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Troop is unable to attend summer camp-Doing it on our own

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OK folks, here's the scenario.


We have a new troop. 11 of the 14 are first year scouts and haven't been to summer camp. Due to a bunch of various reasons, there is no week during the normal summer camp schedule that even a simple majority of the boys can go to camp. Me and my ASM are experienced, our SPL and ASPL are both very experienced.


Our plan is to take a week in late August and go camping. We want to do sort of a first year program with the boys and concentrate of T-1st skills. We'd also like to have the boyus work on at least one merit badge.


Concerning the first year program, I'm asking for all my fellow scouters to chime in with some ideas for us to consider.



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My vote would be to work on 2 MBs: 1st aid and perhaps wilderness survival.


1st aid is a pre-req (or co-req) with many other merit badges, and also coincides nicely with T-2-1 requirements. No doubt that you want boys to be very well versed in 1st aid, even for just "regular" camp outs. A longer campout gives you time to get creative and really teach(and test) the boys in fun ways.


Wilderness survival is just a good badge to earn. And one that many traditional summer camps offer, but frequently they cut corners. Teach your boys the outdoor skills you want them to have, and wilderness survival is a great vehicle for doing so. Also, it is a good confidence builder. Your younger scouts can feel pretty good about earning it, and your older scouts will have to really know their stuff to teach it effectively.


If you are looking for a couple of others, I'd suggest cooking & pioneering. Both teach good basic skills and also overlap with T-2-1 requirements.


Hope that's helpful!



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Summer Camp the old fashioned way.. Neat..


First Aid is good, but for the one MB we always encouraged Swimming, Great time to do it in, not so "classroom oriented", it also has about of T-2-1 skills, and it was what our troop required of the boys to do anything the troop did that was aquatic, other then basic swimming (as a swimming trip provided opportunity to work on the badge if they did not yet have it)..


A week of Troop camping, means doing your own meals so plenty of opportunity for them to work on the cooking & food prep/handling.. So this should be planned so that all boys get opportunity to earn it, but shouldn't feel like a school course either.


Make sure you build your own flagpole, and this helps with lashes (though you will need more things for ropes) and your Flag requirements..





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As far as MB's go, cater to your strengths. Or if there is a counselor camping with you, or in the vicinity of your camp and can come visit every day, give him an hour of instruction time.


I think a pioneering camp would be awesome. (Set aside a big rope budget.) If you're near a decent trail system, hiking/orienteering would be fun. There's one trail we hike that passes near a shooting range, and if I were in your position, I'd give them a call to see if they had a certified instructor to give your boys a day of their time. If your older boys have the aquatics skills (or you can get a guard instructor to come along for the price of his food) swimming is it. And here's one last one that'll make some of these guys cringe: if you can find a place walking distance to your town or county seat, schedule hikes in to visit community leaders and pass by historical sites -- knock off some of those citizenship requirements.


It all depends on how much of the T21 requirements you've knocked off in advance. You might want one MB that advances the skills they already have, and another that covers skills they need to learn/practice.


Have a weekend camp or two between now and then for the boys who are available. Give them a chance to pick up something cool to teach their buddies. (It doesn't have to be a scout skill, it could be a set of patrol skits/songs.)


As much as I love summer camp, I kind of envy the opportunity you have. Even with my crew, we have to work so hard to pay for that week on a high adventure base that we can't afford the week in our back yard with some sweet hikes, dropping off of some pretty cool cliffs, and kayaking some neat waters.

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I think this is a great idea, and I'm envious!


From our own experience at a patrol-oriented camp, once you extract time for meal prep, "program" is only running from about 8:30am until 3:30pm, with an hour of "free time" (open swim, for example) from 3:30pm to 4:30pm. Evening activities are scheduled after dinner. Last year, our guys didn't even have the energy to start up a fire after the evening program...ever hear of that with a group of Scouts? :-)


With T-2-1 Scout skills, you've got a nice varied program. You can lash "useful camp gadgets", set up a 1-mile orienteering course, etc. If you have access to a swimming area, you can do water safety. First aid requirements, cooking, plants and animals, etc.


If you can find the old Brownsea 22 syllabus, there is a set program for six days of a summer camp in it, patterned after BP's original Scout camp. Would take a lot of prep, but it would be interesting.


I think you'll have great fun with this.



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By the way, our troop did this twice back in the dark ages when I was a Scout. Those are among my favorite memories with the troop, in addition to the high adventure trips we did.


