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Camp "just For Fun"?

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Some of you have discussed how Scout camp is too regimented and too much centered around earning merit badges and maybe Scouts would like to go just to have fun and do activities.

 

Is that possible?

 

Our Scouts go to Bartle mostly and all the activities like the lakefront are pretty much tied up all day so I cant see Scouts just say checking out some canoes for the day. The only things scouts could do on their own I guess is hiking.

 

So at your camps what could or have Scouts just done on their own?

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Firstly, for most boys, earning MBs is fun. So you want to always give them a chance to pick up one or two in a week.

But ... after a few years they start gravitating to things they like best.

I've had scouts "re-take" small boat sailing, year after year, sometimes in both afternoon and morning sessions.

They might master the ropes course/climbing wall.

Master shooting sports. Or, go shooting with a younger scout until he qualifies for his MB.

Fish.

Whitewater.

Caving.

Backpacking treks.

Wrap a duct tape baseball, grab a stick, and convert the parade field into a field of dreams.

Pilfer twine from scoutcraft and lash a giant hamster cage.

Lash a lakeside bunk and sleep out under the stars multiple nights.

Convert a tarp named Bruce to a boat named Kaitlyn. (Mine isn't always the classiest bunch.)

Assist the medic, camp QM, or other staff.

And yes, checking out canoes all day to go to an outpost is a possibility.

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Growing up and workign at , Camp V-Bar at Salmen Scout Reservation in Perkinston MS had the last 2 periods for free swimming, boating, and shooting sports. So kids had time for "me."

 

Camp my son has went to for the past 2 years only offered one period of free swim. BUT they had a waterslide.  I was told they had some evening sessions of free shooting, but that didn't cover archery.

 

They also had some awesome activities in the evenings: water fest, dodgeball, BMX track, etc.

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Unstructured time is both and good thing and a bad thing.  Boys who see this time as an opportunity can have a great time, but other boys see it as "nothing to do" time and are bored and will eventually find something "to get into".

 

I do like the idea of taking MB's over again if one has enjoyed it the first time.

 

It is also a problem with the boys all going different directions and the over-controlling SM not knowing where everyone is every minute of the day and can't drop in to the MB session to make sure the boys are staying on task.

 

Any given Saturday when I was growing up, my parents had no idea where I was or what I was doing while hanging out with my friends.  I didn't think the SM needed to either.  My opinion hasn't changed over the years.

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Our troop always has our own agenda within the camp agenda. We try to schedule at least one troop activity where the camp opens the activity only for our troop. Usually it is shooting sports, but it can be anything. We push the scouts to stay busy with non advancement activities and look for camps with a wide verity of biking, water sports, and so on. We also take a couple of tubs of checkers, chest, footballs, wiffle ball sets baseballs and other stuff for scouts wanting to fill in some time. Our scouts are rarely bored. We do our troop campfire to pick the best skit and we always do a river raft trip, Six Flags, or something on our way home from camp to finish with a bang. We are rewarded with scouts who are usually dead asleep before lights out AND on the way home from camp. I've bragged before that 90 percent of our older scouts go to summer camp until they age out. I think it is because we have so much fun.

 

Barry

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Unstructured time is both and good thing and a bad thing.  Boys who see this time as an opportunity can have a great time, but other boys see it as "nothing to do" time and are bored and will eventually find something "to get into".

 

This is VERY true. When there is too much "down time" those kids prone to homesickness will drop further in to despair. This is especially true in the evenings and at night. We always make sure we have unit or camp-based activities during those times. It has greatly reduced or eliminated homesickness.

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Unstructured time is both and good thing and a bad thing.  Boys who see this time as an opportunity can have a great time, but other boys see it as "nothing to do" time and are bored and will eventually find something "to get into".

 

I do like the idea of taking MB's over again if one has enjoyed it the first time.

When I was a scout at summer camp, I don't remember there being any activity being "booked". The swimming hole was always "free swim", the rifle and archery ranges were always drop in (sometimes there was a line and you had to wait a bit). Same with the boats, get in line and take the next free one (and there were plenty so I never remember waiting - except during the canoeing MB class). Yes the MB classes would "book" time on the ranges and such, but the classes were small so they wouldn't take up the whole rifle range, or use all the boats. Until I got to this forum, I never even heard of the concept of "troop swim", or the idea of a camp having specially designated "free periods". If a scout decided to work on three MBs, that was considered a heavy load and he was warned by the scout master about leaving time for fun. In our troop, no one was allowed to take more than three at summer camp - most only did one. Yes there was a schedule (meal times, lights out, camp wide events, etc.), but most of a scouts time was unscheduled.

 

To be honest, scout camp today sounds to much like school to be fun for my taste. Way to much structure! No wonder people find it "stressful".

It is also a problem with the boys all going different directions and the over-controlling SM not knowing where everyone is every minute of the day and can't drop in to the MB session to make sure the boys are staying on task.

 

Any given Saturday when I was growing up, my parents had no idea where I was or what I was doing while hanging out with my friends.  I didn't think the SM needed to either.  My opinion hasn't changed over the years.

Same with me. I think the SM and ASMs only had a basic idea where everyone was. If they saw us changing into bathing suits and heading off with towels, they figured we were going to the swimming hole. If we had our fishing poles, we were going fishing. They usually asked us where we were going, but sometimes the answer was "I don't know, run around for a bit". If you had a first aid MB class at 2:30, it was the scouts responsibility to remember and get there on time.

 

Same at home. My parents wanted to have some idea of where I was and who I was with. But often all they knew was "I'm going bike riding with Charles." Too which they would reply: "OK, dinner is at six."

Edited by Rick_in_CA

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This is VERY true. When there is too much "down time" those kids prone to homesickness will drop further in to despair. This is especially true in the evenings and at night. We always make sure we have unit or camp-based activities during those times. It has greatly reduced or eliminated homesickness.

This is something else I don't remember much of: homesickness. I never had it that I can remember, nor do I remember it being much of an issue in our troop. I wonder if modern parenting styles increase it? By the time I hit boy scouts, the idea of spending time away from my parents wasn't very novel. Even before cub scouts I went to the three day camps in Indian Guides (of course my Dad was there for those camps so I guess it doesn't really count. Even though the adults slept in a different building from the kids).

 

I do remember the first day of kindergarten and a some of the kids crying as their mommies left them for the day. I didn't understand it then either. I remember asking the kid next to me why is he crying? He said "because mommy left!" I replied: "you know she is coming back after school right?"

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I've told every kid I talked to about it that I was homesick too -- everyone is to some extent or another, but that needn't stop you from having fun while you're here.

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I've told every kid I talked to about it that I was homesick too -- everyone is to some extent or another, but that needn't stop you from having fun while you're here.

 

I am with @@Rick_in_CA on this. I was never homesick. Never understood the mentality. I could not wait to get away from home and be off on my own. Hell, I would have stayed all summer. As soon as I had a chance I was camp staff.

 

I can sympathize with those who get homesick, but it is not something I can relate to.

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Most camps that I'm familiar with have some combination of closed and open program. They offer a certain number of merit badge sessions, and then fill the remaining time with "open program" which can be used to for troop activities, patrol activities, or free time in program areas.

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