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National Camping School

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In another thread, someone said something like (and I'm paraphrasing here), "I wish there was a week-long outdoorsman type program that actually taught everything that Wood Badge used to teach because that's not what they teach now. I said, "There is, it's National Camping School for Outdoor Skills Directors." Then I was asked how much it cost and I thought I'd just spin off a new thread on the topic.


So, National Camping School is found at http://www.ncsbsa.org/ They apparently don't have the 2013 dates up yet, but you can look at the 2012 brochure at https://www.ncsbsa.org/resources/ncs/2012%20NCS%20Brochure.pdf and the 2013 dates will be fairly similar. NCS is generally for people who work at Council-run camps and is designed to be the training level that's above what the Council offers.


For instance, take Climbing. Council training produces Instructors who can teach merit badges, take kids climbing, etc. For a unit to go rock climbing, they need to have at least two Climbing Instructors with them. At the NCS level you have Climbing Directors who can train/certify Instructors. The Council Climbing/COPE committees (which may be the same committee or separate) which oversee all climbing and/or COPE activity in the council has to have an NCS Climbing or COPE Director as the committee chair. The names of these positions are going to change next year, though, as the BSA transitions to ACCT standards for Climbing/COPE.


Most NCS weeks start at about $500 and you can't go without the permission of your Council. Councils sometimes pay for their summer camp area directors, program and camp managers to go. Typically, you just have to go talk to whoever is in charge of the camp(s) for your Council and ask for their permission to go, and if you tell them that you want to pay your own way then they're usually more than happy to send you. In the past, some Councils have sort of run it with an iron fist, saying that only people who are definitely going to work at a summer camp are allowed to go, but National has said to loosen up more, so that there are more trained people to potentially call on in the Councils. Some sections, like Aquatics, COPE, and Climbing, do have prerequisites that you have to meet first and Shooting Sports can change since most camps don't offer pistol instructor certification but there are some camps where you go for an extra day or so to get that.

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COPE, Climbing and how to run a camp. All nice skills to have but that does that teach the skills that make a better Scoutmaster?


What were the outdoors/scout skills that the old Woodbadge taught? Does NCS teach these skills?


Our district had a course several years ago call "Advance Camp", it was mainly a backpacking course. The training team asked at RT if anyone would be interested and we got no takers.


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I took WB for the 21st Century, it was all leadership skills. What outdoor skills did the old WB teach?

Did they teach ax and knife skills?

Knots and Lashing?

Map and Compass?


First aid?

Campfire cooking?



Just wondering, I have no idea but somebody here took the old course that knows.(This message has been edited by Eagle732)

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I admit I didn't take any WB course. But I did take the old BROWNSEA 22 course, which I have been told was very similar to the old WB course. So I will base my info on that course, as well as the fact that the old WB had a 2 year tenure requirement, waived for those who came straight from the youth ranks.


Brownsea actually didn't teach you basic T-2-1 skills. It was expected that you already know those skills since you were First Class.


I am guessing WB did the same since you were to complete SM Fundamentals (as SM Specific and IOLS was called when I was a new adult leader) and have 2 years of tenure.


Rather Brownsea was an intense, patrol oriented program that gave you a series of challenges that expanded your knowledge of, and expertise in the various T-2-1 skills.


Examples include compass course challenges between patrols, creating a nature "exhibit," backpacking, wilderness survival, pioneering, etc.


Basically you ate, slept and breathed the patrol method and used the basic T-2-1 skills the entire week.


Now did some folks learn new skills, Yes because they were not properly taught them. Were some scouts totally unprepared for BROWNSEA, unfortunately yes. And in going through the course, as well as staffing JLT, in both instances it was the younger scout patrol (they divided the participants in to 3 groups: 13-14, 14-15, 16-17) that had the problems. My patrol was the younger patrol with one 12y.o. ( don't ask how he got in, it was a political decision) who not only was totally unprepared, but was the one who deliberately infected a blister to get out of the backpacking portion of the program, about six 13 y.o. and me at 14.



And leadership training was part of BROWNSEA 22. we had classes on different leadership skills, but it was in the venue of patrol and troop operations. HOWEVER leadership principles are universal. If you can apply them to Scouting, you can apply them to any situation in life. I still amaze some folks on some of the things I learned at BROWNSEA as a 14 yo, that they are just learning as adults.

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I took Boy Scout Leader Wood Badge and it did include more Scoutcraft skills sessions. There were sessions involving lashings, map and compass, environment, and most of all cooking. We drew our meals from the QM and cooked what was provided. You never knew what you were getting, but they provided a menu and instructions for preparing the meals. It was a great patrol bonding time to all pitch in and prepare meals and have some staff as guests.


It was definitely more intensive training than WB21stC; however, I think adults 10-20 years ago did more camping and outdorsy stuff. The majority of adults in the BSA are joining without any previous camping experience. A training course where they may need to learn how to use a Dutch oven with no training or experience can be catastrophic.


I'd actually like to take the Boy Scout Leader Wood Badge syllabus and divide it into some weekend segments that teach the 11 Leadership Skills and use some of the Scoutcraft modules. That course had a lot of good material and it's sad that it's not being used somehow. Maybe when I step down as VP or Program and get my hands on a syllabus again, I'll look at how to set it up in my Council.

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Would you like a BA22 Syllabus? I have an annotated digital copy of it and have used elements of it for IOLS.


You reminded me of the cooking. We also had to go to the QM to pick it up, hike back, cook, and clean. I remember being up til 3AM cleaning pots and pans (don't ask) the first nite. It was a long week. At the time I was not a happy camper, but in retrospect I learned so much.


