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Not going to Council Camp = Not Supporting Council?

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My troop is back from its OOC experience:



Private showers and flush toilets in every site

A/C dining hall with real chairs (not wooden benches)

Food service contracted out - excellent in quality and quantity

New pool - 3x the size of ours

Enthusiastic staff

Camp is new (first year), so everything is state of the art

"Leaders Retreat" - A/C lounge with sat TV and WiFi (no, I didn't partake!)

Good cellphone reception

Professionally built climbing tower



Heat/humidity/bugs - same geog area as our camp

Distance - waterfront about a mile from campsites

Good cellphone reception (most scouts have one now :-(

Rear flap of my tent was literally 4 feet from rifle range boundary tape - very noisy during the day-interfered with naps

Most troops present were OOC

MB program - lukewarm (almost "Mill" status)


On the plus side, our lily-white uppermiddle class troop was placed in a site with an all-black troop from a neighboring city. The scouts immediately meshed together and became fast friends ... and the adults did too! What a great bunch of guys! I love it when you can put color aside and just work for the common goal of training fine young men.


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Out Troop just came back from an OOC Resident camp and had a blast!! I"ve been involved woth the Troop for 6 years and this was the first time we have been OOC. Scouts and leaders had a very positive experience.

Lord Baden Powell said "Go Camping", he didn't say you had to go to your council camp.

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"MB program - lukewarm (almost "Mill" status)"


To me, the quality of the staff and the program is the most important thing. Acceptability of food (be it dining hall or unit kitchen) is a second tier. A/C, chairs, showers in the campsites, flushing lollies, that's all eyewash.


Now, the quality of pool/waterfront/lakefront, ranges, nature lodge, handicraft lodge, Scoutcraft lodge, trading post, COPE and climbing tower ... those are program facilities and need to be

first rate.

Remember, the A/C costs $$$, and camp fees pay for it. Maintaining the toilets (vice BSA standard pit units) costs money and camp fees pay for it.(This message has been edited by John-in-KC)

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"To me, the quality of the staff and the program is the most important thing. Acceptability of food (be it dining hall or unit kitchen) is a second tier. A/C, chairs, showers in the campsites, flushing lollies, that's all eyewash."


True, unless you're eleven. They don't remember that Oceanography MB was easier than it should have been...they do remember toilets. And if the camp next door has them, you'd better have them, too. It's not about what the Staff or BSA thinks is important...it's about what the CUSTOMERS think is important. That's why our camp is on a steady decline...the old-timers have refused to listen to the customers...if it was good enough for us in 1966, it should be good enough now. NOT!


PS: In-council Camp fee for new camp was $220...5 bucks less than our camp. So, from a customer point of view, more value, less money. Of course this may have been a "first year" one time good deal to fill the camp. We'll see what the fees go up to next year.

(This message has been edited by scoutldr)

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Yeah I dunno about that comment regarding 11 year olds' perspectives. Our troop went to a camp last year that was weak on program. The boys knew it. Even the younger ones. One of them (now age 12) said to me, not long ago, that he felt he'd been cheated. He'd "earned" his fishing MB at the camp but he knew they fudged some of the requirements. Now, when he has a problem related to fishing, he's embarrassed to ask for help from some more knowledgeable folks in the troop because he recognizes that he SHOULD HAVE learned the skills at camp while working on the badge. Only he didn't because the MBC didn't teach them, and they signed off anyway. The really sad thing, this kid told me this when I asked him why he hadn't been fishing at all yet this summer. Last summer it seemed like that was all he wanted to do!


By the way - we went to a different OOC camp this summer and they had an AWESOME program. Even though it was ridiculously hot and very buggy, even though the boys returned with sand in their - well, everything (ahem), they had a blast at this camp.


So I'm with John on this - have a great program, and the boys will have fun. Lousy program, or outdated program, and you can forget it.

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Program will make or break the experience. The OOC camp we went to had a very good staff, many returning staff from preveious years that knew the camp and were very good MBC. Camp Director and Program Director were very accomidating and wanted to know about the problems so they could act on them ASAP. One of our Scouts want to go back next year to be a CIT so he can work on staff in 2009. Feedback from parents have been positive. I myself would have loved to stay another week!!!!

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Long Time - No Type. Since we're in the same council I feel a need to chime in here. First let me say that I support any troops right to attend whatever summer camp they choose. However, I dont think youve been completely fair in your observations of Camp Joy. A couple of points:


1. How was the option to attend an out of council camp presented? I only ask because a former Scoutmaster of our troop used to give the Scouts a choice between A or B and then touted it as the Scouts choice. Im not saying anything sinister happened in your troop, just asking how you arrived at your choice.


2. If you haven't been to Joy in 3 years how doyou know things are so bad? I suppose you could have received feedback from someone who attended, but realistically thats just someone elses opinion, and thats where the fairness issue comes in for me.


