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It was Good to be back at Summer Camp last week


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Troop was at summer camp last week.  We had 20 + Scouts and 5 leaders.  Total of about 1,000 Scouts, 150 leaders, 125 staff (+/-) in camp.  Nice to be back after running our own camp last year

  • Program ran like normal, which was good
    • No cohorts or group requirements
  • Some changes to food service, but not onerous
  • The camp was somewhat short staffed
    • Main challenge was college aged Scouts as colleges had reduced tuitions for the summer
    • Also pay challenges with other businesses paying more and jobs plentiful
  • Talked with leaders and most (like our unit) felt the virtual meetings were not a good replacement to move Scouting along
  • All seemed to have found a way to meet during the pandemic and with CO's shut down
    • NOTE - none mentioned (including our unit) of any district or council proactive leadership on this 
  • All units seemed to have lost some newer Scouts during the crossover and shutdown of Mar 2020 - June 2020, most have reached out to those Scouts but not much traction
  • Many units are concerned for the health of the Cub Packs they work with
    • Some not meeting
    • Some are down 50%
    • Will be an issue on progression of youth in the program next several years
  • Camp has a leader dinner on Thursday, would have been good to have SE there acknowledging the struggle is real with COVID and bankruptcy
    • Maybe acknowledging the future is charted but not 100%
    • Maybe thank the leaders not only for being at camp but also for in fact still being in Scouting and still working to bring the promise of Scouting to youth
    • A missed opportunity though not unexpected as the Senior Professionals on the Council seem to have a disdain for the lowly unit leaders
  • The property was in decent shape despite not much use for the last year
  • Scouts had a great time
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Good to hear it went well. I'm definitely looking forward to Cub resident camp next month, it will be nice to be back.

Interesting (although not surprising) to hear that so many units share the same struggles and lack of district/council leadership on keeping meetings going during the shutdown. I'm less than enthused lately about many council-related topics and lack of support, so I guess this shouldn't have been a surprise either. My council comes around when they want money. When we need them, forget it.

Our local Packs and Troops have held meetings outdoors and done pretty well despite having to go it alone and figure things out. I don't know exactly what I expected from council but it would have been nice to see them make an effort. All they did around here was organize a virtual district Pinewood Derby and then never delivered the trophies they were supposed to get.

My Cub Pack did see a large drop in active scouts and registered membership. I'm crossing over 4 AoL scouts next year, definitely the smallest group we've sent up to a troop in many years. Still hoping I can convince 1 or 2 more to come back in the fall.

Funny thing I'm most looking forward to at camp is the dining hall. I think we've been doing so many things outside, literally every den and pack meeting has been outside, I'm kind of looking forward to the only indoor part of summer camp. :D

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Feedback from my Son's troop summer camp, based on scout and adult leaders comment (I could not go, unfortunately) , echo your sentiments exactly.   I do find the drop in cub scouting in our area, as a results of the pandemic and dearth of adult leadership, to be a significant concern. 

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1 hour ago, FireStone said:

Interesting (although not surprising) to hear that so many units share the same struggles and lack of district/council leadership on keeping meetings going during the shutdown. I'm less than enthused lately about many council-related topics and lack of support, so I guess this shouldn't have been a surprise either. My council comes around when they want money. When we need them, forget it.

Our local Packs and Troops have held meetings outdoors and done pretty well despite having to go it alone and figure things out. I don't know exactly what I expected from council but it would have been nice to see them make an effort. All they did around here was organize a virtual district Pinewood Derby and then never delivered the trophies they were supposed to get.

I agree about "don't know exactly what I expected from council but it would have been nice to see them make an effort".  It seems the council felt virtual was the best thing ever and the less they had to do.  Could still raise money, still pay salaries, close the camps so money saved there but no real PROGRAM input.  Candidly we don't really need them, so over the years we don't look to district or council for anything but filing paperwork.

