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MattR

Removing summer camp focus from merit badges

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If you had the opportunity to change your summer camp and you wanted to make merit badges less of the focus, how would you set up the program? I might have such an opportunity.

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If I had the opportunity I would change the focus from merit badges to high adventure. Setup a rappelling/climbing area(a real cliff if one is available), a waterfront with small boat sailing, use one of the days to go on a whitewater rafting trip(when I say whitewater, I mean Class IV rapids, where it's necessary to have a guide in the raft with you), possibly setup a ropes course(or take a day trip to a ropes course), ziplines, or even go caving. That pretty much covers the best high adventure activities, BTW I have done all those except for caving.

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To start with ask they Scouts what they wanted to do. Two MB tops and the rest adventure like 441 suggests. Would still need to include shooting sports, horses, Scoutcraft activities (pioneering, orienteering etc). boating lessons. Not many 1st years can handle the canoe MB, but they should get practice. Cooking contests.

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If I had the opportunity I would change the focus from merit badges to high adventure. Setup a rappelling/climbing area(a real cliff if one is available), a waterfront with small boat sailing, use one of the days to go on a whitewater rafting trip(when I say whitewater, I mean Class IV rapids, where it's necessary to have a guide in the raft with you), possibly setup a ropes course(or take a day trip to a ropes course), ziplines, or even go caving. That pretty much covers the best high adventure activities, BTW I have done all those except for caving.
I like 441's approach. What can Summer Camp offer that will fill a boy's dreams until next year?

 

Take an HA area and create 3 or 4 levels for boys to move up through.

 

Examples:

Shooting; 1- .22 rifle, 2- .223 AR 15, 3- Pistol, 4- High power scoped hunting rifle.

Primitive Weapons: 1- Slingshot, 2- Recurve Bow, 3- Spear, knife and tomahawk, 4- Blackpowder rifle and pistol, 5- Trebuchet

Climbing: 1- Rappelling, 2- Top-roping, 3- Leading, 4 Teaching.

 

Build it based on "What would this boy like to do next to logically build on his adventure?"

Require successful completion of the lower levels in order to participate in the higher. It may take a boy more than one summer to achieve those goals, but that keeps him wanting to come back, and talking it up to his mates!

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See, now why doesn't scouting do cool stuff like JoeBob's HA Level system? This is the kind of thing scouts want to do! I would love to see some handguns. As far as shooting sports goes I probably do a lot more than the average scout. I have a homemade slingshot(I haven't shot it in a long time though), a 50lb Ben Pearson Recurve Bow(which I am fairly accurate with), and a bolt action 20 gauge shotgun(my grandfather gave it to me a couple weeks ago, haven't gotten a chance to shoot it yet). Although, with all these weapons and experience I still don't have any shooting sport merit badges.

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Well, what they don't want to do is sit in a class room setting. I'd even try something along the lines of do the fun stuff at camp and save the classroom work for back home. Even nature MB might be fun if it's not writing essays.

 

EagleScout441, I'm all about the adventure. We can do all of that but the caving. JoeBob, I like the advancing level idea.

 

What about building patrol camaraderie? Wasn't there some camp in New Hampshire that did a week of patrol based activities? So they'd sign up for shooting one afternoon and go do that together. Combine that with the levels and the younger scouts get to start with a sling shot and the older scouts can do the tomahawk. Activities that require teamwork would also be good.

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If I had the opportunity I would change the focus from merit badges to high adventure. Setup a rappelling/climbing area(a real cliff if one is available), a waterfront with small boat sailing, use one of the days to go on a whitewater rafting trip(when I say whitewater, I mean Class IV rapids, where it's necessary to have a guide in the raft with you), possibly setup a ropes course(or take a day trip to a ropes course), ziplines, or even go caving. That pretty much covers the best high adventure activities, BTW I have done all those except for caving.
Primitive arms #5: Atlatl

Structures: #1 shelter, #2 tower, #3 bridge, #4 crane, #5 trebuchet.

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Well, what they don't want to do is sit in a class room setting. I'd even try something along the lines of do the fun stuff at camp and save the classroom work for back home. Even nature MB might be fun if it's not writing essays.

 

EagleScout441, I'm all about the adventure. We can do all of that but the caving. JoeBob, I like the advancing level idea.

