Jump to content

Frustrated/Upset with Council RE: Food @ Camp

Recommended Posts

Ditto, same problem here for cub scout camp. Taking Webelos who get their first experience cooking in dutch ovens at their campsites for 3 dinners. Simple cooking as I remember from visiting the older boy when at the same level. 3 different requests to get the menus so we could easily sub ingredients for boy who is dairy / egg allergic. (Mother perfectly capable of giving us a corn bread mix for top of chili, or cake mix for top of cobbler, substitution for cream of chicken soup for the chicken pot pie, etc....)


Really, I thought this was a reasonable request.


Had the parent meeting last night and informed the group of the lack of response from council. Kiddo will have to take his own groceries. This of course, looses the nice "we cooked it all together" dynamic.


FYI, We are geographically remote and can not change camps next year. We are cub parents and learning as we go, our dutch oven skills are low and little time to practice up.


Then council wonders why FOS appeals are low....





Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 73
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Hopefully you're simply not in touch with the right people yet. The key to good service is to find a way to say 'yes'.


Troops choose to cook in their camp sites for various reasons - special treat, learning, advancement, whatever. I also know of scouts who have been to different summer camps and managed to work out food allergies, even maintaining faith-based dietary rules without a problem.


In the case as you have described, I would take a cooler and a camp stove and do what you need to do.

Link to post
Share on other sites

We're leaving Sunday for a patrol-oriented camp (patrol cooking AND patrol-oriented program -- this is most definitely not a merit badge mill type of camp). We'll have one vegetarian and one with a potentially fatal dairy and egg allergy (luckily, nobody with a gluten allergy). Next year we may have one with a potentially fatal peanut allergy.


The vegetarian is content with getting by however he can. But when something is good (last year, it was egg salad in the dining hall, of all things!) -- he wolfs it down. The dairy/egg guy eats bagels and bacon. I'm anticipating having trouble of getting enough bacon for him out of the commissary. I'll meet the commissary agent for the first time on Sunday.



Link to post
Share on other sites

I am an abject failure at getting or keeping a campfire going. So when the boys are off working on their merit badges, I'm going to be spending the entire day burning my fingers on boxes and boxes of matches trying to get the fire lit so I can cook dinner.


That's a Keeper!

Link to post
Share on other sites

National Jamboree does not accommodate special dietary needs. Kosher and vegan, yes, but everyone else they can eat PBJ for the week. Unfortunately peants, strawberries (etc.), butter, and gluten are some of the worst allergens. Could they bring their own food? Nope, only Jambo food allowed.


Yes, there are boys that wanted to attend National Jambo and couldn't because of dietary restrictions.


Unfortunately it ultimately comes down to taking care of yourself, camps won't do it for or even with you in some circumstances.



Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the posts... here's where I am now...


... I'd love to talk to the Camp Ranger, but the council refuses to give me his contact information or even his name. All they will do is forward a message and let me hope he gets back to me. I have a feeling that talking to the Scout Executive this late in the game is going to be nigh on impossible.


... The ASM who was supposed to follow up with this is friends with the camp ranger who was there last year... but (1) last time I asked he wasn't sure if he was still the camp ranger this year, and (2) he dropped the ball (albeit due to a family emergency) and didn't follow up. He was confident that he could get anything he asked for because, and I quote, "He LOVES our troop and wishes we'd come to his camp every year." Me, on the other hand, I'm just a mom who councils merit badges and drives Scouts around. Nobody in the Council knows me, although my leadership of the Railroading trip last year has earned a reputation apparently... and I managed to accommodate every single dietary need in the Troop with no additional expense or hassle to anybody. Granted, that was under 25 people (kids and adults combined), but we had a higher percentage of various dietary needs because several of our adults have food allergies/problems too & they were all on the trip.


... I'm hoping next year won't be so much of an issue because I think I'm bowing out of the troop and doing advising for the Venturing Crew my older son is starting up... (if only they can find a CO). I don't even know whether they'll be doing summer camp since I'm not aware of any area Scout camps that accept co-ed venturing crews. Their current plan is to mainly camp at a different national park every summer. And when the kids cook for themselves, the problem disappears entirely. BUT... I'm with Lisabob in that I really feel the Council is being rotten by dismissing our request entirely and not offering any viable alternative other than "let the kid starve or eat cardboard all week."


