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LauraT7

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About LauraT7

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    Woodstock, IL
  1. On Friday, July 28, 2006 Wm. Paul McKay was killed in a one-car auto accident. Paul was the SM of Troop 159, Woodstock IL for the past 5 yrs, a wonderful father to Will & Kori, loving husband to Diane and good friend to many. Paul was not a man of many words - instead, he lead the boys by his actions and his quiet presence. He guided them with love, humor and LOTS of patience. He was the kind of Scoutmaster that made the job 'look' easy - the adults supported him wholeheartedly, and all the kids adored him. Paul was extremely proud of his children - Will and Kori - with good reason. Both great kids. Kori will be a Sr in High School this year, has earned her GS Silver award and is active in school activities. She was the 'apple' of her dad's eye, and he loved taking her shopping. Will graduated HS last spring, and recieved his Eagle in May. Will is thinking of a career with kids - teaching or professional Scouting, perhaps. Paul and Diane were so very proud of Will that day! Paul will be sorely missed by all who were lucky enough to know him - It's hard enough to lose your father at any age - but especially when you are only 16 and 18 yrs old.... Please keep this family in your hearts and prayers. Thank you
  2. LauraT7

    Being a camp counselor - how much is too much?

    Hi all - I haven't been able to check the site in quite awhile - it's been a busy summer. I do want to say that I appreciate the support and consideration you have all given me with Jon's situation - even if you disagreed with me, you did it with courtesy and thoughtfullness - a true 'scout' quality that I really appreciate. I also thrived on the long hours and hard work of camp when I was a teen - But I have also learned that even the toughest, nastiest jobs can be endured with a smile when shared by good friends who can lift your spirits in adversity. I think that was the main element that was missing from Jon's experience. I also want to add that while I may not agree with some of the camp director's methods, I understand that I don't have to work in his shoes and probably don't know all that he is faced with. It's a tough Job that I do NOT feel qualified to do - Bless him for doing what he can. Less than a week after Jon returned from camp, our Scoutmaster, Paul McKay was killed in a car accident. Paul's son, 'Will', is Jon's best friend mentioned above. Will has long been more than a friend - he is part of our family. Will had to return early from camp, too - to try and arrange his Father's funeral. Paul's death is whole different story - probably a thread on it somewhere else here on the board by others in our troop who post here - so I won't go into it in depth here. One thing Will & Jon's Camp Director did that greatly touched & impressed me - at a time that devastated Will, this camp director brought the ENTIRE camp staff 2 hrs across the state to attend the wake of Will's Dad - to show their support for a fellow staffer and friend. It was fortunate that the wake fell between camp sessions so that they were able to attend, but nevertheless, it was an action that went WAY, WAY above and beyond the call of duty for the director and all the staff. They were extremely courteous and kind to Will, Jon and the rest of our troop's boys, who had all been to camp themselves just a week before. It was a wonderful thing to do. Thanks again for listening - Laura
  3. LauraT7

    Camps with Pools

    My son and i prefer camps with lakes, too - a pool is nice for learning swimming strokes, in water that doesn't have fish nipping your legs or seaweed, that is distracting to begining swimmers. A pool is fresh, clear and clean - and feels 'safe'. Though we have no problem with swimming in a pool to cool off - there's just something so much more relaxing about a lake.... in a lake, you can wade in the shallows and try to catch minnows in a bucket, find water-striders, frogs or turtles, identify footprints, build castles and dams, or bury your buddy in the sand. You can take in the toys - an innertube or air mattress (usually not allowed in a smaller, crowded pool) & you can swim out to the big float that usually is one corner of the swimmers area and watch your buddies learn to canoe or sail. And there is nothing to beat doing the 'Mile Swim' in a lake. a pool just can't match it. The distance may be the same in reality - but it 'feels' like much more of an accomplishment when the distance is seen in one shot! Pools are nice - but we prefer a nice lake with a beach anyday!
  4. LauraT7

    Being a camp counselor - how much is too much?

