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Cub Scout Day Camp...very disappointed

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Hi all

I have been a volunteer leader so far this week at one of our districts day camps. What I have been through so far this week I do not care to repeat anytime soon. I am so frustrated, more by the adults who are in charge of this event than any of the Cub's unruley behavior that has gone on this week. Tomorrow is the last day and it cannot come soon enough.

So here is what I am wondering. Has anyone been in this situation before where the people in charge of day camp give no meetings prior to camp starting or even having a 15 minute Den Leader go over thing for the day kinda thing or information about policies and procedures regarding dicipline or even what some of the camp activities will be? I guess I was more than shocked to be told stuff after the fact or that such and such was not supposed to be done in a certain manner or no boys cannot sit out of certain activites even if they are misbehaving.

I know we are supposed to "Be Prepared" but I kinda think that in order to be prepared you have to have some planning, particularly for the the people who will be taking care/charge of these Cub's all day.

I have my 3 sons with me as they are all scouts, they were VERY disappointed with their first experience at Day Camp. I hope I can make it through tomorrow. Your thoughts and experiences in this area are more than appreciated.




one other thing that is really bothering me is this. How would ya'all feel if you dropped your kids off at Day Camp for 9 hours with hopefully breakfast and a bagged lunch and find out that the only snacks being served were one bag of chips each at the late part of the day?


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Welcome to the forum trailblazermom.


First off, sorry to hear that day camp has been a bust for you and your boys. That's really too bad because, done right, it can be a fabulous introduction to the fun the boys (and you) will have with cub scouting.


Still, it would be good to keep in mind that cub day camp is almost always run entirely by volunteers, and sometimes people are drafted at the last minute. I have a fair number of years of experience with cub day camps and I admit I have rarely seen a parent meeting or den leader meeting occur at the start. Generally there is some sort of written plan, which more-or-less gets followed, but that's about it.


Additionally, at least the way I've seen it done, most of the people staffing different activities are pack leaders and/or "just" parents. There is not usually a formal staff training for these folks - they run their station and unless there's a big problem, the day camp director more or less leaves them alone. Not great, I know, but also pretty typical. It may be that some of these folks running some of the stations do not fully agree on disciplinary measures, or do not grasp the basics of scouting. Personally (as a former range master for archery at cub day camp) if a pack leader told me that a boy was "sitting out" my session, I'd have honored that, though reluctantly in some cases. While I only saw the kids for an hour or so, the pack leaders know them (hopefully) much better than that and should therefore be trusted to make the best decision about discipline in most cases. (I always reserve the right to remove a person - boy or adult - from MY range for safety reasons, though I rarely have had to do so.)


As for breakfast and snacks? I never expected day camp to provide breakfast! Did they say they would in their promo literature? Did you pay for it? If so, you have a legitimate complaint. If not, why would anyone expect this? Snacks, well a bag of chips would not have been my choice. But then, we always, always tell leaders (in our written info) to bring their own lunches and snacks.


I hope you and your boys will give cub scouts day camp another shot in the future because it can really be a lot of fun. Maybe next year you'd be interested in helping plan the event in order to improve upon some of the weaknesses you mention - it sounds like that would be a welcome improvement.




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Greetings TBM: Ain't it nice to have a place to vent where ya won't ruffle any feathers and you're bound to get a sympathetic ear?


Well, it happens that your story is not all that unusual. I would suggest going to your DE and having a sit down with him/her. Well meaning volunteers not withstanding, a CSDC can be either a real turnoff or a real recruiting tool. Be forewarned! you may end up like my significant other! She came into CSing wearing a large sceptic hat . She ended up going to Camp School (on the Councils bill!) and has been the CSDC Director lo these past years! Makes me ... first assistant everything else, I guess.


The best way to improve things is to learn from other peoples mistakes. Go to the present CSDC Director and offer to help. You and them and the District DE can do a world of good.

