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Summer Camp Woes

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In my council, summer camp has been of low quality for many years. Many have tried to address the problems of summer camp only to be ignored. Over the past decade, most troops have voted with their feet and have abandoned our council camp for other councils summer camps. Currently our camp has 4 weeks of summer camp. Only 25 % of our council troops still attend our summer camp. Two adjoining council summer camps now draw 75% of our council troops. The two out of council camps can offer a far superior program for the same fee. One council actually charges less than our summer camp. Our camp has fallen into disrepair over the past 30 years. But our scout office was completely renovated for the comfort of the paid staff. Here is my evaluation of summer camp 2009 that I presented to the council advancement committee which I am a long time member. Understand that these problems are not new; they have been ongoing for years. Meetings have been held with the camping committee with no success. As with any council, my council has its political issues and problems. As a long time Scouter, I am troubled by the apathy by many members of my council. Anybody else out there having summer camp problems as bad as my councils?

- Regards,

- Abel. -

- Greetings Council Advancement Committee,

- These are my evaluations of summer camp 2009.

- After years of voicing my concerns about our council summer camp and trying to ensure that advancement policies and procedures are followed at summer camp, it has become apparent to me that our council is not really interested in serving the small percentage of our council Scouts and volunteers who still utilize our council camp for their summer camp. Currently, only 33 out of 133 of our council troops chose our council camp as their summer camp in 2009. Thats only 25% of our council troops. Over 50% of our council troops have long since abandoned their council camp and have found other council summer camps that serve their troops needs. Members of our own council advancement committee no longer summer camp at our council camp with their troops.

- The problems that plague our councils summer camp are not new. They continue year after year. Our council continues not to invest in the camp program with an adequate qualified staff. Our council camp is rarely ever ready with the needed staff and supplies to run the summer camp program effectively. - Our council continues year after year not to follow the required advancement policies and procedures at summer camp and the council advancement committee has done little to address it.

- On page 3 of the Advancement Policies and Procedures book you will find written the foundation of all advancement policies. It reads:

- No council, district, unit, or individual has the authority to add to or subtract from advancement requirements.

- Through my many years of volunteering on the council advancement committee, it is my opinion that our council is not interested in adhering to national advancement policies and procedures at summer camp. It is my opinion that if council realizes that adhering to a particular advancement policy or procedure will cost the council funding, that policy or procedure will most likely be disregarded by our professional staff.

- This year, our new professional camp director ran our council summer camp with the customary inadequate merit badge staff, and customary inadequate program supplies. But this year the camp director took liberties to enforce his own personal advancement policies. The camp director stated that the camp belonged to him; (it used to belong to the Scouts and their volunteer leaders). Perhaps this was the reason why he felt that he could simply disregard many written national advancement policies and procedures. If our council does not want to follow the established national advancement policies and procedures, then our council is not offering the Scouts the deserved program they paid for.

- I have been in contact with the National Advancement Committee concerning our council's disregard to following advancement policies and procedures at summer camp. One of their lead members had this to say about our summer camp:

- "The requirements, for units, districts, councils, and camps are clearly specified and not optional from council to council. The Council Advancement Committee should follow the rules and require Council entities to do the same. The Council Exec and Council Board are bound by National Policies and there really is no flexibility as to cherry picking which to follow or not. Clearly someone isn't listening to you! Where is the Council Advancement Chair and Council VP of Program on this?"

- According to BSA advancement policies and procedures, any Boy Scout may earn any merit badge at any time. The Scout needs not to have had rank advancement to be eligible. You will find this in the Boy Scout Requirement Book. Yet the new camp director wrote his own policy forbidding Scouts to even be eligible sign up for merit badges if they did not meet his age requirements. Every merit badge offered at summer camp this year had an age requirement.

- Page 12 Summer Camp Leaders guide Helping Scouts Prepare for Resident Camp: It is important to have the Scouts review the available merit badges at camp and plan out their schedule for the week. Review each Scouts schedule to ensure they are eligible for the merit badge and meet all the age/rank requirements.

- I asked the camp director if he meant age recommendations, his reply was that they were requirements. I then informed the camp director that he had no authority to do this. He then had no more time to talk and hung up the phone.

- Another national advancement policy and procedure states that all merit badge counselors must be at least 18 years old and qualified to be a merit badge counselor. Yet the camp director allowed unqualified youth instructors counsel merit badges. Some of these youth instructors were counseling merit badges they knew absolutely nothing about. The youth instructors/merit badge counselors were not trained in the merit badges they were counseling. The youth instructors did not have to participate at the national camp school training for the merit badges they were counseling - they were not old enough. Additionally, our council advancement chairman approved the camp director's staff accepting the responsibility for the unqualified staff this year at summer camp. Summer camp again had untrained, underage staff members counseling merit badges. (On a side note: the advancement committee was not allowed to train the youth instructors nor was the advancement committee allowed the necessary time to train the staff; the camp director would not allow it.)

- According to national advancement policy and procedures, all merit badge counselors must be approved by the council advancement committee. This includes summer camp merit badge counselors. The camp director was informed back in April of 2009 that his staff merit badge counselors needed to fill out their merit badge counselor information forms and have them available for review by the council advancement committee. The completed forms were to be made available at the May 2009 council advancement committee meeting by our camp director. They were not. - In the end, only 8 staff members submitted their #34405 MB counselor applications and all 8 were returned incomplete. The 8 candidates did not list their credentials as required on the form. The camp director did not cooperate with the council advancement committee on this issue.

- Earlier, I asked the camp director if he would honor a decision of the council advancement committee should we disapprove a staff member to counsel a merit badge. The camp director said he would not honor that decision. The camp director stated that should the council advancement committee disapprove a person to be a merit badge counselor that he would let that person counsel the merit badge anyway. This led up to the camp director stating that the council advancement committee was just an outside group with no jurisdiction.