    Jon has decided to quit this weekend after the end of the 4th camp session. there are a number of factors in this - some things came to light that I was not previously aware of - because of talking to other parents and leaders, & from visits to camp one full day during third session and another full day (10 AM to 11 pm) with our troop 4th session and actually seeing the 'program' in action. If it were just my observations, that would be one thing - but the leaders & boys in our troop reported that Jon was not 'himself' when they saw him at the pool and at meals. Jon is usually outgoing, talks and jokes non-stop, laughing, the 'life of the party'. Because he is ADHD, he is usually hyper and often jugggling, or doing something with his hands - constant motion -never still. Instead, he was withdrawn, quiet, seemed tired and depressed, and more than one person, including his fellow scouts, recognised that he was very alone and lonely. The nature of his job as a lifeguard, constant alertness, with no breaks or downtime for friends and fun, left him very isolated and worn out. Even after the Aquatics director switched to working the pool and the annoying know-it-all kid went to the waterfront, Jon was even more isolated - because the director spent most of the last two weeks trying to keep an ailing pool pump going, (and not working in the pool itself much) and because of a 10yr+ gap in age between Jon and the Aquatics director and the pool director - the only other staff he saw all day. This camp is dying and our council is struggling to keep it open. it should probably give up and put all it's funding into ONE summer resident camp, instead of trying to run two. As for pools - the reason both our camps have pools is because they have no waterfront - Lowden is located on the Rock river in Illinois - but they don't actually OWN the boating waterfront - they have access to the river on a portion of Lowden-Miller State park land - but can't swim there. The council's other camp (Canyon Camp) has only an ankle-deep stream which they dammed up for canoe tip-tests, but the 'pond' they created is only waist deep, muddy and smaller than my city-lot front yard. (about 3 canoe lengths at the widest) So both have swimming pools. this lack of decent waterfront is a large factor in why our council is losing campers by the troopfull to neighboring councils much nicer camps, and why our camps are dying. What I saw at the camp was that while the staff was busy in their program areas, they all had 'downtime'as part of their workday - except for the aquatic staff. Time to visit with fellow staff, laugh, joke, work on their own projects & skits, spend time within their program areas getting to know campers and other staff WHILE they were manning their areas. Much of the staff - other than the area directors - were very poorly qualified and untrained. Example - a nature staff who could not recognize poison ivy after being there 5 weeks - and the camp is literally covered in the stuff! The craft area was VERY busy with woodcarvers and various projects - yet the staff had time to work on their own whittling projects and crafts in between counseling campers. While the shooting sports staff kept pretty much to themselves, like the aquatics staff, the other areas interacted quite a bit - Scoutcraft, crafts and nature have alot of areas that overlap. The shooting areas were only open between breakfast and dinner, and for a once-a-week demonstration tuesday nights - whereas the pool was open for mile swimm practice at 6:00 am every morning before breakfast and open for free swim after dinner most days. the 'Nature Center' is pitiful. their 'newest' materials are at least 20 yrs old - faded, torn, dusty and falling apart - and they don't have much even, of that. The Craft area is not much better - while they have tools for the badgework - there are no 'original' craft items - everything is purchased BSA kits. no imagination. Scoutcraft is similar - except that they have only shade flys for their 'base' - not buildings. None of the staff in these areas was given much, if any, training in their particular areas, other than badgework they themselves had done. 'staff week' was more cleaning & labor than training. Everything is bare-bones - most of the badgework is 'talked' not 'active'. All of the staff were required to serve meals (no family-style), clean up afterwards (hoppers simply collected dishes, they did not clean and rack them) and clean the mess hall after meals. The staff also has to bleach the mess hall floors after meals, and clean other camp buildings. I seem to remember as a camper, staffer, and as leader at other scout camps, that the SCOUT TROOPS had many of these cleaning duties - like scrubbing the mess hall floor & sweeping the main lodge hall, etc. I remember as a scout myself, washing down the shower house, cleaning latrines not in our unit, cleaning and raking the beach, Cleaning stables, raking the riding ring, cleaning and racking canoes, washing down floors and tables in various camp buildings, refilling fire buckets daily (whatever happened to those???) all sorts of 'chores' that our unit was assigned to do as part of our regular camp routine. Why are the troop campers not required to do these kinds of chores, too? Being a 'Hopper' meant alot more than just setting and clearing the table: Meals were served family style, and Hoppers brought food and utensils back and forth. At Napawon, campers even pre-washed (in large garbage cans full of bleachwater) and stacked all the dishes before they went into the commercial dishwasher.... At girl scout camp, Hoppers washed them in dishpans at table, and then stacked them in dishwasher trays to be run thru the machine. so why is the already overworked STAFF doing all of this? Besides - when serving 200 campers cafeteria style - by the time the last camper goes thru the lines, the first half is already back in line for seconds - and the last ones served (the counselors not serving for that meal) can't get seconds, because they put the food away too fast! I remember the meals being better in past years, too - the meals I was served this year at Lowden were pitiful - served two ways - undercooked, or overcooked! CAmp food is usually not that bad - but this stuff was BAD! I did bring Jon a birthday cake and ice cream for the staff for his birthday - and the camp director made them wait to have it until 9:30 at night! (probably would have been later, but a rainstorm cancelled the Archery demonstation scheduled for that evening, and they finished up early.) Actually, I brought enough to share with his troop, too - who was there for camp that week. Jon was really glad to see his friends - but dissappointed,too- because he got to SEE them, but was not given opportunity to talk to them. First, because he was lifeguarding and not allowed to 'visit' while working (understandable), but also because of a camp staff rule that he was only allowed to share ONE meal all week with his own troop when they were at camp. something about not wanting a counselor to be monopolized by his own troop. I understand that being camp director is not an easy job - and especially at a camp that is struggling as badly as our camp is - but it isn't going to help the camp stay alive if it does so by bleeding the heart out of it's staff! He also flat- out lied to Jon, as he told Jon via e-mail that Jon's hours "would be 30 - 40 hrs a week - from 9 to 12, and 2-5 each day, and would be expected to participate in some evening programs" Jon's friend Will is staying - as he is with the high adventure program, being camp staff for Will is much like being SPL of the older boys in the troop - only it lasts all summer. Will has been SPL of our troop a couple of times, has his Eagle, and is an experienced and trained Jr Asst SM. For Will, while it is a tiring schedule, it still has enough elements of fun and enjoyment that 're-charge' him. Will he has also made new friends both in the staff and with his campers, and he's gotten the opportunity to do a variety of things that are both a responsibility and fun. But Will understands that the job Jon has is draining Jon - and he supported Jon in quitting. (Aquatics wasn't even an area Jon applied for, they put him there because they were so desperate for staff.) Jon has no variety, no comraderie, no relaxation, no 'fun' and no opportunity to 're-charge'. It's just a shame that the camp director can't see that the counselors are just as important as the campers - and that many of them are still just kids themselves, and can't work that way. sorry this is so long - but thanks for listening. laura
  5. LauraT7

