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mrkstvns

Camps Where SCOUTS Cook Meals

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Mess halls proliferate at BSA summer camps...but that wasn't always the case. At one point, BSA summer camps fostered scouting goals like independence, self-reliance. They trusted scouts to do things for themselves and they let scouts learn by doing. One of the ways they did that was by letting scouts cook their own meals: a practice referred to as "patrol cooking". You can read a bit more about patrol cooking here (https://www.summitbsa.org/patrol-style-cooking-not-your-typical-summer-camp-meal/).

Fortunately, there do still exist a handful of outposts where scouts are allowed to have meaningful camp experiences that help them grow into competent, confident young men. An example of this type of outpost is the summer camp where genuine patrol cooking can be done....

Camps that allow patrol cooking include....

  • Camp Liberty, Heritage Scout Reservation  (PA)
  • Rickenbacker Side, Bear Creek Scout Reservation (TX)
  • Camp Dietler, Peaceful Valley Scout Ranch (CO)
  • Camp Waubeeka, Curtis Read Scout Reservation (NY)
  • Camp Freeland Leslie (WI)
  • Soaring Eagle Boy Scout Camp, Ben Delatour Scout Ranch (CO)
  • Camp Marriott, Goshen Scout Reservation (VA)

Do you know of another summer camp where patrol cooking lives?  Please tell me about it!

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Meh, I ate in dining halls in the 60s and 70s.  Maybe the comfort level then was the near universal military experience of our adult leaders.

Where I live now, Pioneer Scout Reservation, which has its own issues as a MB camp, has various levels of cooking from bring your own food, to cook what we deliver, to mess halls.  We ask our scouts what they want to do, they choose mess hall.  We do all patrol cooking the rest of the year and really cultivate it as a skill; the scouts would just rather focus their time and energy on other pursuits at summer camp.

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Historical Note: Heritage Scout Reservation started out with patrol cooking at both camps Freedom and Liberty, but the demand for dining hall options was so great that the Freedom dining hall was built. The advantage of the latter is the scouts dine with staff and get to know them. There's more time for songs, skits, and (oh, mercy) announcements.

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I prefer patrol cooking like at Camp Bell in NH. Nearly all mess hall camps have "pack out" nights for patrol cooking at your site or a remote, rustic site.

That said I am promoting "adult out". Scouts can head to the mess hall and I will stay back at camp, brew my coffee, cook my meal, relax and eat in peace. :)

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33 minutes ago, T2Eagle said:

...  We ask our scouts what they want to do, they choose mess hall.   ...

If the scouts want it, that's great, go for it!  But in units with scouts who WANT the chance to do more cooking, patrol cooking should be offered.  A scout camp that doesn't offer units the option of patrol cooking is not doing all it can to meet the goals of the scouts (and nowadays, with Cooking merit badge back on the "required" list, there are quite a few scouts looking for more chances to do some outdoor cooking).

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9 minutes ago, qwazse said:

Historical Note: Heritage Scout Reservation started out with patrol cooking at both camps Freedom and Liberty, but the demand for dining hall options was so great that the Freedom dining hall was built. The advantage of the latter is the scouts dine with staff and get to know them. There's more time for songs, skits, and (oh, mercy) announcements.

Hmm, not in our dinning halls. Scouts are encouraged to get in and GET OUT to make room for the rest of the camp.

My experience is that cooking is the most stressful activity for patrols because of the conflict of teamwork. As a result, patrol cooking is also where the most bonding occurs, as well as the most behavior growth from dealing with the conflict. 

The disadvantage is patrol cooking takes twice as long as dinning halls, so scouts have less time for other activities.

Barry

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Ed Bryant Scout Reservation (Glacier's Edge Council) near Mauston, Wisconsin offers a patrol cooking option.  Patrols cook breakfast and dinner, but eat lunch in the dining hall.  Seems to work out just fine.

 

Dale

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, mrkstvns said:

If the scouts want it, that's great, go for it!  But in units with scouts who WANT the chance to do more cooking, patrol cooking should be offered.  A scout camp that doesn't offer units the option of patrol cooking is not doing all it can to meet the goals of the scouts (and nowadays, with Cooking merit badge back on the "required" list, there are quite a few scouts looking for more chances to do some outdoor cooking).

If the Cooking merit badge is the goal, then there is nothing stopping you.

Have your scouts plan their meals in the weeks running up to camp, purchase their food the days before and cook during camp. Just do not attend the camp meals in the dinning hall. But understand, that will likely exclude the Scouts from participating in scheduled activities.

Most of the camps I have researched, that offer patrol meals, provide ready made menus for the Scouts to cook. That does not meet the requirements for cooking merit badge. This is the reason Scouts can’t work the cooking MB at high adventure bases.

