Jump to content



Photo
- - - - -

What are scout summer camps in the USA like?


  • Please log in to reply
23 replies to this topic

#1 ianwilkins

ianwilkins

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 224 posts

Posted 02 August 2016 - 09:19 AM

A question from the other side of the pond...spurred on a little by that youtube video someone posted on differences between UK and USA...

 

So, in my head, I've got the image of a BSA scout camp, but I've no idea how accurate that is.

 

Part of what is in my head is the hollywood version of "summer camp", there's always a lake, it's always in the woods, kids are sleeping in dorms, or huts, or something like that. Maybe I've watched Addams Family Values one too many times. Part is what I've read on here, merit badges are done, kids go swimming, kids do stuff. It sounds like there's an organised programme of events run by the campsite, so lots of kids from lots of troops go, and they do stuff laid on by the staff. But there's also "high adventure", and Philmont, but Philmont seems like hiking between activities or something. I'm being deliberately vague.

 

In return...in the UK, I'd say it's a broad church.

 

Last week we took 27 explorer scouts up to the Peak District here in the UK, it's rather picturesque, we did some active stuff, canoeing, climbing on proper rocks not climbing walls with artificial holds, caving, abseiling off an old railway viaduct 90' high, went for a swim in the local public pool, and they also did a two day lightweight expedition, carrying their kit, and feeding themselves with what they took. They also had two nights cooking for themselves in teams, using dutch ovens on open fires, and most days one team would be cooking breakfast for everyone, and another would wash-up for everyone.

 

On the other hand, a friend of mine has taken his scouts to a local site with no activities, where I think they will be in their patrols all week, playing team games, learning scout skills, probably cooking and looking after themselves as a patrol.

 

One year we went to Portugal, and did a lot of sightseeing, as well as activities. One explorer described it as "great fun, a brilliant holiday, not what I'd call a scout camp exactly", and another year we hosted some Portuguese scouts, who we took sightseeing in London for a few days.

 

Other troops might take their scouts to something like Essex International Jamboree, where there are thousands of scouts all together, while others might borrow a farmer's field that has not much more than a tap.

 

Do you have the same variety in the states? Or is it that most do one thing, and a few do other things?

 

Ian


  • 0

#2 meyerc13

meyerc13

    Roundtable Commissioner

  • Members
  • 271 posts

Posted 02 August 2016 - 10:55 AM

The United States is pretty big, and while I've traveled thousands and thousands of miles I've only seen less than 1/3 of it.  Most of my experience with Scout camps is from Wisconsin, but we have a lot of them.  I'm sure camps in other parts of the country are very different (less forests, less lakes, etc.).

 

Most of the camps in Wisconsin are as you describe, a lake, surrounded by forested land.  Campsites are cut out of the forest, as are small 'program' areas.  Most camps have Archery, BB Guns, Nature areas, Scoutcraft areas, trails... Boy Scout camps will also add things like ATV and Mountain Bike Trails, rock walls, etc.  Being forested, it isn't uncommon for you to spend most of your time at camp in the shade of the trees.  The campsite where your tents are setup will see some sunlight, as will the waterfront, but for many of our camps the rest of the camp only gets sunlight filtered down through the trees.  Not all camps have lakes.  One of our Council's camps is on a river.  Some camps have swimming pools.

 

Most camps try to mix up merit badge classes with open programming (to do fun stuff like ATVs, archery, etc.).  Some camps have dining halls, some camps have Patrol Cooking.  Some units choose not to participate in a 'summer camp program' and camp on their own either at a BSA facility or at some other location (private land, National/State/County parks and forests).

 

Philmont was a very different experience for me.  It's very dry, very high altitude.  While there are trees, they aren't the towering trees of northern Wisconsin.  However, there are lots of mountains, which we don't have in Wisconsin. Philmont is huge - over 200 square miles, which is an enormous amount of land to be owned or controlled by one, non-governmental entity.  To put it in perspective, Philmont is probably 70 times the size of our largest Scout camps in Wisconsin, and almost fifteen times the size of our largest State Park in Wisconsin. 

 

Philmont is all about hiking.  While at Philmont I visited their archery/rifle ranges.  Since Philmont is the premier Scout camp, I thought their ranges would be the best around.  I was shocked to see that their ranges were nowhere near as nice as the ranges at my Council's camps.  The reason is that Scouts who go to Philmont don't really use the ranges.  The ranges are only there for Training Center participants and the occasional Scout who needs to come off the trail early due to injury.


