Posts Tagged ‘summer camp’

manypoint2006a1It seemed like a good idea at the time. It was the summer of 1989, or 1990. The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 were about to attend a week at Crow Wing Scout Reservation. This year would be the first time we would allow the boys to bring lawn chairs to camp.

It was NOT one of our better ideas! The older boys decided that it was now very comfortable in camp. They did not get their work done. They did not want to participate in programs anymore. They just wanted to kick back, relax, and be lazy.

Of course, this did not sit well with the scoutmaster (me) or the assistant scoutmaster. By midweek all of the boy’s chairs had been stored away in the adult’s tent. Oh, there were words said and yelling done, but the boys needed to do their dishes and clean up their campsite, not sit around all day.

A day or two later we gave the chairs back to the boys, thinking that they had learned their lesson. We were wrong and had to take the chairs away again, this time for the rest of the week.

The low point of the week for me came during a moment when I was walking away from the older boys campsite. One of the boys threw a full, unopened half pint of milk at me that just missed my head. I stopped in my tracks and counted to ten. I think it was the one and only time that I have ever counted to ten. I resumed walking away from the campsite. I knew that it would not be a good idea to confront the boys at that moment. If I did it would only make matters worse.

By the end of the week we were all looking forward to going home. My new assistant scoutmaster did not know if he would ever go to another week of summer camp again. All in all, it just was not a good week of camp.

Due to the problems that week a new policy was started in the troop. A Scout would be able to bring a chair to camp but it could NOT have both a back rest and legs. That policy stated in effect for over ten years.

A few years ago we began allowing the boys to bring lawn chairs to camp once again. They are aware of the previous “lawn chair incident”. So far, things have gone smoothly and there have not been any problems.

What happened to the assistant scoutmaster who’s first week at camp was almost his last week at camp? This year he will be attending his 17th week of summer with the troop. What about those older boys who’s attitude made for a rough week of camp? I am happy to report that things worked out well over the following years and that we are all good friends, even to this day.

It is surprising what a slow count to ten, and a few years’ worth of patience and work can do. Isn’t Scouting wonderful?

manypointlodgeIn two weeks I will be at Many Point Scout Camp, once again spending my summer vacation with the Boy Scouts. Do I mind? Not usually. It can a fun and sometimes interesting experience.

This will be the 25th year I will spend my summer vacation with the Scouts. I have done it for so long that it just would not feel like summer without at least one week with the Scouts.

Sometimes I would spend the week with the boys at summer camp. In the 1980′s, we would go to Crow Wing Scout Reservation, Tomahawk Scout Camp, or Many Point Scout Camp. Now that Crow Wing has been closed and sold off the troop has made a tradition of attending Many Point.

Then there are the years when a high adventure trip gets in the way of attending summer camp. I have been to the Charles Sommers Canoe Base in Minnesota, the High Knoll Trail of Virginia, and the 2001 National Jamboree. Oh, I better not forget the five times I participated in a trek at Philmont Scout Ranch.

Of course, if I were married and had a family I do not think I would, or could, have attended all these outings. I would think the wife might have some input into how I would spend my summer vacations.

summercamp1990The Boy Scouts of Troop 68, of which I am the scoutmaster, have been entertaining Scouts and families with their campfire songs and skits for nearly 25 years. The boys, and myself, have had a lot of fun doing them. And I hope they have learned a few things along the way.

One of the skills I hope they learn is what I like to call adlibbing. Anyone who has been involved with a campfire program needs to know how to adlib. After all, something is bound to go wrong during the program and a person needs to know how to cover for the forgotten line or the mistake that was made.

Here is an example of Scouts not knowing how to adlib….

Troop 68 attended summer camp at Crow Wing Scout Camp during the 80′s and early 90′s. On Wednesday nights the camp would hold area campfires involving 4-5 troops. Each patrol was supposed to do a song or skit. One or two skits and/or songs would be chosen from these area campfires to be in the Friday night closing campfire program.

One year, two boys from another troop got up to do the “Ugliest Man in the World” skit. One boy would be the caller and the other boy would put a towel over his head and be the ugliest man in the world. I had seen this skit done so often that I had actually started to dislike it. But, it was an easy and popular skit for Scouts to perform, just like the “Lawnmower” skit.

Several boys from my troop turned to look at me and ask me if they could volunteer to be called up to look at the ugliest man in the world. I had my suspicions as to what they had in mind to do but I nodded my head and said to go for it. It happened that one of my Scouts, Tim, was called up to be the “last” person to look at the ugliest man in the world.

Now, if you know how the skit works, you know that the last person called up to look under the towel will not join the earlier volunteers who have “fainted” after looking at the ugly man. No, this time the ugly man falls to the ground and the other Scout of the skit will declare the last volunteer to be the new ugliest man in the world.

Needless to say, things did not go as planned for the two boys doing the skit. When Tim got up to the ugly man he looked under the towel and immediately dropped to the ground before the ugly man had a chance to fall to the ground himself. The two boys just stood there. They did not know what to do. Finally, when the boy who was not the ugly one said “That was not supposed to happen,” the audience roared with laughter. An old skit suddenly had a new and unplanned ending.

In one way, I felt sorry for the two boys who had done the skit. Tim’s little prank had messed up their rehearsed skit. But you know, the one boy only needed to call up one more volunteer to make things appear to be alright. An opportunity to adlib had been missed.

I have always told the Scouts of Troop 68 to keep going and work around any mistakes made during songs and skits. (I have even made several of my own over the years.) If you do not draw attention to the mistake most people will not catch on that a mistake has been made. Sometimes the adlib will even make the skit or song funnier. I know that has been the case several times during Troop 68 performances.

So next time you are doing a skit or song at a campfire and goof up, keep going, work around it, and have fun. After all, that is part of what Scouting is about… just having fun.

summercamp19811I think it all began during the troop’s first week of summer camp at Crow Wing Scout Reservation in 1981. “When all what began?” you ask. When the Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 became known for performing at campfire programs, that’s what.
I can I can take some of the blame for getting things started. I was the assistant scoutmaster at the time and I had taken my tenor guitar to summer camp. There was an afternoon in the middle of the week that we did not have much to do so we started singing some songs around the campfire.
We started changing the words to some songs, you know, just playing around with them. One song, a country song called Running Bear, was a song about two Native Americans who fell in love. Unfortunately, they were part of two tribes who did not get along well. We changed a few words to the song and suddenly it was about two members of the camp staff falling in love.
I think it was sometime during the week that we performed the new Running Bear song to a couple of staff members. Before we knew it, we were asked to perform it during the Friday night closing campfire program.
The whole troop marched down to the front of the campfire circle when it was out turn to sing. The two members of the staff, who we were about to sing about, were in attendance. I do not think they knew what we were about to sing about. By the end of the song the male staff member was blushing and hiding in the trees. The female staff member thought it was funny and was laughing with the rest of the staff and campers.
Thus, the Scouts of Troop 68 and myself discovered the joy of performing for an audience, and the thrill of the audience enjoying a good performance.
Since that first campfire the Scouts of Troop 68 have performed in many summer camp and camporee campfire programs. We have even hosted a couple of them. The troop has also done ten yearly campfire-style programs for our community. (More about this in another article.)
We have had a lot of fun hamming it for the crowds over the years. I would suggest that all troops give it a try and enjoy the trill that comes with entertaining other Scouts and leaders.