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shortridge

How can summer camp support patrols?

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We've all heard (and told) horror stories about summer camps that seem to tear down, rather than strengthen, the patrol method. Let's flip it around. What could your local summer camp do to support patrols? What does your camp do presently that works?

 

Kicking it off with one item:

 

- Patrol cooking.

 

Let's hear some more...

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Rather than run the "First years take this set of classes, second years this..."

 

How about "Mustang Patrol shoots in the morning and attends Cooking MB in the afternoon."

 

Unfortunately, that often breaks down at Lakefront, where scarce resources (boats and counselors) require rationing, and that rationing comes from age groupings.

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In the UK, the camps I worked at offered ala cart programing, i.e. base price is X, rifle shooting is Y, kayaking is Z, clibing is J, etc. Some troops did break downinto patrols. Maybe it's something to look at here?

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I second Shortridge's suggestion. With patrol cooking comes a common patrol area, a division of labor towards a common goal, etc etc.

 

We also have a ongoing patrol competition during summer camp based on the patrol's ability to operate as a unit. We score them on their cooking, sanitation and spirit. This year the daily winner received extra pudding at dinner, you would think it was made of gold, and the weekly winning patrol usually receives gift cards at the September family night.

 

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I just returned from a camp that was brand new for our boys. We had tried patrol-method in a troop-method camp and it was a fiasco. Needless to say, our boys voted unanimously to return to this new camp next year.

 

1) No mess hall, all cooking in camp site. Commissary issued food by patrol sizes

2) HUGE camp site, we could have had 8-10 patrols all 200' apart with no problem!

3) Programming started at 9:00 am, 2 hour break for lunch and supper. Menus designed to be prepared in the 2 hour time allotment.

4) Equipment was given out by patrol request, i.e. number of tents, stoves, flies, etc.

5) MB blue cards used and backed up with camp records.

 

The difference between this camp and those we have attended before (4 different camps in my experience) is the mindset of patrol-method. Any camp that has to go out of their way to accommodate the patrol-method is not going to be successful at it.

 

Stosh

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I've been thinking about checking into Camp Bell, which is part of the Griswold Scout Reservation in the Daniel Webster Council (Nashua, NH) for next year. Online, on paper, I think it looks very interesting (the link is broken at the moment, otherwise I would add it here).

 

While I was at camp this last week, I met a national camp inspector, and I asked him about area camps, including Camp Bell. He kind of shrugged, suggesting "well, if that's your thing..." and then went on to explain that many camps have in-site cooking. But that's not what I'm looking for. I'm looking for a camp that builds the patrol program.

 

So the intriguing part, to me, about Camp Bell is that program areas are done by patrol too. From what I can tell, a patrol develops it's own program, as in "today we're at the waterfront" and then in whatever particular program area they are in they split up by need -- for example, new scouts work on water safety skills, while older scouts work on merit badge-related skills.

 

The reason why I think it wouldn't fly in our troop: advancement. I think the troop is so advancement-oriented that unless a Scout comes home without several camp-earned merit badges, then I think they (and parents) might consider the patrol-oriented camp a waste of time. This is a troop where several older boys eschew a regular week at summer camp in order to attend "Eagle Week" (where one scout claimed "it's as bad as school!").

 

One thing I can say so far: it's no fun to try and change troop culture one little step at a time. While I can see an enormous benefit by going to someplace like a patrol-oriented summer camp, others (Scouts especially) aren't easily convinced of the benefit.

 

Guy

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I think it looks very interesting (the link is broken at the moment, otherwise I would add it here).

 

http://tinyurl.com/lxyfvy

 

and then went on to explain that many camps have in-site cooking. But that's not what I'm looking for. I'm looking for a camp that builds the patrol program.

 

The "Patrol program" is just "Let's Pretend" without Patrol cooking.

 

Kudu

 

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Stosh:

That sounds a lot like Camp Bowman at Goshen Scout Reservation. I am not sure that patrol sites are quite 200' apart but they are at least separate and distinct. Everything else is spot on.

