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  • Pack Family Camp

    Hello all, First time poster, long time reader.

    I am looking for input on the SOP of a pack family camp. Ive only been with the pack for a year, as well as being a transplant in a small community. I took on the chair to organize the family camp and have run into some quirks.

    I missed last years camp out, because it is usually the last weekend of September and it wasn't announced until that months pack meeting. I only have second hand info, I do know they had to relocate the camp because a wild party move into a camping area adjacent to ours. They moved to a local park and everything went as planned other than everyone driving their vehicles as close to where they were setting up their tents in the rain and mud.

    Here is my current situation; We are scheduled to camp on our C.O. Church grounds, around the perimeter of the ball field. We wanted to camp on the field but the church doesn't want the field burned with a bunch of campfires. We have an awesome Counsel camp 15 miles away that caters to Cubs, but are resistant to using it.

    one of the Den leaders that I talked to described the past family camps as a free for all and that is my biggest concern. I would like to hear how other packs handle the issues of,
    Camp fires
    BSA guidelines
    and the veteran deer camp participant.
    or any other areas that may needed to be addressed.

  • #2
    We have a potluck dinner on Saturday night. Pack buys hotdogs or burgers or chicken depending on budget.
    We have a potluck breakfast sunday morning. Pack buys pancakes and syrup. each den is supposed to assign people in their den to bring eggs, bacon, sausage, etc. sometimes that works out well, sometimes it's just pancakes.
    other meals the families are on their own, but dens are encouraged to eat together.

    Camp fires we have been places where each tent could have a campfire. the problem is that then we end up with 20 fires and kids runnin around in the dark which isn't all that safe, and certainly not LNT. So we limit. 1 maybe 2 campfires, or 1 per den on Friday night. sometimes we retire flags on one main campfire fri night. Saturday night just the one big pack campfire, unless we decide to make a smaller one or charcoal pans for smores.

    We usually have a few people in charge of cooking the hotdogs, burgers or chicken on saturday night. and a few in charge of breakfast. hopefully not the same people. We try to set up one big main cooking area for everyone, or one per den depending on how big the area is and how many actually show to the event. The idea being those who dont' have campstoves and camping cookware, can learn from and borrow stuff from those who do.

    siblings Welcome to come, must have their adult there to monitor. all activities are open to siblings, except sometimes we have a few just for siblings activities put on by some mom usually if there are a lot of preschoolers.

    BSA guidelines-- we put down the rules that belong to the pack +campsite rules + BSA rules all together on the paperwork and gone over when everyone checks in
    no smoking except by the parking lot away from the kdis , no alchol, no pets, no parking in campsites, the rules we have about campfires, no scout sleeping in the tent of an adult not related to them(exception when mom's fiance brings boy to scouting, and that's on a case by case basis with mom's explicit permission), no scout sleeping in a tent alone is recommended (alone in tent= they get scared and quit scouting is our experience), no scout in the bathroom with adults not related to them(we actually prefer no kids in the bathroom with adults, but with little siblings needing help in the bathroom it gets harder to police. if there is water, there are water rules. lights out times, noise in the am time(within reason anything goes for am cause kids get antsy and want to get UP with the sun or before). No electronics. yeah that one is a losing battle, but we try and tell people why--we want the kids out running around not sitting in the tent playing video games. um, we don't allow RV camping usually unless there is a handicap. all those kinds of things need to be brought up and decide what you want to regulate and what you don't mind.

    activities we start each day with flag ceremony. we end saturday with a campfire. we end sunday with a clean up-police line. we try to fill most of the time, with some down time, and some choice-- so the boys don't pick up a stick and start poking each other, but so they can play some games that aren't adult prodded. We try to put in a knot thing, a nature thing, a hiking thing, a game thing, sometimes a craft (leatherworking)
    and the veteran deer camp participant--no firearms.
    or any other areas that may needed to be addressed

    how far in advance you need head count for tour permit.
    how far in advance you need payment (we try to keep it in the $5 per person, $20 per family range).
    how you will handle last minute sign ups.
    how you want to do the permission slip.
    Will you allow Webelos without parent? Will you allow a cub to go to camp with his best friend from his den if his parents won't be able to attend and his best friend's family both mom and dad are going and the two boys will tent together?

    make sure you and CC and CM are on the same page for the rules, since they will be making them happen as much or more than you will.

