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Should camping at a scout camp (Sept to May) be required?


Best Answer David CO , 05 May 2017 - 02:56 PM

No.  The Chartered Organization owns the unit.  The council has no business telling a CO where its unit must camp.

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#1 RememberSchiff

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 05:50 AM

I was reading this morning about yet another old scout camp closing, Camp Boyhaven in Saratoga County, NY

https://dailygazette...ly-100-year-run

 

The usual reasons including attendance has dropped 50% since 2015! Membership has not dropped that much. The conventional wisdom has been, get better programs and scouts will come but too late they have already left for "better" outings. Boycotting a camp seldom improves it, rather seals its outright sale or sale via Council merger. The camp is sold and the problem repeats to the next camp. How does that benefit Scouts or the program? Another million dollar Council HQ or a STEM center?

 

Maybe I missed something, I found no requirement that a scout or unit camp/hike at a council camp, any council camp. Not in advancement,  JTE,  OA membership ... I cringe when I read about museum and ballpark overnighters.

 

So what if there were requirement(s) for a scout or unit to camp/hike from Sept to May at a Council camp and force Council to use those fees to maintain the camp within a facilities plan. The facilities plan would state whether the camp is rustic or resort, timber harvest limits, solar arrays, multi-use, sale of  lots.

 

My $0.02


Edited by RememberSchiff, 05 May 2017 - 05:59 AM.

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#2 Stosh

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 06:56 AM

The selection of camps, in my estimation, should be based on the wishes of the boys.  If they attend a camp and have a negative experience, I find no place in my program to insist (as an adult) that they need to keep repeating that mistake.  Sure, there are camps that are well run and have great programs, but year after year gets pretty boring for the boys.  They wish to try new things and I have no problem with that as a basis for decision making.

 

For 10 years now, our council has decided to do a Spook-a-ree every year in place of a regular camporee.  After one or two times while the boys are new, it's a fun program, but eventually the boys have decided that going to work for the council to put on a Cub Scout program isn't what they want anymore.  It's been a long time since we have gone to the council's fall event. 

 

If a camp can't figure out what people want, then they have to suffer the consequences just like everyone else.

 

No, I do not like the idea that camps are closing, but people aren't attending them for specific reasons and as far as I can tell, they won't do much to change until they start evaluating why people aren't coming and address the issue with not necessarily better programing, but at least a more diverse selection of program offerings.

 

Our local camp has done a lot to add a week of Webelos resident camp and a week of NYLT which has kept our numbers up, but that also means that there are two less weeks available to the boys for traditional summer camping.  Then one must also remember that which weeks they are offered makes a difference as well.  When we as a troop make decisions about the calendar we take into consideration, school, sports, family and church activities.  The council, on the other hand, says these are the 4-6 weeks available, take it or leave it.  Why would they be upset then when the boys decide to leave it?

 

Some council camps I have attended have different options for the various weeks, or even for every week.  For those boys who find camping for the first time at summer camp exciting, there's a program for that.  The older boys, who are into sports and work, will pass on that, but then the camps offered off-site high adventure of canoeing, rock climbing, and other more advanced programming to entice those that have become bored with the regular routine, have all the MB's offered and find themselves with nothing to do for the week.

 

The world has changed, either get in step with the changes or fall by the wayside.  Too many camps who can't make the changes simply die on the vine and that's unfortunate.

 

I had a boy drop out of summer camp this year because of summer baseball scheduling.  That means there is no camp in the United States that can offer him any program that can accommodate his schedule for that week we have set aside to attend camp.  He can go as a provisional scout on a different week, but what's the fun of that?  The only way a summer camp can beat that system is to provide something that is better than baseball.  It can be done, but with the current structure of summer camping, I don't see that as coming around soon anytime.  It may mean the camp closes before they figure it out.

 

We do make it a tradition in our troop to have a winter event at the local camp, but with a small number of boys in the troop, it is quite pricey.  $150 for a weekend cabin rental with 5 boys?  That's $30 for just the cabin, add on food and programming, and the boys tend to take a pass on that as well.


Edited by Stosh, 05 May 2017 - 06:58 AM.

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Stosh

 

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#3 RememberSchiff

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 07:20 AM

But why not force Council and us to fix the problems at camps instead of going for the easy out - sell. What leadership, anyone can shrink/sell/merge business segments! We need leadership that can build and grow the business.

 

I see the same problem ahead for our $$$ STEM centers - repetitive programs, Cub focused,  poor staffing, inflexible schedules, perhaps not satisfying a need.

 

My understanding is Trail for LIfe owns just one small camp but continues to eschew owning camps. Is that our future?.

 

Another $0.01


Edited by RememberSchiff, 05 May 2017 - 07:25 AM.

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#4 Stosh

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 07:35 AM

Currently our council camp rents out weeks to various other organizations.  Eventually I believe councils will reverse this and start renting other camps from other organizations.

