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Simple Solutions for Camping: Dunk Bag Mess Kits

Camping with a Gaggle of Girls Can be Crazy!

But you can calm the chaos with with these simple solutions

Does the idea of taking a group of little girls camping have you feeling more than a little overwhelmed!?! Yeah, - me too! I admittedly have done my fair share of camping in my youth and early adulthood, but I was only responsible for myself. The idea of planning, coordinating and accounting for a group of little girls made my head spin! BUT, after learning a few simple tricks and solutions, tackling my camping fear became much more manageable. My first simple solution ... dunk bag mess kits!


So ... What is a Mess Kit?

Simply put, little kits designed to alleviate messes


Mess kits are camping and scouting staples, each containing a full size sturdy plate, bowl, cup, and utensils (fork, spoon, and knife). These are designed to be lightweight, easy to store, and carry. Higher quality kits are typically made of aluminum or lighter weight metals like titanium, but these are usually out of budget for our Girl Scout needs. Instead, find a sturdy plastic like these. The ideal mess kit will last for several years, so skip the little tiny plates and cups that the girls will quickly out grow or break. Each mess kit is stored within a draw string mesh bag. I also include a washcloth with each mess kit for use instead of paper towels or napkins.

Mine, Yours, and Ours

Who keeps track of what?


There are different choices you can make here. Each girl can have her own mess kit to keep track of and bring to each camping event, or you can collect them and store them with your troop camping gear. In our case, things that go home with the girls don't always come back, and we were constantly having to replace things. So, our mess kits belong to the troop and are stored in a labeled clear plastic tub. Each plate, cup, and bowl are labeled with our troop number. Each girl receives a tag with her name to clip onto the end of her mess kit for the camping trip. At the end of the trip, the tags are removed and clipped back onto their camping backpack. The tags are laminated printouts with a hole punched on the corner with a split ring and swivel clip attached.

Dunk Line

Dish washing made easier


After a meal, set up a 3 bucket dunk line system to wash the cooking materials and the mess kits. You will need 3 dishpan wash bins, water, dish soap, a sponge, and some bleach. Set the bins up in a line and treat it like a dish washing assembly line. As soon as you are done cooking, start heating water for the dunk line so it is hot when you are ready to start washing.

Bin #1:

Label the first wash bin "wash." In this wash bin you will mix a little dish soap and hot water. Use this wash bin to wash off everything used just like you would if you were doing dishes out of your sink at home. Start by washing the least dirty items first (cups, silverware, etc.) and make sure to scrape off as much food as possible before washing (otherwise, you end up washing with lots of food particles).

Bin #2:
Label the second wash bin "rinse" and fill it with warm water. Use this wash bin to rinse the dishes after you wash in bin #1. Once the dishes are rinsed, place them in the dunk bag and close the drawstring.

Bin #3:
Label the third wash bin "sanitize". In this wash bin, mix cool water and 1 cap full of bleach for every gallon of water. With the dishes in the dunk bag, insert the entire dunk bag into the sanitize wash bin. Swirl it around and then hang it on a clothes line to dry.

After you are finished washing all of the dishes and mess kits, rinse and sanitize all the wash bins. Use a strainer to filter the water from the first wash bin and dispose of the food particles. Then, pour the rinse water (wash bin #2) into the first wash bin. Swish to rinse out that bin and filter and food particles (if any) from the water. Then, pour the cold sanitized water (last wash bin) into the rinse wash bin (second wash bin) and swish. Pour the cold sanitized water into the first wash bin, swish and filter (if needed). Flip bins to drain and air dry.

Mess Kit Hacks to Make Your Life Easier

Work smarter, not harder

Everything my children handle ends up on the floor at one time or another. Towels are no exception! The last thing I want is our camping towels on the ground while we are camping. My solution ... a grommet tool! This little lifesaver punches a reinforced ring into the corner of each washcloth so they can be attached to the dunk bag and hung to dry after washing.

Add a carabiner to hold everything together for each girl on the dry line. Then they are all set for your camping trip ... well the eating and cleaning part at least!

Easy peasy - right?!

Stay tuned for more simple camping solutions and ways to take the stress out of being a Girl Scout leader!


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