    I would go to the council camp instead of risking messing up the CO's propertly.


    • #3
      Food: Was really hard for are pack camping, no one could agree. some kids didn't like beans, one kid didn't like pasta, one kid didn't like his food touching. We ended up having parents teaming up, or some went it alone.From here on out it's every family for themselves.

      Your camp fire should mimic your camp fire program. fire starts off bright and roaring, thats when you your songs or chants, and cheers. as the fire dies down you start to wined down your program. then once your done with your program kids can cook marshmellows.

      as far as BSA guidelines you need 1 baloo trained person(i like 2 in case 1 needs to leave). depends on how long if you need A b medical forms. Tour permit. Buddy system. Hard shelter, bathrooms,and a bunch more on top of that.

      Activities: have a wildlife officer give a speech. hiking, Map and compass belt loop, geocaching.

      As far as Siblings, there always going to be there.

      If you don't have Baloo ,ya should get it. it's alot of fun and it shows ya just how to run all of this.

      Most importantly Give your self 6 weeks of planning for this. You can't just say hey we're going to go camping next weekend as a pack. it wont work.


      • #4
        We plan the meal (CM and myself) and the CM does the shopping. We rotate den parents through cooking...Tigers usually get Sunday morning breakfast (leftovers, oatmeal, pastries, fruit) on the first few campouts. For a 2 night camp, we usually go like this--Friday night, on own for dinner but Web 2s make dutch oven cobblers for everyone; Sat. breakfast has some sort of meat, eggs, oatmeal, fruit, and one pastry per person; Sat lunch can range from sandwiches/chips/carrots and celery sticks/cookies to hot dogs/beans/chips/carrots and celery/cookies; Sat dinner is the big meal--we've done everything from chili to chicken fajitas, always with salad; Sat night s'mores for dessert.

        Cooking includes cleanup--and all parents in the den are either working the kitchen or corraling boys for those who are in the kitchen. We do not allow anyone to cook anything outside of the kitchen, and due to cross-contamination, we do not allow food that is not purchased by us in the kitchen. We've had allergies (one boy with milk, egg, soy, wheat, peanuts, all tree nuts and strawberries) and we shop and cook for them accordingly.

        Camp fires:
        Web 2s build the fire with their DL. We line a circle, and anybody (including adults) caught crossing that circle can be banished from the fire. We do a program, with skits and songs, and s'mores for all! Only one fire allowed in camp.

        They are the parents responsibility. They are welcome to any and all activities, however we are not babysitters. The parents can work together and cover the sibs any way they wish (we had one mom stay behind during a hike with 5 little ones, and got them all to nap in the 90 minutes the boys were gone). The sibs are not allowed at knife, firebuilding or cooking areas.

        Quite a few people in our core group are BALOO trained. As leaders/committe, we do not allow ourselves to be in violation of the 2 deep rule with any boy except our own (and that's only at dinner time). We buddy up, and the boys have learned that if one goes to the restroom, they both go, and they have to let an adult know they are leaving to go. Zero alcohol tolerance (not even after scouts are in bed); smoking only by the dumpsters away from scout sight; no electronics (those will be confiscated) for scouts, and we encourage the adults to put away theirs as well (though it doesn't work, as I've posted before); etcc etc.

        Flag ceremonies every day--scouts and leaders must attend in full uniform. Everyone is required to be at these.

        We pick a belt loop or two that most of the boys have not worked on (or need again, in the Webs instance) and we plan activities for those. In our October campout, the Web 2s run a Bobcat clinic, and all new boys must attend to earn the Bobcat. We usually have games Sat morning, and hikes Sat afternoon, with some downtime before and after lunch, so they can just be kids and have fun.

        I always have a box with rainy time activities: card and board games, coloring books for little ones, Mad libs, those magic yes and no books you find at truck stops, etc. I also have a box for free time, with frisbees, balls, etc. DLs can also run things for their dens during den time, whatever they need to work on.

        No firearms at camp.

        Register: on time.
        Price: varies from campout to campout. October we only charge for food--usually $7-10 per person for the weekend, since we don't have to pay for the campsite. We usually subsidize part of the cost from pack funds, to help keep the cost low. The exception to this is our BIG MAY EVENT. Those are full cost, as they are a bit pricy.
        Pay: on time.

