Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New Mountain Bikes


Gary Lee accepts delivery of six new mountain bikes for Camp Three Falls from  James Stanley, store manager, US Bike Company. The staff at US Bike have gone out of their way (literally)  to help us procure these bicycles, along with helmets, water bottles, and repair parts and equipment. James personally drove from the US Bike Company store in Camarillo to Three Falls to deliver and set up the bikes.


This purchase was funded by a grant from the Channel Islands Bicycle Club. We now have 15 mountain bikes in various sizes. This summer we'll be using them for several new activities that we'll be adding to the camp program, taking advantage of the great riding trails in the Los Padres National Forest around the Lockwood Valley and Mount Pinos area.

January 2013 update: The Channel Islands Bicycle Club has supplemented their original grant to Camp Three Falls with an additional $2,000, which will enable us to purchase additional cycling equipment to further improve our program. A big thanks once again to the Channel Islands Bicycle Club!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bear Ridge Trailwork


Our Ventura County Council Jamboree Troops had a training campout at Three Falls last weekend and spent part of the time doing service projects, including some needed brush clearance around Staff Canyon and trailwork on the new Bear Ridge Trail.

The new trail takes off from the North Fork Canyon fire road about a mile from camp, runs past an old borax mine site (you can still see the tailings pile and some wreckage of an old cabin), past a small seasonal spring, and then up to the top of the ridge. Great views along the way of North Fork Canyon, Mount Pinos, and the Lockwood Valley. Gary Lee sent a few pictures of the weekend's work.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Stargazing


Bryce, our Scoutcraft director last summer, has secured a donation of a very nice Meade 8-inch reflecting telescope for use at camp. We'll be using it for Astronomy Merit Badge for Boy Scouts as well as stargazing parties for Webelos.

Bryce also took this great time-lapse picture at the fort over the summer. We'll be offering Photography Merit Badge this year, and Bryce and some of our other talented staff members will share tips and techniques for taking cool pictures like this.

You can find more pictures from summer 2012 on our Facebook page.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Being Bear Safe

A bear incident in the Los Padres National Forest earlier this month serves as a reminder of the importance of bear safety in the outdoors.

In mid-October, a woman walking her dogs on the Gridley Trail near Ojai encountered a female black bear and her cub. The bear, probably startled and defending her cub from a perceived threat, scratched the woman and knocked her down, then fled. The woman was not seriously injured, but the Forest Service has closed the trail temporarily as a precaution.

Bears are common throughout the Los Padres, including the area around Three Falls. That's no reason to stay away -- the fact is, our bears are quite shy and bear encounters are rare in our area. I've camped hundreds of nights in the Los Padres and haven't seen one yet. But it pays to be careful. Don't hike alone, don't tempt bears by leaving food accessible around your campsite, and don't ever bring food into your tent.

The Forest Service has some good resources about bear safety, including videos and PowerPoints that should be useful for training Scouts, at this site.

Friday, October 26, 2012

New Eagle-Required Badges in 2014

The National Council has announced that Cooking Merit Badge will become an Eagle-required badge effective January 1, 2014. Cooking was required for Eagle for many years, but was dropped in the 1970s.

The requirements are reportedly being revised, but we don't have any details yet. There was a time when this was a common summer camp badge, but the current requirements don't lend themselves so well to a summer camp setting. We'll be watching for the revisions to see if it makes sense to bring this one back to Three Falls  in 2014.

BSA also announced that it is adding a new merit badge called Sustainability. This will also be Eagle-required, as an alternative to Environmental Science (just as Scouts can currently choose between Lifesaving and Emergency Preparedness, or select Hiking or Cycling instead of Swimming). This one is supposed to be rolled out next summer at Jamboree. We'll also be looking at Sustainability as a possible addition to our program in 2014.

The Bryan on Scouting blog, written by one of the editors at Scouting magazine, has an article on these merit badges and is a good source of news on future BSA advancement changes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

WINTER CAMP 2013

Dates have been set for Winter Camp at Three Falls. This year's sessions are:

January 11-13
January 25-27
February 8-10



Price will be announced soon.

Winter Camp is for Boy Scouts, Varsity and Venturing Scouts. Meals are provided in the dining hall, but you must provide your own tents. Be prepared for freezing temperatures and possible snow.


