Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Twocubdad

Attracting Older MBCs to Camp

Recommended Posts

Every time we mention problems of summer camp merit badge programs under aged, inexperience and plain ol' incompetent counselors are mentioned. I assume just about everyone here counsels a few merit badges for which we have some relative expertise.

 

So let me ask this -- what would it take for you to be on camp staff for a few weeks of the summer? Better food? Accommodations? Pay? For the sake of argument, let's put aside the obvious problem of vacation time aside.

 

Or perhaps another to ask the question is, if you were your camp's program director, how would you go about recruiting older, experienced counselors?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The camp director would have to convince me of the need for me to be an MBC at camp rather than going off somewhere with my crew or troop. It would be a tough sell.

 

Couldn't the boys just get instruction at camp then get my # and follow-up with me when they get home?

 

Understand that I am largely satisfied with our camps teen MBCs. They were well supervised and mostly competent.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
For the sake of argument, let's put aside the obvious problem of vacation time aside.

 

 

I don't think you can do this. I'm blessed with more PTO than I can usually take, but many are not. And this, I feel is the bottom line, right there with camp fees.

 

But, let's remember an instructor and a MBC can be two separate people. For example, I was reminded by a Cherokee and former ASM, that he could most definitely instruct all the Indian Lore essentials, then I as an MBC could evaluate the scout's knowledge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I and other adults have offered to help in the past as after all we are already there, but the various program directors have rejected the idea for "safety" reasons. More likely they feared losing control to continue to do things the camp way - rubber-stamped blue cards, etc.

 

But to answer your first question, it would have to be seamless. I would insist that I conduct my merit badge class the same way I normally do - the scout has already done the prereqs if any, read the book, no previous work accepted unless documented with a blue card and even then I will ask question, all requirements to be completed, a small and manageable class... quality of instruction over quantity of merit badges, all contrary to the current camp program. :(

 

Second question, to get older college kids?

1. Shorter work week, i.e., give them (and us) back their weekend. Camp begins say Sunday afternoon/evening or even Monday morning and ends Friday afternoon. Closing campfire is Thursday night.

2. Work with colleges to set up some credited work/study

3. Better pay would help, particularly increases for returning counselors.

 

To get adults.

1. Treat us like adults.

2. Offer part time day with no uniform requirements, just Health forms A & B.

3. Taxi/gator transport to class location.

4. On site secure storage of merit badge materials.

5. Free coffee

6. Support our decisions. If we feel the scout's work was incomplete, a partial it is. Period.

 

My $0.02, and I like my coffee black

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my experience there are plenty of us already there. When the scouts go off to their MBs, there isn't all that much for us scouters to do. The specific answer then is to ask, allow and perhaps entice with discounted/complimentary camp fees.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While it's been a while since I worked summer camp staff and I am not as up to date with current camp standards, I can see a few issues with using leaders at camp to teach MBs.

 

1) Is consistency. If each week of new leaders brings a new batch of MBs, how can planning be done in advance for the Scouts to plan their schedules?

 

2) Is the bureaucracy. Even if the leaders volunteer to teach for the week, national has decided that they have to follow ALL (emphasis) of the same policies and procedures that paid staff have to go through: x number of hours of training, camp YPT, sexual harassment training, first aid and CPR/AED training ad nauseum. I've dealt with this as a CSDC program director and it drives folks nuts.

 

In my opinion, the "Safety" issue is more legal liability and bureaucracy than actual safety concerns for the Scouts.

 

Now to attract college students, I agree better pay and working with colleges to get them college credit will work. And while working with the colleges may be a pain at times, I've seen it work out.

 

An idea I picked up on from another group was scholarships in lieu of pay. I met someone who worked at another organizations summer camp program. None of the staff were paid, all volunteers, their only compensation was room and board. However the organization did have a scholarship program, and every staffer was put into that program.While not every scholarship recipient was a camp staffer, every camp staffer was a scholarship recipient.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like where you're heading with this idea. Two suggestions:

 

Use an older MBC to augment the camp staff; have him work with a youth instructor. Old Expert can come for two days instruction with time in between for the youth instructor to supervise the work.

