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Much as I hate to admit it, our District Camporees, have become in the most part, very boring. While one or two have been out of this world, and the boys really enjoyed them, numbers are down and at my meetings with the Senior Patrol Leaders, they have let me have it with both barrels.

They, and I have to agree, do not want to see yet another, build a fire and burn through the string race, or build and race a stretcher activity.

Please, Please, let me know what was the best activity that your Scouts really enjoyed and still rave about, that was done at a District or Council Camporee.

Hopefully, I can present these ideas to my bunch, and get them off my back.



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Probably the most popular event at our camporees has been a wall climbing event. This is the kind of thing you see at team building activities where a group has to go up and over a smooth wall.

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A variation to the build a fire and burn a string race is to give each patrol a cup of water and an egg. Time each patrol and see who can build a fire and hard boil their egg in the quickest time. Then once the patrol has finished and claims that their egg is hard boiled, you can then ask them to crack it over the patrol leader to find out for sure;-)

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My most fun as a Scout was the camporee during which patrols had all day to lash together various structures, including a litter, a monkey bridge, and a tower. The patrol had to actually drag one of the Scouts on the litter a minimum distance, we all had to cross the bridge without it collapsing, and one of your Scouts had to climb the tower and have it stay together for at least five minutes.


I was elected to climb the tower. It didn't hold -- after a few minutes, it started to list, and as the ropes stretched, it slowly settled to earth, like the opening credits of "F-Troop" in slow motion. I held on for dear life, and was snatched off it at the last second by my SM -- famously outstanding fun.


I just asked my son which camporee he liked best, and he said the last Klondike because they did what they were taught about cold weather camping, and had a great time, and for the sled race. Runner up was last Fall Camporee. He said the weather was good, they ate good, no drama, no lost/broken equipment. Funny thing is, he can't remember any of the patrol competitions at fall camporee -- to him, that stuff was more a distraction...being out there and camping is the main thing.



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A few years ago our camporees were becoming dull with the same events year after year. It was our troops turn to host the next one so the troop committee started holding planning meetings about 6 months before the date of the camporee. We discussed the problem with always having the same events and how some troops seemed to spend a lot of time at troop meetings practicing for the events. What we decided to do was to have all the events be secret and just publish what the theme would be. When we announced our plan at the district roundtable some of the scoutmasters were not happy with it at first. But after a long discussion they all ageed to give it a chance. We had decided on a pioneering theme which meant it could have anything to do with that topic either in the merit badge pamplet or anything else we could dream up. I won't list all the events but a couple of the more fun ones were a log sawing competition which consisted of a log about 24" in diameter using a 2 man crosscut saw. We had to travel about 200 miles to a saw mill and bring it back to the south plains of Texas and find someone locally that had a saw and was willing to loan it to us. One of the other events was a muzzle loading rifle shooting competition. The scoring in the events was structured so patrols with more members than others did not have an advantage. Also it was required that each member of a patrol had to participate in an equal way. We were lucky to have a county park we could use that is close to our town but we could just as easily have gone to our council camp. We also had a group of Mountain Men come and give tomahawk throwing demonstrations and show off all their hand made gear.It took a lot of planning and a lot of work on the part of our committee to pull off an event like this one but in the end we all agreed that it was worth the effort. It didn't hurt that the group of men on our committee took a lot of pride in putting on a first class camporee that others would be measured by. Using this idea we have hosted one other camporee with similar results. After troops from other districts heard about our camporee they asked to be invited to future ones. By the way our troop did not win first place overall.


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Keep in mind this is from 30 years ago, but the camporees I remember as boring were the ones where we went from station to station, building fires, tying knots and demonstrating first aid. Same ol', same ol'.


One that I remember as particularly fun was a survival skills campout where we had to make camp with only the gear in the survival kits we made. We spent most of the day Saturday building shelters and setting up camp. We were graded on our camp site and a utensiless meal we had to show the judges. At various times during the day there were demonstrations by experts on survival topics like edible plants (Euel Gibbons was big back then) and search and resecue.


Some of the things we do now that I think the kids really like are some of the "out of the box" campouts. One was held on the infield of a local racetrack and the demonstrations and events were automotive or technical (auto repair, metal working, small engine repair -- is that still a merit badge?). We've had campouts at historic sites and related the events to the site (a restored gold mine was really cool. The boys spent part of the day panning for gold and found quite a bit.)

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As a DE, I kept hearing about a camporee that began Friday in one park, and then moved to another park on Saturday. Both parks were on the same river. The goal was to move from one to the other, either by boating, biking or hiking. There wasn't a whole lot of structure to it, but it had a clear goal and was non-competitive. The boys really liked it.


While a Field Director, I had a district do something completely out of the ordinary. They had two or three "lock in" locations for Friday night. Sometime during the night, uniformed police officers came in and told them that someone had kidnapped MacGruff (the crime dog) and gave the boys compass directions to start looking for him on Saturday morning.

The compass directions got them to the train station (the district had rented a Metra Train) that took them to Woodstock, IL. It's just up the road and is the birthplace of super slueth Dick Tracy. The boys then spent the rest of Saturday following clues that eventually gave them the combination to the DE's briefcase, which held t he directions to Saturday evening's campsite.


It was probably the coolest camporee I've ever heard of. It was pricey and hard to pull off, but it was pretty cool. It about killed my poor DE, however.



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Great ideas! Keep them coming!!

We just had a camporee with a couple of unusual events:


1. Marble transfer. Two buckets - about 10 feet apart. About 10 pieces of PVC pipe - about 13 feet total. Scouts had to pass marble through all pieces of pipe to get it into the other bucket. Couldn't hold adjacent pipes at the joints. Graded on time and teamwork.


2. Not sure what they called this one -- had two 2x4s, about 10 feet long. Three ropes in each (near ends and middle). 2x4s placed side by side - patrol all stood on them, with a foot on each. Three boys held rope handles. Moved forward by coordinating which foot they would all lift together while the ones with rope handles lifted the board up. Maneuvered a simple obstacle course which included gentle turns and crossing a shallow hole.


Other events I've seen in the past:


1. Coffee can (called nuclear waste or nitro) placed in the middle of large marked-off square. Small square marked in one corner of the big square. Boys can't enter the squares. Object is to move the can from center of big square into the "safe zone" (small square). (Or can use a box, bucket, etc.) Give them an assortment of ropes, rubber bands, poles (not long enough without sheer lashing), coat hangar wire, etc. Let them figure out how to get it done.


2. Tent set-up. Provide standard wall tent with ropes, but no tension devices so have to tie taut line hitches. Stack of stakes, hammer, etc. Run for time. Deductions for improper setup, mis-aligned ropes, knots, etc.


3. Survival shelters. Had one great camporee on some land that was scheduled to be cleared. Rare opportunity to practice some high-impact camping -- cut down whatever you thought you needed to build patrol shelters and camp tools.

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Thanks Gang.

I will use some of these ideas in our next District Camporee.

It is a PAW (Patrol Activity Weekend) I have had a super neat patch made in the shape of a paw.

Had meetings with the SPLs at two of our Round Tables, where there was a presentation on Venturing, which they sat in on. At the same time we looked at the full family of Scouting.

I did have the ok, from my District Activities Chair.And The Commissioner Staff.

Have to admit to being more then a little pleased with myself - Even if that does seem a little smug.

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