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t158sm

And how was your summer camp experience?

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So as not to seem overly critical let me start out with a few positives.

Programs appeared to be well run and interesting.

Lots of variety in the days activities - rappelling, caving, white water rafting, patrol contests, free swim, troop swim-boating opportunities, no time to get bored.

 

Now for the rest of the story.

On Monday night there was a murder at the state park next to camp. (Well beyond camp control) Taps was hastily called at 9pm and the event was hidden from campers. I only found out what had happened because I mentioned that I had been a police officer. The newspapers that they given out daily were kept from us the next two days because it mentioned the murder.

Sure was strange to see deputies with shotguns guarding the front entrance to camp.

The murderer was caught on Tuesday.

 

On Thursday camp was inexplicably locked down. Phones were locked and the gates were blocked off, no one was allowed to leave. No explanation was given. Don't know what happened then.

 

Staff members all had stupid nicknames because they were told upon hiring not to give out their real names in case they did something that embarrassed the BSA. What kind of Scouts were they hiring?

 

Meals were cold and skimpy. Meals were typically an entree and a side ( taco and corn, chicken fingers and peas, pizza and corn) Most meals we learned were prepared after the end of the previous meal and were not reheated. Every time we were served bread it had just been taken out of the refrigerator. Simple things like ketchup and milk ran consistently short.

The only choice of beverage at lunch was water.

 

Before the end of the week the Scouts were saying that they didn't want to come back there again.

 

This was my tenth summer at Comer Scout Reservation and by far the worst.

Seems like the Greater Alabama Council is systematically trying to erase all remnants of the old Choccolocco Council. Before the consolidation Comer was a very good camp. It had an atmosphere that made people love being there. Now things are different.

Pine trees gone - sold for timber with an excuse of pine beetles. (Yet healthy pines abound outside of camp.)

Campsites moved and rearranged awkwardly.

Change can be good, but in this case it sure hasen't.

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Sorry to hear about your bad experiences. My camp was ok. We had to spend a few hours in the basement of the dining hall on Wed morning because of severe thunderstorms. We had a new cook at camp this year, but the food was ok. We are thinking about trying another camp next year just for a change of pace.

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I would hope your COR is rather interested in your camp debrief. He can be an agent for change at the Annual Business Meeting... amazing what happens when a motion for a vote of no-confidence goes on the table. It'd be a useful thing if he can get an ally to second the motion...

 

Another tactic is to invite the IH and COR down for a meal, then let them have a long talk with the SE...

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We had a great time. Went to Slippery Falls Scout Ranch. Extreemly well run. At the SM meeting each morning each adult that showed up was given an ice ticket. And a daily News Paper. Food was great. (well except forthe meatloaf. Idon't like meatloaf) They had a out of this world salad bar at lunch and dinner.

The badge program was wonderful and very well run. Staff couldn't have been better and easier towork with. Badge instructors were very well versed in the subject. Ihelped with Leatherwork and the instructor has been teaching at this camp for 17 years. He also makes indian attire for the indian Pow Wows all around the country.

I can highly recommend Slippery Falls.

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t158sm,

 

Your boys have spoken, let them vote with their feet. There is a lot of competition between scout camps and just because a certain camp is "the council camp" is not enough incentive to make you support it if it is poorly run. All it takes is one bad summer for a camp to lose its reputation and multiple years to get it back. Slippery Falls where Lynda went is my council's camp. Our troop has not been there in more than 5 years because back then, the troop didn't like it. I went there in 2004 with a different troop and didn't care for it much myself. Evidently, they have turned things around according to Lynda. I'm glad to hear it, but it is still way down the list of camps our boys are willing to consider. I know of another large troop in our council who has not attended Slip in a decade. You need to let the council folks know what you feel is wrong with the camp and let them know that you will probably be looking for higher quality next year if they can't give you assurances that things will change.

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At BTSR (Buffalo Trails Scout Ranch), it was fantastic! We were told that the highs of the previous week were in the 102-103's range. When we got there, the highs averaged in the mid 70's and the lows averaged in the low 60s. 5 out of the 6 days were cloudy with a few showers tossed in there to further cool us down! We were told that this was unusual! Nevertheless, great weather!

 

It wasn't too warm for our swimmers, though. The pool is spring-fed. So the water temp is about 69-70 degrees. With the ambient temp around 70-72 degrees, we had a small number of hypothermia cases, mostly on scouts who do not have a lot of natural body insulation (ie. they are skinny). If only they had a heated pool ... but neah that's too close to a complaint! I'm retracting it! ;) The Davis Mountains provided a fantastic backdrop to the camp and especially great for star gazing at night with their astronomy class (ok ... so we only had 2 clear nights)!

