Backwoods cooking – Damper for lunch

backwoods cooking damper

Scouts on survival camps prepare their meals using “Backwoods cooking”, a method of cooking without the use of kitchen utensils or cookware.

Alternatives to cookware include aluminium foil, fruit skins (such as egg in an orange skin) and heated stones.  Traditionally, backwoods cooking takes place over a wood burning fire because wood is the most available fuel source in the backwoods.

Here they cooked a damper for lunch in aluminium foil on an open camp fire.  Another favourite is splitting a banana and adding chocolate and marshmallows, then wrapping the banana up again in its skin and alfoil, and cooking on the coals.

This UK Scout group website has some very creative backwoods cooking recipes including toffee apples and cooking a whole chicken in a rucksack!


How to build a camp fire

how to build a camp fire

how to build a camp fire

Knowing how to get a camp fire started – and stay burning – is a skill that you will be proud of throughout life, whether you’re camping with friends or a picnic BBQ with the family.

A group of new scouts stayed overnight at the den for “new scout camp training” including building this cracking camp fire in the new triangle fire pit.

There are a few secrets to building a stable, long burning camp fire … especially without using any synthetic fuel and minimal matches!

How to build a camp fire

You’ll need:  tinder, kindling and fuel (the wood kind, not petrochemical), plus something to spark such as a match or flint.

The teepee or crisscross styles seem to work best as they allow the air to circulate and the fire to build up slowly.
Start with a pile of tinder in the centre of the fire pit: gather a small heap of dry leaves, twigs, wood shavings or loosely screwed up newspaper. Either lay the kindling in a crisscrossed pattern lightly over the tinder or layer it around in a teepee
shape. You can build up several layers of kindling retaining the same shape but ensure you do not layer it too thick as the air needs to circulate for the fire to burn.

A gap should be left at the base of your structure for the match to light the tinder.  Lighting at the base is best as flames burn upwards.

Once lit, the interior layers will burn away, while you continue to add replacement layers until the fire is burning well. This is when you can start to add the fuel, which is the larger pieces of wood. Place the wood on the fire in a similar style to how you started rather than throwing on large logs which might hinder its progress. Adding the proper size wood at timed intervals will keep the fire blazing.

teepee campfire  Example of a teepee structure campfire from

lean to campfire for survival  Example of a lean to campfire structure from

Cuboree for Queensland Cubs


Cuboree is a super-charged Cub Camp for all Queensland Cub Scouts aged 9 and above.

The next Cuboree will be held in September 2016 in Maryborough. More info Qld Cuboree Facebook page >

Cuboree is held for five days and four nights every two years during June/July school holidays.   Each Cuboree has a theme with  activities and challenges that relate to this theme and are based on some of the Silver and Gold Boomerang Challenges.

History of Cuboree:
Sept 2010 – Stanthrope QLD: Theme – ‘Web of Life’
June 2012 – Rockhampton QLD: Theme – ‘Magical Mystery Tour’
Sept 2014 – Maryborough QLD: Theme – ‘Time of Legends


Urban Challenge ~ Queensland Rovers event


August 2014 Urban Challenge was held in Brisbane

“Urban Challenge” is a giant urban scavenger hunt, photo challenge, initiative course and discotheque run annually by Queensland Rovers.

Urban Challenge is one of Queensland Rovers’ largest activities, and has been consistently well attended by Venturers from all over Queensland.

Check out their Facebook page for more photos of the fun and to keep in touch about the 2015 event!

Lake Manchester Explorer Hike Journal

Here is an example of an informative and entertaining journal written by a Scout following an overnight hike.  It shows the thoroughness of the planning, keen observation, and the personal development gained through the challenges of such an expedition.

