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blw2

Son is at YMCA camp this week.

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So my son is reluctantly attending a YMCA camp with a friend.

My son quit scouts a while back because it was "boring".  Now I'm looking forward to hearing about the camp, and his opinion comparing it tho his BSA summer camp experience.  I've got to say, that talking with our friends (parents of the friend he's at camp with), that it sounds like it might be pretty good in comparison.   Back when they were in college, they were counselors at the camp.  he was describing the camp the other day as the kids were leaving to go.  It seemed like mostly the same sorts of activities (swimming, skiing, paddling, eating, zip line, climbing, ropes course, etc..) but it sounds like it will be much more free form.... like if the kids get up and feel like going swimming that day...then they go swimming.  They get tired of that and decide to go try their hand at archery....then that's what they can do.  Now I have my doubts that it's quite that open and free, but even if that's only half right, it still seems like it'll be pretty good.  Minimal "classrooms", nobody reading a handbook endlessly to them.

Anyway, I'm not expecting that he'll come back beaming happiness about it, but I am hopeful.  More likely, he'll come back saying "it as boring",  or "it was weird", and the dance at the end... that should spur on some interesting comments.

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4 minutes ago, blw2 said:

... much more free form.... like if the kids get up and feel like going swimming that day...then they go swimming.  They get tired of that and decide to go try their hand at archery.... then that's what they can do.  Now I have my doubts that it's quite that open and free, but even if that's only half right, it still seems like it'll be pretty good.  Minimal "classrooms", nobody reading a handbook endlessly to them.

I think that is a huge difference where the YMCA may have scouts beat.  Our troop 2018 summer camp was highly structured.  Two MBs in the morning.  Afternoon troop time slots where the troop leaders were pressuring the kids to participate in those activities.  Troop leaders (youth and adults) trying to fit something into every time slot.  IMHO, free time should be highly valued and recognized as a real part of the program.  Further, the opinion and choice of the scout should be highly valued.  12:30 lunch followed by 1:30pm troop archery shoot followed by 2:30pm troop climb followed by 3:30pm ecology service project followed by dinner.  I bet alot of scouts would have preferred free time to "decompress", relax and enjoy the outdoors.  

 

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My 9 yo has been at Y Day camp in MN and a family reunion at a Y camp colocated with a Y resident camp in MO this summer. In comparison to Cub camp, for  age limited activities he has sailed and canoed on rivers, zip lined, and done a high ropes course. Among banned activities he has zorb balled and had sanctioned water fights with water cannons. The Y camp limited him to crappy air rifles instead of 22s just like Scouts. Overall the Y camps have been cheaper and better than the Scout offerings.

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My kids did YMCA camp for a couple of years when they were younger. The major benefit to the Y camps, or the church based camps that followed, was the fact that an adult from the family didn't need to go with them to camp. They were much more expensive than BSA camps but Dad and I stayed home, worked and didn't have to worry about childcare, food, or anything regarding the kids for a week. Girl Scout camp was the same way for our daughter, drop her off and come back a week later.

When you figure in the cost for a parent to attend Cub summer camp with their scout into to the overall price the BSA is pretty pricey. A week of vacation used or a week of no pay, adult camper fees, and maybe extra childcare for other non scout siblings, etc. It doesn't get better at the troop level if you are a leader.

My kids have said several times over the years that they wished we had sent them to Y camp instead of scout camps. Y camp was more fun - more activities at a younger age, no advancement push, and way better accommodations and no adults they knew telling them not to do something fun cuz it was against a dumb safety rule.

I hope your son has a blast. I wish I'd had a chance to go as a kid. I found a Y camp in Canada that offers summer camp for adults for a couple of weeks each summer at the end of their regular camp season. Maybe now that my kids are too old for scout camp I can go to camp and not have to worry about other people's kids, dumb rules and advancement issues.

.

