Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Why Go to Camp" in Nine Minutes

I have been asked to give a speech next Thursday night. I was asked to explain why one should take their scouts to organized Scout Camp or to a Council sponsored High Adventure activity, and do it in nine minutes. Here is my effort to date. I would welcome critique before Thursday.

Why go to the Trapper Trails Council BSA Summer Camps

1. When Rulon Skinner was Scout Executive in Utah National Parks Council he dreamed of a Scout Camp high in the Uintah Mountains. He worked hard to make it real, building facilities and staff, and advertising to the scouts of his council. One day a mother marched into his office, slapped her hand down on his desk and demanded, “What can my son possibly get out of a week of scout camp that is worth $25?” Kind of dates my story doesn’t it. Rulon replied, “Why madam, Scouting develops character.” “My son’s already a character,” she said, “he doesn’t need developing.” Let me assure you that no matter how good your scout is – attending Council Summer Camp will make him better.

2. I have been asked to speak for 8 to 9 minutes. I could not tell you all the reasons to go to camp in 9 hours, it will take six days. If you truly want to know, come to camp and see.

3. How many of you have been to Camp Loll – can I ask you to stand. Here are my witnesses, ask them.

4. To contemplate your greatness reminds me of an early Saturday morning some summers ago. I was sitting at my desk in the lonely quiet time before the breakfast bell when a great big, strong man walked into my office. “Who was responsible for the retiring of that flag last night?” he demanded. I figured someone was in trouble, so I said, I guess that would be me. “I just wanted to thank you”, he said. He went on to tell me he was a Captain in the Marines. I told him that it would mean a lot to my crew to hear what he had to say about their efforts. He was at breakfast, and stood to speak to us. He explained that that past year he had lead his men up the Valley of the Euphrates during the liberation of Bagdad. His sergeant had been killed, and several of his men wounded, a terrible cost. They did this to keep America free, to ensure that we could enjoy the wonders of Yellowstone. He then told another story. He explained that in 1986, he swam a mile in Lake of the Woods. He told us how difficult it was to be a Marine in training, to be a Marine. “And yet,” he said, “through all those trials he kept reminding himself, that as hard as it was, it wasn’t as hard as swimming a mile in Lake of the Woods.”

Trapper Trails Council Camps can be that important in the lives of the scouts we serve, the scouts you love.

5. Before I go any father, let me say to every Scout Master, V S Coach, or Venture Advisor, go to camp for yourself. Camps and Camp Staffs are there to serve you, to make you a better leader, to teach you the methods of Scouting, to improve your troop, team, or crew.

We offer training in Safe Swim Defense, and Safety Afloat, Climb on Safely, No Trace Camping, Trek On Safely, and certification in BSA Lifeguard. But most importantly we offer the magic of Scouting, it is a mystic spirit that will fill your soul and motivate your service.

6. Go to Camp because of the Camp Staff:

a. I went to Camp Bartlett as a scout in 1967. There I met Sam Young. He was my Forestry Merit Badge teacher, more importantly he was my whole troop’s hero. When Sam walked into our camp our delight was awesome. Every one of us wanted to grow up to be Sam. It would be two years before I learned he was no older than I was.

b. It has been many years since any scout wanted to be me – 11, 12, & 13 year olds want to be 14 and 15; 14 and 15 year olds want to be 16 or 17; 16 & 17 year olds want to be 18, and your 18 year olds want to be returned missionaries. Trapper Trails Council Camps will have them all for you!!!

c. The staff models scouting, they proudly wear the uniform so that every boy will know that the most fun he every had in his life came while participating in a program that swears to do its duty to God and country, to serve each other, and to keep himself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. Your staff will live the scout law; they will model its slogan and be its motto. They will be with you from the moment you arrive in camp and stay with you for the rest of your lives. Up before first light they will serve you through the night, keeping your boys safe, teach their classes, guide their hikes, and be the role models you want them to be.

Our camp staffs are bound by tradition and practice to the founders of scouting, to Seton, Powell and Beard. Our camp traditions reach back to the great men of our community who made them possible, from Vern Dunn, Jed Stringham and Bob Wade, to Bill Wangsgard and Dave Wadman. In our camps, scouts will sing the songs, hear the stories, hike the trails, see the wonders, and live the legends of their fathers.

7. There are many practical advantages in attending an organized Council Camp. I will list a few.

a. Safety rules, learned, enforced, and modeled.

b. Trained Staff – hike guides, life guards, archery and rifle range instructors and

insurers of safety, climbing and rappelling experts, merit badge instructors and councilors (all with equipment and materials ready to use), flag ceremonies, camp fire programs, skits and fun.

c. Equipment – bear boxes, water systems, boats, guns, climbing ropes – harnesses - and hardware, (thousands of dollars of the finest equipment), sailboats, rowboats, canoes, complete with life jackets, and safe swimming area and defense program, a camp site, food storage and “delivery”, menus and preparation instruction included, health and safety officer, first aid lodge, emergency communications and rapid response systems in place.

Yes it does cost money – but, like the Lord said, “Cast your bread upon the water and it will return 100 fold!!”

