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Eight attributes of successful Scout camps

When I ask Scouters about their best memories as a Scout, they often call upon times spent at their favorite Scout camp. Summer camp memories last a lifetime, which is why it’s important to help your Scouts choose a camp program that will keep them coming back for more. ChoosingCampCover

But with hundreds of top-notch BSA camp properties across the U.S., this process can prove to be a challenge.

To help round up a checklist of what to look for when researching area Scout camps, we reached back into the Scouting magazine archives to a 1995 article by Bill Sloan, called “What Makes a Happy Camper?”

Sloane asks, “What should young people and their adult leaders expect — and deserve — from a summer camp?” He answers this query with eight key elements that produce successful council camps. This checklist arose from a 1994 BSA survey of 50 successful council camping programs. But it’s not hard to see how these apply to today’s popular Scout camps, too.

  • Facilities. Structures and grounds should be clean and well-kept. Camp layout that places activity areas in close proximity to campsites is an advantage.
  • Staff. A well-trained, highly motivated and service-minded staff is a must. Longevity is a big plus in key leadership roles.
  • Food. Most boys like to eat, and most boys eat a lot. Consequently, quality and quantity of food is of the utmost importance.
  • Program balance. An equal balance should be maintained between troop programs and individual activities. The primary focus of a camp should still be on teaching merit badges and basic skills.
  • Environment. Every staffer should try to get to know the campers he works with and to make friends with campers and leaders. The key is for staff to help make the camp feel like a “home away from home.”
  • Profitability. By and large, the most successful camps are also the most profitable. This usually boils down to camp attendance. If a camp offers an exciting, varied, challenging program, the word generally spreads.
  • Challenge. More challenging activities are an absolute necessity if older Scouts are to return to camp. Many programs aimed at the older age-groups are highly staff-intensive and tend to cost more than normal camp programs.
  • Staff training. Capable, caring camp counselors don’t simply happen. They’re the product of a good counselor-in-training program.

(Read the full feature in the digital archive of Scouting magazine.)

Anything you would add to the list? Or delete? Share your comments on how to help Scouts choose the best summer camp program.

Plus, find a camp near you using the brand-new Camp Scout! app by Boys’ Life magazine. And, check out Scouting magazine’s Guide to Cool Camps to uncover some of the coolest camps in the nation.

Photo: Camp Meriwether in Oregon (above) is featured in the 1995 Scouting magazine article and it’s also among 23 camps featured in our Guide to Cool Camps. Is there something in the water? Perhaps that’s the secret to Meriwether’s staying power.

31 Comments on Eight attributes of successful Scout camps

  1. To be a well attended, profitable camp, it should also offer something unique. There are a number of scout camps close to us, and the scouts choose to go to a camp based on their offerings. A good example are the Cascade Pacific camps. One has a replica of Fort Clatsop and a mile of oceanfront. Another has horseback riding. And the third is an alpine camp with a program focused on hiking. All three are great camps that are worth the six hour drive we have.

  2. Connie Knie // April 10, 2014 at 11:29 am // Reply

    I have to disagree that the focus should be on teaching merit badges. I know that is what SMs (and parents) demand. But they are missing the point.

    • I agree with Connie. I wish there was a BSA camp nearby that had no merit badge offerings and instead offered a week of fun activities. I see our friends send their kids to non-BSA camps and the kids have more fun than scouts and come home with no merit badges.

      • Connie Knie // April 10, 2014 at 11:54 am // Reply

        You know if the SM were willing to back your play, then tell the scouts they don’t have to take any if they don’t want to. Be prepared to see what the camp has to offer in the way of special activities. One of ours offers canoe trips and hikes or back country camping………

        You can’t usually get there and choose these, but with pre planning it can be a great week

        You know the literature from National says that the true purpose of summer camp is to take your scouts to a place that offers stuff you can’t do at your meeting location. It’s meant to be a place for adventure and exciting activities. It is not supposed to be a place where the leaders go to sit all day while they send their scouts off to canned activities that they could do at home.

