Summer camp at any Boy Scout Camp is a wonderful experience for any Scout, Scouter, or visiting parents and family members. Often times leaders and volunteers will extoll the virtues of going to camp but many boys still seem reluctant to head off into the great outdoors for that first time.
My first summer camp was at Camp Bear Paw, 40 years ago, when I was 11 years old. I was prepared for camp in that my family always camped in Crivitz, Wisconsin, as well as being prepped by my Scoutmaster as to what I could expect.
This still wasn't the same as hearing about camp from one of my scouting peers.
Sure, we had tales of snipe hunts, collecting a left handed smoke shifter from the Quartermaster, locating 50 feet of shore line for the lake and the leftover oatmeal that was used to help pave the road into camp.
A few years ago, I met a young Webelos Scout that was preparing to cross over into a Boy Scout unit and he went on a few camping adventures with a couple of troops to get accustomed to life in the khaki uniform.
Here is Bradey Sorenson's endorsement on summer camp:
My First Summer Camp
"It’s the morning I leave for summer camp and I am so excited to go. We arrive at Bear Paw with all of our gear in tow. The first thing we have to do is take our swimming test, so we head to the waterfront. The purpose of the swimming test is so that you can participate in other merit badges that involve water.
The next thing you do is go back to camp and set up your tent. Your troop leader will hold a meeting to discuss your schedule of events for the week. From there we head to the camp wide ceremony to welcome everyone to camp. We then head back to our campsites to hang with our troops for a bit before we head off to sleep.
On Monday you participate in earning four different merit badges that you chose to do months before summer camp. You will work to complete these merit badges throughout the week. There are many steps to completing these merit badges so you will definitely need the entire week to accomplish this task.
On Tuesday evening an O.A. Ceremony is held at the O.A. Fire Bowl. The O.A. Ceremony is an Order of the Arrow Ceremony which is a scouting tradition done by all Boy Scouts throughout the United States. The Scouts are chosen by their troop at an election meeting earlier in the year and are tapped out at the ceremony. Those Scouts are required to campout over night and work without talking with Scouts from other troops. If you complete the overnight campout with all of it requirements you will receive the O.A. sash. The O.A. symbolizes a high ranking leadership award or the Best of the Boy Scouts.
Wednesday is a free day where you can do what you want. Activities include swimming, shooting sports, canoeing, and just hanging out and relaxing. It also allows you to do other troop activities such as earning your AWASA award, Leave No Trace, Wood Carving, Basketry and Leatherworking. I think Wednesday is a great day to recharge from the structured activities and accomplish some other fun merit badges with your fellow Scout friends.
Thursday brings us back into the merit badge workshops where you will complete the merit badges that you started on earlier in the week. We wake up on Friday morning for our last full day of camp. We will finish all merit badge requirements and then move on the Water Carnival. This event is a series of competitive activities that is lead by the staff at Bear Paw Camp. It is extremely exciting and always fun to watch.
After the Carnival we head down to the O.A. Bowl for the closing ceremony. The ceremony includes songs, skits and words of wisdom. It always concludes with the song “Scout Vespers” which is a tradition done at the closing of every Scout camp in the United States.
Saturday morning we wake up and begin tearing down camp to get ready for the long ride back home. We then head to the final flag ceremony where we eat “Pigs-in-a-Blanket” otherwise known as sausage wrapped in pancakes. This final meal is a tradition that has been done at Bear Paw Camp since 1946.
The events that happen at Bear Paw are amazing and exciting. Your first time at camp for a full week is scary and hard to do, but yet it is a great experience. When you go home you realize that it wasn’t so bad and you had more fun than you thought you would. This is why I am looking forward to going to camp again this summer."
Well said Bradey.