Troop 75

be prepared…….to have fun

Troop 75 - be prepared…….to have fun


Suggestions As To What To Pack And Where To Pack It

This check list is offered as a near minimum for a safe and comfortable backpack outing. Using an adequate pack and sleeping bag the weight should be under 20 lbs. You will need to add 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. per man per day for dehydrated food and 2 lbs. per quart of water. You should be able to pack in for a week carrying under 30 lbs.

When buying ANYTHING for camping or backpacking, wait until you can afford quality equipment, buying something “for now” will only cost you allot more in the long run. Don’t buy just for camping if you ever plan on backpacking, camping equipment is no good on a backpack trip, but backpacking equipment is perfectly fine for a camp out.

The lighter the equipment and the less room it takes up, the more it will cost. However, the quality usually is much, much better and you can have it a lifetime if taken care of properly.

NOTE: This list is not intended to be considered the best or only way to pack a bag. As you gain experience you can shift around to suit your own idea.

  • A - FLAP POCKET: Maps, fire permit, notebook, pen, fishing license, identification, guide book.
  • BUPPER LEFT POCKET: Canteen, stove fuel, rain gear.
  • CUPPER RIGHT POCKET: Plastic bowl, matches, plastic bags, cup, lunch, sun glasses, rubber bands, tablespoon, trail snacks, nylon cord 30 ft., toilet kit: toothbrush & paste, soap, dish cloth, toilet paper.
  • DUPPER COMPARTMENT: Cook kit, pot tongs, food, stove, water bag, tent or tarp, ground cloth, sleeping pad, condiment kit: salt, pepper, milk, sugar, coffee or tea (adults only), flavorings.
Labeled Sections of a Backpack
  • ELOWER COMPARTMENT: Cap, underwear, trousers, windbreaker, wool shirt or down jacket, socks, shirts, gloves, swim suit, bandanna, food (if not in D).
  • FLOWER LEFT POCKET: Sun screen, lip balm, water purifier, bug repellent, pack & tent repair kit, extra pack pins & rings, needles, thread, buttons, flash light & batteries.
  • GLOWER RIGHT POCKET: First aid kit.
  • H – STUFF SACK: Stuff in your sleeping bag and small pillow. Sleeping pad if not in D.

CARRY ON YOUR PERSON: Compass, pocket knife, Medic Alert bracelet or pendant (if used), waterproof matches.

PACK ITEMS IN SMALL STUFF BAGS: For easy access to your gear, pack all your gear in small stuff bags then pack the backpack. Plastic zip lock bags make excellent small and medium stuff bags especially to keep items dry. Large zip lock bags can be used to pack clothing.


Zone Method Of Packing A Backpack

Backpack divided into Zones

The Zone Method of packing a backpack can make the difference between drudgery and enjoyment during the time spent on the trail.

A few simple principles which are often overlooked can make a difference. Technically speaking the body has a center of gravity located directly over the ankles. When standing normally there is very little forward of the body. However, when a pack is placed on the back, the body leans forward to bring the pack’s center of gravity directly over the ankles. Consequently, it is advantageous to keep the pack’s center of gravity as close to your back as possible to prevent unnecessary forward lean. As a result the following method is recommended to load a backpack.

ZONE A: This area is the closest to the back and should carry equipment of the greatest density like stoves, tent hardware, water, etc

ZONE B: This middle area should be packed with medium density objects.

ZONE C: The area farthest away from the body’s center of gravity should be filled with the lightest equipment.


There is also a benefit in placing the densest weight high in the pack as it will be more directly over the center of gravity. A tent should be either distributed in Zone A of the pack or strapped on top. The sleeping bag can be stuffed in the bottom toward Zone C or strapped to the bottom of the pack.

Graphic of backpacking checklist



Wilderness Backpacking Suggestions


Do not be hasty in buying equipment. Talk to experienced backpackers. Try out several packs. Before buying equipment ask yourself:

  • Is it light weight and low in bulk?
  • Will it be durable?
  • Will I use it?

Do not make low cost your only criterion. There is no compromise for quality. There are no stores in the wilderness!


Carry a small survival kit. It could save your life. Leave a trip schedule, preferably in writing with a responsible person, giving the following information:

  • Who is going where
  • When you expect to return
  • The type of vehicle you will use
  • Location of the trail head and route to be taken
  • If you’re going deep into the back country, out to sea or on any remote trip consider taking a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

Above all, do not decide to stay an extra day. Search parties cost money and time.

Water purification: As a minimum boil water or add 1 iodine tablet per instructions on tablet bottle. Let stand for 30 minutes or as directed on the bottle. For cloudy water, double the purifier.

Really you should carry a water purifier like a those offered from Katadyn

Katadyn Pocket Water Purifier
Katadyn Pro Hiker Water Purifier
Katadyn Combi Water Purifier
Katadyn Pocket Water Purifier
Katadyn Pro Hiker Water Purifier
Katadyn Combi Water Purifier

Filter Safety Level Chart

Be aware of the safety water drinking guide that filters are rated on.


ECOLOGY (Low Impact Camping)

Be aware of the safety water drinking guide that filter are rated on.


By using dehydrated foods you add under two pounds per man per day. Water weighs two pounds per quart. Wherever possible carry your own stove and fuel. Leave vegetation for the next party to enjoy. Camp away from the only source of water. The animals will not be able to drink as long as you are camped there.

Getting Into A Heavy Load Most backpackers develop a method of putting on a pack. However, the following are a few recommendations which have proven to be easy and safe for both pack and packer. Before following the suggestions outlined, start with a realistic weight, by loading the pack as if you were going on a hike.

  1. Stand by the frame with the load side turned away. If you are right handed, point your right foot toward the frame.
  2. Stepping backward with the left foot and crouching slightly to slant the right thigh, drag or lift the frame to rest on the thigh.
  3. Steadying the frame with the left hand, and holding the upper part of the right shoulder strap, put the right arm under the shoulder strap. Reach downward with the right hand to grasp the lower right corner of the frame. Twist the upper body to the right and pull the right shoulder strap in place.
    Lifting the frame with your right hand, swing your elbow back to slide the frame around on your back. While the frame is held high and far to the left, put the left arm through the shoulder strap and pull the strap into place.
  4. Buckle the hip belt in place and adjust the shoulder straps to hold the frame high on your back. Tighten the hip belt to relieve the pressure on the shoulder straps.
  5. To remove the pack, reverse the procedure described and shown in the animated diagram. Just remember never let the loaded frame drop on one leg as damage may occur. With practice a loaded frame can be put on or taken off with ease and without injury or damage to the packer or the frame.


The Importance Of A Properly Fitted Backpack

A properly fitted, well made backpack is extremely important. For new Scouts, an external frame pack that is sized to fit your son is recommended. Important elements to look for in a good external pack are:

  1. A good pack frame will have welded construction Well padded hip belt that will tighten snugly just above his hips. The belt should be tight enough to support the pack on the belt when loaded with 25 to 30 lbs.
  2. The hip belt supports the weight, not the shoulder straps. Well padded shoulder pads.
  3. The shoulder straps should be attached to the frame high enough above the shoulder that the straps come down from the frame to the front of the shoulder. The straps should not be resting on the top of the shoulder. The straps are designed to hold the pack against the back, not carry the load.
  4. Good quality sleeping bag and tent straps should also be bought to securely fasten the bag and tent to the pack. Straps should be a minimum of 1″ wide with a sturdy buckle system.
  5. Bungee or elastic cords should not be used to fasten items to the exterior of the pack because these allow the load to shift and bounce around.
  6. NOTE: When a backpack is fully loaded with all necessary gear and equipment it should not weigh more than 20% to 25% of the total body weight of the person who is carrying the pack.
  7. An overloaded, too heavy pack will lead to quick fatigue, possible physical injury, and for certain an unpleasant backpacking experience.
  8. Recommended brands for new smaller scouts include:
    1. CAMP TRAILS – ADJUSTABLE II MED. for larger new scouts
    2. CAMP TRAILS – SKIPPER for small scouts
    3. CAMP TRAILS – SMALL OR MED. for most new scouts
    4. PEAK I PLASTIC FRAME PACK several models to choose from
    5. KELTY YUKON YOUTH PACK – belt adjusts down to 22″
    6. SUGGESTION: Buy a pack that fits now and sell it to a smaller scout when your son outgrows it. Packs will not loose their value if cared for properly.



