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TAHAWK

Summer Camp MB mill - as usual

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"As my wife says, figures never lie, but they will confess to anything if you torture them enough."

Sounds more like the philosophy my wife has for dealing with her husband (aka 'figures'). ;)

But once in a while I have to admit, she's right. You know..rare events occur with a probability of 1!

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OK, that was my mischief for the day..back to topic.

So...let's ponder...what are the potential motivations for a council to:

1) staff a camp with young, inexperienced MB counselors,

2) fail to hold these 'classes' to the actual BSA requirements,

3) turn a 'blind eye' to this stuff when it is brought to their attention?

 

And now, what measures would correct the situation?

For me the answer to #1 is 'money'. They're cheap. Is it possible that the council actually doesn't have the money to run the camp properly? The councils I see have some highly paid pros in some very expensive real estate. Money doesn't seem to be the problem...unless...they are trying to SAVE money to pay for those things by scrimping on the camp. Is this possible?

 

If this has an element of truth then the rest of it falls out logically. They don't care.

I submit that the way to solve this is to have the camps on a separate budget from the council and then to charge the actual costs for going to it. Then if the customers are willing to pay for a superior product, they can demand it or go to a competitor who does provide the superior product.

As it is the subsidies make these camps almost like entitlement programs. Do you really expect quality when you're paying practically nothing?

 

So, I'm of the opinion that since that separate budget thing isn't going to happen and that competition thing probably isn't going to happen either, troops ought to take a hard look at Kudu's web site and consider a week doing some real scouting instead. Or maybe one of those real wilderness weeks somewhere, you know, in the woods. Wow, I LIKE this idea.

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"why do you let your Scouts take Camping Merit Badge at summer camp?"

 

First, we didn't know the camp was going to do such a large class and a blanket sign off. We'd hope the boys would come away with some shared knowledge from a counselor who's more their age then the troops MB counselor. Summer camp seems like a far better place to take camping merit badge then in the school cafeteria where the troop meets.

 

Second, most of the boys are only a few nights from earning the badge and were expected to come home with a partial.

 

 

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packsaddle, the goal of a good many Councils is to turn a profit on Summer Camp. I don't know of any that have a goal of subsidizing Summer Camp, except in the case of camperships.

 

The last annual budget I saw for our Council (2008) allocated 93% of all funds to salaries. That left 7% for all other items, including maintenance and operation of the Council's camps and offices.

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While WS theory has obviously changed, I again submit it should not be called "Wilderness" or "Survival." Not sure what to call it ("Make Yourself Comfy and Wait for the SAR Team, They'll Be Here in a Jiffy MB" is kinda clunky) but we are giving the scouts a false sense of competence when we sign them off for the MB as it is currently formatted.

 

And let's put the blame for the unfortunate incidents of the past on the right shoulders: it was not the fault of the scout, nor the survival literature, when he got poisoned--it was a failure of leadership to provide the proper oversight and instruction.

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eaglenjake writes:

 

Summer camp seems like a far better place to take camping merit badge than in the school cafeteria...

 

That is my point: If summer camp had anything to do with "camping," we would use the Patrol Method rather than building million-dollar cafeterias :)

 

eaglenjake writes:

 

We'd hope the boys would come away with some shared knowledge from a counselor who's more their age then the troops MB counselor.

 

I'm probably old enough to be your MB Counselor's daddy! Why not turn Camping Merit Badge into old-school adventure?

 

http://www.scouter.com/forums/viewThread.asp?threadID=323858&p=3

 

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I have to agree with Kudu doing the Camping MB is absurd. This is part of the cupcake scouting program that is becoming way too prevalent in troops today.

 

 

wjturner- as a newbie to this forum you need to watch how you present your criticism. Since you present yourself as some sort of statistician all I can assume is that you are basically a desk jockey who plays with numbers to make your bosses happy even though they may not represent reality. 12 lost for more than three days and 6 serious accidents with three deaths in under 2 months is way over the acceptable average in any park, just ask your local park ranger if you ever get away from playing and manipulating numbers at your office and do any real scouting in the great outdoors.

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BP, that is fresh! You can assume what you want about me (as wrong as you are, but that is really not important here). I would rather you pay attention to my actual criticism. I didn't say those were acceptable numbers. (In fact, I think they are far from acceptable, even more so now that you give even more severe numbers this time.) You said he was off with his 99%-1% split, but you didn't present enough information to back it up. Just one extra number would have done it.

 

Actually, I think you have at least two other (better) lines of argument, one of which you have hit on in this petty response to me: It really doesn't matter what the split is because any (positive) number is unacceptable. And if you find yourself in that situation, you really won't be worried about either the actual number or the proportion.

