Scouts-L Mail Archive for February of 1999: Summer Camp Expectations
Summer Camp Expectations
Sat, 13 Feb 1999 17:38:17 -0500
Dee LaRock raised a wonderful question and many folks answered with helpful
information about merit badges and what to bring. To that I would like to
add a few thoughts in general.
Each Scout camp is operated a little differently and from Council to Council
you'll find a wide variety of camping opportunities ranging from structured
programs and dining hall facilities to camps that focus on patrol camping,
cooking, and activities. Depending on how the camp operates, your Scout may
need to bring or not bring various items. One of the best things is to make
sure that your Troop is on the calendar for the camping promotions team from
your Council. They should be able to visit at a meeting and explain the
programs at the camp, what is offered, what to bring, where to send letters,
when visits are allowed, what will be done about homesickness, and much
more. Many Councils also produce great summer camp phamplets that provide a
lot of detailed information. Ask your Council's program department for a
copy of the one(s) for their camp(s).
Most likely there are a few parents who just a year ago were in your shoes
wondering about camp - now of course they are veterans. ;-) As some of these
parents about how camp went and what they know. More importantly, corner
the SPL of the Troop and ask him what a boy really needs to take to camp.
He'll know what he needed and what the boys in the Troop used and didn't
When I was a camp program director, I had members of the staff greet each
arriving Troop in the parking lot. They were there to guide each Troop to
its campsite and to answer questions for parents. One thing they all
noticed right off was that the younger the Scout the more gear he had.
Seems that concerned parents tried to make sure that every comfort of home
was shipped off with the Scout (included a chest of drawers in one case - no
fool'in). Almost always these new Scouts came with 10 changes of clothes,
20 socks, four pairs of shoes, blankets (and we're not talking Alaska in the
winter), sheets, towels for each day, etc. and ended up wearing one or two
sets of clothes, preferring to run around in a tee-shirt and swim trunks as
much as possible. The best thing is to find out what really is needed and
not to send too much stuff. In many camps where the Troop has to hike into
a campsite this extra burden really punishes the tenderfoot.
When it comes to camp program, take advantage of the special opportunities
for merit badges that are difficult outside the camp environment. If you
have a strong first aid merit badge program run locally, focus on other
badges that were counselors are a bit harder to come by. If the best
program for First Aid merit badge is at camp, then take advantage of it.
Camps typically do the best job of providing aquatics, Scoutcraft, nature,
and outdoors merit badges. These are ones that are worth a look because it
may be the best place to have a good learning experience. As far as numbers
of merit badges, don't sweat how many. One or two merit badges is just fine
for a first camper - he doesn't have to come home with a handful of badges
to have had fun and Scouts shouldn't be judged on how many badges are earned
at camp. That leads to merit badge factories - and some of the fun is lost
when its all work and no play.
During each day at camp there should be some time where each Scout can just
sit and watch the clouds or chase butterflies. Camp should not be so
organized that every minute is subject to a regimine that doesn't allow for
some Troop and Patrol activities. Most camps impose a period of an hour
after lunch where all camp functions are closed down just for this purpose -
too make sure there is a time to rest a little, do things at the Troop site,
have patrol activities in the middle of the day, and so forth.
A typical day at many camps may involve program offered by the camp during
morning and afternoon hours where Scouts can work on badges. During the
pre-breakfast hours, around lunchtime, and after supper there is always time
for some level of personal, patrol, and Troop activity. Later in the
evening there may be more programs offered by the camp like campfires, mile
swims, astronomy, and wide games.
The task for a Scoutmaster is to figure out just how much the boys should be
doing towards advancement and keep that in balance with other activities and
Troop and Patrol programs. It is real easy to slip into a program that
focuses primarily on merit badges, but it doesn't need to be that way. A
unit can use the camp program to advantage while keeping its own program in
the camp environment. Even in dining hall camps, I've seen seating at
tables by patrols where by the end of the week nearly every patrol was doing
a cheer and displaying a flag in competition with other patrols.
Mike Bowman a/k/a Professor Beaver (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Webmastering in the Scouting Spirit from Alexandria, VA