        We are moving to a "pay beforehand or risk not having a spot" for campouts and some events, and on events where we need to purchase tickets ahead of time (ballgames/movies) we are now in a "Pay beforehand or you will need to purchase for full price at the box office and won't be with the scout group". Too many "I'm coming" and failures to show, after we've put out the money on the tickets.

        We have a form that a lawyer parent did for us, that allows a parent to sign over their kid to another parent for a camping trip. This is the only time we allow a Wolf/Bear to sleep in a tent with another Wolf/Bear without an adult (they get their own tent). We do not allow Tigers to come without a parent. Webelos are sleeping in their own tents anyways (two to four in a tent), so we just need the form in case of emergencies.


        • #5
          Okay, we usually start planning months ahead of time.

          Friday night: We set up tents and campsite. Each family is on their own as far as food goes.
          Usually, a few leaders will cook something that uses one pot. I used to cook black eye peas and smoked sausage and a chicken and pastry. Another leader would make low country boil( shrimp, fish, crab, potatoes, onions. Another would make poor boy hogies.

          Simple stuf that feds well.

          Saturday Morning: Adults and Webelos scouts cook pancakes and patty sausage. Bears work as servers in serving line.

          We start cooking at 7:30 so breakfast is ready to serve by 8. You have until 9 to fill up and digest. Around 9, den leaders get to do activity with their dens and den siblings.

          Around 11:30, we grab the Wolves who help with lunch. Hot dogs , beans and chips for scouts, cheeseburgers beans and chips for adults. Wolves also work serving line.

          You get an hour and a half for lunch. Then an hour for free time to hang out, burn off energy or just rest. Then I took over as CM. We'd have relay races, crab soccer and play baseball, kickball, etc...

          One DL would shoot off rockets.

          For dinner, adults usually cooked. This was chicken nuggets and mac and cheese and leftover hot dogs from lunch for scouts. Adults would eat grilled chicken or cheeseburgers again.

          At any time, anybody was free to eat their own food. But they had to prepare it themselves and not get in the way of the camp cooking.

          Sunday Hoiney buns, cinnamin rolls and juice. Pack up your gear, Vespers and head out.

          Our fist campout of the year would e at the CO because alot of new scout just joined. Some of them have NEVER EVER been camping beofre including parents. Cost was $5.00 per person to cover food and materials. We also would have a theme for the campout.

          Second campout of the year was $10.00 to $15.00 per person and coverd cost of campsite, material and food.

          Second campout was always further away and not at CO.

          WE always made sure we didn't make a profit. Extra money went towards activities or materials. Could be ever scout got a necklace or other token of the campout.

          As far as rogue parents, even though it is a family campout, it is stil a scouting event. We do not let parents just do their own thing during den or opack meetings , so we do not expect it at family campouts eaither.

          Not saying we have a strict schedule or iteneray either. Scouts and parents are fee to choose to participate or not, but we do keep things in check: No bb guns, no archery no every man for himself: THis is a scouting event and proper behavior is expected.

          As for campfires, we usually have fire pits or designated areas. If there are none you can bring a portable fire pit or even an outside fireplace.

          If you go to the same place every year, see about a service project of making a fire pit or even a brick fire pad.


          • #6
            I want to thank all of you, for your input. It pretty much reinforces my thoughts on how a camp out should go.

            We only do one family camp a year. Would like to see more. I guess I need to put together a SOP For family camp.

            I am also the Outing Chair and I'm a little vague on exactly what that chair full responsibility's are, but I believe this falls somewhere in it's domain.



            • #7
              Woodward, what size pack do you have? I am a member of a smaller pack and planning our pack family campouts is much simpler than some described here. We divvy up responsibilities with different people in charge of activities, food, equipment, sign-ups. Everyone does their part and we have fun camping!

              You will want to be sure to have someone who is Baloo-trained, and when scheduling activities the Guide to Safe Scouting is your best resource. We have also started implementing Leave No Trace principals for pack camping. We no longer do big blazing campfires. We have modest fires suitable for a group of scouts to do some stick cooking instead, or build a mound fire if there is no fire ring. Your group could use a mound fire to avoid damage from campfires on your CO's baseball field.