8. You get each other. The worldwide brotherhood of scouting, scouts sponsored by varying groups and denominations, from all over the country and the world, all striving toward the same values and goals. We will sing together, work and play together; we will share in inspiration and face difficult challenges together. We will rejoice in our diversity and in our unity. We will share answers to questions and the solutions to problems. We will draw strength from our ever growing friendship. We will play the games everyone wins as they learn sportsmanship and teamwork as they sharpen skills and build health that will last them a life time.

9. The most important things to be gained at a Council Scout Camp are the values of Scouting.

Our Council Camps will fill the lives of scouts and leaders with God and Country, Service to others and duty to self. Council Camps provide real experiences that will teach the scouts as they live the adventure. There is no watching other’s fantasy lives at the movies or on TV, no computer generated adventures. Camp will give boys the real thing. There are no false highs from drugs or false friends in hate driven gangs. We know the battle you are fighting for their futures; we want to give you a week long weapon to defend them for the rest of their lives.

They will meet God as they live in the pristine wilderness that is His art, and learn to love and protect it, to be the stewards of the earth He has told them to be. They will share with their friends the truth of the beauty, where a flower or the star-filled sky of a summer night equally proclaim God’s glory, where service and love are revealed in the persons of a Scoutmaster, a staff friend, a SPL and a scout, where brotherhood speaks of the God in man.

They will feel the joy of freedom that is America as they live, work, and play in the wonders of nature that belong to them. They are richer than the kings of old, because they are American Citizens. All day, every day, they will lead and follow and share. They will thrill with joy as they pledge allegiance to the flag that stands for freedom in ceremonies where their heroes model respect for their country. They will shed tears of gratitude as a ragged old flag is committed to the sacred fire symbolic of the respect of a grateful nation.

They will serve each other as they gather firewood, cook meals, wash dishes, dispose of garbage, clean KYBOs and scrub the showers. They will participate in meaningful service projects that will beautify the National Forest and the Camp, service that will teach them to care for the land. They will learn to lead as Patrol or Senior Patrol Leaders, and they will learn to follow their peers as well as their adult leaders and camp staff councilors. They will come to know that they can trust leaders who are their friends and learn to be worthy of the trust of those they love.

They will face and overcome physical challenges they would never have dared were not you and their camp staff friend there to buoy them up. They will swim in the mountain lakes, climb to the mountain tops, and discover the secrets of nature.

A Council Camp or High Adventure activity will be the crowning experience of a boy’s or young man’s scouting experience. He may well only have a chance or two to last him forever. I promise you that this great Trapper Trails Council and the 450 plus summer camp staffers, who are already working hard, who have already worked for years, to prepare the summer of a lifetime for your boys, will deliver.


Dan said...

What you have written, is exactly why I signed my troop up to go to Loll. I would love to say that I know they would get the same experience at any camp in the council, and maybe from years of working under a certain system my standards are too high. But after last summer's experience, while I know my boys will get this experience at Loll, I don't think its true of the whole council. That having been said, there are still great rewards to going to other camps in the council, and I like your presentation. I'll just quietly be glad our reservation is just east of Ashton.

Reach Upward said...

Fantastic. I'm ready to go. My scoutmaster says that our troop is headed to Loll in 2012, so I plan to be there for the week.

I love your presentation. I would only expand on the 'magic' comment a bit. Maybe it would take too much time, but the way you talk at scoutmaster roundtable about the magic that happens at a week-long camp reminds adults of the magic they felt when they attended camp as a youth.

Scouts spend the whole year practicing scouting. They only really get to implement what they have practiced at scout camp. It's the only place that the magic inherent in the scouting program is let loose, like letting the genie out of the bottle.

Scout camp is where a scout gets to BE a scout and where a scout sees what scouting is all about as he rubs shoulders with a few hundred others that are pursuing similar goals. Scout camp is where a scout gets to DO all of those things he only reads about in Boy's Life.

Finch said...

I know you don't have a lot of time, but you might mention the doctor who came back to camp with his troop to hike Bechler. The idea is that they will have experiences that they will always cherish, and when they are old men and their scouts are old men they will still love their week in the woods.

One week at camp is worth thousands anywhere else, because by the time they are 80 and have lived 4160 weeks, their week at camp will still be among the best weeks of their life. Guaranteed.

BDH said...

I agree with everything you stated, our Las Vegas Scouts are still talking about the great time they had there. Just the mention of Camp Loll brings one of those big toothy Scout grins to every one of their faces. Thanks for the great time.

Geoffory said...

I would add one point from my experience that can provide an additional perspective. The one redeeming value I have received from attending a "non-established" scout camp is a much greater appreciation for those that are. - Loll.

Lysis said...

It is good to hear from you all. Thank you, you give me courage and determination. I thank each of you for hundreds of the best weeks of my life!

Taylor said...

I would only suggest you bring some of your staffers up with you for the speech. Their enthusiasm and example are the best commercial you can offer.

Todd said...

THIS is why I believe I'm still 17 yrs old! Perfection!

Lysis said...


You, and many more were by my side.


You will always be seventeen to me.

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