A good sleeping bag is a great investment which will last for many years. A mummy style bag is recommended since it is lighter weight and the warmest. The insulation in the bag should be synthetic Hollofil or Quallofil. Down is warmer and lighter, however, it looses all of its effectiveness when it gets wet. This is not the case with the synthetic insulation. Down filled sleeping bags loose up to 90% of their thermal properties were a Synthetic filled sleeping bag retains up to 85% of its thermal properties.

A good bag will be made with offset or slant layer construction which will not be sewn all the way through the inner and outer covering. Recommended bag weight for backpacking is 1 to 2.5 lbs. maximum and the bag should be rated for 20 to 40 degrees for this region of the can always make it more effective by adding a fleece or other type liner.

The best bag I’ve found for warmer weather is the Marmot Pounder™. It’s a 40° bag that weights about 15 ozs and packs out to 4 X 5 Inches (Yes Inches)

For larger scouts and adults with a little extra girth, the Big Angus Lost Dog™ is about 6″ wider than the average bag, the 50° version Packs out at 6″ X 4″ and weighs a scant 1 lb 4 oz.

These types of Bags a very expensive but last forever, be careful choosing the weight, size packed, and fill of the bag. Also the rated degrees is VERY important, you can supplement bags with extra blankets on camp outs or double up the bags when it gets real cold. I own a 40° and a 0° bag.


A closed cell foam sleeping pad is a must for winter camping, since it insulates you from the cold earth. Also the sleeping pad provides some padding against the hard ground. Pads come in ¾ length and full length, 3/8″ and ½” thickness. Pads come in smooth and ridge constructions.

Also available are self-inflating sleeping pads of various styles and depths. These pads weigh more than a foam pad and are not recommended for new scouts who need to conserve weight.

The best I’ve found is a Therm-a-Rest ProLite 4 Sleeping Pad™. It is a 4 season sleeping pad that weighs only 1 Lb. 6 Oz. and packs up to a compressed size of 4.8 X 11 Inches. It is a self inflating pad that is 1.5 inches and has an insulting factor (R-Factor) of 3.2. The ProLite 3 is 1 inch and has an R-Factor of 2.5 but only weighs a couple of oz’s. less.


lightsabre bivy baggedThe tent you select should be a backpacking style weighing approximately 4 lbs. or less. It should be fitted with a rain fly which comes almost to the ground, otherwise rain can blow under the fly. Free standing tents work best for the new scouts since they can be easily moved after set up and they can be cleaned out by lifting up and shaking them out. Tents without a lot of guy ropes to trip over are preferred.LightSabre Bivy

I personally don’t use a tent when I backpack, I use a bivy. There are many kinds of Bivies and I would suggest getting a bivy that has head room. I use a LightSabre Bivy by Black Diamond™ This is my tent, it gives me the benefit of sleeping under the stars, removes the claustrophobia associated with most bivy’s, is really breathable on hot nights and when the seams are sealed it’s water proof. It weighs 1.4 lbs and packs very small (Look Left). My Tent, Sleeping Bag and Sleeping Pad weigh less than 4 lbs together which is what a normal backpacking tent weights by itself.

You could take it even one step further. If you know for sure you’ll be in the woods while sleeping…and it’s warm…Skip the sleeping pad, tent, and sleeping bag. Use a hammock! I use a Hennessy Hammock™ Scout Model, Costs about $75 and only weighs 2 lbs 8 oz., holds 200+ lbs, has a rain fly and has a 1 oz. 20D polyester NoSeeUm netting. Inexpensive, Light, Waterproof, Bugproof, what more could you ask !

I do however, use a REI Marino Wool™ liner, it’s really small, light and I hate sleeping on nylon.


Good rain gear is important. The weather can change in a matter of minutes. Being wet is most uncomfortable. Do not cut corners. Ponchos provide quick access to rain gear. A coated nylon style, properly sized for the wearer to maximize protection without dragging the ground will last for many years. Rain suits are more expensive, provide better protection but cannot be worn as many years.

  • I use two Outdoor Products™ Regular Multi-Use Backpacking Ponchos
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Rustproof snaps
  • Full cut hood & drawstring closure
  • Water-resistant urethane coated nylon taffeta
  • Resealable polybag package

The reason I have two ponchos is when backpacking I use my backpack as a “Bear Bag” and cover it with the second poncho for extra waterproofing. The first poncho I use normally as a poncho so I can get out of my Bivy or hammock dry. In addition, I could use the second poncho to build a survival shelter if needed.


Boots and socks that are made for hiking are important. Boots should be ankle height to give support to the ankle. They can be made of leather or a combination of leather and heavy cordura cloth. Leather boots treated with a sealant like “Snow Seal” will be some what water proof, yet allow the boot to breathe. The cordura boots are lighter in weight but are not waterproof unless you choose a pair with Gor-Tex, which greatly increases the price.

Hiking boots should always be worn with sock liners (polypropylene or silk) and wool hiking socks. The liner socks will stick to the heel and foot. The wool sock will stick to the boot. The friction of the foot moving inside the boot will occur between the two pair of socks not between layers of the skin, which causes blisters.

Make sure that you wear hiking sock liners and wool hiking socks when you go to try boots on in the store. Before wearing boots on a hike the boots should be worn around the house for several days to break them in properly.


Maps & Map Reading

A map is a two-dimensional representation of the three-dimensional world you’ll be hiking in. We have a lot of TOPO Maps of our area here. We also have Trail Guides here.

All maps will have some basic features in common and map reading is all about learning to understand their particular “language.” You’ll end up using a variety of maps to plan and run your trip but perhaps the most useful map is a topographic map. A topographic map uses markings such as contour lines to simulate the three-dimensional topography of the land on a two-dimensional map. In the U.S. these maps are usually U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) maps. Other maps that you’ll find helpful are be local trail maps which often have more accurate and up-to-date information on specific trails than USGS maps do. Here’s a brief overview of the basic language of maps.


Latitude and Longitude

Maps are drawn based on latitude and longitude lines. Latitude lines run east and west and measure the distance in degrees north or south from the equator (0° latitude). Longitude lines run north and south intersecting at the geographic poles. Longitude lines measure the distance in degrees east and west from the prime meridian that runs through Greenwich, England. The grid created by latitude and longitude lines allows us to calculate an exact point using these lines as X axis and Y axis coordinates.

Both latitude and longitude are measured in degrees (°).

1° = 60 minutes

1 minute = 60 seconds


7 ½ minutes = 1/8 of 60 minutes = 1/8 of a degree

15 minutes = ¼ of 60 minutes = ¼ of a degree



All maps will list their scales in the margin or legend. A scale of 1:250,000 (be it inches, feet, or meters) means that 1 unit on the map is the equivalent of 250,000 units in the real world. So 1 inch measured on the map would be the equivalent of 250,000 inches in the real world. Most USGS maps are either 1:24,000, also known as 7 ½ minute maps, or 1:62,500, known as 15 minute maps (the USGS is no longer issuing 15 minute maps although the maps will remain in print for some time).

Standard topographic maps are usually published in 7.5-minute quadrangles. The map location is given by the latitude and longitude of the southeast (lower right) corner of the quadrangle. The date of the map is shown in the column following the map name; a second date indicates the latest revision. Photo-revised maps have not been field checked.


Map Size Scale Covers Map to Landscape Metric
7½ Minute 1:24,000 1/8 of a degree 1 inch = 2,000 feet (3/8 mile)2.64 inches = 1 mile (1 centimeter = 240 meters)
15 minute 1:62,500 ¼ of a degree 1 inch = ~1 mile (1 centimeter = 625 meters)


Map Symbols and Colors:

USGS topographic maps use the following symbols and colors to designate different features

  • Black – man-made features such as roads, buildings, etc.
  • Blue – water, lakes, rivers, streams, etc.
  • Brown – contour lines
  • Green – areas with substantial vegetation (could be forest, scrub, etc.)
  • White – areas with little or no vegetation; white is also used to depict permanent snowfields and glaciers
  • Red – major highways; boundaries of public land areas
  • Purple – features added to the map since the original survey. These features are based on aerial photographs but have not been checked on land.


Map Legend

Map Legend

The map legend contains a number of important details. The figures below display a standard USGS map legend. In addition, a USGS map includes latitude and longitude as well as the names of the adjacent maps (depicted on the top, bottom, left side, right side and the four corners of the map). The major features on the map legend are show below.

