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CarlosD

Campout planning...who does it?

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Hi all,

We are about to have our annual planning meeting where Scouts decide where they will go for each of their monthly campouts as well as for summer camp. This is my first planning meeting as SM and I assumed this is how other units do this, since BS troops are "boy lead". My concern about this is that the Scouts may not do their due diligence in researching the many options for monthly campouts and for summer camp. I sent out a list of campgrounds in Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, and it appears to have not been looked at. Does your unit do it this way or do the SM and other adult leaders play a role in deciding where to camp? Looking forward to your thoughts!

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The Scouts often don't look beyond the places that they have already gone to.  I suggest that you talk up different sites with the senior boys.  

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The way we do it is that the boys brainstorm and select their top "themes" --- backpacking, climbing, shooting, etc., and they can  suggest locations if they have had good experiences someplace. 

We have a "camping coordinator", who is a committee member with lists of state parks, BSA camps, ACE properties, national forests etc. and he/she will then start calling around for reservations. If a location that the scouts suggested is available for the kind of activity they suggested, it's booked. If it's unavailable, another site is found that enables the type of activity.

Only after the camping coordinator is able to lock down all (or most) dates and locations is the plan reviewed by scoutmaster and committee chair and then published.  Families can then plan their calendars and the District gets a fair opportunity to cause us headaches by moving their Camporee dates.

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We do it a bit different than others. I have list of 50 places and possible activities (backpacking Porcupine MTS, Backpacking SHT, Rafting Wolf River, Canoing Wisconsin river, Canoeing Fox river, Shooting Elgin etc..) I print out 1 page for each of the 50. Each page contains a description of activity, a link to some site and location. Each of the 40 scouts are required to either choose one of the 50 and add more detail, choose one of the 50 and modify activicty/location or bring their own idea.

Each scout then does a 3- minute 2-3 slide presentation on where, what, when and why the troop should pick their trip. The PLC then decides which campout should happen in which months and we vote. This gives everyone a say in what we do.

Where did I get 50 ideas? - I stole them from other troop websites and calendars. Some really great ideas out there and because they cam from other troops I assume they are scout appropriate and fun.

 

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Posted (edited)

First, trust the scouts.  I have to have this conversation almost every year with some of my adults.  For all the goofiness that might be said during the process, and you really need to be patient during it,  they want the program to be successful and they are going to ultimately act responsibly.

This is a time when your relationship and mentoring with the SPL are critical.  Make sure you've had some in depth conversations both in terms of how he runs the planning and in what kind of goals or outcomes you both want from it. 

A common problem is what Perdidochas describes, they'll often regress to the mean and do what they've done before.  If that's a concern you have then talk to your SPL about it in one of your several conversations, does he see it, does he agree that some variety would be better, how can he then lead the scouts to see and find the same.  Sometimes, after talking to the SPL you can have a shorter version of that conversation with some of the other older scouts who tend to have a big influence on these things.

Edited by T2Eagle
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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, CarlosD said:

My concern about this is that the Scouts may not do their due diligence in researching the many options for monthly campouts and for summer camp.

Of course they won't, that's why sometimes I will provide them with a list of available options.  BUT I dont give them list until I feel its needed 

Edited by JasonG172

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The troop leader guidebook, vol 2, p 60, says this. 

Quote

Great outings start at your annual planning conference, where the PLC should determine the date, focus and perhaps the location of each outing of the next year. While these decisions are the Scouts to make, adult leaders can and should push them to think a little more creatively. Here's a simple way to do this: Before the planning conference, print out internet photos of activities the Scouts could do or places they could go. Post these pictures around your meeting room and encourage the Scouts to review them before they brainstorm ideas for the next year. Chances are they come up with a more creative plan than they would have otherwise.

 

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Having been a COR and a CC,

I want you to be both the resource person and a bit of appetite suppressant for the youth. 

Help your SPL have options for camping weekends. At the same time, help SPL understand limits, before the planning meeting...it fails common sense to drive 150 miles on a Friday night in Michigan in November. 

Finally, BSA has its annual program monthly themes. I’ve linked the program planning guide from the WD Boyce Council, which has them for Cubs (think den chiefs) and Scouts...

http://www.wdboyce.org/document/program-guide/181492

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We've found that the adults have to identify their available weekends. The scouts usually pick familiar locations, and we try to add one or two novel ones for them to consider. In general they are open to one in four of our suggestions.

We're pretty flexible. If scouts come up with something mid term, we'll try to add it to the calendar, maybe swapping out something they weren't that enthused about.

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The scout-led annual planning was one of our troop's high points for years.  The idea was the SM worked with the SPL so that the SPL was ready to run the planning.  Some of the prep was finding school and holiday calendars.  Others were getting paper calendars, easels, tape and other materials.  Then, the troop had last years annual planning goals and choices put up to the side.  Then the troop would work through goal planning, idea generation and also then putting date and events on the calendar.  The SPL and PLs would vote and coordinate.  Often, any scout who wanted to attend could.  But it was SPL led and PLs were the main focus.  The SM sat in the back answering questions and being a friend to the SPL who tried to keep the meeting in control.  

IMHO, it was key that the SM had done this for 15+ years and knew a vision for annual planning and knew how to coach the SPL.  

When the scouts left, we had at least one copy of the 18 month calendar with weekends, tentative locations, events and activities.  Also, service patrol.  Program patrol.  Themes.  As quick as possible, the camping coordinator tried to get things reserved for as far into the future as possible.  Usually 12 month reservations.  Anything less than 10 months was putting things at risk.  

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My troop is a small (10) yet boy led troop. Usually how it goes is that my mom, we call her the Outdoor Coordinator, looks for different places around us and out of state. Our boys in the troop don’t really care about branching out outside of our repeated ~4 camps. Once my mom compiles a list, she has the SPL present it at the meeting, but the scouts are still more than welcome to give their ideas. We have my mom make a list as sort of a motivation kind of thing. After the list is presented, we pick and choose as a troop where we would want to go. We are very accommodating to everyone, we don’t choose something that only a few people would like to go to. Once we have the campouts for the year, the SPL and myself (JASM) work together to create a schedule of all the community service, fundraisers, volunteer, campouts that the troop will be doing. We start our new calendar year in September. Once the full schedule is made, we present it to the committee and PLC to get final approval. Sure, the committee will make some changes due to scheduling conflict or something, but we get full say in what we want to do. Shockingly, when I tell scouts in other troops around me, they say they don’t get that much of a choice.

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I had the scouts first figure out what they wanted to do, then we figured out where to do it. Giving them lists of ideas helped a lot.

Another part of figuring out what they want to do is also figuring out rough percentages of types of campouts. Is the idea to mostly be a challenge? Fun and games? A couple of our usual campouts? Without first doing that they would get stuck on an idea and all of a sudden they did that all year. They did the same for meetings.

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