Packing List

  • First Aid Kit – 1 bandage, 1 cigarette lighter, 5 band-aids, 1 pack of anti inflammatory lozenges, 1 bottle of insect repellent, 1 nail file, 1 pack of paracetamol, 1 tube of savlon, 5 cotton buds, 2 boxes of matches, 1 multi purpose pocket knife, 1 bottle of sunscreen, 5 safety pins.
  • Clothing – 1 polartec jumper, 1 raincoat, 2 pairs of socks, 1 hat, 1 shirt, 1 pair of khaki pants, 2 pairs of underwear, 1 head torch, 2 spare batteries.
  • Equipment – 1 trangea, 2 light-weight two man tents, 1 compass, 1 map, 1 deposable camera, 1 lighter, 1 bottle of Metho, 3 litres of water (personally), half of a milk bottle, 1 candle, 1 wire handle.
  • Food List: 11 Litres of water (in total), 2 packets of Alfred pasta, diced chicken breast, 10 chicken legs, 8 packets of milk (200 ml), 10 sachets of hot chocolate, 4 apple pies, 8 packets of cereal, 1 pack of muesli bars, 1 pack of fruity bix bars, 12 cold sausages, 1 pack of cheese and bacon rolls, 2 thick salami sticks, 8 think salami sticks. Scroggin – 2 packets of choc peanuts, 2 packets of jellybeans, 1 packet of dried fruit, 2 packets of smarties, 2 packets of choc sultanas.

Dinner – Alfredo with chicken
Dessert – Hot chocolate, apple pies
Breakfast – Cereal with milk
Lunch – Cold sausages in cheese and bacon rolls
Snacks – Muesli bars, salami sticks, fruity bix bars

Journal Day 1:
The day started smoothly, with everyone arriving early so we could divide the food equally between the four of us. Caseilia and Rhys accompanied Nick and myself, Charles on our hike. We departed from my house at 1:54 pm on Saturday, 4th May.
After a bit of trouble, we eventually arrived at the intersection where we would commence our hike at 2:12 pm. After hiking for approximately half an hour, we had a brief rest and drinks break at the storm shelter. By this stage the terrain had been fairly easy and level. The vegetation consisted mostly of sparsely space eucalypts, and some large gum trees. Most of the trees were either charred or burnt, most likely from back burning a recent bushfire in the area.

The storm shelter was nothing more than a wooden hut seating around the walls, a water tank out the back, and a fireplace out the front, but it would provide adequate shelter during a storm.  After 10 minutes, we started hiking again. Our packs now felt slightly lighter, after drinking the water, taking some weight out of our packs. Refreshed and re-hydrated, we set and maintained a good pace walking at a constant speed.  The terrain had changed significantly since we set out. Gradually it had changed from a flat dirt track, muddy from the recent showers, to a track with loose stones and extremely steep climbs, with even steeper slopes down.
Our next break was at 3:38 pm, almost an hour and a half since our previous one, and we ate some of our muesli bars while we rested. We decided to make this one longer, as the constant up and downs had finally taken its toll on our calf muscles. At the peak of each hill, we thought it was the summit, but then after five minutes of walking, we would see another mountain rise before us.  By now our pace had slackened, and we tried to make the time pass by playing word games. One person would say an animal, for instance “snake”, and then someone would have to think of another animal starting with the last letter of the previous word, in this case the letter “e” from snake. This seemed amusing until we were to tired to talk or our throats were too dry to speak, so we decided to have a drinks break.
We halted at 4:23 pm and rested for 15 minutes. We quenched our thirst, and at the same time we were lightening our pack. We didn’t talk much or do anything during these 15 minutes, but we thought a lot. With the gentle breeze and calming bush noises in the background, it was hard not to daydream. But eventually someone broke the silence and we all got up without saying a word, and kept walking.
It was around 5:30 pm when we stumbled upon our campsite, where we through our packs down and collapsed on the damp grass. After five minutes we got the tents out and started pitching them. After our tents were up and our packs were inside, we started cooking our dinner, Alfreddo with pre-cooked chicken. Thankfully we had a good light source. Our primitive milk bottle cut in half with a candle shoved aggressively through the hole served its purpose very well, providing enough light to cook and eat our meal, and to clean up afterwards.
We hit the sacks early, resting our weary limbs and muscles. Because we talked for a while, I do not know what time we actually fell asleep, but what I do know is that we all slept well…except for the two motorbikes and four-wheel-drives that interrupted our peaceful sleep in the early hours, driving past our tents, narrowly missing them.
Journal Day 2:
We woke at 6:30 am, on Sunday 5th May, but physically got up around 7:30, and started preparing our breakfast. None of us ate what we were meant to, cereal with milk, instead eating muesli bars and fruity bix bars for breakfast. It was a lot less effort and involved no washing up.
Our tents were damp from morning dew and showers during the night, so we waited around for 15 minutes as they dried up, before packing up and heading off on our second day of hiking. It was around 8:15 when we left.  Two minutes into hiking, it started to lightly shower. It was neither cold nor hot, so there was really no need for digging through our packs and dragging them out.

