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Cburkhardt

Summer Camp at Summit Review

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Smart Phones at Summit Summer Camp.  One thing I failed to mention is that while it is not necessary for a Scout to have a smart phone at summer camp at the Summit, it is really needed on the part of at least one leader.  Announcements regarding the schedule and other matters are made on-line and during COVID the campwide events were replaced by custom-made videos the Scouts could watch.  The base has an extensive wifi network donated by AT&T for use during the jamborees.  Our Troop policy is that the Scouts can have a phone at camp, but are only allowed to use it in connection with program.  They can also call home.  However, no video games or social networking. Many of the merit badges like photography, nature-oriented ones and even rank advancement are much easier to earn if a scout has access to their smart phone camera.  I was afraid the Scouts might over-use their phones and that things might degenerate in to a bunch of screen-watching and distant heliocopter parenting -- but this did not occur.  The Scouts respected the policy.  

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13 hours ago, yknot said:

No one is debating the potential interest of Summit as a scout destination. The problem is accessibility. As you stated, it worked out for your unit. Mine would also probably have no problem finding the funds if they wanted to attend.

The cost to attend summer camp is always a reasonable issue.  I calculated the difference in attending our council's Goshen Scout Reservation versus summer camp at the Summit.  For us, that meant driving 1.5 hours further and a $20 higher price.  Accounting for the cost of the extra fuel across our scouts is about $4 each.  So the marginal additional cost to out Troop per Scout is about $25 (an increase of about 7%).  Because $25 means a lot to many people, the Troop picked up the total $500 difference.  My view is that this is not a significant cost difference issue.  The Summit is used for jamborees and high adventure activities, which cost more and would present the economic accessibility challenges you note.  My take is that getting both summer camp programming and the enhanced Summit experiences for a marginal increase in cost is a bargain. of sorts.  Said differently, why go to a jamboree when you can go to summer camp there and have similar experiences for about 25% of the jamboree costs?  

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@yknot and I clearly disagree about the risk to children from camps. I believe he overestimates the inherent risk of camps -- especially relative to the risks youth face in their respective neighborhoods. He obviously believes I underestimate it. Having gone to camp myself, I observed more benefit than risk.

The national risk of many camps closing their session involves:

  • Youth and leaders from high-transmission areas traveled longer distances to the few camps that were open.
  • Would-have-been campers missed out on practicing the discipline of safe hygiene, social distancing, and self-monitoring.
  • Institutions who could have provided insight into contact-tracing were dormant.

We are bearing the brunt of it now as teachers, lacking evidence to help them negotiate this fall, are stressed by the unknown.

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46 minutes ago, qwazse said:

@yknot and I clearly disagree about the risk to children from camps. I believe he overestimates the inherent risk of camps -- especially relative to the risks youth face in their respective neighborhoods. He obviously believes I underestimate it. Having gone to camp myself, I observed more benefit than risk.

The national risk of many camps closing their session involves:

  • Youth and leaders from high-transmission areas traveled longer distances to the few camps that were open.
  • Would-have-been campers missed out on practicing the discipline of safe hygiene, social distancing, and self-monitoring.
  • Institutions who could have provided insight into contact-tracing were dormant.

We are bearing the brunt of it now as teachers, lacking evidence to help them negotiate this fall, are stressed by the unknown.

We surely do disagree. I think there are a lot of people who have underestimated the inherent risks of group activities during a pandemic. They underestimated those risks all late spring and summer and now instead of the country heading into fall with the pandemic largely quelled it is as bad now as it's ever been. Underestimating the pandemic has only prolonged its negative effects. That's what's making it hard to re-open schools, not closed summer camps. I live in one of the few areas of the country where schools can probably safely reopen in a couple weeks, but that's only because we didn't underestimate risks of exposure and transmission. 

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On 8/10/2020 at 7:59 AM, Cburkhardt said:

Dear Friends:  The policy issue of whether the Summit should have been built or whether it should be retained through bankruptcy are fine matters to discuss, but I hope that can be done elsewhere on the site where policy matters are handled.  This is a very detailed review of a summer camp operation that most of us have not experienced and many have been curious about.  My intent is to provide a straight-up review of the summer camp only.  The previous pro/anti Summit discussions on this site have been exhaustive and informative.  Experiencing summer camp there last week was very satisfying for our Scouts.  That is really my main message.

