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ItsBrian

Are first year Scout summer camp programs difficult to teach?

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As I said I will be working in the first year program, if anyone who has staffed one or even watched some of the programs could give me some tips. I don’t want to go into too much detail or too less, and don’t want to make it boring. Unfortunately I am missing staff week and the first week of camp due to PA ending school before me.

Any advice would be great.

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It really depends an the boys you get to teach, your assistants, and any parents who may volunteer to help.

Read up on the trail to first class requirements. That will give you some idea.

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Ask the camp for the lesson plan from previous years. When I worked at camp we had to do a year-end report with enough detail so subsequent staffers could run the same program. But not all camps are the same, so just see what resources they have for you. 

The biggest thing is to keep it fun and get them moving around at least every 10 or 15 minutes. These are going to be almost entirely 11 year olds. 

Try to be funny and slightly goofy. This will help keep their attention. Silly hats, outfits, or accents can make a big impact. 

You will probably have a large class size and it will normally will be filled. These are very popular programs. Use whatever staff and adults you can to help manage them. 

Best of luck. That program can be a challenge to manage at times but also a HUGE amount of fun, and you are making the most impact on these young scouts. You will probably change the life of several scouts this summer, however you likely will never know It or what small gesture you did made that big difference. Just be aware that it happens. 

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Spend a little time Show and Telling and more time them Doing. Add surprises!  Teach some first aid and suddenly bring out a ketchup  squeeze bottle , OMG this scout's leg is bleeding! 

As they gain confidence in their skills, make it competitive., e.g., build a  fire and boil water/burn string the fastest,  which sharpened knife can slice paper without tearing.

For Cooking, you are no longer Brian.  Muss your hair, wear a white chef jacket, speak with an accent - you are a Gordon Ramsey but  more scout;like his Master Chef Junior show. :)

Make it fun for them and you.

My $0.02,

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I agree with the ideas of looking for ways to make them laugh and keep drawing them in.  When they start to drift off...I've heard it termed "going away" because their mind is going someplace else... then be ready with a joke, or without warning change the character from Gordon Ramsey to Guy Fieri to bring them back to the kitchen.

Resist the temptation to read out of the book, or anything like that.  I'd try to make everything hands on...which may be near impossible if the group is big, but still...its a good goal

and remember that 99% of them probably have already heard most of the material before.  They've had it read to them in cub scout den meetings, they've also attended CubORee and things like that where they've had 1st aid courses and had the books read to them.  And probably again in some of their early troop meetings before this camp.  They have most likely already tried to make a splint or a stretcher, or maybe wrap a sprained ankle in a necker....  maybe even done all these things multiple times, and some even outside of scouting.  But what they most likely haven't done is to do any of those things for 'real', or be held to a standard to actually get that wrapped ankle properly tight enough to do anything.  Instead they have wrapped the ankle kinda-sorta like it should be, and then the instructor said, "oh that's good enough, you get the idea. Now let's move on to..."

I love the idea of the Ketchup bottle...but if you can, hide it in some way so the scouts don't see it coming...maybe put the ketchup in a water bottle that can't be seen through... and do it without warning

I would try to not have defined sessions either... for instance

"we are meeting after lunch at Pavilion A, where we will sit around and work through first aid for two hours...".  Don't do that. 

Instead, while on the required hike (I forget, is it 3 miles or 5?), maybe at some strategic point such as maybe when furthest from the trailhead, fake a sprained ankle on one of the scouts.  Boom, instant class on how to wrap an ankle...then while that's happening, it might be a good time with a shoe and sock off so as not to stain clothing.... act like you are going to take a drink out of that water bottle.... squirt... "OMG, this scout is bleeding!  What do we do?"....Bam, class on bleeding... this could then lead to stretcher making, or improvised crutches....  then split the group so that everyone is either a patient or a first responder and then they actually use the stretchers to carry the patients to the trailhead.  I mean really do it.  "what should we do?  Do we continue on the trail, backtrack the way we came, or look at the map, is there an alternate trail that may be shorter than the one we were 'planning' to take?"  Boom, could be an instant course on decision making and navigation...  That reroute might have been your secret plan all along because you are of course prepared, but they didn't know it...

Try to actually let them make the decisions and let them make mistakes.  It's a whole lot more fun and better at keeping a person engaged and present in the moment.

Continue on like that....So in one afternoon when the scouts came into it thinking they were only going for a hike, it magically worked out that they did the hike, but also fulfilled some or all of the requirements for 1st aid, navigation, or whatever you dream up...

the whole course doesn't have to be like that, and logistically it may be impossible to do it all like that anyway, but the more of this sort of thing that you sprinkle in, the better the course will be, in my opinion.

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I’m more afraid of forgetting how to do a specific thing, even though I know that I know everything that will be taught.

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6 minutes ago, ItsBrian said:

I’m more afraid of forgetting how to do a specific thing, even though I know that I know everything that will be taught.

"You never really know a subject until you've taught it." I can't think of anywhere this hasn't applied in my life long learning quest. What's hard is remembering that what's obvious to you may not be so to your students. So try to have at least two different ways of presenting/sharing/demonstrating/explaining ideas. As you gain experience yourself, try to add more of these "tools" to your teaching "toolbox".

Another tip (worth what you're paying for it!) is to try and avoid "over teaching".  Your students are at the start of their journey. What you know has taken years to accumulate. Don't try to "dump" the entirety of your knowledge on them in the five(?) days you will be with them. Spend the time working on building a strong foundation for their future growth.

And the Cub Scout leader in me is keen to remind knowledge lenders to "Keep it Fun!" Just my $0.02, your mileage may vary, don't take any wooden nickels, etc...

