Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Camping We Will Go....

It is that time of year again. Time for Boy Scout summer camp.

Summer camp is often the highlight of a boy's scouting career. The 7-day, 6-night adventure is the longest continuous outdoor activity for a large majority of scouts. Some advance to the high-adventure experiences: Philmont, Boundary Waters, or Jamboree; but summer camp is the pinnacle for most scouts.

My troop departs in less than 24 hours. Around 7AM, July 5, 2009 -Sagamore Council Troop 162 leaves for Maumee Scout Reservation in the Hoosier National Forrest.

Fun and adventure is awaiting the boys. The new scouts that have never been to long-term camp (half of them) are going to discover a new experience and learn new skills. The seasoned scouts are looking forward to earning badges, teaching the newbies, and having some fun. I enjoy watching the boys learn while they play.

What do I do at camp? I learn. I learn from the boys and the other leaders. I learn by teaching skills. I learn the most by watching the other leaders and how they interact with their troops, their peers, and the camp staff. Watching scout leaders in camp is like watching school teachers in their schools.

Some leaders are strict disciplinarians. The troops are almost run like military units, with the Scoutmaster as the boot camp drill instructor. Other 'leaders' let their troops run wild. Boy Scout units are designed to be 'boy led', but some of these troops are closer to Lord of the Flies than Lord Baden Powell. Some leaders, like some teachers, seem to have a magic touch.

The magic leaders lead without lecturing. Boys work as a team. Patrols work with other patrols. Older boys help the new boys. The leader is the resource center, the occasional, decision maker, and almost always the 'guide on the side' (often from a lounge chair near the coffee pot). The magic leaders are fun to watch. I learn the most at camp by watching them run their troops. A leader once told me leading children is like paddling a canoe down a river. The trick is learning how to steer while using the current to your advantage. I agree.

Scout leaders are very much like school teachers. Many are fair, some have no business working with children, and a few are spectacular and inspiring. I plan to learn a few things from all of them this week. I have no visions of a Norman Rockwell painting, but I expect to have a great time.

Tune in next week to read the review of our camping adventures.
I hope Ralph, Jack, and Piggy stay on their side of the island........