- National advancement policy states that all merit badge counselors must be registered as merit badge counselors with the council as a code 42 (the code for merit badge counselors). This means a separate adult application along with a merit badge application #34405 must be submitted. The merit badge counselor must also be approved by the council advancement committee. Then the council is to register the individual as a merit badge counselor. But council did not register any of the summer camp merit badge counselors. In reality, all merit badges issued at summer camp this year are actually invalid as the blue cards were not signed by a registered approved merit badge counselor.

- Some of our council professional staff members evidently feel that they can continue to disregard advancement policies and procedures while making up their own policies at summer camp. And evidently, our council advancement committee condones it with their annual approval of an unqualified staff. The Scouts pay their fees and do not receive the promised quality summer camp program.

- Our council advancement committee has been informed of the advancement problems at summer camp for many years now and has done little to address the situation. In fact, I have been told that I am expecting things to change too quickly. If waiting for over 10 years for advancement problems to be remedied at summer camp is too quick, then quite frankly it is apparent to me that things will never change in the next ten years. My time and efforts over the years have been truly wasted as our council has shown little interest in adhering to national advancement policies and procedures at summer camp. I see no real reason why our council even needs a volunteer council advancement committee.

- Unfortunately in the end, it is the Scouts whom we are supposed to serve that are the losers at our council summer camp.

- Respectfully Submitted,

- Abel Magwitch

- Summer Camp Evaluations 2009

- Archery The archery merit badge counselor was dismissed on Wednesday for supposedly not doing his job. I had personally discussed the archery director and how he did not do his job with the director of support service in July of 2008. I was surprised when I found that this same individual was again hired for 2009. I had informed the camp director back in April 2009 that the archery director did not do a satisfactory job last year. I let the camp director know that I would not approve this individual to counsel the archery merit badge at summer camp. This led the camp director to tell me that the advancement committee was just an outside group with no jurisdiction over the hiring of camp staff and that he would let this individual counsel archery regardless of any advancement committee decision to disapprove him.

- Because Council chose to disregard the advice of the council advancement committee, first week Scouts again did not receive the quality archery program they were promised. My Scouts who took archery this year received partials at the end of the week because the archery director failed to do his job and there was not enough time for the Scouts to catch up on what they missed once the archery director was dismissed. On a side note: the archery director was replaced with two staff members. This begs the question why wasn't the original archery director given any youth instructors to assist him? He was on his own. Council failed the first week campers with its decision to hire last years archery director who was eventually dismissed.

- (From the 2009 summer camp leaders guide) Open archery Come on down during your free time and shoot a quiver full. If you miss the target, thats O. K.; just make sure to retrieve all your arrows. (Lost arrows not found by the end of the week cost $1 for wooden and $2.50 for aluminum arrows.) Open archery? The new camp director only scheduled one open archery session between 3:30-4:30. This only one open archery session was jam-packed full of Scouts who were trying to complete their archery merit badge requirements.

- Instructional archery Heres a chance to get personalized attention at the range if you've never shot before. Its also an opportunity for experienced archers to improve their technique. There was no instructional archery listed on the schedule during the first week of camp. There were only five merit badge sessions and one open archery session listed on the program schedule. With only one person assigned to direct and operate the archery range, there were few opportunities for any Scout to get any personalized attention. -

Why Choose our council summer camp? At our camp, we have made a concerted effort to continually increase and upgrade our facilities on an annual basis while providing new and improved program opportunities. The picture of the archery targets speaks for itself.

- I took pictures of the worn out 122 cm Cub Scout sized archery targets our council provided for the first week campers this year. According to the merit badge requirements, a Boy Scout sized 80 cm target was to be used. The large Cub Scout sized targets allowed for easy scoring.

- The five colored rings of the target are divided into two creating 10 scoring regions. You can see this on the black circle. The bulls-eye on these targets used to be yellow. The yellow is all but gone. There was no possible way to keep score on these worn out targets. I have brought our camps archery situation to the attention of our council for many years. Concerning reputations, our council has built its own reputation for not securing summer camp program materials.

(Picture omitted for this forum. This picture was of the completely worn out archery targets.)

I have addressed for over a decade now, the need for our council to secure the proper sized 80 cm targets for summer camp so the Scouts could complete their archery merit badge requirements properly. Council has refused to remedy this equipment problem. Any Scout scoring on an oversized 122 cm Cub Scout target is not doing the requirements, no more and no less. There was only one worn out proper sized 80 cm target on the archery range. The former archery director in his fuzzy reasoning decided to make only the left handed shooters use the smaller 80 cm target. The right handed Scouts were able to score on the extra large 122 cm Cub Scout targets.

- The backing material to which these targets were attached had huge holes through the bulls-eyes. Arrows simply flew through the hole and landed in the field behind. Without arrows sticking to the target, there was no way to keep accurate score. If a Scouts arrow flew through the bulls-eye hole and got lost in the field behind, the Scout would be charged a $2.50 replacement fee for losing an aluminum arrow. At our council camp, a Scout was automatically set up to lose money using the camps worn out equipment.

- There was a $6.00 fee a Scout had to pay to cover the materials for making an arrow and bowstring. For the past several years instead of the Scout actually doing these requirements, a single bowstring and a single arrow was made by the archery director per merit badge class and the entire class received credit for the requirements. Scouts were required to pay their materials fees to make their individual bowstrings and arrows for the merit badge requirements but did not receive the product. My records show that in 2007, 123 scouts took archery and paid their materials fee to make their individual bowstrings and arrows. Our council made over $600.00 in fees in 2007 for bowstrings and arrows the Scouts never made. The same thing happened last year in 2008.