        Unfortunately over the years, the adults have come to expect to have to do very little and heaven forbid they actually do some preplanning and “play” with their scouts for a week.

      • I see the point made by Connie and Dave but do not agree. I think that parents, scouts and SMs need to achieve a balance in the programs AND merit badges in camps to be considered by the scouts. True, there has to be “fun” in camp otherwise scouts will not want to go. It is also important to remember that summer camp is still part of the overall BSA Program and must support the goals and methods of Boy Scouting. That includes the method (not the goal, but the method) of advancement…..which incorporates merit badges. A good pre-camp approach is for the SM or his/her assistant to present afternoon/evening programs AND merit badge options to scouting families to empower them to make choices in advance in a balanced approach. In my travels and visits to troops in multiple states, that is something I do not frequently see. Far too often troops simply show up at the camp facilites without a plan. To use the comparisons already mentioned by Dave – that means scouts can learn to ride horses/paddle canoes, etc., just as they would at any non-BSA camp. The major difference being at a Boy Scout Camp that follows the BSA’s Program, those scouts would also learn the first aid skills to help themselves (or others) if that horse they were riding dumped/kicked them or if that canoe they were in tipped in cold water. That is something of far greater short and long term value than they would learn at a non-BSA location like “Camp Watchamadunkle” in the Outer Podunks.

        • Connie Knie // April 10, 2014 at 12:08 pm //

          There you go………..you nailed it………. SMs have been less and less inclined to work hard enough to make that balance happen

          Basically we are squatters for a week and need to come with ways to round out the programs.

        • Unfortunately – the level of instruction in these skills by 15 year old staff members is horrible. I’ve seen scouts at summer camp “earn” the swimming merit badge when they can not swim. I’ve seen scouts “earn” the canoeing merit badge in a week of summer camp who still do not hold the paddle correctly at the end of the week. If merit badge instruction were done properly, they might be useful. But most (not all) BSA summer camps have young staff members with little experience as the merit badge counselors. I can go on and on with examples. We’ve been to about 9 different scout camps – and the poor level of instruction is endemic and not isolated. Please don’t respond with “not at my camp”. Open your eyes and really examine the quality of instruction and whether or not the requirements are met in earnest.

        • Don’t lump all SM’s into your generalization. Yes I do see worthless SM/Parents that it is obvious they are not happy about being at camp(any camp). That is not me or my fellow SM’s we love summercamp and are encouraging our boys to participate in everything they have time for without over doing it. Our boys have a blast wherever we go because we choose to have a good time and learn a lot.

        • Connie Knie // April 13, 2014 at 7:17 pm //

          I never want to make generalizations so I apologize if I did. I know there are SMs out there that “get it” and then those that swing wildly in the opposite direction. It sounds like you are one of the former.

    • An idea that has caught my imagination lately is that lots of troops do their own week+ long summer camp every-once-in-a-while. Think about it: A lot of councils have two properties (ours has an old farm at the far end of the county in addition to the summer camp) and no one is going to be using that second one over summer while everyone is at camp.
      The original Patrol Leader’s Handbook has a basic guide for longterm camping (the blue one by Bill Hillcourt, find it on eBay cheap), and there are lots of forum and blogs posts online.
      Troop leadership can grab groceries every few days, and parents/leadership/connections can offer a handful of MBs throughout the week while the main focus is on fun and adventure.

      • Sorry Dave……I will reply with “not at my camp” because that is the case because my troop conducts due diligence in advance. I will not argue that camps such as you describe do exist….both within and outside the BSA. I might suggest you get in contact with the area council(s) for that (those) camps and point it out the shortfalls to them if you have not already done so. If there are so many camps in your area with these problems, that is something that needs addressing at a higher level. Separate than that, are part of your troop’s pre-summer camp due dilligence you may want to explore/visit camps that are staffed by Venture Scouts. They are as a general rule, older than the Boy Scouts you would find teach merit badges. Just as anything in life, the quality of the product you enjoy is directly related to the due dilligence you conduct.

