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Packing, Gear and Tech, Oh My!

Dear students & families,

As we are two weeks out from the start of our program(Woohoo!), I’m taking some time to share with you final details on packing, gear, and technology use. We’ve started connecting with many of you via the phone, and it’s been so fun to get a glimpse of the personalities that will be blending into our shared community come July! I’m looking forward to reading your introduction Yak posts, and meeting you all in person. In the meantime, I hope this post helps you get ready to roll. Included are general packing guidelines, more detailed notes on gear suited for our course, and some words regarding our technology use policies on program.

Packing For Travel

During our program, we will be moving around quite consistently. However, we don’t have a backpacking component like most Dragons trips. Instead, we’ll have a truck and large van that will carry us and all of the gear we need to keep ourselves warm, dry and fed from place to place. We’ll be staying in places for 3-5 nights at a time on average, the majority of which will be tent-camping in vehicle accessible spots, often by the lake and always beautiful and interesting. At the end of the trip, we’ll embark on our 6-night kayak expedition in the Apostle Islands. This means it will be important to have a good packing set up for mobile life! My suggestion is to have a day-pack and a camp-pack. You can almost think of it as your carry-on and your checked bag on a flight.

Your camp-pack should be a soft duffel or similar kind of bag, with enough space to hold your clothes & camping gear, including your tent, pad, sleeping bag & mess kit. This bag will mostly live between the truck and your tent, functioning as a way to transport your camp gear from place to place as well as a wardrobe of sorts in your tent. It would be good to have some extra room in your camp-pack for other things you’d like to have around but won’t necessarily carry with you everyday, like a couple good books, a small game or two, or art/craft supplies.

Your day-pack should be a small and light backpack that can hold your everyday essentials, such as a notebook, sunscreen, some snacks and water, and maybe a few spare pieces of clothing, including rain gear! This should be a pack you’re comfortable wearing everyday, as you’ll likely take it with you on any excursions out of camp for a few hours to a day at a time. It’s a good idea to have a packable towel and clothes you’re comfortable swimming in as part of your day-pack; the lake is never far away! Make sure the things you need fit into each respective bag before you set off for the airport.

Notes On Gear

The standard packing list included in your Course Preparation Manual is mostly based off of trips that include a strong backpacking or hiking component. As I previously described, on our program we will be mostly car camping, with the addition of a kayaking expedition out into the Apostle Islands at the end. Although most of that list still applies, I have included some additional notes here on how to prepare for our specific itinerary.

  • As we won’t be backpacking, you could easily replace the suggestion for an expedition-sized backpack in the packing list for large sturdy duffel. Plan around the day-pack/camp-pack system I described earlier. Contractor trash bags are still a good idea to have to keep your gear dry, especially if your duffel or day-pack isn’t made of waterproof/water resistant material.
  • Even though we’re not backpacking, hiking boots are still the best option for footwear on this trip. We’ll be walking a lot, taking day hikes, and otherwise passing through areas with rugged and varied terrain. Sneakers or running shoes will not hold up as your go-to shoe, though they are still acceptable as camp shoes. Personally, I prefer something very light weight and loose as a camp shoe, like crocs! (they have actually become very popular in camping and backpacking culture)
  • Wool socks are a must. Bring 3-5 pairs, and keep one extra comfy pair in your sleeping bag for dry feet at night.
  • Technical gear needed for the kayak expedition, such as wet suits and dry bags, will be provided for you by the local outfitter we are partnering with. If you have this gear already, or want to be sure you have gear that fits your needs/desires, you are welcome to bring your own. However, know that this gear is pretty bulky by nature and won’t be used outside of the last week of the program. Feel free to reach out with questions about gear for the kayak expedition specifically!
  • Sun protective clothing, such as SPF shirts and wide brimmed hats, will be very helpful on our adventures and on the open water especially. I highly encourage finding some!
  • Since we are in tick & mosquito country here, you may want to bring special gear for avoiding contact with these insects. You can purchase clothing that is manufactured with permethrin treatment to repel insects, such as Bugaway Tech, or you can treat your own clothing at home. Insect Shield is a leading brand in this practice and will also treat clothes for you. Permethrin is much more effective against ticks than deet-based spray repellents. Personally, I find that wearing long baggy clothing, staying conscious of how ticks move, and doing diligent tick checks is enough for me, but chemical solutions are viable safeguards if you want some extra protection.

Technology Use 

As you should be aware, at Dragons we have a limited tech use policy on our programs. Unplugging from the constant noise and chatter of the digital world allows us to be much more present with each other, and reach a deeper level of learning and relationship with what is going on around us. It is a dynamic that can be hard for many of us at first, especially in our increasingly tech-focused society, but that separation anxiety always dissipates into a clear, grounded feeling that is a part of what makes our programs so powerful. Here are a few reminders about how our tech policies function:

  • When you arrive, we will collect your cell phones and other digital devices. This includes handheld gaming devices, tablets, computers, e-readers and various other genres of tech. We will safeguard these items throughout the duration of the trip, and return them to you when you are ready to return home.
  • If you need to get in touch with family or loved ones during the trip for an emergency, sudden change, or other viable reason, we will make your phone available to you in order to do so.
  • If you’d like to take photos on our trip, we encourage you to bring a camera that is not attached to a smart phone. Digital or analog cameras are fine; I love a good disposable camera from the drug store for bringing memories back later!
  • If you intentionally hold onto digital devices for your own use during the program without informing an instructor, there may be negative consequences.
  • Overall, you should know that our tech policy is not designed to disenfranchise you, harm you, or just to be mean; it is a tried and true tactic of experiential learning that will benefit us all if we commit to it.

That’s all for now! As I’ve said, please reach out with any additional questions or clarifications before the start of our program if you need! We are excited to be together, and happy to help you prepare for our adventures in any way we can.

Much love,