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Stosh

Hey District, Are You Listening?

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...Sadly our experience was the opposite...and has been for many years.

Bad Wolf, I've been in districts just like yours, you have my respect for your perseverance!   The bad attitudes and stuff that the district staffers pull, it's enough to make a unit level scouter crazy, quit, or drink.   Or all three.   Many districts in the BSA have those similar, negative traits.   Double unfortunate that those same, toxic districts think they are just fine, they won't change, and are constantly doing things that work contrary to the what the units are trying to achieve.

 

There is something about those silver loops (I'll throw in WB beads, too!)  that make many district scouters think that they are better than everyone else.

 

No doubt your unit-led camporee would be a success.  There is an appetite for old fashioned scouting, without the hierarchy.    Several units, camping together, with competition, camaraderie, cooking.   Cobble together some funds for a cool patch.   The scouts will never forget it.

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...Camporees that do well are the ones with new ideas. Ours  did well because it was a night campotee. Another district did a back packing camporee that went very well. The participants had to pack up and hike to a new camp. On their way they had to compete in other skills. Our troop once added canoeing and biking to a internal troop  patrol-o-ree? Our guys were exhausted by the end of the weekend because they were having so much fun. 

 

Fun camporees are possible, but it does take some work.

 

Barry

Barry, those are great ideas!

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Years ago the OA ran our camporees and it was the same thing every year. Some adults with a knack for making it fun took over and it's been much better. They take any and all ideas and help. One rut they have gotten into is that they end up with a bunch of stations that take 10-15 minutes to complete. So patrols move from station to station. Turns out the younger scouts like it and the older scouts don't. They'd rather do something that takes hours to complete. That's hard to do with 150 scouts, most of which don't have the patience or focus. So I've been encouraging the older scouts to do their own thing. Some help run stations, do OA stuff, or go hiking.

 

Barry, I saw that scouts shied away from scout skills or anything that requires practice as well. I said adventure and challenge is a scout method and so all campouts need one, their choice of what it is. It was a bit rough at first until they realized they could improve their skills and come back another day and do better. They do like the competitions. They also like to directly compete with other patrols. Competing against the clock or for some score doesn't work at all. That's where our camporees have a challenge. Some troop will also stack the deck and make super patrols to win. When the 11-14 year olds see a patrol of all 17 year olds, it kills their enthusiasm. Our solution is to have the scouts do the stations and have fun during the morning and in the afternoon figure out how to have fun on their own. They really like hanging out with their friends.

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Barry, those are great ideas!

Oh we did a lot of creative ideas. We had some great scouts.

 

My favorite idea that I never got to try was doing a backpacking camporee in town to a city park. Each patrol would set up their camp the night before at a location an equal distance to the park. Probably a church. Without adults, all the patrols would get up the next morning, pack up their gear and backpack to the park following a map that would take them to several stops along the way for skills testing. Once at the park, they set up camp. The evening meal would be provided by the troop adults who are all competing against other troops for their creative cooking skills. All the food is to feed the whole camp and it better be good because the public is watching. Then the campfire would be at the football field in the park so that locals could come and watch the patrols skits, songs, awards presentations and general fun. There would be NO adult Wood Badge beading at this party. A rock band intertains after the campfire.

 

The intent is so all the local residents would see their scouts hiking around town all day in their full BSA glory. All patrols are boy run with not a single adult around. The skills events would be a locations where residents can come and watch. Then of course all can be seen at the park.

 

Honestly for most folks, scouting is a mystery. So the camporee would bring it into full view of the community and the scouts would have fun in the process just doing their scouting stuff. That was the dream that never happened.

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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I said adventure and challenge is a scout method and so all campouts need one, their choice of what it is. It was a bit rough at first until they realized they could improve their skills and come back another day and do better. They do like the competitions. They also like to directly compete with other patrols. 

That is a great idea. I wished I had heard this when I was SM.

 

Barry

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Thanks to all for the ideas, much food for thought.

 

For our fall camporee, the initial suggestions from the troops:   a combo wilderness survival/pioneering weekend.  We'll get everyone together for planning session in a couple weeks.  

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Council camporee was this past weekend, and Wilderness Survival was the theme. Only complaints I heard were A) need more time to build shelters B) need to make sure other patrols do not move the geocaches to get to the first aid event, and C) want more time on the tomahawk toss range.  Other than those complaints everyone had a blast.

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All great ideas.

 

Have to say I still like the unit-o-ree idea. ;)

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My favorite idea that I never got to try was doing a backpacking camporee in town to a city park. ... <snip lots of great stuff>

 

Barry

I really like this idea! You would probably get arrested if you tried it (youth being directed to travel by foot without adult supervision! Oh My!), but it's a great idea. I agree that scouting is a mystery to many people, and doing things like this in public helps with that. Last summer my district ran cub camp in a city park in full view of the public. Unfortunatly, being in a city park meant no bb guns, archery or slingshots (weapons! Oh My!).

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All great ideas.