  1. Map Name
  2. Year of Production and Revision
  3. General Location in State
  4. Next Adjacent Quadrangle Map
  5. Map Scale
  6. Distance Scale
  7. Contour Interva
  8. Magnetic Declination
  9. Latitude and Longitude

Map Lengend Colorado Map 1

Map Lengend Colorado Map 2

Map Lengend Colorado Map 3


Contour Lines

Contour lines are a method of depicting the 3-dimensional character of the terrain on a 2-dimensional map. Just like isobars in the atmosphere depict lines of equal atmospheric pressure, contour lines drawn on the map represent equal points of height above sea level.

Look at the three-dimensional drawing of the mountain below. Imagine that it is an island at low tide. Draw a line all around the island at the low tide level. Three hours later, as the tide has risen, draw another line at the water level and again three hours later. You will have created three contour lines each with a different height above sea level. As you see below, the three dimensional shape of the mountain is mapped by calculating lines of equal elevation all around the mountain, and then transferring these lines onto the map.

On multi-colored maps, contour lines are generally represented in brown. The map legend will indicate the contour interval-the distance in feet (meters, etc.) between each contour line. There will be heavier contour lines every 4th or 5th contour line that are labeled with the height above sea level. The images below illustrate how a variety of surface features can be identified from contour lines.

Color Contour Front View

Color Contour top View

Drawn Contour Lines

  • Steep slopes – contours are closely spaced
  • Gentle slopes – contours are less closely spaced
  • Valleys – contours form a V-shape pointing up the hill – these V’s are always an indication of a drainage path which could also be a stream or river.
  • Ridges – contours form a V-shape pointing down the hill
  • Summits – contours forming circles
  • Depressions – are indicated by circular contour with lines radiating to the center


Measuring Distances

There are a number of ways to measure distance accurately on a map. One is to use a piece of string or flexible wire to trace the intended route. After tracing out your route, pull the string straight and measure it against the scale line in the map legend. Another method is to use a compass (the mathematical kind) set to a narrow distance on the map scale like ½ mile and then “walk off” your route. It is a good idea to be conservative and add 5-10% of the total distance to take into account things like switchbacks that don’t appear on the map. It’s better to anticipate a longer route than a shorter one.

Using the Compass

The compass consists of a magnetized metal needle that floats on a pivot point. The needle orients to the magnetic field lines of the earth. The basic orienteering compass is composed of the following parts:

  • Base plate
  • Straight edge and ruler
  • Direction of travel arrow
  • Compass housing with 360° markings
  • North label
  • Index line
  • Orienting arrow
  • Magnetic needle (north end is red)

Map Compass


What is North?

No, this is not a silly question, there are two types of north.

True North: (also known as Geographic North or Map North – marked as H on a topographic map) is the geographic north pole where all longitude lines meet. All maps are laid out with true north directly at the top. Unfortunately for the wilderness traveler, true north is not at the same point on the earth as the magnetic north Pole which is where your compass points.

Magnetic North: Think of the earth as a giant magnet (it is actually). The shape of the earth’s magnetic field is roughly the same shape as the field of a bar magnet. However, the earth’s magnetic field is inclined at about 11° from the axis of rotation of the earth, so this means that the earth’s magnetic pole doesn’t correspond to the Geographic North Pole and because the earth’s core is molten, the magnetic field is always shifting slightly. The red end of your compass needle is magnetized and wherever you are, the earth’s magnetic field causes the needle to rotate until it lies in the same direction as the earth’s magnetic field. This is magnetic north (marked as MN on a topographic map). If you locate yourself at any point in the U.S., your compass will orient itself parallel to the lines of magnetic force in that area.

Graphic Showing Declination



You can see that location makes a great deal of difference in where the compass points. The angular difference between true north and magnetic north is known as the declination and is marked in degrees on your map. Depending on where you are, the angle between true north and magnetic north is different. In the U.S., the angle of declination varies from about 20° west in Maine to about 21° east in Washington. The magnetic field lines of the earth are constantly changing, moving slowly westward (½ to 1° every five years). This is why it is important to have a recent map. An old map will show a declination that is no longer accurate, and all your calculations using that declination angle will be incorrect. As you will see, understanding this distinction becomes important when navigating with a map and a compass.

Buy Your Compass for the Right Area:

As well as the magnetic deviation east or west, compasses also show a vertical “dip” up and down. This dip varies in different parts of the world and compasses are specially calibrated for that dip. So you can’t take a compass made for North America and use it in South America and get accurate readings.

Which North to Use

So we have two types of north to contend with. When you look at your map, it is drawn in relation to true north; when you look at your compass, it points to magnetic north. To make the map and compass work together you must decide on one North as your point of reference and base all your calculations on that. As you can see the following chart, failure to take declination into account can put you way off target.

Declination or Degrees Off Course Error Off Target after Walking 10 Miles
920 feet (280 meters)
4,600 feet (1,402 meters)
10° 9,170 feet (2,795 meters)

Using Map and Compass

Even after years of using a map and compass I could never remember how to correct for declination. Do I add declination or subtract it? What if I’m out west versus in the east? While navigating through dense fog on a sea kayaking trip, I finally came up with an easy way to remember. As long as you remember the basic principles, you can easily work it out in your head.

What’s your Map Declination?

The first thing you need to know is where you are in relation to magnetic north. You can find this information by looking on your map legend. If you look at the map of North America in below you will see the line roughly marking 0° declination. If you are on the line where the declination is 0°, then you don’t have to worry about any of this, since magnetic north and map north are equivalent. (Wouldn’t it be nice if all your trips were on the 0° of declination line?) If you are to the right of that line, your compass will point toward the line (to the left) and hence the declination is to the west. If you are to the left of the line, your compass will point toward the line (to the right) and hence the declination is to the east.



The compass is used primarily to take bearings. A bearing is a horizontal angle measured clockwise from north (either magnetic north or true north) to some point (either a point on a map or a point in the real world). Bearings are used to accurately travel to a destination or to locate your position. If you are working from your map, it is called a map bearing and the angle you are measuring is the angle measured clockwise from true north on your map to this other point on the map. If you are taking a bearing off a real point on the landscape with a compass, you are using your compass to measure the angle clockwise from magnetic north to this point on the landscape. This is called a magnetic bearing. Remember that the bearing is measured clockwise. If you think of true north as 12 o’clock then a bearing to the right of that (1 o’clock) is greater than true north and a bearing to the left of True north (11 o’clock) is less than true north.

Graphic Showing Bearing

Map Bearings & Magnetic Bearings:

If, you think about your map as an artist’s rendition of the world. It displays true north, but it doesn’t include magnetic fields as the real world does, so you need to make accommodations when going from your map to the real world. The real world doesn’t have a true north-it’s merely a construct of the map-so you have to make accommodations when going from the real world to your map.. The basic principle is this: to correct for declination, you want the map bearing and the magnetic bearing to be equivalent. If you are lucky enough to be on the line where the declination is 0°, both are already equivalent, or if you orient your map with your compass then you have made the two equivalent. Otherwise, you will need to make your own bearing corrections by adding or subtracting the declination amount. That gives us 4 possible permutations to work with:

  1. West Declination – Going from a Map Bearing to a Magnetic Bearing
  2. West Declination – Going from a Magnetic Bearing to a Map Bearing
  3. East Declination – Going from a Map Bearing to a Magnetic Bearing
  4. East Declination – Going from a Magnetic Bearing to a Map Bearing

West Declination:

If your declination is west, then magnetic north is less than true north and the map bearing is less than (<) the magnetic bearing . You need to make the two bearings equivalent by adding or subtracting the declination.

Map Bearing to Magnetic Bearing: If you are taking a bearing from one point on your map to another point on the map with respect to true north, then you are working with the map bearing. Now you want to figure out where your position is in the magnetic bearing. In order to transfer this information back to your magnetic bearing you need to add the declination to your map bearing to create the proper magnetic bearing. Map bearing + Declination = Magnetic Bearing.

Magnetic Bearing to Map Bearing: If you use your compass to take a bearing from your current position to a point on the landscape, then you are working with the magnetic bearing. Now you want to figure out where your position is on the map. In order to transfer this information back to your map you need to subtract the declination from your magnetic bearing compass bearing to create the proper map bearing. Magnetic Bearing – Declination = Map Bearing

Graphic Showing West Declination

East Declination:

If your declination is east then magnetic north is greater than true north the map bearing is greater than the magnetic bearing. You need to make the two world’s equivalent by adding or subtracting the declination.