 

What about building patrol camaraderie? Wasn't there some camp in New Hampshire that did a week of patrol based activities? So they'd sign up for shooting one afternoon and go do that together. Combine that with the levels and the younger scouts get to start with a sling shot and the older scouts can do the tomahawk. Activities that require teamwork would also be good.

Well, patrol cooking is definitely the glue of our summer camp. The trade-off is they have so much fun at it that they often skip camp-wide activities.

 

It's also hard to tell who's ready for what at which age. Son #1 earned Archery at 11.

 

I think if the camp had a wall with totems representing patrol challenges it would make it fun. They choose a totem, report to the camp director, get goals and objectives, report back, get some recognition.

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See, now why doesn't scouting do cool stuff like JoeBob's HA Level system? This is the kind of thing scouts want to do! I would love to see some handguns. As far as shooting sports goes I probably do a lot more than the average scout. I have a homemade slingshot(I haven't shot it in a long time though), a 50lb Ben Pearson Recurve Bow(which I am fairly accurate with), and a bolt action 20 gauge shotgun(my grandfather gave it to me a couple weeks ago, haven't gotten a chance to shoot it yet). Although, with all these weapons and experience I still don't have any shooting sport merit badges.
You mean like this http://heritagereservation.org/eaglebase/programd.php ?

 

For reasons that I still find a little odd, BSA has limited handgun training to Venturing.

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Don't forget your slick promotional videos! Seriously, there are a number of camps out there with th HA competent. Ours isn't quite he tiered system that JoeBob has going. But it definitely gets the boys out from under merit badge burn-out.

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If I had the opportunity I would change the focus from merit badges to high adventure. Setup a rappelling/climbing area(a real cliff if one is available), a waterfront with small boat sailing, use one of the days to go on a whitewater rafting trip(when I say whitewater, I mean Class IV rapids, where it's necessary to have a guide in the raft with you), possibly setup a ropes course(or take a day trip to a ropes course), ziplines, or even go caving. That pretty much covers the best high adventure activities, BTW I have done all those except for caving.
Carving/weaving: #1 wood block, #2 wicker chairs, #3 sculpture, #4 totem poles, #5 cargo nets.

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My ideal camp would be for each PATROL in a troop to have the option of designing their own program. NSP gets scoutcraft, maybe makes a bridge, tower, maybe works on advancement, special training in cooking on wood fires, whatever the boys want to do. Older boys want whitewater canoeing this year, maybe rock climbing next year and shooting sports the third year or maybe they'll just fish all week. If there be a patrol of older boys that just want to come to camp to sit and enjoy the out-of-doors for a week, jaw-jack around the campfire and stay out of trouble! :) What's the harm? Maybe they might want to take on a camp service project if they get too bored.

 

Dump the mess hall. All patrols are supported by a commissary and they pick their menus for the week like they pick their MB's today. If they want pancakes every morning. So be it. If they want steak every night, so be it. Cost of the meals is known when they sign up and adjusted accordingly. The price of camp varies according to the menu chosen.

 

PORs function as PORs - SPL works with camp staff to make sure the patrols get what they need. If he needs more help, the ASPL is there. QM is the go to guy for camp equipment and commissary supplies for anything the patrols may need. Whereas it doesn't sound like much fun to be in these positions, taking on responsibility for the welfare of others isn't always fun and games. Camp staff is responsible for programming in leadership development for the PORs when they are not attending to their patrol support activities. Or maybe they, too, could be doing worthwhile camp service projects of their own choosing.

 

Nothing against MattR, but maybe he's asking the wrong person, he needs to be asking the scouts what they want for a summer camp experience.

 

For me personally???? I would love to be dropped off someplace in a national forest, have 5 days of goods cached around the area a day's hike apart and I need to survive from one cache to the next finally exiting at a pre-designated area. No GPS, just map and compass. I would need to record my trek with camera and journal indicating all wildlife and flora I came across.

 

Stosh

 

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What a great idea.I'm with you on this but good luck selling this to council let alone parents. We have all been trained to look upon advancement and MB's as a gauge of a troop or program's success. This is a lie, the true measure of success is more subtle and harder to gauge. Sometimes you may not see it for months or years.

