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Which BSA properties have you visited this Summer?


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Which BSA properties have you been to this summer and how did it go?  No serious discussion allowed in this posting!  No bankruptcy, YPT, membership standards, COVID, fingers-getting-severed, "I don't like the professionals", "they sold my camp" and other potentially distressing discussion allowed under penalty of getting jello thrown in your face! 

For me, I have had two separate one-week stays at the spectacular 5,000-acre Goshen Scout Reservation in Virginia,  just south of Shenandoah National Park.  The first week was with our all-girl Troop.  My wife (an ASM) and Star Scout daughter came to that.  A bit hot, but the week restored my faith in the great things we are doing in Scouting.  The second week was with my Sea Scout Ship, whose members had not been there before.  They spent nearly the entire week on the 700-acre lake.  

Next week my family will stay in the family camp at the equally-spectacular Owasippe Scout Reservation near the cool-breeze locale of Muskegon Michigan.  America's oldest Scout property is equally huge, wonderful and features 40 housekeeping cabins for families throughout the summer.   This will be our seventh summer in a row doing this.

These pristine places could easily be small national parks.  I hope you have had similar experiences this summer.

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1 hour ago, Cburkhardt said:

Next week my family will stay in the family camp at the equally-spectacular Owasippe Scout Reservation near the cool-breeze locale of Muskegon Michigan.  America's oldest Scout property is equally huge, wonderful and features 40 housekeeping cabins for families throughout the summer.   This will be our seventh summer in a row doing this.

I had always assumed these were not nice enough to be a destination and only a good idea if you had a Scout there that week. Having done it 7 years, you must really find it great. What is the program? Or is it just great to be there? Do you only stay in the "family camp" or do you wonder into the main Scout camps?

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We had a great week at Bear Paw Scout Camp in Mountain, WI. This was our 4th summer for our girl troop. We were really hitting on all cylinders. We had 12 out of 15 Scouts attend (2 just joined, so, really 12 out of 13). We invited some provisional Scouts that have joined us in the past. We hit 18 in the campsite. Just awesome to see a real troop. Far from the 6 scouts we went with in 2019.  The camp had a very poor staff in 2019. Starting in 2020, even with the pandemic, they have really set their sights on excellence. While not perfect, they did a great job. Even better than anything I experienced, I got to see my oldest daughter really meld into a real camp staffer. She was only a CIT, but Scoutmaster reviews raved about her work on the range. I had told her that she shouldn't expect to be able to spend the whole time at the range. Shows what I know. I guess most of the other CITs don't like the rigor of the range. So, they made her a whole summer range CIT. I even overheard a couple of Scoutmasters talking about her when walking behind them on the way to the dining hall. Wow, talk about a proud father moment. 

@CburkhardtThanks for steering us to more happy moments. 

Edited by mrjohns2
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2 hours ago, Cburkhardt said:

 

For me, I have had two separate one-week stays at the spectacular 5,000-acre Goshen Scout Reservation in Virginia,  just south of Shenandoah National Park.  The first week was with our all-girl Troop.  My wife (an ASM) and Star Scout daughter came to that.  A bit hot, but the week restored my faith in the great things we are doing in Scouting. 

I see they have several camps which did you stay at? 

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The Family Camp at Chicago's Owasippe is splendid.  The family camp (Camp Reneker) is a 60-year-old operation that was built to accommodate the families of "on duty" Scouters.  The Chicago-area Scouters camp with the Troop and the families have their own special program at the family camp.  Owasippe hires about 10 college students, who conduct a summer program targeted to 6 age groupings ranging from 4-year-olds through high school.  The 40 cabins have kitchens, living rooms, and two bedroom spaces, with nearby shower houses.  The family camp has its own pool, activity shelter, tennis court, bb gun range and other typical camp program facilities.  Families can also visit and use the facilities at Owasippe's Scouts BSA and Cub camps.  Here is the link:  Camp Reneker - Pathway To Adventure Council

Through the years Camp Reneker has also become a simple get-away place for Scouting families not connected with an on-reservation troop.  Families pick "their" week and "their" cabin and visit each year.  It is not a luxury operation, but is certainly a very nice family housekeeping facility.  At $350 per week for everything (except self-cooked food), the price is right for many Scouting families in the Chicago area.  We started attending years ago when I was council president and have kept coming back for this simple experience each year.  Now that my daughter is 14, she helps at Owasippe's horse ranch while she is here.

A former Chicago BSA professional who later supervised the high adventure bases patterned the emerging family programming at the bases on what he experienced at Camp Reneker.  I'm vaguely aware that there are a few other family camps on BSA council-owned properties, but I have never heard of one that has the full-scale family-focused program and facilities that exist at Owasippe.