Map Bearing to Magnetic Bearing: If you are taking a bearing from one point on your map to another point on the map with respect to true north, then you are working with the map bearing. Now you want to figure out where your position is in the magnetic bearing. In order to transfer this information back to your magnetic bearing you need to subtract the declination from your map bearing compass bearing to create the proper magnetic bearing. Map bearing – Declination = Magnetic Bearing.

Magnetic Bearing to Map Bearing: If you use your compass to take a bearing from your current position to a point on the landscape, then you are working with the magnetic bearing. Now you want to figure out where your position is on the map. In order to transfer this information back to your map you need to add the declination from your magnetic bearing compass bearing to create the proper map bearing. Magnetic bearing + Declination = Map Bearing.

Graphic Showing East Declination

If the declination is… Then… Map Bearing to Magnetic Bearing Magnetic Bearing to Map Bearing
West Magnetic North < True North Map Bearing is < the Magnetic Bearing Map Bearing + Declination = Magnetic Bearing Magnetic Bearing – Declination = Map Bearing
East Magnetic North > True North Map Bearing is > the Magnetic Bearing Map Bearing – Declination = Magnetic Bearing Magnetic Bearing + Declination = Map Bearing


Using Map & Compass Together

Adjusting Your Compass for the Local Declination:

Another way to deal with declination is to adjust your compass. Some compasses have an outer degree ring that can be unlocked either with a set screw or a latch. This allows you to reset the compass to account for declination. For example, if the declination were 14° East, you could rotate the degree dial to the right so that the magnetic needle was pointing to 14° instead of 360°. Once you do this, you will no longer have to add or subtract for declination because your compass is aligned to true north. Now when the compass needle is inside the orienting needle, the compass bearing that you read off your compass will be in relation to true north instead of magnetic north. If you have a fixed-ring compass, you can mark the declination angle on the compass ring with a piece of tape.

Check Your Position Regularly

Make it a habit of keeping your map and compass handy and refer to them every hour or so to locate your position (more often in low visibility). Keep track of your starting time, rest breaks and lunch stops, and general hiking pace. This will also give you an idea of how far you have traveled and whether your Time Control Plan is accurate.

Orienting the Map:

It is easiest to read a map if the map is oriented to the surrounding landscape. If you see a valley on your left, then the valley shows on the left on the map. You can do this by eye or with your compass.

Using Land Features: Lay the map on the ground or hold it horizontally. Rotate the map until recognized features on the ground roughly align with those on the map.

Using a Compass:

  1. Identify your declination from your map. If your declination is West of true north, subtract the declination from 360°. If your declination is East of true north.
  2. Set the compass at the correct declination bearing so that you compensate for declination.
  3. Place your compass on the map so that the edge of the baseplate lies is parallel to the east or west edge of the map with the direction of travel arrow toward the north edge of the map.
  4. Holding the compass on the map, rotate the map with the compass
    until the north end of the magnetic needle points to the N on the compass housing (i.e. the red north end of the magnetic needle and the orienting arrow align). This is often referred to as “boxing the needle” since the magnetic needle is inside the “box” formed by the orienting arrow. The map is now oriented with respect to magnetic north. This means that the compass needle direction north is the same as true north on the map. You can also place the compass on the map so that the edge of the baseplate lies along the magnetic north indicator line on the map legend at the bottom and rotate the map as described above. This may give you a more accurate orientation for your map.

Identify Terrain Features:

With the map oriented, look around for prominent features landscape features such as mountains, valleys, lakes, rivers, etc. Make a mental note of the geographical features you will be traveling along and seeing during the day. If you keep the terrain in your mind, you will usually have a general idea of where you are just by looking around.

Tricks of the Trail

Orient Your Map: You can eliminate the need to correct for declination if you use your compass to orient the map each time. As long as the map is oriented with respect to magnetic north, any bearings you take from map to compass or compass to map will be the same. For this reason, it’s a good idea to always take the time to orient your map. It will make your life much easier. It also means that each time you use your map, your will need to re-orient it with your compass.

Real Life Scenarios Let’s look at some common backcountry scenarios and see how you can use your map and compass to navigate.

Scenario #1 – Lost in the Fog: Okay, you hike in along the trail and then bushwack off trail to a nearby alpine lake to camp. When you wake up the next morning, you are fogged in. You know where you are on the map, but you can’t see to find your way out. What you need to do is take a bearing on your map from your known campsite back to a known point on the trail that you can identify on the map. Then follow your bearing through the fog. Here’s your procedure:

Taking a Bearing from the Map (Map Not Oriented):

  1. Lay the long edge of the compass base plate on the map, making a line from the starting point to the destination (from point X to point Y). Since the base plate is parallel to the direction of travel arrow, the base plate can be used to set the direction to the destination.
  2. Holding the base plate steady, rotate the compass housing until the compass orienting lines and orienting arrow are pointing to true north. Here you see the orienting lines and arrow are parallel to the line from A to B as well as to the map gridlines.
    Read the bearing (in degrees) from the degree dial at the point on the compass base plate marked “Read bearing here.” In this case the bearing is 346°.

Taking a Map Bearing

Taking a Bearing from the Map (Map Oriented to Magnetic North):

  1. Orient the map with the compass.
  2. Lay the long edge of the compass base plate on the map, making a line from the starting point to the destination (from X to Y). Since the base plate is parallel to the direction of travel arrow, the base plate can be used to set the direction to the destination.
  3. Holding the baseplate steady, rotate the compass housing until the orienting arrow coincides with the North end of the magnetic needle (known as “boxing the arrow”).
  4. Read the bearing (in degrees) from the degree dial at the point on the compass base plate marked “Read bearing here.” In this case the bearing is 338°.

Taking a Magnetic Bearing

Scenario #2 – Heading to the Summit: You have been hiking along the trail and found a good campsite that is marked on the map. You see a summit ridge above treeline that looks like a great place for photographs, but there’s a valley thick with Douglas fir between you and the summit. What you need to do is take a bearing from your current position to the summit and use that to travel through the forest. Here’s your procedure:

Taking a Bearing from the Land:

  1. Point the compass direction of travel arrow to the destination on the land.
  2. Rotate the compass housing until the north orienting arrow of the compass housing lines up with the red magnetic needle. This is referred to as “boxing the needle,” since you want the needle to be inside the box defined by the orienting arrow. The north orienting arrow must be pointing in the same direction as the red (north) magnetic needle. Your compass will look like the figure above with the needle boxed.
  3. Read the bearing (in degrees) from the degree dial at the point on the compass base plate “Read bearing here.”

Walking a Bearing Taken from the Land:

  1. After taking the bearing, as described above, hold the compass level and in front of you, so that the direction of travel arrow points to the destination.
  2. Rotate your whole body until the magnetic needle lies directly over the orienting arrow. Make sure the north end of the magnetic needle points to N on the compass housing. The direction of travel arrow points to the destination.
  3. Site a prominent feature to which your direction of travel arrow points. Walk to that feature.
  4. Continue to sight on other features along the bearing and walk to them, until you reach your destination.

Walking a Bearing Taken from the Map:

To walk a bearing taken from the map, you may need to correct for declination if you did not orient the map to magnetic north before you took your bearing. Once you have corrected for declination, follow the same procedure as indicated above for walking a bearing taken from the land.

Techniques for Walking a Bearing:

Sometimes the terrain isn’t always so cooperative to let you just follow your bearing in a straight line so there are a number of techniques to use when traveling on a bearing.

Line of Sight – Walk to an obvious landmark-a tree or boulder that is directly on the bearing. Then take another bearing on the next obvious landmark and walk to that. Keep it up until you reach your destination. By going to intermediate landmarks, you minimize the chances of veering off your bearing.

Scenario #3 – Retracing Your Steps to Camp:

You got to the summit and got some great photos, even one of a baby mountain goat. Now it’s time to get back to your campsite. You could just follow your back bearing (see below) back to your location, but there is bound to be some error, when you hit the trail where will you be in relation to your campsite? The best bet is to intentionally aim off. Here’s your procedure:

Back Bearings To check your position while walking a bearing, you can take a back bearing. Before you start to walk on your bearing, turn around take a bearing 180° off of the bearing you are going to walk. For example, if you are going to walk a bearing of 45°, shoot a bearing directly opposite your course of 225°. Locate some landmark along this bearing. Once you have moved a short distance along your bearing, turn around and shoot a bearing back to that landmark. If you are on course, that bearing will still read 180° off your bearing of travel (in this case 225°). If it doesn’t, it means that you are off course. Sailors and sea kayakers use back bearings all the time to check for lateral drift from wind or currents. Back bearings are also useful if you are heading out to someplace and then returning along the same line of travel. There are two basic formulas for calculating a back bearing.

