These two boys would NEVER have been dressed like this on a hike had they been with any of my boys clubs. You’d never see any boys from the Marion, Hoffman Estates, or Salesian Boys Clubs look like that on a hike. Prior to going on any trip to our property I sent out a dress code to all parents of the kids that would be going with me to Michigan.

On that list were jeans or sweatpants, tennis shoes (one leather), two pullover long sleeved sweatshirts, three T-shirts, underwear, swimming suit, shorts, and work gloves, which were optional. On the Salesian trip boys also brought their dress shoes since they were going to church as I had a large group of Catholic boys. But it should be noted that just as those boys would not have worn their dress shoes without socks, the same would be true on hikes yet with their tennis shoes. Without socks parts of the shoes tend to wear on bare feet producing painful calluses. And, the same can be said in regard to hands when rowing a boat. Just as socks with shoes, bare hands are safer in gloves especially going down hill. One boy without them grabbed a tree and the bark of that tree tore the boys skin on his hands badly. The next time he was at the store he opted for work gloves over snacks.

Long pants or sweatsuits also protect the skin from poison ivy, nettles, or underbrush and bushes that can stretch the skin. Sweatshirts also protected the skin from those very things. Even around camp some boys wore their full sets of clothing for chopping wood, collecting it, or for cooking. If you’ve ever had an hot ember strike your bare skin near a fire you’ll have a whole new appreciation for sweatpants and shirts.

Close in to our campsite the boys either walked around in bare feet or in their canvas shoes with bare feet. Short walks were not likely to produce calluses. Even when rowing some boys wore shoes to project their feet from the hot metal rowboats. Those that opted for just bare feet were often denied entrance at the Big Bass Lake store so they learned from that experience fast.

At the end of each trip the boys had a whole new attitude about my dress code.