Camping With Us
Camping is the heart of Boy Scouting. While parents may accompany our Scouts on camp outs, all Scouts camp with their patrol and not with their parents or family members.
Adult / Youth Tenting - BSA youth protection policies forbid an adult and a youth (below age 18) sharing the same tent. While these youth protection policies allow a father and son to tent together (if no other Scout or adult shares the tent), it is troop guideline that Scouts tent with Scouts, and adults with adults. If a father tents with his son, it is our experience that the Scout will lose out on many opportunities to make decisions and be part of the patrol.
Scout Leadership - Adults should not interfere with the functioning of youth leaders, even if they make mistakes (we all learn best from our mistakes). Step in only if it is a matter of immediate safety or if the mistake will be immediately costly. If at all possible, involve a uniformed adult leader first.
Scout Growth - Never do anything for a Scout he can do for himself. Let him make decisions without adult interference. Let him make non-injurious mistakes so he can learn from them. Be willing to help Scouts learn and teach without criticism.
Boy Scout camping activities are based on what the BSA calls the patrol method, where Scouts learn teamwork, leadership, and most camping skills from their peers. 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.
A key difference between Boy Scouting and Cub Scouting/Webelos is youth leadership. Look for the word "leader" in a Scout's job description, and you will begin to appreciate the difference. The responsible person for a Cub/Webelos den is the adult Den Leader. The responsible person for a Boy Scout patrol is the youth Patrol Leader.
This isn't token leadership. A Patrol Leader has real authority and genuine responsibilities. Much of the success, safety, and happiness of six to ten other boys depends directly on him. This leadership is a requirement to advance to the next level in scouting.
Boy Scouting teaches leadership. And Scouts learn leadership by practicing it, not by watching adults lead.
So what do we adults do, now that we've surrendered so much direct authority to boys? Well, we have a really good time and still stay busy.
The underlying principle is worth repeating: Never do anything for a boy that he can do for himself. We allow boys to grow by practicing leadership and by learning from mistakes. And, while Scout skills are an important part of the program, what ultimately matters when our Scouts become adults is not how well they remember to use a map & compass, but whether or not they know how to offer leadership to others in tough situations; and that they live by a code of conduct that centers on honest, honorable and ethical behavior.
When a parent goes on a camp out, he or she is automatically included as a temporary member in the "Bucktail" Patrol. This patrol has several benefits - really, really good food and camaraderie while providing an example the Scouts can follow without having to tell them what to do.
If you go camping with us, we hope you will merely enjoy our program, talk to your son and the other Scouts, ask what's going on and how things are going. At the same time, remember to give the guys room to grow while you enjoy the view. Try to understand the values of a scout led troop. We know that initially this is not easy.
Don't hesitate to show a Scout how to do something, just don't do it for him. Don't jump in just to prevent a mistake from happening (unless it's serious or involves safety). Encourage Scouts to make their own decisions ... ask them what they think should be done or how they are going to solve a problem. We all learn best from our mistakes and a big part of our job as adults in the troop is to provide them with a safe environment in which they can make mistakes.
And above all, remember to let the youth leaders lead. That's their job, not ours.
Camping with the troop is more fun than you probably imagine and is something you should do if you can. The "Bucktails" Patrol is made up of men who are committed to being a part of the troop and contributing to it's health. Everyone pitches in and the workload is shared.