- Our council has generously profited through the years from the archery merit badge by not providing the scouts with the products they paid for. The director of field service promised me that this oversight was to be remedied for 2008. Unfortunately, the problem continued in 2008. This year our camp had five bowstring jigs. Unfortunately, there were only three working string spools to be used with the five jigs. Only three of the five bowstring jigs could be used at any given time. And five merit badges of Scouts all had to use these three working jigs.

- Scouts again this year paid a $6.00 fee but not all received their bowstring as there was not enough time for all the Scouts attending the five merit badge classes to do so. This year, Scouts were able to make a small unusable 8 arrow. The glue used to make the arrows did not work well and many of the arrows the Scouts made fell apart soon after making them.

- $6.00 is a lot of money for making an unusable 8 arrow and bowstring. For what the Scouts received this year for their materials fees, they should have been charged no more than $2.00. Our council continues to make a profit at the expense of the Scouts.

- A leader I know from a second week troop sent me some of her summer camp pictures. Second week campers had brand new targets to use. Though our camp was still using the oversized 122 cm Cub Scout targets, the second week campers did have new paper targets to score on. I have to question why there were no usable targets available for the first week campers. Council was again unprepared to deliver the promised summer camp program for the first week campers. On a final side note: staff members have also told me that they had program supplies on order that they would be coming in next week. That reply was truly moot as it did not help the first week campers at all.

- Climbing and COPE Council did not secure an adequate number of 21 year old staff members to operate both Climbing and COPE. On Monday morning, a group of my Scouts went to the climbing tower to have fun at the scheduled open climbs. When they arrived, they found the climbing tower closed. The climbing staff was across the road at COPE. The Scouts were told that the open climbs had been canceled for the rest of the week because of staffing issues. The Scouts lost out on their promised program.

- There was a solution that council should have implemented. It was a solution our council used in the past.

- Council could have had some of their executive staff members from downtown come out to camp and fill the staffing gaps.

- But the current attitude of some of our council professional staff is that they don't care what happened in the past. More than one has told this to me and others.

- Note: I had a chance to discuss the climbing tower usage situation with a leader whose troop camped during the fourth and final week of summer camp. He informed me that the climbing tower still sat idle in the morning with no open climbs. COPE took precedence. Council had four weeks of opportunity where DEs could have filled the staffing needs at summer camp. Council took no action.

- There were two morning open climbs listed on the program schedule. Both were canceled without notice on Monday. Only after voicing a complaint on behalf of my Scouts did the camp director decide to open the climbing tower for once a day during the 3:30 4:30 time slot; the only time our camp had any open areas. Though the summer camp guide boasted that it was not a merit badge factory, merit badge classes took precedence over open areas this year.

- Another issue was that the climbing merit badge classes were divided between the two staff members running the tower. I had two Scouts who went for the Climbing merit badge during the same time slot. One of my Scouts earned the merit badge while the other came back with a partial. I need to give some additional information concerning these two Scouts. One Scout was more experienced. He had already attended summer camp, while the other Scout was brand new, never attending summer camp. It was the more experienced Scout who received the partial. These Scouts went to their merit badge at the same time, but each had a different staff member counseling the badge. The Scout who received his partial had the youth instructor. The other Scout who received the badge was instructed by the climbing director. Both of these Scouts stated that one group had more opportunities to climb while the other group had less. The Scout who received the partial was from the latter group. Since both morning open climbs were canceled, Scouts were told that in order to complete their climbs, they had to come down during the re-scheduled open climb at 3:30 to 4:30. But this was the only open time scheduled at camp and my Scout who received the partial had other merit badge work to complete. There was simply not enough free time to complete merit badges. My Scout had to choose between which merit badges he wanted to complete as there was no longer enough time to complete them all.

- I decided to question both Scouts on some of the climbing requirements. One Scout knew the answers immediately, the other did not. The Scout who was able to answer the questions happened to be the more experienced Scout who received the partial. This Scout knew the answers, yet he was not given credit for those requirements by the youth instructor.

- If the climbing tower actually ran according to the program schedule, there would have been enough opportunities for all Scouts to climb, but did not hire an adequate staff, all morning open climbs were canceled on the first day of camp. - The Scout who received the partial in climbing paid his $225 dollar fee but did not receive the promised program. Now this Scout has to wait until next years summer camp and pay an increased summer camp fee in order to complete the climbing merit badge.

- Our camp has a wonderful climbing tower. The tower has four functional sides that could be utilized in serving the Scouts. But council only hires enough staff to operate two of the four sides. I have observed as recently as last year, our top council executives showing off the camp and its climbing tower to potential money donors. But little did those potential money donors know that the tower is nothing more than simply a showpiece most of the time.

- From the 2009 Summer Camp Leaders guide The Climbing Wall is another great opportunity to challenge you to new heights. There are climbing routes that will challenge everyone from first time climbers to experts. Take the time during open climb or take climbing merit badge to join the elite group at the top of the wall. You won't be disappointed. For climbing merit badge Scouts must be 12 years old. Due to the intense physical nature of the activity and the maturity required to properly belay, Climbing merit badge is not recommended for first or-second year scouts. Due to our councils being unprepared for the first week of camp by providing an adequate staff of 21 year olds to run both COPE and Climbing, all morning open climbs were cancelled without notice and Scouts were disappointed. Only after a complaint was raised was it then announced on Tuesday that there would be only one daily open climb scheduled from 3:30-4:30.