We always have a staff picnic before the CSDC. Get to know each other alittle, talk about policy. We REQUIRE Packs to come to the site the friday evening before the opening monday, to pre-register the Cubs, pick up the t-shirts, check paper work and have a walk thru for Den walkers to see the site and learn where everything is, and meet the staff (at least by sight). Makes everything go much smoother on opening day.

Make the policy and then politely enforce it. Be willing to change it if things prove the necessity, but make it stick. When we said "no walk up registrations on monday" and made it plain in all our literature, we surprised no one when our DE had to turn away 3 parents who tried to do just that (we were at capacity of 253 Cubs that year), but the next year had no problems. Sorry to disappoint the boys, but the parents learned their lesson, we hope.

We have lots of 'special events' and lots of Scout activities. I am recognized in the grocery store as the "Archery Guy".

If you "get involved", don't be afraid to ask . They will come. State and county agencies (environment, natural resources, fisheries, State police, national guard, fire and rescue, Corps of Engineers etc.) have lots of programs they can provide to Scout Camps. The big hit every year is the State Police Medivac Helicopter, lands on our activity field in front of the Cubs,and the crew talks about their mission and the aircraft. Wows 'em. Just keep asking. Somebody's mom or uncle knows somebody who works for the umpty umpt company and their president was a Scout and... Just keep asking...REI and Home Depot are prime Scout companies. Big grocery stores, even the local hardware store can give you a discount on supplies if you mention Scouts.

You know what the kids would like and need. Step out there and make it happen! Trust in the spirit to open things up for you. I'd be surprised if there weren't a couple of other moms and dads out there thinking the same as you. Find each other and remember Bob the Tomatoe: "It's for the kids". (only don't call'em that. Call 'em Scouts!)


Yours in Scouting,

(This message has been edited by SSScout)

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Are you able to throw your hat in the ring for running your day camp next year? If so get ahold of your District Executive. You have saw first hand what is broken or not up to par. Day camps need alot of planning. Maybe attend your next District Roundtable you may not be alone in the feeling you have for how things were run this year. (things to improve on next year type of discussion)

Please remember some volunteers are better at organizing than others but I'm sure all are doing the best they can.

If you cannot take on running the day camp maybe volunteer to help in some capacity/part of the day camp planning for next year.



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I have been involved in our District Day Camp for a number of years. It takes a LOT of work & planning, alternate planning, alternate/alternate planning, & even then things rarely go as they have been planned.


All Day Campers are sent a packet of info in the mail prior to the start of camp. In the packet is info on activities, a schedule, and a list of items the campers need to bring. It is up to you to read it.


Every day of camp, the camp staff arrives anywhere from 1 to 1/2 hr before the scouts arrive to set up and prepare for the day. When the staff is all there, they will have a mini meeting to make sure everyone knows who is doing what, when, where. As a Day Camp Den Leader you are really considered a camper & not staff. On the first day of camp, the Camp Director gives all of the campers a run down of what will be happening & how things will be run. If anyone has any questions the Camp Director, Program Director, or any camp Staff will be more than happy to help.


Our camps run from 9am - 3pm. Campers bring their own water bottle & lunch. Camp provides drinks during the day and an afternoon snack.


Regarding discipline at Day Camp. In the years that I have been staffing it we have NEVER had any big problems. The boys are on the move, having fun from 9 till 3. They usually don't have a lot of time to get into trouble. If they find the time, they are separated from what they are doing wrong & returned to their leader & the rest of their den by whoever sees it going on. If something happens at an activity station it is up to the staff member at that station & the den leader to deal with it. The most we have had is bathroom line spats, a bit of pushing, and running.


As to your boys being disappointed. Why are they disappointed? Were the activities not fun? Was there a lot of sitting around "free" time? Didn't they like the other boys in their den?


While adults can get frustrated with a perceived lack of organization, they should in no way let that frustration affect their boys. As long as they are having fun, the boys could usually care less about the behind the scenes (or any organizational) stuff.