First Aid

ALWAYS dial 911 first if possible.

  • This document is meant for informational purposes only. Troop 75 presents this information solely as a guideline to understand what should be accomplished by qualified personnel ONLY.
  • The first aid and/or medical information recommended and provided in this website are based upon responsible medical sources.
  • BSA Troop 75 or its Members does not assume responsibility for any adverse consequences or reactions resulting from the use of any products or procedures suggested herein.
  • Each person is urged to consult a physician, when circumstances permit, before using any medications or employing any of the recommendations provided herein.


What should EVERY Scouter Have ?

A First Aid Kit!

First Aid Kit

And a great understanding of First Aid Procedures!


Order of Priority in an Emergency

  1. In EVERY emergency situation, there is a logical order to be followed. First, it is important to carefully assess the scene of an emergency BEFORE any further steps are taken. The purpose of this assessment is to assure it is safe to provide first aid care. For example, an unconscious victim might be lying on a live power line. If a rescuer were to touch the victim before the power could be shut off, the rescuer would become a victim as well! Always be sure it is safe before you attempt to help a victim!
  2. Once you determine it is safe for you to help a victim, you should immediately determine if the victim has any life threatening conditions.
  3. Begin by checking to see if the victim is responsive. Kneel and ask, ” ARE YOU OK?” If there is no response, you must immediately summon an ambulance! Recent studies have conclusively shown that victims who are not breathing and do not have a heartbeat have a substantially greater chance for survival if they receive prompt advanced medical care in a hospital or by trained paramedics.
  4. Only after a call is placed for emergency medical services does a volunteer attempt to further help an unconscious victim.
  5. If there are bystanders on the scene, summon someone to your side to provide assistance.
  6. If the victim is on his stomach, first place the victim’s arm closest to you above his head. Then turn him over by placing one hand on the victim’s hip and the other hand at the victim’s shoulder. Turn the body in a smooth, even straight line so as to not cause further injury in the event of existing spinal cord injury.
  7. With the victim now on his back, OPEN THE VICTIM’S AIRWAY by placing the heel of your hand on the victim’s forehead and the tips of your fingers under the bony part of the jaw.
  8. Push down on the forehead while lifting up the chin until the jaw is pointing straight up. Now place your ear over the victim’s mouth and LOOK, LISTEN & FEEL for breathing for 3 to 5 seconds. LOOK at the chest to see if it is rising, LISTEN for sounds of breathing and FEEL for air coming from the victim.



While this tutorial identifies life threatening conditions requiring rescue breathing or CPR, these skills require intensive classroom skill, development and practice and cannot be effectively presented or taught in this tutorial. Troop 75 leadership strongly encourages everyone to enroll in a CPR course

Rescue breathing will provide vital oxygen to a victim who cannot breath on their own. After giving a victim two breaths, the pulse is checked at the Carotid Artery to ascertain if the victim has a heartbeat. This artery is located on the side of the neck and is found by first positioning the fingers on the victim’s Adam’s Apple, then sliding the fingers down into the soft groove on the side of the neck. The pulse is checked for 5 to 10 seconds.

If the victim has a heartbeat, but is not breathing, RESCUE BREATHING is required. If the victim is NOT breathing AND does NOT have a HEARTBEAT, CPR is required without delay!

These initial steps of checking the AIRWAY, BREATHING and CIRCULATION (pulse), together with a check for major BLEEDING, constitute THE PRIMARY SURVEY, which looks for life-threatening conditions!

In every instance where first aid is to be provided, it is important to always ask a conscious victim for permission to help them. If a victim is unconscious, it is presumed they have provided consent for you to assist them.

First Aid Procedures

  • Obstructions in the Airway

NOTE: Emergency treatment of airway obstructions is taught as part of CPR training and only through classroom practice can the necessary skills be mastered. The mechanics of handling airway obstructions are presented in this tutorial are for background insight only

If an individual is choking – but can speak or cough forcibly – there is an exchange of air (although it might be diminished) and you should encourage the victim to continue coughing while you just stand by! On the other hand, if a victim is choking, but CANNOT speak or cough, an airway obstruction exists which must be treated immediately!

The treatment for an obstructed airway in a conscious victim involves use of the HEIMLICH MANEUVER which is performed as follows:

  1. Stand behind the victim.
  2. Wrap your arms around the victim’s waist.
  3. Make a fist with one hand and place the thumb side of the fist against the victim’s abdomen just above the navel and well below the lower tip of the breast bone.
  4. Grasp your fist with your other hand, with elbows out, and press your fist into the victim’s abdomen with quick, upward thrusts.
  5. Each thrust is a distinct, separate attempt to dislodge the foreign object.
  6. Repeat thrusts until foreign object is cleared or the victim becomes unconscious.

Emergency treatment of airway obstructions in an unconscious victim is taught in CPR classes.

  • Heart Attack

Heart attacks are among the leading cause of death in the United States. A heart attack happens when one or more of the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart become blocked. When this occurs, cells in the heart begin to die when they cannot get blood for vital nourishment. If a large part of the heart is deprived of blood, the heart stops beating and the victim suffers CARDIAC ARREST!

When a victim’s heart stops beating, they require CARDIOPULMONARY RESUSCITATION (CPR) which provides vital oxygen through rescue breathing and which maintains circulation through chest compressions.

Proper training is required to perform CPR, however any heart attack can lead to cardiac arrest and it is therefore vital for first aiders to be able to recognize the early warning signs of a heart attack so the victim can receive prompt professional attention!

A heart attack victim whose heart is still beating has a much better chance of survival than a victim whose heart has stopped! Most heart attack victims who die succumb within 2 hours after having their heart attack. Many of these victims could be saved if bystanders recognize the symptoms of a heart attack and get the victim to a hospital quickly! Indeed, many victims of heart attacks think they are experiencing HEARTBURN or other minor discomfort when in fact their life is in jeopardy!

The most significant sign of a heart attack is chest pain. The victim may describe it as pressure, a feeling of tightness in the chest, aching, crushing, fullness or tightness, constricting or heavy pain. The pain may be located in the center of the chest although it is not uncommon for the pain to radiate to one or both shoulders or arms or to the neck, jaw or back.

In addition to pain, victims may experience sweating, nausea or shortness of breath. Many victims deny they may be having a heart attack. Others may have their condition worsened by fear of dying.

With all victims of heart attacks – and with all victims receiving first aid for any condition – it is important for the rescuer to constantly reassure the victim and keep them as calm and relaxed as possible.

The psychological value of reassurance is as important in first aid as any treatments!


  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of a heart attack
  • Comfort and reassure the victim
  • Have the victim stop whatever they were doing and sit or lie in a comfortable position
  • Summon emergency medical help quickly
  • If the victim become unconscious, be prepared to perform CPR

All of us can reduce the risk of heart attack by controlling high blood pressure, limiting cholesterol in the diet, watching weight, exercising, giving up smoking and minimizing stress.

  • Bleeding

Major bleeding may be a life-threatening condition requiring immediate attention. Bleeding may be external or internal. Bleeding may be from an ARTERY, a major blood vessel which carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart throughout the body. It may be from a VEIN, which carries blood back to the heart to be oxygenated or bleeding may be from a CAPILLARY, the smallest of our body’s blood vessels.

ARTERIAL bleeding is characterized by spurts with each beat of the heart, is bright red in color (although blood darkens when it meets the air) and is usually severe and hard to control. ARTERIAL bleeding requires immediate attention!

VENUS bleeding is characterized by a steady flow and the blood is dark, almost maroon in shade. Venus bleeding is easier to control than Arterial bleeding.

CAPILLARY bleeding is usually slow, oozing in nature and this type of bleeding usually has a higher risk of infection than other types of bleeding.

First aid for bleeding is intended to:


How to control bleeding

Apply DIRECT PRESSURE on the wound. use a dressing, if available. if a dressing is not available, use a rag, towel, piece of clothing or your hand alone.


Once pressure is applied, keep it in place. If dressings become soaked with blood, apply new dressings over the old dressings. DO NOT remove the old dressing. The less a bleeding wound is disturbed; the easier it will be to stop the bleeding!

