Do your Scouts like Camporees? We attend a District or Council Camporee every three or four years because it takes that long for our Scouts to forget what the last Camporee was like.
At every annual planning conference I suggest to my patrol leader’s council that we include whatever Camporee or district event is planned for the next few months: “What are we going to do at the Camporee?” they ask
“I don’t really know exactly, they haven’t published a program as of yet.” I reply, “But they are usually a Patrol competition type thing – kind of like the last one we went to a couple of years ago.”
That’s usually the end of the discussion. The Scouts who were around for the last Camporee remember being crowded into a little patch of field with the adults camping three feet away, running around to events where fifty other Scouts were waiting in line, and being herded to campfires or ceremonies and listening to adults tell them things they little understood or cared about.
I always feel bad about this because I want my Scouts to like Camporees; potentially they are a lot of fun. Try as a may it seems like I can’t get them interested until nobody on the patrol leaders council has attended a Camporee in the past.
We usually don’t know what’s going to happen at a Camporee far enough ahead to inform our decision; the date is set but the program details aren’t determined until a month or so before the Camporee. Most Camporees I have attended are adult-led events and adults seem to think that Scouts want something new and different. I’ve seen different kinds of competitions, displays, shows, visitors and such; none seem to impress the Scouts and many of them they just plain disliked.
Most of the Troops in our district go to our council camp every summer. The program at camp has not changed substantially in the last fifty or sixty years: same schedule, same events, same, same ,same. Yet our Scouts enthusiastically go for the week at camp for six or seven years running. In February we’ll have our 25th annual father and son weekend. The program for that weekend has not changed substantially for all those years and it is tremendously popular with the Scouts.They do the same events, keep the same schedule and would be upset of anything changed too much.
These programs get tweeked each time, small refinements and improvements but they are predictable. Scouts know how to plan and look forward to what is going to happen.
What if our Camporees never changed? Same place, same program, same events every year. Patrol competitions would not change, same campfire program, same ceremonies; same, same same.
I think my Scouts would really like this in the same way that they like summer camp. They know what to expect, they know how things work, they can lead Scouts going through their first week easily because they have seen it before. Instead of being bored they are energized because they know what will happen and how to prepare for it. If the program never changed Scouts could actually take on responsibilities for the Camporee program rather than adults running everything.
Do your Scouts like Camporees?