    Another video of a skit

    these are AWESOME! Keep 'em coming! What a talented goup of boys you have! laura
  6. LauraT7

    of power tools and knives

    Wow! thanks for this thread, folks! I have been told repeatedly by many sources in our council that boys under 18 cannot use power tools - especially in reference to Eagle projects. I was told that was SPECIFICALLY forbidden in the Life to Eagle packets, but had not had the time to research it myself or really read Jon's packet. I assumed that our SM and committee knew what they were talking about.... now, on second thought, knowing our committee, I SHOULD have assumed they were wrong - they usually are! ;-P I will make a specific effort to find the Official BSA backup to PROVE that they can use them - as my son is into woodworking, and has been stalling on an Eagle project because his original idea involved the use of the woodworking skills he has learned in school. Troop leaders informally rejected it - because no one would have wanted to do all that constuction with only hand tools. I suspect this 'wrong' rule is the reason why most of our Eagle projects in this area involve landscaping type projects rather than construction type things. It certainly is a very limiting restriction! This issue always confused me, because I distinctly remember working WITH the boys and dads in Webelos using power drills, hot glue guns, palm sanders and a dremel to create their derby cars. they were under close, one-on-one supervision, but they all very successfully made their own cars with the tools. In boy scouts, we also used a woodburner to mark names in signs, make nametags, and the boys have used power drill/screwdrivers in various situations. I remember one of our boys working at Camp Napawon on his Metalworking badge - which has a requiremnt to work with a welder and actually weld something. Isn't that a power tool???? Most of our boys take at least a basic woodworking /trades class in high school, many, like my son, have their woodworking and woodcarving badges. It isn't ALL done with hand tools! Especially for kids like mine - who are into woodworking and have been using power tools safely since they could hold them, and who are properly trained thru woodworking and carpentry courses, this requirement seemed ludicrous to me. I guess it is. laura
  7. LauraT7

    Being a camp counselor - how much is too much?