The flyer will be posted soon on the council web site.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Join Our Staff in 2013


Without a doubt, what makes Three Falls one of the best camps in Southern California is our staff, which is simply the finest around. If you'd like to be part of our elite team, we invite you to apply now.

We're not going to kid you: It's a big commitment and a lot of work, but it will also be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. It's much more than just six weeks at camp: You'll become part of a team of dedicated, friendly, and enthusiastic individuals who will become some of your best friends for life; you'll sharpen your skills; and you'll experience the rewards of impacting the lives of hundreds of scouts.

Parents: We know that teenagers have many other opportunities over the summer, whether it's going to camp with their troop, taking a class, or participating in sports, or even going on a family vacation. It's asking a lot of a young man or woman to give up most of their summer to be at camp. But camp is also one of the best growth experiences they can have. They'll develop greater independence, responsibility, and people skills, and every day they'll see the rewards of hard work and service to others. We hope you'll encourage your son or daughter to take advantage of this unique opportunity.

We also need a few adult staff members to fill specific supervisory positions. If your work schedule and family responsibilities allow you to spend an extended time away from home, we welcome your application.

Deadline to apply is December 15 (earlier than in previous years). We will contact applicants by mid-January to schedule interviews. Individuals who are hired for staff will be expected to participate in several pre-camp training sessions, attend Staff Week, June 17-22, and complete other requirements in preparation for camp.

The staff application is available to download from the council web site (scroll down to find the form).

Friday, September 21, 2012

Reservation Form Available

The Camp Three Falls 2013 Summer Camp reservation form is now available on the Ventura County Council Web site. Click on the Camping tab, then select Summer Camp, or follow this link. A number of troops and packs have already made reservations, and we are hearing lots of positive interest out there, so we expect that 2013 -- our 80th anniversary -- is going to be our biggest season in years. Get your reservation in soon to ensure your choice of camp dates!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Why Go to Three Falls?

A lot of troops are already discussing plans for next summer, and many will be choosing summer camps in the next few weeks. Naturally, we're hoping that many of you will select Camp Three Falls.

I'm not worried about troops that have been to Three Falls recently -- people who have been to Three Falls, like Three Falls -- and I know they'll be back.

If you haven't been to Three Falls in a while, you really ought to take another look. A lot has been happening in the last couple of years. Here's a sampling of what's new, and what's in the works for 2013:

-- A lot of people didn't like the blue tarps we had been using under the tents for the last several years, and I don't blame them. Those blue tarps are gone now, replaced by proper plywood tent platforms.

-- Last year, we were granted access to 1,000 acres of wilderness land owned by US Borax. This summer, we started building an access trail. The trail will eventually lead to a wilderness campsite that will be used as part of our older boy program (see below).

-- We added a cardboard canoe race to our list of activities in 2012. It was a huge success and will continue in 2013.


-- Our shotgun/black powder range has been completely rebuilt and expanded.


-- We now have a functional, easy-to-use online merit badge signup system that makes it much more convenient for troop leaders to manage their scouts' merit badge registration.


-- We received a grant this year for purchase of additional mountain bikes and will be offering an expanded cycling program in 2013. We have Cycling Merit Badge under review; the current requirements can't be completed in a week of camp, but the merit badge is undergoing revision by BSA and we are hoping that the new requirements will lend themselves better to a camp environment.


-- We are adding kayaking, including the new Kayaking Merit Badge. We've had four kayaks donated so far, and are actively looking for more.


-- Photography Merit Badge will be added in 2013. The class will take photos of camp activities and put together a slide show to share with the camp on Friday night, and a photo CD for troops to take home with them.


-- Leaders who have brought their troops to Three Falls rate our Trail to First Class program as one of the best they have found at any summer camp, and we keep working to make it even better. It's more than a skills class -- it's a fun and exciting introduction to the full summer camp experience for your younger scouts.


-- We're planning an older boy program for 2013 that will include hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, Low COPE, rendezvous skills, and trailbuilding, with part of the week spent out of camp on the Borax property and the Chumash Wilderness. We are finalizing details, but we are excited about this one. If your older scouts opt in to this early, they can help us tailor the program to meet their needs and interests.