 

 

 

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While camp costs are highly variable and locally dependent, my local council camp is $475 for a week. The local YMCA overnight camp is $980 a week. The choice is clear. ;)

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For us Cub day camp is $185 + $35 for busing from a single site 30 minutes away + aftercare. The Y is $240 for camp with free busing from a dozen sites, one of which is 2 blocks from our house..

Traditional week long camp for BS age is $615 for the Y vs  $302 for council camp vs <$400 for our troop 2 week camp. So BSA is a huge win here... depending on how you amortize out troop dues.

High Adventure  trips. Y BWCA trips for 6th graders $550; BSA unavailable

High Adventure trips. Y BWCA trips  7-8th grader $890; BSA unavialable

High Adventure. Y BWCA 12 day $1470; BSA NTier 12 day  (760 / 8 ) * 12 = $1140 -or - with 2 deep (760 /6 ) *12=$1520

High Adventure Y Quetico 19 day $2410;BSA NTier Atikokan (810/8) * 12 = $1923 -or- with 2 deep (810/6) * 19=  $2562

High Adventure Y Arctic Rivers 29-52 days customs prices; BS Bisset equivalent-ish for early trrips. No equivalent for later trips.

Now going as a patrol/crew has advantages over tripping with the Y. But for Cub day camp and HA the Y is quality and cost competetive. For traditional Summer Camp, Scouts is a steal compared to the Y or most other groups.(Though my niece is going to a $400 a week overnight camping climbing camp at Acadia).

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1 hour ago, oldbuzzard said:

For us Cub day camp is $185 + $35 for busing from a single site 30 minutes away + aftercare. The Y is $240 for camp with free busing from a dozen sites, one of which is 2 blocks from our house..

No wonder our cub day camp is so popular and yet the budget is so tight. Its $90 for a week of cub day camp here.

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All YMCA members reading this: get your family on the waiting list for the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, CO.

My brother went once and kept going back as a hiking guide. His wife works the craft barn.

Even if those two aren't there when you do go (it may take years for your name to come up), you will have an awesome experience.

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At the Scout Camp to which our Troop is going next week, all merit badge classes are in the morning until 12, followed by lunch, and then afternoons are strictly maintained as "free time." Troops can plan their own activities or adventures, or not plan anything at all. On Friday they have a bunch of troop competitions, but even those are optional. They have horse riding, a lake and pool, shooting ranges, multiple trails - it sounds fantastic (even if it is in the San Bernadino Mountains, which I personally have never found especially lovely). And every night after dinner is different - some nights they have Camp-wide campfires planned by staff, some nights the Troops all contribute to the program, and on others they are free to do whatever they wish.

Anyway, it sounds like the way a Scout Camp should be - a mix of advancement opportunities, but in a very restricted format, followed by an almost mandated chunk of free time when the boys will be all but compelled to unwind and explore. If I were to organize the schedule at a Scout Camp, that's a model I would look into closely.

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9 hours ago, blw2 said:

It seemed like mostly the same sorts of activities (swimming, skiing, paddling, eating, zip line, climbing, ropes course, etc..) but it sounds like it will be much more free form.... like if the kids get up and feel like going swimming that day...then they go swimming.  They get tired of that and decide to go try their hand at archery....then that's what they can do.  Now I have my doubts that it's quite that open and free, but even if that's only half right, it still seems like it'll be pretty good.  Minimal "classrooms", nobody reading a handbook endlessly to them.

This is what boy scout summer camp used to be (and should be again). When I was a scout, if we wanted to swim, we went swimming. If we wanted to shoot archery or 22s, off we went and did it (occasionally there was a brief line). Wanted to go canoeing? Off we went (unless they were being used by the canoeing merit badge class). Wanted to go hiking? Off we went. The camp was almost all free form.

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Our UK Explorer Scout Camp in two weeks time (yikes!):

Day 1: Travel/camp on Brownsea Island

Day 2: Brownsea Island/back to main site and setup

Day 3: Day hike probably, possibly to a beach, or maybe just scenic

Day 4/5/6: Coasteering and climbing booked for late afternoon/early evening. Mornings free to do something or nothing. Options: Swimming, beach, local castle.