    I guess I know the answer is that summer camp staff is is expected to be much much more than, for example, a job at the local burger joint....with a time clock and 15 minute breaks and scheduled lunches. I did it myself for a number of years - though I can't remember what was 'assigned hours' and what was 'volunteer'.... I just LIVED it. However, as a unit counselor, I had 'downtime' when my unit had 'downtime' and a little time tomyself, besides. I know that as a BSA camp, Jon's job is much different than the one I had as a Girl Scout unit leader. And I was older (17 - 21). At 15 / 16, I was strictly 'volunteer' at day camps that ended at 3 or 4 in the afternoon. I talked to his camp director on the phone - the Director had NOT checked his e-mail, and three days have passed since I sent it. no reply, even after our phone discussion.. On the phone, the director was curt and unconcerned. his take was that the boys got lots more time off than he did, and first week of campers was a tough one because they were still 'shaking down' the routine. He's been directing this same camp for over 15 yrs, on staff for over 20. Jon IS supposed to get an hour off when his program area is closed; an hour before flag/dinner - IF the program area is cleaned and prepped for the next day or session. there are four nights that he is expected to 'participate' in as a staffer - Sunday opening campfire, tues all camp event, Wed OA callout ceremony and parents night (he is not in OA, but must help with the parents night / campfire program part),and Friday final campfire program,including prepping for skits,set-up, etc., for these events. they also do opening day registration (which for him is swim tests for all campers and leaders) and closing day campsite check-outs. Ideally, this would mean that he gets an hour each day off, other than meals and sleep, and he gets Monday and thursday evenings free. I think the pool is open for some time after dinner, but not sure how much time or days. This would explain why they were putting up platform tents last thursday night until 11 pm for the next week's campers - it is the only 'free' night they had enough staff bodies available to do it. It still seems like too much, and alot of it is probably not 'mandatory', but if he didn't participate, he would be ostracized by the rest of the staff. Peer pressure is a huge thing - especially when you have to LIVE with your peers 24/7. After the camp director was so unsympathetic, and unhelpful ( and I didn't even mention the lack of food or the know-it-all, bossy, young 'cabin king' that has been making Jon's days miserable), Grandma wanted me to go out to camp today and bring Jon home. However, Jon DOES have his cell phone ( though roaming and poor signal) and he could call me if he was really doing too badly. I know he is not a 'quitter' and will not like the idea of giving up. I am hoping that this second session will have them in a more 'regular' pattern and he is both getting used to the schedule and getting some downtime. I plan to talk to him myself when he comes home on Sat and find out how things are working out. If he wants to quit, I will support him; if he wants to stick it out I will support that, too. Fourth session, July 9-15, will be the week his own troop is there, and also his 16th birthday, I plan to go out and visit him then and maybe take him out for dinner or some kind of off-camp treat; whether the director likes it or not! having his own buddies and leaders around him will be a morale booster, I think. However, any advice anyone can give for me to pass on to him is welcome..... Laura
  8. Hi! One of the things that is great about being an adult in scouting, is being included in these priceless moments as you watch these boys grow up and realize how valuble their scouting years are..... You have a sensitive and intellegent boy if he realizes it himself now. something which might help your son with his 'transition' into Boy Scouting: talk with him about what made Webelos camp so special for him - was it the activities? the waterfront? the counselors? being with his buddies all day? camping out? campfires? did it really have all that much to do with WHERE he was? (1 mile or 100 doesn't make much difference when you're having a good time! Unless you are the extrememly forgetful type and need to run home alot! LOL!) Or were the good memories created more by WHO he was with and WHAT they were doing, than with the camp itself? Chances are, he will discover that it is more the quality of the time spent and those he spent it with, than the actual 'place' - and those people will probably continue on with him in boy scouts - except that they will have even MORE opportunities for fun and adventures. His adventures in scouting are not ending - they are just beginning! Laura
  9. LauraT7

