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Do we really need summer camps?

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That last line is funny. I know one troop that goes to Bartle and anyways none of the older scouts wanted to go down last summer where they would be expected to work with the younger scouts on trail to first class. The troop had to pay their way to get them to go.

 

And no wonder. 10 days where the days are spent watching over younger scouts and evenings with just sitting around isn't much fun.

 

Personally, I'm not a fan of the T2FC concept at camp.   It restricts everyone--the new scouts, older scouts and adults (depending on the camp's policy).   

 

There was a time in scouting when training for those basic skills fell upon the patrol leader, and the patrol worked on the skills and advancement year round at patrol and troop meetings, and campouts.   Summer camp was for fun and adventure, first and foremost.

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The one thing they never make more of is land ... once it is gone, it is gone.

 

While I have not seen the data, it is often told to us in the Webelos to Scout transition that getting the Scout to attend summer camp is the single largest factor in the retention of that Scout.

 

A week of self-determination, away from the constant directions of Mom and Dad will do wonders for the self-esteem and confidence of that Scout.

 

Camps are very different, if the one you are going to is not doing it for your unit, there are many others around (at least for most the country).

 

Camps do not need to be, should not be, merit badge factories.  The camp I was program director for generally ran three or maybe 4 merit badge "session" times.  A really motivated scout could probably complete another merit badge during open program time.  It was a constant criticism of the camp, and we did not run at full capacity (number of weeks or filled campsites), but those who did come, came year after year - many from other councils - because the camp was beautiful, the boys always had fun, and even those that did not complete merit badges had lots to do, learn, and enjoy.

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Growing up in Canada there were very few scout/guide camps and they didn't offer programs like the BSA or GSUSA run for their scouts here. If we used a scout owned camp the unit provided the adults and the program. It was awesome. We canoed, cooked, hiked and generally had a blast as kids. We went to national parks, provincial parks and conservation areas. Some were better equipped than the scout camps (showers and flush toilets).

 

Me feeling is that scout camps have a place, but that they should be on a provisional basis across the board. If parents wish to send their scout to summer camp do it. But if you want troop bonding then the troop needs to plan and execute the summer camping experience. I have been to 6 different BSA summer camps over the years and not one fosters troop/patrol bonding. Each scout has his own program and is seldom with his troopmates. Even evening programs foster individuality. Merit badge can come from other sources.

 

My girl scout troop plans and executes a summer program each year and once every 4 years we go to the West Sussex Jamboree (hey Skip you going next year)in England. Our summer camps have been a blast. We have backpacked, gone to a Midwestern city and done the tourist thing, vegged at the side of a great lake for a week, whitewater rafted and rock climbed. The girls research everything, plan it all and arrange the campsites. They make the shopping lists, and do all the cooking. The adults make reservations, drive, aid in shopping, and generally are available to assist when asked. We have a great week too, some of us partake in the activities planned, some just veg with a good book.

 

Very few of my girls go to council provisional camps. They're expensive and bland compared to troop adventures. On the other hand just about every boy goes to council summer camp and adults have to go too. I don't know any troops in my area that even attempt to plan their own adventures. I get the feeling its frowned upon by the BSA.

 

I guess my feeling is we need scout camps to be a resource, trained staff members that can teach/monitor activities that can't be done at home. They don't need to be scout schools with set class periods, pre-reqs and report cards (blue cards). Imagine a camp where scouts get up in the morning on their (the troop's) timeframe, make and clean up breakfast, the scouts pick an activity or 2 for the day and head off for some fun in the sun. Back for dinner and troop time around a campfire or an evening swim at the lake.No stress, no classes, kids being kids and playing and having fun.

 

Oh, but we can't have that happen, BSA would have a fit. No merit badges, no progress towards Eagle, no badge sales income. How anit-scouting could I get ;-)

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Scouts and troops need extended time with each other away from distractions of normal life (that's why a week of camp is worth more than a year of meetings.)

 

If camps were closed it would put too much pressure on troops to provide their own week long camp type experience.  Smaller troops would dwindle.

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Merit badges should be afterthoughts at summer camp.

 

Camp is about camaraderie...hiking...swimming...hanging around with friends, old and new, on the front porch of the trading post, drinking a root beer float...enjoying the evening campfire...the scent of pine...singing old songs while waiting for chow...finally getting getting the hang of paddling a canoe...or doing absolutely nothing at all, and not feeling the least bit guilty about it.

 

To me, the the one badge worth pursuing at any camp is the "progressive" patch...1st year, 2nd year, etc.   Even those are optional.

 

The boys should have one week of their life without a bunch of homework, requirements, and pushing from adults to do stuff.   Summer camp has devolved from a fun experience to one of sitting around on a log, listening to lectures, and then spending the evening doing homework at the picnic table.   That's a darn shame.

 

I almost agree

 

I do think that much more time should be allocated as free, but some structured activities are good.

 

My opinion is that there should be huge segments of time allocated for troop activities.... doing the stuff that the troop wants to do, maybe fun, maybe some time spent helping the younger guys, maybe working on a specific thing as a troop or as a patrol, such as working together on paddling for an upcoming troop canoe trip....

 

and there should be huge amounts of time for the individual scouts to do the stuff that desertratt described.... hanging with friends at the trading post for example. 

