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Eamonn

Hung, drawn and quartered!

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At this months District Meeting, a report of the Fall Camporee was given.

I wasn't at the event. The report detailed how the event was a cycling event which was well planned and enjoyed by the Scouts who had attended.

Sad thing was that only five troops attended.

It seems that the SE had visited and the DE reported that the recommendation of the SE is that our District couple up with the District next door.They had a Camporee over the same weekend with very poor attendance.

A few people at the meeting said that Fall was a very busy time of year and that more and more local communities seem to be having community festivals at this time of year.

There wasn't really much discussion about the SE's recommendation.

I being me?? Voiced the opinion that we have too many District events and that these events do get in the way of Troops providing a program of their own that is planned by the Scouts.

Boy Oh Boy!! Did this wake people up.

I got:

" Scouts from small Troops need these events in order for them to see and know that there are other Scouts"

I was OK with that one. My argument was "Do we need so many events?"

I got:

" The Scouts look forward to these events"

My argument to that was." Clearly if only five Troops attended the last Camporee something must be wrong?"

I got:

"The weak leaders need these events as this is the only time that their Scouts get to go to camp"

This one really got to me!!

When I suggested that we cancel all District events for a year and replace them with Scout Skills Training for the "Weaker Leaders", many of those in attendance were clearly and visible upset.

I thought I was going to be taken outside and hung drawn and quartered!!

Needless to say nothing came of my suggestion.

I still think it seems like a good idea.

You win some and you lose some!

I lost.

Eamonn.

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Unspoken was the reason: "But that's when We get to hang out, get a break from our families, drink coffee and show off to each other!!"

 

You're right, of course.

 

'Cause a campout without a Friday night leaders' meeting, pre-programmed events, a morning coffee station, awards ceremonies or a Saturday night cracker barrel isn't a real campout.

 

Going into the woods with one other adult and a group of pimply-faced kids is too boring.

 

I sometimes think the Girl Scouts in my council may be on to something. They hire part-time outdoor skills instructors to teach on a unit-by-unit basis - basically traveling mini-camps. Maybe we could put some of our resources directly into strengthening units' outdoor programs - or at the very least do as you say and convert all the district-level Scouters into instructors and trainers.

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Our District Camporees have seen dwindling numbers. In the fall it always conflicts with scouts playing sports and especially with marching band competitions. In the spring for the past couple of years our camporee date was not set until after many Troops had already set their annual calendar. Most could alter their plans. Our Troop has a very limited number of adults and few available weekends per month. We are not very flexible when having to change dates with only a few weeks notice. Because of that, we've missed the past two years' spring camporees.

 

I'm not sure how many Troops are in our District, but we just had our fall camporee that was also open to the Cub Scout Packs to come out on Saturday and spend the night. Only six Troops attended and as far as I could tell only two Packs (mostly Webelos. although several younger Cubs came out for the day to enjoy the activities available for them).

 

In all, only about 150 boys and adults. Rather sad showing. I like the Camporees and I think the boys enjoy those that are patrol/troop competition based like the one we just had. But, I can honestly say I wouldn't miss them if they were gone. Our guys plan a wonderful year full of outings and we really don't need the camporees. Maybe if we knocked it back to just one a year.

 

If other folks out there are running Troops that rely on district camporees in order to get their Scouts to camp, that is a troubling thing indeed.

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We saw similar results at the Cub level when talking about district events. Some argued that smaller packs couldn't afford (or staff) enough fun events on their own and they counted on the district to provide activities. They miss the point that Cub Scouting happens in the den (and at the Boy Scout level, in the patrol).

Our district has gone to 1 Cuboree (fall) per year - dropped the spring one, but it wasn't necessarily for poor showing - just hard to get leaders for so many district activities. Also some complained that with so many district events, the packs weren't able to do "pack" things. I would welcome joining up with another district for a Cuboree - maybe trade off which district "hosts" it each year.

At the BS level, we've also dropped to one Camporee (winter) due to poor attendance. It has steadily declined over the past few years. The last spring one was attended only by 3 troops - they changed the weekend on very short notice so even some who wanted to come couldn't.

But what could we expect? We haven't had Boy Scout summer camp here in 2 years.

 

*sigh*

 

I hope that in the absence of district events, the troops are having great boy-led activities of their own.

clyde

 

 

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E; you are pretty much correct regarding the district events being poorly attended in the fall due to outside of scouting activities getting precedence. Our Troop had a "Patrol" camp for the first weekend after school was back in session, we held it at a camp 6 miles out of town at a youth camp owned by the local United Way.

 

We had lots of families that initially declined the outing due to sports conflicts (why does sports seem to take precedence over Scouting?)...but when they were told their sons could meet their soccer obligation and then come out to camp, well, we had half the troop attending before you knew it, and lots more scouts turning up at the last minute.

 

Our Troop was able that weekend to get 2 Second class Scouts through all the First class Req.4 stuff and lots more Scouts did their Req.'s for rank advancements on T-2-1. We skipped the following weekends district camporee because none of the Scouts wanted to go, and again the sports issue was cited as was the distance (30+ miles). The district event was attended by 12 units and a sucess.

 

If a districts events are under attended, scheduling conflicts should be considered when planning them...I realize we as Scouts will play second best to scolastic sporting endevours, but if planners consult the school calenders for the communities in a district, a weekend might be found that will be free of potential conflict of interests.

Planners should also have the SPLs of the troops in the district polled to find what the Scouts in the districts Troops would prefer to do at district level.

 

Perhaps two districts could stage their events at the same time and place and pit one district against the other in a friendly Scout competition of skills...or the district could sponsor a Patrol Competition within their districts area, after all, Patrols are the basic unit in a Boy Scout Troop...they should compete against and with one another.

