Summer Camp

Swim Test: Summer Camp 2017

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Last year Troop 343 hosted a district-wide swim test for summer camp. Troop 343’s Brian Crow has been working to repeat that process for the new year. Any troop interested in participating should read Brian’s email below:

Troop 343 has reserved the pool at Pike High School for [the evening of Monday,] April 17, 2017, for the swim test.

The facility fee is $120.00.  The school is providing two certified lifeguards for safety compliance only.

Each Troop wanting to attend will need to administer their own test and must have enough adults onsite to provide adequate supervision of scout’s behavior in high school and swim tests in the pool.

We will split the facility fee equally among all Troops that attend.  They will need to bring cash money on the day of the test.

More specific information about test day will be distributed in the near future.


Please have any questions forwarded to me.

Thanks.    …Brian

Remember that all scouts and adult leaders who wish to swim or participate in aquatic activities must participate in the swim test each year before they will be allowed to participate.

The advantage of this swim test is that the swimmer will have a controlled pool environment to take his or her test. Many scouts have never swum in muddy lake water before. We have had many competitive swimmers fail the swim test because of the shock of lake water or muddy lake bottom.

Give your scouts the ability to adapt to the lake environment gradually. If they don’t have the psychological pressure of demonstrating their swimming skills at the same time they are adapting to the environment, scouts often adapt quickly to the lake. The testing is a rough time to adapt to a new environment.

Give them their best chance for success: require all first-time summer campers to do the swim test in a pool before summer camp. Other swim tests with Del-Mi at the Carmel High School Pool and Pathfinder District at the Southport High School Pool will take place around the same time. Del-Mi’s is often the first weekend of May. More information to follow when it is available.

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Summer Camp Promotion Season

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We are entering summer camp promotion season. If your pack or troop is looking for creative ways to drum up excitement, please let District Commissioner Jeff Heck or District Executive Con Sullivan know.

District’s Order of the Arrow Chapter and Firecrafter Ember have scouts who can visit your scouting unit to help tell the story.

District wants to work with your unit to have your unit’s participation be as high as possible.

International Counselors at Camps

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Every year the Crossroads of America Council’s International Committee sponsors two counselors from overseas to staff at Camp Ransburg and Camp Krietenstein.

This year we have a young lady from England at Camp Ransburg. She is serving as a Ridge Commissioner. She is enjoying herself thoroughly.

We also have a young man from Taiwan at Camp Krietenstein. He is working in the ecology area, if memory serves. He is amazed by the amount of land that we have dedicated to a boy scout camp at Camp K West.

Please make sure to get to know them and make them feel welcome.

Summer Camp Advice for Adults

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As we are in the midst of summer camp season, it is always good to have a refresher on how to make summer camp great.

Bob White Blather rounds up several articles on summer camp. Follow the links and learn.

Last Pre-Camp Swim Test this Sunday

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The last Pre-Camp Swim Test is May 22nd at Carmel High School. Information is available here.

Remember your unit is responsible for YPT compliance and record keeping. The council provides the water safety and qualified instructors to approve the swims. That means you need to have sufficient adults present.boy-scout-swim-test-460x260

These pre-camp swim checks are very important for many boys. Some boys are not strong swimmers. Some boys have never swum in dirty lake water before, even if they are the swim team. I have seen good swimmers and bad swimmers fail the swim test on the first Sunday of camp simply because they don’t like lake water.
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By having them qualify for their swimmer rating for the year at a pre-camp swim test, you give them the opportunity to adapt to the lake water as part of their merit badge classes rather than at swim test. Less pressure. Greater likelihood of success.

Most importantly, your arrival at camp on Sunday is far less hectic. You don’t need to rush the boys down to the waterfront then back up to camp to get set up. They can focus on set up then orientation.

If you would like to run your own pre-camp swim test, visit the council summer camp website for more information. You will need to fill out the linked form and meet the Safe Swim Defense rules during your pre-camp swim check. Camp Ransburg encourages you to send your swim records in early with your health records to make sure all is in order.

Summer Camp Learning not Just for Youth

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Summer camp is all about making scouting memorable for the youth. This is the culmination of everything we are trying to achieve in scouting of the rest of the year. The living together in a community of peers. The exposure to the elements and adapting. The planning. The frustrations. The joys of success.

But summer camp is not just an opportunity for youth to learn.

Adults can take training. At Ransburg scouters can take many of the position specific classes. When the scouter comes home, the scouter will be “Trained.”