 

The camp staff were great and friendly. The camp food was probably one of the better ones that I have tasted! The mb activities were close ... so walking was not an issue with our boys! Great horsemanship program, including a free ride program for the adults who have interests. MB classes are 1/2 and 1/2. Some are great and some are just there! ;)

 

Overall, now I understand why our scouts wanted to go back to BTSR this year! This is our troop's third time at BTSR in the 9 years of existence.

 

1Hour

 

ps: There is probably a correlation between heat and homesickness. This year's summer camp only netted 2 homesickness cases out of 19 new scouts in our troop, comparing to 8 cases last year (where the heat is about 94 and the distances were longer between classes) and 7 cases the year before!(This message has been edited by OneHour)

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This year, our troop voted to go out of council to the neighboring council's scout ranch. Virtually the same program and terrain. This allowed us to compare apples to apples (good and bad).

Most adults thought the staff was remote and unapproachable. The scouts didn't notice. Little things made the differnce. At our local camp, the camp director came by every morning with a thermos of coffee and pastries (cheap danishes) for the adults. Our staff guide stopped by regularily to make sure we had plenty of fuel, garbage bags and stuff. The camp commissioners would stop and grab a chair to chew the fat. Nothing like this happened at this camp. I felt as though we just rented the space.

 

The food was about the same (plenty and of good quality). In our council camp, staff cooked and ate with the patrols. This caused a bonding with the staff. In this camp, I don't know where staff ate.

 

Also, the schedule we received online before camp and the one we received at check in bared little resemblance. Then to boot, they changed the schedule every day. Probably minor but a pain the buns for us adults.

 

Another issue was this camp was 3 hours from home, our council ranch is 1 hour. This made for less adults being able to share duty watching the scouts. The ones who came, stayed the whole week (good and bad).

 

After weighing the positives/negatives, I will lobby the scouts to return to the local ranch next year. However, I won't be there, I'll be at Philmont!

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Thanks for posting your review. We have Comer on our short list for 2007 but will do some research on others.

 

Sounds like the grass may not always be greener out of council.

 

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John:

The SE situation is a bit difficult right now. Ours is the one who got busted for overinflating membership numbers and resigned due to that. We are Still waiting to hear what the FBI investigation has to say about the matter.

540 Beav:

The Scouts have already told me that they don't want to go back to Comer next year. I've already been looking into other camps to present to the Scouts so they can choose one. Rainey Mountain looks like it might be a good one. Have read good things about it on here. Boxwell is supposed to be good too. May find out we opt for something totally different. Well see what happens.

 

Here's the rundown on what may be the problem. Late 90's Choccolocco Council - Anniston HQ, Tennessee Valley - Huntsville HQ and Birmingham Area/Central Alabama consolidated into The Greater Alabama Council (GAC). Comer was the Choccolocco camp (My little part of the world). It was a wonderful place. Jackson was the Tennessee Valley camp, and Sequoyah was the Birmingham camp. In total now we have six camps of various sizes and uses. Since the consolidation Jackson has been practically abandoned. Sequoyah gets the preferential treatment and Comer has gone downhill.

At the time of the consolidation the three OA lodges Achunanchi - Choccolocco, Cherokee - Birmingham, and Kaskanampo - Tennessee Valley were promised that they would retain their independence. Today there is only the Coosa lodge. Many people feel they were lied to about this in order to gain their support for the consolidation. Since that time the Anniston office has been closed. The Achunanchi lodge building burned down - with all the records and a patch display dating from the lodge founding in 1938. From appearances it seems that systematically the heritage of Choccolocco and Achunanchi, Tennessee Valley and Kaskanmpo are being erased. Things no longer run smoothly and there are more problems now than ever. People have complained about the way they have been treated at the Birmingham office if they are not from the city (refusing to take out of city checks drawn on Scout accounts) (lost and misplaced paperwork and records) and a multitude of other problems.

What we were should be celebrated and make up a vital part of who we are now. Instead there seems to be an effort to eradicate the past and make it seem as if it never were.

What do you do now?

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Sir_Scoutalot:

Comer used to be a great camp. It was a wonderful place full of atmosphere and a teriffic Scouting spirit. We'll have a new SE before too long, hope this one will care about Scouting more than about numbers and money.

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And how was your summer camp experience?

