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And how was your summer camp experience?

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Just got back this afternoon. Camp Powhatan continues to have an excellent program on almost all levels. Blue Ridge Mountains Council continues to offer many camps to choose from. Their Staff at Camp Powhatan, is second to none. From Sunday night's opening campfire to Friday night's closing campfire, this Staff continues to add to its mystique.

Facilities are a bit worn, but still work. Their programs continue to be outstanding.

The food is excellent. Portions are average. But sometimes food (only breakfast for some reason)is stone cold. Our Troop loves to help the Staff serve dinners for the Camp's two evening cook-outs (with live entertainment).

As well as everything this camp seems to do well, the big Friday night Closing Campfire opened with a video on a huge screen (yes, drive-in size) just as the sun was going down. This video was a collection of action shots from throughout our week's activities. When a Scout or group of Scouts showed up on the screen, you could hear the shouts of excitement. It was outstanding. Of course the video was available on DVD for a small price after the campfire. It soldout quickly (we did get ours). This will be a great recruitment tool !!!!

Weather was a bit wet most evenings, but warm during the day and cool at night. We're already signed up for next year, because this camp fills up by the end of each prior summer camp season.

So many other great things about this camp and its program, but too much to put here. It was our 20th year (had a few gaps here and there) going to Blue Ridge Mountains Council camps.

Yes, we're out of their council. We support our own council's camp (OA, Troop, and personal work weekends), but our council doesn't care to put the money into the camp and programs (and that's the short version).



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I only wish our camp had no cell phone reception. Just got back, and had a 3rd year camper who cried every night after talking to Mommy on the cell phone she gave him (without our knowledge). Next year there will be a Troop rule...NO CELL PHONES. Either the cell phones stay home, or I don't go. I'm not spending every evening listening to crying from a 13 year old. I'm afraid I will have some un-scoutlike things to say to him.

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I just got back a week ago from what was probably the BEST WEEK of summer camp I've had in the 5 or 6 years I've been doing the Boy Scout thing (as opposed to Cubs). My troop always goes to Camp Mattatuck, one of three BS camps our council operates, and all of which are within about a 1.5-hour drive.


Mattatuck is consistently our choice. One of the others is too small and has civilization encroaching - no "wilderness" feel at all. The other has the reputation of being a merit badge factory, which the boys resent. Mattatuck emphasizes quality and fun. The camp director flat out tells leaders at the pre-camp meeting that the primary goal of this camp is for the boys to have fun doing scouting. Merit badges are just a happy by-product of a fun week. He tells the boys at the closing COH that he hopes parents' first question will be not "how many MBs did you earn" but "did you have fun".


Week 1 spanned the 4th of July. The census was way down this year - only 107 boys in about 7 troops (I had 13, plus 1 other adult). The staff might still a little "green" the first week (not seriously so), but week 2 had 280 scouts. I'll take less crowding, less competing for resources, no closed-out MBs, etc.


Food here is terrific. The camp has its own cook, so we don't have food service portion-controlled hog-slopping. The boys enjoyed real french toast (no frozen stuff), ham and cheese omeletes, calzones, fried chicken, good salad bar, etc., etc. Quantity is "all you can eat".


The staff is consistently top-notch; probably 50% or more have been there multiple years - I think that says something. Swimming and boating are in a lake wholly owned by the camp. Special features include a fantastic 5-sided climbing tower and COPE course with 300+ foot zip line.


Amenities for leaders include hot coffee or tea (hi-test or decaf) served in the campsites in the early morning along with a daily camp newsletter, newspapers at the dining hall, coffee served by the staff to leaders at all meals, and a daily briefing with the camp director or his assistant to assess how things are going, what needs there are in the various units or campsites, observations about impending weather situations, etc. The staff is uniformly respectful of scouts and leaders alike and anxious to please.


Our boys enthusiastically participate in a conservation project at the camp every year. They like this camp and are more than glad to help preserve it.


I generally limit my boys to 3 merit badges, partly so they do justice to the ones they earn, and partly to be sure that they're not so overscheduled that they can't enjoy the week. Some boys only try 2 MBs, depending on scheduling. They enjoy swimming, boating, archery, rifle, mountain biking, whitewater, canoeing, fishing, and a whole lot more.


We've been burned in past years by the homesickness plague on parents night (Wednesday). As a result, we've asked parents not to come out. We explain why, and they understand and so far have respected our request. The problem has always been weepy moms and weak dads - never the boys. The parents save $3.00 a gallon, too!


This year I had 8 1st- and 2nd-year boys try the Mile Swim. I had 8 finish it! In the lake (there's no pool). They were proud as peacocks. It's probably the hardest that any of them had ever pushed themselves. I am happy for them.


My most treasured moments this year are the time after prayer bell and taps when I can just sit and talk with some of the scouts who aren't quite ready to go to bed. I get to know these young people in a way that I otherwise would not be able to - certainly not at a regular troop meeting or a weekend outing. They're so open, looking for information, sharing thoughts. Priceless moments.


