-tools are nice if you have them, but expensive and heavy.  Your choice to bring.
    • Machetes are complete overkill for this class but you do you.
  • Waterproof matches in watertight case
  • Firestarter – lighters, firesteel, waterproof matches: carry redundant alternatives
    • It’s completely fine if a butane lighter is empty as long as it still sparks.
  • Pealess plastic emergency whistle
    • The pea inside normal whistles can freeze in cold weather and stop the whistle from working when you need it most
  • Watch
    • It will be difficult for us to keep your smartwatch charged on this trip
  • Personal medications, health insurance info
  • Emergency contact/medical sheet filled out & handed in to Dr. Park

Sun protection: Required

  • Sunglasses
    • Must be UV-rated
    • Optionally polarized for cutting down solar glare
    • Recommended securing neck strap
  • Sunblock
    • SPF 30 and up
    • Broad spectrum recommended (certified for UVA and UVB radiation)
    • Unscented only, for your safety in bear country. No “fragrance” or “parfum” ingredients please.
  • SPF lip balm
    • SPF 30 and up
    • Broad spectrum recommended (certified for UVA and UVB radiation)
    • Non-flavored only, for your safety in bear country. No “fragrance” or “parfum” ingredients please.
  • Sun hat
    • Optionally treated for water repellency
    • Hydrophobic synthetic material
      • Wide brim
      • Skirted baseball cap, never a regular baseball cap. The desert sun wants to kill you nad is stronger than a ballcap or trucker (mesh) cap.
      • Baseball caps not permitted for desert hiking in this class


  • Purification method
    • Prefilter w/bandanna or reusable metal coffee filter to remove the wriggling and chew-sized chunks
    • Filter: e.g., MSR/PUR brands
    • Chemical treatment – tablets or drops, chlorine dioxide or iodine
      • Aqua Mira brand
      • Chlorine bleach in eyedropper bottle
      • Katadyn dissolvable tablets
      • Iodine + vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
      • Mioxx-style electrolytic reactor using table salt
    • Boiling:can use the class-provided camp stoves and pots for this.
      • Very fuel intensive
      • Tastes bad
      • Slow
      • Ineffective at high altitude
    • UV treatment: e.g., Steri-pen brand
      • Quick but expensive
      • Requires batteries
  • Water storage and hauling – 4 to 6 quart or liter total capacity
    • Lexan/HDPE rigid plastic bottles
      • Can be cheap Aquafina wide-mouth bottles or similar
      • Polycarbonate bottles like Lexan/Nalgene cannot be used to store or transport hot liquids in this class
    • Bladder + hose (Camelbak, Dromedary and similar brands)
      • Dr. Park will provide Dromedary bags for desert travel

Cook kit

Practice with your cook kit so that making tasty camp foods becomes easy. Video by Leah Harper, previous Rec Camp TA.
  • Scouring pad – e.g., scotchbrite
  • Stove
    • Dr. Park will provide MSR Whisperlite white gas stoves
    • Dr. Park will provide MSR white gas 1L fuel bottles
    • Dr. Park will provide white gas
    • Dr. Park will provide MSR Whisperlite field repair kits
    • Dr. Park will provide MSR cook pots, pans, and lids
    • Or bring your own:
      • JetBoil or other ported/insulated stove
      • Beercan alcohol stove
      • Pocket Rocket / Dragonfly / other blowtorch-style backpacking stove
      • Twig stove
  • Eating utensils
    • Fork/knife/spoon/spork
    • Chopsticks
    • Pocketknife
  • Hot pad/pot gripper
    • Typically silicone or layered cotton
  • Ziploc bags
  • 40 – 50 ft. paracord – repairs, splints, fishing, & and bear-bagging
    • 550-rating is usual, you may select the test weight of your line as preferred
    • Some varieties include retroreflective thread for easy spotting with a headlamp at night
  • Dish soap
    • Biodegradable only, especially for desert travel
    • Unscented only for your safety in bear country
  • Bandanna for drying
    • Recommend cotton, but keep it clean; mildew loves cotton and hates you

Clothing – No cotton/jeans anywhere, anytime except on the bus for travel days.  Bring more than 1 outfit.