It would also increase the total cost of Summer camp. Even if every unit cooked their own meals, the camp still needs to feed staff and they get significant cost savings buy for several hundred. So you will not cut the camp fees enough to cover the food cost of purchasing your own food.

But if your Scouts choose to cook on their own knowing the opportunity cost and real dollar cost, go for it. 

Also, dinning halls have been around since the earliest days. Both of our camps had dinning halls from the first day they offered organized Summer camp. They date back to the 20’s and 50’s respectively.

Edited by HelpfulTracks

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I believe Camp Sabbatis in the Adirondacks of NY still has patrol cooking. I do not know the council.

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, Kudu said:

"Sabattis Scout Reservation is located on over 2,000 acres in the heart of the Adirondack Park. It offers the premier wilderness camping experience in the northeast United States. Sabattis is a traditional full-featured patrol cooking camp" 

http://www.cnyscouts.org/camping/sabattis-scout-reservation/

 

8 minutes ago, DuctTape said:

I believe Camp Sabbatis in the Adirondacks of NY still has patrol cooking. I do not know the council.

Sabbatis is owned by a NJ council, Patriots’ Path. I’ve heard good things about it but never had chance to visit. They do often talk about shutting it down.

 

https://www.campsabattis.org/

Edited by ItsBrian

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A few years back I had a chance to talk to one my 13yo scouts about switching from Patrol Method cooking to dining hall and here was his replay

- No way should we switch! Patrol Method cooking for a whole week teaches accountibilty and team work way better than a weekend camp out.

- Why?

- Because when we do a weekend campout someone in charge of cleanig a pot on a Saturday can easily just shove that pot into the patrol box and no one will know who didnt clean when it comes out of the box the following month. When we have a full week to do cooking everyone knows who is pulling their weight and their is a lot of group pressure to do your job right. This is where I findly figured out what responsibility really meant.

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, ItsBrian said:

 

Sabbatis is owned by a NJ council, Patriots’ Path. I’ve heard good things about it but never had chance to visit. They do often talk about shutting it down.

 

https://www.campsabattis.org/

There is also a Sabbatis Scout Reservation owned by the Longhouse Council in Syracuse, NY.

Sabbatis Adventure Camp is run by Patriots’ Path Council in NJ

They are on the same road but Longhouse Council's camp is 9 miles past

Sabbatis Scout Reservation has been patrol cooking as long as I can remember (went there in the 70's when I was a youth)

 

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I think it was from a recommendation on this forum that I took my troop to a patrol cooking summer camp. I was impressed with the results. Cooking for a whole week helps the scouts get in a groove. It really did help teamwork. They did like the food better as well. And yet, my troop doesn't do patrol cooking at summer camp anymore. I think the biggest problem was the lack of support from the camps we went to. There was a stretch of 6 or 7 years where we tried every other year and it was always a disaster because the camps didn't understand what the patrols needed. Honestly, what do you do when you get a bag of frozen chicken breasts a half hour before it's time to eat? We went back to one, and I won't mention names because it's on the list in the OP, and I had to drive back home and pick up our gear because while they said they had everything they didn't.

I also hear the "but we cook as patrols for every weekend campout so give us a break at summer camp so we can do more activities" comment. Well, if camp wasn't 90% about merit badges I'm not sure this would be an issue. For every other summer camp outside of scouts summer camp is about fun with friends. Granted, all these camps have dining halls (and cost a bunch) but nobody else has a class schedule. That class schedule gets in the way of a lot.

I talked to some of the counselors at Camp Dieter at Peaceful Valley and it's not just patrol cooking, it's just about patrol everything. Each patrol gets a counselor and they decide what they're going to do for the week. They decide how much advancement they want to do. At the lake, at the shooting range, service projects, hikes, pioneering projects. It's all about teamwork. There are times where patrols can split up for individual merit badges but it's the exception and not the rule. I think it would be great but the adults in my troop shot it down several times.

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6 minutes ago, MattR said:

I talked to some of the counselors at Camp Dieter at Peaceful Valley and it's not just patrol cooking, it's just about patrol everything. Each patrol gets a counselor and they decide what they're going to do for the week. They decide how much advancement they want to do. At the lake, at the shooting range, service projects, hikes, pioneering projects. It's all about teamwork. There are times where patrols can split up for individual merit badges but it's the exception and not the rule. I think it would be great but the adults in my troop shot it down several times.

Really?  That's refreshing to hear.  It would be a long trip for us, but I might have to talk to a couple scouts to see if Camp Dieter might float their boats.  I know that most scouts over age 12 really have little to no interest in wasting time at another BSA merit badge summer camp. Maybe if a camp really understood the patrol method and the concept of fun it might change their outlook (and help us retain older scouts).  Camp Dieter....hmmmm....

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