As Girl Scouts, we’ll probably all go on a hike at some point. Some of us even love hiking and go all the time! Part of being a Girl Scout is being responsible for what we say and do, so when we hike we want to make sure we are safe while having fun.
To help you on your future trail adventures, we want to share our Trail Adventure badge for every level that helps prepare you to:
- Choose your adventure
- Plan and prepare
- Gather your gear
- Set a goal and train for your adventure
- Go on your adventure
As part of the steps to earn your Trail Adventure badge, we’ve put together some things to think and learn about, the gear you might need, and other helpful information. Read on below to get set up for your future adventures!
Before going on a hike there are a few things you should do, gather, and check on. First, you should check to see what the weather will be like when hiking. How hard is the trail? Can anyone use the trail? What kind of trail are you walking on? Will you be able to get more water while hiking? Are you going hiking during the day or at night? Will you cross over water? All of this will help you be prepared to have a fun, safe, and great hike!
To find information about the trail you’re hiking or the area, you can see if they have a website or are listed in a trails app. Most state parks are on the state park website or included in popular trail apps. Tennessee has a great website with free maps of the state parks. There’s even a challenge to go to all 56 state parks!
Ten Essentials for Hiking
When going on a hike there’s a recommended list of 10 essentials that everyone should have for their hike. Here’s a list of those essentials and guidelines with a Girl Scout twist!
Below is a list of 10 categories of things you should always have with you when hiking. You can put all of these in a backpack or whatever bag makes it easiest for you to carry the items below. Of course, you can bring more things with you, but remember everything you add to your bag adds weight. Lightweight things are best, but you can add fun things like friendship bracelet supplies, boondoggle strings, a book, a camera, a songbook, or a sit-upon for a picnic.
Before hiking a trail you should look at a map; most trails will have printed maps available. You’ll also need a compass or navigation system. Sometimes your phone won’t work so having a map and a compass is always smart. Juniors can work towards their Camper badge by learning to use a compass.
You need a headlamp in case it gets dark, you get stuck outside longer than planned, or you find a cave along the trail. A headlamp is great because it keeps your hands free while hiking so you can drink water, use trekking poles, or walk to the bathroom safely in the dark. Some headlights even have a red light so you can hike at night and not blind others with your light.
- Sun Protection
Even in the winter, the sun can burn your skin so sunglasses, hats, and sunscreen are great things to carry.
- First Aid
You should always have a First Aid Kit around. When hiking you should have one that you carry and know how to use all the supplies. For Brownies and Juniors, part of earning your First Aid Badge is making a First Aid Kit. For Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors, to earn the First Aid badge you learn how to use the First Aid Kit or give First Aid in certain situations. Packing and learning how to use a First Aid Kit can help you be safe and earn a badge.
Since Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors are likely hiking with adults, the adults should carry the knives for safety. Each adult or girl that’s a Cadette, Senior, or Ambassador should have a pocket knife that they know how to use safely with them. Having a pocket knife can help cut open packages of food, cut small branches for kindling and tinder, and so many other things.
Having a way to start a fire is always smart in case you need to cook food, stay warm, need to cook s’mores, or to have a place to sing your songs. You can choose to have matches, a lighter, a stick igniter, and fire starters or you could choose to carry an emergency stove and fuel. It’s important to know if there’s a ban on fires and what wood you can burn when in nature, so make sure you plan accordingly.
You might need shelter from a rain storm, snowstorm, or to sleep under at night in an emergency. Even if you’re tent camping, you should carry an emergency shelter with you at all times in case you can’t get back to your base camp at night. You can use a lightweight tarp, a bivy, and an emergency space blanket or even a large trash bag. (That large trash bag can be used at the end of your hike to carry any trash you have out or to pick up trash you see.)
- Extra food
What’s a hike without a snack? We of course recommend marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers for s’mores, but you should also bring things like granola bars, fruit, jerky, and other easy to carry food in case you take a longer trail, get lost, or get stuck on the trail. You can make a friendship trail mix with your troop to eat while you explore the trails. Each girl brings a dry ingredient to mix into the trail mix, mix it up, and separate so everyone gets some trail mix to carry with them!
- Extra water
You should always have water with you when you go for a hike and taking extra water is always a good idea. You can use it to drink, to cook food, rinse your hands off, or for first aid. If you’re hiking near water, you could take a water filtration system so that you can get more water along the way. A liter of water is a great place to start.
- Extra clothes
Having extra layers and socks can help you stay warm and dry. Often hikers will wear several layers so that they can take layers off if they get too hot. Having extra socks can help your feet stay warm and dry, which you will want as they’re what you are traveling on.
Other Guidelines & Tips
Here’s some guidelines that can help you prepare for your hike:
- Wear the right shoes for your hike – if you’re hiking on a mostly paved trail then regular tennis shoes are probably fine. If you’re doing a steep hike that has lots of roots and rocks, hiking boots that have good grips are smart. If you have to cross through a stream or river, you can wear shoes that drain and dry quickly or carry a pair of water shoes to do any water crossings in.
- Dress in layers – even in the summer, it’s smart to dress in layers. It’s easier to take a layer off to cool down than it is to get warmer in the clothes you have on. Breathable material is best so that it doesn’t stay wet from sweat or any rain. Having a waterproof layer is also smart so that you don’t get too wet if it rains.
- Pack it in, pack it out – as part of the leave no trace guidelines for nature, if you take something into nature, you take it out with you. Carrying a grocery bag or trash bag can help you keep track of any trash and then you can put the trash bag in the correct place on your way out.
- Be smart – if you’re going on a hike, make sure you tell someone where you’ll be and about how long it should take. That way, if you don’t check in with them at a certain time, they can get you help. Part of being smart while hiking is carrying what you need, dressing for your hike, and leaving no trace.
Whether you’re hiking around Bicentennial Capitol Mall, up a mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains, climbing stairs at Percy Warner or across waterways at Fall Creek Falls, you’re sure to see some amazing things. What’s your favorite thing you’ve see on a hike? And where’s your favorite place to hike? Let us know your favorite hiking story by emailing email@example.com. We might just share your story on our social media channels or blog!