 

Lastly, I do think that the MB opportunities at camp are good.  I wouldn't want to suggest set limits, but I'm thinking it might be better to encourage something like signing up for no more than one or two badges.  Make them something meaningful for the scout and not just something to fill up the schedule.  Some over-achiever type scouts may choose more, but it should be a choice in my opinion, and not an expectation.

 

I'm trying to not look at this from an adult perspective here....I think all these things would make camp much more fun AND meaningful for the scouts.

 

This past summer was my 1st summer camp experience since I was a scout.  I was there as a supporting Scouter.  I managed to find time to jump in the lake exactly ZERO times..... and I wasn't signed up for a bunch of merit badge classes either!  That just aint right!!!

The scouts didn't either by the way.  Free swim time, for example was just very limited.  There just simply wasn't enough free time

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My opinion is that there should be huge segments of time allocated for troop activities.... doing the stuff that the troop wants to do, maybe fun, maybe some time spent helping the younger guys, maybe working on a specific thing as a troop or as a patrol, such as working together on paddling for an upcoming troop canoe trip....

 

Blw2, I concur.   For example, if the troop wants to take a half-day hike together, it should be encouraged.   Some camps have the schedule so full that the scouts don't have a moment to do anything other than work on requirements for MBs.

 

And I'm sorry you didn't get to go swimming, it truly pains me to hear that!

Edited by desertrat77

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yeah, and I really wanted to get on the "Blob" too!

 

(google "lake blob" if you don't know what it is)

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yeah, and I really wanted to get on the "Blob" too!

 

(google "lake blob" if you don't know what it is)

 

That looks like alot of fun!   

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I'm trying to not look at this from an adult perspective here....I think all these things would make camp much more fun AND meaningful for the scouts.

 

This past summer was my 1st summer camp experience since I was a scout.  I was there as a supporting Scouter.  I managed to find time to jump in the lake exactly ZERO times..... and I wasn't signed up for a bunch of merit badge classes either!  That just aint right!!!

The scouts didn't either by the way.  Free swim time, for example was just very limited.  There just simply wasn't enough free time

 

Me too--the "first summer camp since I was a scout" part.  And I'm agreeing with exactly everything you were saying--esp. the part about hardly any time for swimming.  Waterfront / boats were may times "MB only"...only an hour or two for free swim here and there, many boys could never fit it in their schedule.

 

I got around it by singing up for both aquatics supervision courses.   By the end of the second one I was ready to get out of the lake!

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Alas since the SPL lives at my house we talked a great deal about next years Summer Camp. I pitched the old school DIY summer camp experience but the PLC was pretty clear. The boys want no cooking,a nice dining hall, a full slate of MB classes, and a few side trips. They like the FCFY programs--just to get rid of the newbies. No interest in basically cooking and camping as a Troop and planning our own MB activities.

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Alas since the SPL lives at my house we talked a great deal about next years Summer Camp. I pitched the old school DIY summer camp experience but the PLC was pretty clear. The boys want no cooking,a nice dining hall, a full slate of MB classes, and a few side trips. They like the FCFY programs--just to get rid of the newbies. No interest in basically cooking and camping as a Troop and planning our own MB activities.

 

Sounds a bit like boy led right into the ground.  Any church youth group can pull off summer camp with those parameters.

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I joined boy scouts in '69 and the older scouts still talked about the "good ol days" before they had to go to a council camp.  it was a two week affair for the older scouts,they worked on some MB stuff but mostly it was leadership training and getting the camp ready for the newer scouts who came on the second week.    

 

One of the dads had about 40-50 acres of woods with a pond.  So there was swimming.  dead tree felling, tower building , all meals were cooked by patrol over an open fire,   black powder shooting,  etc.

 

Dont know why we stopped doing that and started going to summer camps.  It was easier I guess but we seemed to loose something as well

 

Oldscout

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I really like summer camp as a fun bonding time for the troop.  The travel is sometimes the best part.

 

I really dislike the merit badge mills part though.  I have witnessed more than not the merit badge instructor talking an the boys glazed over or just not wanting to put in the work and they get passed on the requirements because they were present.  The parents feel great and pat themselves on the back and say "Johnny can make fire now" .  When I saw Johnny completely fail and not really even try but whined a lot.  No camp seems to have them "demonstrate" the skill before signing off,

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When my oldest son was signing up for his first summer camp, he was signing up for all Eagle required merit badges. I looked over his form and vetoed it. I told him he could AT MOST take one Eagle required MB class. The rest of the time was for fun activities that he could not do in the city.  He had a blast. 

Edited by krikkitbot
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Yes, I'm hating the MB mill aspect that is now summer camp. First 2 years was out of council, and camp was good. Went to the local council camp, and it is so scheduled, it is ridiculous. Only free time activities are at night, and you gotta sign up for them in advance if you want to do it. Otherwise it's on a space available/first come first served basis. One of my scouts retook Swimming so he could get wet in the middle of the day. I wish he would have retaken Lifesaving as well, but oh well.

 

But what got me was the instruction. On the waterfront 1 or 2 boats at a time, and everything was completed in 2 days. Kids got the MB, but had issues on a canoe trip the troop did a month later. One scout dropped Communications MB after the first day, but according to the advancement report, me met all but 2 requirements! Found that out this past Sunday.

 

I told my son his second year "No Paperpushing MBs, have fun." And while he didn't earn a single MB at camp, he had fun and learned a lot. He eventually completed 2 of the 4 he took his second year.

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