- From the 2009 Summer Camp Leaders guide The Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience for your troops older Scouts is waiting. It is one of the most popular areas of camp, emphasizing leadership, teamwork, creative thinking, problem solving and physical endurance. The area is composed of two courses a low ropes and the high ropes course, both built in 2004. The low course consists of many events including a trust fall, swinging tires, and scaling a 12-foot wall as a team. The high course starts with either a cargo net or a swinging ladder called a centipede. From there the scouts will have to cross at least 2 more events that could include a Burma bridge, multi-vine traverse, pirates crossing, mush line and/or balance beam before reaching the 300 plus foot zip line that is a ride of a lifetime. Attendance at all five sessions of COPE (Monday through Friday) is mandatory for participants. It is a program area recommended only for those Scouts who are willing to work as effective team members. Scouts interested must be age 13 to participate. Sign-up will be first-come-first-served with an initial limit of one scout per troop with preference being given to older scouts, but more will be allowed as space permits. Scouts will be notified by Sunday at check in if either the group is too large or too small. (Must be six to twelve in a group) Another mountaintop challenge brought to you in the camp tradition. Council demands that Scouts pay their fees long before camp begins. Parents are penalized if they don't get their fees in on the time schedule that council demands. Scouts were already paying their camp fees before the 2009 program guide was even made available. Informing Scouts in a manual that was printed after Scouts were already paying their fees that there could be a chance when arriving at camp that they might not be able to participate in a promised program reflects on the poor quality of service given by our council.

- Eagle Quest Positive Staff Evaluation - Eagle Quest was very visible this year out at camp. Many times during camp I observed the Eagle Quest staff leading groups of scouts around camp identifying plants and nature. The staff made learning knots fun by playing games like knot baseball.

- The Eagle Quest staff was very friendly and accommodating to the Scouts they served. Scouts always looked like they were having fun at Eagle Quest.

- Members of the Eagle Quest staff leading their Scouts would always meet any adults on the trail with a friendly hello.

- From what I saw, Eagle Quest was an excellent program area at summer camp this year and one of the few program areas at summer camp with an adequate number of staff.

- Nature Positive Staff Evaluation - The new Environmental Resource Center is a beautiful and functional addition to our council camp. The program director for nature this year was very accommodating to the Scouts she was serving. From what I saw, Nature was a fun area for all Scouts to visit.

- The new Environmental Resource Center was used as a selling point by our council to entice troops to summer camp for several years. You can read these promises below. Council originally promised that the ERC would be in operation two years ago. It was finally opened for the 2009 summer camp season. Thought the council may have had good intentions, they should not have made promises to entice troops which they could not keep.

- *Newsletter - nov/dec 2007 Another great week of summer camp awaits your troop or crew at summer camp. Take advantage of all that our camp has to offer by coming to camp next summer. The new Ecology area will be open. It joins the new Council Fire Ring used this past summer. Remember, all programs are now centrally located to cut time needed to move from one area to another. Our camp offers the versatility your troop needs to get the most out of the merit badges and other programs offered.

- *Newsletter - may/june 2008 Construction of the Environmental Resource Center is underway and scheduled for completion October 1 of this year. Units attending camp this summer will witness daily progress at the site.

- *At a 2008 Summer Camp Leaders meeting hosted by the SE who was apologizing to the first week leaders for the problems at camp at year. SE On a positive note, the Environmental Resource Center will be open on October 15th 2008h for your troops to come out and enjoy.

- *Newsletter - sept/oct 2008 Construction of the Environmental Resource Center is underway and scheduled for completion November 15 of this year.

Scoutcraft Positive Staff Evaluation - Scoutcraft this year was a fun area for the Scouts. The area was directed by an excellent counselor. I personally knew this young man since he was a Scout. He truly fits the Eagle Scout profile. The counselor is a fine leader and works well with Scouts of all ages.

- But this counselor like most all of the other area directors lacked a sufficient staff to assist him. On Thursday, he was removed from Scoutcraft to take over the archery range when the archery director was dismissed. Council in their hiring of the archery director against the better judgment of the Council Advancement Committee caused far reaching effects at summer camp this year. Not only did the first week campers not receive the promised archery program, other first week campers at Scoutcraft had lost the leadership of this fine counselor when he was reassigned.

- Handicraft - The young handicraft director had his hands full being responsible as merit badge counselor for all 8 merit badges offered at handicraft this year. But he only actually counseled 2 of the 8 merit badges. The other 6 were counseled by underage youth instructors. The handicraft director was given some of the youngest youth instructors.

- (A leader from another troop stated at one of the camp leaders meetings that she observed how young and inexperienced the youth instructors were who were counseling the wood carving merit badge. She stated that she had t turn away from watching at times fearing that someone would be injured while carving. She also stated the need for an older, more qualified staff.)

- The youth instructor for the art merit badge instructed Scouts for ten minutes a day. The rest of class time was wasted discussing video games with other staff members. Scouts from my troop who took the art badge sat around in the hot handcraft building with nothing to do most of the time, time that could be spent at an open area if there were open areas.

- The youth instructor counseling the sculpture merit badge was just given his assignment on Monday and stated to the Scouts in his class that he knew absolutely nothing about sculpture. This youth instructor was unqualified to counsel the sculpture merit badge. As with any youth instructor counseling merit badges at our camp, he was not approved by the advancement committee yet was allowed by the camp director to counsel merit badges anyway. The policy that merit badge counselors must be at least 18 years old is not my policy, it is national policy. I am disappointed that our council leadership gave our new camp director the green light to disregard what national advancement policies he saw fit.

- From the 2009 Summer Camp Leaders guide Handicraft, Its an ideal program area for all Scouts young and old, containing lots of hands-on craftsmanship. Working on related merit badges and skills, most activities include making a project or two to take home. All Scout pottery projects exploded in the kiln as the handicraft director was unfamiliar on how to operate the equipment.

