Boy Scout camping activities center on the patrol, where boys learn teamwork, leadership, and most camping skills. Summer camp is a great opportunity for them to do this. It is important that adults not be in the middle of patrol activities such as site selection, tent pitching, meal preparation, and anything else where boys get to practice decision-making.
The underlying principle we try to follow is never do anything for a boy that he can do himself. We allow boys to grow by practicing leadership and by learning from their mistakes. And while Scout skills are an important part of the program, what ultimately matters when our Scouts become adults is not whether they can use a map & compass, but whether they can offer leadership to others in tough situations; and can live by a code that centers on honest, honorable, and ethical behavior.
Summer camp life will look a little rocky the first day or two, but by the time they do things themselves a couple times, they’ll fall right in. The patrol leaders have the responsibility to manage their patrols. It’s more important that the boys take ownership of their experience and learn from it than it is that they line up straight or have a perfect campsite.
If a Scout (including your own son) comes to you with a question (What time is dinner? Where is the archery range? Can I use the axe yard?), remind him that he should be asking his patrol leader instead of an adult.
If you have a concern or suggestion, please do let the Scoutmaster or Assistant Scoutmasters know. Leave it to them to address any issues with the youth leadership.
Adults don’t have to stay isolated from the boys, but it’s not your responsibility to make sure your son or any other boys get dressed, brush their teeth, get to classes or meals. Feel free to ask your son, or any other Scout, how it’s going, what they’ve been doing, which badges they’re working on, how big a fish they caught, and so on. But it’s only by boys taking responsibility for themselves and their fellow Scouts that they learn leadership and enjoy an experience in character development unavailable in any other summer camp or youth activity that will help them immensely in the future.
So what do adults do? If there is a safety issue with any of our Scouts or other Scouts, please step up and intervene. Let the Scout(s) know what the concern is and what to change to be safe. Let the Scoutmaster know about the incident when convenient. Other than that, you’ll be relaxing a good bit of the time (bring your favorite camp chair and a good book), but there’s also plenty to do. Volunteer to help the camp ranger with a service project. Go for a refreshing swim. Talk to some of the staff members or camp commissioners or adults from other troops. Visit the trading post and pick up a camp t-shirt or mug. Explore the island. Hang out with the other adults. Tell stories. Drink coffee. Take a nap. Enjoy camp life!