This edition of the Scoutmaster Podcast I share ten things that will help make your summer camp stay this year a success and answer an email question about the patrol leader’s council. All this and your messages in the mailbag!
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Dave Legge says
We always assign each summer camp adult a job. For example one might be in charge of daily medicine if the camp allows disspensing by the troop. Another is in charge of initiating blue cards and accounting for them at the end of the week (always a mess). Giving them a specific role tends to keep them from trying to do the Scoutmaster’s role. An even better idea is to take advantage of any adult training the camp has to offer, particularly BSA Lifeguard training. If your camp offers lifeguard training make a couple of adults take it. It keeps them busy most of the day and as part of their training they augment the waterfront staff during group swims which is always appreciated. Plus, after you leave camp you’ll have certified lifeguards for your next water event.
Clarke Green says
There are a lot of useful things to occupy adults at camp, but there can be too many adults. Camp is for Scouts.
Tom H. says
I used to be commissioner at a summer camp, and keeping adults entertained was always a difficult job. Some suggestions:
– Service Projects: Figure out what skills your adults have and offer them to the camp director or camp ranger. There’s almost always a trail maintenance project that’s good for just about anyone, and even more projects for people with skills like carpentry, plumbing, landscaping, even electronics. We even once had an entomologist do a camp wide survey of gypsy moth infestations. For best results, call up the camp before you go and find out what tools and equipment might be needed. Just be sure to get permission and approval for all your projects.
– Look for opportunities to challenge adults in other troops for friendly competition. A game of horseshoes, target shooting, bean-bag toss tournament, etc. These activities have the added benefit of keeping adults in other troops from nosing in on their scouts, too.
– There’s nothing wrong with adults tackling an advanced scout-skills project as a demonstration. Just be sure it doesn’t take away from what the boys are doing on their own and isn’t trying to “beat them” at their own game. For example, adults can try solar cooking or advanced dutch oven desserts. Craftsman can demo their skills and tools – handicraft skills are especially popular, and doctors and EMT’s often show off equipment and CPR dummies during first aid merit badge. One group built some english gates at the boat docks – it added to the canoeing program and gave the kids an extra challenge. Again, get permission and cooperation from the staff first – there’s a difference between a helpful expert and a busybody know-it-all, and you want to add to (not replace) existing programs and staff. Don’t be offended if you’re not the center of attention – adults are supposed to be off to the side, and scouts will take an interest (or not) on their own.
Hope this helps, have a great time at camp!
Clarke Green says
Loved the podcast. I am going to share this information with my scouters going to summer camp. I have 18 adults and 29 scouts going to summer camp this year. That seems like a lot of adults and I’m not sure what to do with all of them! I know the kitchen can always use a few more hands…
Clarke Green says
Wow, that’s a lot of adults!!
You may want to consider setting a maximum adult-to-Scout ratio of maybe one-to-four before next year. We do this for some of our trips. First spots go to registered, fully trained Scouters with sons attending; next registered, fully trained Scouters with no sons attending; next to registered Scouters who have yet to complete training; next to parents with sons attending. Once we have filled those spots that’s it.
When we reach the Webelos and then the troop level it’s no longer about parents and boys working together; it’s about Scouts leading other Scouts with trained adult observers – the ratio of those observers and how close (physically) they are to the activity is important.
Faced with 18 adults and 29 Scouts I would seriously think about seeing if you could put all but two of the adults in a separate campsite and get a couple of camp service projects going. I’ve seen a lot of Troops, though, with this kind of ratio at summer camp – some close to one adult for every Scout, and I have to wonder what they are thinking. I don’t know too many youth leaders who would have a fighting chance with that many adults around.
I hasten to add that I don’t think the adults have any ill-will or bad intentions in undermining youth leadership, they may even be sincerely dedicated to it, but it is next to impossible for them not to influence what is going on, it’s just sheer numbers.