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Abel Magwitch

Summer Camp Woes

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Shortridge - Council has yet to post the actual attendance numbers. What council did post were the numbers of units that used the camp per week.

 

The camp offers 17 sites and 4 cabins for summer camp use. Thats 84 sites over 4 weeks. Two troops formed a provisional unit and shared a site during one of the weeks.

 

 

First week 17 troops

Second week 14 troops

Third week 13 troops

Forth week 16 troops

 

Total of 60 troops. 33 from council, 27 from ooc.

 

At the pool, the aquatics director required all members of the BSA lifeguard class to be at the pool and the lake all day.

(This message has been edited by abel magwitch)

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it looks like half the troops attending were ooc. if camp woebegone is so bad, why did so many ooc units attend? were any of these ouside councils represented all four weeks? Reason I ask is that word would have spread from week one, and no one would show by week four

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Boomer, the OOC troops just lost their summer camp two years ago due to an EPA issue. That particular council no longer has a summer camp at all. But it just happens that our council camp is located within the other council's geographical boundaries. The merger is a coming boomer.

 

Prior to two years ago, we had as few as 40 units using the council camp for summer camp. During one recent year, there were only 5 troops in camp during the 4th of July week.

 

The problem is council is supplying the same number of staff members as they did back in 2006. They did not hire anymore to handle the new additional attendance brought in from the other council. It has been asked if the other council was sharing in the funding of our council camp. The questions were quickly evaded.

 

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Here is a follow up on my councils summer camp woes:

 

A meeting was held in September with some members of the advancement committee and the director of program service to address the advancement problems at summer camp. The professional informed those members attending on how things are done in our council and then brought up some unknown established council policies concerning how advancement would be done at summer camp in the council. I was just informed of the results of this meeting two weeks ago.

 

Prior to this meeting, another advancement committee member, concerned with the merit badge counselors at summer camp, realized that council had not registered any of the summer camp merit badge counselors as a code 42. The committee member implied that the merit badges earned at summer camp were actually invalid as none were signed off by a registered merit badge counselor. This was one of the issues discussed at the September meeting. One of the district advancement chairs who attended the meeting emailed me to explain the director of program services unknown policy concerning summer camp MB counselors. Here is what that district chair wrote: he [the director of support service] indicated that the counselors were not registered as such but asserted that the hiring process went farther into background and experience verification than the typical MBC candidate would see in the districts. Allowing that, he indicated the counselors were not registered as code 42 because in Council's view they were only approved for the summer camp session. That begs the question of registering them and then deleting them after summer camp, or for that matter just leaving them on the roster. It's fairly clear they will not be added to the code 42 roster.

 

It appears that the director of program service may have simply made up this unknown policy to justify the councils non adherence to what is written on page 34 of the Advancement book: The procedures for advancement in summer camp are established by the council advancement committee in cooperation with the committee responsible for summer camp, the camp director, and the program director. These procedures must be approved by the council advancement committee prior to the opening of camp.

 

Summer camp merit badge counselors must be qualified as merit badge counselors (**see page 13.)

 

**Page 13 - Merit badge counselors must be registered with the Boy Scouts of America. The 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.

**Page 14 Merit badge counselors (Code 42) are registered with the local council. As with all council members, their registration must be renewed annually.

 

Unfortunately, this unknown council policy was ever explained to any of the now former summer camp merit badge counselors when they were first hired as some of these now former summer camp merit badge counselors are still counseling merit badges long after the end of summer camp. Little do they know that they were only approved to be merit badge counselor for just the 4 weeks of summer camp. But since our council has its own advancement policies instead of what is already written, council has inadvertently created a new conundrum any merit badge a Scout has earned working with a former summer merit badge counselor after summer camp should be considered invalid. This is one example of how additional problems occur when liberties are taken to disregard national advancement policies and procedures. Also, the assertion by the professional that their process of hiring goes farther into the experience backgrounds of the MBC candidates than what is typically done at the district level is in my opinion, absurd. How would this professional know what is done at the district level? As far as I know, he has never discussed with any district advancement chair their merit badge counselor approval process.

 

The camp director was informed prior to hiring his summer camp staff that his merit badge counselors would have to be approved by the council advancement committee. It was requested of the camp director to have his hired merit badge counselors fill out a standard MB counselor application listing a candidates credentials. It was also requested that the hired merit badge staff come to the May advancement meeting to be trained and approved by the council advancement committee. Of course, these things never happened, and the few MB counselor applications that were received were incomplete no credentials were written. The qualifications that some of the hired summer camp staff lacked was most evident at summer camp where the rubber met the road.

 

Concerning the use of 15 year olds actually counseling merit badges on their own without the any direct supervision by the area director, (the area directors were busy counseling their own merit badges), the director of program service had this to say about 15 year old merit badge counselors at summer camp: It was agreed upon by those members of the advancement committee attending and the director of support service that 15 year old merit badge counselors should in the future at least have earned the merit badges offered in the program area to which they were assigned. So in other words, our council professionals will still use 15 years olds to counsel merit badges at summer camp, but at least next year the youth MB counselor has to at least have earned the merit badges he will be counseling. That will be the only qualification required by our council for a youth to counsel a merit badge. Again, the national policy of a merit badge counselor being at least 18 years old will not be followed. On a side note, the advancement committee is not allowed to interview or train any of the 15 year old instructors. The camp director will not allow it. Additionally, 15 year olds do not attend national camp school as they are too young to actually be a merit badge counselor.

