Scouter Larry Gieger wirtes:
I awoke slowly early Monday morning at Scout camp and enjoyed listening to the stream and the birds. A cool breeze coming through the open tent flap… what could be better?
Suddenly the silence was shattered by clanging pots and pans and someone hollering “IT’S YELLOW SHIRT DAY!, IT’S YELLOW SHIRT DAY! ”
Now I was awake! It was much earlier than I first thought. My side of the campsite was still quiet.
Now I ask you, if breakfast is at 8:00am why would you wake your troop at 6:30am? Why? Why? I don’t know. I just don’t know. The average Scout slept in his clothes so he only needs to put his shoes on and visit the latrine; that takes 90 seconds max. Why wake them up an hour and a half early? I don’t know.
So began another morning sharing a campsite with another troop. It kind of set the tone for the rest of the week – a high-pitched LOUD tone.
Most of our troop slept through this fiasco. About [7:30] the patrol leaders got their Scouts up. I watched from my tent as they led their guys quietly down to the dining hall.
Next door a young man that I assume was the SPL and Mrs. YELLOW SHIRT DAY started hollering at the other troop: “GET IN LINE, STRAIGHTEN UP, DO YOU HAVE YOUR SCOUT HANDBOOK? READY? FOLLOW ME!”
Eventually they left and it got quiet again. Why? Do people do this to Scouts? Why? I don’t know. I just don’t know.
I came out of my tent and joined two of our committee members quietly drinking coffee. We strolled down to the dining hall with the older PLC Scouts for breakfast.
Tuesday was ORANGE SHIRT DAY! Wednesday was BLUE SHIRT DAY! Friday was RED SHIRT DAY! How do I know? It was burned into my memory each morning by a voice that could cut steel plate.
Monday afternoon we were lounging in our modest leader area that we created from a tent platform and a pop-up shelter. Our new leaders had been watching some troops who had mommies and daddies leading their Scouts around camp and I was trying to explain that this was not actually Scouting. David, an adult from the other troop bopped in uninvited and plopped down in one of our chairs. He generously regaled us with stories of sailing trips to Bimini , the various houses that he owns around the state and a whole bunch of other far-fetched stuff. There went my ‘teachable moment’ with my new leaders. Why?
I did get a chance to meet Scoutmaster YELLOW SHIRT DAY.
We had an issue with the latrine; you know the issue – the one where someone confuses the urinal with the john? I went to the other side of the campsite and found Mrs. YELLOW SHIRT DAY. I explained the latrine issue delicately so as not to infer blame – just to keep her informed.
Turns out they had different leaders scheduled to stay with the Scouts and they were “Scoutmaster of the day”. So Mrs. YELLOW SHIRT DAY was soon replaced with Mrs. ORANGE SHIRT DAY and so on. Why? I have tried to be a good person, really.
I may not be the most congenial Scoutmaster in summer camp. Sharing a campsite with another troop is a real struggle for me. You get three choices – cooperate, ignore, or tolerate. If two troops have very different styles it’s usually pretty difficult. For this reason we almost never camp with other troops or near the general public.
Allow me to offer a few ideas to consider if you do have to share space with another troop:
1. Don’t talk to or approach the Scouts in the other troop without first talking to their leaders. Unless they are physically in your camp area or in your Scout’s tents, leave them alone.
2. Address any issues that may arise with the the other troop’s adults; be polite but be direct.
3. Keep your Scouts out of the other troop’s area and don’t allow them to shortcut across the other troops area. If they make friends with the other Scouts that’s great; they can hang around the fire circle with them, but no random wandering.
4. Speak very pointedly to your PLC about your expectations for sharing the site. You can’t control what others do but you can control how you react.
5. Think hard before you have competitive activities with the other troop. If someone gets snippy you won’t really be able to get any distance from them.
6. Follow camp rules as to shared duty rosters, fire charts, inspections, etc. Some camps treat two troops in the same campsite as one inspection, others as two inspections. Go with the flow and don’t argue with the commissioner. Talk to the Camp Director or Program Director if needed.
7. Help out the other troop’s leaders whenever they ask but refrain from making unsolicited suggestions. Save those heavy sighs for your long morning walk to that far away program area you wanted to visit.
8. Do what all good Scoutmasters do; delegate. If you have a particularly good diplomat, and you trust him, put him in charge of relations with the other troop.
9. Older Scouts from the other troop hanging around when you know they should be involved somewhere else is worth mentioning to the adults from the other troop. I don’t worry much but older Scouts just hanging around is sometimes a sign of trouble.
I want to emphasize that despite some of these minor irritations our troop had a great week at camp; our Scouts did just fine. We kept an eye out for potential problems and everything went smoothly.
Our neighbors last week were a local council troop. Unlike them we had a ten hour trip home so we had to get up much earlier than them on Saturday to pack. Packing is kind of noisy, I hope our neighbors weren’t disturbed by it that early in the morning.