 

Use the SMs that are already coming to your camp. How many of us have gone to camp, checked on our boys in their classes on Monday, and filled the rest of our time during the next 4 days with make-work?

 

You're challenge in recruiting SMs will be changing the camp staff attitude towards SMs. For example; I was scrounging for an entrant for my troops 'Critter Crawl' and stumbled onto a medium sized copperhead near the swim area. Collected the snake, put him in an empty Tang container and took him to the staff for relocation or nature exhibit. The nature staffer refused to believe that I could have caught a poisonous snake. I had to be quite forceful to prevent him from peeking into the jar (holding the jar up to his face and cracking the lid open). When he dumped the copperhead on the grass in the parade field (Oh Snap! That is a poisonous snake!) he didn't have a stick to recapture the snake. I re-packaged the snake for him. He looked at me like I had violated a basic rule of being human and stalked off without a word. (Evil JoeBob said I should have let the snake bite him in the face...)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I was a scout and wanted to take First Aid MB at summer camp, my SM told me to take it from the SM in the adjacent camp (a retired Army medic).

Not sure if the camp director ever knew.

 

I got a partial and had to follow-up by bringing a buddy for a victim to demonstrate with to his front porch.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
national has decided that they have to follow ALL (emphasis) of the same policies and procedures that paid staff have to go through: x number of hours of training, camp YPT, sexual harassment training, first aid and CPR/AED training ad nauseum. I've dealt with this as a CSDC program director and it drives folks nuts.

 

Therein lies the problem.

And probably the foundation of the camp staffers' nasty attitude.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
More likely they feared losing control to continue to do things the camp way - rubber-stamped blue cards' date=' etc.[/quote']

 

I spent the week with my son's troop at camp last year, and your explanation is what I was told. It was possible to get up to 8 merit badges that week, and from what I saw, there were many requirements that got signed off which should not have been. I spoke with the camp director about this and told him I would volunteer while I was there during the week to teach ones that I am a counselor for. The problem is that I won't rubber-stamp blue cards, and they had a quota of "earned" merit badges which they were judged on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Let's call this program C.I.R -- Counselor In Retirement -- which bookends nicely with Counselor In Training. Or Curmudgeon in Repose. Maybe Crabby Individual Resting. I'm sure the Scouts will find more fitting titles.

 

Over the years there have been more weeks than not where I've been presses into service as a MBC for at least part of the week if not all. That's not really what I'm talking about. That's fine for an emergency fill-in, but as noted above, too inconsistent.to build a program around. Myself, I have no problem staying busy during the troop's week at camp.. It takes a lot of effort to look like you're doing nothing.

 

Seems to me the MB programs which require certification -- aquatics, climbing, shooting -- take care of themselves. My camp, at least, usually has solid, college-aged area directors, but there is a considerable drop-off from there. The problems areas are the "aw, anyone can teach that" merit badges which are poorly run -- handicrafts, scout crafts, nature -- dumping grounds for the 15- and 16-y.o. staffers.

 

What would be appealing to me would be flexibility of schedule. I may give them two weeks, but not six. My thought would be at the beginning of the year, find two, three or four experienced counselors to split the season and create one full-time equivalent counselor. We could attend a couple days of staff week to get the required training and to coordinate our curriculum and materials.

 

This is just me, but I don't necessarily want to play Man Scout all summer. I really don't need to participate in all the skits and silly "spirit" stuff. (I've always defined Scout Spirit as living by the oath and law. Not sure which point of the law include hula skirts.) I would want to teach my classes and be done for the day. The 16-y.o. staffers can supervise the dodgeball tournament. Same for Saturday and Sunday. My level of expertise is not required to check troops in or to inspect campsites. I need to be on site by 0900 Monday and gone at 1600 Friday.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My solution: Eliminate the 'classroom' MB programs from summer camp. This includes anything where boys sit slouched in chairs and listen to the MBC. Let ALL of those MBs be covered by MBCs in the correct way, outside of summer camp and outside of troop meetings....with the boys pursuing them on their own.

