Cub Scout Resident Camp: 'Quality Fun' for Growing Boys
By Kathy Vilim DaGroomes
The best council Cub Scout resident camp programs rely on 10 key elements to provide an awesome experience that introduces younger boys to the BSA's outdoor programs.
Last summer, more than 100,000 Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts representing 14,000-plus packs attended a council-organized Cub Scout resident camp with their parents and adult leaders.
In most cases, they camped for three days and two nights. And they had fun.
Fun is the most important ingredient in a council-organized Cub Scout resident camp program. A visit to either of two campsGilbert Ranch Webelos Resident Camp near Portland, Ore., or the Cub World program at Camp Garrison outside of Philadelphia, Pa.demonstrates how top council programs produce this important outcome.
Because boys have high expectations for what qualifies as fun, it's important that a resident camp meet those expectations from the first minute. Both Gilbert Ranch and Camp Garrison have mastered the art.
The setting is the main street which runs through the middle of the Western-themed frontier town at Gilbert Ranch Webelos Resident Camp, the Cascade Pacific Council property in northwest Oregon.
About 150 Webelos Scouts, adult leaders, parents, and camp staff scurry about on the street after lunch. Assistant Cubmaster Gary Durr of Pack 770, Vancouver, Wash., pauses to explain why he calls the street "fun street."
"The boys have been overwhelmed with the amount of stuff to do," Durr says. "The people, the kids, the atmosphere all make it fun ... there's just a lot of excitement here."
A few weeks later, in eastern Pennsylvania, another Cub Scout leader, this time at the Cradle of Liberty Council's Camp Garrison, also finds ... fun.
"I wanted the boys, who are in their last year as Webelos Scouts, to do something different, something that was just fun, and this certainly fills the bill," says Diane Miller, a Webelos den leader coach for Pack 8, Downingtown, Pa. "In fact, it overfills the bill."
The boys from Pack 8 are camping at Fort Akela, one of four theme areas at the Camp Garrison Cub World program. They are so enthused about participating in the program activities that their leaders are already discussing bringing them back for a second camping session.
"It's always great to hear that boys are having fun at Cub Scout resident camp," says Dave Proehl, associate national director of the Cub Scout Division. "It's what a good resident camp is in the business to provide."
However, the best resident camps want Cub Scouts to have both "quality fun" and an awesome time, adds Proehl. To ensure this, they incorporate 10 core elements that form a foundation for a successful program.
These elements (described in boxes throughout this article) include such items as topnotch camp leadership and a quality, trained camp staff; customer service; and a safe environment.
Every council can incorporate these elements into a summer Cub Scout resident camp program, says Proehl, adding that the benefits to Cub Scouts as well as to a council's Cub Scout camping program are numerous.
"Cub Scouts can grow within a safe, creative, educational place and program," he points out, awakening and fostering in them the desire to move from Cub Scouting to Boy Scouting.
"By giving the boys camp programs with a purpose and activities which meet their needs and interests, they will learn skills, resourcefulness, self-reliance, the art of living and working with others, an appreciation of nature, a love of God's creations, and, especially, the ethical education that is so crucial to their overall development."
Councils benefit by offering Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts a summer program that maintains their interest and provides quality outdoor adventure. In the process, boys and their parents become familiar with council camps and facilities. And, most importantly, Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts are attracted to and retained in the program.
Councils that provide the quality fun that boys, adult leaders, and parents deserve at Cub Scout resident camp might make it look easy. But the camp leadership and staff work hard to make sure all 10 key factors are in place.
And when everything comes together, resident campers grow in three ways socially, physically, and spiritually.
In addition, of course, to having fun.
Kathy Vilim DaGroomes is Associate Editor of Scouting magazine.
May-June 2001 Table of Contents
Copyright © 2001 by the Boy Scouts of America. All rights thereunder reserved; anything appearing in Scouting magazine or on its Web site may not be reprinted either wholly or in part without written permission. Because of freedom given authors, opinions may not reflect official concurrence.