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Saltface

Is this the new normal?

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My troop recently returned from summer camp at one of our local council's camps. We were more than a little disappointed by how the program was run this year.

Every morning flag ceremony/announcements included an advertisement for some item on sale (but still way overpriced) at the trading post that day. I tried to rekindle the tradition of a Scoutmaster Minute after the camp flag ceremony. It lasted a single day before being forgotten. The only time we recited the Oath and Law was when the troop in charge of flags that day asked us to.

The Friday afternoon Camp-wide Games normally included things like throwing tomahawks, paddling canoes by hand, and shooting rifles. This was replaced by a scavenger hunt to take selfies with various people and items around camp, including "a fidget spinner that you bought at the trading post." (That item really stuck in my craw.) The boys decided to opt out of doing the scavenger hunt and go back to our campsite. Several other troops had the same idea.

Friday evening's ice cream social was turned into a dance party. As we walked past it, I couldn't see anyone on the dance floor that wasn't a staff member. (We later heard that one of them got hurt. Expect a new entry on mosh pits in the G2SS in the near future.)

The merit badge counselors cut corners on requirements or gave out partials because they didn't want to do certain requirements (they had both the extra time and means to do them). Talking with the MBCs, I got the feeling that laziness was the cause. There was a final COPE challenge scheduled for Friday morning but they cancelled it without giving a reason. Outdoor Skills hadn't checked any of the orienteering courses for missing controls. Handicrafts hadn't bothered to learn how to make square baskets. This was the fourth session of camp.

On Saturday morning, one of my older Scouts summed up the week when he said to me, "Boy Scouts is dying, isn't it?" 

We had been planning on returning to this camp next year but after last week, we're reconsidering. Please tell me this isn't normal at your camps and reservations.

Also, if you have recommendations for other camps in the Southwest, please share them.

Edited by Saltface
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36 minutes ago, Saltface said:

Please tell me this isn't normal at your camps and reservations.

I wouldn't know. We haven't attended any BSA camps for several years.

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That's not the norm at the camp we've been attending for years.  We go next week.

Whoever thought that a group that I'm guessing was 99% boys would dance clearly knows nothing about boys.

Remembering that you're dealing with volunteers or poorly paid staff, give your feedback to the people in charge at the camp.  Be constructive.

I'd pick a different camp next year.

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Well, maybe, sort of kinda, the new normal.  I won't comment on the MB practices or program areas so much, the variability of those by camp is pretty well documented/discussed.  Regarding the camp-wide game my understanding is at NOAC, maybe 2 NOACs ago, there was an activity to go around to scan QR/Bar Codes from VIP badges.  The Crew I used to be associated with attended a few Venturing Rally's where an evening social/dance was the norm.  So maybe a glimpse of things to come.

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I saw the dance thing happen at a camporee this past spring.  It was planned and run by a team of Eagle scouts, with a theme of the Olympics.  It was very well carried out, and at the ceremony on Saturday night, after the awards were passed out, we had an ice cream social.  The team also brought DJ equipment and strobe lights and had a quarter of the dining hall set up as a disco.  We had a lot of scouts get up after they finished ice cream, and try  to boogie to the music.  It was part of the program the older scouts came up with, and I think all the scouts liked it.  I am not sure about the adults, who mainly congregated at the other side of the dining hall and talked.

 

 

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I am seeing more units shopping around for better summer camp experiences but the next year that get lured back with a better campsite or other perks. 

What would happen at Camp Waste-a-Week if at the closing flags,  your SPL respectfully returned all blue cards to the Camp DIrector ?

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7 hours ago, Saltface said:

This was the fourth session of camp.

😮

I can tell you that’s not the experience at our council camps. The Scouts usually swarm the trading post sufficiently without any encouragement!

The trend I’ve seen has been adding more and more technology to camp. We now have programming, game design and robotics, plus graphic arts and moviemaking. (And drones!) I’m opposed to this (a Scout is going to have a better experience learning from a programmer or a robotics expert in their lab rather than at summer camp), but as long as they don’t water down or remove the outdoors program topics I’m fine.

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8 hours ago, Saltface said:

Friday evening's ice cream social was turned into a dance party. 

Do you think they are doing this to accommodate girls in scouting?