- The handcraft area director himself did not know how to run the pottery kiln. Consequently, first week Scouts who paid a fee for their clay had all of their pottery creations explode in the kiln. First week Scouts had nothing to show or take home from the pottery merit badge for their money spent on supplies. Handicraft at summer camp was unsatisfactory this year due to a lack of supplies, training and qualified staff.

- Aquatics (pool and lakefront) Positive Staff Evaluation

- I need to begin this part of my evaluation with praise for the adult staff members who were in charge of Aquatics. These young adult staff members, in charge of their respective aquatic areas, (the pool and the lake), did a very good job doing what they could to serve the Scouts. These staff members worked very hard in order to accommodate the Scouts they served. The two area directors had only one youth instructor assigned to them to assist them at their program areas. The problems that existed at Aquatics stemmed from our councils inability to hire an adequate number of camp staff to serve in the various program areas and it limited the Scouts opportunities to enjoy any aquatics in their free time.

- (An added kudos to the Pool Director. When faced with a real emergency situation at the pool, the director reacted appropriately. This was directors first experience with an emergency of such magnitude. The pool director kept his cool and was able to utilize his training to help save a Scouts life along with the other emergency health care providers who were at the scene. It was a team effort that worked well to save a Scouts life.)

From the 2009 Summer Camp Leaders guide Why Choose to Camp at our Camp? At our camp, we have made a concerted effort to continually increase and upgrade our facilities on an annual basis while providing new and improved program opportunities.

- Aquatics - No matter how hot it is, the pool and Lake are always the COOL places to be. Open swims, boating, canoeing, and sailing provide fun at any hour of the day. There are plenty of activities in the areas for first-year Scouts and Eagles alike. Any hour of the day? Absolutely not true. This was very misleading.

- From the 2009 Summer Camp Leaders guide Free swims Are opportunities for all to enjoy in the cool and refreshing pool. Opportunities were not available for all. Any Scout with a merit badge scheduled during the only open swim time did not have an opportunity to swim.

- The pool has always been one of the most popular areas at camp. Our camp has always had two back to back open swims to accommodate all Scouts, but not this year. Only one open swim was scheduled from 3:30-4:30. There were scouts this year that did not have the opportunity to go to free swim as they were scheduled for merit badges during the only open swim time. The camp absolutely needed two open swim periods to accommodate all scouts. I brought this up with the camp director during a personal meeting with him several weeks ago but the camp director would not accommodate.

- I have since found out the reason for having only one swim period after 4:30, the camp director had scheduled time for his adult area directors so they could meet with their unqualified youth merit badge counselors to evaluate their daily progress with the Scouts. In other words, because council would not to hire enough qualified 18 year old merit badge counselors to counsel the merit badges, the Scouts would have to lose out on their fun because the unqualified youth instructors had to be reviewed daily instead.

- From the 2009 Summer Camp Leaders guide Boating opportunities Our lake provides great opportunities for open and instructional boating, canoeing, and sailing. Each of the three types of watercraft has required ability levels for Scouts and adults safety. Beginners and waders-accompanied by a swimmer and swimmers can go out in rowboats. Only swimmers can be in canoes and sailboats. There was no open boating scheduled on the program None whatsoever.

- The camp director did not schedule any open lakefront activities at all, only merit badge classes. Only after a complaint was raised to the program director was it then announced at Tuesdays Senior Patrol Leader meeting that Scouts would now be allowed to come to the lakefront anytime they chose to go open boating. Unfortunately anytime quickly became sorry Scouts, you cannot go open boating today because we are working with the merit badge classes. Council did not hire an adequate number of staff to serve the Scouts. The meager lakefront staff had to spend most of their time teaching the multiple merit badge classes during all six program sessions and was unable to offer their sufficient time to supervise Scouts who just wanted to have fun taking out a boat during their free time.

- The camp director wrote in the 2009 Summer Camp Leaders Guide that camp was not a merit badge factory, but it was. The merit badge classes overwhelmed the program schedule and took precedence over any open fun time at the program areas at camp this year. Scouts had very limited opportunities to enjoy the program areas during their free time. Aquatics were no exception. The pool lacked the additional second open swim time for the first time I can remember and the lakefront had no open time scheduled whatsoever. 2009 camp aquatics was a pinnacle example of this years unacceptable rigid program schedule. But perhaps this was an example of a how the new camp directors former summer camp was typically scheduled.

- Rifle and Shotgun - Positive Staff Evaluation The gentlemen who ran the Rifle Range were some of the best staff members our camp had to offer. The leadership ability of these men was most evident. These gentlemen were both older adults who had many years of experience between them and both knew how to work with Scout age boys.

- Both of these gentlemen went out of their way to accommodate all the Scouts they served. They made their merit badge schedules flexible. If a Scout came to the rifle range and simply wanted to shoot, they were allowed regardless if it wasn't during the 3:30-4:30 open shoot time. These gentlemen did not adhere to a rigid day by day lesson plan, they were flexible. They knew what the Scouts needed and used their discretion to ensure that all Scouts received a quality Rifle program.

- If a Scout had a partial from a previous year, he was able to complete his merit badge without having to wait until a particular day of class. Scouts who finished their merit badges early were immediately given their blue cards so they could begin working on other projects. Other program areas required a Scout to participate in all five days of a merit badge class where very a rigid schedule was followed. (This was most apparent at handicraft where Scouts who were taking the art merit badge received only 10 minutes of instruction daily but had to sit in class for the rest of their hour wasting time. A Scout should have been able to earn the art merit badge in a day or two which would have given the Scout the opportunity to start another merit badge. The rigid program schedule this year at summer camp was unnecessary hindrance to a Scouts fun.)

- Here are the minimal concerns I observed at the rifle range this year: There was a newly imposed minimum age requirement this year of 12 years old for any Scout to be eligible to take the rifle merit badge.