The other thing was the way this bunch of kids who don't want to gather firewood took it upon themselves to have a troop campfire the last night. Entirely on their own (without any prompting or urging from adults), they gathered wood, put together a program with songs and skits, and invited guests. I think they invited every staff member they could find; 19 of them showed up! With the turnout and the mood of the evening, I suggested thay they add a flag retirement (one boy had brought a worn-out flag, just in case). As it was being consumed with everyone standing at attention, the prayer bell rang. It was a serendipitous moment that brought tears to my eyes. Two staff members remarked afterward that they were quite moved by the retirement. "My troop never does that; I'll have to get them to do this, too. Thank you."


I could go on and on. We have no need to go out of council, nor do the other troops we share the week with (almost always the same troops). If southern New England is within your travel distance, I encourage you to consider Camp Mattatuck (Connecticut Rivers Council).

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I just got back from my first ever week at a BSA summer camp. WHAT A HOOT! One of my happiest thoughts as we left yesterday was, "gee Mark is only six (I went to camp with my oldest), that means I can do this every summer for the next ten years at least!"


Our troop went to Camp Oljato, in the Sierra Nevadas (about 7K above sea level)on the banks of Lake Huntington. Although the lake is surrounded by a NFS campground, a private summer camp and 2 other BSA camps, it seems very secluded because the only way into camp is by ferry!


The food was above average on the camp food scale. This year's cook runs a homestyle BBQ resturant in the Bay area, and he knows how to cook for hungry boys. On Wednesday, the boys cooked in camp -- hot dogs, hamburgers and dump cake -- they were so proud to serve the adult leaders... when they finally got around to the cooking part. Thursday was the Scoutmaster's BBQ, all us adults took turns serving the staff and scouts (best meal of the week --steak, mashed potatoes and salad, plus that week's leftovers). On friday we had pizza (mass made by scouts still needing service hours) and the COPE staff ate at their special table, suspended from the ceiling of the dinind hall, about 15' up!


There were 3 MB sessions a day, so most boys worked on a limit of 3. First Aid was tough, as it chould be. COPE and sailing, climbing and 1 mile swim were also offered. The Cit in the World class really worked the adults present for those whose home country was other than the USA. The staff were great; friendly, enthusiastic, accessible. The highlight for me was getting qualified as a BSA climbing instructor. The climing director dedicated the 2nd MB session to scouters who wanted the training. We also got to try one of the COPE sites during free time one afternoon.


We had our share of homesickness -- all resolved by Thursday -- our scoutmaster took extra pains to work with the younger guys who were sad. Walks to see the osprey's nest, to the tomahawk throwing range, or to visit the camp dog seemed to help. We got rained on by late afternoon thunderstorms (my excuse for not taking the swimming test - hey that water's COLD) and it's a good thing I shamed myself into taking my rain gear (it's one of the ten essentials, kiddo, "essential" means you pack it even if you don't think you'll need it). We had the great scouts who are really a joy to be with (younger and older) and the problem scouts who make you wonder if it's all worth it ( I mean, how hard is it to locate your uniform pants -- everyone else did it?).


I hung out with some great scouters while the boys were eating/at class/sleeping and made my own set of camp friends. I heard stories of my son last year, and was encouraged by how much he has grown in the past year. I watched and learned from experienced scoutmasters and was encouraged myself by a camp commissioner who has forgotten more about scouting than I'll ever know. I saw my son, briefly, a couple of times a day at troop meetings, and sighted him from a distance at brief interavals during the day. Rare and precious were the few times when we shared a treat from the camp store in the afternoon, or traded stories of the day's triumphs ( I jumped off a 35' tree!! We made the "teepee of doom"!)


That was my camp experience. I can't wait for next year.


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We just returned home from Lefeber Northwoods Camp in Laona, Wisconsin. It was one of the best weeks I have ever experienced at camp. We had 23 scouts (eleven first timers). We had almost perfect weather, with absolutely no rain, which is a miracle for northern Wisconsin in July! Our scouts did a great job, passed 57 merit badges, had 15 rank advancements and earned the Super Troop award. This is a patrol method camp, and all meals were well done and plentiful. Even our 12 adults at camp got along relatively well! Some of our leades actually got to get in a few rounds of golf during the week!


Best of all, our scouts had FUN and on the 7 hour drive home, they were already talking about what they are going to do next year!



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Let me second Dale's comments.


It was a great week. As advancement chair I spent most of Monday and Tuesday scheduling our Scoutmaster Dale's time to do SM conferences. We had a lot of boys that were only one or two requirements away from rank advancement and they were able to finish them up rather quickly once we got to camp. The other adults were put to work conducting BORs in the boy's free time. You know there is always one and sure enough we held our last SM conference and bBOR minutes before the closing campfire.