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I'll kick in my two cents having just finished my second year as shooting sports director at cub scout day camp my son is also a volunteer and I supervise six venture age scouts who are the rangemasters on the ranges. We do provide water and only water in an attempt to keep the cubs hydrated in temps that approached the 90's all week. I had one of the rangemasters that I was almost ready to send to the hospital. They are told to drink water everywhere. The camp did not provide any food for any one. I along with my range staff as well as every other volunteer brought our own lunch and snacks for the entire week. The campers are told to bring their lunch if they require a snack maybe the parent should put the snack in their pocket. No breakfasts were provided I had my coffee and made my son eat before we left our home at between one half and one hour before the campers were to leave. We set up our three venues and took them down every night in addition to making morning ice runs someone else was responsible for the evenings. I am almost $50 out of pocket for supplies to make day camp run smoothly. Our day camp has two training sessions prior to camp one is a half day affair the other is a few minutes at setup the day before. Is this enough? Judging by the low attendance it must be too much. I personally don't take any guff from cubs,parents, or den leaders you just can't as a shooting sports director. I was nice and accommodated a cubmaster last year until finally I had to tell him he had to respect the commands of the rangemaster at which he stormed off the range and then turned around and sued the council. Then had the balls to turn around and ask to be trained to run the range this year.

This to me is the topper I have a teenage rangemaster who has volunteered all week for no pay even camping at the park to provide security at night who goes out with his own hard earned funds and purchases a large bag of mixed candy to give the cubs for being good students all week and ends up being excoriated by a den leader for giving a particular kid gum when he was not allowed to have it. The kid picked it out of the bag if he knew it was forbidden why not trade with one of his den mates rather than jump on the older kid that gave it to him.

Look I have put in an appx 50 hour workweek with plenty of stress and am -$50.00 for the experience. Would I do it again? not next week but maybe next year if I am asked and I get to pick the young men and ladies that work with me or even some new 14 year olds that are thrilled with finally being given some responsibility and being treated almost as an adult. Yes most certainly. Do all leaders have a good time ? No most emphatically ! Is it worth it? Yes! Ask the cubs it is for them! If you ask the boy scout volunteers they will one and all tell you that it was a lot of hard work that they never expected. Is not that the very lesson that they need to learn? How do their troop campouts happen? How does the camporee happen? How much do they each "owe" the OA for summer camp setup.

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I'm sorry your day camp experience was not a good one. Like others have already said, though, keep in mind that it is run completely by volunteers.


I would recommend writing down all your concerns, and thinking of ways that each situation could be improved. Then decide which ones are the most important to be changed. You could then make nice suggestions about next year's camp, but be sure to add something positive, so the director won't be put on the defensive.


Better yet, if you can help or even direct next year's camp, then you know it will be a better situation. Get your boys' ideas, too, because sometimes they have different ideas than the adults.


One thing that bothered me about my older son's first day camp experience, was that they hardly got to do anything fun on the first day. Several boys never came back the rest of the week. During bb's and archery, the boys sat through safety talks the whole session, without getting a chance to shoot. This was improved in later camps, without sacrificing safety.


I agree that Den Walkers should get at least a short talk or a list of activites/rules. My 1st year as a Den Walker, I got 2 Dads in trouble, because I sent them into the locker room to hurry the boys up. I was not a registered leader at the time, and nobody had ever told me that adults were not allowed in the same locker room as the boys.


Good Luck, and go easy on them. They might welcome your ideas and help.

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Ok, hopefully the server won't zap my reply again. First I understand this is run by volunteers. I also know that there is a lot of things with this particular district and I know I didn't say that when I first made this post. I was trying to not let my first experience with these people running said district,

which was during the PWD affect my experience with day camp. I went in with an open mind and hoped that it would be a better experince for all involved. However there seems to be an attitiude amongst these people that no matter how nice you are or positive you say things it doesn't seem to matter, it is either taken the wrong way or it is blown off. I have talked to the D.E. and he just says yes thank you for the suggestions and so on. I do attend roundtable also and again its the same people.

