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So what do you do with your Cubs on a campout?

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  • So what do you do with your Cubs on a campout?

    I did a campout with my Webelos last spring, and they had a wonderful time. Unfortunately, they had too much of a wonderful time playing and enjoying the camping and I was unable to really get them focused to just sit down for a little bit to go over some requirements. I'd really like to knock out a few requirements with the boys during our next campout, but I don't want a repeat of our last campout where it was like pulling teeth to get them to even pay attention. Is it too much to expect them to sit still while camping? Should I just focus on a few fun outdoor requirements and save the book work for a den meeting?

  • #2
    Our last unit overnighter we had a flag retirement on Friday night, then some silly stuff around cracker barrel (balloon launch, games). On Saturday we did rockets, geocaching, and water balloon volleyball after breakfast. It started raining after the rockets so we made garbage bag ponchos and got after the rest. The answer to your questions, in my ever so humble opinion, are yes and yes.


    • #3
      They shouldn't be doing book work while camping. You're in the outdoors, get them out and doing things.

      For my pack overnighters, we focus on outdoors requirements only. So we hike, we practice pitching tents (especially if we are sleeping in a cabin), we do foil cooking. Other than that, we try to get the kids involved in games that may (or may not) help them with requirements, and we'll take advantage of any other unique opportunities the camp has to offer.

      I only hold 2 very brief lectures during the campout: At the Friday night cracker barrel, I'll do a quick leave no trace session, and at Saturday's breakfast, I do a quick "what do you do if you get lost?" lecture, drawing heavily on the NSAR's "Hug a Tree" program.

      Make sure the boys have enough free time to explore and discover the world around them. I've thrown my plans out the window because someone found a box turtle or decided to build a fort. They learned more from those than I could teach them with what I had planned.


      • #4
        "Unfortunately, they had too much of a wonderful time playing and enjoying the camping and I was unable to really get them focused to just sit down for a little bit to go over some requirements."

        STOP! You missed it! Your boys had fun camping. Their program is a success! Unless you make them turn their backs on the outdoors to sit down and focus on advancement. There is no such thing as boys having 'too much fun camping"!

        Perhaps you can have a few activities planned in case they run out things to do, but make sure that those are activities that can only be done in the woods: carved boat races in the creek, trekking through the woods, critter crawl races, capture the flag.

        All you gotta do for Cub Scouts on an overnighter is feed them.


        • Basementdweller
          Basementdweller commented
          Editing a comment
          We have a winner...all ya gotta do is feed them..... adults forget adventure is at every corner twig and branch with cub age boys.....

          Ya want a camp out they will never forget.....have them catch a mess of bluegl or crappy and cook them up.......they will never forget it.

      • #5
        Don't get them sat down for anything unless it's to close their eyes for a minute and tell you the sounds they hear. Man, you need your sleep, and the more those little buggers run the less likely they'll pop out of bed to bug you.

        Suitable activities/requirements:

        Build a block and tackle.
        Bottle rockets.
        Nature hikes.
        Collect rocks.
        Play catch. (Trust me, that was the hardest requirement for Son #2.)
        Identify tools.
        Aquatic safety.
        Foil-pack cooking.

        You get the idea. Organize with respect to the abilities of adults.


        • #6
          Build a shelter out of a tarp. Show them why its important to know their two-half hitches and taut-lines. Making a competition out of things with a reward helps to keep them focus.
          Maybe the winners get to lead the Webelos-Only hike.

          Tree Identification is another thing to work on.

          For second year Webs, look at the outdoor requirements for Tenderfoot and Second Class that are age appropriate, find fun games that can support that knowledge.


          • koolaidman
            koolaidman commented
            Editing a comment
            What's wrong with doing the items in Boy Scouts that they should have learned as Webs? That's what I meant by "age appropriate". So many cross over not really knowing the skills required by Arrow of Light. I guess what I should have said is "review the reqs in TF and SC that are covered by AOL. Really drive those home.

          • perdidochas
            perdidochas commented
            Editing a comment
            I'm with BD. Teach them foil cooking or even buddy burner cooking of a burger for lunch. Go on a hike. Make hiking staffs. They will be doing the Boy Scout requirements soon enough.

          • koolaidman
            koolaidman commented
            Editing a comment
            I've seen so many Webs, not knowing the scout oath and law, not being able to tie the entire 3 knots they have to learn in cub scouts, not recollecting what the significance of the items on the first class badge. I guess to heck with actually learning the things you should have for AOL.

            Once is enough for requirements, but I think a lad who has earned his AOL should be able to show he knows something more that the lad who walks in with no cub experience.

            If a kid crosses over, and can't do the fundamentals, have they really learned anything? Something a little better than just a square knot I hope.