  • Base layer – silk-weight thermal top and bottom if you sleep cold
    • Long-sleeves top and bottom
    • Under Armour, Capilene, silk weight or medium weight
    • Military surplus works fine as an inexpensive alternative
    • Undergarments (3)
      • Compression shorts
      • Under Armour & generic brand variants
    • Thermal layer
      • fleece sweater
      • Puffy jacket
      • Fleece pants or overalls if we are anticipating cold weather
    • Full body hooded rain gear – doubles as outer thermal + wind-blocking layer
      • Coat or poncho
      • Rain pants
    • Hiking socks (3 to 5 pair)
      • Polypropylene dress socks, often used as liner socks (slippery, help to prevent blisters)
      • Wool, often used as thermal and cushioning layer
    • Main layer:
      • Pants (up to 2) – should be bug/bite-proof, convertible from long pants to shorts
      • Shirts (up to 2) – should be bug/bite-proof, convertible from long-sleeves to short-sleeves
    • Footwear – waterproofed and broken in before we begin. One pair, plus optional backup pair of trail runners, cross trainers, etc.
      • Hiking boots
        • High ankle for maximum support and waterproofing
        • Mid ankle
        • Low ankle for lighter boot and faster drying
      • Trail running shoes
        • Must have full plastic last construction (NO cardboard or fabric lasts)
        • Toe shoes
          • Five fingers, vibram, etc.
          • Require dedicated toe socks as well
      • Optional camp shoes
        • Sandals, running shoes, crocs, etc.
        • Emergency temporary backup if your boot or shoe fails
    • Gaiters – keep rocks, cactus needles, and goatheads out of your footwear
      • Low gaiters are light but slip around easily
      • High gaiters are very effective but heavier and more expensive
    • Modest swim gear – for those rare opportunistic bathing opportunities while on the road
    • Gloves
      • Fleece thermal gloves
      • Lightweight full-finger sun/liner gloves
    • Thermal hat
      • Beanie
      • Toque
      • Toboggan cap
      • Balaclava
      • Ski mask

Insect management

  • You may be miserable on this trip without effective bug management
    • Bite-proof clothing
    • Flea/tick collars for sleeves and ankles, as used in military applications
    • Bug dope – DEET, picaridin, eucalyptol or other alternative
    • Bug netting – full-body isn’t a terrible idea
    • Tough it out – this is a bad life plan for you

Shelter: Required

  • Tent/Tarp/Hammock/Bivouac sack
    • rated for 3 season use
    • Double walled recommended
    • If using a hammock, you must be able to pitch it on the ground as a tent for places without trees 
    • If using a hammock you must bring treesaver straps (nylon load-distribution straps to protect tree cambium)
Tent selection & use tutorial by Leah Harper, previous Rec Camp TA
  • Sleeping bag
    • Synthetic- or down-filled, never cotton batting-filled
    • Survival rated to 20 degrees
    • Can be any comfort rating, must meet survival rating above
  • Optional sleeping bag liner
    • Silk or synthetic
    • Never cotton
    • Extends the working life of your sleeping bag by shielding it from your grime
  • Sleeping bag stuff sack
    • Waterproof strongly recommended
    • trash bags work fine
    • Compression sacks are nice but can destroy a sleeping bag’s insulation
  • Sleeping pad
    • Closed cell foam 
    • Never open-cell foam
    • Inflatable pads are more comfortable but pop easily and require repair
  • Extra tent stakes
    • Useful with outdoor tape or lashing as a tent pole splint for broken poles
    • Enough to stake your tent down completely in a 50-mph wind or hail storm


  • Mouth: Optional but come on
    • Toothpaste
      • Unflavored for your safety in bear country, or
      • bear bagged with food every night, or
      • Locked in vehicle every night
    • Floss
      • Unflavored for your safety in bear country, or
      • bear bagged with food every night, or
      • Locked in vehicle every night
    • Mouthwash
      • Unflavored, for your safety in bear country, or
        bear bagged with food every night, or
        Locked in vehicle every night
  • Soap: Required
    • Biodegradable only, especially for desert travel
    • Camp soap is highly concentrated, suggest dropwise use
    • Unscented for your safety in bear country, or
    • bear bagged with food every night, or
    • Locked in vehicle every night
  • Shampoo: Optional but come on
    • Unscented for your safety in bear country, or
    • bear bagged with food every night, or
    • Locked in vehicle every night
  • Spare contact lenses and kit: Required if you need them to be safe
    • If needed
    • Bring glasses in hard-case as backup
    • Desert windborne grit eats contacts
  • Toilet kit
    • Packed separately from other hygiene items
    • Store in waterproof exterior pocket of backpack for rapid access
    • Cathole trowel/spade
    • Toilet paper
    • Biodegradable wet wipes (cleaning wipes)
    • Benzalkonium chloride wipes (“sterile” wipes)
    • Spare waste/litter storage bags
    • Dedicated alcohol gel for cleaning your hands after
    • Ladies: consider a soft silicone tool to direct your elimination cleanly


  • Pencils, not pens: Required
  • Write in the Rain paper: Required
    • Buy field notebook larger than memo pad
    • look online for cheap DIY alternatives like Tyvek homewrap sheets
  • Digital camera: Optional
    • Waterproof, padded case

Repair kit: Optional

  • Large bore needle for repairing heavy outdoor fabrics like 1000-denier backpack nylon
  • Repair cements
    • Seam Grip
    • Barge Cement
    • Shoe Goo
    • SilNet
    • Binary epoxy cement
  • Patch kit
    • Tent
    • Rain gear
    • Inflatable sleeping mat
    • (must match repair kit to item’s fabric type, they don’t all work on all fabrics)
  • Paracord
    • 550 is standard, choose whatever test strength you need
  • Repair tape
    • Duct tape
    • Gorilla tape
    • Other waterproof field tapes
  • Stove repair kit
    • Currently provided by Forestry Department
  • Cyanoacrylate superglue 
  • Huge safety pins
    • Most commonly diaper pins