My school does this sort of thing all the time. Almost all of the teachers are women, so they always gravitate towards the girl stuff. This has had a noticeable effect on our school enrollment. We have a 60/40 girl to boy ratio at the middle school. We start out even in kindergarten, but we lose about 15% of our boys to the public schools.

Our Physical Education class is basically a girls class (in which the boys must participate). 

Edited by David CO

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36 minutes ago, shortridge said:

The trend I’ve seen has been adding more and more technology to camp. We now have programming, game design and robotics, plus graphic arts and moviemaking. (And drones!) I’m opposed to this (a Scout is going to have a better experience learning from a programmer or a robotics expert in their lab rather than at summer camp), but as long as they don’t water down or remove the outdoors program topics I’m fine.

Agree - there are maybe better venues for some of the non-outdoor merit badges.  

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6 minutes ago, David CO said:

Do you think they are doing this to accommodate girls in scouting?

 

I think they are doing it to accommodate female troop leaders in scouting. There is all kinds of evidence that they have had some influence on the program. I personally feel some of the silly guidelines in the Guide To Safe Scouting are a female influence.  

Barry

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5 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

I think they are doing it to accommodate female troop leaders in scouting. There is all kinds of evidence that they have had some influence on the program. I personally feel some of the silly guidelines in the Guide To Safe Scouting are a female influence.  

It is interesting to observe how mom and dads interact differently, and by extension how female leaders and male leaders interact differently. Full disclosure we do not have any program facing female leaders with our unit.  Many support with committee roles, but we have not had a female camp with us for over 10 years.  Note that we are a troop of about 100 scouts.

When we get back from outings the moms almost instinctively pick up the scouts gear at unload while they are running around being boys.  Many time we remind them that the scout needs to do that, they always seem to respond..oh right, sorry.  Same for advancement and other inquiries, we gently remind them that the boy scout needs to drive their advancement.  

It does take both a mom and a dad (and sometime a village) to raise kids, and a mom is always a mom.  God Bless them

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I think they do this because boys are singing less. If they can't sing as well as what's coming through their iPads, they won't. Meanwhile, given electricity, they all know how to set up a sound system and get the best music in the country (according to their estimation) to fill a hall.

Used to be in the hills of PA/WV, if you had a half dozen boys singing an jig well, you would have two dozen fellas dancing to it. Culture didn't matter. I think my generation was the gap. Twenty years earlier every brother and cousin knew Syrian dance well. For some families (not mine, BTW) belly dance lessons were required. The only way to get out of it was to sing, drum, or strum. For my generation, that tradition was on its way out. It was only until I started visiting immigrant weddings as an adult that I realized what I had missed.

So, in a way these postmodern nomadic boys are trying to get back something that got lost during the rise of national record labels in the sixties. I just wish they had the courage to use their own voices and musical talents to do it.

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Not our experience with camps. I've seen some understaffed and underpreapared staffss, but the boating, swimming, fishing and shooting was all still part of the camp experience. Shop around. Vote with your troops feet and wallet. 

Some feedback for the Program Director may be a good idea if it's given in the spirit of improvement and taken as such. 

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9 hours ago, Saltface said:

We had been planning on returning to this camp next year but after last week, we're reconsidering. Please tell me this isn't normal at your camps and reservations.

Sadly at my council's camp, the problems you described are the norm. That is why we and other troops no longer go there. That camp was not what I was used to as the one I grew up and worked at was completely different. It was a shock to work there the first year. And it has steadily gotten worse. What broke the camel's back was A) one Scout "earning" a MB he dropped after the first day, B) a group of Scouts "earning" kayaking and/or canoeing in 2 days, yet they could not save their lives in a canoe or kayak when the troop did a float trip.

As for female Scouters and Moms, I agree. I see some of the silly rules, i.e. no water guns, no laser tag, no pioneering projects over 6 feet, etc as a result of female being involved. I remember having a conversation with one mom about the gold MB sash pin. I told her it was a waste of money as a safety pin could be used. She stated that safety pins can be dangerous and hurt a Scout. I had to tell her that we teach Scouts to use knives, axes, and saws; I think they can handle safety pins. I had another mom tell me my P-38 can opener was a dangerous weapon.

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