It was great -Thanks for asking.

Sadly the van we were to drive down got sick the night before we left.

So we took cars.

OJ had my Explorer up at camp.

That kid is all heart, he informed me that he had saved us money by having it there which meant we got better gas mileage. What a nice kid.

I'll remember that on Sunday -When he turns 18!!

We seem to not be very good at departing on time. But that wasn't the case, in fact we go going 15 minutes early.

I had 3 of the nicest Scouts that you are ever going to meet in the car with me.

Driving across West Virginia in the early morning is just wonderful. The clouds, the mist, the mountains.

I did try and make a few improvements by doing my John Denver impersonations. He sounds a little better than me and I think him knowing all the words is a big help.

I'd asked the Scouts to keep cell phone calls down to when we were at rest stops or had stopped. They were really good about it.

I don't own an I-pod. I'm just too cheap to spend that sort of money. But Sarah had hers, we plugged it into the car stereo. Now I want one!!

I didn't know half of the stuff she had on it. But we made a very cheerful noise as we all joined in singing along with Queen and we all had a good laugh with the Devil Went Down To Georgia. The number 1 song with the Scouts is a very catchy Rap Tune that has something to do with riding Dirty? I'm thinking maybe I don't want to understand all the words. The song that stayed with us for the week was Ring Of Fire, by Johnny Cash.

Zane seemed really happy playing with my new $600 camera, I have lots of photos of Sarah's eye and people I don't know who were at different rest stops.

Everywhere we stopped everyone was really nice to us.

The Mapquest directions really worked.

We arrived at Camp Blue Heron about an hour earlier than I'd guesstimated.

Looking back I should have seen that we were in for a full week. We were no sooner parked when, someone said "While you are here you might as well..

That while you are here thing is always a sure sign that someone wants you to do something. In this case it was take a swim test.

Our pool at camp is the reason why Camps call the early morning swim Polar Bear, but the water in this pool was really warm.

We all passed.

The next 45 mins was spent just splashing around and goofing off. We were asked to leave, because our food was ready. No one had said that they were going to feed us. I didn't have the heart to tell them that we had in fact just ate. Still we managed to put on a good show TJ ate five burgers and I was exposed to my first Moon Pie.

We were the only Scouts in camp. It's kinda nice having 300 acres all to yourself.

We made our way to our tents. Miss Rhonda was waiting for us, she was to be our guide and best friend for the coming week.

She is a very nice Lady, a great kayak-er, who at times comes across as a kindly Aunt at times seems more like Attila the Hun. She was ready to do the shake down.

This was when we seen Sarah's wash kit!! It was bigger than all of my gear and weighed in at something like 60 pounds.

This was when we noticed that someplace, somehow we have a failure to communicate.

I'd sent personal equipment lists to everyone and to parents, the web page has lists, heck we had more lists than Santa.

But Allen didn't have water shoes, Zane didn't have a jacket, Sarah didn't have a mess kit,Jess didn't have a flash-light.

Of course being the "Super Scouter" That I am, I changed into my Super Hero outfit and found spares. I'm just glad Allen has size 9 shoes. OJ wears size 13!!

I don't know how well anyone else slept? But I needed no rocking.

Breakfast was in the dinning hall, bacon, eggs and grits.

Two land mark days in my life were when OJ stopped wearing diapers and when he started eating "Big Boy Food". Looking at the grits brought back memories of cream of rice!! Still when in Rome... Lots of black pepper is the secret to eating grits!!

The day was marked by thunder showers. We picked out the Kayak that fit and would be home for the week. I found a very sporty red one. We practiced different strokes, got to know the parts of the boat, practiced different rescues, got very wet and met Jason who was to join us as a Sea Dawg.

Lunch was in our camp site cold cuts and more moon pies. Then back on the water getting to know the boats. Getting used to getting in and out of them in different situations and practicing self-rescues. We then loaded up the trailer with the kayaks.

Dinner was in the dinning hall. They called it Shepperd's Pie. I think if this was reported to anyone involved in the Trade Descriptions area there might be problems. There was some kind of meat, topped with spuds, topped with tasteless melted cheese. Of course one good thing about being hungry is that you eat just about anything. TJ ate 3 helping!!

After supper it was time for LNT training and then a late night splash in the pool.

Dry bags were issued and it was time to pack.

After alight breakfast (small portions of grits)

We piled in the camp van and were underway.

At the dock all the equipment and food and water were loaded into the hatches.