-- Next year is Camp Three Falls' 80th anniversary, so naturally there will be a special anniversary patch and other cool souvenirs. A belt buckle is rumored.

We’ve got other new activities and programs in mind, but those are the main ones that are locked-in so far.


Of course, we still have the best staff of any camp you are likely to find; outstanding food, including our legendary Friday night deep-pit barbeque; and a beautiful setting only about 100 miles from the Ventura County Council office in Camarillo.


Bottom line: We may not be the biggest or best-known camp in southern California, but you won't find a more dynamic camp; a camp where management is more focused on continuous improvement; or a staff that will work harder to give your scouts the most memorable summer camp experience they can possibly have.

Let us know if there is anything we can do to be of assistance to you.



Thursday, August 23, 2012

Camp Pictures

We post a few pictures from summer camp here on the blog, but there are a lot more for you to look at in a couple of other places:

Our Facebook page has a selection of the best pictures from camp, along with occasional news and up dates.
We also have a Shutterfly gallery with hundreds of pictures from this year, some from last year, and even a few historic photos.




We're hoping these will whet your appetite to join us at camp next summer!


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Coming to Three Falls in 2013

Our continuing mission at Camp Three Falls is to make each year better than the last. We're already working on plans for a 2013 summer camp program that will make next season the best ever.

For Webelos Resident Camp, we'll be adding cycling as a program option, thanks to a grant from the Channel Islands Bicycle Club that is funding purchase of new bikes and other equipment.

For Boy Scouts, we are considering several additional merit badges. Note that these are tentative at this point. Let us know if you are interested in any of them:

Cycling: Again, thanks to Channel Islands Bicycle Club for their support. Due to the number of bike rides required, Scouts will need to do some follow up work after camp to complete the badge. Breaking News: BSA is revising Cycling Merit Badge to include a mountain bike option. Depending on the requirements, we may focus our program on this option.

Photography: Successfully implementing this badge will require us to obtain a couple of fairly up-to-date computers with graphics software; a photo-quality printer with extra ink cartridges and photo paper; and several basic digital cameras. Consider this a shameless plea for donations. Breaking News: We received a donation of a color printer.

Kayaking: This newly released merit badge fits perfectly into our camp program, but we will need to get our hands on several kayaks. If you have a kayak you would be willing to donate, please contact us. Breaking News: As of early September, we have been offered a donation of four kayaks. We're still looking for more.

We are also taking a close look at introducing a new high adventure program for older Scouts. This would involve day hikes, backpacking, mountain biking, low COPE, climbing, trailbuilding, and at least one or two nights spent at an outpost camp. The program would be limited to Scouts who are at least 14 years old. Because of the amount of time spent out of camp, participants would not take part in merit badge classes. If this sounds good to you, please let us know -- if the interest is there, we'll make it happen.

Again, we are very interested in your feedback on these possible new programs. Send us an e-mail at threefallsprogram@gmail.com with your comments or suggestions.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Accreditation


Camp Three Falls once again has been accredited by the BSA as meeting National Camp Standards. Thanks to our visitation teams from Orange County Council and San Gabriel Valley Council for their advice and assistance in our ongoing efforts to provide the best possible summer camp experience for scouts and leaders.

A Little Weather


We had a few showers last night and this morning, but fortunately it had minimal impact on program. And evening showers to make for nice sunsets, as you can see.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cardboard Canoe Race

The very first Camp Three Falls cardboard canoe race was a hoot. See our Facebook page for lots more pictures. Thanks to Victor, our nature director, for bringing the idea home from Camp Tuckahoe in Pennsylvania, and to all the troops that participated.

This event was so much fun that we plan to offer it again next year during Boy Scout weeks. Start planning now to design and build a two-man vessel using  nothing but cardboard and duct tape. Leaders told us that this was a great pre-camp activity for their troops.

A word of advice to future cardboard canoeists: Just because the lake is shallow this year, doesn't mean you can get out and walk. The rules (an there aren't many of them) clearly state that you have to paddle all the way. But mostly, have fun.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Camp Update

We've been busy with camp the last few weeks so there hasn't been much time for blogging. Webelos Resident Camp ended yesterday (July 4) and staff is taking a well-deserved break before returning to start Boy Scout Camp this weekend.