Food: Required

Helpful Summer Camp meal planning tutorial from a previous Rec Camp TA
  • Everyone brings the foods they like for about 25 days. MUCH cheaper if you buy stuff in bulk and on sale in advance. Shoot for $1 or less per meal.
  • We’ll stop for resupplies along the way for fresh goods. This is more expensive; budget according to your palate.
  • Curry packs, about 15 varieties available at International Grocery in Murdale Shopping Center. Already prepared, never spoil, heat and eat. Usually are buy-one-get-one-free.
  • Bulk whole grains at the Neighborhood Co-op Grocery in Murdale:
    • Steel-cut oats (never eat instant rolled oats as they are pure sugar)
    • Quinoa (pronounced “KEEN wah”)
  • Powdered milk: NIDO brand is slightly less awful than most kinds.
  • Powdered eggs
  • Breakfast drink mix: never mix into your hydration bladder, avoid culturing black mold.
  • Gorp (nuts, seeds, dried fruit, m&ms), can buy in bulk at the Neighborhood Co-Op in Murdale shopping center
  • Hard Cheese (cheese with less moisture content lasts longer before rotting in summer heat)
  • Jerky (beef/turkey/seitan) or salami
  • Cookies, not recommended
  • Whole Grain crackers
  • Tiger’s Milk Bars
  • Licorice Sticks
  • Kudos
  • Bear Valley MealPacks
  • PowerBars (Berry)
  • Chewing Gum
  • Gatorade: never mix into your hydration bladder, avoid culturing black mold.
  • Bagels, English muffins, recommend whole grain
  • String cheese (individually wrapped)
  • Hard candies that won’t melt in your mouth OR in your hand
  • Dried fruit (raisins, apples, pears, peaches, bananas)
  • Dried meat and fish
  • Giant hard pretzels, whole grain recommended
  • Raw fruit / vegetables, restock along the way
  • Mixed Nuts
  • Pop Tarts, not recommended as they are pure sugar and will make you feelsbadman.gif
  • Fig/Peach/Apple Newtons
  • Hot chocolate 
  • Instant Hot Cider
  • 3-minute steel cut Oatmeal (variety); do NOT bring instant microwave oatmeal
  • Instant Cream of Wheat
  • Malt O’ Meal (w/brown sugar)
  • Granola
  • Nature Valley Granola bars (variety)
  • Freeze dried meals, expensive but easy and nice
  • Spice kit
  • Soup mixes
  • Squeeze butter
  • Foil pack seafood, recommend a variety of flavors you like
  • Pita bread, recommend whole grain
  • Pemmican, buffalo sticks
  • Dry cheeses
  • Tortillas, recommend whole grain
  • Squeeze jelly, peanut butter, honey
  • Instant or French-press coffee (bring your nonelectric coffeemaker if you want to)
  • Tea bags
  • Hard candy
  • Powdered drink mixes: never mix into your hydration bladder, avoid culturing black mold.

Misc Optional items

  • Hiking sticks / poles / staff
  • Bandanna / synthetic microfiber towel
  • Sit pad – can be combined with sleeping pad or cut off from it
  • Binoculars/spotting scope
  • GPS/altimeter
  • Musical instruments – small travel or rugged versions tend to survive a little better
  • Earplugs if you’re a light sleeper
  • Playing cards
  • Camp shoes or sandals
  • Personal locator beacon or satellite phone
  • Breadbags for waterproofing soaked shoes on a temporary, emergency basis
  • Joint supports as necessary – knee brace, ankle brace
  • Buff 
  • Signal mirror, doubling as a shave mirror
  • Safety razors
  • Camp pillow
  • Fishing gear and rugged case – proper tools and license(s) required if you bring this gear
  • Ibuprofen/acetaminophen/naproxen sodium/aspirin or similar non-steroidal anti-inflammatory
  • Immodium or similar anti-diarrheal
  • Styptic bandages or powder to temporary halt difficult bleeding. Know how or becertified to use these if you decide to bring.
  • Benadryl or other antihistamine
  • *we can’t strictly advise you to bring any medications, these suggestions are entirely at your option and assume you know how to dose yourself safely.
  • *same goes for other medical supplies, like splints and styptic powder

Skills List

Preventative Fitness

Example fitness routine for summer camp / backpacking, by previous Rec Camp TA Leah Harper.
Dr. Park getting some masked cardio in, prepping for field trips and summer camp.

Leave No Trace primer by Leah Harper, Rec Camp TA

Basic Land Nav / Map & Compass

Knots, Bends, & Lashings

Rec Camp Info Session Recordings

Current Year Recordings: 2023

Previous Years’ Info Session Recordings

Rec Camp Info Meeting 4 mp3 audio

Similar session as above: Q&A, Itinerary