... I haven't heard from my son yet today. I hope they're stateside by now but I'll try calling his youth pastor's cel again soon. I think I've come up with a plan (as posted earlier) that will at least make sure he gets the basic things he needs for the week even though it will be a horribly boring meal plan and he may never eat Pad Thai again after this... but I'm feeling really rotten about the reality that I probably just can't go. I promised the kids (not just mine, but my whole car full of boys I was driving home last year) a year ago that I'd go to camp this year and help out, because frankly the other adult leaders in our troop have a way of making things totally NOT FUN and I'm not afraid to pull them aside and tell them to lay off. But a year ago I didn't know I was going to be 7 months pregnant and LOSING weight and have to be so incredibly anal about meeting my own nutritional needs on a daily basis.


... I do understand the objection to RVs in camp, it's just that every other accommodation is even more complicated. It was the one solution I could think of that would not separate the kids from their troop during meal times (I could bring the specially prepared meals right to the table at serving time) and fully meet all of our nutritional needs for the week without the camp staff ever having to look at us. And if that's not acceptable, fine, but yesterday was not the day to tell me so... and then not leave me any phone number where I can reach anybody, and the email the food services guy left on my voicemail bounced, and I'm left in the lurch.


So, when I hear from my son we will decide whether he wants to go to camp anyway with a box of food I can put together for him and he can eat the same meal every day for a week by using the camp microwave, OR... he won't want to go and I will turn over the quest of getting a refund onto my husband because I'm just too hormonal and will probably start bawling if I deal with it. And that's just freaking embarrassing.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Liz - Call your Council offices NOW!


Not calling, and just assuming that you will not be able to talk to anyone, or get anywhere with this, is guaranteeing that outcome. I would have been on the phone at 9AM.




Stosh - According to the National web site for the 2010 Jambo, you are NOT restricted to ONLY Jambo food. Scouts with severe food allergies CAN bring in their own food.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I did call. Only option is to forward a message, which has been done. I will call again, though, since I haven't heard back.

(Update. Called again. Left another voicemail. Hah. Also realized son won't be stateside until tomorrow morning so I can't talk to him until then).(This message has been edited by liz)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to admit being a little skeptical of some of the things in this thread. A council that won't tell you the name of its camp ranger? A nonworking number for the food service director? Pshaw. In my council, the camp's phone number is listed on multiple pages of the leader's guide, which is signed by the camp director.


But Cascade Pacific apparently has some really weird thing about privacy. The leader's guides don't include the camp director's name, nor the phone number of the camps. Questions are directed to the council service center, and to the state troopers in an extreme after-hours emergency (troopers can then contact the camp).


This seems totally wacko to me. But is it usual practice for other areas?

Link to post
Share on other sites

But to be fair, it's a non-working *email* for the food services director. When he calls me, the caller ID is blocked. He won't give me his number and neither will the council. I asked.

Link to post
Share on other sites

OK you're leaving on Sunday and it is a holiday weekend. By this point on Friday night, getting the SE on the phone is probably not going to happen until Monday. Or Tuesday. Time to plan so that you know you have food to eat, and worry about sorting out what "should have" happened, later.


2 Questions:

1. Does the troop need you to go to camp so that they have enough adult leaders?

2. Do you really think you're going to get a refund if you bow out now? How much will you care, if you don't get that refund?



If the troop needs you and/or you would be really upset if you didn't get that refund, call the SM TONIGHT - RIGHT NOW. Tell him you have tried to work this out to no avail. Explain to him that you will be going, but because of the above lack of Camp response, you will be bringing a cooler and a cook stove, regardless of what you've already posted about that. This is just how it is going to be. You're doing him a courtesy by letting him know, is all. I doubt it will be an issue because camp staff just don't pay that close attention to what's happening in troop campsites.