Before I give my observations of Joy let me answer my own questions:


(1) How we Choose Summer Camp. I give my Scouts information (cost, merit badges, additional programs, distance, etc) for Camp Joy and roughly 4 to 6 other camps within a few hours drive. I then ask each Scout to vote where he would like to attend.


(2) What do I base my observations on? I have been at Joy for 2 of the past 3 years. I couldnt attend with the troop in 2006, but spent most of the evenings there with them. Over the past 10 years Ive been to 5 different summer camps including Sunnen. Each had things that impressed me and each had things I definitely did not care for. However, I dont choose the camp and I keep any personal negative attitude in check.


Now for Camp Joy:


- Staff. Not the worst, but certainly not the best. Honestly I think this is directly proportional to the quality of the Camp and Program Directors. Weve had challenges with that aspect for the past 2 years at least and could use some improvement all around. Not sure what you mean by constant changes. Year to year, or week to week? I havent seen this or had any other problems with staff. The year we were at Sunnen there were a lot of adults teaching the merit badge classes. Not sure where I really stand on that practice.


- Food. Nothing Ive seen in the past 3 years could be described as downright horrible. Okay, I wont cry if they quit serving fish on Wed night, but none of the Scouts have complained about the food. That may be due to an overindulgence in Choco-Tacos in the trading post, but thats nothing new. The dining hall at Joy is a definite drawback, its just too small and too hot. Theyve mitigated this somewhat by having troops eat lunch in their campsites. A new dining hall is on the horizon. I spoke with the Scout Exec who told me they were in negotiations with two companies and hoped to have a contract in the near future. Sunnen uses an open air pavilion (so does Camp Bunn in Hettick IL). Its vastly more comfortable.


- Waterfront. Its a somewhat small, rural pond and comes with all the bells and whistles of such, but no slime or algae. The worst Ive seen it in 3 years was during the last week of camp this year after 5 days of torrential rain the week before and several 90+ degree days. Even then it was just the lake overturning which is natural. When we attended Sunnen, swimming was relegated to the small pond, which if you saw what it looks like in April and May, you might not get in it during June -- even if youre not afraid of the dreaded Nipple fish.


- Yup, shooting sports charges for ammo. Some camps charge, and some dont. I know Sunnen didnt in 2004 when we were there.


- Our COPE and Climbing programs are pretty good, but Im definitely biased because my son has been an instructor there for the past 2 years.


- Another positive you didnt mention was the new Trading Post. The floor space is probably close to 10 times the size of the old shack. Plus theres a new computer lab in the building and a game room downstairs.


Bottom line: if the local program just doesnt appeal to your Scouts please articulate exactly what it is you feel it lacks and use specific examples (dining hall too crowded and hot; counselors ill-prepared to instruct classes be sure to give names here; etc). The argument can be made that not attending the local camp is tantamount to not supporting the council. BUT, blindly attending a camp when the Scouts are not happy is not what the program is about. If your Scouts are making an informed decision then I support you guys.


As for me, Im still in the Try to fix things from within phase. I want my council camp to have a great program and will do what I can to get it there. I may fail, but I will try. If my Scouts choose to attend elsewhere in 2008 Ill communicate the reasons to the Camping Committee.


One final comment on the patrol method. Just because a camp uses a dining hall doesnt mean the patrol method isnt at work. There are still campsite duties that must be done and daily troop PLCs that must be attended. My Scouts tent and run the campsite by patrol. As for cooking, well we do that by patrol during the other 11 months. Its okay to take a week off every now and then ;-)


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ManyIrons, Good to hear from ya!


I truthfully could not tell you who in all reality picks summer camp year to year. I don't remember having a whole lot of input while I was a youth in the troop. We've talked about camps before and we've talked about high adventure trips before, but it seems to me adults seem to still make the deciding choice..


I know our adult leaders really like Camp Sunnen for the Patrol Method stuff. The cooking, the patrol award things I seem to remember, etc.


Typically thet troop starts talking about next year for summer camp near the end of the week at camp and the next couple weeks after. We seem to have the decision made in July for the following summer normally.


After last year's summer camp, I'd be really surprised if the youth indeed did decide to return to Sunnen. After this summer, it wouldn't surprise me at all. Isn't that strange? One year's difference...


Some of your points....


Staff- I've heard through the grapevine changes in staff being made week to week. This comes from multiple sources who I would consider to be reliable. I can also understand changes being made year to year, but I've also heard complete turn over at times? That is a little more than I could really understand. You say adult leaders teaching MB classes at Sunnen? I can remember a few, yes. I'm not entirely sure where I stand on that either; I guess it depends on the merit badge.


Food- I can remember some BAD food and I can remember some decent food. I also remember LACK of food. Sure, you can run into all of those with the patrol cooking too. But the BAD food can be a good teaching point. I can remember the first time we went to Camp Sunnen: I wasn't a great cook, and I was the most expereinced Scout in the patrol. I was a Troop Guide for the NSP. We had some AWFUL meals, but you can learn something there. Can't very well when somebody else cooks AWFUL food. Dining hall I hope they get a new one. The one at Camp Van seems nice. They were originally going to build it similar to what Camp Sunnen has..