And they wonder why we don't sell popcorn or really care about FOS

Edited by Jameson76
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23 hours ago, Jameson76 said:

  It seems the council felt virtual was the best thing ever and the less they had to do.  Could still raise money, still pay salaries, close the camps so money saved there but no real PROGRAM input. 

My council and many others, it seems, offered virtual merit badge classes. My council, and many others, it seems, offered these same online merit badge classes for $10-20 a pop, even though the council obviously wasn't providing physical materials for project requirements, printouts, etc.

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14 minutes ago, LVAllen said:

My council, and many others, it seems, offered these same online merit badge classes for $10-20 a pop, even though the council obviously wasn't providing physical materials for project requirements, printouts, etc.

The reason for many councils doing 10, 20, and even 30 is because with summer camps shut down last year you are correct that there was no physical costs, but there were still salaries to be paid for many of these camp staffers who in many cases are year-round employees. Those fees were simply to try and make up for the loss in revenue to avoid outright layoffs.

You also saw some of these turn into complete merit badge mill with 100+ scouts in a zoom session. Again, the purpose was to make money, not keep integrity.

Edited by CynicalScouter
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4 hours ago, CynicalScouter said:

The reason for many councils doing 10, 20, and even 30 is because with summer camps shut down last year you are correct that there was no physical costs, but there were still salaries to be paid for many of these camp staffers who in many cases are year-round employees. Those fees were simply to try and make up for the loss in revenue to avoid outright layoffs.

You also saw some of these turn into complete merit badge mill with 100+ scouts in a zoom session. Again, the purpose was to make money, not keep integrity.

We also need to take into account the cost of the online platforms that councils used to conduct programs with, they are not cheap.  Depending on the platform, your council may have been paying anywhere from $600 to several thousand dollars annually, an item that was probably not a part of the original budget for the year.  I believe the cost for those sessions in my council was $5, and yes, it did greatly help avoid having people furloughed or laid off.

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Just got back from camp. 30 scouts, 4 full time adults and a sprinkling of others.  300 scouts at camp.  
 

Shortages at trading post and of counselors.  The camp we attended was already sold due to bankruptcy but was being leased back this summer (for the price of our picnic tables).

Closing campfire ceremony was tough… singing a song about returning next year…

We visited Ed Bryant as a possible replacement but I wasn’t impressed so I think we are headed to Bear Paw next year.  We only do patrol cooking camps and those are getting tough to find.

I’d recommend locking in camps early as many will be sold, funneling in scouts to the remaining ones   

 

Edited by Eagle1993
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55 minutes ago, Eagle1993 said:

We visited Ed Bryant as a possible replacement but I wasn’t impressed so I think we are headed to Bear Paw next year.  We only do patrol cooking camps and those are getting tough to find.

I bet you were at CFL? I was on staff ‘92-‘95. It is so very hard to see it go and for so little. My current council camp is Bear Paw. We have only done the dinning hall. The director is great. He was just hired as a DE, so chances are he will be the director for many years ahead. It is a good camp. My heart will always be at CFL, but my girls will know Bear Paw as their camp. my dad’s ashes will stay at CFL after the sale. So, it will always be a sacred space for me no matter what it becomes. Through coming to terms with the loss of CFL, I have learned a camp is mostly the program and rhe staff. The land may just be a memory. 

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10 hours ago, mrjohns2 said:

I bet you were at CFL? I was on staff ‘92-‘95. It is so very hard to see it go and for so little. My current council camp is Bear Paw. We have only done the dinning hall. The director is great. He was just hired as a DE, so chances are he will be the director for many years ahead. It is a good camp. My heart will always be at CFL, but my girls will know Bear Paw as their camp. my dad’s ashes will stay at CFL after the sale. So, it will always be a sacred space for me no matter what it becomes. Through coming to terms with the loss of CFL, I have learned a camp is mostly the program and rhe staff. The land may just be a memory. 

I was at CFL ... we started going there after going to LeFeber forever (then that was sold) and hating Long Lake (I know others like it).  We were at CFL for 2018 through 2021 and will miss it.  The staff and program was great.