      • Connie Knie // April 13, 2014 at 5:54 pm // Reply

        We did that one year a long time ago. It was actually a 10 day camp that summer. It was so much work (100+ Scouts) that it really burned out our incredibly dedicated leadership. So we go to council camps and let them take care of the parts of the program we aren’t doing. We still do I’d say 90% of the program ourselves but it is nice to have the shooting sports and aquatics and climbing already set up.

  3. I cannot address their profitability as I do not have access to their books, but Camp Woodland Trails of the Miami Valley Council in Ohio meets and exceeds all other criteria you list. My troop is not in that council, but we make it a point to go there due to the outstanding program and operations.

  4. I think food is important. I am shocked sometimes at the quality and quantity of food that is served. I am a quantity cook myself and have cooked in scout camp kitchens (Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts) so I know what CAN come out of a camp kitchen and some of the camps our troop has attended in the last few years have been sorely lacking. One camp In Oregon was so bad (the food was so greasy) we had multiple scouts and scouters almost have to go to the emergency room with gall bladder issues. Luckily, we called home to one of our scouters who was a physician and they were able to diagnose us over the phone and then we were careful about what we ate at the dining hall. Mid week, we were given a box of ingredients and allowed to cook our own meal in our camp site. We made a hobo stew and our boys were so starved by then they came back for thirds. At one point I almost cried because as we were preparing to call for thirds, we looked at the boys eating and half of them were literally licking their plates clean trying to get the last bits of food off their plates.

    I would also add personal safety to the list and that runs the gamut from lifeguards to environment. For example, last summer we went to a summer camp in Idaho and the camp was completely over run with ants and bees. My tent was literally covered in ants, but I did manage to find a corner of the tent that was relatively ant free and I confined myself to that corner. But the real issue was bees. They were everywhere (we found 3 large nests around the dining hall alone) and they were aggressive. I lost track of how many of our scouts and scouters were stung. I was stung 6 times IN ONE DAY! And we had a couple of highly allergic scouts in our group. They didn’t go anywhere without their epi-pens and 2 buddies. We were so blessed that none of them were stung (it was the rest of us who all got stung!). While the staff was sympathetic, they had a “there’s nothing we can do” attitude. Some of our scouts have no desire to ever go back to that camp again, which is a shame, but I can’t fault them.

    • Connie Knie // April 10, 2014 at 11:56 am // Reply

      Couldn’t agree more. Food is HUGE………. that is why we won’t camp where there is a dining hall unless they offer the ability to also do our own cooking. We are a strictly patrol cooking unit.

      We consider this the best opportunity for them to hone those skills that up until now they have only used once a month.

  5. Josef Jan Rosenfeld // April 10, 2014 at 12:07 pm // Reply

    My troop used to go to Camp Read, but there was nothing for the older scouts to do, they got bored – and needless to say, either chose to not go to camp, or made bad choices at camp.

    We went to Camp Trexler – Settler’s Camp in PA last summer – lots of stuff besides merit badges to do, lots of leader training and activities also, and a highly motivated staff. Our last year at Read the staff treated us as if they were doing us a favor half the time and just poo poo’d any complaints or feedback – they definitely did not like the gifts they were receiving. So we left.

    Going back to Trexler again in a few months.