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On 6/14/2018 at 7:22 AM, ItsBrian said:

As I said I will be working in the first year program, if anyone who has staffed one or even watched some of the programs could give me some tips. I don’t want to go into too much detail or too less, and don’t want to make it boring. Unfortunately I am missing staff week and the first week of camp due to PA ending school before me.

Any advice would be great.

Remember EDGE method - Explain, Demonstrate, Guide, Enable.  The guide and enable parts are what work to keep them interested because they are doing.

Have fun with them.  I love when I talk to Scouts about knife safety and saying "Thank You" before I let go of the knife.  I then say, "let's practice."  I hand them the knife and hold on to it until they say "thank you" and then I let go.  I then say, "OK, give me the knife back."  They do, I take it and tell them "You failed."  I continue to do it until they realize that they should hold on to the knife until I say "thank you."  Actually, when they realize they are supposed to hold on to it, I make it look like I'm trying to pull it out of their hands (smiling the whole time) until I realize they want me to say "thank you."  NOTE:  I used a closed folding knife.

Learn some stuff that isn't in the book.  I love to do rope magic tricks.  There is a Cub Scout Magic book that has a lot of good stuff in it including a two person rope escape challenge that I've used for leadership training.  Show them how to use a magnifying glass and char cloth to start a fire.  Think of things that you've learned that are really cool and show them... it doesn't have to all be requirements.  My son has a "training" balisong knife (non sharpened blade) that he has learned some tricks with.  

Most importantly, show that you love Scouting and that you love being with the new guys.  That will make them love learning.

19 minutes ago, ItsBrian said:

I’m more afraid of forgetting how to do a specific thing, even though I know that I know everything that will be taught.

Bring your book and in the morning look at the skills you are going to teach.  Don't be embarrassed to look at your book if you forget something.  I always say something like, "I want to make sure I'm teaching you the way it is done in the book."  That sort of implies you know how it is done but you want to do it so they can look at their book to remember.  

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Posted (edited)

The critical thing is to keep them interested.

If you are teaching knife , saw and ax  then something i have been using for years is the " What if? " game. 

  For example I will start to whittle a stick with my left hand in front of the blade then freeze and ask the class "What if the knife slips?  Where will it go? "   Hopefully some bright lad will say "  Uhh  into your hand?"    "Good answer"(  I throw him a cookie here.    That gets everyone to pay attention.)  " So, what should I do in order to not stab myself?"    " Move your hand"    Move it where?    "Above the knife"  Good !  ( throw another cookie)

Start to chop with a hand ax while holding the piece of wood.  freeze  " What if I miss?"   "What if the ax slips out of my hand?"     "Which way will it fly?" 

Stand a log on a rock and start to split it.  "What if I go right through on the first swing?   What will the ax head hit? "     and that will...    and so it goes...

Note that I am not only  encouraging them to think, but also forcing them to be involved in the class. 

If you see a scout daydreaming then give him the next question.   Two scouts talking too much then give them a hard question.  

 

If it's first aid have a few " Scouts in action"  from Boys Life where scouts saved someones life by knowing first aid posted prominently.   I love the ketchup bottle trick!   If knots tell them why they will need to know it.   Square knot- first aid         bowline -  climbing, sailing       clovehitch-  lashing     

Try to make it a game, not a school like class.  Lord knows they have had enough of that by this time of year.

 Keep in mind  that to at least one  newbie  every week, you will be the  staffer he will always remembers as the cool older scout who actually cared about him,  encouraged him, and made him feel special.  

 

Edited by Oldscout448
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It's OK to tell them a certain skill isn't your strong point, but we're going to learn it together.

Lot's of good ideas above. My first year as a scouter I helped with the Brownsea Island program at camp. The counselor, a recent high school graduate, was fantastic, but there were too many scouts per counselor.  He had to teach me many things before I could assist teaching the scouts.

Herding the cats was something that had to be done due to the size and age of the group. More breaks for non-classroom type stuff would have helped.

The ketchup bottle is good.  If you want to be goofy, get an empty bottle of Hershey's syrup and wash it out.  Use this for your water bottle.  If I had an empty Hershey's syrup bottle, I'd use it as my water bottle at the gym, but I'm like that.

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Not so much how to TEACH, but how are the Scouts going to EARN , PASS the requirement ?   When I teach IOLS to nascent Scoutmasters, I always mention the need to give/create/have opportunities for the urban, modern Scout to chop wood, set fires,  splint broken (imitation!) bones,  lash tables/towers/bridges together.  Same here at camp.  One can EDGE to death the skills and techniques, but WHEN are the Scouts going to have a chance to DO IT FOR THEMSELVES ? 

Games?  Competitions?   Camp improvements?  

When it comes to ID'ing plants and animals, recognize it may get harder thru the summer as the "signs"  get used up, as the critters get shooed away by all them Scouts that want to see them.    Rope off the Poison Ivy examples so they don't get pulled up by eager environmentalists.  

Set the example thru your attitude, language and  standards .  They meet your standards, not you allow their desire.   

Classroom?   Yes, of the woods.  Every so often, just sit and LISTEN.  WATCH.   Learning For Life?  Here at camp, that can have a different meaning.  Even at this great remove, I can remember some of the senior Scouts that I encountered at Camp Roosevelt, altho I do not remember their names.   Would that you make THAT kind of impact on your campers. 

One last suggestion, and this will be a hard one to implement.   DO NOT address any Scout as "guy".   They can be that back home.  They are here at "Scout Camp". You are a "Scout Leader." They are Scouts, Campers,  Boys, Girls (!?),    they did not come to "guy camp", did they?  Try hard , and encourage your fellows to do the same, do not rename our movement or our members.  Use their correct, appropriate, hard earned,  title.   Make'm special thereby. " Scout" is a title to be used and  valued.   Spread THAT around.   

See you on the trail....

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