    Lake ideas

    Hope this isn't too late for your camp..... We used to do a 'water olympics' every year with girl scouts in our council.... some of the events were.... Drown the counselor ( not really) however, this is good for non- swimmer participation in shallow water. 2 ( or more) teams - you put a counselor in a a canoe in knee-deep to waist deep water - and give the kids buckets, teaspoons, whatever. the first to 'sink' their counselor wins! you can make it a group with buckets or a relay, or whatever. CANOE TUG_O WAR tie the sterns of two canoes together, about 6' - 10 ft apart with a bright bandana marking the center of the rope. lay a line of rope in the water between two buoys. Ready, set, GO! the first canoe to pull their oponent over the line is the winner! Hint - do not tie the rope to the canoe - you will never get the knots undone again, they will be too tight and wet after pulling. attach them with a clip or with a rope you can cut away later. CAnoe obstacle course. Set up obstacles and manuvers to test canoe ( or sailing, rowboating, etc) skills. time the course - best time wins - or have a point system for each obstacle - best score wins. Ideas we have used depend on the terrain of your lake and facilities. examples for 'obstacles' - string a rope across the water with two free hanging ropes hanging down into the water about 4 or 5' apart. paddlers must go thru the ropes without touching them - manuver a figure 8 around two buoys or anchored floating hula hoops. - have someplace they have to portage the canoe. - have a spot they have to 'rescue' and empty a sunk canoe - have them change positions without dumping - bow person to stern position and vice-versa. - think up any other manuver you might do with a boat and have them do it. Blindman's paddle - Setup - two hula hoops, or buoys, anchored in the water about two or three canoe lengths apart - straight out from shore or dock starting point, preferably in water that the boys can stand up in if they happen to dunk. 1 canoe, two paddles, three life jackets, and two bandana blindfolds. this takes a team of 3 people. the paddlers are blindfolded and they climb into the canoe. the non blindfolded 'captain' pushes off and rides in the middle with NO paddle. He has to direct the paddlers how to steer the canoe in a figure 8 around the hoops or buoys and back to the same landing spot. Scoring is by time and points/ penalties can be awarded for skill, teamwork, accuracy, etc. It is HILARIOUS to watch! and even funnier when you make the SM do it! lastly - a game of canoe hockey - Can get a little wild, and very wet! 2 - 4 teams, can be set up with more rules, or less, however you wish to structure it. Basic idea is to use a large FLOATING sponge or piece of foamboard (like a chunk of a swimming kickboard, but not the whole kickboard) as a hockey puck and your paddles as hocky sticks. you must have at least two hula hoops, or rope / buoy marked areas for 'goals' Points are gained for each time a team manages to toss the 'puck' into their goal - points are taken away anytime a canoe bumps another canoe or for other 'fouls' as determined by the referrees. works best with two teams, designated areas (marked with buoys)for goalie, etc. and if you have two paddlers in each canoe and allow one or two 'riders' to try and scoop out the 'puck' and toss it. must use paddles to fish out the puck - no hands. Could also be done with a beach ball ( use hands) or a smaller ball and a long handled fishing net to scoop it up and throw it. have fun~!
  10. My son is a life scout, and will be 16 in two weeks. He is working his first paid job as a camp counselor (swim instructor) at our local council camp this summer. the camp is short- staffed. Jon's best friend applied there just before school ended and Jon decided to apply just a week or so before staff week. I had no idea he wanted to be a camp counselor, but I had been a camp counselor myself for many years and had such great memories of the experiences, I encouraged him to go for it if he truly wanted to. I was rather surprised that the Director would hire a 15 yr old (almost 16) who is not lifeguard certified nor has his lifesaving badge as a 'swim instructor. (though he does have Swimming, and almost all of the boating badges) I guessed that they had enough swimm staff that they wanted extras for safety and to rotate staff. But this is not so. the Aquatics director is going to try and help Jon get his BSA lifeguard and Lifesaving badge while working at camp this summer - which is great - but they only have 3 staffers at the pool, and 2 at the boating waterfront - and the pool staff is 1 adult, Jon, and another 15 yr old who was a CIT last year. they start with flag and breakfast at 7 am. they are at the pool from after breakfast to lunch, and after lunch to dinner, and after dinner too - often until 9 or 10 pm - unless it's 'OA call out'night, or all camp activity night, or final campfire friday when they have duties elsewhere for those events. They have no scheduled free time during the workday, and are not allowed to eat or snack around the pool or while 'on duty'in front of campers. (this is for all staff, not just the pool staff) the