The Webelos Scouts had a great time, with many favorable comments on the good food, our new tent platforms, exciting program, and of course, our wonderful staff.

Weather has been nice, with highs edging up toward 90 during the day, with a cooling breeze in the afternoon, and lows in the 40s at night.

You can see a selection of pictures on our Facebook page. We're working on adding more, but our bandwidth is limited at camp, so it's going slow. Check back here and on Facebook -- we'll add more as time permits.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Webelos Session 2 is Underway

After a hilarious closing campfire with skits put on by the dens, Session 1 ended yesterday and Session 2 is now underway. See the Facebook page for a selection of pictures from both weeks. We'll add more as they come in.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Webelos Session 1

A great first session draws to a close tomorrow, and a new group of Webelos Scouts arrives. Thanks to a great bunch of campers for coming to stay with us!

See our Facebook page for more photos and other updates.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Small Boat Sailing

As we all know, this has been an exceptionally dry year in Southern California, with less than half normal rainfall in most areas. One result that strikes close to home is that our lake here at camp is very, very low. The lake is fed from Lockwood Creek, which is currently dry here at camp, and even North Falls, which normally runs all summer, is down to a trickle.

As a result, we will not be able to offer Small Boat Sailing Merit Badge this year -- there's not enough water to float the boats. We will do everything possible to help boys who signed up for Small Boat Sailing to find space in other classes.

At this point, we do expect to be able to offer canoeing and rowing. We'll let you know if that changes.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

T-Shirt Preorders

You can make life a little simpler at camp by preordering camp t-shirts for your troop or den using the form you can download here. Return the form with payment to the council office at least a week before before you come to camp and we'll have your t-shirts ready for you to pick up on arrival.

Of course, we'll have plenty of shirts in the trading post if you need extras or if you don't preorder. For those of you who aren't coming to camp this year, you can still wear the shirt -- they'll be available at the council Scout Store in Camarillo after the camp season is over.

This year's shirts are the same design as last year, but in heather grey instead of black. We do have some of last year's shirts still on hand and will be offering them at a reduced price, while they last.

Another popular souvenir last year was our custom Three Falls logo lockback knife. We're selling them for $20. No pre-orders on these.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Online Merit Badge Signups -- News

The Badgetracker system for online merit badge signups is live and several troops have already signed up scouts. A couple of people have reported difficulty accessing the site. I personally have two computers, both with Windows 7 and the latest version of Internet Explorer. One can connect to Badgetracker with no problem; the other doesn't. Both of them will connect using Google Chrome or Firefox. So if you are having problems I suggest trying a different computer or a different browser. I will get in touch with Badgetracker and let you know what I find out.
IMPORTANT: The correct web address is http://campthreefalls.badgetracker.com. There is no www.

Here's what Al at Badgetracker has to say:

This problem is caused by NOT logging out of BadgeTracker.

The solution is to delete any BadgeTracker cookies from your browser.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

To delete BadgeTracker cookies on a PC


In I.E. 7 & 8
select Tools
then Internet Options,
On the General tab, under browsing history click on the Settings button
click on the View Files button
look for cookies:owner@xxxx.badgetracker/
[xxxx is your camp url]
delete that entry

In Firefox
select Tools, then Options
Select the Privacy tab
click on the Show Cookies button
delete the folder xxxx.badgetracker.com

In Chrome

Click the wrench icon on the browser toolbar. Mac users: If you don't see the wrench icon, go to the menu bar at the top of your screen and click Chrome.
  1. Select Options
  2. Click the Under the Hood tab.
  3. Click Content settings in the "Privacy" section.
  4. Click the Cookies tab in the "Content Settings" dialog that appears:
Click Show cookies and other site data.
    • To delete all cookies, click Remove all.
    • To delete a specific cookie, select the site that issued the cookie, then the cookie, and click Remove.
To delete BadgeTracker cookies on a MAC

http://www.techcular.com/delete-cookies-on-mac-os-x/
In Safari,
Open the browser menu
  1. select "Preferences,"
  2. then click the "Security" tab.
  3. Click "Show cookies,"
  4. then "Remove any BadgeTracker cookiesl"
  5. Click "Done."
In Firefox
  1. click "Preferences
  2. then "Privacy,"
  3. then "Show cookies."
  4. Choose to "Remove show cookies."
  5. Delete any BadgeTracker cookies.
In Chrome