As always Lefeber provides great food, cooked patrol method!, great programs and a great setting. I especially liked how they ordered the perfect weather for our troop's stay.


Yes, I even got to golf three days in a row, once with MB class.

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We saw some Illinois Boy Scouts heading west into North Carolina around Asheville, back on Sunday, July 16th. Two white vans, one towing a red (I think) trailer. Couldn't get the Troop number. Y'all like to travel!


My son will be a Webelos II this year, so no full summer camp for us this summer.

We did attend the NEGA Council Scoutland Adventure Camp at Lake Lanier. They have a special Outback Adventure for Web II's, which was very cool. We got to canoe to Outback Island (actually a penisula) and set up our own camp. The boys had to start the fires and cook the meals. Plenty of swimming and Scout skills.


The staff was very impressive, marching in on cadence for colors. Some were older, in college a year or two, and their maturity showed. They were clearly having as much fun as the younger staff members. We learned some new songs to take back to the Pack.


Food is catered in, since they only have a warming kitchen. Very good, and plenty of it. After 4 days and 3 nights, we had to pack up and head home. My son was asking if we could go back next year; I told him no, he would get to go to Boy Scout camp next summer, where the real fun begins! After reading all these great reviews, I can't wait!

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Agree with gwd-scouter about Camp Old Indian. Gets better every year. Also agree regarding Rainey Mountain, but it is in a great location for high adventure (but not really much better than Camp Old Indian). The others in the Appalachian region are all nice in my book. Goshen is magnificent.

But my opinion is probably not reliable on camps. I've almost always enjoyed the food and found the overall experience fun and relaxing no matter where we land. Even those weeks when it rained constantly the whole week. Boys too. Helps to be a little laid back I guess. Or else I just like camp...yep, that's it.

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I went to Comer every year when I was a scout and loved it. Back then the ladder in the aquatics area still had Camp Zinn in the ladder steps. Some of my best boyhood memories are of summer camp at Comer.


I haven't been there since I was a boy but what I hear confirms your review of Comer today. In defense of the Greater Alabama Council (GAC), I'll point out that one reason that the Chocolocco Council was absorbed into GAC was because they had been running deeply in the red for several years. GAC had to absorb that debt along with the responsibilities for Comer.


The story I've heard about the pines is that a storm took out many trees and then the camp ranger was overzealous in efforts to control pine beetles. Unfortunately, it will take many years to recover from this dumb mistake.


The Greater Alabama Council is good at coming up with big plans but gets a failing grade on execution of everything I have seen them do with the exception of the University of Scouting. It is obvious that GAC's priority is raising money and making political points. Programs for the boys are somewhere down the list. If this were not so then they would have fewer pretty buildings and a knock-your-socks-off program at Comer.


If it makes you feel any better I can attest to the fact that they lose the paperwork of units within walking distance of their headquarters. I'm in the Birmingham area and in the years I've been involved with Scouting as an adult I've only had one person at GAC headquarters respond to an email or return a phone call. It's not just you guys far from the flag pole, they spread the indifference close to home as well.





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Yellow Hammer wrote -

"In defense of the Greater Alabama Council (GAC), I'll point out that one reason that the Chocolocco [sic] Council was absorbed into GAC was because they had been running deeply in the red for several years. GAC had to absorb that debt along with the responsibilities for Comer."


Sorry, but the Greater Alabama Council did not absorb the Choccolocco Council. The GAC was created from the consolidation of the Choccolocco, Tennessee Valley, and Central Alabama Councils. For the first few years of the process each of the three even retained Scout Executives. At the time of the consolidation the debt the Choccolocco carried in previous years had been diminished substantially due to the efforts of the only Scout Executive that has truly earned my respect in almost thirty years of continuous Scouting. Had Bill remained I'm sure the state of Comer and my feelings therefore would also differ.

As for pine trees, the excuses may vary, but the trees are still gone. The question I ask is why is all the land around Comer (Desoto State Park) among others as of yet still unaffected by pine beetles? Also I remember several Achunanchi ordeals in the 1980's in which the camp had sustained storm damage to an extent that the question arose if it would even be possible to hold summer camp that summer. Each year the council pulled together and many peoples hard work made camp possible again.

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Just got back on Saturday from my first summer camp as Scoutmaster. It was a great summer camp. No homesickness all week. Had all of our first year scouts adavance to tenderfoot, at least, and had one other scout, my son, finish two MBs to get to Star.


Food was good and plentiful and the staff was wonderful. We go to Manatoc Scout camp in Peninsula, Ohio, which is out of council. We had a couple of incidents of nerves fraying and one scout which would have been sent home Friday, but we couldn't reach his mother. Finally, we had four boys and two adults complete the mile swim. All the boys were first year scouts! Two of the boys and one of the adults had completed the five-mile hike earlier in the day as well.


All in all, it was a good summer camp and went much better than I thought it would.

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