 

Hal

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Kudu -- I think I worded my statement awkwardly. I'm not looking for a camp that has just patrol cooking. I'm looking for patrol cooking (which I would agree is a fundamental teamwork builder) and a strong patrol-oriented program. The whole package.

 

I would refer back to my own experiences as a Scout: my first summer camp was special. We took the entire troop to a place several hours north, where we did it Brownsea 22 style. We weren't even within 300' of other patrols (it was more like 1/4 mile, on sites we chose ourselves)! We repeated the same thing a few years later (interspersed with trips to our council camp, and a trip to the national jamboree).

 

A funny thing about out National Jamboree experience. I feel we had a fairly strong patrol program. I recall being a patrol leader that week. Even though we had 3 patrols in our troop site, which was maybe 100' by 100', during our week I don't recall hanging out at the other patrol sites.

 

Out of all my Scout experiences, I'd rank our on-our-own summer camps near the top, along with trips to Philmont and the Maine National High Adventure Area (National, at the time, council-run now). The latter two, of course, were more like Venture crew opportunities.

 

Guy

 

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Hal: I have to agree with you about Bowman, we just returned

this past Saturday from our annual week there. Camp Bowman is designed from the bottom up to be the "patrol method" camp and it works!

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I think the big focus on patrol method at camps fell by the way side when camps became merit badge factories. Or if they aren't MB focused, there is at least the requirement by National for first year Scout programs.

 

At Ed Bryant Scout Reservation it is half patrol cooking / half dining hall (troop's option). The Scout Craft area also hosted a patrol competition that had very minimal participation. Often times a patrol could show up and try one of the daily challenges and win the overall competition by default.

 

It would be nice to include more patrol activities but it is probably pretty hard with individual advancement and the current ability for Scouts to do their own activities. I do think most camps could structure their evening program in a way to provide more activities for patrols. Instead of another hour of open program, have more patrol focused activities.

 

I think part of it falls on the Troops as well. Do they hold daily PLCs to get information out to the rest of the Troop or does the SPL (or worse, a leader) just update everyone at once on what is going on? Does the Troop assign duties by patrol or by individuals? Do the patrol members camp together? Did they ask the staff for a patrol shoot or patrol swim? If the Troop tries, I think patrols can survive and thrive despite the camp's focus.

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I don't see anything wrong with a summer camp being a merit badge mill and not promoting the patrol method.

 

We already go on camp outs 11 other months each year where the boys use the patrol method. I also don't see the boys earning to many merit badges on monthly overnights. Why not do something a little different at camp.

 

I also think it is fun to see all the first years walking around together as well as the older scouts. I don't believe in making them take certain merit badges but after going to camp for a number of years, it kind of works out that way. For example, handi craft badges are good for 1st year boys where I don't see a 5th year camper getting to much enjoyment out of making a basket or a lanyard. I also don't see to many first years strong enough to complete climbing where swimming is about perfect.

 

Just my .02

 

 

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"We already go on camp outs 11 other months each year where the boys use the patrol method."

 

I think that practicing the patrol method for a week is a very different experience than a 1-2 night camp out. You can make anything work from Friday evening to Sunday morning but if Camp starts on Saturday the weaknesses will become apparent by Tuesday.

 

On a weekend camp out the duty roster will often play to the strengths of the individual scouts but if there is a week long rotation then the weakest cook will have to step up, the laziest scout will have to carry his weight and the Patrol Leader is going to have to exercise a whole lot more leadership to keep it all together.

 

Hal

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I'm with Hal on this one. As the BSA's fake Baden-Powell quote says:

 

The Patrol Method is not ONE method in which Scouting can be carried on. It is the ONLY method!

 

Not cooking by Patrols at summer camp is like not playing baseball at the Little League playoffs:

 

"We already play baseball during the regular season where the boys use the ball and bat method. Why not do something a little different at the playoffs?"

 

Kudu

 

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