  • 1

Yours in Scouting,

 

Chris Meyer

 

Cub Scout Roundtable Commissioner 2015-Present

Lion Guide 2016-Present

Cubmaster 2013-2016

Father of a Boy Scout 2016-Present

 


#3 LongTimeGone

LongTimeGone

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 3 posts

Posted 02 August 2016 - 11:12 AM

Here are some British Air Scouts at a Wisconsin summer camp last year  http://www.wjfw.com/...20150728173217 


  • 0

#4 qwazse

qwazse

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 6704 posts

Posted 02 August 2016 - 11:13 AM

Yes and no. We have the same variety, but by far the most popular is a sort of outdoor merit badge university format.

 

Troops are assigned sites usually provisioned with tents, cots, picnic tables, and dining flies and the tools to clean their own latrine, maintain a small campfire, and keep the site generally tidy. They may configure patrols on that site however they choose. If they opt for a camp with patrol cooking, they are also provisioned with the wherewithal for a small kitchen.

 

Then boys schedule blocks of time in the day for their MBs of interest. During the day they troddle off to the respective areas for instruction (e.g. Field/Shooting Sports, Aquatics, Scoutcraft, Nature, Handicraft ...), and youth staff not much older than the boys are tasked with teaching under the supervision of adult directors. They may come back to the campsite at their leisure, and are expected to check in at set times (usually around meals). The camp our boys choose offers an hour of open program (e.g. go to whatever area you want just for fun) in the morning and afternoon. Generally each evening has a camp-wide game or campfire or some such other activity to get all the troops/patrols in camp together.

 

In terms of facilities, they vary with geography and each council's long-term fundraising success.

 

Girl Scout camp is similar. Although they tend more towards cabins instead of tents.

 

Cub resident camps (mostly popularized in the 80s) work similarly, only boys are to be escorted by their parents. (Which may or may not increase the number of responsible people attending to the boys. :mad: ) Our cub-camp staff tends to be a little older and more mature.


  • 1

#5 meyerc13

meyerc13

    Roundtable Commissioner

  • Members
  • 271 posts

Posted 02 August 2016 - 12:54 PM

Cub resident camps (mostly popularized in the 80s) work similarly, only boys are to be escorted by their parents. (Which may or may not increase the number of responsible people attending to the boys. :mad: ) Our cub-camp staff tends to be a little older and more mature.

 

This is not universal.  Our Cub Scout Resident camp requires a 4:1 ratio of Cubs to adults, and for our Pack most parents attend, but we always have 1-2 boys who are there without a parent or other adult.  The only exception is new Tiger Cubs who are starting 1st grade in the fall - they *must* be there with their 'adult partner." 


  • 0

Yours in Scouting,

 

Chris Meyer

 

Cub Scout Roundtable Commissioner 2015-Present

Lion Guide 2016-Present

Cubmaster 2013-2016

Father of a Boy Scout 2016-Present

 


#6 qwazse

qwazse

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 6704 posts

Posted 02 August 2016 - 01:57 PM

This is not universal.  Our Cub Scout Resident camp requires a 4:1 ratio of Cubs to adults, and for our Pack most parents attend, but we always have 1-2 boys who are there without a parent or other adult.  The only exception is new Tiger Cubs who are starting 1st grade in the fall - they *must* be there with their 'adult partner." 

I stand corrected. "Parents/Guardians" and I did not mean to imply a 1:1 ratio.

In fact, it is some times better for some boys if they are there under the watchful eye of someone else's parent/guardian. ;)


  • 0

#7 Eagle94-A1

Eagle94-A1

    Been there. Done that.

  • Members
  • 1932 posts

Posted 03 August 2016 - 08:16 AM

I know I was in "culture shock" when I worked at Kingsdown International Scout Campsite (now it's no longer a Scout camp) and Youlbury International Scout Campsite (now called an Activity Centre).

 

BSA summer camps are outdoor merit badge schools. Quality of instruction varies, and I' sorry to say mine needs some work. I discovered that Oldest "earned" a MB that he didn't complete a requirement on that they ran out of supplies for them to complete it. Thankfully he told me what happened, and he is working on the missing requirement today since the kit is now in. I don't know why it wasn't put in the advancement report we got, but the staff will be hearing about it soon. I think some of my other scouts also got merit badges that they didn't complete.

 

While there are now 4 national high adventure bases, a bunch of local councils have created high adventure bases, or HA programs run form their summer camps.  WHile they are organized by the camp, there is a lot of variation. Some programs have a rough outline already in place, others have a set of options for the units to chose form either before they arrive, or shortly after. One program I know of has the unit meet the ship's captain the first day in camp, and they not only pick their destinations, but what activities to do at the destinations.