- This camp imposed age requirement went against national advancement policy which states that: Any Scout can go for any merit badge at any time (2009 Boy Scout Requirement Book)

- Unfortunately, the minimum age of 12 years old went further. It was also the minimum age for any Scout to be allowed to shoot at all this year at the camp rifle range. This new age requirement was not written in the 2009 Summer Camp program guide. An eleven year old Scout would not know that he was not allowed to free shoot until he was asked about his age at the rifle range. *It needs to be noted that there are no such age requirements written in the current online edition, (7/23/09), of the Guide to Safe Scouting under section VIII Guns and Firearms, Boy Scout Standards. - If there are some new BSA age requirements being imposed on the Scouts coming from national, council should have the courtesy to make them known to the volunteer leaders prior to camp. But this is not the case with our council. Volunteers are left in the dark and just told there are new age requirements with no other explanation.

- Additionally, the 2009 Summer Camp program guide actually advertises an NRA award that entices an eleven year old into thinking that he can shoot at summer camp the National NRA Postal Award for the best marksman for the summer, junior division ages 11-13, and senior division, ages.

- The 12 year old age requirements was a new rule imposed by our council which hindered Scouts from receiving the promised program they paid for. The age requirement in order shoot during free time was not written in the Summer Camp leaders guide. (The only place an age requirement was listed was for being eligible to go for a merit badge. Nothing was written about age requirements for free time activities.)

- From the 2009 Summer Camp Leaders guide Shooting Sports Shooting a gun or bow can be the highlight of a Scouts week at camp. The Shooting Sports area is a great place to spend the afternoon, just remember safety is the key to an enjoyable experience. Though Shooting Sports merit badges are recommended for mature and experienced Scouts, everyone is urged to stop by and visit this popular program area. Shooting Sports could have been a great place for a Scout to spend the afternoon. But a Scout was not given this opportunity. This was a misleading enticement in the 2009 summer camp program guide.

- Rifle Range Open shooting Throughout the week, the rifle range has designated open times for rifle, and black powder muzzleloader shooting. Everyone is welcome to come and test his/her skill, just be sure to listen to the director and always keep the rifle pointed down range. On the contrary, eleven year old Boy Scouts were not welcome. As with most other program areas at summer camp, only one open shoot time was scheduled between 3:30-4:30.

- Why Choose to Camp at our camp? The summer camp experience has been proven to provide scouts with an experience that builds valuable skills, self-esteem, group socialization, and to open opportunities that cannot be offered through a troop meeting. Our camp is no exception. At our camp, we have made a concerted effort to continually increase and upgrade our facilities on an annual basis while providing new and improved program opportunities. Age limitations were a new addition to summer camp this year. Council did not improve opportunities; they diminished them for our younger Scouts.

- Our camps 1,200+ acres of land and top-notch facilities are where it begins, not where it ends. It is how we administer the program to the scouts that really counts. *We have had tremendous success with experts from various fields to assist in administering program. And our camp once again had tremendous success with the same two gentlemen working the rifle range this year as in past years. - For example, shotgun shooting clubs help with Shotgun merit badge. It is important to add that each of these volunteers donating of time helps us to keep camp cost to your scouts to a minimum while providing maximum programming. Shotgun clubs? Where were they? The volunteer members of the shotgun club were not present this year during the first week of camp.

- Shotgun Range Positive Staff Evaluation Though we had no Scouts from our troop take Shotgun this year, I had a chance to meet the Shotgun director during several meals in the dining hall. Tim, the Shotgun director told me that he was hired at the last minute. - From what I observed, the Shotgun range director did a great job with the Scouts he served. He shared something in common with the Rifle Range adults he was also an experienced older adult.

- Summer Camp Promises from the leaders and program guides of 2009

- Here are excerpts from the 2009 Summer Camp Leaders and Program guides. These are things that the Scouts were promised for their fees they paid.

- One last thing, we want to make this the best camp experience possible for all Scouts. If you have any suggestions, we will gladly listen to your ideas. It was suggested to the camp director that council should adhere to advancement policies and procedures. The camp directors response to me concerning this issue was - I dont have anymore time to discuss things with you.

- Helping Scouts Prepare for Resident Camp It is important to have the Scouts review the available merit badges at camp and plan out their schedule for the week. Review each Scouts schedule to ensure they are eligible for the merit badge and meet all the age/rank requirements. Encourage the Scouts to review the requirements and come to camp with any of the suggested prerequisites for the merit badge. The prerequisites are very vital to completing the merit badges within the week in many cases.

- It is written in the 2009 Boy Scout requirement book: -

Any Scout can go for any merit badge at any time. A Scout need not have had rank advancement to be eligible.

- When I read this, I knew that the age and rank requirements went contrary to national advancement policy. When I brought this up with the camp director, he refused to change it stating that he was in charge of the camp and that he made the rules. The camp director apparently felt that this national advancement policy was unimportant and disregarded it. This is one of many ways some of our council professionals do not cooperate with the council advancement committee.

- Merit Badges & Prerequisites We would all agree that camp is not to be a merit badge factory. Summer Camp this year was a merit badge factory this year with rigid schedules and few to no open areas scheduled for Scouts to have fun. The program schedule with its lack of open areas spoke for itself. The only time a Scout could visit an area for fun was for one hour, between 3:30 and 4:30. That was it. A Scout had to pick and choose if he was going to open shoot, open climb, open archery open anything was during this one hour time slot. There were no open areas in the morning, and the lakefront had no open boating scheduled at all. NONE!

- Scouts taking the easy badges such as Art had to sit in an hour class all five days. With so few requirements, the youth instructor would counsel the Scouts for 10 minutes and then the Scouts had to sit for the remainder of the session while the staff talked about video games. In years past, a Scout could earn Art within a few days and then have time to start another merit badge. This year was not the case as the schedule was so rigid.