Ask for his help in making sure that the boys in question get reasonable meals while at camp. Ask HIM to call the family of the other boy and talk to that other boy to clarify that there's no stigma attached to eating somewhat different food. This is part of his role as SM, counseling and mentoring young men. That boy may be more willing to listen to the SM than you (sorry, mom, but that seems to be the case with teenage boys!)


Then step back. Let your son go to camp and have fun. Pack whatever extra food you and he decide he needs, but I notice that he has handled himself for a week in Mexico, and he can probably handle himself for another week at scout camp just fine, too. Speaking as one mom to another, Scout camp is not a good place to go heavy on mothering. Unless he's becoming ill, let him bear the responsibility for managing his own diet at camp (with appropriate resources - acceptable food choices - in place for him to draw from).


As for doing the cooking - sure ok, the camp program runs right up to meal time. If we're talking merit badge classes, then maybe one or both of the boys in question can choose to take the last block of time right before dinner off. Just because merit badge classes are scheduled for every waking moment doesn't mean they need to attend. Then they can help with the cooking in the camp site. They're late teens of fairly advanced rank from your descriptions - I bet they can cook their own food just fine. They can get up a little early to cook breakfast, and keep lunch simple, and they'll be ok. Although you're going to camp too, you should NOT expect to do all of these things for them. Help, sure, but don't make it your project. Focus on cooking your own food.


Good luck! I hope everybody does ok and you all have fun.




PS - Stosh, one of the boys we made special dietary arrangements for at scout camp a couple of years ago is also going to jambo in a couple weeks. My recollection is that this kid could eat practically nothing off-the-shelf. Gluten, dairy, nuts, eggs, some fruits, etc. were ALL problems. Either his condition has improved considerably in the last two years, or he has somehow figured out ways to accommodate his dietary needs while at jambo.










Link to post
Share on other sites

Finally got a response from someone...


This is the response, along with my comments WHICH I HAVE NOT SENT YET marked off by *****. I probably need to cool my heels a bit before I send anything. Input is appreciated.


I have omitted the name of the other scout who isn't my son, just because, well, he's not my son.


On Jul 2, 2010, at 4:06 PM, Akin Blitz wrote:





Dear Ms. Price,


Matt Devore, our Scout Executive, very much regrets his inability to communicate with you personally. He and the other key Council directors are on site at various camping properties this week. I was asked a short while ago to communicate our findings to you.


Your recent communications with the Council and requests for ADA accommodation at Camp have been examined thoroughly, along with offers of accommodation that have been made and what is possible at Camp Pioneer, a High Cascades camp on the boundary of a National Wilderness Area. We have focused on what is possible and reasonable in this circumstance. In light of the totality of circumstances, we are unable to meet the collective needs of you and the two Scouts, and will therefore refund the Summer Camp fees.


Unfortunately, at the time your Troop registered for camp, the Council was given no indication whatever that any of the Scouts in the Troop had any special needs. The circumstances of concern to you did not come to the Council's attention until very recently. At registration another Scout with severe physical needs made those known. Long ago, in order to accommodate him, we committed for the week your Troop will be at camp the only location where a small mobile home/camper can be situated. That Scout will have critical need to an RV in the only space available for this purpose. Again, we made that decision for accommodation as a result of information and a request at the time of registration. There is nowhere to accommodate your 21 foot RV. As you know, this camp facility has very limited space for food storage and the preparation you require to completely meet the dietary needs and restrictions of the three of you.


****** It is not true that your council was made aware of this only recently. The accommodation requests where submitted during the timeframe requested in the Leader Guide, which was back in May. Your office misplaced them, and it was only at my insistence to the person I talked to on Wednesday that she keep looking that she finally found them filed, as she said, "in the wrong place."



Ms. Price, had your requests been made at or about the time of registration so that the Council had time to staff the needs of the two troops desiring special needs accommodation in order to come to Pioneer, perhaps a number of alternatives not available at this late time could have been identified, including a different week for your Troop. I understand that this afternoon, you have for the first time, claimed that others are to blame and that forms and notifications were timely filed and lost by the Council. It may be that someone it your Troop did not pass them on to the Council. We have no way of getting to the bottom of assessing blame, and even if we could do so, that would not change the circumstance or the necessity of the decision I write to convey.