  6. Unfortunately, the scramble for “profitability” caused us to switch camps after ~25 years at a particular camp, which bills itself as “the Philmont of the East.”
    The camp is built for 450, every week they crammed in 900+ (sometimes they weren’t even scouts) and served what they called meals in two shifts to get around the dining hall capacity limit.
    Lines during free swim/shoot/etc were so long that our boys rarely got a chance to do any of it.
    Toilets had mountains of feces in them.
    The kitchen manager was a rootin’ tootin’ Kentuckian whose response to campwide complaints of small portions and the kitchen literally running out of food and sending the last 50+ people through the -supper- line out with PB&J was “if ewe think ewe kin do better yore all welcome to come down to the kitchen and help, or shut up!” He was replaced a couple years later (after we had moved on) by another young guy who was overwhelmed and resorted to screaming fits.
    Overwhelmed counselors were grouchy all day every day, and MB instruction was shoddy at best.
    Of course that camp is featured on Scouting Mag’s super camp webpage. It’s huge, has a dizzying array of older scout programs, makes tons of money, and has serious issues.

    We moved to its sister camp on the other side of the reservation. It’s built for 250-300, and that’s all they take. Staff are friendly and do a much better job, scouts are able to get into the programs they want, food is better prepared and portions are sufficient.

  7. Sounds like some of the leader’s minds are already made up regarding where and how you do summer camp…just hope this is not taking away the PLC’s right to mix it up. Sometimes when leaders have strong feelings about certain issues, the scouts are afraid to challenge it.

  8. Program is first in my view. Facilities second, food is third. Food should be tasty, somewhat well balanced but what kids will eat and in sufficient quantities or offer seconds for hungry Scouts. I don’t expect gourmet. Facilities should be in good repair, modern toilet and show facilities are becoming more important, especially for adult leaders.

    We’ve gone to the Blue Ridge Scout Reservation a lot over the past 10 years. Specifically Camp Ottari, Claytor Lake, Mountain Man and New RIver Adventure. For first, second and third year Scouts a good merit badge program is essential. They have a “Brown Sea Island” program for first year Scouts we’ve used for Scouts that joined the Troop just before summer camp. If they’ve been camping with us we typically have them take merit badges. For third year and above a strong high adventure program is key. BRSR delivers. Claytor Lake offers SCUBA certification, jet skis, large boat sailing, small boat sailing. New River Adventure offers ATV’s, whitewater rafting, climbing, ziplines. High Knoll Adventure offers a Philmont like backpacking experience, Mountain man offers life like a 18th Century Appalachian Mountain Man, Voyager Trek offers a Northern Tier canoe type adventure. Fish Camp a week of doing all types of fishing. We’ve used the SCUBA certification several times now to prepare for Sea Base SCUBA live-aboard adventures.

    We’ve tried some other camps and staff development was pretty poor. They had better food and in some respects nicer facilities but the lousy staff prep has taken them off of our list. We’re trying Raven Knob this summer, a popular camp with a lot of troops in our region that we haven’t been to since I’ve been involved with the troop. Our own council’s camp is beautiful, but the hot and humid weather in the sand hills of North Carolina make it a non-option for us. We head to the mountains for cooler weather.

  9. Good Point A.j Vasta. Sometimes the Scoutmaster(s) want to go to the council camp for support reasons, whereas everyone else wants to go to a different camp, that’s a much better camp.

  10. Kelly Horton // April 10, 2014 at 9:26 pm // Reply

    I do not know where you all camp, but Camp Brule’ is tops. They have a great program. When I was a scout they had the core merit badges at camp. Now as an adult, I have noticed that they have 3 times the number of merit badges offered. There seems to be an activity every night for every scouts interest. The older adult staff is retained year after year with a good number of CIT’s trained up each year which has a fresh crop of youth staff that replace the aged out staff.

    The food and menu I have heard complaints about, but I usually was able to have seconds at almost all of the meals and I thought it was of good quality. There was a few instances of being overcooked, but that happens depending on the menu and the masses that are to be fed in the short period of time. They are also getting better at have diets for food allergy scouts. There was always coffee available.

    The camp is an old camp, but there are improvements every year. So I can see that there is money going into the camp little by little.