If bleeding continues, and you do not suspect a fracture, ELEVATE the wound above the level of the heart and continue to apply direct pressure.

If the bleeding still cannot be controlled, the next step is to apply PRESSURE AT A PRESSURE POINT. For wounds of the arms or hands, pressure points are located on the inside of the wrist ( radial artery-where a pulse is checked) or on the inside of the upper arm (brachial artery). For wounds of the legs, the pressure point is at the crease in the groin (femoral artery). Steps 1 and 2 should be continued with use of the pressure points.

The final step to control bleeding is to apply a PRESSURE BANDAGE over the wound. Note the distinction between a dressing and a bandage. A dressing may be a gauze square applied directly to a wound, while a bandage, such as roll gauze, is used to hold a dressing in place. Pressure should be used in applying the bandage. After the bandage is in place, it is important to check the pulse to make sure circulation is not interrupted. When faced with the need to control major bleeding, it is not important that the dressings you will use are sterile! use whatever you have at hand and work fast!

A slow pulse rate, or bluish fingertips or toes, signal a bandage may be impeding circulation.

Signs and symptoms of INTERNAL BLEEDING are:

  • bruised,swollen, tender or rigid abdomen
  • bruises on chest or signs of fractured ribs
  • blood in vomit
  • wounds that have penetrated the chest or abdomen
  • bleeding from the rectum or vagina
  • abnormal pulse and difficulty breathing
  • cool, moist skin

First aid in the field for internal bleeding is limited. If the injury appears to be a simple bruise, apply cold packs to slow bleeding, relieve pain and reduce swelling. If you suspect more severe internal bleeding, carefully monitor the patient and be prepared to administer CPR if required (and you are trained to do so). You should also reassure the victim, control external bleeding, care for shock (covered in next section), loosen tight-fitting clothing and place victim on side so fluids can drain from the mouth.

  • Shock

SHOCK is common with many injuries, regardless of their severity. The first hour after an injury is most important because it is during this period that symptoms of shock appear.



Shock is failure of the cardiovascular system to keep adequate blood circulating to the vital organs of the body, namely the heart, lungs and brain.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF SHOCK INCLUDE: confused behavior, very fast or very slow pulse rate, very fast or very slow breathing, trembling and weakness in the arms or legs, cool and moist skin, pale or bluish skin, lips and fingernails and enlarged pupils.

Treatment for Shock

A good rule to follow is to anticipate that shock will follow an injury and to take measures to prevent it before it happens.

  • Putting a victim in a lying-down position improves circulation.
  • If the victim is not suspected of having head or neck injuries, or leg fractures, elevate the legs.
  • If you suspect head or neck injuries, keep the victim lying flat. If the victim vomits, turn on their side.
  • If victim is experiencing trouble breathing, place them in a semi-reclining position. Maintain the victim’s body temperature, but do not overheat.

  • Burns

The severity of a burn depends upon its size, depth and location. Burns are most severe when located on the face, neck, hands, feet and genitals. Also, when they are spread over large parts of the body or when they are combined with other injuries.

Burns result in pain, infection and shock. They are most serious when the victims are very young or very old.

Types of Burns

First Degree
The first-degree burn usually produces a pink to reddish color on the burned skin. Mild swelling, tenderness and pain are also symptoms of a first-degree burn. This is the least serious type of burn and involves only the upper layer of skin, the epidermis.For these minor burns, the victim should cool with plain water and use non-prescription antibiotic creams. These burns usually heal on their own within a few days with little or no scarring. However, if a first-degree burn is over a large area of the body, seek emergency medical attention. Also, if an infant or elderly person suffers any type of burn, even minor, obtain medical assistance promptly.
Second Degree
Second-degree burns involve the epidermis and the second skin layer, the dermis. The epidermis is destroyed and burned-through in a second-degree burn. There are the same symptoms of pain and swelling but the skin color is usually a bright red and blisters are produced. Usually second-degree burns produce scarring.Second degree burns may take from one to three weeks to heal but are considered minor if they cover no more than 15% of the total body area in adults and 10% body area in children. These burns require medical attention and medication to heal properly.Call for immediate medical help as soon as the burn occurs and do not apply any type of butter or greasy substance to the burn. This can hamper cooling of the burn area and also do further damage. Consult medical personnel about whether or not to administer fluids to victim before arriving at a hospital.
Third Degree
The third-degree burn may appear charred or have patches which appear white, brown or black. Both the dermis and epidermis are destroyed and other organs, tissues and bones may also be involved. Third-degree burns are considered the most serious. They produce deep scars that many times require cosmetic or reconstructive surgery and skin grafts. Pain may or may not be present since usually nerve endings which transmit pain have been destroyed in this type burn.Possible complications from burns include infection, tetanus, scarring, pneumonia and shock. Shock may set in due to the fluid and electrolyte loss in a serious burn.If present when a victim suffers an electrical burn, turn off the source of power as soon as possible. Do not touch the victim with bare hands. Try to move the victim with some non-conductive material like a wooden chair or board. Check for breathing and start mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if necessary. Call for immediate emergency help.In the case of chemical burns, put the affected area under a faucet and let cool water at medium pressure rinse the wound for at least 15 minutes. While area is being rinsed, call 911 for instructions on what to do next.Never try to remove jewelry or clothing from a burn victim before reaching a hospital if those items seem stuck to the skin.

If, after suffering a burn and undergoing treatment, you experience any of the following, seek medical help as soon as possible:

—chills, fever

—increased pain


—wound suddenly starts to bleed

  • Eye Injuries

Be extremely careful and gentle when treating eye injuries.

Floating objects in the eye which can be visualized may be flushed from the eye with water. If the object cannot be removed in this manner, the victim should seek medical attention.


First Aid care for these injuries consists of bandaging BOTH eyes and seeking professional care promptly! An inverted paper cup covered with a bandage is appropriate for serious eye injuries while the victim is transported to the hospital.

For chemical burns of the eye, wash the eye with copious (A LOT) amounts of water for 15 to 30 minutes. Then wrap a bandage around both eyes and seek professional help.

Eyes are delicate and sight is precious! Prompt professional attention to eye injuries is required to preserve sight!

  • Nose Injuries

Severe nosebleed can be most frightening. It can also lead to shock if enough blood is lost! Many cases of nosebleed can be controlled simply by having the victim sit down, pinch the nostrils shut and lean forward (to prevent blood from running into the throat).

Once the bleeding has been stopped, talking, walking and blowing the nose may disturb blood clots and allow the bleeding to resume. The victim should rest quietly until it appears the bleeding remains stopped.

If it is suspected that the victim has suffered head, neck or back injuries DO NOT attempt to control the blood flow as they may cause increased pressure on injured tissue. All uncontrolled nosebleeds require prompt medical attention!

  • Animal/Insect Bites

Animal Bites

Animal bites carry a high risk of infection and require professional attention promptly!

Infection may develop hours, or days, after an animal bite. Signs and symptoms of infection are pain and tenderness at the wound site, redness, heat, swelling, pus at the wound site, red streaks in the skin around the wound and possible swollen glands closest to the wound.

First aid care for animal bites includes washing the wound well with soap and water, if there is no heavy bleeding. Then cover the wound and seek professional attention. A serious wound should be cleaned only by trained medical personnel.

Insect Bites

Insect bites and stings can be life-threatening to people with severe allergy to the insect’s venom!

Signs and symptoms of allergic reaction include pain, swelling of the throat, redness or discoloration at the site of the bite, itching, hives, decreased consciousness and difficult or noisy breathing.

First aid calls for being alert for signs of allergic reaction or shock and seeking medical attention as quickly as possible for these victims!

If a stinger remains in the victim, you may try to remove it carefully with a tweezers or by scraping with the edge of a credit card. Be careful not to squeeze the stinger as this will inject more venom.

Once a stinger has been removed, the wound should be washed well with soap and water. Cold compresses will help relieve pain and swelling. The stung area should be kept lower than the heart to slow circulation of the venom.

Remember, in all cases of insect bites, watch for signs of allergic reaction and if they appear, seek professional medical attention without delay!

  • Fractures, Sprains, Strains & Dislocations

Fractures, sprains, strains and dislocations may be hard for the lay person to tell apart. For this reason, first aid treatment of any of these conditions is handled as though the injury was a fracture.

