Scouts-L Mail Archive for June of 1999: Sign 'o' The Times (A Summer Camp Tale)
Sign 'o' The Times (A Summer Camp Tale)
Sat, 26 Jun 1999 23:04:52 -0000
Several weeks ago I told a story to the list of a Boy Scout troop in serious
trouble. While things have not improved a great deal since then, there are
signs that they will soon change. This story concerns five Scouts who
returned from a week of summer camp today (Saturday).
One of the major problems the troop had was a lack of motivation on the part
of the junior leaders. That has now changed. Not completely, but enough to
allow me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. You see, three weeks
before camp, the Scouts conducted a coup and removed the SPL from office
(due to lack of confidence in his performance). They elected a new SPL, and
the next thing we knew it was time to leave for camp.
On Saturday, we spent a couple hours preparing the troop gear for camp
(myself and three Scouts). This activity was set up completely by the new
SPL who wasn't even planning to be there (prior plans). Even without the
SPL, we accomplished quite a bit (we only forgot one item).
On Sunday we had several challenges to overcome. First was MedFormEx
(Medical Form Exercise) which involved an hour of hurried scribbling and
several trips back and forth to certain homes. Mind you, I didn't expect
everything to go off without problems, but the thought that a Scout would
think he could go to camp without a physical wasn't one of the nightmares I
Simultaneously, we also had the TruckTrailChangeEx (Truck and Trailer Change
Exercise) in which, at the last moment, one parent not only volunteered the
use of his trailer for the week, but also volunteered to tow it the 65 miles
to camp. This of course, wasn't a completely perfect plan since it required
someone else to tow the trailer back (and a round trip to a Scout's home to
measure a trailer hitch).
We finally got on the road an hour and a half later than we originally
planned, but everyone was very relieved they wouldn't have to carry the
troop gear the quarter mile from the parking lot to our campsite.
Surprisingly enough, check in went completely without a glitch or problem of
any kind, and all of the signs pointed to a great week at camp.
Of the five Scouts, two planned to work on Environmental Science and Mammal
Study, and complete two thirds of their 2nd Class rank requirements (needed
to qualify for their camp honors). One Scout planned to work on Oceanography
and Shotgun Shooting. One Scout planned to complete Tenderfoot, knock off
half of 2nd Class, and work on Archery MB. The last Scout wanted very much
to do Basketry, Leatherwork, finish Tenderfoot, and finally earn his first
camp honor. For two of these Scouts, their goals for camp were a little
higher than I would have liked, but I encouraged them to set their own goals
and I was ready and willing to help them achieve them.
To be honest, the week wasn't as great as I had hoped. The SPL did a
spectacular job considering the fact that he was essentially in training.
There were a few incidents where it seemed none of them could stand being in
the same state as the others, but most of the time things were pretty calm.
The conduct tally for the week included three shouting matches, a water
fight that got seriously out of hand, one case of malicious destruction of
property, and a half-hearted threat of fratricide.
As far as the accomplishments were concerned, there were some
disappointments, but the tally is still pretty impressive (compared to last
year). The SPL finally finished Tenderfoot, and all but three of the eight
2nd Class requirements he needed, Mammal Study MB, and a partial for
Environmental Science (three requirements needed). He just missed earning
his second year camp honor, but his accomplishments were spectacular
The former SPL was a bit of a disappointment. He did manage to finally
finish Tenderfoot, but none of his 2nd Class requirements were completed,
nor did he receive even a partial on his two MBs. He DID manage to earn the
Black Snake Award (caught the biggest black snake at 5 foot 7 inches - a
camp record). The whole troop caught a total of seven black snakes, more
than any other troop (two of which escaped before they could be recorded).
The three remaining Scouts accomplished some of what they set out to
accomplish. One managed only a partial MB, but did come within an SM
conference and BOR of Tenderfoot and did receive his camp honors. Another
managed to complete Archery MB with much less trouble than expected, a fair
bit of Tenderfoot and 2nd Class AND his camp honors. The third came within
one requirement of Tenderfoot, but missed out on his camp honors due to the
malicious destruction incident.
Of the five Scouts who attended camp last year, two completed their
swimmer's test by the end of the week, and two completed their beginner's
test. This year, two made swimmer on their first try Sunday, two others
completed it by the end of the week. The one learner (non-swimmer) from last
year completed his beginner test on Sunday.
For my part, except for the troubles we had Wednesday and Thursday, my week
was considerably less stressful than it had been last year (I even got in on
the water fight). I was helped considerably by my SPL, and Scouters from
Great Trail Council Troop 380, and Buckeye Council Troops 18 and 12. The
Scouters from Troop 12 were our volunteer commissioners during the week and
worked with the SPL on campsite inspections and keeping him informed of camp
programs. The Scouters from Troop 18 and Troop 380 helped conduct
"battlefield" BORs for a couple Scouts and offered encouragement to my SPL
as well as help from their own junior leaders if he wanted it.
While the post-camp evaluation isn't complete yet, the SPL already has a
list of seven lessons learned. Last year, after camp, our list contained
five lessons (a few of which we, apparently, didn't actually learn), and we
left camp saying we'd do better next year. This year, we did a little better
this year, but we had new problems (or old problems that just wouldn't go
away), and again left camp saying we'll do better next year. As far as my
SPL is concerned, the motto for the 1999-2000 program year is "This IS
'Next' Year!" Now, if only he could find a way to get the rest of the Scouts
behind him. We'll see what happens starting next Tuesday.
A. J. Mako, firstname.lastname@example.org , Scoutmaster Troop 381
Home of the Unofficial Win95 Boy Scout Desktop Theme,
Old Portage District, Great Trail Council, BSA
"I used to be an Eagle (C-7-97), but I'll always be an Eagle (1981)"