The terrain had changed once again. It was now long thick grass on either sides the narrow muddy path running through it. It was almost like we were lost in a jungle.
After crossing around five creeks that were not marked on the map, at least where we thought we were, we knew straight away that something wasn’t right. We were lost. We had taken the wrong trail and now we had no idea where we were. We carefully scanned the map looking for somewhere where a track crossed five rivers, but we couldn’t find one.
We had a rest at 9:37 am, not because we were tired, but because we had to consult the map and figure out where we were. We were still lost. When we came to an intersection, we stopped. Nick left his pack and walked one direction for 10 minutes, and Rhys went on ahead for five minutes. We decided on taking the right-hand trail, because it was heading south, the direction we were supposed to be heading.
What we found after 15 minutes of walking made us frustrated and confused. We came to the campsite where we were meant to have camped that night. No wonder we didn’t know where we were. I think we may have been dropped off in the wrong place from the start, or we took a serious wrong turn somewhere. After discovering this, we found our bearings and headed on the right trail. We only had about six kilometres to complete before we reached our final destination.
We followed the trail, once again a dirt track and not the narrow grass trail, and the forest became less dense and back to the original sparse gum trees. This was a relief. The only problem was that we missed out on seeing a granite slab formation, which would have been good.
Our next break was at 10:11 am. Although we were eager to continue and complete the hike, our legs were reluctant and needed a rest. It felt good to sit down at last, and not stare at the map wondering where we were. After 10 minutes of resting, we decided to head off again.
At 10:34 we rested again. Our rests were becoming more frequent as we progressed, as we grew tireder and tireder and more dehydrated. As we opened a salami stick to chew on, we heard heavy steps not far away. We had been following imprints in the mud made from horses recently passing through the area, and now we saw what we had been following. A white horse with a woman riding it pulled up near us. The horse bucked and stood on its hind legs, and we were told by the rider to stand because it was frightened by us. Eventually it settled down, and we were able to get a photo of it, (no flash). She rode off after five minutes, the horse rearing up, then galloping full pelt along the dirt track.
Not five minutes after, another well-behaved horse appeared. This one was ridden by a young woman, probably about 20, but was she was very short. This one was very calm and the owner let us pat it, and she even allowed Casceilia to climb up and sit on it. When she had gone, we stood up and continued walking. We weren’t far now, probably only 1.5 kilometres left.
Our final stop was at 11:39 am, and we could see the lake now. The rest was only brief because we were already re-energised after seeing the lake, and we were keen to finish. We drank from our water bottles, now almost empty, and sat for five minutes before heading off.
The hall that marked the completion of our hike loomed in the distance, gradually growing in size, and when we finally reached it, we all sat down on a wall and drank the last drops of water. 10 minutes later, we were picked up in a four-wheel-drive. It was a relief to be moving but not physically doing anything.
The 15 kilometres of hiking was demanding, and although it was not that long, it was exhausting and frustrating not knowing where we were, and whether we were even heading in the right direction. We had a lot of leftover food that had not been eaten, but it was better to have taken more than to go hungry. Besides, the scout motto is, “Be Prepared.”