 

I once spent a few days at a camp in northern Wisconsin near Rhinelander after having to get off Lake Superior because of weather. This was a full blown, high energy, high program dining hall camp. Everything was on a BIG scale. Kids were encouraged to bring their bicycles so they could get to "class" on time. Meals in the dining hall were high energy, loud raucous affairs. My scouts and I were truly blown away. Two days later we were of a different opinion. To us it seemed like a Webelos 3 and 4 camp with no challenges for older or even 3rd and 4th year scouts. We realised that everyone's time was very programmed. It wasn't camp it was a small town.

 

Our troop is very adamant about attending a patrol based cooking camp. The unfortunate thing about it is patrol identity seems to begin and end at the activities centered around meal times. Cooking, cleaning and gathering wood for the stoves. I would like to see our camp change it's Campwide troop competition to a patrol based competition. Granted you may have those troop that can only muster enough scouts for one patrol, but wouldn't that even the playing field when going up against larger troops?

 

The advancement end of camp seems to have taken over and becomes what drives the activities as opposed to the other way around. Activities should drive the advancement.

 

I really like your ideas. They would really help the boys "get it" as opposed to the one and done attitude that programmed camps engender.

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My ideal camp would be for each PATROL in a troop to have the option of designing their own program. NSP gets scoutcraft, maybe makes a bridge, tower, maybe works on advancement, special training in cooking on wood fires, whatever the boys want to do. Older boys want whitewater canoeing this year, maybe rock climbing next year and shooting sports the third year or maybe they'll just fish all week. If there be a patrol of older boys that just want to come to camp to sit and enjoy the out-of-doors for a week, jaw-jack around the campfire and stay out of trouble! :) What's the harm? Maybe they might want to take on a camp service project if they get too bored.

 

Dump the mess hall. All patrols are supported by a commissary and they pick their menus for the week like they pick their MB's today. If they want pancakes every morning. So be it. If they want steak every night, so be it. Cost of the meals is known when they sign up and adjusted accordingly. The price of camp varies according to the menu chosen.

 

PORs function as PORs - SPL works with camp staff to make sure the patrols get what they need. If he needs more help, the ASPL is there. QM is the go to guy for camp equipment and commissary supplies for anything the patrols may need. Whereas it doesn't sound like much fun to be in these positions, taking on responsibility for the welfare of others isn't always fun and games. Camp staff is responsible for programming in leadership development for the PORs when they are not attending to their patrol support activities. Or maybe they, too, could be doing worthwhile camp service projects of their own choosing.

 

Nothing against MattR, but maybe he's asking the wrong person, he needs to be asking the scouts what they want for a summer camp experience.

 

For me personally???? I would love to be dropped off someplace in a national forest, have 5 days of goods cached around the area a day's hike apart and I need to survive from one cache to the next finally exiting at a pre-designated area. No GPS, just map and compass. I would need to record my trek with camera and journal indicating all wildlife and flora I came across.

 

Stosh

No offense taken. I'm just collecting ideas for now. One thing I've figured out with most scouts is that if I can give them some ideas that are completely different from what they're used to, I'll get much better ideas from them. So I will be asking them. I'm really just trying to come up with a generic model, the actual activities would be based on scout input plus a reality check (money, staffing, resources,...)

 

I'd like to see a patrol based camp. It would just be great for helping a troop develop patrol method. There is a tradeoff with what the younger and older scouts can and want to do.

 

This will be a patrol cooking camp because there is no dining hall. There is a regular dining hall camp on the same ranch so I think this is a slightly easier sell. They have a high adventure backpacking program at the ranch, the dining hall camp, and this one. Making it the high adventure non-backpacking might fit well with the other camps (of course, if the scouts wanted to go backpacking for two days I'd think that would be great)

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To start with ask they Scouts what they wanted to do. Two MB tops and the rest adventure like 441 suggests. Would still need to include shooting sports, horses, Scoutcraft activities (pioneering, orienteering etc). boating lessons. Not many 1st years can handle the canoe MB, but they should get practice. Cooking contests.
Many camps still stick to old minimum age of 13 for COPE. Younger Scouts might not be able to do everything, but they can experience some of it. Fortunately our council has seen the light on this and encourages younger scout participation in climbing/rappelling and cope.

 

I am taking the climbing instructor class next weekend and hopefully the challenge course training in the spring.

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