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Akela says… When I was a nipper keeping cool at camp wasn’t much of a problem. First of all we didn’t have scorching hot summers like the one dumped upon us this year and secondly our tents were not like today’s sealed and synthetic silicon sweatboxes. Our tents were made of canvas and probably left over from the Battle of El Alamein. They didn’t have sewn in bathtub groundsheets and the ‘walls’ flapped in any breeze. In really hot weather these could be rolled up using short cords called ‘brailings’. There were tent doors but they didn’t zip up turning the interior into today’s airtight hell holes but were closed with fiddley loops of rope which most of us couldn’t be bothered to mess with particularly when it got dark. The one thing that they didn’t have when compared with modern tents were fly screens across windows and doors…so hold that thought.

Keeping cool in camp - Part 1

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  1. As usual do not pitch your tent under a tree because of the danger of falling branches or the nuisance of continuous dripping following a shower BUT DO LOOK FOR SHADE and pitch in it.
  2. Remember that the sun - and the resulting shade - moves across the sky:- sun from east to west, shade from west to east.
  3. If your tent has two entrances - and you’re not expecting a typhoon in the next day or two - pitch the tent so that the prevailing wind can blow through the tent, in one door and out the next. This crossing wind will also help draw out any hot air cooking up in the sleeping area.
  4. If there are lots of flying insects, midges, gnats, mosquitoes and their many annoying allies knocking about close the fly screens.

A Scottish scouting friend of mine once told me that there are so many midges in the Highlands if you ask them nicely they will actually put your tent up for you.

Midges - top tips on avoidance

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  • Midges are attracted to:- carbon dioxide, dark clothing, boggy ground, undergrowth and still conditions at the start and end of the day. To avoid midges wear light coloured clothing and head for sunlit, breezy hillsides. Don’t jump up and down swearing if you do get bitten. You will only attract yet more midges by breathing out yet more carbon dioxide.
  • Scottish crofters say that you should never kill a midge. If you do a thousand of his friends and relations will turn up at his funeral.
  • The latest, most unlikely and yet most successful midge repellent is ‘Avon Skin So Soft Lotion’.
  • This year’s midge holiday hotspots are:- the Scottish Borders and Galloway, the Lake District and a large slice of Wales from Snowdonia down to the Brecon Beacons. The Pennines, the North York Moors, Dartmoor, and bits of Northern Ireland.

Keeping cool in camp - Part 2

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There are two main perils that come from exposure to prolonged sunshine and high temperatures - sunburn and dehydration. The first is easily prevented by covering up your bits - and that includes your head and feet and wearing a suntan lotion. It is worth noting its UVA, UBV and SPF ratings…

  • UVA rays: These are present at all times during daylight hours, and while you might not immediately see their effects, they’re very powerful - they can penetrate clouds and even glass. They penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB to cause long-term damage (including all types of skin cancer) and play a major part in the ageing process, such as causing wrinkles, sun spots and leathery skin.The higher the star rating, the better the protection against UVA rays. 5 star is the highest level
  • UVB rays: These are the rays that are mostly responsible for sunburn and skin reddening. They don’t penetrate as deeply as UVA rays, but they’re just as damaging. They play a large part in the development of skin cancers including melanoma.
  • SPF stands for ‘sun protection factor’ and indicates the level of protection a sun cream provides against burning rays. More specifically, it refers to how well the product reduces the burning effect of the sun on your skin. For instance, if you usually begin to burn after 10 minutes in the sun, applying an SPF 15 sunscreen will protect you for 15 times longer than that, meaning you are protected for up to 150 minutes. SPFs ratings range from 2 to 50+, with 50+ offering the most protection against UVB. It’s generally recommended that you use a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15, along with a UVA rating of 4 or 5 stars.

Dehydration

Dehydration means your body loses more fluids than it takes in. If it isn’t treated it can get worse and become a serious problem. Symptoms include feeling thirsty, tired, dizzy or lightheaded, peeing fewer than 4 times a day with dark yellow, strong smelling pee and dry mouth, lips and eyes.

Prevention

Drink fluids when you feel any dehydration symptoms and gradually drink more if you can. You should drink enough during the day so that your pee is a pale clear colour. Encourage others to drink during mealtimes and offer them food with a high water content - for example, soups, ice cream or jellies, or fruits like melon.

Akela’s top tips for keeping kids cool at camp

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I always carry a 4 quart canteen full of water coloured with a splash of ‘Summer Fruits Squash’. The kids call it “Red Eye” and swig it down with gusto. “Hit me with the Red Eye, bar keep!” I also hand out large number of water pistols (£1 each from Tesco’s) which the kids squirt themselves with continuously.

– from Martyn Day