It's hard for me to guess how warm it was, the breeze was nice, until it turned into a cross wind and then the cable to my rudder broke. Not much fun.

We found a great sand bank, pulled up and the Scouts had a great time splishing and splashing.

There is great joy to be had just watching kids being kids and acting like kids, even if you are trying to splice a rudder cable.

That night was spent an Cow Patty Island. An isle owned by an individual who is kind enough to allow Scouts to use it. Looking across the island I seen my first wild pigs. I didn't go near them and thankfully they returned the complement.

We had taken solar showers with us, boy that felt good and even with the tarps up it was still the best view I've ever had while taking a shower!!

The next few days were spend paddling along from Island to island. We got hit by a couple of nasty storms. Seen a alligator which now grows by at least two foot every time someone retells the encounter.

We got to spend half a day on a beach.

Super Scouter here who spent half the trip yelling at everyone to add more sun screen decided that a barefoot walk along the beach seemed like a good idea and guess who didn't put sun screen on his feet? Needless to say I suffered in silence and blamed my discomfort on my water shoes.

The food was what we needed, cooked by the Scouts. I never ate more trail mix in my life. The peanut butter and honey torttias (sp) were a big hit with the Scouts. I hate peanut butter!!

Sadly the week flew by way to fast. But I'm not sure my back could have taken much more abuse from the seat of my sporty red kayak.

We arrived back at the dock reloaded the boats on the trailer. The camp had provided a cooler full of ice cold coke. I don't think the Scouts ever enjoyed a coke as much in their entire lives.

I don't drink the stuff.

I was starting to feel my age, in fact I was feeling very tired and took a cat nap on the drive back to camp.

Back at camp all the boats and all the equipment had to be washed to remove the salt water.

I went and raided the walk-in cooler!!

Memories of my old college days!! I downed half a gal of milk in less than 90 seconds.

Dinner was in uniform in the dinning hall, a low country boil. It was good but didn't compare to the crabs that the Scouts had caught and cooked.

That night we had an awards ceremony.

I asked each Scout what they thought they had taken from the trip? I was surprised how deep their answers were.

After the ceremony they wanted to swim, so the camp said it was fine (We had lifeguards and all that good stuff.) They stayed in the pool till almost midnight.

The drive home went well, I became a fly on the wall and was happy to just be a pair of ears.

The reports were all good.

A couple of the Scouts had been with me at the Jamboree, they said this was better.

So I'll say that our summer camp experience was great.

Even if my feet are starting to peel.

Eamonn.

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How was our summer camp? - Great

 

This was only my second year going with the boys and we had a great week. Camp Daniel Boone is our council camp and this was our first year back there after going out of council for two years.

 

Last year we went to Rainey Mountain and I thought it was OK at the time but after going to Daniel Boone I don't care if we ever go back to Rainey Mountain. Food was better, facilities were better, classes were better, fishing was better, staff was friendlier. The only down sides were the cold water in the lake and complete lack of cell phone service.

 

Troop 158, come on over to NC next year. We had scheduled to go out of council to Woodruff next year (ultimately we will let the boys decide) but I was thrilled with Camp Daniel Boone.

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our summer camp this year was generally good. Went to Camp Crooked Creek for the 4th straight year.

 

highlights:

- One ASM completed his BSA Lifeguard.

- Adults modeled patrol system and had lots of fun with it.

- Camp provided adult dinner on Wed and troop-provided adult dinner on Thurday helped us make it through the week.

- SPL matured a lot, but still has a ways to go.

- Camp made significant improvements to how it is run. The staff was smaller, but this forced them to focus on what was important.

- Adults creamed the staff in the Softball game (27-10). And, for a change, the game was called due to an injury to a staff member instead of a SM this year.

 

lowlights:

- Food seemed worse this year. Camp said it was same supplier, menu and staff as last year. We're not convinced. Pitiful portions for some meals. They ran short several times. And had a few "mystery meals".

- We had some challenge with our first year guys. It's an unusual group this year. They didn't all come from one source. They come in with different backgrounds and don't have the same sense of unity about them. Several are from broken homes (unusual for us) and several have special needs. We also didn't have any parents from the group attend. That's a first. Two of the boys were constantly warned about behavior. I finally had to give them the "one more time and you'll be looking for a new troop speech". It seemed to work, for now.

- Two-time defenders of the adult golf tournament lost by a miraculous pitch shot from 30 yards. If it hadn't hit the stick, we'd probably won or at least had a playoff.

 

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With a few exceptions, our week at Camp Old Indian every year is wonderful.