    I just came back from round table and all of the campsites for all of the weeks are completely filled. They are tossing around the idea of opening a couple of new campsites or adding an additional week. So I can see where the camp is getting attention from out of council troops. So someone is doing something right.

    The staff was very good, friendly, and full of energy. There were enough adult leader directors and they seem to have multiple youth staff and CITs under them. I also noticed that they were not afraid to give out partials on merit badges. If a scout did not show up to class or make up the work, they were not “given” the MB. So they earned the MB’s. So I like it that the staff were not just giving away badges.

    I do wish they has more for the adults to do. We have some parents that attend, but I think that if they had more activities for them, there would be greater attendance. Yes, the boys should be the main focus, but additional adult bodies mean that there is additional revenue being generated for the camp. The more adults that participate means there is a stronger troop leadership. If the boys see the adults having fun all week, then the adults are “leading by example”.

    Why should the boys have all of the fun anyways?

    • Why should the boys have all the fun? That’s an easy question. Because it is BOY scouts. We’re not a family camping club. And I disagree greatly on the thought of additional parents. There shouldn’t be more parents at camp. Summer camp should be organized in such a way so that the minimum number of adults are in attendance. But the BSA doesn’t even think about such things. Go out and visit non-BSA camps and see how they develop their staff, who makes up their staff, what they are paid, and what the camp offers. If you look at BSA summer camp photos from before world war 2, you will notice that there are very few adults in camp. Sometime in the last 30 years, there has been an explosion in adult attendance as well as a focus on merit badges as opposed to just having a fun time at summer camp. I went to summer camp as a kid and I earned zero merit badges and had a great time. I didn’t attend one “merit badge class”. Ugh. Just the sound of that phrase is revolting. Look at Philmont. Kids go there and earn zero merit badges. That’s what we should be able to all across the country rather than have classrooms instructed by unqualified high school kids.

      • H. David Pendleton // April 11, 2014 at 10:25 am // Reply

        Dave: I went to summer camp twice in 2 different locations (there was a merger of councils between summers) before my Troop folded due to a lack of some adult willing to become Scoutmaster. I too didn’t earn any Merit Badges because back then Scouts had to be First Class to earn any Merit Badges and I wasn’t First Class. In fact, I don’t remember any of the older Scouts who were First Class or higher earning any Merit Badges either.

        Now for the sad thing. I cannot tell you a single thing that happened at the my first summer camp. Don’t remember anything at all about it. As for the 2nd camp, it all is a little fuzzy as these are the only things I remember:

        1. I was a Red Swimmer and not Blue.
        2. We spent most of the time cooking our meals & cleaning dishes because there was no Dining Facility.
        3. I got “reprimanded” about knife usage and didn’t even know what the word meant when the SM said, “I’m reprimanding you . . . ”
        4. At some stupid ceremony, I had to go through a “papoose” and “squaw” rite as it was our 1st year at the camp and our 2nd year in Scouting. To this day, I have no idea what it was about.
        5. Some Scout in our Troop (who later made Eagle & then his Father quite as Scoutmaster) several years older than me had to carve his initials in a 12-pound rock. They took the rocks away and one morning, he had to hike a couple of miles out to where the rocks were and find his in the pile. He then had to carry the rock back to camp and hold onto it all day long. He could not put it down. He could rest it on his feet if he had to use both hands such as cooking.

        I really don’t have any positive things to say about my summer camp. I’m hoping my son has a much better experience than me AND I know he already has since he made First Class in less than 11 months. He enjoys earning MBs at summer camp so as others have said, there needs to be a happy medium between earning MBs & just wasting time in the woods. My son could do the latter w/o me spending almost $400 for him to do it at another location.

