Specialized gear for camping is at once a necessary evil and a magnificent obsession. Within the past few years the backpacking zeitgeist has experienced a significant shift from sleek, expensive highly engineered gear to simple homemade equipment fashioned from soda cans and bits of cloth.
Homemade gear saves weight, money, functions well and has the added satisfaction of creating something out of (nearly) nothing. Beyond all that it presents a wonderful opportunity for Scouts to learn the economy and pleasure of building useful things with their own hands.
Homemade Backpacking Gear - Jason Klass has a great website discussing homemade gear.
Make Your Own Gear! - Instructions for making backpacks, shelters, stoves, cooking gear and much more.