 

It is also a possibility that many of the poorer run camps are closing, kinda like weeding out the gene pool of summer camps.

 

I have no idea how many BSA camps are located in our state, but it covers councils from at least 4 different states.  The camp my boys have selected this year is 1.5 hour drive for us and a 3 hour drive for their own council's troops.  Go figure.  I also know of one camp from a MN council that is about 5 miles away from another WI council's camp. 

 

Everyone has their own little pet project of a summer camp and it's going to be a bad few years sorting out the problem.  Going year around just isn't enough to keep these camps going for many of these councils.

 

Our local council camp is a 15 minute drive and it offers the opportunity to go home every night and make sure mom or dad picks them up for their sports activities instead of staying in camp.  That's a major push for our troop to avoid.


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#5 RememberSchiff

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 07:47 AM

So other camp franchises within 5 miles? 50? 100?

 

Weed out the camps or the Council management?


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#6 qwazse

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 08:09 AM

My general impression is that camp usage does not directly impact sustainability. Most of the fees collected from scouts go to food, liability insurance, and staffing. Capital funds are collected separately (i.e. FOS). So, councils where units have held insurrections against capital campaigns, have less capital and do not improve facilities (note the White House pictures in 'Schiff's' link). This makes units perceive they are getting less for their FOS dollars, which reinforces the cycle.

 

Requiring scouts to attend an undesirable camp, is not a great way to generate alumni who will donate to that camp.

 

Maybe the JTE should give points to the number of adults who visit a camp of their youth and contribute to that council's FOS.


Edited by qwazse, 05 May 2017 - 08:09 AM.

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#7 NJCubScouter

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 10:46 AM

RS, from your first post I got the impression that you were talking about overnight/weekend camping trips at council camps.  Later posts seem to be more about summer camp.  So what are we talking about here?


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#8 RememberSchiff

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 10:50 AM

I was talking about requiring overnight/weekend camping trips and other fee-based camp activities at council camps from Sept to May (fall,winter,spring).


Edited by RememberSchiff, 05 May 2017 - 10:51 AM.

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#9 T2Eagle

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 11:24 AM

So what if there were requirement(s) for a scout or unit to camp/hike from Sept to May at a Council camp and force Council to use those fees to maintain the camp within a facilities plan. The facilities plan would state whether the camp is rustic or resort, timber harvest limits, solar arrays, multi-use, sale of  lots.

 

My $0.02

In answer to your question, I don't think requiring something like that would make much difference.  The biggest challenges facing council camps is declining membership combined with the increasing cost of maintaining a camp, especially maintaining it to 21st century building and land use specs --- and 21st century user expectations.

 

There are two defining issues that cannot be avoided when thinking about camp finances: 1) Membership is the biggest issue, and whatever else may be true we know those numbers are not what they were, and there's no expectation that they will rise precipitously anytime soon. 2)Camps are like any other seasonal business, the vast majority of their revenue is going to come in the summer, no matter what the rate of usage the rest of the year, it's bring in the money during the summer or not at all.

 

So once you know what numbers you have to work with you have to figure out what is possible given those numbers.  I would guess that most scouts still attend a week of summer camp at a council owned property, whether it's their own council or another.   And there is no way to avoid the fact of economies of scale when you're running a camp.  Our council camp runs for seven weeks, and over the past several years we've had anywhere from 400 to 700 scouts in any given week.  The fact is it costs the same to operate over the summer, and maintain the camp through the winter, no matter what that weekly attendance is. So if we were trying to maintain two camps with 200 to 350 campers it would cost substantially more than one camp with the numbers we have.  Therefore one camp is the only answer that is financially viable.

 

Demographic shifts also seem to be playing a part in the closing of many of these older camps.  There are many fewer people living in upstate NY and many many more people living in say NC or TX today, there's no way our organization is going to not be affected by that as well.


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#10 RememberSchiff

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 11:52 AM

Regarding "camp finances", my understanding is that camps are not their own separate cost centers. Council takes in camp revenue, year round, and parcels it out to various Council departments.  Is that correct? If so, I wonder what percentage actually goes to the camp?

 

My guess, Council overhead is greater than camp maintenance.


Edited by RememberSchiff, 05 May 2017 - 12:09 PM.

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#11 Col. Flagg

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 01:20 PM

I was talking about requiring overnight/weekend camping trips and other fee-based camp activities at council camps from Sept to May (fall,winter,spring).

 

In my area the problem is that Aug-May if you want to do anything at the council camps (swim, canoe, boating, shooting sports, etc.) you have to fully staff your own activities. Ok, not that bad. However, some time our camps' gear (especially for shooting sports) is not the best. Facilities (bathrooms, shower, etc.) are less than ideal too. Then distance is a factor. One camp is practically in town. The second is 45 mins north and not bad. The other two are over two hours away...and we have to go through city traffic to get to both.