Signs and symptoms of the above conditions may include a “grating” sensation of bones rubbing together, pain, tenderness, swelling, bruising and an inability to move the injured part.

First Aid for any of these conditions consists of:

  • Control bleeding, if present.
  • Care for shock.
  • Splint affected area to prevent further movement, but do so only if possible without causing further pain to victim.
  • Cold packs may help reduce pain and swelling.

Victims with traumatic injuries, such as those caused by automobile accidents, falls etc. should not be moved except by trained rescue workers. Head, neck and back injuries are serious and require special care for movement and transport of victims with these conditions. In exceptional circumstances, such as when a victim is at risk of further injury unless moved, the victim’s head and neck should be stabilized and the body moved with minimal flexing of the head, neck or spinal cord.

All victims with fractures, dislocations, sprains and strains require professional medical attention.

  • Poisoning

Over a million cases of poisoning occur in the United States each year, most involving young children.

PREVENTION of poisoning should be the concern of every parent with young children.

Substances likely to cause poisoning should be kept away from inquiring youngsters!

Since various poisons cause different symptoms, and because treatments vary depending upon the substance ingested, the first step in the event of poisoning is to call the local POISON CONTROL CENTER!

Do not wait for symptoms to occur!

Identify the nature of the poison and receive specific care instructions from the professional staff at the center!

Have the poison control center number on hand


call 911 and get connected immediately.

All poisoning victims need to be monitored carefully for signs of shock or impaired consciousness.

Every household should keep ACTIVATED CHARCOAL and SYRUP OF IPECAC on hand for possible use in poisoning emergencies, however they should NOT be administered unless instructed by the Poison Control Center staff. Both of these items are readily available, without prescription, at any drug store.

  • Diabetic Emergencies

Sugar is required in the body for nourishment. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use the sugar. When the body does not produce enough Insulin, body cells do not get the needed nourishment and diabetes results.

People with this condition take Insulin to keep their diabetes under control.

Diabetics are subject to two very different types of emergencies:

Insulin Reaction (or Insulin Shock)

This condition occurs when there is TOO MUCH INSULIN in the body.

This condition rapidly reduces the level of sugar in the blood and brain cells suffer.

Insulin reaction can be caused by taking too much medication, by failing to eat, by heavy exercise and by emotional factors.

SIGNS and SYMPTOMS: Fast breathing, fast pulse, dizziness, weakness, change in the level of consciousness, vision difficulties, sweating, headache, numb hands or feet, and hunger.

Diabetic Coma

This condition occurs when there is TOO MUCH SUGAR and too little INSULIN in the blood and body cells do not get enough nourishment.

Diabetic coma can be caused by eating too much sugar, by not taking prescribed medications, by stress and by infection.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS: Diabetic coma develops more slowly than Insulin shock, sometimes over a period of days. Signs and symptoms include drowsiness, confusion,deep and fast breathing, thirst, dehydration, fever, a change in the level of consciousness and a peculiar sweet or fruity-smelling breath.

First Aid for Insulin Reaction and Diabetic Coma

Looking for the signs and symptoms listed above will help to distinguish the two diabetic emergencies. In addition, if the patient is conscious, you can ask two very important questions which will help determine the nature of the problem:


Someone who has eaten, but has not taken prescribed medication may be in a diabetic coma.


Someone who has not eaten, but did take their medication, may be having an Insulin reaction.

Distinguishing between the two types of diabetic emergencies can be difficult.

(Always look for an identifying bracelet which may reveal a person’s condition)

A person in insulin shock needs sugar, quickly! If the person is conscious, give sugar in any form: candy, fruit juice or a soft drink!

Sugar given to a person in insulin shock can be life-saving! If the person is suffering from diabetic coma, the sugar is not required but will not cause them further harm.

Monitor victims carefully. Seek professional help immediately.

  • Stroke

Stroke occurs when the blood flow to the brain is interrupted long enough to cause damage.

This may be caused by a clot formed in an artery in the brain or carried to the brain in the bloodstream, a ruptured artery in the brain or by compression of an artery in the brain, as found with brain tumors.

First aid consists primarily of recognizing signs and symptoms and seeking professional attention.

Signs and symptoms of a stroke include:

  • Weakness and numbness of the face, arm or leg, often on one side of the body only.
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Ringing in the ears
  • A change of mood
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Unconsciousness
  • Pupils of uneven size
  • Difficulty in breathing and swallowing
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control

If you suspect a person is having a stroke, have them stop whatever they are doing and rest.

Promptly obtain professional help. Reassure the victim and keep them comfortable. Do not give anything by mouth. If the victim vomits, allow for fluids to drain from the mouth. Observe carefully while awaiting professional help and, if trained to do so, monitor the airway, breathing and circulation and be prepared to administer rescue breathing or CPR, if required and you are trained!

  • Seizure

SEIZURES are fairly common occurances, but are very misunderstood! Seizures, per se, are not a specific condition. Rather, they may be caused by many different types of conditions such as insulin shock, high fevers, viral infections of the brain, head injuries or drug reactions.

When seizures recur with no identifiable cause, the person is said to have epilepsy.

Signs and Symptoms

Many individuals have a warning AURA (or sensation) before the onset of a seizure. Many times, a person about to have a seizure will physically move themselves from danger (as from the edge of a train platform) before the seizure begins.

Seizures can range from mild to severe. Mild seizures may take place and end in a matter of seconds.

Severe seizures may involve uncontrollable muscle spasms, rigidity, loss of consciousness, loss of bladder and bowel control, and in some cases, breathing that stops temporarily. Many epileptics carry cards or bracelets which identify their condition.

First Aid

Summon professional help. Prevent the person from injuring themselves by moving furniture or equipment.

Do not attempt to restrain a person suffering a seizure and do not put anything in their mouth!

Loosen clothing. If they vomit, turn on their side to allow fluids to drain. Stay with the person until they are fully conscious. If trained, administer rescue breathing or CPR, if required.

  • Heat Emergencies

There are three types of heat emergencies you may be required to treat.

Heat Stroke

This is the most serious type of heat emergency. It is LIFE-THREATENING and requires IMMEDIATE and AGGRESSIVE treatment!

Heat stroke occurs when the body’s heat regulating mechanism fails. The body temperature rises so high that brain damage –and death– may result unless the body is cooled quickly.


The victim’s skin is HOT, RED and usually DRY. Pupils are very small. The body temperature is VERY HIGH, sometimes as high as 105 degrees.


Remember, Heat Stroke is a life-threatening emergency and requires prompt action! Summon professional help. Get the victim into a cool place.


Place the victim into a bathtub of cool water, wrap in wet sheets, place in an air conditioned room.

Do not give victim anything by mouth. Treat for shock.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is less dangerous than heat stroke. It is caused by fluid loss which in turn causes blood flow to decrease in vital organs, resulting in a form of shock.


COOL, PALE AND MOIST skin, heavy sweating, dilated pupils (wide), headache, nausea, dizziness and vomiting. Body temperature will be near normal.


Get the victim out of the heat and into a cool place. Place in the shock position, lying on the back with feet raised. Remove or loosen clothing. Cool by fanning or applying cold packs or wet towels or sheets. If conscious, give water to drink every 15 minutes.


Heat Cramps

Heat cramps are muscular pain and spasms due to heavy exertion. They usually involve the abdominal muscles or legs. It is generally thought this condition is caused by loss of water and salt through sweating.


Get victim to a cool place. If they can tolerate it, give one-half glass of water every 15 minutes. Heat cramps can usually be avoided by increasing fluid intake when active in hot weather.

  • Cold Emergencies


Signs and symptoms of this dangerous condition which can become life-threatening are: shivering, dizziness, numbness, confusion, weakness, impaired judgment, impaired vision and drowsiness.

Hypothermia victims pass through 5 general visible stages or 3 medical recognized stages, with each stage more serious and leading to death!

General Stages

  1. Shivering
  2. Apathy
  3. Loss of Consciousness
  4. Decreasing Pulse and Breathing Rate
  5. Death

Medical Stages

Stage 1:

Body temperature drops by 1°C – 2°C below normal temperature C (1.8°-3.6°F, or between 96.8°F – 95°F). Mild to strong shivering occurs. Unable to perform complex tasks with the hands; the hands become numb. Blood vessels in the outer extremities contract, lessening heat loss to the outside air. Breathing becomes quick and shallow. Goose bumps form, raising body hair on end in an attempt to create an insulating layer of air around the body (a vestigial response, but useful in other species).