        • #7
          Historically our pack has taken the direction of no direction. Get the boys outside, and let them have fun. No organized anything.
          I like that in theory, but what happens is the boys end up running wild and playing with sticks.
          Some of that is good and healthy. Let's the natural leaders lead and the followers follow. Lets them figure out "life" and experience stuff they never see at home like trees and dirt.
          But I think we could do with maybe 1 or 2 organized games or lessons a day. Not sit down book stuff, but hikes, activities, outdoor craft lessons, etc.... maybe a clean the trail service project here and there..... Maybe stuff to work on an elective or belt loop, or maybe not..... just to get them together.


          • #8
            Great advice everyone. Thank you!


            • #9
              Astronomy belt loop or just stargazing is a good one for calming things down at night. Especially if they are from the city and you camp far enough away. $10 10X binoculars are better than "my turn! " with a telescope.


              • dedkad
                dedkad commented
                Editing a comment
                The astronomy belt loop was one of the ones we did during our spring campout because the local astronomy club happened to be having a stargazing event that evening at the campground. I thought I was pretty clever and had them go find things like rocks and pinecones to make their solar system model, but having them learn the various astronomical terms was when things went south.

              • jblake47
                jblake47 commented
                Editing a comment
                The binocular idea is great. With a telescope only one boy can use it at a time, but with binoculars, they can use the buddy system.


            • #10
              We always hike, and often play sports. This past weekend we played soccer and badminton, and a made up volleyball/baseball hybrid, went on 2 different hikes, and made pinwheels at the nature center. Campfire games, card games, searching for "fossils" in the sandbox, playground time, climbing up the lighthouse. And they spent hours watching/following a praying mantis- birds- deer- groundhogs. Our "program" was intended to be a full weekend of sports beltloops and pins, but... it didn't turn out that way. More power to your Scouts if they "only" had fun and didn't "accomplish" anything! MY goal for Cub campouts is for the boys to have great memories.... that's more than good enough.


              • #11
                lets see,
                friday night people come straggling in at different times, everyone is on their own for food, and we might have a simple family campfire, no program.
                Saturday am is usually a fairly quick breakfast, dens eat together. Then we gather for a flag ceremony, announcements, questions and answers. go over camp rules etc.

                We usually have a hike planned, or maybe a bit of a hike to a fishing spot. so we might make a mini first aid kit, a simple survival bracelet, or just go over some leave no trace. then we hike for a bit. fish for a bit.
                back to camp for some free time games,
                lunch with your den.

                afternoon activities are usually a bit of rotation, so there might be a leatherwork bracelet or some knots (or knots with long licorice sticks), tour of the nature center, some kind of simple team building game, some kind of belt loop thing like marbles in the dirt or kick ball.
                Then we usually make a group afternoon snack like smores, or smores taco/burrito things, or homemade ice cream in the coffee cans you roll back and forth.

                Free time games after that with strategically placed football, kickball, rope, Kuub, bocce ball, croquet, badminton, whatever is appropriate for the area we are camping in. sometimes it's like a big park with a built in playground, sometimes it's a bit more wooded and rougher ground. One year we had a quite involved scavenger hunt with prizes that the kids could work on all weekend if they wanted to. Dens might get together to practice a skit or song for the campfire.

                take down the flag, we eat dinner pot luck style the pack might pay for hotdogs or hamburgers sat night with a campfire program, skits, sogs. sometimes we retire some flags with the last of the fire which is why we usually do smores earlier in the day, also easier to do with smaller groups around a smaller campfire, rather than everyone at the big campfire.

                Sunday we meet for flag, quick scout's own service (optional), coffee, we try to do a big breakfast, mtn man breakfast, pancakes, whatever. each den brings some stuff to share, pack pays for a main thing like pancake mix and syrup which is cheap in bulk. we put all the campstoves together and cook until everyone is full. then it's clean up, pack up and head home. sometimes we do a short hike, or play some games, but most parents want to leave early and get out of dodge.

                when we have too much down time, someone always gets hurt. unLuckily the last time it was my own son who got the broken arm. so we do try to keep them busy enough with appropriate activities available, cycling thru things with short times to coordinate with scout's short attention spans, keep them out of trouble but having fun.


                • #12
                  We usually do the big breakfast on Saturday morning. Sunday is a simple, minimal clean up morning.


                  • #13
                    Originally posted by ScoutNut View Post
                    We usually do the big breakfast on Saturday morning. Sunday is a simple, minimal clean up morning.
                    Sunday morning after they played ALL.DAY.LONG on saturday they usually wake up hungry enough to eat a whole cow, a pig and a chicken. so we moved the big breakfast to Sunday morning. If they want to eat pop tarts and leave early, they can, add we usually pass them where they've stopped somewhere for a bigger breakfast on the way home. most stick around and talk and eat and help each other pack up and it makes for more comraderie.