  • 1

"Train 'em. Trust 'em. LET THEM LEAD!" William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt


#8 TAHAWK

TAHAWK

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 2883 posts

Posted 03 August 2016 - 09:33 AM

My oldest council's camp does have nine large cabins that can be rented for Summer Camp, but the vast majority of Scouts stay in tents - some provided by the camp at no extra charge if the unit could supply its own tents or chose not to do so.

 

Most Scouts eat in a central mess, but some elect to do their own cooking for some or all meals.

 

Both councils where I Scout that have Summer Camp do have lakes (as have every camp at which I have ever summer camped, now that I think about it - in six states.  One local camp also has a river running through it.  


  • 0

#9 scoutldr

scoutldr

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 4462 posts

Posted 03 August 2016 - 10:50 AM

In our camp, everyone is in canvas tents, on wooden platforms.  Tents are usually hand-me downs from the last Jamboree.  Army-style cots are provided, we provide the bed linens and/or sleeping bags and mosquito netting.  Cabins are available for staff members who live there all summer.  Meals are mostly communal in a dining hall, but some troops may opt for cooking their own in the campsite.  There are one or maybe two troops per campsite.  The day starts at around 0800 with flag ceremony and breakfast, then the merit badge "sessions" begin.  Younger scouts may be in a "first year" program that concentrates on basic scouting skills of Tenderfoot-First Class.  Our camp has an in-ground swimming pool for swimming and boating is done at the riverfront which is maybe a half a Km away.  The James River is miles wide at that point with a sandy beach.  When I was a young scout, ALL aquatics was done in the river.  Doing the Mile Swim against the current was a good feat back then.  Evenings have events such as free swim, and free shoot at the rifle range, wide games, scoutmaster competitions, or just hanging out in the campsite.  Camp-wide campfires are usually on Sunday evening and Friday evenings.  Scouts arrive on Sunday afternoon and depart on Saturday morning.  Camp facilities vary widely across the US, depending on how generous the donors have been.  Ours is still pretty basic, although in the 80s they added the pool, dining hall, admin building and central showers.


  • 0

#10 LongTimeGone

LongTimeGone

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 3 posts

Posted 03 August 2016 - 03:08 PM

If you want to learn that you would ever care to know about BSA summer camps  do a google search for "scout camp promotion" and then click for videos

 


  • 0

#11 TAHAWK

TAHAWK

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 2883 posts

Posted 03 August 2016 - 04:15 PM

If you want to learn that you would ever care to know about BSA summer camps, or more,  do a google search for "scout camp promotion" and then click for videos

 

Fixed.   :D


  • 0

#12 Hedgehog

Hedgehog

    Erinaceomorpha Erinaceidae Member

  • Members
  • 684 posts

Posted 03 August 2016 - 06:56 PM

Have you ever seen the movie "Friday the 13th"?  That's our summer camp.  Except it really isn't called Camp Crystal Lake.

 

The camp is on the edge of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and a mile and a half off the Appalachian Trail.  Some of our guys have backpacked into camp the last three years (going in around 18 miles down from the North, canoeing on the Delaware and then hiking in around 10 miles and coming up 21 miles from the South).

 

The camp is in the woods and has a lake for swimming and boating.  Each Troop has its own campsite.  We sleep in platform canvas tents with army-style cots.  We supply our own sleeping bags and bug nets.  There is an open air dining hall that cooks amazing food.  The boys are kept pretty busy with six merit badge periods but most of them take 5 merit badges and keep a free period in the afternoon for boating or shooting practice.  Some take 4 merit badges and an extra free period to goof off.  There is an opening campfire on Sunday, a new camper campfire on Monday, an OA campfire on Wednesday and a closing campfire on Friday.  There are Troop activities such as shooting, boating, swimming, frisbee, etc. on Tuesday and Thursday nights.  There are camp-wide games on Wednesday afternoon and a build-it competition (where each Troop builds an object related to that year's theme and sees how the built object competes in a competition) on Thursday.  We have morning and evening flag ceremonies both for each Troop in our campsite and camp wide.  


