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Boy Scout Troop 1750
(finksburg, Maryland)
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What is "Summer Camp"?

Summer camp is a week long experience in "Scout life", and a LOT of fun!  It is generally held at council-run scout camps like Broadcreek, Hawk Mountain, or other BSA-owned properties.  It is staffed with some adult leaders, but the program areas (merit badge classes, and other skill areas) are run by other (older & experienced) Boy Scouts who spend the entire summer living at camp as counselors.

Troops from all over come to camp, and each troop stays in its own camp site.  Participants sleep and eat together, but beyond than that they are joining other scouts in merit badge classes, COPE or High Adventure.  You can think of Summer Camp as a week at "Scout College" where boys sign up for the classes that interest them, allowing the camping experience to be a personally satisfying experience.

Summer camp programs vary from camp to camp. Boys select their camp a year ahead of attendance and the offerings vary across a broad spectrum of themes. "1st year", "Open Program", "COPE" (Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience), and High Adventure are some of the more common ones.

The "1st Year Program" is a dedicated program for boys who are typically new to Boy Scouts.  The agenda is focused on the outdoor and basic skills that relate to the first 4 ranks of Scouting.  Although they are focused on basic Scout skills, 1st Year Program attendees usually get the chance to earn 1 or 2 merit badges, get swim lessons or play in the pool during free swim, and after dinner, try out ALL of the program areas around camp during "open time", or join in with camp-wide games organized by the Camp. Beware of redundancy. Troop 1750 offers "Boot Camp" which is focused on first year scouts. Much of the program material of first year programs is covered at Boot Camp and boys can find it a boring repeat. Check with the Scoutmaster for his recommendation before signing up.

"Open Program" is like going to college for a week.  Scouts typically choose to attend classes for several merit badges. It's a great way earn merit badges that are difficult to find counselors for at home.  At some camps, after dinner and at special times of the week, certain program areas throughout camp are opened to everyone so boys can sample different things, even if they aren't working on specific merit badges.  There's also usually time for "free swim" in the pool or lake, or time to join in with camp-wide games organized by the Camp counselors.

"COPE"  Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience - What a great way for older boys (generally 13 and up) to challenge themselves physically with team building, trust building, and physically challenging activities  like the rock climbing, zip lines, overhead wire course, or the rappelling. Each camp has varied offerings and may include hiking, mountain biking, etc. COPE is a growing opportunity for all. See your Scoutmaster and review the camp offerings.

A "High Adventure" program may or may not be offered at every BSA camp.  Like COPE, high adventure programs are designed for the "experienced" Scouts (13/14 years or older) who feel like they've "done everything" offered by camp and are ready for something "new".   Some high adventure programs  include SCUBA, canoe trips, or other exciting excursions that take you away from the rest of the campers.  Check out the website for the summer camp we are attending in the coming year to see if there is a High Adventure program.


At summer camp, Scouts might shelter in 8'x8' "wall tents" (canvass tents with 2 cots). Otherwise, personal tents, troop tents or other shelters will be used for a clean, dry place to sleep and store gear.

Uniforms for Summer Camp will be determined by leadership prior to the trip. Travel to and from camp, evening meal and other programs and ceremonies in camp require field dress uniforms. Otherwise, participants will be in class B (as specified) uniforms. The Troop may have a designated class B for each day. Check with the trip provisional leader for details.

Each camp has its method of providing meals. Sometimes troops bring all their food and cook in camp. More often, the troop eats together, 3 squares per day, on a set schedule. Eating together is important for many reasons, the greatest of which is checking accountability and good health of everyone.

Scouts spend their days in "Program" areas learning the scout skills they selected before coming to camp or participating in their chosen program.  Usually there is some "free time" for Scouts to relax, sample other program areas around camp, visit the shooting ranges, fishing ponds, or swimming pool or work on merit badge requirements independently.  There are often "camp-wide games" at each camp to make sure Scouts have plenty of FUN and entertaining activities for their entire time at camp.   There are usually opening and closing Council Fires and other ceremonies throughout the week, including OA "tap outs" and early morning "Polar Bear Plunges" for a brisk early morning dips in the pool!