              I think it is good to establish expectations and avoid the 'free-for-all' that can result otherwise. We remind parents that they are responsible for their own scout and any siblings during the campout. We remind parents that there is no alcohol,no smoking in front of scouts, etc. Using LNT also helps curb destructive behavior. If your unit has a different culture, though, it will probably take several campouts to change behavior. It certainly did for ours.


              • #8
                Just a note - BSA requires that a Pack overnighter be planned/run by a BALOO trained individual. Most councils will not approve a Tour Plan for the campout if there is no BALOO trained adult leading the event.

                Most of your questions should have been (will be) answered when you attended BALOO training.


                • #9
                  I was our primary pack camping person back in the Cub days, and organization of our pack family campouts was similar to that of Scoutfish. We camped primarily in group sites at state parks, which worked well since there was usually good trails, nature programs, etc.

                  Food/camping -- having each family fend for themselves seems unnecessary and waaaayyyyy to disorganized. If you're personally not willing to take this on, see if you can find a parent that is an experienced camper that would be willing to plan just the food and meals, and coordinate cooking (with volunteers). We charged $5 per person per night of camping, and kept the menu pretty simple. Ask a local Boy Scout troop if they have cooking equipment they'd let you borrow. Heck, you may even find a Boy Scout leader, or former leader, that is willing to go on the trip with you and just do the meal planning and cooking. Have lots of (healthy) snacks available all of the time, like apples, fruit, carrots, pretzels, etc. I'd go through about 3 bags of apples on each Webelos campout. Make SURE that you let parents know ahead of time that they shouldn't bring chips, soda, etc. Ask about food allergies, but other than that, have somewhat of a variety of food, including making sure there is enough for vegetarians. If a kid won't eat what is served, and the food is perfectly fine, that's too bad. It will usually only take one missed meal before they get hungry enough to eat the next meal.

                  Camp fires - no reason to have more than one for the whole group. It would be impossible to have adequate supervision for multiple fires.

                  siblings - absolutely allowed, but parent/guardian supervises them. Make it clear to parents ahead a time that they, not den leaders, are responsible for supervising their kids. If another parent is willing to take a second scout on the trip with them, that's between those parents. In that case, only the "guest" scout, and not siblings, are allowed. Let all parents know ahead of time that a scout is ABSOLUTELY NOT allowed to sleep in the tent of an adult that is not their parent/guardian.

                  BSA guidelines - trip leaders should read and understand all Guide to Safe Scouting requirements that would be applicable for the trip. No paddling. No swimming unless all Safe Swim Defense requirements are met (including adult with current CPR certification). As others have mentioned, at least one BALOO-trained leader must be present for the entire trip.

                  activities - no electronics allowed in campsite (if parents allow them in the vehicles on the way to and from the campsite, that's up to them.). Have people bring fun games & outdoor stuff that they'd be willing to share with others, and make sure they don't bring anything that they'd be upset to have broken. I brought knot-tying stuff, card games, books like Calvin & Hobbes for the kids to read, etc. We had some scheduled activities (hike mid-morning, fishing & swimming in afternoon, etc.), but left plenty of open time for the kids to play in the campsite. Our pack wasn't into formal campfire programs, so we didn't do that, except for sharing of lots of really bad jokes.
                  In general, the types of activities you do will be driven by the location of the trip as well as the time of year.

                  Other -- get a gear list (necessary and optional stuff) to families well in advance of the trip. On the signup sheet, have a section for "do you have any extra camping equipment (tent, etc.) that you'd be willing to loan out". Again, your local Boy Scout troop(s) will likely have tents and other equipment that they'd be willing to loan out. I found on our Webelos campouts that we had many families with just one tent. The parents would sleep there, and the Webelos would sleep in other tents that we'd borrow for them.

                  Bring extra flashlights. Prepare for some rain just in case (canopy tent, etc.) but also be willing to cancel if the weather is going to be really cruddy. I always made the call on Thursday evening (before buying all of the food) if the weather was threatening. In 5 years of pack & Webelos campouts, I think I ended up cancelling two campouts due to weather.

                  Make sure that parents know that there will be no alcohol on the trip. No bringing out a small cooler with a 12-pack for around the campfire after the kids have gone to bed. No leaving to the neighborhood bar for a cocktail or two after the kids have gone to bed. I used to tell parents in the information packet Q & A that if they need to smoke, just do it outside the view of the scouts. If they can't go a weekend without a drink, then either they shouldn't go on the campout or should just come during the day.