        • “wasting time in the woods” ? wow. That says it all right there. As a kid at summer camp I went fishing, canoeing, sailing, hiking, played football, learned how to use an axe, cleaned latrines, helped younger kids. I had fun and didn’t view any of it as wasted time. Earning MB’s should come as a result of spending time doing an activity and becoming good at it. It shouldn’t be from sitting in a summer school class instructed by 15 and 16 year old staff members with little to no experience in the subject matter. Take “soil and water conservation” MB. Really. What kid wants to go to summer camp and “earn” that MB? Kid’s should be out doing things like kayaking and sailing. When they get good at it – sure, throw them a MB. But they shouldn’t be spending their time at summer camp in classroom settings. That’s a horrible disservice that is endemic to the BSA. Check out what non-BSA summer camps do: they have the water blob, zip lines, challenge courses, kayak trips, wake boards, inner tubing, … etc. etc. etc. The kids who attend these camps have fun, they learn neat stuff, some of them even master a skill. And none of them earn merit badges where they need to write an essay after observing a small plot of land for 20 minutes. And they don’t have their parents in camp.

        • H. David Pendleton // April 11, 2014 at 1:36 pm //

          What I mean by “wasting time in the wood” that if there is not some sort of planned activity, the Scouts usually doing the following: start playing some kind of “Magic” card game, stealing off in small groups to do who knows what, or start picking on each other-usually the youngest or smallest Scout in attendance.

          Our camp is 10 days long, the only one I know of in the country & I have looked at most of the BSA’s camp websites. It has one of the highest returnee rate in the country. There are 4 MB periods each day. We encourage 1st Year Scouts to take Trail to 1st Class & then fill the other 3 periods with ecology or arts/crafts MBs. For the returning campers, we encourage all 4 periods to be filled with MBs. The only exception are Scouts that are going through Mic-O-Say initiation might have one open period as they will be busy getting their regalia together for that.

          Our camp also has a multitude of outposts that Troops can take advantage of during lunch and/or dinner. These are not related to MBs even they they use the archery range, shooting ranges, climbing tower, etc. On one night, the entire Troop hikes to the nearby little town for Peach Nehi Floats that are probably found only there.

          Most of the activity you listed are for older Scouts or they are for our camp. Our camp, in fact, only allows Scouts with the Swimming & Lifesaving MBs to take any Waterfront MBs & they have them all: Canoeing, Kayaking, Motorboating, Sailing, & Water Sports. The only one they don’t have is Whitewater. Thus, there is an urgency by the Scouts to earn Lifesaving ASAP to get to the Waterfront where only the “big kids get to go.”

          We have nearly 100% attendance for the Troop at camp. The only exception I have seen is when a Scout chose to go with their church on a mission trip or to Jambo last summer. Even then, the Scout that went to Jambo went to summer camp for a different session.

          By the way, my son (11 at the time) earned the Mud (Soil & Water) MB at a summer camp just before our Troop went to its regular camp. He did most of the requirements before he went. That meant that he finished it early & got to complete another MB in the same time slot before he left. Maybe he is weird, but I think he actually enjoyed it.

          Yes, a Scout needs to be kayaking & sailing at summer camp but if he has never done it before, it might make some sense to take the “class” and earn the MB so that they can do it properly. If a Scout is doing these activities for the first time, I would hope someone is teaching them how to do it right. They may as well earn the MB at the same time instead of doing it for “fun” and then have to do it again later for the MB.

          As I have learned on these venues, no one thinks the same way about everything and all Troops are different . . . just as all Scouts are unique so one method or one type of camp does not always work.

    • Connie Knie // April 13, 2014 at 6:58 pm // Reply

      I know you got taken to task for asking why the fun should be reserved for the Scouts and I agree. There is nothing wrong with more adults in camp as long as they are kept busy.
      What kinds of offerings do your camps have for adults? CPR, IOLS, YPT, Paddlecraft Safety, Swimming and Water Rescue, Wilderness First Aid………etc…….. And all of the reasons you stated, stronger leadership for the troop, additional revenue for the camp, and one thing you didn’t mention was that it is good to have parents there to do Boards of Review.

