Camp Scout! app puts Scouting destinations at your fingertips

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.

camp-scout-2 camp-scout-3 camp-scout-4 camp-scout-5

Further reading

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?

Promo image

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.



  1. Need to ditch the water slide background photo. How about a simple tent or just rustic camp scenery instead?

    • Spencer, when you open the app itself you’ll see it cycles through several different awesome photos. And the best part is all of the photos were taken at actual local council camps!

  2. Hmmmmmm. Android has an 80% market share and growing; iOS has a 14% share and dropping. Gee, I wonder why it was cheaper to go with iOS? This app is kind of like that tree that falls in the forest when no one can hear it.

    • Mike, first of all I see you’re looking at global market share, not U.S. market share. The majority of users of Camp Scout! will live in this country (though international Scouts would find it quite helpful, as well), and the Android-iOS gap is much closer here.

      Also, as I say in the post, I’m guessing someone in your unit has an iPhone they’d be willing to use at unit planning meetings.

      • Bryan, you are an astute observer, as usual. I agree the market share spread isn’t as great in the U.S. But to exclude over half of the potential audience? That’s not economic efficiency; it’s just being cheep.

        • I think to quote, or paraphrase Baden-Powell “you don’t bait your hook with food you like.”

          If scouters us Android or Blackberry they are shut out of this app – makes no sense to me since it is just a matter of a developer using free software to adapt to the other systems.

        • Bryan, you are a commendable spokesperson for our organization! You wouldn’t also happen to be an iPhone user would you? 🙂

        • I am an iPhone user, yes. But I’ve enjoyed owning Android phones in the past. Each has its benefits and flaws; I seem to go back and forth every year or so.

          As for Camp Scout!, if money weren’t an issue, the BSA would put it out on iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry and, I dunno, maybe even Google Glass? But for now there’s just an iPhone version, and I’d encourage iPhone users in a unit to share this great resource with their fellow Scouts and Scouters.

        • Bryan,

          If money is the issue and the BSA feels the need to pick a single phone platform to develop applications on, then I believe the responsible thing to do is open up the data via a public API. The community who is interested can write their own app, integrate it into a website, or do something creative and useful without it costing BSA anything. This isn’t private data, so there shouldn’t be any privacy concerns.

          If the BSA IT shop is so limited in what they can do, they really need to make it easy for the Scouting community. The app may be great but it and, more importantly, the data behind it, are useless to a large number of people in current form. Perhaps it is time to resurrect the open source Scouting effort?

      • January 2014 Data

        US Market Share:
        Android 51.7%
        iOS 41.6%

        October 2013 Data
        US Market Share:
        Android 52.2%
        iOS 40.6%

        The above data is for Smartphones. If you include tablets, then and only then does iOS have higher market share (This is based on the number of iPads in education. Apple DEEPLY subsidizes equipment for education.)

        Cost to join developer program?

        iOS: $99 per annum
        Android: $25 one-time fee

        Please go on about how going with iOS has the best economic efficiencies.

        Let’s be honest, more paid scouters have iPhones, so it made the most logical sense to go with what supports them.

        This is a free app…right? The iOS route is the better route…if you intend to monetize the app, as iOS users are more likely to pay for an app than Android users are.

      • Shall we get into the US Deaf market figures??…*impish grins
        Most Deaf users are on Android not iPhones. (I’ll skip the best phone company competition talk (Sprint!! – not Verizon) as most don’t know our best videophone ones. Sorenson, Purple, ZVRS, Convo, Sprint and etc. are well known friendly rivals within the Deaf community.) At least the Deaf are ahead on smartphones and using them at elementary school levels when compared to their hearing peers’ junior and high school levels.

        I was just looking at apps for my Samsung (S3) which you last covered in 2012. Bryan, will you please consider doing new blogs on both for best phone apps for iOS and Android next?

      • Well if the BSA doesn’t have the resources to make apps for the largest share of the market because it prefers another one, then perhaps the better option would have been to spend the resources to make a mobile *web* based app that everyone could use regardless of heir platform?