 

Competing with my council's four camps are one of the best state park systems in the nation. Yes, they cost more, but they are all have various activities where they either supply the expert or gear or whatever. Yes they cost more than using council camps, but there's far more to do in and around the state parks than around our council camps. The latter tend to be in the middle of no where.

 

Perhaps the most damning fact is that our Scouts consider council camps "boring...except during summer camp". That's the tough sell. The boys would rather plan a great adventure at a state park than do the same at a council camp....and that's the bottom line for our unit. Requiring units to use council camps would end up with our unit sending a skeleton crew for a token event.


Edited by Col. Flagg, 05 May 2017 - 01:21 PM.

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#12 David CO

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 02:56 PM   Best Answer

No.  The Chartered Organization owns the unit.  The council has no business telling a CO where its unit must camp.


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#13 bsaggcmom

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 03:06 PM

In my council most of the camps are 2-5 hours away from the main population centers. Local metroparks, state parks and private campgrounds that are scout friendly are closer. Would love to use the council camps more but who wants to arrive at camp at midnight or later on Friday night and have to leave by 9 on Sunday morning to make it home at a decent time. They're nice properties for the most part just too far away for a weekend camp.


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#14 RememberSchiff

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 03:21 PM

No.  The Chartered Organization owns the unit.  The council has no business telling a CO where its unit must camp.

I had not considered that. I checked the Charter Agreement and while the Council is obligated to provide camping opportunities, the Charter Organization is not required to accept those opportunities.

 

So much for my idea.


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#15 resqman

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 05:00 PM

Camp Bodie/Bonner in North Carolina offers a Mini Summer Camp experience one weekend a month in the non-summer months.  Instead of staffing all the MB centers, they pick one area, lets say Scoutcraft in Jan, Nature Center March, Handicraft April, etc.  They bring in staff just like during summer camp and run MB classes for the weekend.   

 

Arrive Fri night, attend class all day Sat, half day Sun and then leave Sun afternoon.  Scouts can complete most or all of 2 MBs during the weekend. Dining hall is open and staffed.  Gives troops a reason to use the camp.  Helps keep staff trained and involved year round.  Crossovers and new scouts get a chance to experience a bit of camp before spending a week away.  Summer camp seems less scary even if it at a different camp. 

 

During MLK three day weekend they open several centers.  Aquatics is not open due to weather.  Rifle/Shotgun range is open one weekend.  Since Rifle shotgun is always popular but has limited access, one more chance to work those badges.  

 

There are about 12-15 camps statewide.  Our Troop rotates through 4-6 of the camps.  So a typical scout will attend 4 different summer camps before they start attending the High Adventures.  Usually the 14+ yr old skip summer camp and attend Philmont, Northern Tier, Seabase, or Betchel. Troop sends a crew to one of the 4 bases and rotate each year.  


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#16 desertrat77

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 06:16 PM

RememberSchiff, good thoughts, but even with the CO issue aside, repeated trips to the local scout camp might backfire in the long run.

 

Several moves ago, I was in a rural council in the deep South.  They had a nice summer camp, small but good.  However, the council and the district had several events each month at the camp--OA, roundtables, training, camporees, etc.  There was a collective sense of "here we are again" and the specialness (for lack of a better word) that one usually associates with summer camp ("hurray, waited all year to get here!") was not there.


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#17 David CO

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 07:56 PM

I don't know why.  Spin and Marty went the same summer camp year after year.


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#18 desertrat77

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 09:18 PM

I don't know why.  Spin and Marty went the same summer camp year after year.

But did they go to there every month of the year, year after year?   :)


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#19 David CO

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 09:46 PM

But did they go to there every month of the year, year after year?   :)

 

No.  Spin couldn't afford it.  He had to work a paper route all year round just to pay for half of the cost of summer camp.  


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#20 RememberSchiff

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Posted 06 May 2017 - 05:24 AM

Spin and Marty takes me back (here he goes a again).

 

A scout with a paper route could pay his own way to scout camp, no Scout Bucks, George Washington's. I did. On the books, I made just a few cents a week per customer, but I had one of the smaller routes with less than 40 customers.  Customers wavered with the editorial policy. The key was saving my Christmas tips. My troop never went to camp, just a 2 to 4 scouts went in summer. We thought "Provo" was Indian for "poor". 

 

There were more rivalries between troops back then, and all troops dumped on Provo. All week there was trash talk and pranks, then the Patrol Olympics. This is where the Patrol Method shined. In a few days we had to form a patrol that could compete with the well-established patrols of our rivals. Since none of us had been to camp before, we had to find out what the events were and prepare. Our merit badge work took a hit, but then provo's led the camp in partials. Each event had to be completed before a patrol could proceed to the next. Also, you had to rotate members so whoever started the fire in the last event could not draw the bow in the next. First patrol to finish all events won. That was us, Provo Roadrunner Patrol. Felt great.

 

My Dad picked me up on Sat and noticed my upbeat mood. So how many merit badges did you earn? I just got partials Dad. He wasn't happy but shrugged it off. Well your money. 


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