I get that and am glad your unit had a good week at camp.

That being said, not sure one can really evaluate the camp and program there without fully acknowledging what a huge waste of BSA resources this was.  Yes is it likely a nice facility.  The National team did in fact spend north of $750MM on the place and there is no real path for this vanity project to be in the black.  At this point it is a facility looking for a purpose.

Where did all the cash go over the last 10 years, well you were there.

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On 8/11/2020 at 1:08 PM, yknot said:

... They underestimated those risks all late spring and summer and now instead of the country heading into fall with the pandemic largely quelled it is as bad now as it's ever been. Underestimating the pandemic has only prolonged its negative effects. ...

So, the majority of kids did not attend BSA summer camps (which ubiquitously sleep two per tent, not 20 per cabin as in the camp recently studied) and the pandemic “is as bad now as it’s ever been ...”

:confused:

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12 hours ago, Jameson76 said:

…  not sure one can really evaluate the camp and program there without fully acknowledging what a huge waste of BSA resources this was.

I have not been part of the Summit effort and do not know the plans, numbers or other particulars.  I only shared what I observed about the place during our summer camp week as a Troop.  It provided a solid summer camp experience for our Troop and our Scouts loved it.  If it is within reasonable transportation distance for a one-week Troop summer camp experience, I recommend the program they offer.  My attitude is that since the place is there, priced appropriately for a week of summer camp and includes the unusual additional experiences, Troops might as well use it.  If the place survives the reorganization process and the controversy over its development fades, it might become popular with Scouters east of the Mississippi. 

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Our PLC Verdict on the Summit:  The Scouts loved summer camp there. 

We had our Zoom meeting of all incoming Troop and Patrol youth officers to finalize plans for the fall and review our summer.  The Scouts loved their week at the Summit.  You will be surprised to hear that not once were the cold showers, lengthy distances between program areas or mandatory-mask policy mentioned.  I finally raised those issues and got the "what are you talking about?" look back from them.  The only constructive suggestion they had was to make the food a bit better and fresher.   That would be a good idea, and in a post-COVID world I presume this could be done. 

Some Scouts wished canoeing merit badge had been offered.  A few expressed it took courage to overcome their fear of the bears that roamed at night -- but I believe they learned to overcome those fears by having confidence in the appropriate preventative measures.  When asked about favorite singular experiences, standing paddle boarding, kayaking, white water, climbing zip line, mountain biking and our nightly Troop campfires were mentioned.  Standing paddle boarding in particular was hugely popular.  During the evening open boating sessions, nearly every Scout and adult chose to do this activity.  The canoes and kayaks sat unused.  Council camping committee members should consider this as a program enhancement to local summer camps.  The equipment is inexpensive.

Later this fall our Scouts will discuss where they want to go this next summer.  We currently have reservations to return to a camp at our local Scout reservation in June, with an August reservation for an optional high adventure one-week backpacking trip through some council-owned Blue Ridge Mountains.  I'm guessing that will be their decision.  However, if we are still in a COVID environment next summer and our council facilities are not operating, it is comforting to know that we will have a alternative at the Summit.

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42 minutes ago, Cburkhardt said:

....  The only constructive suggestion they had was to make the food a bit better and fresher.   That would be a good idea, and in a post-COVID world I presume this could be done. 

Don’t count on Summit improving their food. At World Jamboree pre-pandemic, the food was lackluster. If not for patrol cooking and contingents importing their spices it would have been hyper bland. The whole time I kept thinking of the surrounding valleys ripe with sweet corn that we weren’t sharing with the world. (We take this staple for granted, but nothing else says “America” like corn on the cob. Or cornbread! Son #2 brought an English friend for dinner, and he was thoroughly astounded by the stuff!)

This seems to be a national camp school strategy. Load ‘em up on cheep calories, run them hard, and they won’t miss flavor or presentation.

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On 8/18/2020 at 10:04 AM, qwazse said:

and they won’t miss flavor or presentation.

Oui, le sauce e tout....

 

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