Here’s some summer camp advice from a former camp director to anyone fortunate enough to spend a week at summer camp as a Scouter. Your camp director’s biggest difficulties aren’t caused by Scouts or their staff but by ‘adult’ leaders who accompany the Scouts to camp.
- Don’t over-do it and make yourself into a time bomb.
If you are hot, tired, hungry and thirsty get cool, rested, fed, and hydrated. I tend to be cranky if I don’t look after myself (years of observation prove that many of my fellow leaders may share the same problem).
- Camp staff members are totally dedicated to making your stay worthwhile.
Younger staffers are learning and growing just like your Scouts – be considerate and supportive of them.
- Never berate, criticize, argue with or yell at a staff member, youth leader or fellow adult leader in the presence of Scouts.
No matter how much you think they deserve it. A quiet talk at an appropriate distance will usually solve the problem (and the problem may turn out to be yours).
- Don’t “pull rank”.
You are a Scoutmaster, not a general or an admiral, so there really isn’t any rank to pull is there? Most people instantly respect your position just don’t make a big deal out of it. Don’t ask for special privileges or try to impress staff members with your self importance.
- Join in the program and encourage your Scouts to join in too.
Even if the program, in your humble opinion, isn’t all that good. A lively audience does more than anything to enliven and energize a performer.
- Participate in ceremonies, traditions and practices of the camp even if they are unfamiliar to you.
Camps and camp staffs are proud of their traditions; imposing your way of doing things on their program is a rude as imposing your way of doing things in someone else’s home.
- Carefully monitor any inter-troop rivalries that may develop.
Scout aged boys are hyper-competitive and often need to be reminded about fairness, courtesy and sportsmanship. Set the tone of gentlemanly competition and require it of your Scouts.
- Give your youth leaders all the responsibility for success.
See that they understand what needs to be done, how and why and then observe from a great distance. Check in with them every evening, ask lots of questions and put your oar in only when it is asked or it is matter of safety.
- Be proud of your Scouts, encourage them, congratulate them, admire them. Don’t try to be one of them.
When the rare opportunity to join in at the boy level presents itself jump in, but don’t interfere with their fun.
- Be as patient with your shortcomings as you are with those of your Scouts.
Don’t sacrifice the perfectly good on the altar of perfection.