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The thing I have noticed is that Summer Camp means Merit Badge Factory, where if you pay for 5 badges you will earn 5 so that the parents don't complain to Council. Then we have kids who can't cook or tie a knot.


In 2006 three of my boys took the camping badge, they were new to Scouting and had only camped a total of 3 days before summer camp. At the end of the week the report said that they had earned the badge. When I asked the director he said it was "Standard Policy" because they showed up every day.


The local camp I'm with does this and last year we went out of Council and it was even worse. This other camp signed off everyone for Personal Fitness who took it, even a Scout who just joined the Troop.


The lack of these skills being taught correctly manifests it self when the boy has to plan his Eagle project and can't.



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I've written long missives like this more than once in my life, on an array of subjects.


Do not be surprised if it doesn't work. It looks like a mammoth elephant, and it's impossible to swallow.


Most people do not know the adage "Eat the elephant ... one bite at a time."


Better to focus on 1 showstopper issue and highlight it, and have several concrete good ideas to fix it.

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Abel, I would attempt to address the summer camp program from a sales approach, not an advancement approach. If 25% of your troops attend your local camp (75% ain't buying the product) then the Camping Comm, a board member as Chair, should address the problem. Does your Camp Comm. talk to the customers (scout troop leadership)? If the council's camp and board leadership don't pay attention then you might have a problem that is solved by going elsewhere. I would guess that the council staff isn't large enough to have a Director of Camping or Program if the camp director has such influence. If the camp director gets to make policy then it seems your Scout Exec. isn't paying attention or does not care that so many of their customers don't buy their product. Have you approached the council pres. and camping chairman? I would approach the problem of troops not attending your camp, advancement is only a part of the camp program. I would skip many of the advancement issues you highlighted. John in KC is right about not trying to shove so many problems, like cost of bow strings, at the camping comm. Not serving 75% of the troops is the major issue. Address that and I think all the other issues would eventually be solved. KC and St. Louis both serve about 75% of their scouts in their camps so your problem is sort of outside of our experience. Good luck and try to solve the biggest problem, attendance,first.

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The issue of underage, unqualified counselors is a very important one. Unfortunately, I'd wager most council camps simply ignore it. It would simply cost far too much to hire the sheer volume of 18+ counselors needed to run the camp. As a practical matter, you're not going to get any traction there.

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The Council Camping Promotion committee has the cog on this, not Advancement. Not attending your own council camp is common...but do you have out-of-council troops coming to your camp? Bottom line is "butts in cots"...and most camps charge a premium for OOC troops. I agree with the others...your bill of complaints is huge...keep it to one page and it will more likely be read. As I have learned over the past 30 some years...unit volunteers have no vote at District/Council Board meetings. Your CORs need to attend and voice their unit's complaints, because they are the only ones who have a vote. Boys and leaders can only vote with their feet...and checkbooks.


PS: I thought MBC had to be 21.(This message has been edited by scoutldr)

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Im glad to hear that I am not alone. Seems that there are other low quality summer camps out there besides mine. Let me be frank the paid staffers have taken over at my council. Council committees have little say anymore.


This was the first time I had a young paid staffer tell me that the council advancement committee was just an outside group with no jurisdiction. The arrogance was quite insulting. What brought this on was the camp director was going to hire the archery director from the previous year. Unfortunately the archery director proved to be unqualified to be an archery merit badge counselor and our committee would not approve him as a counselor. The camp director told me that he would let him counsel anyway regardless of any decision by the council advancement committee. He informed me that he was running the camp and the advancement committee had no say.


The most troubling thing to me is that our camp charges additional fees for merit badges. But council is usually unprepared to deliver the product for the fees. In essence, the kids are getting ripped off and the council makes a profit.


There is an $8.00 fee for the cooking merit badge to cover the cost of the food the Scouts would cook. I questioned why the additional fee? The Scouts had already paid for their meals at the dining hall. The Scouts would not be partaking of those meals at the dining hall but instead would be preparing their meals at the cooking merit badge class. Then the real kicker; instead of providing the Scouts with the necessary food to cook their required meals for the merit badge, council forgot to get the food. Instead, a small amount of pancake batter was given so each Scout could make a single pancake. For 8 dollars, the Scout received credit for cooking ALL his meals for the merit badge by cooking the single most expensive pancake in the whole world.


Additional $6.00 fees are charged at archery to cover supply costs for each Scout to make his individual bowstring and arrow. But instead, the youth counselor makes one bowstring and one arrow and the whole merit badge class receives credit for the merit badge. The kids come home empty handed for their $6.00 fee. Sorry kids, no arrow or bowstring for you, but thanks for the $6 bucks.


Before anyone else comments yes, the council camping committee has been made aware. Yes, the director of support service and the SE have been informed. But there is never any action to resolve the problems at camp. I decided to hit them with my evaulation this year. Those who received it were the advancement committee (which I am a member), the camping committee, the SE and others. I will share later the response I received for this evaluation.


Like I said; most troops in my council have long since abandoned the council camp to go elsewhere. My troop has held on as one of the last troops from the council to still camp at the council camp. But after the terrible experience this year with the new camp director, we have decided the join the ranks of the other abandoners and vote with our feet. It is not fair to our Scouts or their families to continue going to a camp where the council does little to improve the program and continues to short change the Scouts for the fees they pay. It is my opinion that our council is false advertising by making promises they do not make good on. It's tough holding on to a Troop's membership when Scouts quit because their parents believe they did not get their money's worth at summer camp. Besides, most of the members of the camping committee and advancement committee who are still involved on the Troop level no longer use the council camp. Why should they care?