 

Food, typical institutional food. Usually a bit small on portions and imagination, but will keep you going for the week. Calls for seconds at every meal and a salad bar for lunch and dinner.

 

Can't really do anything about the weather, but it is usually quite hot during the day (low 90s) and drooping to high 70s low 80s in the evenings. Sometimes even into the 60s! This year was a bit unusual in that temps were over 100 for a couple of days. Only a few raindrops all week.

 

Most of the staff at COI is over 18 years old and have worked at camp before so they are well trained and knowledgable in their duties. They are also very enthusiastic, terrific with the young Scouts, and (to me at least) exemplify Scouting ideals.

 

We did experience a few bumps in the road during our week. One new Scout (only his 2nd time away from home and the first time for more than a weekend) was afraid to get in the lake. He would not take his swim test when we arrived. But, thanks to the excellent and patient acquatics staff, he managed to pass his beginner's swim test by Wednesday. He was looking forward to telling his parents when they came Wednesday night for family night.

 

That's when we hit our first bump. Young Scout had been having a great week until Mom showed up. Boo Hoos and tears led to him leaving camp that night. I know, I know, many of you out there will say shame on me for letting him leave. I tried to get him to stay, but Mom's tears won out. I did get a very nice note from her after we returned that said she was sorry and her son hoped I was not mad and that he'd be able to go on the next trip with us. Of course I wasn't mad! Just disappointed. At least he hasn't quit altogether.

 

Next bump camp with an outbreak of a 24 hour stomach bug running through camp. Very late Wednesday night, 2nd year camper came running out of the cabin and vomited in the trashcan. When he finished he said he felt better, he didn't feel feverish, so I gave him a cup of water and sent him on his way to brush his teeth. I walked with him on his way back to camp and asked him how he felt. He thought maybe it was all the food he ate since it was family night earlier and we had quite a spread. He said, "sometimes, a guys just gotta barf."

 

I will remember him saying that forever!

 

But, by next morning, he was feeling worse and with temperatures expected to be over 100 degrees, thought it best for him to go home.

 

By the way, I got the dreaded bug on Thursday night. Unfortunately, I had to tough it out since it was not an option for me to leave. Felt much better by Friday night closing campfire.

 

We had another new Scout that tested the limits of everyone's patience, but he seemed to enjoy his first year of camp more than anyone, learned a lot in the pathfinder program, and was the most vocal about how he couldn't wait to come back next year.

 

Our temporary SPL (my son) found out that being SPL is hard and is not altogether sure now if he wants to run for the job this fall. He still has a lot to learn about that level of leadership, but it was a good experience for him.

 

Other odds and ends about camp:

 

We had a staffer that stopped by every night to see how things were going and if we needed anything. We, too, bring and brew our own coffee in our campsite and it always brings other adults from around camp. It's a great way to meet new people and share a story or two before the day starts.

 

We also set up two large water coolers, one with plain water, the other with gatorade mix. Because of the heat, we make sure the guys stay hydrated. Every night we have a snack for the guys, usually healthy to counteract all the candy and sodas they buy in the trading post (apples/pears or other fresh fruit, pudding cups, granola bars, raisins, fruit cups, and, of course, watermelon on Friday).

 

A variety of board games and card games are brought along for free time/rest periods if the guys don't have anything else planned. It always amazes me how much they get into chess!

 

I think the part I like best about camp is the conversation in the campsite. I have always enjoyed the little things I learn about our Scouts while we're just sitting around, playing a game, listening while a Scout talks about what he did that day. I just love those moments "Hey, Mrs. B, look at what I made in handicraft." "Guess what I learned in ________ class?" "Hey, Mrs. B, wanna play _______?" And, of course, the heated discussions and debates among a bunch of 11-13 year olds. My favorite: if you could have one superhero power what would it be, and which superhero would win in an all-out fight?

 

To echo other's on this forum - I just love this Scouting stuff!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We did our "own thing" this year. It was exhausting, but well worth trying on occaision. We jumped through all the hoops on a council level to get it approved -- detailed driving plan, daily menus, daily itinerary, detailed information on all attending, etc.

 

We went to Montana and observed the reenactment of the Battle of Little Big Horn. We visited various battle sites & museums and camped on private property on the Crow Reservation along Reno Creek. We saw Devil's Tower & Fort Phil Kearny in Wyoming and went to the night ceremony & lighting at Mt. Rushmore. We cooked in camp and had pizza one night. It was AWESOME! I'd do it again...just not next year yet. :)

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