**** If the ASM in charge of camping at my troop had not filed the paperwork, the lady in your office would not have located them when I called her on Wednesday. So your argument is obviously incorrect.



We regret this decision. We strongly believe that every Scout should have a Summer Camp experience, and we are truly sorry that we did not work together more effectively to make that happen for _______ and Zach this year at Camp Pioneer. We hope that in the future, advance planning and early and clear communication will allow us to better serve the boys' needs.


**** I understand that the space for the RV is not available, but your Council needed to contact me to make other arrangements, not lose the paperwork. When I talked to Aaron the other day, who by the way has not responded to me since then except to tell me that all requests for accommodation had been declined and leave me a non-working email address to respond to, I also asked about being able to cook in the kitchen. I was perfectly willing to try to work with you on alternative solution. I even have a current Food Handler's card from the State of Oregon so legal regulations allowing me in the kitchen should not be an issue. But that request was denied as well. I have tried and tried to reach someone on the phone to see if anything else can be worked out, but to no avail.


**** ______ is the SPL and will be coming to camp anyway, even though he will not be able to eat much. Zach is on his way home from Mexico and should cross the border tomorrow morning, at which point I will try to contact him and find out what he wishes to do. I appreciate your willingness to refund our camp fees, and I will let you know whether Zach will be taking you up on that offer or not.



Sincerely yours,




C. Akin Blitz

CPC BSA Executive Board

At the request of the Scout Executive


Office: 503.248.1134

Fax: 503.224.8851


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lisabob --


Thanks for your sensible suggestions. You're completely right that the kids are able to cook for themselves, if allowed the opportunity to do so. I already know the other boy won't. There's nothing I can do about that. I can suggest all I want to that the SM talk to him about it, but unfortunately the dynamics of our troop aren't the healthiest anyway (in my humble opinion) and I'd be downright shocked if it did any good. So he'll just have to fend for himself. I won't be his Mommy and tell him how to do it, although I'd be happy to offer him guidance if he needs or wants it.


Zach is entirely capable of cooking for himself and I will give him the option as for what to do. After the letter I got from the Council, it looks like he may not even be allowed to use the microwave, so if he wants to go I'll send the camp stove with him. As far as his trip to Mexico goes, Unlike the Council, his youth group was very accommodating with the kids' many special diets. They had... let's see... 3 dairy-allergic (only), 3 vegetarians, one with a severe nut allergy requiring that no tree nuts be present on the trip (thankfully although that kid can't eat peanuts, he is allowed to at least be in the same room with them), and two gluten & dairy sensitive people including my son and one of the adult leaders. And yet somehow they managed to come up with a menu that would work for everyone, with appropriate substitutions available. And when I bought some special food to send for Zach, they asked me for the receipts so I could be (partially) reimbursed. -- since food is supposed to be included in the cost of the trip. Though in no way would I have ever presumed to ask for any reimbursement.


I will see how he's feeling when I talk to him, but he will be allowed to make up his own mind. He turns 15 next week so he's more than old enough to decide for himself what to do. I don't know how well his stomach is doing, but I know in the letter he sent to me just before they crossed the border into Mexico he mentioned that he asked a waitress at TGI Friday's to double-check on ingredients (she had told him that there "shouldn't be" milk or gluten in the BBQ sauce) and it turned out that both were in it, so he was pretty disappointed. Not sure whether he was able to find something else on the menu, but I digress... the point is, if his stomach is torn up from the Mexico trip, he may be happy to get his camp fees refunded and just come home to recover.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow. Liz, I'm sorry to hear that the council lawyer acted like...a lawyer. It's clear to me he's engaging in classic CYA based on how he framed things. One other thought - if your son decides that he will take the council refund then maybe he can attend some other BSA camp later in the summer as a provisional scout. That is, if he's so inclined. Most camps seem very willing to work with scouts to ensure dietary needs are properly met.


(typos, ugh)(This message has been edited by lisabob)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...