no snacking thing bothers me because the staff are also strongly discouraged from going back for seconds at mealtimes - they want to make sure the campers get plenty before the staff do. Meal portions are not bad and the camp food is good (our troop has been to this camp many times) but we are still talking about teenagers with bottomless appetites, high metabolisms, & working long and strenuous jobs. they NEED more than three basic meals a day! they are also expected to help out in maintaining the camp - they did the labor to prep all the campsites during staff week (clearing brush, deadwood, mowing, tree trimming, cleaning and setting up latrines, clearing paths, cleaning program areas, etc) and do things like set up lights for ceremonies and plartform tents for troops that need them - one thursday night they were out until 11:30 PM setting up platform tents for a troop coming in the following week! the staff is housed in rough cabins - 3 or 4 to a cabin. they do have electricity, so some have brought dorm fridges and small microwaves, tv's and stereos. But since they never get time off except to sleep, and they never have free time to return to their cabins, they can't get anything to eat outside of meals except at bedtime. they get time off from around 10:30 am Sat(when the last campers are gone), until noon sunday. they are required to LEAVE camp at that time - which for Jon and his friend requires me or the other parent (we trade off)to drive two hours to camp on Sat AM - pick up the boys, two hours home - sleep & eat for 10 hours, drive the boys two hours back to camp, and then we drive two hours home. (8 hrs of driving for the adults, 4 for the boys)obviously, some staff live closer and some live farther. I think we are about average. the boys have come home more than simply exhausted - I'm afraid that while Jon really like being at camp and especially seems to be enjoying the campers (the kids) he is going to be totally burned out from the grueling pace and will never want to return to camp - even another camp, as a counselor or otherwise - again. Is this normal for Boy scout camp staff? a 15/ 16 yr old working 12 - 15 hr days with no breaks except basic meals? no free time? no chance to relax, hang with friends or make use of the amenities of camp himself once in awhile? I have talked to Jon's bunkmates, his best friend, other counselors parents, and they all are hearing their boys say similar things - little food, no breaks, long, long days. Some program areas are understandably slower paced or less demanding than the pool - but they still have no scheduled breaks or free time, and not enough food for a typical constantly grazing teenager. I e-mailed the camp director with my concerns - but have not yet had a reply. What do you all think? am i an overprotective mom? or do I have legitimate reasons to be worried about these boys? As I mentioned, I spent many years as a camp counselor myself in Girl Scouts - and I worked at a few different camps. While they all had slightly different schedules and arrangements - I do distinctly remember getting at least one afternoon or evening off a week and an hour or two each day for personal time (laundry, planning, napping, reading, showers, etc.) Girl scout camp was different - there were no adult leaders with the girls - WE lead the units and lived with the girls in 4 bunk platform tents just like they did. Our free time came when the girls in our unit were scheduled for swimming or other program areas and the program area counselors were responsible for them at those times. we could choose to stay with our unit at the program area, or leave them, and we usually traded off - some unit counselors staying, some taking free time. Depending on the size of our units, we would have 3 to 5 counselors per unit,( usuall about a ratio of 4-6 campers to 1 counselor; 20 to 30 girls in a unit) plus other staffers that 'lived' in tents in our unit (for more coverage at night) so each of us would be able to get an extended time off in the middle of each week and there would still be 2 - 4 counselors with the girls.(something like 3 or 4 hours - and afternoon or evening, etc.) We never had food (or electricity!) in our tents - but we had a staff room somewhere that usually had a small kitchen, pop & candy machines, laundry facilities and informal furniture. we could relax, visit, read, etc. The main kitchen always had a fridge or designated place for leftovers or food we could raid or snack on anytime. Meals were served family-style at long tables - we ate at tables with our units - and the only limit to how many servings anyone, staff or camper, could have was the amount of food itself - and there was always unlimited PB&J, bug juice and milk. I just don't understand the hours and restrictions placed on these boys for what is supposed to be a fun, and mostly volunteer, job. No adult would be able to work that schedule - or willing to - at their rate of pay, and not counting mealtimes, they are probably earning about $.90 / hr. At the very least, I hope that this message opens some eyes to the dedication of some camp counselors - treat them well; they deserve it! what do you folks think?
  11. LauraT7