      • Was so excited to see this Camp Scout app and immediately thought this will greatly encourage our troop to look for NEW camp experiences. HOWEVER No one in our unit has an iPhone. I use my iPod Touch 4g for the “Smart” part of our cyber tech. HOWEVER, iPod Touch 4g and lower cannot update to iOS7 (it’s too big). So we to are CUT OUT of using this app as well. iOS gap just got much bigger.

    • Mike, as pointed out by Bryan, your numbers are global. The US numbers are much closer… a 10.1% difference, (notice that the one at the top remains the same)

      Android 51.7%
      iOS 41.6%

  3. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone owns an iPhone. Are there plans to make this available to Windows or Android phones?

  4. Hmmmm, I can hear districts and councils complaining right now that National, Boys’ Life magazine, and the BSA’s Outdoor Adventures team are supporting a product that encourages units to camp outside of their council facilities. Might even be some words in their about Bryan bringing it to everyone’s attention! This begs the question: as leaders, should we be loyal to district/council (by supporting only their facilities and events), or to our scouts by offering them the best possible camp/program?

    • Well good point but many will choose closer to home as ‘convenience’ is a selling point especially if leaders need to switch off during the camp week and/or getting those drivers for car pool… *winka

  5. Has the BSA given any thought to renting campsites to “outsiders”? I’d love to camp at a Scout property on a non-Scouting vacation or over a long weekend. I would think councils would be happy to get the extra revenue, particularly in Michigan where Scouting has been hit hard by the struggling economy. I’ve been active in four councils in Michigan — Fruit Belt Area, Land O’ Lakes, Great Sauk Trail, and Tall Pine — all of which have been merged over the years due to cost cutting. The BSA needs to start thinking creatively on how it’s going to bring in more revenue to support its facilities and program. Renting campsites to the public is an idea that needs to be explored.

    • You’re asking the wrong people. Whether or not your local camp allows non-scouting rentals is not up to “the BSA” it’s up to the local council.

  6. I don’t have an iPhone (I’m with the majority of people out there and use Android). But why isn’t this database of great information on camps available through a traditional web portal or website instead locked inside an app that requires a specific brand of smart phone to access it? Why can’t I just go to (or or or somewhere) on my computer (or tablet, smartphone, or whatever) and simply search for Scout camps by location and features? Why did they hide this wealth of information in a system that requires a special app and limits who can access it?

    • that is a great idea – if it is a web portal, then anyone with any phone can access it, from anywhere.

      • I too would love to have something out on a traditional website for me to be able to use. (Especially since I could possibly use this for part of my ticket that I’m currently in the process of having approved–Go OWLS!) Although most people have iPhones or androids, some of us still have ‘stupid phones’. I’d rather buy my boys new camping gear and have them use our home computer when planning their next campout than to pay $$$ for iPhones and androids.

    • There is a Boy Scout camp website as I’ve already looked through it:
      Someone correct me if I’m wrong but apps are a tad different in that with a press of a button one accesses information quicker and its made especially for the phone’s screen. Most website are easily accessed using your phone’s search engine tool like Goggle. Drawback with a website is screen doesn’t fit the phone so makes it harder to navigate the website you are looking at.

      • If the mobile web site is programmed correctly, it would scale and flow for the small iPhone screens as well as the big Android phones and tablets.

  7. I was looking forward to using the app. to bad its iOS. Good idea poor execution. Apple simple does not support an significant market share. There may one apple product in our troop but all I remember seeing are androids. Thanks for the effort

    • Interesting how all the adults are complaining about the choice to go with iOS. I bet there is a kid or 2 on your PLC that has an iPhone or iPod. They should be doing the planning anyways.

  8. so, it seems to me that more people will use the app if it were on almost any other system but Apple.

    I think saying that someone in the unit will have an iphone they would let you use is just a cop out.

    it appears that no one thought to ask, in the survey of scouters we all got not too long ago the question – “if we were to make a phone app that listed BSA camps and features – which system would be most widely used?”

    use bait for the fish you want to catch, not the food you like to eat.