  • 0

#13 Chadamus

Chadamus

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 206 posts

Posted 03 August 2016 - 08:54 PM

Wait, Hedgehog, are you saying that the lake/camp in the film is literally a BSA camp that your troop uses? If so, you're the winner of the awesomest-thing-ive-heard-all-day award.
  • 0

#14 qwazse

qwazse

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 6704 posts

Posted 03 August 2016 - 10:38 PM

One more distinction that I learned about: firearms. I heard that Brits only had access to air rifles.
BSA camps try to at least provide a range with BB guns for Cubs and .22 rifles for Boy Scouts.
In addition, shotgun and muzzle loaders may be available at certain camps ... Pistols and large bore rifles may be available to venturers.
  • 0

#15 ianwilkins

ianwilkins

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 224 posts

Posted 04 August 2016 - 02:19 AM

One more distinction that I learned about: firearms. I heard that Brits only had access to air rifles.
BSA camps try to at least provide a range with BB guns for Cubs and .22 rifles for Boy Scouts.
In addition, shotgun and muzzle loaders may be available at certain camps ... Pistols and large bore rifles may be available to venturers.

 

You're right, mostly, many scout campsites in the UK will have a shooting range, it will almost certainly be for air rifles. I had to look it up, and  we can use air pistols, but I haven't seen one in a long time. I'd guess it's easier to run a safe range with a rifle than a pistol.

 

We are allowed to go to a government approved small bore range with an affiliated and registered club, and shoot .22 rifles, full bore rifles (no, I don't know what that means, .303 I suspect). I know our County Scout shooting club runs a day at Bisley (basically, UK shooting HQ) where they get to try these in competition.

 

We can also go to external activity providers and clubs and do shooting with shotguns, clay pigeon shooting, stuff like that. Expense prohibits most of the time though.

 

Two years ago we hosted some portuguese explorer scouts, who were very keen on doing air rifle shooting, as they just didn't do it in Portugal, apparently they always used shotguns for their shooting.

 

Ian


  • 0

#16 Hedgehog

Hedgehog

    Erinaceomorpha Erinaceidae Member

  • Members
  • 684 posts

Posted 04 August 2016 - 06:10 AM

Wait, Hedgehog, are you saying that the lake/camp in the film is literally a BSA camp that your troop uses? If so, you're the winner of the awesomest-thing-ive-heard-all-day award.

 

 

Exactly.  Although the camp doesn't publicize it, the movie was filmed at the camp.  The Camp Crystal Lake sign is in a display case at the Trading Post.  Looking forward to 2018 when our Troop will be there on Friday the 13th.


  • 2

#17 Lurking...

Lurking...

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 12252 posts

Posted 04 August 2016 - 09:25 AM

We had three hot days at camp this week. The clouds opened up this morning. My first year camper program where all my boys are are body surfing in the mud...in their full uniforms. It's a good thing I won't have to listen to irate parents until we get home Saturday noon. I sometimes wish I was eleven again, it sure looks like fun.

Ian, this was not part of the camp program, and I don't think it would be at any other camp either.
  • 2

#18 ianwilkins

ianwilkins

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 224 posts

Posted 04 August 2016 - 10:17 AM

We had three hot days at camp this week. The clouds opened up this morning. My first year camper program where all my boys are are body surfing in the mud...in their full uniforms. It's a good thing I won't have to listen to irate parents until we get home Saturday noon. I sometimes wish I was eleven again, it sure looks like fun.

Ian, this was not part of the camp program, and I don't think it would be at any other camp either.

 

Yes, but neither was our explorers sneakily pulling an all nighter and/or sleeping in a nearby field on the last night of camp. Was I angry? Not a chance, no one is going to remember the night Ian sent them to bed on time are they? The night stargazing however... If nothing else we're in the business of making good memories. Like you say, if I could have laid in the field stargazing with them, and not been tucked up in bed so I was awake enough to drive the minibus home...damn straight I'd have been there with them.

 

We had a massive mud fight last year. As you say, not on the programme. Probably didn't do the local flora much good, and a few entries in the accident book read "there's mud in your eye", but...sometimes it's good to let the programme fly out the window and let anarchy reign for a while.

 

Ian


  • 0

#19 Chadamus

Chadamus

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 206 posts

Posted 04 August 2016 - 10:32 AM

@Stosh now I see why you "put money into reducing the cost of the BSA uniform for the boys."

I would have enjoyed mud surfing as a scout as well.

Or last week even.  :) 


  • 0

#20 Lurking...

Lurking...

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 12252 posts

Posted 04 August 2016 - 10:45 AM

My boys are not band box boys, every stain is gotten on a campout, service project, or fund raiser. Some are because they were just having too much fun.
  • 0




1 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users


IPB Skin By Virteq