    Letters from camp, a little levity please

    I don't have the actual letters - but I heard my mom tell this story many times over the years.... Girl scout camp in wisconsin in the 70's was very different from boy scout camp - we did not go as a troop with our own leaders like the boys do - you usually went alone or went with one or two friends from your troop or area. Camp sessions were TWO weeks, not a week, and the counselors were high school and college girls who ran our units and lived in the same kind of canvas/ platform tents we did. no adult leaders, and certainly no one we already knew. One summer a group of 3 of us girl scout friends went to scout camp together. we must have been in late grade school or middle school - 5th or 6th grade. As I remember, it was me, Melinda (Mindy)R & Lori K. I was the one big into scouting - my mom had been our troop leader, nature lady at day camp, etc. I had been to camp every summer and longed for the day i could be a camp counselor myself. Lori was the adventurous one - bubbly and outgoing. Melinda was my best friend - but shy and a little nervous about being away from home so long. Predictably, Lori and I threw ourselves into camp life and had a great time - our first letters home were short, (the counselors REQUIRED us to write home every 2 or 3 days) but full of horseback riding, the cool pet crow the Nature counselor had, and swim tests. Melinda's letters were different. She was lonely - she missed her dog and her parents, even her pesky little sister. it rained alot, she was cold at night and the woods were scary, and her stomach hurt because the food was bad. She wanted to come home - wouldn't her parents PLEASE come get her? In a panic, her mom called my mom - she was so worried about Melinda - and ready to drive up to camp that minute! But my mom, the experienced leader, assured her that Mindy was probably just a little homesick - and looking for sympathy. Give her a little time, she counseled - that letter was probably written the first night (it was) and most kids got a little homesick. She had her friends with her, and had been camping before - Melinda would probably be forget all about it and the next letter would be full of excitement. Lori's and my next postcards told of cookouts, learning to sail, wonderful counselors, new friends and adventures. Melinda's were worse - camp was boring and the counselors were mean. Even her best friend had turned on her and we were teasing her mercilessly. She had no friends, and cried herself to sleep every night. Please, Please come and get me Mommy! Mindy's mom panicked. she called my mom, and together they called the camp. the moms talked to the camp director and our counselors They were told that Mindy had been quiet the first few days, but after that had opened up and seemed to be having a good time. she wasn't a loner, and had made some friends, though she stuck pretty closely with her tentmates. (Lori and me). They were not aware of any teasing or problems and we seemed as close as when we'd arrived. Last, they agreed to have Mindy call her mom back as soon as they could track her down at camp. So Mindy was found and they called her mom back - Mindy was full of excitement - she'd passed her Swimmer's test and was learning to sail, She got to horseback ride every day, etc - Mindy's mom could hardly get a word in edgewise! Finally, Mindy let her mom talk and her mom said she'd come to take Mindy home - if Mindy wanted to go. but Mindy didn't WANT to go home - she was having fun! When her mom asked about the letters - Mindy said - "oh, I made that all up. I did feel bad at first and wanted to come home. and I wanted you to come get me. but I knew you wouldn't let me come home unless it was really bad here - and I wanted you to feel just as bad as I did so you would feel sorry for me and let me come home. but I don't want to go home NOW! Mindy finished out her 2nd week at camp and even went back to camp again - but my mom, and I'm sure her mom - never forgot those sad, sad letters!
  12. LauraT7

    Summer Camp schedule-fill it up or leave free time?

    I think that the boys should have some 'troop' unstructured time, rather than 'individual' unstructured time... For example, a free hour after lunch or before dinner when they can all return to the campsite, visit, work on badge 'homework', organize an impromptu game of baseball or football ( our troop loves a game of football, with the tenderfoot scouts and SM against the older boys - the tenderfoots usually win!), hang up their wet towels and straigheten their tents, play a game of cards, whatever THEY choose to do with that time. the whole troop does not have to do the same thing - but if the time is scheduled for the whole troop - you avoid the problem of not having a buddy to hang out with or adults to keep things in hand. 30 to 90 min of 'free time' in a chunk is about right- it is not enough time to get too homesick, or for the boys to get into trouble if there are things for them to do - too much or too long of unscheduled time tends to cause both. One summer our campsite had this HUGE, amazing tree in the middle - perfectly branched for climbing, and great for a rest, reading mail or a book, or just hanging out with friends. We have photos of the entire troop perched in this tree at once - and it almost always had a few boys in it at any time of day. it made for some great 'downtime' relaxation and great memories. What has caused us problems is when the boys have too much 'free time' - especially when they hang around the campsite when leaders are out with the younger scouts - this is when we have noticed pranks & unacceptable behavior most often happen. New scouts, especially, tend to feel homesick if they have too much unstructured time and start feeling bored or lonely. Older scouts who get bored tend to think up ways of causing trouble! for that reason, if a scout returns to camp when he is supposed to be working on a badge or at a program area, we strongly encourage him to return to a program area, or work on some kind of badge, project or advancement with someone. we don't leave scouts unsupervised alone in the campsite. Our council camps have a very structured program - set times for merit badges, programs, first class express, tote 'em chip, Fire 'em chit, etc. that the boys sign up for at the start of camp. there are some 'open' areas, and if you finish a badge early or only need part of a badge, you can join a different class later in the week - but it's pretty much structured. One year we went to a different councils' camp which had all 'open' program areas. the only 'assigned' classes were for the program areas that needed close supervision - mostly waterfront and shooting ranges. you could join any other area any day, any time other than mealtimes, and work on any activity whether you were working on a badge or not. for the older boys who had some self-organization skills, this was great. But for those who were less organized - which was most of our boys unused to this 'open' plan - it was chaos. they milled around, uncertain, and often returned to the campsite - where they got bored, and either started picking on each other or causing trouble, or, if one of the leaders returned to camp and found them doing nothing but playing with the campfire (which was NOT supposed to be going during the day - no one there to watch it all day) - they got chased out of camp to 'do something'. The boys were frustrated, the leaders were frustrated, it was a mess. my vote is for about 75% structured, 25% free time and flexibility to change depending on the interests of boys in your troop and their ability to self-direct. the older boys need less 'direction' but still need supervision.
  13. LauraT7