Click the wrench icon on the browser toolbar. If you don't see the wrench icon, go to the menu bar at the top of your screen and click Chrome.
  1. Select Preferences
  2. Click the Under the Hood tab.
  3. Click Content settings in the "Privacy" section.
  4. Click the Cookies tab in the "Content Settings" dialog that appears:
Click Show cookies and other site data.
    • To delete all cookies, click Remove all.
    • To delete a specific cookie, select the site that issued the cookie, then the cookie, and click Remove.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Channel Islands Bicycle Club Supports Three Falls with a $3,000 Grant

We're happy to announce that the Channel Islands Bicycle Club has awarded a $3,000 grant in support of the cycling program at Camp Three Falls.

This grant will be used to expand our fleet of bicycles and purchase other needed equipment, including safety gear, repair and maintenance tools and supplies. This will enable us to extend our cycling program to many more Webelos and Boy Scouts. Planned offerings include free time rides on local roads and trails, and the Cycling Belt Loop for Webelos. For 2013, we also hope to offer a partial on the Cycling Merit Badge.

The Club is also a sponsor of this year's 12 Points Bike Ride.

Our thanks to the good folks at Channel Islands Bicycle Club for their support of our camp and other youth cycling programs in Ventura County.

Good Eats!

At Three Falls, we pride ourselves on our great food. Not many other camps will offer you real roast turkey with all the trimmings, grilled chicken, tri-tip, and during Boy Scout weeks, our famous deep pit barbeque. You can download a tenative menu from the Downloads list to the right, or by clicking on this link.

If you have special dietary needs, be sure to let us know at least two weeks before your arrival in camp, using the Special Needs form (also available under Downloads).

Monday, May 21, 2012

Summer Camp Leader Meetings

We held our first Webelos Resident Camp Leader Meeting on Thursday night and had probably 30 people in attendance. If you missed it, no worries -- there is another one on June 2, 10 a.m. at the council office.

The Boy Scout Camp Leader Meeting is also on June 2, at 2 p.m.

A couple of people asked on Thursday if I could post the PowerPoint presentation from the Webelos meeting. You'll find it in the downloads section on this page.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Online Merit Badge Signups

We've entered all Boy Scout troops that have registered for summer camp into Badgetracker, our online merit badge signup system. The person listed as the primary contact for the unit should have received an e-mail telling them how to log onto the system. (The primary contact is the person listed on the summer camp registration paperwork -- it may not be the scoutmaster.)

If your unit did not receive an e-mail, have the primary contact person check recent e-mails for one from BadgeTracker Welcome Wagon. Some people report these have been trapped by their spam filters, so check your spam folder.

If you can't locate the e-mail, send us an e-mail at threefallsprogram@gmail.com and we'll forward instructions.

Note that online signups do not open until June 2. You can log on to the site and do a few basic things, but you will not be able to add scouts to the system until then. Online signups will close July 1.

When you log onto the system, you'll see that you have been assigned "credits." Each scout you enter into the system "costs" one credit. The number we've assigned should be equal to the number of boys you are bringing to camp. If your numbers have changed, let us know so we can adjust your credits accordingly.

New Tent Platforms

Over the last couple of weeks, volunteers built new plywood tent platforms for all our tents. The Order of the Arrow will be painting them with sealant this weekend during the first spring ordeal. Cushy!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Webelos Leader Guide

The Webelos Resident Camp Leader Guide is now available.

Copies of the PDF file have been sent by e-mail to the leaders of units that have signed up for camp. If your unit did not receive an e-mail, it means we have an incorrect address on file. You can download the guide from the download section at the right of this page, but also please contact us at threefallsprogram@gmail.com and let us know what e-mail address we should use for future communications with your unit.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

