Tuesday, March 8, 2011

SIX STEPS TO SUCCESSFUL CAMP PLANNING

1. Have a Serious Planning Session with Yourself
A veteran Scoutmaster we know once observed that a year’s worth of troop meetings gives him about 70 hours of Scouting time to teach, guide, and influence the boys in his troop, while a single week of summer camp gives him more than 100 hours (allowing for sleep time), and without the distractions of home.

Summer camp is probably the best chance you will have all year to influence your Scouts by applying the Eight Methods of Scouting. Careful planning will help you to make the most of this opportunity. If at all possible, the Scoutmaster should personally lead the troop at camp. If that’s not feasible, the Scoutmaster should select the best alternates available, train and prepare them carefully, and appoint one person to be Acting Scoutmaster for the week.

2. Find out What Your Scouts Want to Do
Work with your Patrol Leaders Council, guiding them as they set goals and select activities for the week. Ask the Patrol Leaders to discuss with their patrol members what they would like to do at camp. Three Falls provides a 90-minute period Monday through Thursday afternoon for troops to participate in group activities like Low COPE, mountain biking, hikes, swimming, troop shoots, inter-troop activities, patrol challenges, etc., as well as a variety of skills, games and activities at our Frontier Living area near Fort Lockwood. Whether you choose skills-based activities or strictly recreational ones, these are great opportunities for your Scouts to get to know one another better and become a stronger team. There are also many morning and evening activities to choose from.

3. Prepare your Junior Leaders
Summer camp can be a great opportunity for your Senior Patrol Leader, Patrol Leaders, and other troop officers to put leadership skills to work in a real-world setting. Plan ahead to give them meaningful responsibilities in camp, and train them in advance so they can be successful in carrying out those responsibilities. Make sure that the Patrol Leaders have their Patrol Flags, patrol yells, skits and skills ready for camp, and consider scheduling time to work on campsite improvements or service projects.

4. Prepare your Adult Leaders
Make sure all adults attending camp understand their roles. Assign each adult specific responsibilities in advance – troop first aider, banker, advancement record-keeper, chaplain, New Scout mentor, and so on. All adults attending camp need to be aware of and support the advancement and activity goals set by your Patrol Leaders’ Council. All adult leaders who will be staying in camp need a BSA medical form and Youth Protection training. The Acting Scoutmaster should be fully trained.

5. Manage Parents’ Expectations
Parents whose sons have never been to camp before (and some whose sons have been to camp before) will have many questions about facilities, equipment needs, food, and their son’s schedule for the week. New parents in particular may have concerns about their sons’ health, safety, and happiness in camp, or unrealistic expectations about how often their sons will be able to call home or how much advancement work they can accomplish. You can copy the parent information sheet in the back of this Guide and distribute it to parents, or incorporate the information into your own handout. Also, give parents the National medical forms early so that they can schedule doctor appointments. Please note all medical forms need to be signed by authorized medical practitioner dated with one year of the end of camp and have the tetanus immunization within 10 years.

6. Prepare Your Scouts
Work with your Scouts to help them plan realistic goals for themselves at camp. You can copy the merit badge planning sheet in the back of this Guide and have Scouts use it to plan their advancement time. It’s best if an experienced leader can meet individually with each Scout to review their advancement plans and other activities. Left to their own devices, Scouts will often try to do more than they can successfully accomplish, or conversely, plan too little and end up being bored.

Whether you're coming to Three Falls this summer, or going to another camp, thoughtful planning and preparation will help ensure that this is your troop's most successful summer camp experience ever!

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