  11. Dave,
    Philmont is for older Scouts. The Crew I took to Philmont was filled with Eagles and Life Scouts on the glide path to aging out. There isn’t a need to do merit badges at Philmont.

    As an adult Scouter summer camp should have things for the adults to do. We’re required to be there because the camps don’t provide it. I usually spend my time working on “Scoutmaster Merit Badge” helping the staff, monitoring the waterfront from the tower, helping serve in the kitchen, assist in a merit badge camp etc. Camps have a captive audience of adult leaders they should offer training for the adults to satisfy their BSA mandated training. It would be awesome if a camp could run a wilderness first aid class every week of camp. That would allow my leaders heading to Philmont next summer to be the leaders for a week at camp AND satisfy a requirement for the Philmont Trek.

    My son got to do some cool things at camp that he likely would never have done with me. He learned to water ski, got to shoot skeet, went climbing, got SCUBA certified, went jet skiing. He earned environmental science in an outdoor classroom, he earned Lifesaving which lead to him becoming a certified Red Cross Lifeguard, which lead to a part time job he’s had for 4 summers now and will likely continue in his college years at least until he finds an internship. It is important for the Scouts to have fun at camp, but earning merit badges along the way is an important part of base summer camps. It was when I was a scout 40 years ago and it is still important today.

  12. Nahila Nakne // April 11, 2014 at 11:27 am // Reply

    I think Staff shuld be #1 on this list. I have seen a camp with adequate facilities, but with a highly trained and motivated staff, do a better job than a camp that had brand new facilities and a so-so staff.

    In regards to the MBs versus program debate, you need to have a balence. I can understand one or two night classes, or one or two nites where a class has something to do at nite, but to have 0 program becasue of MBs is not right.

    • H. David Pendleton // April 11, 2014 at 1:39 pm // Reply

      Our camp does not have any MBs at night. There is usually some sort of campfire every night. On the “open” nights, each Troop usually does their own campfire (so a Scout can host to complete the communication MB requirement) or takes a short hike to the small town to get a Peach Nehi Float. Other evening activities revolve around Outposts that include dinner.

      • Connie Knie // April 11, 2014 at 4:46 pm // Reply

        Our camp, Cole Canoe Base, does open areas at night. Shooting, swimming, climbing, and the world reknown Beast Feast…………

  13. I am actually a senior staffer at a large camp in the Midwest. We are strictly patrol method, but there is a huge push to build a dinning hall by the units in our council. Most of the program staff are in the 16-17 year old age range with the area directors being a few years older. We normally run about 2000 scouts a year including two cub sessions.

    In regards to the concern about the long lines, I would encourage the troop committee to talk with the camp director and find out which weeks typically have the smallest attendance. Most of the time this is the week that includes July 4th. Lines can be significantly shorter and class sizes can fall as much as 60%, leading to better instruction.

    Also just because a counselor is 15 doesn’t mean his or her teaching will be terrible. There are bad apples of all ages, and the only way the camp administration will find out is if you tell them. There was one 19 year old three summers ago who had been teaching woodcarving terribly for three weeks before someone said something during a leaders meeting. And funny enough, once one person started the conversation, every scoutmaster who had a scout in the class chimed in about the poor instruction by this individual. He was able to receive the proper training he needed, and consequently became a great instructor.

    While we do not have the best facilities by a longshot, we keep them spotless. A lot of that comes from the staff taking ownership of their own camp and being proud of it. I feel a good test of how much the staff cares in general is to take a look around and see how clean everything is. Are the roads filled with trash? Is the garbage emptied regularly? Does the shower building (open air) have green scum covering the walls? Are program supplies cared for, or are they thrown about? Remember, that’s your popcorn money that paid for it.

    In conclusion, when selecting a camp it is important not to focus on which one has a state of the art dinning hall or brand new swimming pool, but which one best delivers the overall scouting program.

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