As for skills, probably a reason why the old WB had a 2 year tenure requirement. Nowadays a new CS leader who has only done online training can attend Woodbadge. Not knocking the CS leaders, heck I'm a TCDL (OK the council hasn't updated my records since I turned in the paperwork in June so officially I'm a CSDL still :) ) and I would love to go.


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It doesn't appear as though National Camp School teaches the outdoors skills that leaders need. Maybe the old Woodbadge did but of course that's not an option. So apparently there is no other course that teaches these skills currently offered.


The reason might be that there is generally among the adults no interest in learning these skills. Or maybe they already know everything they think they need to know. After all how much do you need to know to take a bunch of kids out to a campground for the weekend?


Some of the subjects I'd like to see taught:

Advanced backpacking skills including lightweight methods.

Orienteering and advanced map and compass use.

Campfire cooking, utensiless cooking.

Make your own gear (remember the old Boys Life articles on making your own gear like backpacks?)

Canoeing (I'll bet there's a lot of leaders who don't know to do a J stroke).


Any other ideas?




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It's not like Camp School has a curriculum titled "Scout Skills" they train Directors of SHooting Sports, Camp COmmissioners, Water Front Director, SHooting Sports Directors and then Scout Craft. I think what is being talked about would be in the courses for Scout Craft Directors but space could be an issue.


Where do we find people with these skill and the ability to teach them. They are growing scarce

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Eagle92, I sure would like that syllabus!


I recall the cooking part most too. I can remember my TLDC training as a youth and the aggravation of Scouts from different Troops from all over the Council trying to cook and clean as a team. Wood Badge was similar. The old QM meal planning session was always fun where the patrols submit menus and the QM yanks them around and makes the patrol leader make decisions while the rest of the Troop watched.


It isn't a requirement to have a Scoutcraft/Outdoor Skills director at summer camp that has been to camp school. I don't even think that they have a training curricukum for them.

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"It doesn't appear as though National Camp School teaches the outdoors skills that leaders need."

They do. Outdoor Skills Director.


One person said, It's not like Camp School has a curriculum titled "Scout Skills"...

Another said, I don't even think that they have a training curricukum for them.

Have you been listening to what I said, it's Outdoor Skills Director. There's a 20-minute online NCS training bit for "Scoutcraft" while the week-long training is for Outdoor Skills Director. Tell you what, on Monday I'll post the syllabus from the class.

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"Where do we find people with these skill and the ability to teach them."

OGE, I offered to teach backpacking (and I believe I am qualified to do so) at a district advanced skills training course. No one from over 30 troops was interested in any of the courses offered (including backpacking)


I don't think sending unit leaders off to National Camp School is the answer. I think if we want leaders trained in outdoors skills then that needs to be done at the district or council level at a price a little below the $500 Camp School price.(This message has been edited by Eagle732)

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I received my Beads in 1976 from the old WB course. Back then you had to have two years experience as a Boy Scout Leader. Cub Leaders were not accepted. As far as Female Leaders, The mere suggestion could get you Tarred and Feathered. Basically you became BOY Scout for a week. You lived in your Patrol, Cooked and ate what you were issued. Everything you needed you made.


You became very close to the men/boys in your Patrol and guarded your Patrol Flag from those thieving other patrols. You learned songs, skits, and other activities that made your patrol stonger. The course also was heavy in Pioneering, hiking,Patrol Competitions,and problem solving as a patrol. That week was one of the best times of my life.


I'm not saying that the New WB isn't a good course but I am sorry that they did not keep the Old WB alive.


If a Council or even a District was so inclined, they could develope such a course based on old Scout Handbooks(mine is the 1948 edition)and Fieldbooks.


One other Old Fart observation I would like to address is what made Scouting so attractive to thse English boys in the beginning.


Many of them could look forward to serving in the British Army anywhere in the frontiers of the Empire. Having fun while learning skills that might someday save their lives would have been heavy draw.












timandfas iW

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It seems like NCS for Outdoor Skills Director is what you want -- a week-long outdoor-skills emphasizing program that is roughly local to you*. It's just the cost that you disagree with. Personally, I also disagree with that.


*once a year (maybe twice) it's roughly local, although Wood Badge is also generally only local once or maybe twice a year


NCS Outdoor Skills Lesson Plan Resource Manual:


*Section Interviews

Participant's interview sheet, asking what you expect to learn, etc.; personal resource questionnaire; outdoor skills questionnaire, a checklist asking what you've taught, what you have knowledge of and what you need help with.


*The Role of the Outdoor Skills Director

Camping, cooking, first aid, hiking, orienteering, pioneering, woods tools skills -- basically, what rank, merit badge, or award corresponds with everything taught


*Outdoor Skills and Teaching Methods

Effective learning process


*Principles of Leave No Trace



About rope, learn to tie knots, constructing a catapult, pioneering projects, make your own camp furniture


*Fire Building


*Utensil-less and aluminum foil cooking

Backwoods cooking, recipes for utensil-less cooking


*Cooking and Baking

Solar hot dog cooker, temperature chart, pastry


*Campsite Selection


*Backpacking and Equipment


*Backpacking Preparation

Outdoor camp activities, outdoor projects, trail food, packing in, your clothing is key to winter comfort, versatile tarp shelter


*Orientation to basic first aid




*Food storage and sanitation in camp




*Woods Tools

Care of the ax, whistles


*First-Time Camp Program


*Staff Training


*Cooking fish and food


*The Role of Aquatics in the Camp Program

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Many of the senior staff members at my local camp have taken NCS courses and they appear to be very detailed. I know a guy who took a weeklong Leave No Trace course in June and he said that it was a very well put together curriculum to learn from. They basically lived and breathed the principles all week long. For people that don't know much about it, this is the real deal. I was under the impression that it was a fairly common program among adults. (I'm a youth member so I'm not so cued in to "official" training.)

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