    • Or BSA should pay/ contract pay those leaders that do this app stuff for a living to put this ScoutCamp! app onto an Android platform for the National office.

      Be nice of BSA to have some kind of ‘bidding’ site for BSA members to do stuff for them that will help National and us too as we move more and more into the smartphone generation.

  9. It says “Powered by Oh, Ranger!” – the “Oh, Ranger!” app is available for iOS and Android (I have it on my Android) and it’s fairly handy. Not sure why a layer on top of an existing system would be so hard to port to multiple platforms – either way, can cut to the chase and get Oh Ranger directly for Android.

  10. Not sure if anyone has made this suggestion: Is there ANY chance that there will be a web site/computer accessible version of Camp Scout? (similarly: ScoutBook’s app is ALSO a web site that cam be used/accessed by computer.) Our troop uses our Charter Org’s wifi at every meeting and usually travels with a lap top as well. Computer access to this type of easy to use app, would be excellent, and also be a way for councils to have access to updating their camp’s into.

  11. When Mr. Gore and I were building the internet, the notion was that any device would be flexible enough to read data emanating from any node. The URL of the machine that serves this data should be all we need. Otherwise, your phone really isn’t all that smart.

    Just sayin’ 😉

  12. Need the app for android. Any reasons given for not creating the app for Androids is just a cop out and shows you are mainly an Apple fanboy

  13. Food for thought – one Scouter’s opinion
    Setting aside the iPhone-onlyness for a moment:
    1. The app does the job as advertised (not always true with many apps I’ve tried out).
    2. The app appears to be stable (certainly not always true with too many apps I try out).
    3. The app design is clear, straight-forward and intuitive making it easy to use. (Don’t even get me started on all the apps I’ve had to pay for that are outright garbage).
    4. The data appears to be accurate. I checked numerous camps that I am familiar with personally and all the data shown was correct. (Not true with many websites’ data).
    5. The data appears to be complete. I (probably) could find out more info or make reservations with the info provided. (often not true with websites’ data – I’ve had to call directory assistance to get a camp phone number just because someone forgot to include it on a webpage).
    6. The application seems to be a reasonably thorough design. It certainly does what I expected it to do.
    7. I was VERY SURPRISED that it showed me nearby camps I had never heard of (as I do lots of research). I contacted a few fellow Scout leaders and they had never heard of them either! I will have to check some out for the troop’s future use. One camp is actually 9 miles closer than my own council’s camp! Who’d a thunk it?
    8. The web links to councils/camps worked, unlike many of the website links I’ve found (and abandonded).
    9. I would like to use my own troop background pictures – period.
    10. I would like to see some additional fields (user fields if you will). This data would reside on the phone and would not be something to be added to the “master database”.
    11. When searching, I would like to specify an optional maximum mileage value to limit the list to camps with a suitable “driving distance” in mind.
    12. I would like a field to support the Scout-Camps-On-The-Air Amateur Radio work going on for years now. Since the signing of a memorandum of understanding years ago, there should be a field or two for that info as well. (see for more info)
    13. As a programmer/developer, I expected to have many items to complain about – but I am forced to say, “Well Done!”. I rarely say that about an app’s “first release”…

    About the iPhone-onlyness:
    As a long-time, certified programmer I feel that it is relatively straight-forward to create for both environments – especially when the app is primarily data presentation and not a “graphical game”. I feel that “designing for both environments” should have been a design requirement from day one. I personally would not have selected “Apple first” if I had to choose only one platform. That being said, it is a very good app, and at least for me, fills a significant need (my need for good data on Scout Camps).

    I own and still use my old iPhone for many things, all the time, even though I bailed out to Androids long ago. I use my iPhone for animated knot teaching apps, ham radio apps, mapping apps and yes, even games. I don’t use it as my phone.