Stage 2:

Body temperature drops by 2°C°- 4°C (3.6°F – 7.2°F, or between 95°F – 91.4°F). Shivering becomes more violent. Muscle miscoordination becomes apparent. Movements are slow and labored, accompanied by a stumbling pace and mild confusion, although the victim may appear alert. Surface blood vessels contract further as the body focuses its remaining resources on keeping the vital organs warm. Victim becomes pale. Lips, ears, fingers and toes may become blue.

Stage 3:

Body temperature drops below approximately 32°C or 90°F (normal is 37°C or 98.6°F). Shivering usually stops below 32°C; difficulty speaking, sluggish thinking, and amnesia start to appear; inability to use hands and stumbling are also usually present. Cellular metabolic processes shut down. Below 86°F (30°C) the exposed skin becomes blue and puffy, muscle coordination very poor, walking nearly impossible, and the victim exhibits incoherent/irrational behavior including terminal burrowing behavior or even a stupor. Pulse and respiration rates decrease significantly but fast heart rates (ventricular tachycardia, atrial fibrillation) can occur. Major organs fail. Clinical death occurs. Because of decreased cellular activity in stage 3 hypothermia, the body will actually take longer to undergo brain death.

First Aid

  1. Dial 911 or call for emergency medical assistance. While waiting for help to arrive, monitor the person’s breathing. If breathing stops or seems dangerously slow or shallow, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately.
  2. Move the person out of the cold. If going indoors isn’t possible, protect the person from the wind, cover his or her head, and insulate his or her body from the cold ground.
  3. Remove wet clothing. Replace wet things with a warm, dry covering.
  4. Don’t apply direct heat. Don’t use hot water, a heating pad or a heating lamp to warm the victim. Instead, apply warm compresses to the neck, chest wall and groin. Don’t attempt to warm the arms and legs. Heat applied to the arms and legs forces cold blood back toward the heart, lungs and brain, causing the core body temperature to drop. This can be fatal.
  5. Don’t give the person alcohol. Offer warm nonalcoholic drinks, unless the person is vomiting.
  6. Don’t massage or rub the person. Handle people with hypothermia gently, because they’re at risk of cardiac arrest.
  7. Stay with the person until medical help arrives.

In air, most heat is lost through the head; hypothermia can thus be most effectively prevented by covering the head. Having appropriate clothing for the environment is another important prevention. Fluid-retaining materials like cotton can be a hypothermia risk; if the wearer gets sweaty on a cold day, then cools down, they will have sweat-soaked clothing in the cold air. For outdoor exercise on a cold day, it is advisable to wear fabrics which can “wick” away sweat moisture. These include wool or synthetic fabrics designed specifically for rapid drying.

Heat is lost much more quickly in water. Children can die of hypothermia in as little as two hours in water as warm as 16°C (61°F, 289 K), typical of sea surface temperatures in temperate countries such as Great Britain in early summer. Many seaside safety information sources fail to quote survival times in water, as well as the consequent importance of diving suits. This is possibly because the original research into hypothermia mortality in water was carried out in wartime Germany on unwilling subjects. There is an ongoing debate as to the ethical basis of using the data thus acquired.

There is considerable evidence, however, that children who suffer near-drowning accidents in water near 0°C (32°F, 273 K) can be revived up to two hours after losing consciousness. The cold water considerably lowers metabolism, allowing the brain to withstand a much longer period of hypoxia.

  • Legal and Ethical Considerations


No one is required to render first aid under normal circumstances. Even a physician could ignore a stranger suffering a heart attack if he chose to do so.

Exceptions include situations where a person’s employment designates the rendering of first aid as a part of described job duties. Examples include lifeguards, law enforcement officers, park rangers and safety officers in industry.

A duty to provide first aid also exists where an individual has presumed responsibility for another person’s safety, as in the case of a parent-child or driver-passenger relationship.

While in most cases there is no legal responsibility to provide first aid care to another person, there is a very clear responsibility to continue care once you start. You cannot start first aid and then stop unless the victim no longer needs your attention, other first aiders take over the responsibility from you or you are physically unable to continue care.


In every instance where first aid is to be provided, the victim’s consent is required. It should be obtained from every conscious, mentally-competent adult. The consent may be either oral or written.

Permission to render first aid to an unconscious victim is implied and a first aider should not hesitate to treat an unconscious victim.

Consent of a parent or guardian is required to treat a child, however emergency first aid necessary to maintain life may be provided without such consent.

It is important to remember that a victim has the right to refuse first aid care and in these instances you must respect the victim’s decision. You cannot force care
on a person who does not want it … Regardless of their condition!


Some well-meaning people hesitate to provide first aid because they are concerned about being sued.

This need not be a concern!

Legislators in almost every state in the country have passed GOOD SAMARITAN LAWS which are intended to protect good people who offer first aid help to others.

Most of the Good Samaritan Acts are very similar in their content and usually provide two basic requirements which must be met in order for the first aider to be protected by their provisions:

  • The first aider must not deliberately cause harm to the victim.
  • The first aider must provide the level & type of care expected of a reasonable person with the same amount of training & in similiar circumstances.

There should be little, if any, concern about legal consequences inherent in providing first aid.
You need only have the victim’s consent and then offer the level of care for which you are qualified.

Do not attempt things you are not qualified for and ALWAYS dial 911.

  • Troop First Aid Kit

Everyone should have a well-stocked first aid kit handy at camp, on hikes, at troop and patrol meetings, Scouting activities, home, in the car and in the workplace.

The contents of your kit will vary depending upon the number of people it is designed to protect as well as special circumstances where it will be used.

For example, a first aid kit in a factory where there may be danger of flying debris getting into the eye should certainly have a sterile eyewash solution in its kit. If a family member is a known diabetic, your kit at home should have a glucose or sugar solution.

When assembling your first aid kit, whether for use in the home, car or at work, you should consider possible injuries you are likely to encounter and then select kit contents to treat those conditions.

It’s also important to check your kit periodically to restock items that have been used and to replace items that are out-of-date. This is the responsibility of the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader working with the Quartermaster.

It’s also advisable at home and at work to have both a stationary kit, stored in a cabinet or drawer, as well as a compact portable kit that can be taken quickly to the site of an emergency.

Recommended Contents for a First Aid Kit

[Modify to suit your particular needs, Example is for Troop]

  • Activated Charcoal (for poisoning emergencies)
  • Adhesive strip bandages – assorted sizes
  • Adhesive tape
  • Alcohol – rubbing 70%
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Antacid
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Baking soda
  • Calamine lotion
  • Chemical ice packs
  • Chemical hot packs
  • Cotton balls
  • Cotton swabs
  • Decongestant tablets & spray
  • Diarrhea medication
  • Disposable latex or vinyl gloves
  • Elastic bandages
  • Face mask for CPR
  • First aid guide Flashlight
  • Gauze pads – various sizes
  • Hot-water bottle
  • Household ammonia
  • Hydrocortisone cream .5%
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Hypoallergenic tape
  • Ice bag
  • Insect repellent
  • Insect sting swabs
  • Matches
  • Meat tenderizer (for insect bites)
  • Moleskin
  • Needles
  • Non-adhering dressings [Telfa]
  • Oil of Cloves
  • Over-the-counter pain medication [aspirin]
  • Paper & pencil
  • Paper drinking cups
  • Roller guaze – self adhering
  • Safety pins
  • Salt
  • Scissors
  • Soap
  • Space blanket
  • Sam splint
  • Sugar or glucose solution
  • Syrup of Ipecac
  • Thermometer – oral & rectal
  • Tongue blades
  • Triangular bandages
  • Tweezers
  • Waterproof tape

Knots 101

These are a few knots you’ll need to master at Troop 75

Different Knot tying skills are required for each Scout rank and for diferent situations in the woods or on the trail. Watch the animated knots and practice tying them. Keep practicing until you can do it with your eyes closed. I know you can do it! The knots will prove very useful in the outdoors and many other situations. The Overhand Knot, Square Knot, Bowline Knot, Clove Hitch, Sheep Shank, Sheet Bend and Rolling Hitch are below…..

Overhand Knot

Overhand Knot

Square Knot

Square Knot

Bowline Knot

Bowline Knot

Clove Hitch

Clove Hitch

Sheep Shank

Sheep Shank

Sheet Bend

Sheet Bend

Rolling Hitch

Rolling Hitch