I am not the only one who has noticed this or been frustrated with my district. Many of the people who are working in this district or hold scouting positions are related in some way. So I am sure that has something to do with it.

I worked my hardest to maintain a happy scout attitude the entire week the last day was nearly impossible due to the behavior of the adults. I just was extremely angry when I found out the camp directors allowed the teenagers attending to the "tag along" group

to paint on all the volunteer staffs vehicles. I just thought that it was in bad taste and a bad example to be setting at a scout function. There was just so many other things that happened that I just don't care to go into. So no I don't think I really would like to help with any district events headed up by these particular people running things because I don't want to be a part of that type of thing. They made it clear to me a few others we were not part of there "click" and thats fine. I was there to do the best I could for all the boys. There were other parents that were also disgruntled with the lack of information and other things.

I know I will take this as a learning experience and move on. I will take only the good things that happened and things I learned to better my Pack and boys with.

I guess its just not what I and several others expected. Again thanks for letting me ramble/vent.













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Trailblazer mom,


I can understand your frustration. If joining them isn't an answer you can stomach, may I suggest this: look for another district or even another council that isn't too far away (depending on where you live, this may be easier or harder) and go to THEIR stuff in the future. There's no rule that says you can only attend your own district functions, including day camp. Maybe you'll find other districts have a better outlook on things. Please don't give up on the program in general though!

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Absolutely I will try other districts as I have for all my training. Like I said I didn't want the first problem I had with these people at PWD to discourage us from going to the Day CAmp. I know now after giving them a second chance not to involve our Pack in any events held by said district. As for the Scouting program no we will not quite that. My boys and self enjoy it very much and have learned lots including from this bad experience. AS they say there are always a few bad apples in the bunch.

thanks all


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  • 3 weeks later...

Won't restate what parents/leaders have said above - am in complete agreement with it. One thing I discovered recently is that camp planning (by admin/staff) is a year-long process that pretty much kicks into gear upon the completion of this year's camp. By December, all major staff positions are filled. In February, the first presentations go around to Units. Health forms, t-shirts, special presentations/content/guests. The list of preparation to-dos is mind-boggling. And if it's followed, you get a pretty awesome camp.


For reference, check out our District's Day Camp website at www.cardinaldaycamp.org for the way we have structured, communicated with parents, deadlines, expectations, etc. There's a great parent packet under the Forms and Documents section that's worth reading and comparing with your own experience.


Sorry for the experience you had, but keep the faith in Scouting. You're not alone in your expectations of what "good" looks like and have a right to continue to help others shoot towards this goal.




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My $0.02 -


First of all, I have never run a CS Day Camp so I have no grounds to stand on as far as what should be done about a poorly run Day Camp.


But I have been a volunteer Scouter for all of my adult leader years and I can say this... Anything in Scouting run by volunteers has room for improvement. This goes for the poorest run pack to the most efficiently organized trainings and events in Scouting.


Yes, there are councils, districts, packs, and dens run by leaders who have motives and agendas which are not in the best interest of parents, leaders, and boys. It is a sad thing to see, but they do exist. I have seen a few posts on this site about it.


It very well may take drastic measures in some councils to turn around a poorly run CSDC. I normally do not advise anyone to take their boys elsewhere. There should be several steps which should take place between making formal complaints to the council and deciding not to attend the Day Camp. These should include (perhaps several leaders all over the council) volunteering to "fix" day camp and get things running better, getting involved on the CSDC staff and voice your opinion of what you see needs improvement and change, and be ready to do the work of making those changes happen.


Keep in mind (and a well run council will realize this) that without us volunteers doing the hard work of making this program function, there would be no council. The purpose and mission of any BSA Council is to serve the community in which it resides.