    I use my old iPhone via WiFi. I connect via free hot-spots, my home network and even through my ‘Droid phone using its “hot-spot-mode”. Old iPhones never die, they just use WiFi…

    I hope that this will change the discussion away from the “Apple/iOS vs Google/AndroidOS world domination” arguments back to evaluating the app and its features.

    Personally, I would suggest we could find someone with an old iPhone that they would donate to the troop or buy off eBay – I was surprised how relatively affordable used iPhones have become. I feel that this app alone would justify a troop getting an old iPhone and using it for the troop’s benefit.

    Due to my work overload, I can’t usually respond in a timely manner to discussions on a topic. If someone makes a post, perhaps someone can help with a reply if I haven’t responded in a reasonable timeframe.

    Hy hats off to all those who posted – it shows that you care about our Scouts and the Scouting program! Even though you are grumpy about the choice of platform, y’all are my heroes for supporting Scouting.

    Yours in Scouting,

  14. We have mostly Android phones in our troop. I think one person in our troop has an iphone and the hassle of borrowing it and relying on someone in the troop having an iphone available doesn’t seem worth it. Frankly it would have made much more sense to develop and app for Android and even more sense a website EVERYONE can access.

    They could have covered the majority of scouts if they had just made this a website and not device specific. That development is far cheaper so this isn’t a money issue.

    It really isnt an option to buy a troop iphone and keep track of it and depend on wifi service. What if we are out in the country and need to check location information on a camp???

    I work in the web and we track our web site analytics and I see Android visitors have the edge over iphone. I think the BSA missed the mark on this one and arguably shut out the majority of the folks who would use this.

  15. Thanks for creating this much-needed app. With that said, the app needs to update the geo-location address of the camp sites. For example, Camp James Ray is near Pottsboro but it is not in the middle of Pottsboro. It also needs to add the major camp sites, e.g. Camp Wisdom in Dallas. I understand updating the app needs a lot of work. Perhaps you should consider crowd-sourcing. Many of us will be more than happy to help. This is a good start though.

    • Hey Simon, as I say in the post this is an issue to discuss with your local council. They have been empowered to share location and content updates with the app team at BSA.

      • Hi Bryan, thanks for the quick response. Can you share the contact person of the app team at BSA? I might know some of the techies in the team and I will be glad to help them.

        If you don’t want to share it publicly, please email me the name if it is feasible. I work at the District level and I know most of the folks. 🙂

  16. The CampScout! app is based om the Oh Ranger app by American Park Network , which is available for both Android and iOS. I just downloaded it for my Android phone & tablet. The major difference is that Oh Ranger provides 20 more general “things to do” and the search results include national/state parks. Sounds like BSA just paid to customize the iOS version of Oh Ranger. Compare for yourselves at:

    Yours in Scouting Serivce
    ASM, T-303

  17. Let’s be honest here – the BSA has a deal with AT&T for paid Scouters to use iPhones, not Android devices, so they’re not going to release an Android-only products and not have Pro Scouters be able to use it. The sad part is there’s no AT&T coverage in this area and our DE has pays more for his “subdidized” phone then I do for an Android on Verizon on his meager salary (he can borrow my phone…). The bigger problem is that an iPhone is only available from Apple while Android devices are available from many companies and if BSA only produces iOS apps that is equivalent to an endorsement of one corporation (I really doubt there was a hefty donation from Apple). I wouldn’t argue against supporting iOS users, but if BSA is providing a service they should not exclude half of the market. Better to wait until both are ready and budgeted to avoid ill will. But hey maybe this is consolation for BSA web apps not being usable on Mac for a decade! (I’m just kidding obviously but that really hurt our Commissioner Corps service so let’s not make the same mistakes again).

  18. What about a web version of the information? Surely this information is held in a database – why not allow access to that information to developers or even the general public?

    • So, is there a web version of the information or not?, mentioned earlier in the comments was not found using my safari browser.

  19. Is an Android app or a web based product in development for camp scout and if so when may we see it. The ios product looks great I wish.I could use it

Join the conversation