We had a pretty large troop at the time, and there were dads and older Scouts that functioned as MB counselors. I didn't spend much time at the waterfront, so I don't recall how we handled the lifeguard concept. I think we had a couple of dads on duty.


We had one dad, whose real life job was that of a purchasing agent, who loved being our "commissary officer". He'd drive into town every morning, and get food for lunch through the next day's breakfast, along with ice for our coolers (I recall having a styrofoam cooler, which we buried halfway, for more insulation). I learned from one of his sons, just a few years ago, that our commissary officer would go to multiple stores in town and extract whatever deals, discounts and freebies he could from every store, saying "this is for the Boy Scouts!"


Kudu is always bringing up 300 feet -- I can't think of a single time where one patrol was within even a quarter mile of another. We were definitely on our own, and the only time we saw adults was either during our program time, or during meal times, as invited guests. And yes, natural leaders took over. I don't ever recall a single vote for a patrol leader, and certainly nobody was handed a "position of responsibility" because they needed it for rank advancement.

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In addition to your August trip, you may want to offer "provisional" camper status to those who can attend summer camp. They would be assigned to another troop or to a "provisional troop" for the week. The troop that I served would always take a "provy"...sometimes the same scout from year to year. They boys made new friends and the scout was never a problem, since he "wanted" to be there. A win-win.

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Don't one door close that another opens.


The only regret here should be: "why didn't we think of this earlier ourselves?"


In the Troop of my youth, the dads and older Scouts planned the three summer camps I remember most. (I also attended the Council camp). A cousin of the son in law of somebody's uncle (or something) had some property and our Troop made it into "Camp Freedom" (from what? Parents? School? Town? Lots of things...). In the early spring we built a three side Appalachian cabin from the telephone poles one dad got from the phone company, gratis.... Dragged in behind someones War surplus Jeep. This served as the "Commissary". Each Patrol had it's own campsite, two on one side of the creek, two on the other. The property had a spring which we dug out and capped, haul your water in buckets to your site. . A privy was dug and built over (only one holer). The creek was dammed down stream for a wading/splash hole, wasn't deep enough to actually swim. A stone sided pit was created in the side of the creek for a food cooler. Talk about weekend activities!

Each Patrol created a tarped dining fly and formal fire place to cook on. Since we would be there awhile, we hauled in some prefab picnic tables, and Patrol boxes. We had lots of dead American Chestnut still available in the woods adjacent. Best cooking wood in the world, blue flame coals.

The camp was planned to include advancement and trips out of camp to museums and an outside hike/overnight somewheres. You had to automatically pass all the TF, second class and most of the first class requirements, including signaling across the creek with wigwag and flashlight at night! Camping, cooking, hiking merit badges were included, and mostly covered. Pioneering was also covered, I remember not getting all of that one the first week because of a lack of rope!

The "property" became the backup campsite for the Troop for a long time, because we could go there almost any time at all. I did my Surveying MB by creating a map to it from our CO (there's a term I didn't know then).

My Scoutson hasn't had that luxury, but has attended the Council camps and the camps sponsored by our Yearly Meeting. He prefers the latter, as it includes a traveling camp. Two or three weeks at camp includes three nights each week out either canoeing or hiking somewhere. Granted, the counselors do most of the cooking (safety !), and the food and equipment is "sagwagon" carried, but the campers travel "under their own steam", the itinerary planned to include visiting historic sites and "places of interest". One year they traced the path of Lee's retreat thru Virginia to Appomattox.

Pull out the maps, create a path of memory for your boys. Don't know where you are, but there's bound to be trails unwalked (by you!). The Appalachian trail is always available. C&O Canal in my area. The only obstacle is your own confidence level. Go out and do it. Your boys will be glad you did.

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I once put together a proposal for a similar camp for our troop, but neither the scout nor the adults bought into the idea, so it died. But I did discuss it with the forum here.



I agree that with a T21 emphasis, limit the badges to 2. First Aid is a no brainer, but also consider something like Nature or Forestry. You may also consider setting up to do a partial on Cooking, for those scouts who want to participate. Also, do day hikes to places of interest (waterfalls, firetowers on mountains, etc). Try to plan one extra fun activity, like a 1/2 day horseback trek, river rafting or tubing, or climbing/repelling. What you plan depends upon your location and available resources. I think Wilderness Survival is a good badge, but to me, it is an expression of a combination of skill sets. I would encourage this after a scout is experienced at (and prehaps has earned) Camping, Pioneering and prehaps Cooking.


