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Summer Camp lessons learned - 2012

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The following are a few of the things that we did differently this year that were really good improvements.


- Parent talk - Every year as we gather to drive to summer camp, the SPL and SM talk to the scouts about a few subjects. This year during the scout talk, we took the parents about 150 feet away and had a parent talk. I'll probably forget part of it, but a few of the key points were...

---- Parents are welcome to camp with us and to observe any part of camp. No secrets. Just let us know their plans.

---- BUT we want the scouts to socialize with scouts and to work with scouts.

---- We asked that parents allow their scouts independence as that is a key part of being a scout.

---- We explained the role of the PL and SPL.

---- Further we asked that "adult" instruction, guidance and direction to be kept to the assigned SM and his two ASMs. We provided their names and pointed them out.

---- We also pointed out that of course if a matter of significant safety was involved, they are welcome to take immediate action.

---- If not an imminent safety issue, then all corrective actions / directions was to be thru the SM and his two ASMs.

---- We also explained that if their son or another scout asked for help, that we'd like them to direct the scout to his PL. If they did not know or couldn't find the PL, direct them to the SPL. If still an issue, then direct them to the SM and/or the ASMs.

---- This was a great way to start summer camp as the parents (existing and new scouts) got the immediate experience of having the scouts work together and the parents working together SEPARATELY.



- Adult table - Our summer camp has a dinning hall. We had four tables. We assigned one of the tables as the adult table. Huge improvement. Scouts ate together. Adults ate separately and together. Sometimes with a full table. Sometimes with just a few. This is something that we will definitely continue in the future and will work to make it happen.



- Split responsibility - We had adults responsible for adult stuff and scouts responsible for scout stuff. We did not freeload on the scouts hard work. Adults setup and bused our own table. Adults cleaned our own camp site. It kept us busy and emphasized to the adults that the scouts did their own thing. Also, it helped us set an example. So much of what the scouts learn they learn thru observing what others do.

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Sounds like you did a great job. I like the fact that you realize no matter how good things are, we can alwats improve somewhere or try to make it better.


When we go to camp, having parents tag along has never been an issue...so far. They seem to get that they can't go. Even the ones who will miss their kids to death. They never consider the idea of going to camp. They'd rather go bring thier son home the first day.


As a ASM along with any other adult leader or the SM, we always make a point of "offering" any and all suggestions to the SPL or ASPL . WE never give them to the scouts unless a scout aproaches us directly, and then only if it's not a group related question that could be handled by the SPL or ASPL.


When we do offer advice to the SPL/ASPL, we always do it in a quite manner and not confrontational or directly in ront of other scouts. IF something is starting to go bad, we always pull the youth leader aside under the pretense of something else that is very important.



At the dining hall, we were assigned two tables. There was always a mix of adults with boys. There were also always at least one staff member et every tables and sometimes our camp guide too.


Our staff guest was a different one each day.


Neat thing is that each meal, a different scout was asigned as a waiter to each table. They went to the dining hall 15 minutes early for breakfast and dinner ( lunch was cafeteria style) and set up plates,m utensils, drinks and that meals food on platters.


That waiter was also assigned post dinner cleanup.


On Friday night, when we were having the IronScout race, the SM, the AC and myself ( ASM) told the scouts to go ahead and we'd clean up for them. Showing them that it's okay to step up to help somebody out when things come up. Other than that, we never did their job for them during camp. WE never let them do our job, cleanup our messes, etc for us either.


I totally agree with you, we do not use them for our servants or as personal assistants.


Scouts did learn personal responsibility from us as we demonstarted it it every day.

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Patrol cooking allowed for our best learning experience, which was:




One patrol was asking if the could make potato chips instead of mashed potatoes (the assigned menu for Thursday's steaks night), so I told them how to set it up with their mess kits. They wound up making fries. The other patrol raided the trailer for some pancake mix and made batter-dipped onion rings. To top it all off, they dipped the Mrs. Field's cookies in the remaining batter. My arteries couldn't handle the thought of that dessert, but it looked delicious!


The boys did miss open program that night, but it was game night and the adults were happy to break the tradition of someone needing to see the medic!

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Just back, and we had a great summer camp experience.


But, two things we've got to do better next year:

-- Medicals! Everyone gets them in on time and filled out correctly. Hey, I can dream, can't?

-- Pre-requisites. Do them in April & May. June is too late.


Likely others, but those are the two big ones now.

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Just back from summer camp. We have attended this camp for 5 years in a row now.

Here's what worked for us.


My ASMs and I did our own First Year Camper program again instead of sending them off to the camp's program. We are very thorough with advancement and the boys seemed to get a lot out of it. New this year was using one of the BSA advancement charts for the FYC guys. We blocked in advancements done prior to camp then X'd out blocks for advancements as they completed them. This showed progress and allowed leaders to make a quick check of what advancements could be done next for the most scouts. Parents got a good visual on how their new scouts did during Friday's family night after a weeks work. New scouts worked about 6 hours a day with us then were sent out to the camp's FYC afternoon program where they get exclusive use of the ranges, boating, etc. This program works very well for us.


Again this year we did meals in house and skipped the dining hall scene. Our site has a cabin with a kitchen. Adults did most of the cooking since boys were in program. Scouts did the serving and most of the clean up. Each patrol had camp duties posted which rotated each day. Kitchen, Camp Clean up, and Latrine duty were all handled by the scouts. This also went well (a few kids even liked latrine duty!)


What didn't work so well and could use improvement.


Merit badges! Again we dealt with youth counselors who are late for class, leave early, and generally don't have a clue about what they are teaching. Lots of partials, mostly in the shooting merit badges due to lack of range time. Scouts who knew they did not meet all the requirements on certain merit badges received a a completed blue card. I guess the staff's theory is if they're close sign 'em off anyway. We will be addressing this with the scouts.


No High Adventure program. Older scouts had a choice of COPE or taking merit badges. An ATV program was promised but never materialized.


Camp Administration. Check in went well for us but for weeks prior to camp we had to make several phone calls to council because the online registration program was not working. Check out went like this: "There's your patches, blue cards and med forms, have a nice day". No final bill, no "how was your camp experience?, no "would you like to make a reservation for next year?". Maybe they're not having summer camp next year. Years ago the CSE would come out to visit all the SMs in camp towards the end of the week, now days I think the CSE only comes out for annual camp inspection.


What I expect from a summer camp program:

1. Quality program including a First year Camper, High Adventure and merit badges with knowledgable staff.

2. Good facilities. I don't need AC or flush toilets but showers and pools should be working and latrines should be clean.

3. Motivated staff that can listen to and handle problems as they come up.

4. Good food and enough food.

5 A camp that doesn't create more problem for me, I have enough to deal with!


Well I'm off to camp to find out what to do about all these merit badge partials!


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Scout leader on KP - Make sure one of the scout leaders is on each KP duty roster and ideally sitting on each dining hall table. By doing that, they can make sure each scout gets a fair share of the food that's set out.

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That when siblings go to summer camp with the troop,

it often has repercussions with the COR and the CO

but when the CC and SM aren't sure they agree

and the ASM who brought the sibling starts to get defensive...

and you watch a bunch of people in the committee meeting begin to get up and put their chairs away and leave. Well you start to wonder what is going to explode next....


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