Waterfront- For one thing, I don't quite worry about the aquatics personally because I don't do them. I never did a swim test at summer camp. Wasn't a water person. However, I can recall being told at Joy to go straight to the showers after being in the lake. There was something in the water they didn't want to dry on your skin. I've seen the swimming area at Sunnen at multiple times throughout the year. I dont recall anything that stands out..


Shooting Sports- not much can be done. The ammo has to paid for somehow. Trails West is just lucky enough to have a corporate supporter there that Okaw Valley doesn't. Just something that has to be noted with everything else.


Camp Joy's COPE course and Climbing tower are great! I've gone through the COPE course there. No bias there!


Trading Post- no point in me commenting good/bad about that. I have no experience with it. I'm thrilled Okaw Valley is updating facilities. I hope that continues.


I know our troop has talked several times about why we don't go to Camp Joy. I can't say whether it falls on deaf ears or whether it falls into a matter of "can't do much about it" kind of thing at the moment. I dont know. I just know that Mr. Rebholz and Matt Wagner have sat down many times to talk about this issue. We seem to appear as if we don't care about Camp Joy and the negative stuff I've said here seems to reinforce that, but that's NOT the case! We'd love to go to our council camp, but it doesn't give the same experience that we can get elsewhere. Summer Camp is the highlight of our calendar unless there's high adventure that summer. We want to instill the patrol method when we actually have the patrols there. Summer Camp, by far, is our best-attended event of the year. We're working to change that and a lot of those changes are being made through learning the ropes at summer camp. We have to do what's best for our troop and our boys before we do what's best for the council and the council camp.


I didn't really intend for this to become a Camp Joy verses Camp Sunnen kind of thing. I was intending on it being more in general, but it's happened. Oh well..


ManyIrons, thanks for the input. I guess the biggest thing is each person has to stand on their own two feet, huh?

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Yeah, I wasn't looking to do a Joy vs Sunnen thing either. My point was that a lot of it comes down to perception and I wish more troops would articulate their likes and dislikes to the council camping committee. Of course if you're doing that and not getting satisfaction you have every right to vote with your feet.


Also, I don't think you can define a unit's support of the council by any one activity. You really have to look at it from a wider perspective and understand that there isn't really a one-size-fits-all way to define it. Each unit may be providing a lot of support, but in different ways.


Deliver a quality program to your Scouts and follow your conscience on the rest.

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We should also consider in this mix that the people in your Council have spent their hard earned dollars on your council camp. You've made the investment, it's yours, not the professionals, it's yours as members of that Council. If it isn't being run the way you want it to be run so you will attend, you should be making certain the problem is solved or sell the camp and put the money into other programs you will use.

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  • 5 months later...

Last year the district our Troop is in had the highest popcorn sales, the highest FOS returns, and the lowest percentage of Troops going to Council Camp. The question came up was why? To this I could only answer for my own Troop. We have had a policy of traveling to OOC camps every two out of three years so that each experience is fresh for everyone. With ten or more camps within three to four hours of us we have never repeated a camp. 2009 is an in council camp year and with the closing of one of our councils camps this will be the first time in about five years to our councils "reservation."

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I'm sure that some BSA Councils do a very good job of supporting their units, and, in return, those units will support their local Councils by attending local Council summer camps and other Council-sponsored activities.


However, there are other BSA Councils that do a very poor job of suporting their units, and some of those units don't feel the least bit obligated to support their local Council summer camps or other Council activities in return.


Several years ago, our troop would attend our Council's summer camp program each year, but one year we found another summer camp operated by a neighboring Council within a couple hours drive that our scouts thought was much better than our local Council's camp. The facilities were better, the merit badge program was far more flexible, the dining hall and food were much better, the camp staff was much more motivated and accommodating, etc. As a result, by popular demand we began attending this summer camp each year. We tried to provide feedback to our local Council about the perceived deficiencies of their summer camp by completing their questionnaires and by talking with the Camp Director and staff, but nothing ever seemed to improve over the years.


More recently, I belonged to a unit in a BSA Council which I asked to support us with funds for Philmont scholarships for scouts who could not afford the fees. The Council Executive told me to contact him later in the year when regional funds from the Waite Phillips scholarship funds became available. I did, and the Council never responded back. I interpreted this as Council non-interest in supporting our unit and some needy scouts. As a result, several scouts were unable to attend Philmont. The Council leadership still is stymied to this day as to why our unit doesn't support their activities.



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Our council has the same issue..... summer camp basically "sucks". My troop has gone out of council for probably 7 years now. We too have gotten some grief over it, along with a few of our own adult leaders trying to push the PLC to go to the council summer camp. But Scouting is supposed to be a boy-lead program, so in my opinion, what the PLC says goes so a certain extent.

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