                  No pets allowed either. It amazes me how many people want to be their dog on a trip like this ("but he's so well behaved......"). I leave my dog & cats at home, and so will everyone else.

                  Also in the Q & A: Watch your language around the scouts. Watch your kids to make sure they are behaving in a scout-like behavior. Backup your leaders when the leader is telling your child to do something or not do something. Arguments are not allowed. The campout is to have fun, and be a positive experience (although the kids are expected to behave).

                  Scouts went to bed no later than 9:00. Adults could stay up later around the campfire, but were reminded to be quiet.

                  The first one you organize is by far the hardest. It's all downhill from there.


                  • #10
                    with planning and running activities - done with both cubs and girl scouts - group of leaders work together, but each den/troop would plan, shop for, run an activity station. made sure it was a mix of some active, some creative, and some learning... but all were fun!

                    boys really enjoyed painting with mud

                    both really enjoyed shoe golf (use tennis balls for the ball and take old shoes and drill onto a wooden dowel for the club)

                    really hot the boys love sponge wars - like dodge ball only with sponges and no one is "out" and the water buckets mark the center line.

                    both always liked making cobler and eating that making s'mores at night.


                    • #11
                      Yes, I do have the training through Council, though it is called Leader outdoor experience, it combines BALOO and the Weblos camp training in one. The don't go into detail of a pack camp out.

                      We will have between 10 and 15 families attending.
                      We have the location for the camp (not exactly what we planned on) I also have alternate locations.
                      I have a camping agenda, activities and games in mind (still need approval from the committee)
                      The cooking arrangements, I have no idea. I will propose that cooking will be done in Den's.
                      I'm just hoping that all will workout and with all your input I have some questions and proposals to take to the committee meeting.

                      Thanks all


                      • #12
                        "Yes, I do have the training through Council, though it is called Leader outdoor experience, it combines BALOO and the Weblos camp training in one. The don't go into detail of a pack camp out."

                        If this is true, they they have totally screwed up the whole point of the training.

                        BALOO is specifically about pack camping. What you have taken is like taking math without discussing numbers.

                        Luckily, you can buy the book at your scoutshop:

                        BALOO guidebook (Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Orientation), No. 34162

                        Again, if they didn't cover anything to do with pack campouts, then they didn't cover anything to do with BALOO.


                        • #13
                          We had our Pack family camp and over all, from the initial response it was a huge success. I hoped for the best and prepared for the worst and I think we ended up on the better side.
                          We camped at a rural city park, on a stretch of river bottom with a river on one side and a fairly busy road on the other. Over all it was a pleasant area.

                          I was able to get the Pack Committee to agree on a few areas I had concerns. No individual campfires. We had a common campfire and the Magic Campfire was a little further from the camping area on a bend of the river hidden from the road. We had a centralized area for cooking, minimized the use of pressurized fuels(no Lanterns), Dens cooked as a group ( our Den was the only ones doing all dutch oven, from dump cake, cobbler and biscuits to scrambled eggs, Spaghetti and stews. Others in the Pack were impressed) Some of the Webelos families resisted this format, four to five years of camping free for all habit is hard to break.

                          Besides a thrown punch, a knot on the head from a thrown rock, scratches, bruises and some hurt feelings, no major injuries.

                          I did have an issue with a single mom and a boyfriend wanting to put her wolf scout in a separate tent by himself.

                          I would like your thoughts on scouts sleeping in tents alone. Sleeping in tents with siblings. With the conditions shared above or on council ground.

                          We have a spring Fam. Camp scheduled on Council ground, first time on Council ground in several years.



                          • #14
                            Man how things have changed..I was sleeping in Tents alone at 7

                            No wonder so many people consider scouts sissies..

                            make sure to pack night lights


                            • #15
                              If the Wolf was fine sleeping by himself, let him. If he was crying and upset, I would have knocked on Mom's tent and told her that little Boo-Boo needed a little more time before leaving the nest. Although, I would have encouraged him to invite his buddy to share his tent too.

                              As for Mom and boyfriend...sigh....Perhaps she was trying to obey the rule about Scouts only sharing tents with their parents or other boys.

                              Our pack is going to invest in some larger tents specifically for WEB use so that they and their parents start to get the idea that boys should tent with boys.