Retain the MB program which requires the boys to move, learn, and think on their feet: Waterfront stuff, pioneering stuff, first aid can be done this way. And if the summer camp can't figure out how to keep the boys active with MBs, then do it with other activities. Summer camp is not a place where boys should spend their time sleepwalking through the days and gaining weight.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I and other adults have offered to help in the past as after all we are already there, but the various program directors have rejected the idea for "safety" reasons. More likely they feared losing control to continue to do things the camp way - rubber-stamped blue cards, etc.

 

But to answer your first question, it would have to be seamless. I would insist that I conduct my merit badge class the same way I normally do - the scout has already done the prereqs if any, read the book, no previous work accepted unless documented with a blue card and even then I will ask question, all requirements to be completed, a small and manageable class... quality of instruction over quantity of merit badges, all contrary to the current camp program. :(

 

Second question, to get older college kids?

1. Shorter work week, i.e., give them (and us) back their weekend. Camp begins say Sunday afternoon/evening or even Monday morning and ends Friday afternoon. Closing campfire is Thursday night.

2. Work with colleges to set up some credited work/study

3. Better pay would help, particularly increases for returning counselors.

 

To get adults.

1. Treat us like adults.

2. Offer part time day with no uniform requirements, just Health forms A & B.

3. Taxi/gator transport to class location.

4. On site secure storage of merit badge materials.

5. Free coffee

6. Support our decisions. If we feel the scout's work was incomplete, a partial it is. Period.

 

My $0.02, and I like my coffee black

 

 

I respectfully suggest item 7 :

 

7. Provide time to allow testing on requirements.

 

Again, the 3 merit badges I helped with for a week at camp allowed about 5-7 minutes per candidate for the week, total. It was impossible for a candidate to actually pass a merit badge. When I suggested after dinner -- or other -- time slots at the Scouts convenience, I was told that possibility was against "camp policy." Everything had to be done in "scheduled time." 0___0

 

I would be willing to pay for meals.

 

My former council's camp had a number of actual Merit Badge Counselors at camp in 2014. (New Camp Director)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

7. Provide time to allow testing on requirements.

 

I would be willing to pay for meals.

/QUOTE]

 

Good point. Regarding time, my merit badge classes run longer than an hour. Tell, Show, Do (please don't rebrand it as EDGE) takes time, so my class would likely take twice as long as the 45-50 minute block at camp. I would test in that class rather than later.

 

Free coffee vs pay for meals/expenses. Maybe that is a cause of our "respect at camp" problem, we are paying for the privilege of giving our services for free. No cost to camp or council, no wonder there is no respect from camp or council.

 

Maybe before camp promos go out, do a talent search for adult mb help ( part-time, free food/cot both you and son, whatever works for adult MBC). Based on the talent recruited, camps advertise specialty weeks but allow adult MBC to step it up a couple of notches, i.e., program director butt-out.

 

2015 Camp DoneRight. Note classes have strict prereqs and size limits as set by MBC's and BSA.

 

Week 1 - First Aid and SAR MB week with

Dr. NotOz - Emergency MD Mt. Ouch Hospital and Committee Member Troop 4

WEMT Cary Mehome and ASM Troop 986

Sgt Savem, Army Medic Troop 101

Petty Officer Iam Searchin, CG-SAR Troop 1790

Park Ranger Corey Stuart

with Special guest SAR rescue dog - Lassie

 

Week 2 - Mudscout, Fitness MB

 

Week 3 - Animals, large and small

Drs. Wagmore and Barkless from Podunk Vet Hospital, Troop 1 and Troop 2

...

Week 4 - Top Shot Week

Bring in our military, NRA parents

 

Week 5 - Environment MB week

Forester Tim Burr

 

Anyway you get the idea.

My $0.02,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pack -- we've eliminated them in our troop. I take the camp schedule and white-out Communications, the citizenships, Personal Fitness, etc. before we distribute to the Scouts. The only blow-back I get is from parents. The Scouts generally appreciate it. I mean really, who wants to take Communications at summer camp.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×