Plan to support the 12th point of the scout law by attending worship as appropriate while at camp. Sunday service is always offered and most denominations are served at camp.

Every camp has an emergency plan and a weekly drill. Everyone participates. Adult leaders are briefed on emergency procedures and health lodge locations. Camp health lodges are staffed with professional care givers and usually include a physician on staff. Correct emergency contact information is very important and must be included on the health record that is given to camp staff on arrival.

Domestic Nostalgia, otherwise known as "homesickness", is a force that scout leaders and camp staff become experts at reckoning with. It peaks at day three and subsides thereafter. Despite the tendency do so, making phone calls from and to home generally should be avoided if the situation is to improve and tears are to dry. Camp is a growing and learning experience away from the familiarity of the home setting. Parents should trust that the best care is being taken of their son(s) and any real needs for parental involvement will not be ignored. Let the growth happen.

What preparation is needed for Summer Camp?

There is much we do to prepare for summer camp;  fund raising, health forms, acclimation, program selection & prerequisite work, leader organization and swim tests (if applicable).

Fund Raising - Depending on the cost of the camp selected this may be necessary. Stay in touch with Troop leadership to find out if any fundraising will be done for Summer Camp.

Health Forms - Every year, we are required by the BSA to bring current/valid health forms for EVERY ATTENDEE (adult and youth) to camp.   EVERYONE must submit the BSA health forms in order to remain on BSA property.  It is best if the BSA health form is completed by the family doctor at the time of the annual "school physicals".   If a current form is not already on file, then families should engage their doctors to ensure the forms are complete and in the hands of the person coordinating troop registration ON TIME for a smooth registration.   PLEASE do not expect "special exceptions" when you are not handing paperwork in timely and complete. Registering/Administrating camp attendance is a huge undertaking, and we need/expect your full cooperation to help facilitate a smooth registration experience.

Acclimation - Every year (typically in April) the troop conducts a weekend camping trip SPECIFICALLY for the benefit of our newest scouts (those bridging in from WEBELOS). We call this "BOOT CAMP". The goal is to get younger Scouts used to attending over-night camp without their parents.  This will give them (and moms!) a taste for being away from home, especially since Summer Camp is 6 nights from home.   New parents generally like to "tag along" with their "former cub scouts" on the first couple of camping trips, but this defeats the entire purpose of getting them used to being away from home.  Try to be supportive of your son's camping without you.

Program Selection & Pre-req work - Scouts should choose as early as possible which program offering(s) is(are) right for them at camp; Merit Badges, COPE, or High Adventure. Attend the Summer Camp Planning meetings to find out what is offered and what program areas are of interest to you. Merit Badge participants should select their merit badges early so they can start getting familiar with any prerequisite work that needs to be done before coming to camp.  Scouts should also take the time to print the respective merit badge workbook from one of the scouting web sites, acquire (buy or borrow) the merit badge series pamphlet and start reviewing the material (especially for Eagle-required badges).  This will ensure that Scouts come home with as much badge work COMPLETE as possible. Otherwise, Scouts will have to find other merit badge counselors to help them complete the tasks that were not completed at/before Summer Camp.

Swimming - Swimming is a big part of Scouting and Summer Camp for most boys. BSA requires that participants attempt a standard swim test prior to participation in any water activities. This applies to youth and adults alike. Please note that the BSA measures swimming capability by the ability to swim multiple 25 yard laps (no stopping allowed) in a strong, steady stroke. Depending upon the camp, we may administer the swim test prior to leaving for camp (weeks ahead) to save time when we arrive at camp. 

Adult Leadership for Camp: Adult leaders are the guiding light for the program. Boys cannot have or participate in the program without qualified adult supervision. Summer Camp is no different. Adult leaders are encouraged to attend Summer Camp and provide leadership, not just to his or her boy, but for the Troop. Generally discounted rates apply to adults.

Camps We Have Attended in the Past