    Joining a troop early

    btw - when we are recruiting 5th grade, 2nd semester Webelos, "inviting' them to participate in a troop activity, we follow Webelos rules and allow them to count the activitiy toward their boy scout activity requirements. In other words - a Webelo is still a cub and must have 1 parent/ 1 child supervision - and there are certain things a scout of that age can't do without training, etc - like if he canoes, he must pass the BSA swim test. So I would encourage a parent to go with this boy. It's a good intermediary step in this case, lets you get to know the family, who has not been previously involved in scouting, and let them know about your troop and program. laura
  14. LauraT7

    Joining a troop early

    How old is Josh? many 5th graders are 11 or turn 11 during the school year - the minute he turns 11 yrs old - he can JOIN your troop officially. laura
  15. LauraT7

    Outdoor Activity Ideas needed

    We ran into the same difficulty when trying to go back to a 'boy lead' program. The boys wanted to come up with their own ideas, but those ideas weren't very imaginative or original - they were same old/ same old. They don't know where to get ideas. what I have done is that everytime I see something that I think they might like I cut it out, collect it or print it. When we go on family trips, I collect brochures from the state visitors kiosks and take them back to the troop. when I hear of a troop that did a great trip, either online or at a scout training event, I get the info and add it to our file. I get biking maps from local bike shops, info from our conservation district parks,I signed up the troop for mailings from the state parks and similar organizations, I collect stuff from everywhere. The result is a huge resource file of places to go and things to do that the boys can get ideas from. It doesn't matter how farfetched they may seem - a brochure on the Alabama space center from a family trip sparked a weekend of making and flying rockets locally. At the very least, by looking thru this file of material, it gets them brainstorming. I've now got the boys & other troop families adding to the 'file' from their travels and experiences! I have also taken trips from MY memories and scouting days, and promoted them with the boys. I did NOT decide FOR them and tell them "we're going to do this." What I did do was show them photos and tell them happy stories of my many canoe trips on the WI river, sleeping on our own island sandbar, exploring the Dells, going to Devils lake, various campgrounds I enjoyed tremendously growing up. Many of my stories became slightly different trips for our scouts, and new memories for me and my son. If you want boys to come up with ideas and get enthusistic for NEW places to go - I find that photos are a wonderful way to SHOW them what they can do. Search other troops websites for ideas, (something the boys can do, but often aren't motivated to do) sometimes, it's Good to repeat favorite standbys and participate in familiar district and council events - but the boys should also test some 'NEW' adventures, too. laura PS - as a past CM with your job - I will warn you that you need to make reservations for state parks, etc ASAP after they decide a date, and ask them to always give you 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice dates and places for events. Often, YOU don't get your first choice, and the boys can miss out on activities if you stall going back and forth to the committee for 'approval' on changes. so be prepared ahead of time for changes and be decisive! Our troop has had to cancel many campouts this year, because our current Activity Chair can't make a decision and loves to wait till the last minute to try & make reservations! Also - get yourself a copy of your school district calendar, and keep checking it for changes (most districts have a website) so you can head off any 'conflicts' with Chorus, Band, prom, dances, finals, etc. You will be dealing with Middle/ Jr high/ and high school schedules!
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