As for what others have posted, I am all for provisional campers, but not for a first time summer camp experience. I think that should be something which happens with the whole troop. We have 3 provisional campers this year at our council camp.


Good luck with the troop camp! I am envious that you are able to do this. It will be a great experience for the scouts!


I have additional material. PM me if you want to talk about this more.

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This is our forth year of doing this.


It started out as just T-2-1 teaching the skills, hiking, etc. I took a laptop so they could watch "A Time to Tell" for some of the campfire topics. They did not get everything signed off, but they got a good start.


Each year the scouts want to go back so we've added merit badges. This year we will rent parts of the council camp (we used group campgrounds in the past). We also added a day to make it 6 nights long. The first year scouts will work on their First Aid MB along with the T-2-1 requirements. They will also do Swimming. We will offer other merit badges including Archery, Rifle, and Shotgun that we would not have been able to without the camp facilities.


Some of the older scouts serve as Troop Guides and Instructors for the week. They also have time to work on merit badges and will take a short overnight backpacking trip into the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area. Other older scouts just work on merit badges or hang out as older scouts tend to do.


All this for $150, less than half of the cost of the council camps we attend.




Keep classes under 50 minutes. Give them time to play, and go exploring the area.

Allow your older scouts to do as much as possible.

You will need to plan your menu for the week, but the scouts should do most, if not all the cooking.

Get some of the women involved with meal planning. The first year my wife made the menu with interesting camp cooking in mind. We still use that basic menu, but the ladies in charge of meals have modified it some. They watch for deals and use coupon items and end up saving lots of money. We also buy our produce from a local wholesaler.

Start traditions. On the way back the first year, the scouts watched "Follow Me, Boys!" in the van. Ever since, they want it as one campfire.

Get plenty of adults involved. The first year there were 3 of us with 19 scouts and we were exhausted. This year we will have 12 with 28 scouts.

Do not camp within a short walk of a lake. They will want to spend every free moment there, and many not so free moments as well. Not a completely bad thing but can become a problem. We now take the 5 mile hike to a lake where they get to spend time fishing or whatever.

We have a snack bar. Instead of cash each person has a punch card with there name on it that they use to by soda, candy, etc. It is generally only open for a little while in the afternoon and then again in the evening. We also buy cases of oranges and apples from the local produce warehouse. These are always available.


Have fun.

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I love the idea and have proposed the same thing to our PLC for their consideration. Their discussion centered around finding a campground with a Pool, I mentioned we could backpack or canoe for a week as well and do rank activities in the evening or at lunch.


Not sure where the boys are at with it......


The CC is mad because our troop has a TRADITION of going to the same Resident camp and staying at the same camp site year after year after year...... Boring..... this is my son's second year.


The Last Committee meeting had some aggressive discussion about resident camp...... The only thing I said is.....This is one of many reasons we don't have any boys over 14 in the troop. I suggested offering two summer camps, one at the resident camp and one "high" adventure for those of First class or higher rank.

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We went to the same council camp for 5 or 6 years in a row. The older scouts would either not go or be on staff. It got to the point that we could not get adults to go again.


We do three summer camps. One in-state, we now rotate between two council camps and a third camp in another council. We do an out of state camp, generally with a high adventure component. Finally, we do our own, which started as T-2-1 but is now more than that. Of the three the troop run is the most popular.

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Thanks for the great input. Some of the stuff you suggested I had already considered and there are many other great ideas.


I decided last night that I'm going to call a special committee meeting and include the PLC to begin deep program planning for camp.


This is really going to be fun. I planned on 1st aid MB and really like th eidea of pioneering too.


We are hoping to use the local council camp. It's only 20 miles away, so I'm going to recruit a couple mom's to bring food each day so we can just keep it refrigerated.


Thanks again.

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The troop in which I was a Scout and, eventually Scoutmaster, did its own Summer Camp every other year. Same for the troop where I was an SA for 24 years.


You need a solid adult for food. It can be a big plus instead of a problem. The Scouts can plan the menu with good counsel. Iron Chef?


What MB's to offer? For which MB's do you have the best teachers?


No need to have hour-long sessions like "regular" SC. Whatever fits.


You may be able to rent a Scout camp. That solves a good many physical problems, like poles for pioneering, refrigerators, picnic shelters, etc. In the troop mentioned secondly above, each patrol had it's own "Troop site."


And the "week" can be a week, instead of five days. ^____^



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