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Well, in a glass half full kind of way its nice to know that Scouts has boys who play sports, play in the band and have busy lives. Sorta takes the argument that todays kids are a bunch of couch potatoes that spend all their time in front of TV, Games, or a 'puter and nothing gets them outside.

 

The question then becomes what will get them outside that isnt a sport, band etc. At that point, I guess I have nothing

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Over the last several years, one troop in our district has hosted a "Cow Pie Camporee" at one of the CM's farms. Over the years other troops have been invited. Last year they made it the district camporee. It is usually well attended, 100-150 people.

 

Last year the district also restarted a spring camporee, maybe around 100. One problem with spring is that our Council holds three Good Turn weekends at the main camp one of the requirements summercamps camp honors program.

 

This weekend, Council held it's first camporall in 20 years. Each district had a specific area to camp in. Our district only had five troops out of 17 show, maybe 70 people. Overall, there were over 800 in attendence. We may have talked with a few of you on the radio on Saturday.

 

Each districts each ran about 3-5 activity stations, one being set up for the Ultimate Troop Competition. One of our district CM's had the scouts attempt to build a 1/25 scale model of the Washington Momument by lashing staves together. We were told to not make things easy. Ray's biggest observation was that the boys, when they started lashing things together, never double lashed the staves, so when they tried to raise thier structures, the structure immediately collapsed.

 

Maybe E is onto something here about skills weekends.

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My Troop is at the Southern tip of my District. Most of the Troops in my District are at the Northern end of our area. Most of our district events are help even further north at a Council property. I would have to travel over two hours on a Friday and set up camp in the dark to attend our fall camporee and then have the longest drive back home on Sunday. I have a choice of camping in several different areas within 30 minutes of the town I live in and I don't have some manscout checking all of my paperwork and telling me how great it is to be all together.

 

My District also likes to schedule a bunch of things together, camporee one weekend and merit badge college the next weekend, University of Scouting right after that. I have to choose what I can go to and I can't go to everything.

 

When it comes right down to it I would rather camp with my troop closer to home and be able to spend a little more time working on scout skills that spend a whole weekend with a bunch of man scouts and planned out activities with a long drive there and back.

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If you waste your time a-talking to the people who don't listen

to the things that you are saying who do you think's going to hear?

And if you should die explaining how the things that they complain about

are things they could be changing, who d'you think's goin' to care?

 

(Kris Kristofferson To Beat The Devil)

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I like you ideas Eamonn! I have always thought we over-program. Camporees are fun but they aren't a necessity. And if attendance is dwindling, maybe it is time to rethink how they are done!

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shortridge wrote:

"Unspoken was the reason: "But that's when We get to hang out, get a break from our families, drink coffee and show off to each other!!" "

 

Boy, that seems to be it, in a nutshell!

 

Our troop has, somewhat reluctantly, committed to a training schedule that will provide every Scout the opportunity to become FC by May. This is long overdue; some of them have been Scout 'rank' for over 15 months, but the focus has been on what the older boys wanted to do.

 

And, the Camporees are something they, and some of the long time adults want to participate in. Unfortunately, the tight schedules and camping locations (commercial campgrounds or highly restricted parks) make it impossible to work on any of the core skills. So, I posed the question, "how does the camporee fit into our troop goals for the year?". As a novice Scouter, I supposed that there might be some sort of answer. Wrong!

 

I continued to bug people about it, and without ever getting a straight answer, I came to precisely the conclusion Shortridge put so nicely . . . with one addition. Going to the Camporees, with their overwhelming evidence of a massive lack of fundamental Scout skills seems to assuage the guilt of how unskilled OUR Scouts are!

 

In my poking around, I've found that at various times in early Scout history, prospective First Class Scouts, as a final test, had to go on a weekend camping trip, and make their way cross-country from point A to point B over a distance of 14+ miles . . . all completely on their own!

 

I'd be surprised if there are 10 Scouts in our COUNCIL ready to pass that test. But, I'll bet we'll have three who could, by summer's end. Unfortunately, it almost certainly will not include any of the older boys.

 

GaHillBilly

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Wow, the experience most of you describe is so different that what I've experienced. A poorly attended camporee for us has 15 of 29 troops attending and about 150 Scouts. Our recent fall camporee had over 300 (about 1/3 of our Boy Scouts) participants and an elaborate Lord of the Rings scenario. Staff alone was over 60 people. I think we had 23 troops there.

 

Our camporees are well attended, probably because the dates are set 18 to 24 months in advance. The council publishes an annual calendar each year with dates for all districts, which allows the troops to adequately plan their attendance at these events.

 

 

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Our district took a real new approach to district camporees, which, though reasonably well attended, were slowing loosing participation. We created an SPL Roundtable, concurrent with out BS, CS and V RT groups. The SPL RT focus on leadership, troop issues and topics. At the second meeting (1 1/2 years ago) the SPLs started talking about the District Camporee, and how disappointed they were with the program. So they took ownership of the camporee, and it is now the SPLs which help organize and run the camporees. It has been a smashing success thus far.

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While I've been in councils and districts that don't have camporees becasue of soemof the problems mentioned, I am fortunate in that my current district doesn't have that problem yet. Our camporees do have a scouting related theme and all activities are scout based skills related to the theme. We must be doign something right as traditioally all troops save our LDS one are in attendance, and last year they did show up friday and saturday :)

 

Now do we have room for improvement, certainly because anything and everything can be improved upon. One idea that has been proposed is getting youth involved inthe planning process. that is somehting that is being taken into consideration very seriously!

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We had similiar issues with our District events and were pushed towards combining our camporees with a neighboring district. There was much doubt about how it was going to work, but these have been some of the best camporess we've had in years. The Scouts & Scouters planning the events have worked together and I hope we never go back to doing it on our own.

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