The annual practice of troops picking the perfect summer camp just got upgraded to the smartphone age.
Clear a spot on your home screen for Camp Scout!, a free iPhone app brought to you by Boys’ Life magazine and the BSA’s Outdoor Adventures team.
Let the iPhone detect your current location — or enter an address, place name or ZIP code — and Camp Scout! will show you the nearest BSA-owned properties.
Too many results? The “Things to Do” filter lets you see only camps with your unit’s favorite activities. Do your Scouts or Venturers fancy a place that offers boating, fishing and horseback riding? Tap all three activities, select “Find Camps” and voila!
Each camp’s page uses information supplied by the council. You’ll see a description, an activities list, driving directions, contact information and a link to learn more.
Roughly 500 camps are already in the app, and more are being added all the time.
In talking with Brian Gray, outdoor program coordinator for the BSA, I learned that Camp Scout! does more than just introduce you to camps within your council. It’s your key to unlock a whole nation of awesome Scout camps.
“As units are planning their trips either for a full summer camp, or a trip around the country, they can figure out where they might be able to stay,” he said. “Units have always wanted to know what the various camps offered for programs, now they can use Camp Scout! to find out what fun possibilities are available”
Brian shared the example of a Fort Worth, Texas, crew taking a summer trip to Gettysburg, Pa.
Camp Scout! wasn’t yet available, and so they had no easy way to find Scout camps near Gettysburg and along their journey.
“If they had this app then, they could say, ‘I want to stay at a local place the day we arrive and the day we leave.’ They could put in that ZIP code and find the perfect camp for them,” he said.
Behind the scenes with Camp Scout!
Why iOS instead of Android? I’m told that as a nonprofit organization, the BSA had to choose the platform with the best economic efficiencies. A free app for users isn’t free for the folks creating it.
Still, that doesn’t rule out the possibility of an Android version in the future. For now, I’m betting someone in your Scout unit has an iPhone and can pull up the app when it’s time to pick a camp.
I also noticed a few of the negative reviews on the app mention missing or wrong information about a council camp, so I asked Brian about that.
He tells me that your best move when you see errors is to contact your local council, which can submit an update. Same thing if you notice your favorite camp isn’t on there at all. Your council knows how to get their info added.
Camp Scout! screenshots
Want a sense of what Camp Scout! looks like in action?
I took it for a test drive and grabbed these screenshots.
Scouting magazine’s Guide to Cool Camps is our ever-expanding list of some of the coolest Scout camps around.
Also, don’t miss Deputy Chief Scout Executive Gary Butler’s interesting analysis of the role smartphones play in Scouting. Are they a curse or a cure?
Please feel free to download and use the image below to promote Camp Scout! within your unit, district or council. Click for a larger version.