Summer camp is a big Scouting step. It is a time for fun, growth, newfound freedom, responsibility and learning — for both Scouts and parents.
The more knowledge you have on the front end, the more impactful this experience can be. Here are some tips and advice on how to get ready for summer camp.
COVID-19 and camp
The safety and health of campers and staff is always the highest priority at camp, and BSA camps have a long history of planning for and managing communicable diseases. Review your camp’s COVID-19 mitigation plan. Each camp’s plan is based on guidance from your local county and state’s guidance, as well as input from your council’s health supervisor (a licensed physician who oversees each camp).
These plans will likely include some combination of the following:
- Pre-screening: BSA camps have always required pre-screening prior to attending and with COVID-19, these protocols will be enhanced.
- Encouragement of pre-camp and post-camp “behavioral quarantine”: Scouts and Scouters headed to camp are encouraged to do their best to avoid large group gatherings and events, and to limit their contact with people outside of their family before and after camp.
- Pods or “cohort” style grouping at camp: This is designed to decrease the number of individuals each Scout interacts with outside of their unit “family.”
- Use of face coverings: When and where will be dependent upon your camp’s policies and mitigation plan.
- Physical distancing: This will be utilized in many ways and areas to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
While camp may feel a little different, you can expect the same top-quality, incredible outdoor experience this summer. After such a tumultuous year for so many of our Scouts, they need camp now more than ever. For specific questions about your camp’s COVID-19 mitigation plans, reach out to your local council.
Communication is key. Have a conversation with your Scout and ask them questions. Here are a few to get them thinking about the experience they want to create:
- What do you want to get out of camp this year?
- What are you most excited about?
- What are you most nervous about?
- What merit badges do you want to work on?
- Have you checked your camp gear?
Your Scout’s voice matters. Now is the perfect time to discuss their expectations or apprehensions. New experiences can be uncomfortable; by opening the lines of communication with them, you allow them the space to sort it out. Again, be sure to talk to your Scout about being prepared for camp to feel a little different this year with the additional COVID-19 protocols.
In the same vein, make sure that you feel comfortable with everything. Check with the camp. You might find that every question you have – from rules about food to daily schedules – are all posted on the camp’s website. If you still have questions, ask the Scoutmaster or Scout adult leader. Some questions to get you started:
- What are the ground rules for the week?
- What is the best way to reach my son or daughter in case of an emergency?
- What are the rules about electronics (including phones)?
- How much money should my Scout bring?
- Is there a family night?
- What free-time activities will Scouts be able to do?
- What food options are available for people with allergies?
- How does the camp handle prescription medications?
- What are the guidelines/recommendations for sending mail or a care package?
If this is new to you, ask experienced Scout parents. They are a great resource and can help you through first-time jitters.
The packing list from the camp or Scoutmaster is essential. There is a reason for every item on there. For a checklist, click here. Here are some other tips to help with packing:
- Consider how many face coverings may be needed and if you won’t have access to washing them, be sure to bring enough for at least one each day.
- This year, your unit may be asked to bring additional cleaning supplies – your leaders will let you know if this is the case, or you can touch base with your local council camp.
- Make sure Scouts have something that all their gear will fit in (a duffel, a footlocker or a bin). If the gear bag isn’t waterproof, you can pack everything in a garbage bag inside of the bag.
- Remember, “A Scout is Clean.” Make sure your Scout has footwear for the shower; have a quick discussion on why good hygiene is important at camp.
- If you know your Scout will need it, don’t forget the mosquito netting.
If the camp is offering it, check out the first-year camper program, which gives Scouts the one-on-one attention that will help them on the path to earning the rank of First Class.
Take a look at the merit badge list; some might have prerequisites. If your Scout completes those prerequisites before camp, he or she can come home with completed merit badges.
A few other pointers:
- Read the parent/leader guide sooner rather than later. This will give you and your Scout the time to Be Prepared.
- Be sure to get your physical done soon, too (BSA Annual Health and Medical Record), as some offices may be delayed in scheduling due to constrained resources.
- Make sure your emergency contact is available and ready to pick up the phone the week of camp.
Log on before camp
Summer camp can be life-changing. This is where everything about Scouting can come together – from leadership skills to character development and physical fitness and a whole lot of fun. Summer camp can help youth take more responsibility for themselves and learn to be self-reliant.
To help you and your Scouts prepare for summer camp, visit the Scout Shop’s Facebook page in May for more summer camp preparation tips and a chance to win prizes.