We had a couple of leaders talk to someone from TFC about the sale of CFL.  Basically, it came down to a need to quickly get money and not enough time to make other plans for the camp to live on.  CFL was profitable for the council.  However, it also had a lot of grandfathered in equipment (toliets, plumbing, etc.) that would eventually need to be replaced and require a large amount of funds.  They had a $10M plan to upgrade the camp, adding in a family camp RV park on one side of the lake that would help pay for upgrades (dining hall, toliets, etc.) elsewhere.

They had Bay Lakes Council camp director there for our adult leader Steak Dinner.  Three Fires have partnered with Bay Lakes Council and Bear Paw Camp AND a council in Kentucky.  Those two camps will enhance their patrol cooking next year and will take on CFL's commissary procedures.  They will also interview CFL's staff and give them priority for hiring.  TFC will be looking to provide coach bus service to both locations next year.  (I'm out of Three Harbors Council).  I just registered our linked Troops (1 girl, 1 boy) for 1st week next year at Bear Paw, all patrol cooking.  I figure it may be a bit choppy but Bear Paw seemed a bit like CFL so we'll try it out.

My recommendation is to register soon for 2022.  The camps that close will funnel even more Troops to the remaining camps.  Prime dates/spots may fill up fast.

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On 6/23/2021 at 9:05 AM, Jameson76 said:

Troop was at summer camp last week.  We had 20 + Scouts and 5 leaders.  Total of about 1,000 Scouts, 150 leaders, 125 staff (+/-) in camp.  Nice to be back after running our own camp last year

  • Program ran like normal, which was good
    • No cohorts or group requirements
  • Some changes to food service, but not onerous
  • The camp was somewhat short staffed
    • Main challenge was college aged Scouts as colleges had reduced tuitions for the summer
    • Also pay challenges with other businesses paying more and jobs plentiful
  • Talked with leaders and most (like our unit) felt the virtual meetings were not a good replacement to move Scouting along
  • All seemed to have found a way to meet during the pandemic and with CO's shut down
    • NOTE - none mentioned (including our unit) of any district or council proactive leadership on this 
  • All units seemed to have lost some newer Scouts during the crossover and shutdown of Mar 2020 - June 2020, most have reached out to those Scouts but not much traction
  • Many units are concerned for the health of the Cub Packs they work with
    • Some not meeting
    • Some are down 50%
    • Will be an issue on progression of youth in the program next several years
  • Camp has a leader dinner on Thursday, would have been good to have SE there acknowledging the struggle is real with COVID and bankruptcy
    • Maybe acknowledging the future is charted but not 100%
    • Maybe thank the leaders not only for being at camp but also for in fact still being in Scouting and still working to bring the promise of Scouting to youth
    • A missed opportunity though not unexpected as the Senior Professionals on the Council seem to have a disdain for the lowly unit leaders
  • The property was in decent shape despite not much use for the last year
  • Scouts had a great time

Long time lurker, first time poster who attended summer camp for the first time last week as an adult leader (son attended for his first time as well).  

20+ Scouts and 5+ leaders from our troop with a total of around 400 Scouts in camp. 

I would echo almost every one of your points based on feedback from the other more experienced leaders and my own observations.  Our main issue was with inexperienced/first year staff, some with what appeared to be extremely limited Scouting experience.  Lots of bickering among staff in front of the Scouts; requirements in the Green Bar area not being completed due to staff deciding not to instruct the rest of the session time; merit badge requirements being signed off without actually being completed and/or requirements being completed but not signed off.  

However, Scouts enjoyed it and felt the week was an overall positive, so all of this is just adult grumbling.  Wouldn't trade the experience and look forward to many more.   - Arkie

Edited by Arkie
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3 hours ago, Arkie said:

Long time lurker, first time poster who attended summer camp for the first time last week as an adult leader (son attended for his first time as well).  

20+ Scouts and 5+ leaders from our troop with a total of around 400 Scouts in camp. 