NEW Online Merit Badge Sign-up System for 2012

This year we are using an online merit badge signup system called BadgeTracker by Goerlich Solutions Group. Here’s how it works:
  1. If you haven’t done so already, make copies of the Merit Badge Planning Worksheet found on pages 52 and 53 of your Boy Scout Leaders’ Guide (note that this is a two-page listing). Have your Scouts use this form to select which merit badges they would like to work on this year.
  2. In the next week to ten days, units that have signed up for camp will be added to the BadgeTracker system.
  3. The primary contact person we have listed for each troop will receive an e-mail with a user name and password to log on to BadgeTracker.
  4.  At this time, you will be able to log onto the system, but you will not be able to sign Scouts up for merit badges until the system goes live on June 2.
  5. We will assign “credits” to you troop. One credit equals one scout. We’ll  assign just the number of credits you need, based on the number of Scouts you’ve paid for. Note that we pay BadgeTracker for each credit, so we don’t want to assign excess credits that you don’t need. If you add Scouts and need more credits, let us know.
  6. On June 2 (the day of our leader meeting), the system will be open for you to add scouts and sign them up for activities. Click the Camper tab; enter each scout’s name, rank, and age; and then use a simple menu system to select classes and times. Note that many classes have class size limits. If a class is full, you may want to check back later to see if someone has dropped. At this time the system does not allow for a waiting list.
  7. You can print a troop master schedule and individual boys’ schedules by clicking on the Reports tab.
  8. You can return to the system as often as you want to add more scouts or change their schedules.
  9. The system will be CLOSED after July 1 so that we can print our class rosters, finalize staff assignments, and order supplies. Changes and additions after July 1 will have to be made at camp, on a space-available basis.
We hope this system will make merit badge signups much more efficient than in the past. We’ll demonstrate the system at the Leader Meeting on June 2. If you have any questions, let us know and we’ll make every effort to resolve them for you.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Boy Scout Leaders Guide Now Available

The 2012 Boy Scout Camp Leaders Guide is available for downloading from the Summer Camp page on the Council web site. Check it out -- this year's guide is full of pictures and detailed information on all our great programs. The Webelos Resident Camp Leader Guide is being finalized and should be online in a week to ten days.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Getting Ready For Camp: March To-Do List

We held our first staff orientation a couple of weeks ago, and once again we have a fantastic group of youth and adults who are looking forward to putting together a first-rate program for you this summer.

This weekend, members of the management team conducted a pre-camp inspection and started to prioritize the many tasks that need to be completed to get camp ready for the summer season.

Meanwhile, you troop leaders can start now to prepare your scouts for camp. This would be a good time to schedule a parents' meeting, particularly for parents of boys who have not been to camp before. Our 2012 camp handouts, available on this site, will provide much of the information you need. The Tips for Parents page offers some good advice for parents of first-time campers. The Merit Badge Planning Worksheet that is currently posted is from 2011, as we are still finalizing the 2012 schedule, but you can expect just minor changes. The What to Bring to Camp sheet is also still good, and will be helpful for parents who don't have a lot of camping experience.

IMPORTANT DEADLINE: Pay your camp fees in full by March 31 to receive the early-bird discount.

We're finalizing the 2012 Leader Guide and expect to have it available in a few weeks. Meanwhile, the 2011 Guide is mostly still accurate.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Getting Ready for Camp: Camping Merit Badge

We added Camping Merit Badge to our offerings in 2011, and it was quite popular with campers. Naturally, we'll have it available again in 2012.

I don't know how it's done elsewhere, but until recently, in Ventura County Council all Scoutmasters were automatically authorized as Camping Merit Badge Counselors, on the theory that these requirements are best met as part of the normal troop outdoor program. This practice has recently been changed in compliance with BSA national policy, though I expect most troops will continue to register their own Camping counselors. In any case, we found last summer that it was interesting to get scouts from different troops together and let them compare camping experiences: how frequently their troops camp, where they go, what equipment they use, what they cook. It was an eye-opener for some of them.

If you do have boys taking Camping at summer camp, remember that there are some prerequisites, and now would be a good time to start planning to get them done. Requirement 9a is "Camp a total of at least 20 days and 20 nights...at a designated Scouting activity or event." Note that sleeping in a cabin doesn't count, and you can only use one week of summer camp toward the total.

This means that first-year Scouts really can't complete this merit badge. Because of their limited camping experience, most first-year campers also struggle with the requirements relating to outing planning, menus, etc. If you want your New Scouts to get a good introduction to the basics of camping, our Pathfinder program may be a better choice for them. The Pathfinder staff has a combined total of something like 500 nights of camping, multiple Philmont treks, NYLT, Wood Badge, and other training, and they can give your younger boys an excellent introduction to outdoor skills.

