Spring is finally here, at least in the north, and we’re finally getting outdoors (without heavy winter gear) enjoying some warmer weather. School may be winding down or ramping up for the final push. Many troops undergo a shift in activity over the summer as well, and it’s time to look forward and see what the committee needs to do to support the boys.
Most of our attention at this time of year is focused on summer camp. That’s usually the biggest event of our program year in terms of participation as well as the amount of committee and adult support needed. Many troops also conduct some sort of high adventure activity during the summer months when kids are out of school and have the time.
- Ensure that the final summer camp payments are made to your camp on time. Most camps impose a financial penalty for late payments.
- Likewise, remind your families of when payments are due. You’ll need to make sure all the money’s in so the troop isn’t left holding the bag.
- Make sure your gear is up to snuff. The equipment coordinator should work with the Quartermaster to see that all the gear needed for summer camp is brought along. If you provide your own tentage, make sure that all your tents are in good repair and that spare parts are on hand. If you cook your own meals, patrol boxes should be checked by each patrol to see that they’re stocked with the needed utensils, stoves are working and there’s plenty of gas available. Coolers need to be complete and not leaky. Of course, if you attend camp where tents and meals are provided, you won’t need most of this, but will still want to make sure you have tents and equipment if any of your Scouts attending need to camp away from your site (for instance, first-year camper outpost campouts or OA ordeal candidates).
- Ensure adequate adult attendance. The Scoutmaster typically attends the week of camp, but if he or she can’t be there, make certain another knowledgable ASM or committee member can stand in. Your acting Scoutmaster must know and follow the patrol method and ensure that youth leadership is practiced and employed. Summer camp isn’t boot camp and the Scoutmaster isn’t a drill sergeant!
- Remind adults attending summer camp of the required training, health forms and clearances. Many camps require youth protection training, even if not registered. All must have BSA health forms (part C if over 72 hours) and many states require special registry clearances for summer camp employees, which often include adults in camp as well.
- If you are going out of council, or if your council requires it, file your tour plan as soon as you know all the details. You may also need a certificate of insurance; obtain this from your council as well.
- Hold informational meetings for new parents on what to expect if they are attending or if they are staying at home. Go over the daily routine at camp and let them know what their son will be doing. Provide them with resources on homesickness prevention – a special concern for first-time campers. Give them advice on what their son will need to bring, and suggest that the parents not pack everything for their son but guide them with questions rather than telling them.
- If your troop is doing high adventure, you’ll want to do many of the same things as for summer camp. Remember that part D of the participant health form is required for Philmont and the other high-adventure bases. And ensure that everyone going on the trip is registered with the BSA.
Other things to think about:
- Councils and/or districts often hold a program kickoff in May for the following program year. Be sure your troop is represented to find out everything that’s coming along in the fall. Knowing your council’s plans for next year will give the boys additional options when they plan the troop program.
- How is your adult leadership and committee affected by age-outs or graduating high school seniors? Many choose this time to step down or make plans to do so, so ensure that there is continuity in key positions. Have potential successors selected in advance so you will be ready.
If you think of anything I’ve forgotten or would like to add items of your own, please leave a comment on this post!
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