I would echo almost every one of your points based on feedback from the other more experienced leaders and my own observations.  Our main issue was with inexperienced/first year staff, some with what appeared to be extremely limited Scouting experience.  Lots of bickering among staff in front of the Scouts; requirements in the Green Bar area not being completed due to staff deciding not to instruct the rest of the session time; merit badge requirements being signed off without actually being completed and/or requirements being completed but not signed off.  

However, Scouts enjoyed it and felt the week was an overall positive, so all of this is just adult grumbling.  Wouldn't trade the experience and look forward to many more.   - Arkie

On the experience of staff, feedback is that at Philmont, which has about 1,500 - 1,800 seasonal staff, they were indicating that 2/3 of the staff are first year.  Lots of staff did not return and the "institutional knowledge" has not been passed on due to the pandemic gap.

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1 hour ago, Jameson76 said:

On the experience of staff, feedback is that at Philmont, which has about 1,500 - 1,800 seasonal staff, they were indicating that 2/3 of the staff are first year.  Lots of staff did not return and the "institutional knowledge" has not been passed on due to the pandemic gap.

What is typical first year percentage?

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6 minutes ago, Eagle1993 said:

What is typical first year percentage?

Typically at summer camps 30% - 40% and I would assume the same for Philmont.  Our council camp was the same as most staff typically work +/- 3 summers.  This year about 2/3 new as opposed to 1/3

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  • Program ran like normal, which was good
    • No cohorts or group requirements
      • Same experience.  Though, some scouts liked the cohort model from last year as it kept our Troop together all week.
  • Some changes to food service, but not onerous
    • We patrol cook, so only impact was the elimination of 2 camp wide meals.
  • The camp was somewhat short staffed
    • Main challenge was college aged Scouts as colleges had reduced tuitions for the summer
    • Also pay challenges with other businesses paying more and jobs plentiful
    • Same as was a nearby camp.  We also heard that many tourist areas are not getting the short term immigrant labor they did in past summers (partially due to Covid and impact on US consulates).  So, the tourist areas are hiring high school kids with better pay than camps.  Some private camps increased their pay substantially.
  • Talked with leaders and most (like our unit) felt the virtual meetings were not a good replacement to move Scouting along
    • Agreed and had similar conversations.  I do expect virtual merit badge clinics may remain.
  • All seemed to have found a way to meet during the pandemic and with CO's shut down
    • NOTE - none mentioned (including our unit) of any district or council proactive leadership on this 
  • All units seemed to have lost some newer Scouts during the crossover and shutdown of Mar 2020 - June 2020, most have reached out to those Scouts but not much traction
    • We did as well.  They fall into two groups.  Young crossovers & limited engaged scouts (scouts that would attend 1-2 events per year).
  • Many units are concerned for the health of the Cub Packs they work with
    • Some not meeting
    • Some are down 50%
    • Will be an issue on progression of youth in the program next several years
    • Universal concern ... we just talked about this last night with our adult leaders. We plan to start recruiting kids outside of Packs this fall to help increase our younger ranks.  We had a pretty long discussion and seemed to agree that there are kids out there that either did not join Cub Scouts or may have dropped and do not realize what Scouts BSA offers.  We have counted on Packs for years, but that may run into trouble.  
  • Camp has a leader dinner on Thursday, would have been good to have SE there acknowledging the struggle is real with COVID and bankruptcy
    • Maybe acknowledging the future is charted but not 100%
    • Maybe thank the leaders not only for being at camp but also for in fact still being in Scouting and still working to bring the promise of Scouting to youth
    • A missed opportunity though not unexpected as the Senior Professionals on the Council seem to have a disdain for the lowly unit leaders
    • The Council President and Scout Executive from the council attended the dinner.  They thanked us and said they would answer questions about the sale of the camp.  
  • The property was in decent shape despite not much use for the last year
  • Scouts had a great time
    • 100% true for us as well.  Good to hear and a great break from a tough 2020 ... looking forward to the fall.
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