 

Have to say I still like the unit-o-ree idea. ;)

If you really like it, start by doing one at the patrol level. Organize one for a campout where all the Patrols compete. Our older scouts designed and planned it, then they got the adults to help run it so that scouts could participate. It was a good teacher for doing the Trooporee. The scouts loved them because it is a different kind of campout. Planning is the Hard part. Our first one was a night Patrol-o-ree under the Star Trek theme. The competition kicked off from the Saturday campfire, so it went until about 2:00 am. That was the one time the adults fixed breakfast for the troop. 

 

The PLC planned another a year or two later where the patrols had to hike, bike, canoe and backpack all day long, The older scouts planned 16 competition events all along the path. I thought they were crazy and the patrols would be gone into the night, but they we all done by 3:00. Not counting the canoeing, that scouts traveled over five miles. It needs to be double that. They had free time the rest of the day and I have never seen scouts and Webleos parents play so hard biking, hiking, fishing and whatever.

 

The funny part of the story is that a few days before the campout, a large pack of 22 Webelos asked if they could come with us with their parents. I asked the SPL what they could do and left it up to him. low and behold they were ready for those scouts and their parents. I still laugh looking back seeing the Webelos drive into camp with a large u-haul trailer full of bikes. We had a great PLC then. I still see many of those scouts because they are my sons best friends. I'll to have to remind just what the accomplished.

 

Our troop typically uses Sunday for church service, skills signoff, PLC meeting and Capture the Flag. The Webelos parents were so tired that they ask if to leave after the church service. The troop adults kind of hung back in camp during the Saturday events because the scouts run the show, but the Webelos parent went along with the scouts. They used muscles they hadn't used in years, so they could barely walk. Honestly I thought we lost those Webelos, but six months later we ended with 30 new scouts from that one pack. They had so much fun they invited their friends to join. Taking the Webs was not part of the plan, we don't do anything special for their visits. But I guess it's all in the timing. 

 

Good memories

 

Barry

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If you really like it, start by doing one at the patrol level. Organize one for a campout where all the Patrols compete. Our older scouts designed and planned it, then they got the adults to help run it so that scouts could participate. 

 

Our PLC plans most camp outs like this already. They build 1-2 competitions in to each camp out based on a core scouting skill. If we are canoeing than it is a canoe race. If hiking, we have an orienteering contest. If just "chilling" than it may be cooking, fire building (assuming the State of MT allows it) or something like that.

 

Thanks for the ideas. Already passed along to the SPL. ;)

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With only one patrol in the troop it makes it kinda hard to pull off patrol competitions.  However, last night the boys were talking about inviting another troop or two to join them so they would have some competition at the fall camporee that they will be setting up.  They seemed to like the idea of planning out out a camporee but at this point the are thinking it might be more than they could handle if it was open to the whole district.  There's plenty of other troops to draw from that don't attend camporees that wouldn't interfere with the district's program.

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With only one patrol in the troop it makes it kinda hard to pull off patrol competitions.  However, last night the boys were talking about inviting another troop or two to join them so they would have some competition at the fall camporee that they will be setting up.  They seemed to like the idea of planning out out a camporee but at this point the are thinking it might be more than they could handle if it was open to the whole district.  There's plenty of other troops to draw from that don't attend camporees that wouldn't interfere with the district's program.

 

Hey @@Stosh, just curious but how many units are there in your district and what % participate? In my district there 34 units and less than half participate; mostly because the larger units plan, manage and control the camporee and district. It has gotten so ridiculous that those units have their patrols *practice* the allegedly secret skill competitions a few months prior to camporee so they can sweep the categories. Very scout-like, huh?  :rolleyes:

 

I'm curious what % of other folks' units participate in planning and attending their camporees.

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With only one patrol in the troop it makes it kinda hard to pull off patrol competitions.  However, last night the boys were talking about inviting another troop or two to join them so they would have some competition at the fall camporee that they will be setting up.  They seemed to like the idea of planning out out a camporee but at this point the are thinking it might be more than they could handle if it was open to the whole district.  There's plenty of other troops to draw from that don't attend camporees that wouldn't interfere with the district's program.

My personal experience is that the district politics make planning any district activity challenging for scouts. That is coming from someone who spent a lot of time on the District committee. Let district do their thing and your scouts do their own thing. Much cleaner and easier. 

 

Barry

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My personal experience is that the district politics make planning any district activity challenging for scouts. That is coming from someone who spent a lot of time on the District committee. Let district do their thing and your scouts do their own thing. Much cleaner and easier. 

 

Barry

@@Eagledad, when our last SM took over from a long serving (and district-hating) SM, the new SM swore to build bridges with district. Over the next five years he had many scouts and scouters help at district, within the lodge, etc., to no avail. Still the good old  boys reigned. Still the same old same old. Five years of head banging (not the Metallica kind) and he pulled back to do exactly as you suggest. Our units are stronger and more prosperous than ever. Sound advice!

Edited by Bad Wolf

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