Day 7: Beach/Town

Day 8: Pack and return

All breakfasts cooked in patrols

Dinners days 1-4 in patrols, 1 on portable stoves, 2-4 open fires

Dinners days 5-6: Mass catering but done by some Explorers not on activities

Dinner day day 7: Fish and chips takeaway

Apropo of not very much really, but there's nothing magic about our organising skills, if I can do it, if you want to do something less structured and teachy, go for it, you'll attract the kids that like it.

 

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Rick_in_CA said:

The camp was almost all free form.

Hugely agreed.  I can understand some structure, but IMHO there is way too much structure.  I'd like to see a return to a structure such as morning MBs but then afternoon is open activities.  Grab some guys and go do it.  IMHO, there is too much pressure from units to structure every moment of camp to get every possible experience into the week, etc.  

 

Edited by fred johnson

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11 hours ago, The Latin Scot said:

At the Scout Camp to which our Troop is going next week, all merit badge classes are in the morning until 12, followed by lunch, and then afternoons are strictly maintained as "free time." Troops can plan their own activities or adventures, or not plan anything at all. On Friday they have a bunch of troop competitions, but even those are optional. They have horse riding, a lake and pool, shooting ranges, multiple trails - it sounds fantastic (even if it is in the San Bernadino Mountains, which I personally have never found especially lovely). And every night after dinner is different - some nights they have Camp-wide campfires planned by staff, some nights the Troops all contribute to the program, and on others they are free to do whatever they wish.

Anyway, it sounds like the way a Scout Camp should be - a mix of advancement opportunities, but in a very restricted format, followed by an almost mandated chunk of free time when the boys will be all but compelled to unwind and explore. If I were to organize the schedule at a Scout Camp, that's a model I would look into closely.

The trouble with "Troops can plan" is then troop leaders often pressure kids to join them in the troop activities.  Plus troops begin to try to fill every open spot with a troop activity so that their scouts have options to get everything in that week.  

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Big difference in the way camps operated when I was in the UK and here.While I do think classes for SOME, emphasis SOME MB classes is excellent ( shooting sports and aquatics come immediately to mind), there is too much emphasis on MBs and classes. One camp, which the adults said we won't got o again for some time  had too much emphasis on MBs and not enough on FUN. (aside, it was a MB giveaway camp, only free time was at nite and you had to sign up for the free time activities in advance; then first come first serve) They are at Raven Knob for the 2nd year in a row, and appear to be having fun. good mix of program and classes. But the decision has been made to pick a new camp for next year to get variety.

But the problem is widespread. parents, and some Scouters, want their Scouts to take as many MB classes as they can. I know one SM said that one of my Scouts wasted his time taking Swimming MB a second time because the Scout wanted to swim in the afternoon. OK I admit, I wish he would have taken Lifesaving a 2nd time instead, A) to practice his skill and B) So I could "drown" him when I became his victim. :) But I have heard of SMs saying they do not want their Scouts having free periods. And of course lots of parents.

 

And some camps offer classes at nite!  OK I can see Astonomy MB. One camp did Journalism MB at nite too, so they could print the camp newspaper. But I have seen the Citizenships and other paperpushing MBs being offered at nite. 

 

11 minutes ago, fred johnson said:

The trouble with "Troops can plan" is then troop leaders often pressure kids to join them in the troop activities.  Plus troops begin to try to fill every open spot with a troop activity so that their scouts have options to get everything in that week.  

One of the things the camp I worked at in the UK was limit what you can book in advance. Some activities had to be booked in advanced, i.e. rappelling on the White Cliffs of Dover, so we could schedule the certified folks to run it. But other activities you selected 1, 2, or none prior to arriving, then when you got there, see what was available. We had no problems except for one Belgian troop. They were only suppose to stay 2 nites, biking their way across England. But when their chase vehicle broke down, then got in an accident, they stayed the entire 2 weeks with us instead.

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