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No reason why Camping is a Summer Camp badge since no special facilities are needed to meet the requirements and the "do" requirements come out of patrol camping. At best, the candidate is finishing up, relying on notes from the SM for most of the "do."

 

On the other paw, some of the other MB's done at Summer Camp (e.g. Computers; Citizenship; Personal management)seem even more out-of-place than "001."

 

The key (and I was told this explicitly by one SM) is that all badges in Summer Camp are "easier than at home." But at least the average SC counselor is less competent. 0___0 ("A 'Bear Bag" is a sack so tightly made that the bears cannot smell the food you put in them.")

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We've hashed out the actual costs of camp in other threads. It's really impossible to look at one program area during one week of camp and say definitively that the council pros are trying to pay for their salaries by scrimping on camp. (Also remember that "salaries and benefits" probably include the salaries, room and board for the camp staff!)

 

Lots of things can happen in a particular week that affect the quality of the program and don't reflect the overall quality of the camp. I've worked on staffs where the nature director quit during staff week and where the shooting sports director was fired midway through the camp session for conduct unbecoming. Perhaps these young Scoutcraft instructors were tapped at the last minute because of a personnel problem. We don't know all the facts.

 

HOWEVER - that said - there is no excuse for a camp to offer sub-par program. If you promise something, you must deliver. If you can't deliver, it's better to fold up the tent and admit defeat than to offer a crappy program.

 

I'm not in favor of a camp trying to be all things to all people. A camp I know has begun offering badges such as Golf, Graphic Arts and Auto Mechanics, which I think is just silly. IMHO, a camp should focus on two or three things that are its natural, standout strengths, and push them as hard as it can. Which would you rather go to, a camp with 50 merit badges taught by a staff spread so thin they can't put the time into the program, or a camp with 25 merit badges with top-notch climbing and shooting sports programs?

 

SMs also need to step up to the plate when they encounter problematic programs, and COMPLAIN. Vigorously. And loudly. In a Scoutlike manner, to be sure, but still raising heck. That very day. If your Scouts are going to a boring class, go right to the PD's office on Monday and express your concerns. Visit the class yourself on Tuesday and see if it's improved. If not, complain again, this time to the camp director. Repeat until problem solved.

 

Your Scouts are consumers, and you're their Ralph Nader (pre-presidential campaign period). Be their voice. Even if you don't learn about it until the last day of camp, it's still your responsibility to make a ruckus.

 

Speaking one-on-one, face-to-face, with the person responsible for that camp is going to get you much better results than writing an email to the council camping chairman a month after the fact.

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Ummmm.... it is probably a safe assumption that anytime someone cites "99%" of anything, it is intended as a colloquialism, which was the case in my posts.

 

Any by the way, BP, if your 12 lost souls happened to be in Great Smokey Mountains National Park, they represented 0.000127% of the 9.4 million visitors last year.

 

But who cares.

 

Back to Scouting, I don't especially care if Scouts complete Camping MB at summer camp. Most of the requirements are boiler plate anyway. Requirement 9, which our Scouts complete with the troop, is the guts of the badge. By the time they have 20 nights camping, I'm confident they know and/or have completed the important stuff. At that point, to whom they describe the types of tent and care of hiking boots it not something I'm going to get excited over.(This message has been edited by Twocubdad)

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"12 lost for more than three days and 6 serious accidents with three deaths in under 2 months is way over the acceptable average in any park"

 

Speaking about the way things are presented. The problem with using words like "any" in an absolute way is that there are always exceptions - and in this case, there are more than just a few exceptions.

 

Not sure what news reports you read but I can tell you from both experience working in a National Park (Acadia in Maine) and from chatting with fellow alumni who are protection rangers in National Parks all over the country, that in our bigger parks (Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Acadia, Smokey Mountains, Everglades, etc.), 6 serious accidents with 3 deaths in 2 months is under the average, and that lost hiker alerts are quite common place.

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Twocub & Calico

 

You both seem to have missed the point which is there are many scenarios we will encounter in life where the knowledge of wilderness survival skills would be not only useful but essential.

As far as what percentage would meet your criteria that is totally irrelevant to the point. 9.4 million visitors to the Great Smokey Mtns sounds like quite an exaggeration to me twocub, but even if that was true six deaths in 2 months is NOT acceptable in spite of what Calico thinks. I too was a National Park Ranger and I know what is acceptable and what is unacceptable in the park service, and Calico your statement is totally incorrect.

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