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To scoutldr:


Thanks for your comments. Yes, we have OOC troops coming to our camp. A neighboring council next to ours just lost their summer camp due to an EPA problem so many have started to come over to our council camp. They have even brought their own traditions to our council camp and have been successful to completely disregard any of our council traditions. The new camp director is has been transferred from that council.

We do see the writing on the wall as some believe a council merger is in the works.


Still even with the added out of council attendance, our council camp only has 4 weeks of summer camp, and the camp is only filled to half of capacity. The other two neighboring council camps have 7 weeks of camp and are filled to capacity by November! It is these two other OOC camps where 75% of our council troops attend. Even the Venture Vice President of our council the troop where his son is active goes OOC to one of the superior summer camps. And this Vice President was involved in trying to improve our council summer camp. I told him he could start by having his own troop camp there.


By the way, I am a COR and I have been voicing my concerns for years.


And finally, a merit badge counselor Page 13 of the Advancement Committee Guidebook - Merit badge counselors must be registered with the Boy Scouts of America. They must be 18 years old or older and recognized as having the skills and education in the subjects for which they are to serve as merit badge counselors.


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Abel, COR's vote on council officers and some other duties but don't think for a minute that they can rise up, vote and change your camp situation. Don't mean to denigrate the VP of Venturing but: spend your efforts with the council pres and camping chairman. Evidently butts in the cot (love that expression) isn't part of your scout executive and program director's critical achievements or whatever they now call the review process. I'm on the camping comm. of a major metro council (means big)and was a DE and camp director. If our camps only had 25% attendance the board would go crazy and so would the never ending procession of Directors of Camping and Scout Execs till the situation got fixed. Fix the attendance problem - that's the issue. Talk to the guys who can make a difference, call them direct and if they don't care you're sunk. Don't burden them with all the advancement issues and I would lead a delegation of experienced scouters that those board guys know and respect - do some research on their spheres of influence in the community.

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To belayer_StLouis: Thanks for your response.

To answer some of your inquiries

Does your Camp Comm. talk to the customers (scout troop leadership)?

No. As with most of our council committees, many of the members themselves no longer use the council camp for summer camp with their troops. The first new thing the camping committee has done was to make a youtube video of advertising the camp. But as for talking to the customers (the scout troop leadership) the answer is No.

In fact this year our district committee does not have a camping chair. The previous district camping chair was not even involved in a troop within the district boundaries. He was simply a friend of the DC and did nothing during his tenure.

I would guess that the council staff isn't large enough to have a Director of Camping or Program if the camp director has such influence. If the camp director gets to make policy then it seems your Scout Exec. isn't paying attention or does not care that so many of their customers don't buy their product.

I am also part of a large urban council. We have a large council staff. And we have a new director of camping who feels he is in charge. One of his remarks made to me was what do your scouts expect for a measly $225? The new camping director has the complete support of the director of field service who oversees him.

My councils membership has purportedly grown so much (per the annual reports) that our council grew from 5 to 9 districts over the past 6 years. Additional paid staff had to be hired to handle all the additional membership. According to annual report figures, our Boy Scout membership has grown to where all 133 troops should each average 35 scouts!

Only 33 of our council troops still summer camp at the council camp. After this years experience, there will be less next year.

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At our camp, some MB also carry extra fees...shotgun, archery and basketry come to mind...maybe Indian Lore too, but that's about it. Everything else is included in the camp fees. Except for shotgun shells, all MB supplies are sold at the trading post and each scout is expected to purchase his own arrow and bowstring, which he then assembles in class and takes home with him. If scouts came home without the articles they purchased, I would have some irate parents calling the SE. I was in a similar situation, serving as the District Camping Chair when my own troop voted to go OOC after 15 years of "supporting" our home camp. I had mixed emotions, as it was my childhood camp that I had been attending since 1966. But the program and facilities had become "stale" and after 3-4 years, the boys wanted different scenery, and it turned out to be a good thing. The vast majority of troops in my council rotate summer camps...there are at least 10 to choose from within a 4-6 hr drive, and they come back to ours every 4th year or so. I finally resigned the District position when the SE came in to a meeting and read us the riot act and threatened to close the camp. I'm a volunteer, and don't take that crap from someone whose salary I help to pay.


Bottom line...I wouldn't lose any more sleep over it...it's clear your camp is out of control and those who can stop it don't care. Your boys are only with you 3-4 years each...they deserve the best program you can provide them.

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To belayer_StLouis


I am in error. I got the title wrong. The camp director reports to our director of support service in our council.


We had 33 of our council troops out of 133 at our council summer camp this year along with 27 out of council troops.


Pitiful joke, yes. Quite frankly, it is time to move on to another council camp. And sadly, I have wasted my time serving on the council advancement committee.


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Some councils just shouldn't be in the business of running a camp. Sounds like yours may be one of them. Depending on facilities, resources, staff, volunteers and competition, some camps aren't going to survive. There is a school of thought that some of these camps should be allowed to go away.


The one route you may try is contacting your regional office and finding out who the Area Camping Chairman is. His/her committee is responsible for conducting the resident camp accreditation visitation (that's PC-speak for camp inspection). Several of those issues will be reflected in the national resident camp standards.


On the other hand, after 10 years of butting your head against that wall, maybe it's time to move on?

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are the camp grounds used for anything besides the 4 weeks of summer camp? Do the Arrowmen do anything to improve the camp?

Letting the camp fall apart may be on purpose if your council really wants to sell it to developers "See, no one comes here, so why do we need it?" Money has to come from somewhere for all those paid staffers!

Minimum age for MBC is 18. However, camp merit badge classes may be taught by anyone super well qualified -- even if 14 -- although not younger than 16 is prefered. MBC still needs to do the actual sign-off.

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