Req. 9b calls for the Scout to do two things from a list of campout activities like backpacking, rappelling and snow camping. You can get these done at camp by taking advantage of some of our free-time activities like morning hikes and evening climbing, but doing this ahead of time takes some of the pressure off at camp.

There's also a cooking requirement, 8c and d, that can't be completed summer camp.

In addition, there are a number of paperwork requirements: Planning a campout, making a menu and duty roster, etc. While it is possible to get these done during camp, Scouts can easily complete them ahead of time, and avoid having to spend their free time doing this "homework" at camp. They could even make this a patrol or troop meeting activity if there are a number of them working on this merit badge at the same time.

You can download a set of useful forms by clicking on this link. This includes a campout planning form that will help them make sure they cover all the key planning points, as well as menu and duty roster forms and some other useful items. It's a Microsoft Word file, so feel free to modify it for your own use.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Getting Ready For Camp: February To-Do List

All of us on camp staff are getting excited about the coming camp season. We've interviewed prospective staff members and are working out job assignments now. Next month we begin staff training and development. Meanwhile, here are some tasks unit leaders should be working on to get ready for summer camp:
  • If you haven’t already done it, hand out medical forms and encourage both Scouts and adults to schedule early appointments for their physical exams. Everyone planning to stay in camp overnight (including campers, visitors, family members and friends) must have the appropriate medical forms. Medical forms are good for one year and must be current to the end of camp.
  • The Annual Health and Medical Record, Parts A, B, and C (BSA Form 680-001 Rev. 2/2011) replaces all old medical forms. This form needs to be filled out completely, including inoculations with dates, a doctor’s signature with date, and consent to treat parent signature. This form is available on the Ventura County Council’s website.
  • Now is a good time to begin working with Webelos and New Scouts so that they will be prepared to go to camp with your troop. New Scouts can complete most of their Tenderfoot requirements at camp, but there are a few, like the physical fitness tests, that are best done at home. Also, hand out the What to Bring to Camp list so first-time campers have plenty of time to gather the things they need.
  • Older boys should start thinking about what merit badges they would like to work on at camp. Some badges, like Camping and Citizenship in the Nation, have extensive prerequisites that will take time to complete. We are updating the Merit Badge Planning Worksheet to reflect changes in our schedule and revised requirements for several merit badges, and will post it here by the end of February.
  • Pay your deposit of $350 per unit by February 28, 2012, to hold your reservation at Camp Three Falls.
  • A payment of 50% of your total camp fees (based on your estimated number of attendees) is due March 1.
  • Pay your camp fees in full by March 31 to receive the early-bird discount of $10 per Scout.

Monday, February 6, 2012

New Eagle Required Merit Badge at Camp

Image:2230c.gifWe are often asked, "Why don't you offer a bigger selection of Eagle-required merit badges for the older scouts?" In response to these requests, this summer we will offer Citizenship in the Nation Merit Badge at Camp Three Falls. We selected this one because, out of all the citizenship badges, it seemed to best lend itself to completion in a summer camp environment, and also because it seemed to be a good fit with our historical theme and other aspects of our camp program.

To be sure scouts have a quality learning experience in earning this important merit badge, we will be strictly limiting the size of the class. This merit badge will be offered only to scouts who are First Class Rank or higher. The requirements for this merit badge are substantial and there are significant prerequisites necessary to complete this merit badge. Scouts must complete requirements 2, 3, 6 and 8 prior to arrival in camp.

We expect this one to be popular, so if you are coming to Three Falls, be sure you use our pre-camp merit badge signup system and reserve space early. (Details on merit badge signup will be sent starting in March to units with paid reservations).

Friday, January 20, 2012

There's Still Time To Apply For Camp Staff

We've received a lot of applications from great candidates for staff this summer, including returning staff as well as some new people who we are excited to meet. But we do have room for a few more candidates. Interviews are coming in just a couple of weeks, so if you are interested in serving on staff, or know someone who you think would be good for staff, download an application by clicking the link in the Downloads section to the right, or go to the Ventura County Council web site, and get your app turned in to the council office right away.