Tonight, we had a guest presenter from Camp Somers, a part of the Allamuchy Scout Reservation. Our guest has been on staff at Somers for the past four years and will be at camp again this summer.
His mission tonight was to educate our troop on the many programs and new experiences available at Camp Somers. Ranging from merit badge instruction to COPE (Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience) programs there’s a lot to do as a scout during summer camp. (http://camps.ppbsa.org/camps/somers/Camp%20Program.htm)
Going away to summer camp for a week (Sunday Afternoon to Saturday Morning) is one of the highlights of the scouting experience. It’s a chance to explore nature, learn about varied topics during merit badge classes, swim in creeks, and work together with their friends as a team to fulfill responsibilities each day (cleaning camp, serving as waiters in the dining hall, constructing catapults, etc.) BSA sponsored summer camp programs provide a great experience for scouts.
Here are some of the reasons:
1) Affordable When Compared to Other Camp Programs
At $330-350 (early registration) per week, this camping experience provides all meals, professionally trained skills and medical staff, access to boating (without rental fees), supervised shooting sports (without ammunition or range rental fees), ‘arts & crafts’ and more. Many professional sports camps, martial arts or equestrian camps are much more expensive and don’t include the overnight experience of camping with friends. “Camperships” are often available from the BSA for families who are experiencing financial hardships – contact the council office for information.
2) Learn and Practice Responsibility
It is a week spent away from home with independence from the family, but support from their troop. Scouts must “own” responsibilities for the team and for themselves by:
- serving as waiters in the mess hall,
- remembering when and where they need to be for their merit badge classes
- interacting with counselors and professional staff at the camp
- displaying citizenship during morning colors and evening retreat
- displaying reverence and duty to God by attending evening/morning vespers
- arriving at camp “prepared” for the week with the right gear
- having completed pre-requisites for merit badges ahead of camp
- by practicing the eleventh point of the scout law daily (A Scout is Clean!)
- practicing all of the Oath and Law as they interact with scouts from other troops
- remembering to take home all their gear so the scoutmaster doesn’t have to carry it in the trunk of his car for six months
3) Learn New Skills
The summer program is designed to provide many learning opportunities:
- If you’re a “first year scout” (new to scouts, new to summer camp or still working on your “basics”), then you can participate in the excellent Dan Beard program to which runs from 9 AM to 3 PM each day and teaches the basic skills needed to advance through the early ranks of Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class. The program exposes the students to each “program area” of the camp – aquatics, shooting sports, nature/ecology, field sports, handicrafts and scoutcraft (cooking, camping, hiking, etc.) It is a fully rounded program with exercise, hands on activities and a chance to make new friends or spend time with current buddies.
- Most scouts participate in earning Merit Badges in one or more program areas: wilderness survival, wood carving, swimming, nature, archery, athletics, etc. The merit badges help the scout advance through the higher ranks towards Star, Life and Eagle.
- If a scout been to summer camp several times, they may register now for the special “Trail to Eagle” camp program. This program is designed to help Star and Life scouts plan for their service project, earn needed merit badges from the list of required badges and it provides opportunities to meet scouts and scouters who’ve already demonstrated the scout spirit to complete and earn the rank of Eagle.
- Skills are also practiced in a number of competitions. Some scouts may want to participate in the Cooking Contest again this year. Others competed in the campwide Olympics and others competed in shooting sport events. Daily scouts versus staff competitions in mountain bike polo, ultimate frisbee or basketball step up the exercise during the week, and impromptu tetherball, volleyball and basketball games are also popular.
4) Specialty Training and High Adventure!
Many camps offer backpacking, pioneering (back country camping), canoe portage trips or other “high adventure” styled trips. Typically there is no extra cost for these trips, and food and specialized equipment will be provided by the camp staff who serves as guides. COPE – Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience – includes rock climbing, rapelling, team building challenges, low and high ropes courses and much more. Paintball course, shooting competitions and “backwoods engineering” all round out opportunities for scouts to grow during the camp experience, too.
5) FUN, Adventure, Memories for a Lifetime
Each year’s expedition is fun for a lot of reasons – whether it was beating the camp staff in the Olympics, earning fun merit badges, cooking as a troop on Tuesday night, Acorn Awards, silly songs and cheering in the mess hall, etc.
The program is designed to balance individual achievement and learning with team building exercises like cooking our own dinner one night at our campsite.
The Need for Dads to Go To Camp
Camp is a time for sons and fathers to work together — sons want to show their dads that they are responsible, and capable to do big things. Dads can spend time with sons praising and correcting without being overbearing or micro-managing. A week at camp with your son is a memory for a lifetime, and it teaches your son two things: you are invested in his life and that he should be invested in his own son’s life when he has a family of his own. It’s another step in building a family legacy.
I realize that many job/family situations will NOT permit Dads to attend camp for the entire week. If you can attend for half the week, we can often schedule two dads to each take a half week. Also, since our troop typically goes to camp during the July 4th week, this may save you one extra vacation day depending on how your employer observes holidays, etc.
Fathers, please pray about your options to attend camp with your son(s) this coming summer, and talk to your manager about scheduling vacation time.
Deut 6:5-7: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” […and at camp?]