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Summer Camp Ideas

We just got back from Camp Alexander in Colorado and are looking for ideas for next summer so I thought I’d ask everyone what their favorite summer camp is. We are in Texas so we aren’t really looking for anything in Texas but elsewhere so the scouts can widen their horizons.

Years ago (as a scout) I used to go to Salmen Scout Reservation in Mississippi (Southeast LA council, used to be NO Area Council). I always loved it, but I haven’t been back since I was a youth.

As a college student, I did work with APO helping out at Camp Resolute in Massachusetts. It seemed like a great place, but we were never there with the scouts, mostly doing off-season maintenance.

Our scouts seem pretty fond of several of the summer camps out here in California:

How far are you willing to travel? Erie Shores Council has a great summer camp program at the Pioneer Scout Reserve near Toledo, Ohio…

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We haven’t set a distance, just trying to get suggestions and then will look at them.

Unlike taking a family vacation, I’m not a fan of changing scouts summer camps on a regular basis.
I think something is lost with frequent changes. The sense of tradition, belonging and memories gets muddled.

A first year scout is amazed by the unknown experience, when the scouts returns the second year the scout is more in control of his environment, the program and develops staff relationships. The opportunity for leadership starts to develop. By the 3rd year +, the scouts owns the program & the setting and can focus on becoming a much stronger leader. They know the camp, they know the staff, they know what to expect. By periodically changing such a significant variable you’ve added another hurdle for scouts to naturally grow and develop into strong leaders. The leadership growth naturally happens without the scouts thinking about it.

On the other hand, if your local scout camp is lacking then consider the move. Some also take the position of the importance of supporting your local council. Keeping your council financially healthy is important.

This topic of skipping around camps and event troop outings comes up often. I’ve found it more of an adult “fun” issue than concerns of the scouts.

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Our Council doesn’t have a camp at the moment and given that Texas is blazing hot in the summer, we look for places that are different. We camp in Texas the other 11 months.

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@JeanannGoss - our scout have enjoyed Citta in Jersey Shore Council, Rodney SR in DelMarVa, and Foorestburg in Monmouth Council. They may be a bit far but something to consider.

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Or, it becomes different. There can be a tradition of seeing new places and getting to go where they otherwise wouldn’t. When we traveled 14 hours for camp, it was the first long car trip for several scouts. And the first time that far away from home for one.

Like everything else in life, this is about tradeoffs.

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Our scout’s favorite camp is Camp Hale, in OK. They also really enjoyed Camp Buck Toms in TN.

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My son’s troop just got back from summer camp. This is the 3rd year in a row that they attended the local council’s camp. There are several scouts who told the leaders, “Not again!” The only reason they attended was because it is the camp’s 100th year, and they wanted to be part of it. But the scouts have already said that they don’t want to go back there AGAIN next year; they want to go somewhere different and experience new things. It doesn’t help that this is the same property where Cub Scout resident camp also takes place, so for several of them they have attended this camp for 7 or 8 years and they’re looking for a change.

The choice of where to go to summer camp should be up to the scouts. After summer camp, the scoutmaster should ask if they want to return again the next summer. If the scouts want to, then book it. If the scouts ask for a new experience, then the scoutmaster should help the SPL and PLC find another camp to attend the following summer.

I agree that it should be the scouts choice. One problem we have is that it is so hot in Texas during the summer that there aren’t any adults who will go to camp for a week and suffer the heat.

My purpose of getting ideas of camps is to give a list to the SPL and let him assign people to research the various camps and then present to the scouts their findings. For those working on the Communication merit badge, the talk can count for the merit badge.

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Buck Toms is on my list along with Davy Crockett in Tennessee. Also Cris Dobbins in Colorado and Camp Daniel Boone in North Carolina. Those are probably the outer limits of our traveling, so if anyone has any suggests of other camps in those areas, please provide.

I also enjoyed Camp Davy Crockett when we went there. @JeanannGoss, have you spoken with the other units in your area to see where they like to go? Roundtable is a great place to ask the question.

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@KenTodd- great idea about asking at Roundtable, but ask other unit leaders, not necessarily Council or District reps. The unit leaders are the ones camping with scouts, and the Council/District folks have a vested interest in getting scouts to the Council camps.

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@SteveCagigas, all of us at my Roundtable meeting are volunteers, except one, no matter the color of our tabs. Our goal is that you take your Scouts to camp, no matter where. Our district JTE numbers are impacted the same whether you go to one of our council camps or another. Every few years our Scouts BSA Roundtable Commissioner leads a discussion of pros and cons of the various camps our units attended that summer. (I’m an ADC - Roundtables)

Our first year due to cost we took the kids to a local state park for a week the benefits were besides the cost we were able to offer merit badges at a slower pace ( depending how long the kids took each day cooking meals) parents could drop in any day for a hour or two join us, if the kids wished to choose to repeat a activity ( fishing it was easy to arrange) the draw backs was needing a merit badge couclers on sight.
We really pushed as leaders to have the kids go to tradasonal camp the second year ( to have the kids get experience at said camp) after that we gave the kids a choice they choose to go back to the scout camp their third year.

While our boys enjoy the local camp, they can only provide so many merit badge classes. Expanding the number of classes isn’t really an option without incurring additional cost. Consequently by the end of the 2nd camp, there’s not much interest in what courses are left. It would be interesting to set up a pool of counselors for summer camp that could rotate say, four classes that were not offered the previous year through a number of camps. Before I get inundated with protests, I’m aware of the difficulty in setting that up. It’s just an idea to consider…

John, the above is an interesting idea and something you may want to submit to your council VP for programs.

My district has a separate environmental merit badge (one day) camp just for units in our district in the spring. However, MB event duplication is something we should look at.

My district is fortunate to have near-by research facilities and museums that include MB events in their youth education programs, for example:

No protests here, only encouragement. Start with big dreams, then work with council to make those dreams reality. Just because it isn’t easy, doesn’t mean it isn’t a great idea.

I tend to agree with @DaveBoring about changing up camps.
We cycle through several camps in the Northwest: Morrison (our council camp and reviewed as a top camp by Scouting mag), Meriwether on the Oregon Coast, Parsons on the Olympic Peninsula, and recently Easton in northern Idaho.

The PLC does the choosing - with a bit of guidance - in the few weeks right after we return from camp. Invariably one of the older Scouts says something like, “Meriwether was my first camp and I want it to be my last camp before I turn 18!”

This summer, we sent the newly crossed over Scouts to our council camp, along with a few Life Scouts who wanted the leadership experience. This worked well. The young Scouts and dads who are new to the outdoor program were only a couple of hours from home. Families could easily drop in for opening/closing camp fires, or eat a meal at camp. The older boys were looking to develop leadership skills to improve their chances at being elected into the Senior Patrol.

We took another group to Parsons to visit a camp that only one had been to before. The older Scouts easily traveled the two-day trip and readily slept under the stars in parks along the way. They got to see how another camp was run differently than the council camp, and experience a salt-water waterfront.

The upsides include young leaders having to deal with the elements of a new camp, experiencing unfamiliar traditions, etc.

The downsides include not knowing exactly where to jump out of the canoe in the relay race (yes, it cost us a few places), what the camp expects in terms of spirit (we’re spirited on the parade grounds, the Seattle Pacific council camps, not so much), etc.

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