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 sufficient 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.
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.
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 for 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.
Sox’s board has 30 Sparks and one to go.
I often listen to Clark Green’s Scoutmaster Podcast and read his blog at www.scoutmastercg.com. In several episodes and posts, he returns to the question of “how to deal with homesickness.”
In episode 171, for example, he talks at length about the importance of encouraging the young scout’s parents to be actively involved in discussions with the scout. The discussions should focus on what the scout can expect at summer camp. Clark also talks about the problems phone calls home from camp create. He underlines this point with research, suggesting that short times away from home are hurt by phone calls home. To avoid these problems, Clark recommends an agreed plan for written correspondence home often but no calls for short to several-week long trips. Clark also describes the importance of mementoes from home to create some familiarity in strange surroundings, such as stuffed animals or favorite items.
On Sunday, April 26, 2015 and again on Saturday, May 2, 2015, the council is offering swim tests for summer camp.many boys look forward to being able to swim at summer camp. It is an opportunity to cool off and play with friends.
Many a Boy Scout who has not spent much time swimming in brown lake water has some fears when he goes to do his swim test on the Sunday of arrival. In fact, there are many stories about competitive swimmers who will not pass the swim test because of these fears.
These pre-tests are a great opportunity for the boys to have their swim test completed before arriving at summer camp. This allows them to adapt to the lake water on their own time and schedule. It increases the likelihood that they will get Joy went out of their swimming opportunities.
For more information, please visit the events page of this blog.