Using a 5-Gallon Bucket
One of my favorite things, especially for camp, is the versatile, indestructible five-gallon plastic bucket.
Where can you get plastic bucket? Ask nicely, and your local hamburger-and-fries restaurant will save their buckets for you. Check with your neighborhood plasterers, too. They often use premixed drywall compound that comes in buckets. Ask the parents of the kids in your neiborhood. Some of them are sure to be doing some chore at home that requires material in a bucket. And, remember to get the lid as well.
Clean out the bucket with water and household bleach. Then, leave it in bright sunshine for a day or two, perhaps with some charcoal or kitty litter in it to get rid of any lingering smells. It won't smell any worse than the average Scout after a weekend camp. Now, it's ready to use.
If the bucket originally stored food, you can use it to carry drinking water at camp. If it contained materials like drywall compound, don t keep drinking water in it.
But, talking of water, try this at camp. Paint the outside of a bucket matte black. Fill it with water and leave it out in the sun as water warmer. It not only saves time and fuel when you need boiling water, but also provides warm water for a quick wash of hands and faces before supper (in a separate basin, of course).
To help you do your laundry, build a camp washing machine: a bucket with a toilet plunger through the lid as an agitator. The bucket washing machine is manually (and vigorously) operated and, depending on the operator's enthusiasm can safely clean even delicate garments.
Use plastic buckets for storage. Stash all your camp tools in one place--hand axe, tent stakes, ropes, twine, trowel, brush, clothes pegs, and mallet. Or use the bucket to protect your empty lantern and lamp oil in a tightly capped bottle during transport. Or keep together all your camp kitchen items; cooking utensils, plates and bowls, cups and mugs, staples like salt and pepper, dish washing supplies, cutting board, pots and pans, and mixing bowls.
A bucket is also a dry place for your campfire kit wooden kitchen matches, wax paper (cereal box liners) or candle stubs, kindling, charcoal, and a small grill. And remember to set out a couple of buckets full of water to serve as fire extinguishers.
Using a 5-Gallon-Bucket
Use another bucket as a container for your kitchen table -- a roll-up lathe-strip table set on top of two horizontal poles lashed in parallel between two trees. After you've erected the table, use its bucket as a food or drink cooler either stored in a stream or covered with a damp cloth in the shade. If you'd rather, use the bucket as a stool to sit at the table in comfort. Or get another bucket and set up a bench at the table with the buckets as bench legs.
On a canoe trip, a tightly sealed bucket is an ideal water- and animal-proof food locker. You might also use one or two sealed buckets as outriggers on your canoe to help you convert it into a sailing craft. Or how about four buckets as raft pontoons?
Back home, a bucket can be a patrol box that acts as a base for the patrol flag and provides rugged storage for section handbooks, pencils, or notepaper. After each patrol decorates their bucket, stack the buckets one on top of the other to build an impressive troop totem pole. And keep a few buckets to organize your games equipment.
Scouts might try running a weekend camp where campers are limited to the personal gear (including bedrolls) they can pack in one bucket. No backpacks or additional bundles allowed, but the camp organizers provide food and water.
The beat of bucket tom-toms will establish a dramatic atmosphere at your campfire. If you cut the buckets to different lengths, you'll change the tone of each drum. And a bucket makes a fine resonating sound box for a broom-handle string bass.
You can use a bucket as a planter or a mini-garden. Use another as a composter. Bucket gardening is perfectly sized for apartment dwellers that have balconies.
And, to repay the supportive parents in your group, offer to organize a winter kit for their car trunk. Assemble in a bucket all the items they might need for a winter roadside emergency; starter cables, windshield scraper, old coat, galoshes, gloves, tire chains, and sand. You provide the bucket and a list of suggested items, they supply the items, and you put everything together.
Half the fun with buckets is dreaming up new ways to use them. Collect a few for your section and figure out your own. You'll recycle the buckets and develop yourself mentally at the same time.