 

As for adding age and rank requirements to merit badges at summer camp, the director of program service stated that they were not actually requirements, but simply a method to manage risk and scheduling. It was agreed that it was "strongly" written and will be modified in future years. Again, our professional staff has disregarded what has been written nationally and chose to instead make its own policies and then had the impudence to state that their requirements werent really requirements. A good analogy of this would be like telling Scouts that they wont get wet if they jump into the water in the pool. As for requiring Scouts to have earned certain ranks in order to go for a summer camp merit badge, nothing that I know of was addressed.

 

Even though I was a member of our council advancement committee I was not allowed to attend this meeting. It was the director of program service who insisted on this as he told the council advancement chairman that he would not meet with the advancement committee to discuss summer camp if I were present.

 

According to the council advancement chairman - after this meeting, the director of support service discussed with him that our council advancement committee would no longer allow members at large; only district advancement chairs would be allowed to reside on the committee. So I have been conveniently dismissed from the council advancement committee by this new council specific policy made by the professional.

 

I feel that I have truly wasted my time and efforts through many years trying to ensure that our council adheres to the national advancement policies and procedures which supposedly no council, district, unit or individual has the authority to add to or subtract from. It has become apparent in my council that it is the professional who is in charge and they alone decide which advancement policies and procedures our council will follow while adding their own policies and procedures to suit their needs when national advancement policies are to be overlooked. I should have seen the writing on the wall when our new council camp director told me prior to summer camp this year the advancement committee is just an outside group with no jurisdiction. I'm in charge of the camp and I make the rules.

 

In the end it is the Scouts who ultimately lose out on a quality advancement experience.

 

I have suggested to the national advancement task force that should publish a special edition of the advancement policy book specifically for our council that would again include the word guidelines in the title as well as an additional side bar on page 3 right next the last paragraph that would read: the professional staff of the council has the authority to interpret and supersede any policy and procedure within the book it so chooses.

 

Unfortunately, the lack of council troops who attend the council camp speaks volumes about the lack of quality of our councils summer camp program. My own Troop after three decades of supporting our council camp has decided to also vote with our feet and will be joining the majority of our council troops who have long abandoned our council camp.

 

Abel

 

(This message has been edited by abel magwitch)

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Abel,

 

Just one observation...

 

"Additionally, 15 year olds do not attend national camp school as they are too young to actually be a merit badge counselor."

 

NCS is not for merit badge counselors, so even an 18-year-old instructor wouldn't attend. NCS is for area directors and camp management staff, who then come back and train their instructors and subordinates.

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Shortridge, you are correct. Apparently your council is doing things right concerning its summer camp.

 

Bottom line - youth instructors can assist the MB counselor but not actually counsel merit badges. This national policy is in no way followed in my council.

 

In our council, the area directors are the merit badge counselors for every badge in their area. Our council professional staff dictates to the advancement committee that NCS is all the area director needs to be qualified as a MB counselor for all the MBs in his area. Our council is not willing to let the council advancement committee do their job. The council gives a list of area directors who will be the sole MB counselors at summer camp to the advancement chair. Council then demands that the council advancement chair to simply sign off on the area directors as MB counselors so council can pass their summer camp inspection.

 

The problems began when the Advancement Policies and Procedures book was actually read and the advancement committee tried to actually implement the policies and procedures written in the book. The professional staff in the council did not like a volunteer committee telling them how things were supposed to be done. Council only wanted a figure head advancement committee so they could do things their way.

 

Again, the area directors were not able to manage the instructors in their area they had their own merit badges to counsel and had no time what so ever to oversee their youth instructors who were counseling the majority of the camp merit badges. The area directors job at the end of the week was to simply sign off all the blue cards at the end of the week without ever actually working with the Scouts let alone ever having the chance to even oversee a single class that the 15 year olds were counseling.

 

A 15 year old was simply put into a position to counsel a merit badge even if he had no real idea what he was doing. 15 year olds are cheap. There were less than a dozen adults on our program staff this past year.

 

What has happened at my council's summer camp over the years has been nothing but a mockery of Scouting.

 

Abel

(This message has been edited by abel magwitch)(This message has been edited by abel magwitch)

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All you can do is do your best(sound familiar). Conditions exist like this due to top management, not the camp director. The executive board is ulitimately responsible for the running of the camp. If you are advancement chair you have done your job by making the recomendations.

As far as the targets go sounds to me like someone bought a bunch of the wrong ones by accident. An issue like that I would take care of as an inkind donation with my FOS contribution.

 

As a troop leader whenever a camp councelor is lacking ie not making the boy start fires for wilderness survival we make them do the requirements in the campsite.

Our council advancement chair had a few run-ins about qualified merit badge counselors. He is no longer council advancement chair.

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