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Incidents at summer camp

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After reading a similarly titled thread, all I could do was shake my head. I just returned from a week at our Council camp with 12 Scouts, Tenderfoot through Life. This was the first year that neither of my own sons was present: one aged out and was working elsewhere, the other is working at our Council Cub Scout resident camp. I witnessed a number of very revealing incidents with "my" other boys.


1. One 14-year old first-year camper with physical brain impairment and consequent difficulty with verbal communication learned how to do the side stroke so he could earn swimmer. He also earned Art and Basketry MBs with some interpretation and encouragement from me. Working only with other scouts and the counselor, he earned Rowing MB. We successfully battled homesickness with him (he'd never been away from parents more than 2 consecutive nights before - this was 6 nights). I learned a lot from him.


2. Without my prior knowledge, the other boys in the troop made arrangements among themselves to be certain that the scout mentioned above was escorted to the the health lodge at the appropriate times to get his meds. If someone couldn't stay until he got the meds, another boy would step in to relieve the original buddy.


3. I challenged a 2nd-year scout to try the Mile Swim. He said it would be too hard. I repeated the challenge the next day with the same result. Told him not to underestimate himself. The next day at lunch, he said "I'm going to try the Mile Swim tomorrow." I looked him in the eye and said, "You've got to be kidding -- I don't think you can do it (grin)!" The next day, he swam the Mile faster than any of the other boys. Big smile!


4. Four boys successfully completed COPE, including overcoming fear of heights for high ropes and the zip line.


5. Three boys completed Climbing MB, overcoming their fears of being 40' in the air and trusting their equipment and buddies to keep them safe.


6. Three scouts spontaneously made up new words to a song for campfire, incorporating the Camp name. Program Director videotaped it later to use for camp promotion.


7. Boys repeatedly volunteered to be a buddy for an unexpected trip back to the campsite for a forgotten whatever, "cover" waiter duty in the dining hall, and get up at 5 a.m. to be buddy for someone working on Fishing MB.


8. Boys invited all the camp staff to their final evening campfire. After the fun stuff, they quieted things down and retired 4 U.S. flags very tastefully, the last one happening just as the Prayer Bell sounded in the distance.


9. Boys policed their assigned litter areas (the amphitheater and the area around the Trading Post) without being reminded or otherwise prodded.


10. By the 2nd or 3rd day, the older boys were periodically doing head counts, making sure that they could account for everyone, including those who were at other activities. Impressive, because it showed that they genuinely cared about their fellow scouts.


11. At the mid-week parents night/campfire, when the Camp Director asked all leaders to stand in front to be recognized, my Scouts started a standing ovation for all the leaders. Tear time...


12. Inevitably, some (sometimes nearly all) of the boys would sit around the picnic table after Taps, just talking quietly with me and each other. It helped me see each of them for the individuals that they are and how they interact with each other on different levels. These times were priceless. I treasure the moments.


This only scratches the surface of the week, but I won't bore you with the rest of it. In short, this was one of the best weeks of camping I have ever had. The other 1.5 adults and I had very little to do the entire week. This was Scout Summer Camp the way it is intended to be. Cooperation. Mutual respect. Encouragement. Personal responsibility. Lots of praise to go around. Lots of smiles. They're already talking about next year. I can't wait, either.


No comments required. I just needed to share this and offset some of the "problem" posts that we all read.

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