Make sure all of your new parents take as many classes as possible. You should set an expectation that adults are going to learn. This improves your volunteer corps but also sets a good example for the scouts.

When a scout wonders in to camp when he is supposed to be in class, looking for his parent, he will ask for his parent. If he is told that his parent is in class, what is the scout going to say?

Pre-Camp Swim Checks

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As we start preparations for summer camp, Council and some troops are scheduling Pre-Camp Swim Checks.

Every scout and leader who wishes to swim at summer camp must pass the swim test.

Some scouts panic when they have to swim the first time in muddy lake water. This prevents many from taking the swimming merit badge because they cannot start the course until they pass the swim test.

Taking the test in a swimming pool limits the panic. It allows the scout to take more time to adapt to the lake water and improves the number scouts who can complete their swimming requirements at summer camp.

One council-provided pre-camp swim check will take place at Southport High School, 971 E Banta Ave, Indianapolis, IN, on Saturday, May 7, 2016 from 8:00 am to noon. (The link on the Council website is currently broken. It loops back to the calendar page.) Follow this link to see the event in context.

[ADDED: 5/4/16, 12:00 pm] A second council-provided pre-camp swim check will take place at Carmel High School, 520 E Main St, Carmel, IN 46032, on Sunday, May 22, 2016 from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

Please remember that these are “unit activities.” Your unit must provide the YPT compliance and record keeping. The council provides the facility and aquatics staff to comply with the camp guidelines.

A troop can run its own swim check if it complies with the guidelines on the Ransburg website.

Ideas for Summer Camp

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As October drifts away and November arrives, it seems to early to think about summer activities. Yet, November is often the last push for the year to do much big in scouting until January. Once January hits, more units focus on summer camp and activities.

If you want to do something different, the November PLC is a great time to take a poll of your scouts or November Pack meeting a chance to poll your Cubs about where they would like to go to summer camp.

My home unit used to have a practice of going to some place out of council at least once every four years. One of our District’s bigger troops goes to Canada every other year. Both are great ideas for keeping scouting interesting for all your scouts.

Last year, Scouting Magazine ran a great article about wonderful Scout Reservations around the country. (Ransburg made this list!)

The Summit at Bechtel Scout Reservation is now running both high adventure and older scout summer camp opportunities.

In addition, your future troop youth leadership can attend White Stag, our local version of the National Youth Leadership Training. (Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops/Crews is a prerequisite, which we may offer at Winter Camporee, if NYLT_4ksufficient interest exists.) This one-week, Wood-Badge for youth course is well worth for future or past SPLs, patrol leaders, Troop Guides, etc. (Crossroads BSA website has not been updated for 2016 yet.)

Start the discussion in November, so information gathering can be planned and implemented. Then less pressure is on in January 2016 when real planning needs to begin.

Encouraging Advancement

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This past spring, my nephew joined a troop in Cincinnati’s Dan Beard Council. Since it was his first troop summer camp, my son and I drove over to surprise him.

It was a very interesting experience. It was my first time visiting Camp Friedlander. In fact, most of my scouting experience has been in the Crossroads of America Council, especially North Star District. This visit allowed me to see some new takes on scouting.

Advancement Board at Camp Friedlander
Advancement Board at Camp Friedlander

One of the surprises was a simple system for encouraging advancement. My nephew’s troop has an advancement board. The entire free time after lunch, scouts were hovering around the board, adding their own white tiles, moving the white tiles to reflect in-camp boards-of-review completed, and otherwise planning their advancement plans for the week.

The scoutmasters had encouraged the new scouts to take a white “tile” (a small piece of wood painted white) and use colored Sharpie pens to customize their tile. Hooks and eyes were set into the tiles to allow them to hang properly.

No adults were prompting advancement conversations, but the campsite was buzzing with plans. The troop had made clear that Scoutmaster Conferences were being held Wednesday and Boards of Review on Thursday. This chance for immediate advancement and the privilege of moving the tiles quickly helped further the drama.

In the electronic age, we tend to forget old tools sometimes work best. Our own Troop 35 has the privilege of a dedicated room 34715for scouting. As a result, they have one of the old-school advancement charts hanging on the wall. (Generic and Cub Scout and Boy Scout specific charts are available.) Each boy can easily see his own progress. In my short visit in June, I saw several scouts go over and read the chart to find out where they and their fellow scouts stood.

If you want to encourage advancement, find a way to put advancement before the boys in writing. They will tend to think about advancement more often.