Scouts-L Mail Archive for August of 1999: Re: Unit-run summer camps
Re: Unit-run summer camps
Settummanque, the blackeagle
Sun, 8 Aug 1999 11:35:25 CDT
You wrote and commented in part:
>What bothers me is the fact that the focus of BSA camping (summer >camps
especially) has shifted from "a game for boys" to rank >advancement and
merit badges to the point that summer camp has >become little more than a
merit badge mill in the woods, along with a >structure designed to support
that focus (dining halls, merit badge >"classes", etc.)
This is because many Troops don't have the structure to provide for anything
more than working on basic Scouting skills, and because Scouts are not given
or provided the opportunity to earn many of those merit badges being offered
And because some Scouts are, well, lazy. They don't think about merit badges
until summer camp, and then they want to "make up for lost time" by
attempting to earn every badge offered within their time span at camp.
For instance, very few localities have the "expertise" for such topics as
Forestry, Nature, Weather and related "conservation and enviornmental
concern" merit badges. Those communities who do, have a limited amount of
time compared to the number of boys wanting to earn those badges. And the
"labortory needed" to complete merit badges like Mammals and Amphibian Study
in many suburban communities only exist at the local zoo.
In another instance, merit badges like Camping, Pioneering, Wilderness
Survival, and Backpacking can be earned at home as part of a Troop program.
But the application of the skills being taught can't be applied directly
again in a suburban or urban situation. Therefore, those merit badges MUST
be earned at a location which would support the cutting of trees and the
clearing of an area, and the daily backpacking trips.
Finally, while our state parks and resorts do offer instruction and training
in small boat sailing, or waterskiing, or advanced swimming, they do so at a
large cost compared to the cost of such programming at a BSA summer camp
equipped to support such programming. A sailing class lasting an entire
week and geared to meet the demanding requirements of the Small Boat Sailing
merit badge would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $150, the cost of an
entire WEEK of summer camp. The same can be said for archery, rifle
shooting, and horsemanship (price a week of riding lessons, Sarah? I
have...I've got a son that LOVES animals and a few years ago AJ wanted to
"learn how to ride a horse." $225 for a week and that was the summer rate
five years ago.)
YOUR TROOP determines if they are going to use summer camp as a "merit badge
mill" or as "practical training for your Troop's leadership."
There is NO REQUIREMENT for anyone in your Troop to use the program to earn
a single merit badge, and there are Troops that come to summer camp solely
to "just work on basic skills" and that's all. No merit badge work (or very
little), just work on the basic skills. Many camps have a special program
geared to do just that and staffers to assist your Troop with instruction on
basic Scout skills.
Other camps have an option whereby you can purchase a week's worth of
foodstuff from their commissary and your Troop prepare, cook and cleanup
meals during the week. I would check with your Council's staff member for
camping programs to see if your Council offers such an option. If not,
check around to other camps nearby to see if they offer such a program.
>I'd like to see troops get back to the "game" concept (the purpose of
>which is to develop character, citizenship, and fitness) in which merit
>badges and rank advancement are merely tagalongs, only one of several
>means to the end.
Your Troop can do this, Sarah, and STILL utilize the BSA's outdoor facility
and it's staff. It's up to your Troop's adult and youth leadership and
doesn't require a change from the local Council's end to allow your Troop to
experience Scouting from the "traditional outdoor camping" standpoint.
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle)
Joint Information Bureau Deputy Director
US SOUTHCOM FCE (Enhanced New Horizons)
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