It happens in my council as well... We have some executive positions filled by people who seem to be there just to claim the title. They have no regard for the parents, volunteers, and boys that make up that council. The only thing that we have been able to really do to make a difference is to pull together, organize, and build the best program we can. There is no magic wand. No secret way to get things done in the council. We just get it done. If there is a problem, someone (likely the people who are aware of the problem) needs to step up and work on a solution. I have never seen any council, good or bad, which responds well to mere complaints and criticism. If you have an idea to improve things or would like to volunteer to run a program or event then just get up and do it. Most councils (especially those not being run well) would welcome someone taking off some of their load.


I am sure that Trailblasermom is not just complaining without doing anything and I don't mean to infer that. But the fact is that the only way to make a change in Scouting in any level is to jump in and start making the change.


I disagree that taking your boys to a neighboring council is the answer. If there is a problem going on that makes you so frustrated that you or your boys no longer participate, then maybe it is time to take matters into your own hands and start to work on solutions. The hundreds of boys who attend the CSDC in your council will benefit far more from a re-vamped day camp than from an individual leader that takes their boys somewhere else. I've found this to be just as true on the pack level - if the pack (or any Scouting program) isn't functioning, fix it! Don't abandon it.


Yes, I have jumped in myself and volunteered to fix problems, make a difference and help. No, it isn't easy. In fact, it is harder than you think and you may or may not be thanked or recognized for your efforts. But it is well worth it when things start to change and it is much more satisfying than just pointing fingers and complaining.


Something I have told those who like to point out to me all the faults and failures in a program I am working in is, "What have you done to make a difference in this program? If nothing, then you don't have alot of say in the success or failure of it."


Eagle Pete

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Eagle-pete writes: "I disagree that taking your boys to a neighboring council is the answer. If there is a problem going on that makes you so frustrated that you or your boys no longer participate, then maybe it is time to take matters into your own hands and start to work on solutions. "


Generally speaking, Pete, I would agree with you. There is a point, though, where you have to make decisions about the resources available to you (including your own time and frustration threshold). Sometimes the job requires someone else to do it. And sometimes too, you have to think short-term first (by sticking with this camp, am I losing more brand new cub scouts than I'm keeping? Are parents and boys so fed up and unhappy that they're assuming this is "par for the course" and just leaving scouts?). Because as a rule once we lose these boys, we never get them back again. So if the bleeding is severe, immediate action might be warranted. And that might include, in this case, NOT GOING BACK to a lousy program.


Ideally, this would be coupled with a polite explanation of one's actions to the powers that be, so they at least know what the perceived problem is, and an open offer to assist in some way in the future, if such assistance is desired. That puts the ball in their court. You've identified a major problem - big enough to push you to a different program - and you've made an open door offer to help if they want it. If they're smart they'll pay attention to declining enrollements (this is known as "voting with your feet") and also invite you into the group to help turn things around. But if not? Then no amount of muscling your way in would be effective in the end anyway, and you'd have spent a lot of personal, finite resources (time, effort, patience), to little benefit.


I know this is long, sorry (coffee hasn't kicked in yet I guess) but let me offer just a quick comparison to Boy Scout camp. Last summer our troop attended a camp that left a great deal to be desired. And the small clique of people who ran it were quite clear that they weren't open to ideas or help. Those same people are running the camp again this year (as they have for the last 20 years, and probably will continue for the foreseeable future). We made our concerns known but they fell on deaf ears.


This summer we are going to a different camp.


We could, conceivably, spend years at the camp we went to last year, slowly gaining access (maybe) to the inner sanctum, and then (perhaps) influencing camp practice around the edges. But in the meantime we believe our boys would be poorly served and quite probably, would stop wanting to attend summer camp at all with the troop. We would also certainly lose many of our adult leaders, who would not be willing to put up with such garbage year after year. That's not a sacrifice that makes sense.


(and to be clear - this camp was out of council for us, but nearby enough that it easily could have been a repeat destination for us - our own council lacks a boy scout summer camp program)

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