                    • #14
                      After playing all day on Saturday (and Friday evening for some), our boys, and their families, were hungry enough Saturday evening to eat anything that did not move out of their way fast enough!

                      We did a substantial breakfast on Saturday so that everyone had the energy for the long day. This was often bacon/sausages, dutch oven egg scramble mess, fruit, and bagels. Lunch was usually light. Just fruit and a sandwich that could be done on the fly. Saturday dinner was when all stops were pulled out. Meat main course, fruit/salad/veggies, starchy/potato thing, and of course, dessert.

                      Sunday morning was a quick clean-up meal. We never did any poptarts. However we were big on fruit, cold/dry cereal w/milk, hard boiled eggs, and ready cooked, heat/eat sausages..

                      We did not want to spend a lot of time cooking, and cleaning for that one meal when we had the entire campsite to clean up, and pack up.

                      After Scouts Own service, breakfast, and clean up, we were ready to do our Sunday activities (leave early for home, or stick around the camp area for a while doing planned, or impromptu activities) without worrying about hitting our check-out time.

                      As for what activities to do on the campout, a lot depends on what is available to you at your camp area. Utilize all of your resources. Big field - do wide games, sports, kite fly, or rocket shoot. River - fishing derby. Trails - hiking. Nature Center - guided tours. Bike Trails - biking. We even did an excursion to visit a Scout museum that was near to one camp spot!

                      Check out the materials you got when you took your BALOO training. There are lots of ideas in there.

                      On whether to do campouts strictly for fun, or strictly for achievements, BSA's view (as taught in BALOO) is that you should NOT focus on advancement, and achievements. Focus on the outdoors, and having fun. If you do fun things in the outdoors, you will end up naturally completing some requirements at the same time.


                      • #15
                        Cub camp is fun & games. And food. Cubs need lots of food. Books at camp?

                        Now there is 2 types:
                        - first Cup Camp, 1-2 nights in a small group
                        hikes and outdoor games, we did "river crossings" (big streams) because the lil ones enjoy getting their feet wet for some reason.
                        Never go hiking without duct tape!
                        Learn how to set up a tent (for the advanced with blindfold), make a fire, knots, basic toten chit, basic cooking by cubs (or they need to help lots),
                        camped next to a farm once so they got a tour, lots of nature and more bush walks and games and ... food ;-)
                        In the evening its enough to toss a glow stick or one for each patrol to them and the cubs figure out their own game (touch football, capture the flag..)
                        Watching stars (at BSA camp once we put the scouts on bleachers and waited for the International Space Station ISS to zoom past), night hikes, ...
                        fire circles with songs and stories and each scout had to say something as well (hard for the shy ones), I saw little skits in NZS - maybe more a BSA thing.
                        Scouts own on Sundays

                        -Group Camp (summer camp) 2 nights with all-group (cubs/scouts/venturers)
                        of course the benefit is that the older scouts can bear more responsibilites
                        with more people, more adults its also easier to make a big program
                        we always have a theme and on the 2nd night for campfire everybody,
                        including adults, have to dress up (pirates, knights, movies, superheroes ...)
                        we have a nice obstacle course patrol competition
                        (council camp has a big parcours, flying fox, full scale rappeling tower, pool, mess)
                        archery/softair/bb guns or even 22s/22 magnum depending on site (non council :-P ), availability of adults etc.,
                        fishing for eels (and then cooking them in foil in the fire)
                        tubing in mountain streams, swimming,
                        we carted out a generator, pump, bouncy castle and slide and pumped water over the slide into the stream (all ages love that)

                        If you can imagine it you can probably do it :-D


                        • berliner
                          berliner commented
                          Editing a comment
                          well then you have to take the group to an off-coucil camp ground for that kind of fun ;-)
                          And you ever seen the eyes of a 6 year old cub or a 10 year scout who just caught an eel? makes 'em 10 feet taller :-)

                        • qwazse
                          qwazse commented
                          Editing a comment
                          We don't get eel on the line in these parts. One time when son #1 and I were visiting FL, we pulled in a ribbon fish from Jensen Beach pier. Now that's the stuff nightmares are made of! But, never an eel.

                        • berliner
                          berliner commented
                          Editing a comment
                          come on guys - scouts should know how to adapt to local rules, regulations, vegetation and foods ;-)
                          I dont think I have seen an eel in Berlin, but around where the army "base"/cub camp and scout hut where there is wild mufflons/sheep.
                          In Berlin we built Igloos but we get snow every year, in Wellington they had about 5 cm of snow in the past 30 years so no Klondike Derby there ...