The Guide Camp Kit List part three: the bedding roll

The bedding roll is the most fearsome beastie Guide camp has to offer, partly, I suspect, because Guides leave it up to their parents to do it for them.

A bedding roll is simply your camp bedding rolled up into a waterproof bundle which is nice and easy to transport. It dates from the days when you would walk to camp carrying all your kit yourself, when there was a genuine chance of the thing falling into a river. It remains because it’s useful. When we arrive on camp, all the kit gets thrown in a pile while the tents are pitched and if it’s raining, your bedding is going to get wet. You can always find dry clothes but if your sleeping bag gets wet, you’ve had it. So we tie them up like this to keep them dry. This year, we also have to transport them by ferry and then (hopefully) trailer so it’s extra-important that our bedding rolls are adequate.

There are four ingredients:

  1. A groundsheet or tarpaulin. Something waterproof and tough, so not a bin bag or a piece of the plastic sheeting you use when you’re painting a room.
  2. A sleeping bag.
  3. Your camp blanket.
  4. A piece of cord to tie it all up with, at least two metres of it. Not string, please. String just turns into a mass of knots and has to be cut and therefore you can’t use it to tie up your bedding roll to bring it home at the end of camp. Outdoors shops sell things like paracord and lengths of cord meant for spare guylines – these are ideal but they do fray when you cut them, so wave the ends over a flame for a couple of seconds to seal them.

These ingredients are combined as so:

Lay out your groundsheet. Fold your blanket in half lengthways and lay it on top, then the sleeping bag on top of it all, with the ends folded over so it’s all inside the groundsheet, as so:


There are two ways of folding. You can either fold the edges of the groundsheet to the middle and then fold the whole thing in half lengthways, or you can fold it into thirds. I’m using thirds here:


Pick an end, fold the groundsheet over to make sure the sleeping bag is fully enclosed and then start rolling. Roll it as tightly as you can, squeezing all the air out. When you reach the other end, fold the groundsheet again to enclose the end of the sleeping bag and wrap your cord around the whole bundle. You should have something that looks a bit like this:

beddingroll3I don’t say mine would survive being dropped in a river but I’m pretty confident I could leave that out in the rain for a while.

I know you have at least two more bedding related questions. Yes, bring a mat of some kind. A cheap foam one is ideal, or a self-inflating one. Self-inflating ones are just foam which puffs up by itself when air is let into it by a valve. You can bring an air mattress but your Guide is probably going to have to inflate it herself with a footpump or handpump and that’s very hard work, not to mention that if it gets punctured, her bed is dead. And Guides do get overexcited in tents, so there’s a very real risk of punctures. Yes, you can bring a pillow if you want. I always forget that bit. My own old Guide leader always just brought a pillowcase and stuffed it with clothes at night, which is a far more efficient way of getting a pillow. Finally, yes, you can bring your teddy or whatever fluffy friend you prefer. Fluffy friends are always welcome at camp (but again, with the warning that camps can be dirty, muddy, wet places).

Any questions?