Owasippe's future as a Scout reservation is now quite secure.  Twenty years ago there was an ill-advised effort the sell the camp to developers which was defeated through a series of shrewd moves by members of its staff association.  Today, the Council added a seventh week of operations this summer and its Scouts BSA and Cub camps still sold-out.  So, we will be considering more capacity next year.  Owasippe has two Scouts BSA camps in "mothballs" (complete with Olympic-sized pools).  As councils continue to sell properties, it is good to know there are places like Owasippe and Goshen (in Virginia) that have expandable capacity and will continue to be available to visit for summer camp.

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CM:  While at Goshen Scout Reservation, my units stayed at Camp Olmsted, which is a Scouts BSA dining hall operation.  The reservation has two other Scouts BSA camps, including Bowman (patrol cooking) and Marriott (hot pack delivery).  There are also two Cub camps (Ross and PMI) and a high adventure camp (Lenhoc'sin) that offers week-long overnight backpacking hikes in the mountains on the 5,000-acre property. 

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On 7/27/2022 at 3:19 PM, mrjohns2 said:

We had a great week at Bear Paw Scout Camp in Mountain, WI. This was our 4th summer for our girl troop. We were really hitting on all cylinders. We had 12 out of 15 Scouts attend (2 just joined, so, really 12 out of 13). We invited some provisional Scouts that have joined us in the past. We hit 18 in the campsite. Just awesome to see a real troop. Far from the 6 scouts we went with in 2019.  The camp had a very poor staff in 2019. Starting in 2020, even with the pandemic, they have really set their sights on excellence. While not perfect, they did a great job. Even better than anything I experienced, I got to see my oldest daughter really meld into a real camp staffer. She was only a CIT, but Scoutmaster reviews raved about her work on the range. I had told her that she shouldn't expect to be able to spend the whole time at the range. Shows what I know. I guess most of the other CITs don't like the rigor of the range. So, they made her a whole summer range CIT. I even overheard a couple of Scoutmasters talking about her when walking behind them on the way to the dining hall. Wow, talk about a proud father moment. 

@CburkhardtThanks for steering us to more happy moments. 

We were at Bear Paw week 1 with linked Troops. We patrol cooked and while we had some recommendations for the future, overall a good experience.  

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We went to the Florida Sea Base and did the Coral Reef Adventure.  It was a great adventure, everyone had a lot of fun snorkeling in the coral reefs, exploring islands and living on the sailboat.  

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I spent every weekend at Camp Rotary in Clare, MI.  I helped with check out and check in (and various other things!)  My husband was a volunteer ranger for the summer and my daughter was the Archery Director and Dining Hall Stewardess.  It was great each Sunday checking in the units and hearing what they wanted to do, then on Saturday hearing what they did.  

Tuesday, I was part of the NCAP visitation to Pioneer Scout Reservation in Ohio.  It was great seeing how another camp does things.

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I spent my high school years on the east side of Maury Pass and enjoyed visiting and camping Goshen Scout Reservation.  Was part of big flood in 1985 when water had to be released from Lake Merriweather at the Reservation due to a large storm and it wiped out local roads and closed schools for weeks, what an adventure.  Wish Goshen would have been more seriously considered for Jambo site since it is much closer to transporation, but there were a lot of factors in the decisions.

This year I visited and helped out with two local camps, Ben Delatour Scout Ranch in northern Colorado, and Camp Buffalo Bill at the east entrance to Yellowstone.  Encouraged by the efforts that are being put forth at both camps by donors and volunteers.  

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Will cheat and include last year's also.

Philmont is obvious probably, but we had a group go in 2021 and hope to send another in 2024.  Great time had by all.

Sea Base first time I know of was this summer, hearing incredible stories although I was not there in person.  Main "downside" is cost and logistics... which as you would expect no Scout is commenting on ;) But parents said that was the main challenge for them.

Raven's Knob in North Carolina was awesome.  Us flatlanders from Florida were wowed by the terrain and the hike to the top of the knob was a legendary moment for our Scouts and leaders alike.  Staff was truly awesome, they do a campfire production on Wednesday like you will rarely see.  Would definitely go back for "leg day" again.  It's a very big, very hilly camp.  From my campsite to IOLS training was almost exactly 1 mile and coming off the knob after lunch a couple Scouts had to make it from there to shooting sports which is about a mile as well.  The camp is EXPANSIVE.  Bring a daypack and use it lol.  After day one, I just did not return to the campsite until the evening which... is how it really ought to be right?

Camp Shands, Hawthorne, FL was great.  Cheated as we had the tree houses which were super cool.  Camp is small but it's one of the best things about it IMO.  Very "outdoorsy" still but not a death march in FL summer heat to get everywhere.  Great aquatics center, great staff.  From my observations some of the most thorough counselors I've encountered, I feel good our Scouts left camp without any "glossing over".  Smaller camp at ~300 weekly scout campers from ~12 troops, which makes scout-scout interactions interestingly more intimate.  I feel like I got to know the staff and some other unit leaders better than I have at other camps for the same reason.  Same 30 or so adult leaders you keep crossing paths with made it easier to make connections.  I think the Scouts ended up making more and stronger out-of-unit friendships here than I have seen elsewhere.  We plan a repeat in 2023.

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